"Remember, the last time you enter the ter’angreal is for what will be."
Marya looked at the Mistress of Novices. Khenda Sedai looked back with a glimpse of worries. "Are you sure you can take it this last time?"
Marya merely nodded. Her whole body was still trembling from the outburst of tears she had when she stumbled out of the ter’angreal. Twice she had entered the silver bows now, her testing to become an Accepted in the White Tower. Now she understood why Naila, who had been tested half a year ago (and passed) refused to talk about it. What she had seen, and done, was something she could never live with. I would never let my parents die like that, she thought anxiously. Never, I would never- She felt a sob in her throat.
"Are you sure you are ready?" Khenda Sedai asked.
"I suppose I am," Marya answered and stepped through the silver bow. It can never be worse than what I have gone through already.... White light erased all her memories.
Marya was sitting in her office, at her desk. She was reading one of the tiny papers that arrived today. A message from one of her sources in Osenrein. Marya was Head of the Blue Eyes and Ears Network and did her job very well. She worked close together with Naila Sedai, the Head of the Blue Ajah. Naila and she had been novices and Accepted together, and they shared everything. They were a great team, always listening to advices from the other, and gaining information for eachother. Naila was her best friend in the Tower, they knew everything about each other. And they told eachother really everything. In fact, they ruled the Ajah together.
The Amyrlin Seat had said once they were a remarkable couple, trusting eachother with secrets the Tower, or the world, could not know. Their trust was the most remarkable thing - especially since the rumours of Darkfriends in the White Tower, The Black Ajah, were buzzing around in Tar Valon. Marya expected an outburst every day, since the atmosphere in the city became more tensed day by day.
She stared at the words, thinking about other things that did not really matter, until she suddenly actually read the letters. And understood the message on the little paper. "Oh dear Light," she whispered when she re-read the words of her source in Osenrein. "The people are starting to believe the lies, they are beginning to suspect the White Tower. But the people who exclaim their doubts, are dying all of a sudden. I cannot remember the Amyrlin giving the order to let them hush."
Me neither, Marya thought, feeling a stab of panic. Naila wore the title of Sealed to the Flame, and told her every important thing she needed to know. Every announcement the Amyrlin had made. The Amyrlin trusted Naila and Marya, since they were all raised from the Blue Ajah. She always appreciated the advice they could give her. And told them a lot in exchange. But Naila nor the Amyrlin herself never told a thing about killing the people who spread rumours about the Black Ajah. The Amyrlin cursed about it sometimes, and even announced in public there existed no such thing as a Black Ajah, but she had never ever said a thing that came even near what was happening now.
Suddenly Marya found herself running to Naila’s office. Running! a part of her thought amused. For how long are you Aes Sedai now, Marya? Aes Sedai do not run. Strange enough, something in her screamed: I am not Aes Sedai! I am not even Accepted yet! while another part answered: I am for almost twenty years, and I still run when I am excited. Isnt it terrible? She pushed the thoughts away, together with a thought that did not seem to come from her own mind. It said something about a return that would come only once. And about being steadfast. It did not matter. She had to talk to Naila.
She rushed into the office, and froze immediately when she saw what was going on there. In no longer than a single heartbeat, she understood the whole situation. Naila was lying on the ground, sobbing, crying, mentally broken. Crying something she did not know more things, honestly, she did not!
Three Aes Sedai bended over her, two of them surrounded by the glow of saidar. Marya recognized the Aes Sedai immediately. She had been in close contact with them. Khenda, Mistress of the Novices; Myrindhe, Head of the Yellow Ajah and Shumaila, Head of the Reds.
At that moment, the door Marya had threw open, slammed against the wall. The three Aes Sedai looked up immediatly. In the same instant, Marya did something she had not done before. She reached for saidar, embraced it, and shielded the three of them in that same moment. In that same heartbeat.
Naila got up slowly, trembling, almost falling. "They are Black Ajah, Marya. They shielded me and - and..." She fell on the floor again. "I cannot help you, Marya. You should get help. I cannot-"
Marya saw the blood on the back of her friend and understood. Naila did not even have the strength to keep herself erect. She could never be able to reach for the True Source to help her. Or being able to run away for help. She had to keep the shields up until someone would pass by. Someone had to react on the feeling of the One Power being used out here!
