Nodding distractedly to the woman… Accepted? at the front of the small room, Milandra took the first available desk she could find. She was still getting used to feeling so… underdressed. The materials that made up her Novice dress and accessories were fine enough… for a servant. “Change it for black, and my own parents would mistake me for kitchen staff,” she thought bleakly. She grimaced at her dishpan hands; she was positive that her family’s servants weren’t forced to work that hard!
Eventually, their teacher stood to introduce herself, and bade everyone else to do the same. “I am Milandra Basene, most recently of Tar Valon. Well, always of Tar Valon, seeing how I was born and raised here!” She decided to leave it at that; she didn’t want to gain any more potential enemies. She’d already earned herself punishment for being ‘stuck up’, when all she’d said was that nobody had ever dared yell at her quite that way before!
Next came the already dull warnings and chastisements about the dangers of Saidar. As she’d not touched the One Power yet, it all seemed over cautionary; was it really that dangerous? Still, she attempted to be mindful of these warnings, and dutifully prepared herself to take notes as instructed. Milandra had to admit that it was all fascinating, and even frightening; it had never occurred to her that Saidin itself was blameless, or that it was as important as Saidar to keeping the Wheel of Time turning. The thought of males channeling made her uneasy – if they knew they were destined to go mad, then why would they even dare to try?
She, of course, soon found out.
Milla put her pen down, and closed her eyes as instructed. She suddenly felt quite nervous – she was finally going to learn how to channel! ‘Be the rosebud’, they were told, and she’d get so excited that she would try to mentally rush the opening. Still, the teacher was calm and patient; it was impossible to not surrender to such tranquil instruction. “Be the rosebud,” Milla thought to herself as she slowly unfurled. Suddenly, there was an inexplicable warmth; could this be Saidar? She eagerly reached for the warmth in her mind, only for it to evaporate like the dew before the sun. Smiling triumphantly, she tried again and again until class was over. While still not sure how she felt about this whole being a Novice thing, this, at least, had been quite the experience.
09 August 2010 ( 10:30pm)
Milandra muttered to herself as she paused outside the classroom to tuck back an escaped wisp of hair. Some snotty little thing had stopped her en route to point out that her dress wasn’t pristinely white enough, and she was rather annoyed. “I did the best I could,” she grumbled, smoothing the slightly dingy fabric over her hips, “It’s not like I have any practical experience in laundering clothing!”
Shaking herself, Milla joined those filing into the classroom. Amadine was already standing and writing something on the board; it looked to be a list of names. “Any idea who these people are?” she whispered to the next girl over as she slid into a desk, only to be met with a shrug. Milla herself shrugged in reply just as Amadine called the class to attention. “I wonder what we’ll be learning today,” the young woman though to herself as she organized her writing materials. Her eyes flicked across the board curiously, wondering how it related.
Amadine asked if anyone knew what the list related to. Unsurprisingly, nobody did, though a few meek voices speculated. “This list,” the Accepted said while gesturing towards the board, “is the list of White Tower initiates who have burned themselves out.”
Milla felt the color draining from her face; it could have been a palette match for her dress. “So many!” she exclaimed to nobody in particular before taking hold of herself. Amadine was taking advantage of the disquiet to ram home the point, of course; she even had an experience of her own to regale them with. It all made Milla feel cold and vulnerable, and all the more so because some of the other girls had talked her into practicing with them! She definitely did not want to be a name on that list, only existing to scare future Novices!
Before she could scare herself into running away and never channeling again, Amadine abruptly changed the subject. She spoke of control, and of pushing and pulling. It made some initial sense, and even more once put into practice. Milla became the rosebud again; the warmth of Saidar caressed and comforted her from out of sight. She wanted it all, this warmth; how had she made it this long without the Power? So it was… difficult… to manage the cloud analogy. As Milla attempted to push Saidar back, her connection to Saidar fled. Or she pushed so gingerly that she might as well have not pushed at all; it took many tries to achieve modest success. Thankfully, Amadine was able to give a demonstration to her individually, as well as provide comfort, both of which helped breed a tiny bit of confidence.
All too soon, class was over. Milandra trudged out of the classroom wearily; practicing with Saidar was exhausting, and more blasted dishes were waiting…
06 October 2010 (8:10pm)
Milla walked into the classroom, absurdly grateful for a chance to not be scrubbing floors, or running kettles of water back and forth for the laundry. She knuckled her back, and slid into her accustomed seat grumbling to herself about slave labor, and this being the biggest racket in the world. “They trick you in here by getting you hooked on an addictive substance, promising you more of it, and then put you to work in the kitchens,” she grumped, glaring at her mangled hands. And yet, she knew this ire was futile; she’d already made a conscious decision to stay and learn what she could… but this didn’t make her like the so-called discipline that sweeping a path was supposed to give her!
