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The Trial of Acceptance (Part 2)
Glancing down at the dress, Sevanna smiled at her reflection. She looked beautiful in a white and silver laced dress. She could not believe she had finally agreed to settle down and leave the Tower after years of service. al'Dell Brandstone had been after her for years to return with him to his estate in Kern. As her bonded Warder, Sevanna had only ever considered him her friend and companion. Little did she realize how much he meant to her. Today they would finally be married. Smiling she still could not believe nor understand how the man had stole away into her heart and taken it for his own. She had not been an easily won love. Years Dell had been telling her he loved her and she always laughed it off or simply smiled at him. He had persisted though and finally won her heart.

A soft knock on the door and Ariadne entered smiling. Her closest friend had traveled here from the Tower leaving her current duties as Aes Sedai on hold to be here with her. Smiling at her friend in return Sevanna could not help but remember the first thing the two of them ever did together. Giggling Sevanna remembered the horse and Iris Sedai's reaction. "Ari, do you remember Iris's horse?"

Laughing Ariadne Sedai nodded, " I do, it was the both of us, Ceb, and Araya. We must have shocked Iris so. For she set us to cleaning the stable from top to bottom."

Smiling at Ariadne she remembered all that the four of them had gone through. They were a close foursome, even though they were not all of the same Ajah. They had pursued many pranks after the horse prank together, but the first one was the one that brought them together as friends. Smiling she wish all four of them could be here for her wedding. She was glad Ariadne was able to make it. Memories that Sevanna felt were hers yet weren't quite hers overwhelmed her. Many years of working and spreading knowledge to the people in the land. In a way as a Blue she had done something a Brown would do. Smiling she had done so much to help the people and now here she was about to become the wife of a landed lord. She would never be able to accept the title of Lady. Aes Sedai was what she preferred and always would.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Looking around she asked Ariadne, "Did you hear that Ari? As if I was a novice again."

"Hear what, Sevanna? It is only you and me here and I have not heard anything other than what we have spoken."

"Must be nothing." Smiling again, Sevanna looked at her friend nervously. "So do you think you can do something with my long hair?"

Smiling Ariadne said, "Of course. We didnít spend hours as Accepted talking the night away over what we were going to go when we became Aes Sedai, doing each other's hair for me not to know what I can do with your hair."

Hugging her friend then sitting in front of the elegant maple vanity with reflective glass, Sevanna watched as Ariadne twisted her hair in to soft ringlet curls and piled them on top of her head. A second knock tapped her chamber door and Sevanna turned to see her personal lady in waiting entered. All these things Sevanna was still trying to get used to, servants and people to wait on your every whim. "Yes, Meleni. Is everything ready?"

"Yes m'lady."

Frowning, Sevanna repeated what she had told the girl probably about two dozen times that day, "Meleni, if you must use a title, Aes Sedai is the one to use. Please call me Sevanna."

"Yes Aes Sedai. Everyone awaits you." Came the reply from Meleni. Sevanna knew it would be m'lady again the next time the girl addressed her and she would only go to Aes Sedai if Sevanna said something. Sevanna found it rather tiresome. She was used to doing things for herself and working for everything you have and honor in life. Looking at Ariadne she waited for her friend to lead the way....

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Ignoring the voice in her head, Sevanna followed Ariadne to the top of the stairs. She could feel every eye in the manor on her. Taking a deep breath she smiled looking down at Dell waiting to meet her at the bottom of the stairs....

The ceremony went by faster than Sevanna could realize. The day seemed to be speeding up as it continued. Sitting at her husband's side, Sevanna looked at Dell and smiled. You could see the happiness on his face and in every move he made. Listening to toast after toast, Sevanna picked at her meal. She was never that comfortable being the center of attention and this was exactly what she was that day. Looking to her left she spoke softly to Ariadne, "I cannot wait for this evening to be over with, Sister."