"Marya," Khenda said, her face smooth and almost friendly. "Dear Sister, this is not necessary at all, we-"
"Shut up!" she snapped, and hit the other woman with Air. Marya felt how it became harder and harder to keep the flows together. She wiped the sweat off her face and felt tired. She held as much saidar as she could, the feeling of sweetness and life so dazzling and wonderful that it almost hurted. Naila moaned while laying on the floor. "Dont let them go, Marya, dont let them go. They will kill us all..."
But Marya felt the flows slipping away. She was exhausted.
Naila saw it happening from where she lay. "Hold on, Marya, for Light’s sake, hold on - oh Light, the pain..."
Desperation flared up in Marya. This was going wrong. She could not bare it anymore. If she was holding on much longer, she would burn herself out or kill herself. I have to hold on, she thought, panic taking over. I have to.
The return willcome but once, she heard a bodyless voice saying. Be steadfast. She almost jumped from the shock. There was recognision in that voice, something she had to do. It sounded urgent.
Nothing is more urgent than this, she thought, sweat streaming down her face and back. Nothing could possibly more- She lost the flows. They simply slipped away, and she missed the power to hold on any longer. "Oh Light," she whispered while she felt the weaves collapse. Within the same heartbeat, she saw a silver bow standing a few paces away. It was filled with a pure white light. She had to go through.
Nothing is possibly more urgent than this, she thought panicking, while she saw Khenda reach for the One Power. Bloody fire, I have to-
"Marya!" Naila wept terrified. "Dont leave me! Dont let me die!"
Marya threw herself into the white light....
She opened her eyes when she felt cold water being poured over her head. She heard the voice of the Amyrlin, declaring she would be an Accepted of the White Tower and - she remembered. Naila.... and Khenda, Myrindhe and Shumaila. They were all Head of an Ajah. And present in this room.
She opened her eyes, reached for the One Power, and before anyone could react, it was raining lightning in the room. "Darkfriends!" She heard herself scream. "You killed Naila! Darkfriends! I will never let you do your filthy work anymore, I swear by the Light!"
There was a storm raging through and around her. An explosion. Screaming, thunder and sounds she could not recognize. She did not care, They killed Naila, and the Light would know who else. Naila! The woman who had been more than a sister for her.... Feelings of rage and anger died, when she felt on her knees, exhausted. The storm lied down. Stopped. Marya looked up, in the room. Bodies were lying on the floor, totally burnt out, smoking.
The silver ter’angreal, that had always seemd so solid, lied on the floor, broken. The white light that had always filled it, was gone. That must have been the explosion, she thought hazily. The bodies!
Oh Light! The Amyrlin! The Keeper. The Head of the Greens, of the Greys, the Browns. The innocent. I killed them all! Light, no! Have mercy, have mercy! Naila!
"Marya!" Naila ran into the room, followed by three Aes Sedai. They looked into the room and froze. They saw the total destruction, the dead. Marya sitting on her knees, crying.
"Marya!" Naila exclaimed. "What have you done?!"
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
The testing ter’angreal is maybe one of the most interesting things of the whole Wheel of Time-series. For some reason, it fascinates me intensely. The idea popped up in my head while being bored during a class of Marketing: why wouldnt a girl, an Accepted-to-be not break by the strain of her greatest fear? I began to write immediately, and went on until I was finished. That was, actually, in the train when going home from the Uni. *grins* When I placed my writing stuff in my bag, I suddenly realized that Marya might have done the right thing in killing Khenda, Myrindhe and Shumaila. The third time in the ter’angreal is for what will be. We never really figured out how much of this experience will come true in the future, but came to the conclusion that this is pretty much. Look at Egwenes testing: the existence of Beldeine, a Green, her own raising to Amyrlin and the opposing of Elaida. And Nynaeves testing: her marriage to Lan, the name of her Aes Sedai counsil: Sharina. An old woman popped up in Salidar, and with even greater strength than Nyn herself.
Too many things that happen in that ter’angreal come true - so maybe these three Aes Sedai were really Darkfriends. If that is true, Marya did the right thing by killing them, though she killed them in rage, not thinking, and caught in memories. Caught between the dream and reality. And that made that she killed everyone, including the Amyrlin. If she would have been more calm, she could have spared the lifes of the innocent. But again, COULD this be? Could those women be Darkfriends? *grins* I guess we will never know.
Fact is that Marya did something horrible - and the confrontation with the living Naila must have taken her from her senses permanently, I think. Poor Marya.