|OOC Note: This takes place prior to the Miahala and Ravak wedding reception.|
It had been perhaps a full year since Tia had been thrust into the position of Mistress of Novices. Overall, she found she did not mind the position, though the title did mean she could not escape to the Citadel as she might like. If she were to be honest with any who asked, she would tell them she was starting to feel antsy.
The Aes Sedai was a Green Sister, and they did not often anchor themselves to the Tower. Well. . .perhaps they did, though they often traveled far and wide to fight the Shadow wherever they might find it. Initially, the Citadel had been a blessed distraction, giving her time and space to sort through her muddled feelings for Jaryd. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit she missed him and his companionship. She wasn’t quite ready to revisit the subject of her feelings for him, or his for her.
Given he was Master of Soldiers, the two often saw one another, and they were more than cordial, but Tia kept a bit of distance. Jaryd respected her unspoken boundary, though there were times when it seemed he wished to broach the subject. Tia was always quick to either direct the conversation where she wished it to go, or make a hasty retreat. Thus far, the Red Asha’man respected the distance and boundary Tia set forth.
The Green Sister had accepted many new Novices into the Grey Tower, and she’d also summoned several Novices to face the Arches. The Raising test was always nerve wracking. The warning Mirin Sedai had given Tia when she faced the Arches had stuck with her, and she delivered the same dire warning to those she called forth.
Prior to the first time Tia summoned a Novice to go through the Arches, she spoke with her Indigo Sisters about how the the ter’angreal worked. More than anything, she wanted to know what to look for if a Novice were lost to the Arches. Their answer was less than satisfying. The Object would stop glowing and the Novice would just be gone. As far as they were aware, there was no way to go back through and fetch those who were lost.
The Tower hadn't lost a Novice in many years, but it was always a very real possibility. Each time Tia put a Novice before the Arches, she prayed to the Creator for the girl’s safe return. She knew how nervous the girls were, as she recalled how anxious she’d been when she stood before the Arches. She also knew she was perhaps just as nervous, but could never let on. She really hated the entire concept of the Aes Sedai Facade.
Today, the Mistress of Novices summoned Lissa A’yasa, a Novice from Tear. By all accounts, the young Novice was very skilled with the One Power and showed a great deal of promise. She was young, but not the youngest that had ever been summoned to face the Arches. Her teachers all said she’d been quick to grasp each of her lessons, and showed a maturity beyond her years. She was just shy of her twentieth birthday.
As the Mistress of Novices stood in front of the now naked Novice, Tia gave her warning, “The way comes but once. Be steadfast. There are those who have entered the Arches and were lost to us. The way comes but once. Be steadfast.”
Lissa had always been a serious young woman, and now was no exception. She gave a solemn nod and approached the Arches. A second later, she stepped through, the Arches glowing as they came to life.
For the Mistress of Novices, and the other Aes Sedai who stood as witness, the waiting was nerve wracking. The Grey Tower hadn’t lost a Novice in several years, but knowing such a fact offered little comfort to Tia. Seconds felt like minutes, and minutes felt like hours. Finally, Lissa stepped through, tears streaming down her face. Tia felt her heart break for the girl, knowing how hard it could be to experience what the Arches put before you.
Tia poured the water from the silver chalice over the girl’s head, “You are washed clean of what sin you may have done, and of those against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may have committed, and of those committed against you. You come to us washed clean and pure, in heart and soul.” Gently, Tia guided Lissa to the second arch, “The second time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be Steadfast."
The Novice showed great resolve as she took a deep breath and stepped back through to face her second Arch. Once again, Tia and the others waited. The Arches glowed brightly, and seemed to hum while in operation. Tia tried not to pace because the other Aes Sedai would cast seemingly disapproving looks her way. She didn’t care. They were not the ones responsible for the girls who came before the arches. They were not the ones who would have to explain to the girl’s parents why they would never see their daughter again.
Tia rubbed the back of her neck as she paced, and glanced to the Arches. Something seemed to change. Did the Arches flash? Arching a brow, Tia looked to the Blue sister who stood near by. She looked just as confused as Tia.
Not a moment later, everything went quiet. The glow left the Arches, and the hum faded out. Lissa was nowhere to be seen. Blood drained from the Mistress of Novice’s face. The other Aes Sedai all stepped forward.
“Sister, what should we do?” the Red representative asked.
Furrowing her brows, Tia turned to look at her, and shook her head, “Someone should fetch the Amyrlin Seat. I will. . .I will explain to her that we’ve lost our Novice.” She couldn’t move, nor could she take her eyes off the Arches. Perhaps if they gave Lissa more time. Perhaps it was just a glitch. Perhaps . . . “Someone else fetch Elia Sedai.” The Green knew there was no other with a better understanding of Objects of Power. Perhaps she might know of a way to bring their lost Novice home?