Knowing Sevanna's shyness Ariadne smiled, "The meal is almost over and once the dancing begins you can slip away for some quiet time. After the first dance. slip away from Dell and I will send him to meet you upstairs."

Smiling at her friend she nodded and whispered, "Thank you."

Finishing her meal and enjoying the rest of the festivities around the table, Sevanna gladly took Dell's hand when he offered it to her for a dance. Following him into the ballroom, she let him lead her in the first dance of the night. Smiling up to him she whispered, "Do you realize this is the first time we have been alone to talk since we became husband and wife?"

Chuckling he kissed her softly before saying, "I do, my love. But once tonight is over we will have many moments to spend together without our company."

Leaning her head against his chest, she closed her eyes and let him lead her around the dance floor. She remembered back to the first time they met. She was only thirteen, a girl and novice. She had gone into the town to sit at the Inn where many from the tower go to relax and join each other's company. He had introduced himself and from that point they had been friends ever since. It began more like him watching over the young girl. Once she had become Accepted, they had run off together to visit their homes. They had been gone nearly three months before an Aes Sedai hauled Sevanna back off to the Tower. Then as an Aes Sedai Sevanna had asked if he would become her Warder and allow her to bond him. To this day she can still sense where he is with out having to see him. As the music ended so, did their dance. Many of their friends wanted to dance with Sevanna and Dell reluctantly allowed them to. After about two songs, Sevanna caught Ari's eye and nodded that she would be upstairs.

Pleading off other offers to dance, Sevanna finally retreated up the stairs unnoticed. She knew he would know to find her in the library. Compared to the Tower library theirs was smaller, but it was her favorite room from the entire estate. She remembered the day Dell approached her with plans to build the home. He included the library for her to be able to continue pursuing her cause for knowledge for the people. Leaning against her desk, Sevanna waited for her husband to come to her. She could hear the festivities below the music...the laughter...the screaming?

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Screaming
? Confused, Sevanna quickly went to the top of the stairs and found chaos. There were Trollocs and Myddraal fighting with guards and warders. Looking around quickly for her husband, Sevanna found him fighting a Trolloc. Watching him cut the creature down he turned towards the stairwell in her direction. She knew he could fend for himself. Trying to embrace the Source, Sevanna found that she could not do so. Panic raced through her as she watched as her friends fought the Trollocs and she could not do anything to help. She rushed back to her chambers and grabbed her fighting knives. She was glad she had learned to use these properly.

Hurrying back to the chaos below, Sevanna suddenly saw an arch flicker just outside of her vision. Looking in its direction she frowned and rushed down the stairs to join in the fighting. She could hear the fighting and could sense the use of sai'dar. It frustrated her that she could not embrace the Source. It was if she could sense it but could not embrace it. Not like a block or a shield of any kind.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Frowning again at the arch that seemed to appear over her left shoulder, suddenly she could sense Dell's frustration. Looking around for him she rested her eyes on him in the corner fighting off two Myddraal. She knew from his past that he could kill one as long as it was the only thing he was fighting but two? Watching as he backed away from their blows Sevanna realized he was not going to be able to get away unless he killed them. Trying with all her might to embrace sai'dar, Sevanna cried out angrily. "Just let me save him curse you!"

Be steadfast.

Tears falling in anger, Sevanna glanced at the arch and watched it flicker. "No, not yet I need to help here. Please a few moments and an allowance to channel."

As a trolloc lunged at her, she took her eyes off her Warder for just long enough to take her fighting knife, thrust it at the beast and twist it as she pushed it deeper and upward in the creature. It howled in pain and ran from her. One thing she never understood about trollocs was their cowardice and unless pushed to fight, they would run.

She waited a brief moment and tried to channel again, but to no avail she could not. Turning in the direction of her Warder and husband Sevanna watched Dell fall to one knee as a Myddraal's sword caught his calf. "No, please..." she begged. Looking at the arch she forced herself to walk in its direction. Before she stepped through she turned to look at Dell and saw the second Myddraal cut his throat. "Noooooooo...." she screamed as she stepped through the archway not knowing if he would survive the attack.

