“Egwene stepped out of the silver arch cold and stiff with anger. She wanted the iciness of anger to counter the searing of memory. Her body remembered burning, but other memories scored and scorched more deeply. Anger cold as death. “Is that all there is for me?” she demanded. “To abandon him again and again. To betray him, fail him, again and again. Is that what there is for me?”” – The Dragon Reborn, p. 266
In The Great Hunt, the sequence for Nynaeve’s Accepted Test was a perfect example of exploring her character and trajectory for where the rest of the series will be taking her. That was an interesting sequence as it importantly took place before being lured out of the White Tower by Liandrin and sold into slavery. While Nynaeve was not as traumatized, it becomes apparent that the trauma is reflective on the Accepted test when Egwene is tested. The Accepted Test is already a traumatic experience, causing the candidates to face their past, the present, and what may be all through potential versions of what has happened or what will happen. Jordan has threaded seeds in the past novel of the potential way events could be played out, essentially futureproofing the idea that characters have plot armor because all of the choices and events which could lead to ruin or success. This is an Egwene who is already traumatized, while she is informed of the possibility of being a Dreamer and entering a mysterious world of dreams. This is something which will be discussed further on when the explanations come in the book as the chapter only introduces the idea of a world of dreams and Egwene getting a ter’angreal of her own to use, meant to assist her in entering the dreaming with dangers if she were injured (Verin has a scar from being hurt in the world of dreams.
The Accepted Test for Egwene is perhaps more traumatic than Nynaeve’s, simply because Egwene already has trauma she is attempting to deal with. Her reaction to being told that she is going to be tested, unexpectedly immediately after leaving Verin’s study is “Tonight? Already? But I am half-asleep, Aes Sedai, and dirty, and. . . . I thought I would have days yet. To get ready. To prepare.” – The Dragon Reborn, p. 244. She is not prepared for what the test could be and Nynaeve did not tell her as she was not allowed to know what the tests would be. She has the option to not attempt the test and have two more chances, but once she begins the test she must see it through to completion or die. The death aspect is possible, “The way back will come only once” – The Great Hunt/The Dragon Reborn is a mantra repeated by Sheriam before each portion of the test implying that if she doesn’t take the way back she will remain in whatever world, fantasy or reality, she sees. Sheriam describes the worlds thusly “The answer is, no one knows. It has been speculated that perhaps some of those who do not come back chose to stay because they found a happier place, and lived out their lives there…If it is real, and they stayed from choice, then I hope the lives they live are far from happy. I have no sympathy for any who run form their responsibilities.” – The Dragon Reborn, p. 251. While Sheriam’s harshness serves to inspire Egwene to keep going (this is after she has gone through the first arch and first vision), it is also an important note that she can be tempted, the first vision is tempting and reflects on opportunities past.
The first vision, like Nynaeve’s, is a reflection of the past, though in a different way. It is an alternate future in Emond’s Field where she and Rand are married, have a daughter, and everything seems peaceful. Of course, this is something which does not, nor could it, last. Rand has had headaches and mysterious circumstances, clearly being because he is the Dragon Reborn. Egwene also doesn’t know she can channel and is afraid if someone finds out that she can mysteriously bring people back from the brink of death. They also have a daughter, all representing things that Egwene wanted at some point, but something that has already come to something she does not want. While this does not end in violence, it does end with her turning her back on her lover and child, rejecting something that she cannot have. Rand has already become the Dragon Reborn, and she can no longer have him. It is not weaved into the pattern of the Wheel of Time.
The second is a reflection of the present. Egwene is Aes Sedai, with a Great Serpent Ring on her finger, and Rand is pinned under the beam of the palace at Caemlyn, going mad. This Rand is aware of his madness and cries out to Egwene “The dagger…Here. In the heart. Kill me.” – The Dragon Reborn, p. 253. He is also afraid of this: ““They can turn me, Egwene.” His breathing was so tortured she wished she could weep. “If they take me –the Myrddraal – the Dreadlords – They can turn me to the Shadow. If madness has me, I cannot fight me. I won’t know what they are doing till it is too late. If there is even a spark of life left when they find me they can still do it. Please, Egwene. For the love of the Light, kill me.”” – The Dragon Reborn, p. 254. This is something that is confirmed that could happen, if a Myrddraal and thirteen channelers link they can force someone away from the Light and to the Shadow, something that only frightens Egwene more. Egwene is forced to leave him, under a beam, given over to the Shadow.
The final vision is of what is to come. What Egwene hopes to achieve as an Aes Sedai and what the Pattern may have in store for her. She is the Amyrlin Seat, raised from the Green Ajah at a time where the Dragon Reborn has declared himself. Rand has declared himself and has been captured by the Red Ajah and brought to the Tower to be gentled. She refuses to give the order and Elaida takes her own faction of Red Ajah to do so while Egwene is then captured by the Black Ajah and the fear is put into her that she will be turned to the Shadow. Elaida is explicitly Black Ajah in this vision, however, it is important to note that it is not the ‘real’ world. This is a potential future at least partially brought on by Egwene’s own thoughts and especially biases. Elaida may be vicious and actively hostile to the idea of the Dragon Reborn, but she has not shown any signs of being a Black Ajah, or even believing the Black Ajah exist. And of course the vision ends with Egwene abandoning Rand one final time, with the angreal also malfunctioning, something that Alanna apologizes for as she believes it is her fault.
Elaida, Alanna, and Sheriam are all potential candidates for Black Ajah in the minds of Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve when they discuss the events of the evening after Egwene and Elayne’s Accepted tests. Jordan includes no details of Elayne’s test, but the way she is written after it becomes clear that she is also traumatized by the experience, almost more so than Nynaeve. They have all gone through trauma and this trauma brings them further into the Tower and further on the path that the Wheel of Time wishes them to be on.