Aes Sedai Testing Ter'angreal

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Author: Kyria d'Oreyn

General

The ter'angreal used for the Aes Sedai Test is a great oval ring, shimmering in a multitude of colors, that leads the summoned Accepted into another world, where she has to perform one hundred weaves without fail (NS, Ch. 9).

On the lowest level of the White Tower, behind paired doors as tall and wide as fortress gates, the span-high and pace-wide ter'angreal stands unsupported and centered beneath the dome of a round white chamber. The oval ring is narrow at the top and bottom, the rounded rim not thicker than two or three inches. It glitters in the lamplight, from gold or silver to green or blue "or swirls of all, never the same for more than a moment" (NS, Ch. 9; Ch. 11).

When the ter'angreal is activated by complex weaves of the Five Powers, the color-shifting increases, "until it flashed like a kaleidoscope attached to a mill wheel," and the ring slowly begins to revolve around its base. The opening inside it turns to a sheet of pure white; Moiraine notes that it seems to absorb the light of the stand-lamps around, making the room grow dim (NS, Ch. 9).

It seems that one would forget things upon entering the oval ring, as the Aes Sedai touch your head with a weave similar to Healing, saying "Remember what must be remembered," before you're allowed to step through. Moiraine doesn't know where she is or how she got there, only that she has to complete the one hundred weaves on the six-pointed stars while remaining calm on the outside, and that faltering will mean failure; she also remembers her family, Shadowspawn and other creatures among other things (NS, Ch. 9).

Inside the ter'angreal

The world inside the ter'angreal is not consistent. It can be affected by those activating it; they can see what happens inside but once the test is over, no one will speak of it (NS, Ch. 10). Moiraine thinks that the place inside the ter'angreal is peculiar, almost like a dream; but damage taken is real (NS, Ch. 9), like in Tel'aran'rhiod. We only know what Moiraine faces while inside it:

Upon entering, Moiraine finds herself in a plain stone corridor line with stand-lamps and only one door at the far end, which opens onto "a large, circular courtyard surrounded by tall brick arches supporting a columned walk" with gilded spires and domes all around. Three grimey men step out from under an arch, leering and advancing toward her (NS, Ch. 9).

When she is done with her first weave, she steps through an arch and instead of still having the courtyard behind her, there is a corridor of rough-dressed stone with lamps in iron brackets high on the walls. Beyond the doorway at the far end lies a tiny village with a dozen small thatch-roofed houses and ramshackle barns that seem to have been abandoned in a drought; it is still very hot, dry and dusty. Moiraine finds the next six-pointed star on the cracked green tiles in front of a lonely well. Around her, only parched fields and bare-branched trees are to be seen, but suddenly blackclaw bushes envelop her, their dark inch-long thorns piercing her skin. Poisonous death's-head spiders appear (NS, Ch. 9).

Moiraine then enters the pitch blackness of one of the thatch-roofed houses, walking toward a small patch of light for about a quarter of an hour. When she finally steps through the gate, she sees a "solid wall of massive stones, five paces high and thirty on a side, surrounded a stone-paved square, but [...] nothing beyond it, not one building, not a tree." Trollocs attack her here. When her third weave is completed, a shadowed archway in the wall appears (NS, Ch. 9).

After ninety-nine weaves, Moiraine finds herself small garden with a burbling marble fountain, surrounded by a collonade of thin, fluted columns. Her father steps out of the collonade and asks Moiraine to come with him, because her mother is dying (NS, Ch. 10).

Moiraine mentions a variety of other settings where she found the six-pointed star (NS, Ch. 10):

  • "She found the six-pointed star laid out in round river stones amid the towering dunes of a desert where the heat made her lightheaded and sucked the moisture from her skin before sweat had time to form."
  • "She found it drawn in the snow on a mountainside where gale winds beat at her and lightning struck all around, and in a great city of impossible towers where people babbled at her incomprehensibly."
  • "She found it in a night-shrouded forest, in a blackwater swamp, in a marsh of tall grass that cut like knives, on farms and plains, in hovels and palaces."