* * *


"This can not be. I could have saved him..." Looking at the woman before her angrily, Sevanna suddenly broke into tears sobbing. "It's so unfair."

Cold water washed the still falling tears from her eyes. "You are washed clean of false pride, you are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul." Iris looked at her with sympathy showing in her eyes. Sevanna sobbed as Nimue led her around to the third arch.

This one is the last one and the worst one. For the Light, what could be worse than abandoning my honor, my friends, my love?

Nimue waited a few brief moments and allowed Sevanna to calm her sobbing and to stop the flow of tears. She took a few deep breaths as Nimue Sedai said, "The third time is for what will be. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

Swallowing her crying, Sevanna stepped through the last and final arch.

* * *


Looking down at the ground, Sevanna wondered where she was. It was dark and late. Looking down at the parchment in her hand she suddenly remembered what she had come to do. Hurrying she rushed away from the Tower and the city of Nith'Tar Valon. Once she was across the bridge of light, Sevanna embraced sai'dar, allowing her senses to guide her carefully along the water's edge, away from the town of Sidhel. She was going north away from where anyone could see her. Once she had walked far enough that she could not see the lights of Sidhel nor of the aerial city, she knew she was alone and channeled fire towards the parchment. Sitting down, she waited. She may have been alone but she knew they would find her. Not matters of moments, they arrived by gateway, cloaked in black as Sevanna herself was.

"You wished to speak to me, Night Wind."

Confusion Sevanna wondered why this person addressed her as Night Wind when she was Evening Wind, "I am called Evening Wind by only my closest friends."

Deep mocking laughter came from the woman in front of her. "If you wish to still cling to pretenses because you are close to the Tower, girl, you may. But come two nights from now you will be sealed to us.

"Sealed to who?" Sevanna demanded.

The laughter spread from the woman in front of her to the others in the group. Anger crossed Sevanna's face as the women mocked her. Her memory was not hers, did they mean...she was willingly going to become a Darkfriend? A member of the Black Ajah. Giving up the Ajah and the work she did for the Tower? Suddenly she remembered. She was going to forsake the Light. Backing away from the group, Sevanna realized this and that she would go by Night Wind when she swore her new oaths and embraced channeling the True Power. Panic suddenly overwhelmed her; she could not do this. Fear at the woman in front of her.

"Did you suddenly change your mind, Sevanna?" Laughing mockingly again the woman continued, "You can not change your mind. You are known to him now, girl. We will come for you whether you come to us willingly or we force you. It will be easier for you to come with us on your own accord."

The woman opened a gateway and the group, thirteen at Sevanna's count returned from where they came. Falling to her knees, Sevanna cried. How could I do this, this is not real. I would never... Suddenly Sevanna knew what she could do. Standing and running back towards the Tower and the bridge leading from Sidhel to return to the city. Running as fast as she could she raced through the town causing the townfolks who were still up and about to whisper. She abandoned all Aes Sedai calm and serenity. She had to get herself out of this and the one person she knew could help her, the Amyrlin, Clara Sedai.

Rohr raced through Nith'Tar Valon desperately as if the Black Ajah was chasing her already. Thankfully it was late, and though there were still dwellers up in the gate city of Sidhel, Sevanna found most of the streets in the City of Light empty. And those that appeared to have people walking in them, Sevanna went around through the gates of the White Tower and up the stairs. Knocking on the outer door of the Amyrlin's office, Sevanna did not wait to see if the Keeper was still in her office. Relieved to find Brevalin Sedai not around, Sevanna knocked on Clara Sedai's office door. Hearing a tired voice call for her to enter, Sevanna took a deep breath and entered. Curtsying slightly, she waited for Clara to finish what she was working on. Once she was finished, she looked up and said, "Sevanna Sedai, how can I help you tonight. It is late."

