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The Three Arches Raising Template

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Raising Tests
The Great Stair (Accepted and Dedicated) - The Test for the Fancloak (Ji'val) - The Test of Honour (Drin) - The Three Arches (Novices and Soldiers)

Novice's Entry

The Mistress of Novices lead the novice into the lowest basement. The pale rock through which it has been hewn was smooth but unadorned. There were two sets of high wooden doors as tall as the Gate of the Battlements. The lamps, set high on both sides of the doors, were only lit next to one set and casted eerie shadows along the other.

Easily pushing one door open, the Mistress of Novices allowed the novice to enter first. As the novice stepped into the great domed chamber, she saw that the lamps, on their high stands, illuminated the chamber.

There were three rounded, silver arches in the center of the room. They were just tall enough to walk under and sat on a thick silver ring with their ends touching where they joined it. Around the Arches sat three Aes Sedai. One sister's eyes are open as she lead the other two. Four other Aes Sedai stood to one side of the domed room near a table which holds three chalices. An eighth sister closed the doors through which the novice and the Mistress of Novices entered. Not counting the Mistress of Novices, there was an Aes Sedai from each Ajah present.

The Mistress of Novices moved to flank the novice. Her voice was soft as she spoke, and her eyes stared at the Arches as well.

"I will tell you two things which no woman hears until they stand where you do now. Once you begin, you must go on till the end. Refuse at any time there after, and you will be put out of the Tower as if you had refused to begin for the third time. Second. To seek, to strive, is to know danger."

She sounded as if she had said this many times, and her tone became more serious. There was a light of sympathy in her eyes which belied the serious tone.

"Some women have entered, and never come out again. Even when the ter’angreal was allowed to grow quiet, they were not there. And they were never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. Falter, fail, and..."

Her silence was more eloquent than any words.

"This is your last chance," the Mistress of Novices continued. "Refuse now and it only counts as the first refusal. You may still try twice more. If you accept now, there is no turning back. It is no shame to refuse. Many do. Choose."

"I accept," the novice said.

"Then ready yourself."

Belatedly, the novice remembered she was to enter the Arches naked. The novice folded her clothing neatly and set the bundle down on the marble floors. Even this deep in the bowels of the Tower, the floor of the chamber felt warm.

When the novice was ready, the Mistress of Novices led her toward the Arches and the Aes Sedai who stood ready, watching.

"Whom do you bring with you, sister?" the Aes Sedai intoned.

The Mistress of Novices stepped forward at a measured pace as the novice walked toward the Arches.

"One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, sister."

"Is she ready?"

"She is ready to leave behind what she was, and passing through her fears, gain Acceptance."

"Does she know her fears?"

"She has never faced them, but now is willing."

"Then let her face what she fears," the Aes Sedai intoned and stepped aside.

The Mistress of Novices stopped before the first Arch.

"The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

The novice stepped toward the first Arch and was surrounded by bright light.

Soldier's Entry

The Master of Soldiers lead the soldier into the lowest basement. The pale rock through which it has been hewn is smooth but unadorned. There were two sets of high wooden doors as tall as the Gate of the Battlements. The lamps, set high on both sides of the doors, were only lit next to one set and casted eerie shadows along the other.

Easily pushing one door open, the Master of Soldiers allowed the soldier to enter first. As the soldier stepped into the great domed chamber, he saw that the lamps, on their high stands, illuminated the chamber.

There were three rounded, silver arches in the center of the room. They were just tall enough to walk under and sat on a thick silver ring with their ends touching where they joined it. Around the Arches sat three Asha'man. One brother's eyes are open as he lead the other two. Four other Asha'man stood to one side of the domed room near a table which holds three chalices. An eighth brother closed the doors through which the soldier and the Master of Soldiers entered. Not counting the Master of Soldiers, there was an Asha'man from each Ajah present.

The Master of Soldiers moved to flank the soldier. His voice was soft as he spoke, and his eyes stared at the Arches as well.

"No man hears these words until he stands where you stand now, Soldier. Once you begin, you must continue until it is ended. If you refuse at any time between entering the first Arch and leaving the third, you will be put out of the Tower as though you had approached the Room of the Arches three times and each time refused." He pauses. "To seek, to strive, is to know danger.

