Rendra glowered. And pouted. And glowered a bit more.
She’d been doing a fair amount of glowering and glaring since she found out that she could channel. ”I never asked for this,” Rendra pouted silently, glaring at the girls talking to each other around her, ”I don’t want to be a witch, I just wanted to learn to kill…”
Her train of thought died off as she noticed everyone moving towards a woman leaning against a nearby tree. Rendra slowly followed along, dragging her feet every step of the short trek. The woman introduced herself as Liadin, and proceeded to babble about stations and service – boring stuff that didn’t really mean anything to a hawker’s daughter… though this Liadin woman did have a fearsome glare she turned on all her students to drive her blah blah words home.
Before her thoughts could drift back to useless pouting, Liadin gestured to them to sit down, “Since we already know that you can channel, we can skip that part of the training and move right onto the actual work.” The older woman joined them on the ground and continued, “I want you to close your eyes. Now, leaving your eyes closed, I want you to picture a rosebud in your mind. Nothing else, just the rosebud. Imagine every detail, everything about it, picture it as if you were looking at it right here, right now.” Closing her eyes, Rendra snorted softly to herself, “I’m no bloody rose… except maybe to… no, can’t think about Aldric, I can’t!”
And yet somehow, her thoughts drifting to the dread Aldric relit a small fire in her heart, “If I have to learn to be a with for now, I will… for him… I don’t have to like it though.”
Picture the rosebud…
She let her mind remember a rose that Aldric and her brother had stolen and given her a year or two back – it was red, tightly curled, and very fragrant.
”Imagine every detail, everything about it, picture it as if you were looking at it right here, right now. “
In her mind, she could always remember her treasure in that rosebud. She had put it on the window ledge in a glass of water, and looked at it every day, studying the texture of the petals, the veins in the leaves…
”Imagine sunlight shining upon the rose, warming it, giving life, inviting it to open up.”
Rendra could remember how nice it was to spend the few spare moments she had while at home curled up in the warm rays of the sunlight, watching her flower. She herself could envision it, out here in the great outdoors with the sunshine on her shoulder. But all too soon, it had withered and died.. like all good things. Her mind flashed to when she had found the first fallen petal, and the sense of warmth she had felt creeping up on her dropped away with the mental image.
”Allow the rosebud to open at its own pace. Do not try to rush it, just let it happen. Don’t worry if you do not succeed the first time, the second time, the fifth time, or even the tenth time. This will become easier with time.
She sighed, and started again. And again. And again until she was able to feel a dribble of the Power suffuse her being. In her shock, she immediately lost control, but it was a start.
It had been a tiring week, and Rendra had a feeling that exhaustion would be the watchword for some time.
She still felt unclean at learning that she was to be a bloody witch, and this warred with her delight in the Power – everything seemed sharper, clearer… more alive, even! She was starting to understand the attraction of this channeling, but still…
It was yet another day in their training, and they once again were seated before Liadin in the shade of the same tree. In spite of herself, Rendra listened attentively to the older woman’s lecture about the Power. “The witches I’ve heard tales of made it all seem easier than this!” she thought emphatically.
Almost abruptly-seeming, Liadin channeled. She demonstrated the Five Powers individually, to which Rendra and her classmates joined in with on the second demonstration. The young Taraboner had a fairly easy time with Spirit, Air, and Water; these elements came very easily to her. She found channeling Earth and Fire… not necessarily difficult, but not exactly easy either. Both elements did come when she channeled them, but very weakly in comparision to the other three. Rendra understood why – men had an easier time with Earth and Fire than women did, but that fact still annoyed her slightly.
Liadin game them time to practice feeling each element out before suddenly channeling two elements entwined, and then rapidly channeling two more elements entwined. “This is what I want you to use as practice until next week, make spirals, make them in different combinations, and as you go stronger practice making more at once. Getting comfortable with drawing on the different elements, as well this would learn you which elements you find yourself stronger and weaker in.”