"Mother, Iím in trouble. Forgive me please, I have done a terrible thing."

"Daughter, what is it?" Clara asked her concern showing only slightly on her perfect Aes Sedai calm.

"In two days from now thirteen sisters will come for me. Thirteen, to change my oaths to the Dark One." Swallowing, Sevanna could not look the woman across from her in the eyes.

"How did you come to learn this, Sevanna?" The question still did not reveal the Amyrlin's thoughts or emotions on the subject.

"I asked them to do so."

Silence. Sevanna did not look up but felt the shame go through her. Suddenly out of the top of her vision Sevanna noticed the glow of sai'dar surround Clara. Shocked, Sevanna reached for sai'dar to protect what ever might be done to her and found herself blocked from the Source. That surprised her even more.

"I came to you because I do not wish it, Mother. I have changed my mind." Sevanna pleaded, hoping the woman would believe her.

Clara just looked at her eyes, full of hatred, accusing hatred. Sevanna knew she would not be believed. She suddenly felt bonds of air tighten around her and gag her so she could not speak any further. "You may not address me as Mother any longer, Darkfriend." Feeling the bonds of Air push her to her feet, Sevanna simply nodded. If Clara Sedai wished to accuse her and have her sentenced to death because of what she did, Sevanna deserved it. It may be the only way to avoid being turned to the Dark One anyhow. Tears falling down her face in shame and anger, Sevanna walked in the direction the bonds of Air pushed her. It was late and Sevanna was glad she and Clara were the only ones walking through the halls. The shame from the accusing looks in her eyes tore at Sevanna's heart. How did I get myself into this mess? I would never decide to choose this path...how could this have happened?

Reaching the lowest part of the Tower, Sevanna was lead into the cell where she would be kept until she was put to face the Hall. She stood there watching as Clara closed the door leaving her alone. The bonds of Air were not released and Sevanna knew they would not be until another sister came to stand guard on her. It seemed hours before she felt the bonds loosen and she could sit again. A voice came down the stairwell, one she did not know well. "Turned yourself in Sevanna? A noble, honorable gesture." It mocked her sarcastically.

Sevanna did not attempt to reach for sai'dar or ask to be let go. She was accepting her fate as it was given to her. Sleeping for a few unrestful hours, Sevanna woke to a figure cloaked in black. It was the same woman who had caused her to tell the Amyrlin. "Foolish girl. If they still you before you are sentenced to death, the Dark One will not bring you to him. If they are not smart, they will just sentence you to death. This way your soul will be His."

Whispering, Sevanna said angrily, "How did you get in here, in the Tower? Leave me. I do not wish to belong to the Lord of the Dark. I will choose death over him."

The deep mocking laughter came from her. "Do you think death will keep him from you, Night Wind? You have already given him your soul. You forsake the Light, even now as you desperately wish it not so. It is too late, much too late."

* * *


The next day Sevanna was dragged from her cell and taken to the Hall of the Tower, to face her accusations of being a Darkfriend. When she arrived she could not look at a single person in the hall. She was shamed beyond belief. She did not know if she was going to have a chance to say anything in her defense. Nor did she really have anything to say. Sevanna had done the only thing in her life she vowed never to do. She gave up hope, gave up fighting for what was right, she gave up believing in anything. Head down defeated, she stood before the Hall as Brevalin announced Clara's arrival as Amyrlin, and as Clara went through the motions of her conviction. The only time Sevanna's head looked up was when she was asked if she had anything to say in her defense. Looking up in surprise at Clara, she said, "I only wish this to be over. No matter your decision I can not stop them from coming for me either in life nor in death." Tears caused by her despondency, Sevanna looked down. She did not have to hear what came next. Sevanna knew she would be sentenced to death on the following morning.