"Some men have entered the Arches and never come out." His face held a brief hint of compassion. "Even when the ter'angreal was allowed to quiet, they were not there. Not then, and never since. You must remain resolute. Falter, fail and... "

His silence was more eloquent than any words.

"This is your last chance," the Master of Soldiers continued. "You may refuse now, and it shall be counted as the first attempt. If you choose to go on, then there will be no turning back until you either return from the third Arch, or remain lost in the Arches for the rest of the Ages. It is no shame to refuse. Many do. Choose."

"I accept," the soldier said.

"Then ready yourself."

Belatedly, the soldier remembered he was to enter the Arches naked. The soldier folded his clothing neatly and set the bundle down on the marble floors. Even this deep in the bowels of the Tower, the floor of the chamber felt warm.

When the soldier was ready, the Master of Soldiers led him toward the Arches and the Asha'man who stood ready, watching.

"Whom do you bring with you, brother?" the Asha'man intoned.

The Master of Soldiers stepped forward at a measured pace as the soldier walked toward the Arches.

"I bring one who comes as a candidate for Dedication, brother."

"Is he ready?"

"He is ready to leave behind what he was and, passing through his fears, gain Dedication."

"Does he know his fears?"

"He has never faced them, but is willing."

"Then let him face what he fears," the Asha'man intoned, and stepped aside.

The Master of Soldiers stopped before the first Arch.

"The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

The soldier stepped toward the first Arch and was surrounded by bright light.

The First Arch

You will write your first arch and put it in here.

---

The silver Arch flashed before the novice/soldier and she/he stepped into the light and was consumed. Memory flooded back to her/him as s/he was confronted with the face of the Mistress of Novices/Master of Soldiers. An Aes Sedai/Asha'man emptied a silver chalice over her/his head.

"You are washed clean," s/he intoned, "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."

The Mistress of Novices/Master of Soldiers led her/him to the Second Arch. "The second time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be Steadfast."

S/he stepped into the second arch and was enveloped by bright light.


The Second Arch

You will write your second arch and put it in here.

---

The Silver Arch flashed before the novice/soldier and s/he stepped through. Again s/he felt cold water flow over her/him and listened to an Aes Sedai/Asha'man's words.

"You are washed clean of false pride," s/he intoned. "You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul."

The Mistress of Novices/Master of Soldiers gently took her/his arm and led her/him to the last Arch. "There is but one left child," s/he said.

"The third time is for what will be. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast."

S/he stepped through the last arch and was again enveloped in the bright light.


The Third Arch

You will write your third and final arch and put it in here.

Novice's Exit

As she stepped out of the Arch, the Amyrlin Seat stood before her with the last chalice in her hands, as well as a shawled Aes Sedai from each Ajah. The novice knelt before her. She slowly poured it over the novice's head as she spoke.

"You are washed clean of who you were. You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul. You are Accepted of the Grey Tower." The last drop splashed into the novice's hair. "You are sealed to us, now."

The Amyrlin passed the empty chalice to one of the sisters and produced a gold ring in the shape of a serpent biting its own tail. The novice trembled as the Amyrlin placed the ring on the third finger of the novice's left hand.

The Amyrlin helped her to stand. "Welcome, daughter," she said and kissed the new Accepted's cheek. "Welcome."

Soldier's Exit

As the soldier stepped out of the Arch, the M'Hael stood before him with the last chalice in his hands, as well as an Asha'man wearing cords from each Ajah. The soldier knelt before him. He slowly poured it over the soldier's head as he spoke.

"You are washed clean of who you were. You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul. You are Dedicated of the Grey Tower." The last drop splashed into the soldier's hair. "You are sealed to us, now."

The M'Hael passed the empty chalice to one of the Sisters and produces a silver pin in the shape of a sword. The soldier trembled as the M'Hael pressed it into the palm of his hand.

The M'Hael helped him to stand. "Welcome, son," he said and kissed the new Dedicated's cheek. "Welcome."