Rendra nodded, and let herself wander off a bit from the main group. She found it easier to practice without the other girls distracting her, though her own thoughts did a fair enough job of that. As she opened herself up to Saidar, she let her thoughts drift, “Perhaps when they’re done forcing me to learn how to use the Power, they’ll let me train as an assassin like I wanted to. I’m sure they will!” Her grip on Saidar slipped, and she grumbled an oath. Opening herself up again, she found that Air and Spirit came easiest, so she twisted threads of those elements twine around each other. Satisfied with that initial effort, she tried another combination, and another… and another.
As the week progressed, she found that her initial opinion on things held – Spirit was easiest, and Air and Water almost as simple. Fire and Earth were still harder, but they came all the same – just not as strongly. By the end of the week, she found that her strongest combinations were ones that contained Spirit, Air and Water, though she could muster Fire and Earth to a very mild degree with any of them. It was easier to do two or three strands at a time, but she had a feeling that it would be easier to do more complex weavings with more practice.
And by the end of that week, Rendra felt almost at peace with having to learn what she was learning.
Rendra continued to keep herself apart from her classmates over the course of the week. She wasn’t feeling terribly socialable, and preferred to work on tapping Saidar. The young woman still had her reservations with learning this witchcraft, but it was too fascinating for her to stop.
And so it was a slightly cheerful Taraboner that demonstrated her ‘skill’ with the Power when she reported in to Liandin for her final lesson. Her spirals seemed to be getting easier to make, and a touch stronger, but she wasn’t really too sure about it either. “For all I bloody know, I could be hallucinating this whole bloody thing! But let’s hope not…” Rendra thought to herself as she sat down under the tree to watch the next phase of instruction.
“Very well, let’s continue by learning to do something constructive; a simple weave of each element,” Liandin spoke, and pulled out a candle. She demonstrated lighting it with Fire and putting it out with Air, and then moved on to show how to make a mudpile, and a weave she called a Keeping, and then instructed everyone to try their hand at the weaves.
Rendra opened herself to the Power; it was quicker than when she started learning to channel a few weeks before, but not as quick as what their instructor could do. Weaving fire, she poked the flow at the candle. Nada. Frowning, she tried to envision the little sphere that Liadin had channeled around the wick. As her mind shaped it, a little sphere of Fire formed around the wick, and took to light. With a smile, Rendra shaped a weave of Air like she had of Fire around the wick, and watched the tell-tale trickle of smoke signify that her efforts were succesful.
Next, she tried her luck at making a mudpile. “This should be easier, since it’s sort of like doing the elemental blades!” Rendra thought to herself as she weaved a little bit of Earth and Water at the ground. Sure enough, a patch of mud started glistening at her. “Neat! she thought to herself before wrinkling her nose a tiny, “Gross, but neat… why would I need to know how to make mud with the Power? Odd…”
The final task was weaving a Keeping. Taking a flower from the pile, Rendra smiled and thought about the rose analogy that had helped her find her way to Saidar in the first place. The young Taraboner wasn’t too sure about this weave, and watched some of the other girls try their hands at it first. It seemed that everyone was having trouble trying to weave all the elements at once, but after a couple of tries they were getting it. Sighing softly, Rendra reached out for Saidar again and focused on the flower.
It took a couple of tries, which goes without saying. Rendra found herself having difficulty getting five flows to go at the same time, especially considering that the flow of Spirit was bigger than the other ones. Still, she was pretty sure she had managed it after a few tries, and Liadin confirmed her success.
After they all did their weaves, Liadin brought them back around her and gave a final speech before dismissing everyone, “All these things are useful at moments that you in time won’t come to think of using them less for if you lost the ability find how much you come to rely on them, which is another lesson to not forget how to rely on yourself without saidar. So please keep your flowers as a reminder. Class dismissed.”
Rendra smiled slightly as she rose from the ground, twirling the flower between her fingers. As she walked away, she thought to herself, “Perhaps I won’t let myself fully rely on Saidar; that would make me a witch, after all, but I think I can see where it might be of use, finally…”