A random basket at the front of the room caught her eye, but before she could think futher, Amadine addressed the class, “Today we are going to learn more about the nature of Saidar, and what we can do with it.” The Accepted proceeded to explain the relative strengths in elements by gender, as well as commenting on the colors of the elements. Milla took up her pen as instructed, and proceeded to make notes on the colors she saw as Amadine channeled:
Water: Sort of blue-green, like the river
Air: Light blue, a bit like the sky
She had thought she had noticed the hint of color before, so it made her happy to put name to face, as it were.
And then, the basket’s purpose was revealed as a multitude of bowls and kerchiefs were unloaded. A simple-seeming demonstration was to be had, a way to dry said kerchief with the One Power. At least, it looked simple; putting what was shown into action was a different story altogether. Milla still wasn’t especially adept at taking hold of Saidar, nor at making it do what she wanted it to do. At least water was an easy element to call once she did have a hold on Saidar, though it did take a few tries to get the twisting to work just so.
She was idly wondering if she could use the same weave to remove the bits of water that fell onto the desk when Amadine called the class back to attention. “This time I will use air to lift the handkerchief from the table,” she said, before proceeding to demonstrate. This weave looked even easier, as one couldn’t even call it a weave; there was only a single strand of Air involved! The young girl surrendered herself to Saidar, and poked at the bit of fabric with a thread of Air. It didn’t dance exactly; it fell off the table instead. Looking around quickly, she retrieved it from the floor, placed it back on the desk, and tried again. This time, she managed to get the kerchief into the air. It took a few more false starts before she could keep it up there and make it ‘dance’, but it took less time and encouragement than she feared that it would.
Milandra was feeling almost cocky after all that success; perhaps learning channelling wouldn’t be as difficult as they made it out to be. She still refused to believe that she’d have to spend the next several years at her studies, especially since she almost had it all figured out…
06 October 2010 (9:28pm)
Milandra found herself running down the hall tucking her hair into place as best as one could while running. It streamed around her, taunting her attempts to tame it, but she dare not stop and do it properly. She was already late to class, and she didn’t fancy another beating because she wasn’t able to magically transport herself from one place to the next at a whim. If Saidar was able to do such a thing, you’d think they’d teach it first off, considering that they seemed to expect everyone to be everywhere at once. “Hurry, don’t hurry, stop running, you’re late!” she muttered to herself. Or, attempted to – it all came out as gasps and grunts. Stopping herself by expedient of running into the wall, she groaned, gave up on her hair, and dragged herself across the threshold, and to her desk.
Apparently, the day was for flowers. Milandra liked flowers as much as the next girl, but she couldn’t see what was important about making them bloom. She supposed the concept was neat, but putting it into practice wasn’t exactly a bed of roses in and of itself. Earth was nowhere near as easy to raise as Water or Air, and therefore making multiple threads was similarly difficult. Weaving them into the requisite pattern was easier, though she went through more flowers than she cared to admit before Amadine was satisfied. “It will get easier with practice,” the Accepted assured her with a smile at one point, but that didn’t provide a lot of comfort in the now.
The next task was a tiny bit easier, if only just. Fire was even harder for her to muster than Earth; she struggled to raise even the smallest thread. But once she did, it was an easy affair to apply the pure weave to the candle’s virgin wick. It was even easier to snuff it with the prescribed thread of water, though it left the wick a touch damp. “Perhaps it would be better to snuff it with Air, Milla speculated as she pushed the candle to the side of her desk, “At least you’re not left with a damp wick, then.”
The last bit of the lesson was, apparently, primarily talking. The element of Spirit was apparently the go-to for most of the cool things, as was proven by a demonstration of Warding. Her eyes bulged slightly as Amadine wove; it was in that moment that Milandra realized that she might have a lot more to learn than she realized. The way the older woman made such weaving look easy and mundane was rather impressive… even if the other students’ conversation about breakfast wasn’t.
And, to her surprise… “Congratulation ladies,” the Accepted smiled at her students, “this concludes your Introduction to Saidar course…”
She went on, of course, but Milandra barely heard. It was hard realizing that one was woefully unprepared, and only at the beginning of a long road. It was even harder accepting it, but after so many weeks, it was starting to sink in.