She did not fight as the led her away back to the cell where she would spend her last night. It was a restless night and she could not sleep. Nightmares of being turned to the Dark haunted her along with the hatred in the Amrylin's eyes. She had been stripped of shawl, ring and title and would be put to death. As day broke the sky, Sevanna sat up and stretched. She wondered if her Warder had been told of the day's events yet and what they were doing to restrain him.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Her head came up at once hearing those words. She knew them, remembered them. Looking around frantically, Sevanna searched for the arch that should appear with them. She knew that this was all not real. She knew she would never become a Darkfriend willingly or turn her back on her friends and the Tower. A guard of Sitters came down the stairwell to move Sevanna to the courtyard where she would be publicly executed. Panic filled her. The arch, where is the arch?

Pleadingly, Sevanna cried tears of frustration, "Please a few moments. I need just a few moments."

"You had your chance, Sevanna din Quirra. You chose the Dark, now you must pay the price. The Tower does not allow Darkfriends in our midst. There is no time now. You will come with us."

Sobbing, Sevanna looked around for the arch. This could not be happening. If they killed her, she would never return. "No please, I am not a Darkfriend, I would never. Please, someone believe me."

No one listened to her. Instead they bound her and gagged her with Air and carried her up to the courtyard where a hanging noose was already set up. Trying to fight within the weaves of Air, Sevanna desperately tried to get away. The harder she fought, the harder the flows tightened. Sobbing so that her whole body was racked with dreadful shaking, Sevanna had to find a way to the arch. It had to appear.

They stood her on a stool and wrapped the noose around her neck. Fear raced through Sevanna as time seemed to slow down. This could not be happening. The denouncement of her being a Darkfriend seemed to go on forever. She could not even focus on the words.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Screaming on the inside, Sevanna looked frantic as the words appeared in her head again. Suddenly the arches appeared. Directly in front of her they flickered. The unfairness of it all...if I donít step through they will kick the stool out from under me and I die. If I step through it I step off the stool and risk hanging myself. Torn between the decision, Sevanna looked around desperately.

Be steadfast.

Willing to risk it all, Sevanna did the unthinkable and stepped off the stool towards the arch. Feeling the tightness of the noose begin to stop her breathing, she blacked out.

* * *


Stumbling out of the arch, gasping for air, Sevanna fell to her knees coughing and gulping. Iris helped her to her feet and led her to stand in front of Clara Sedai.

"Remember."

Sevanna knelt in front of the woman again. The Amrylin stood there with the last chalice in her hands. A Sitter from each Ajah to each side of her, each wearing their shawls formally.

Sobbing at the realization of where she was, Sevanna looked at Clara and in a barely audible whisper said, "I am sorry. I promise that I would never..."

"Shhh now. It is over and you do not need to talk of it. Each woman's fears are her own."

In a formal voice. Clara continued while pouring the last chalice over Sevanna's head, "You are washed clean of Sevanna din Quirra of Tor'alin. You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to this world. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul. You are Sevanna din Quirra, Accepted of the White Tower. You are sealed to us, now."

Clara handed the chalice to Iris Sedai and took a gold ring in the shape of a serpent biting its own tail. She slipped it on Sevanna's third finger on her left hand indicating Acceptance. Once Sevanna was raised to Aes Sedai, she would be allowed to wear it on any finger she chose. Clara helped her to her feet. "Welcome, Daughter." Kissing her cheek then the other, "Welcome."

Tears still falling from her face, Sevanna took the Accepted dress that was handed to her and slipped it over her head. Then being allowed to return to her room, she quickly and quietly gathered her things and moved them to her new room. As soon as she was finished, she climbed the ramps to the upper levels of the Tower and found the empty and unused office she went to often. Walking through the dimly lit room, Sevanna let herself out on the balcony that overlooked the city towards the west and south. This place had come to be her favorite thinking spot.

She stood there letting the tears fall allowing herself to feel everything she had just faced. She vowed that she would never be any of the three things she saw...
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