Home is Never Home, Dear Diary

Milandra was a furious young woman. Never in her life had she imagined that she was signing up for a life of torture, theft, and slave labour… and yet, here she was. And the worst part of it was that she was so ashamed of her lack of forethought that she couldn’t even bring herself to tell her family. Her family, that were so close, yet so far away; for all she had been born and raised in Tar Valon, she wasn’t that confident that she could find her parents’ estate on her own.

Still,” she thought to herself as she flung herself down in front of her desk in exhaustion, “They let me keep my most important possession.” She caressed its leather cover lovingly, taking a moment to pick it up and feel its comforting weight. It was one of many diaries she had filled over the years, and while she had left her old ones in her chambers at her parents’ estate, she had her current one to hand. She resisted the urge to torment herself with posts from happier days, and equipped herself with ink and quill to begin recording her trials.

Day One
Dear Diary,

I am obviously a very stupid person. I’ve, apparently, signed myself up to a life of servitude, as my strange little room-mate has so kindly pointed out.

She took a moment to glare at the other girl’s prone form before bending back to her scribbling.

I’ve been nearly vomited upon, forced into manual labor, and haven’t learned a thing yet. This seems like quite the scam, and I’m not sure I should put up with it. Still, it would never do for one of my stature to give up so easily… perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.

To her dismay, it was some time before she found a moment to write again. Between studies, and chores, she was too exhausted most nights to even consider jotting down anything. She was being broken to this new way of life, and while there was some good to it, so much of it was frightening and strange. And then, a Freeday…

Day 80 (I think)
Dear Diary,

Today is a so-called Freeday. While I don’t have to do any chores or attend any classes, I’m not permitted to leave this prison. I want so badly to see my parents, to tell them of the things I’m learning… but I’m not sure I could find my way to them from here. I’ve thought about trying to sneak into the Mistress of Novices’ storage to get some of my proper clothing and see if I can manage to hire a carriage back to their estate, but I have a feeling that my efforts would fail. These women have eyes in the back of their heads or something, because none of us seem to be able to get away with anything. I’m so tired of being tired, I’m so tired of crying, and I’m so afraid of dying. They go on about how we could kill ourselves on accident; why would any of us want to risk killing ourselves for this power, the Power?!

Grimly she marched, and oh so gingerly, Milandra lowered herself into her chair. She winced, taking a moment to dab at her face again before taking up her quill.

Day 81
Dear Diary,

I broke down and tried to walk out of here last night. I was right; they DO have eyes in the back of their heads. The Aes Sedai must if they saw me trying to leave; I was very clever about it. The Mistress of Novices beat me to within an inch of my life while prating on about how lucky I am to have this honor. What honor is there in getting beaten and forced to work?! Even servants get paid – we truly are slaves here. I’m apparently especially lucky to not be under guard, supposedly. Why would I be, though? I understand now that I’m a prisoner, and the only way out is to fail miserably, or to try and take all this misery with good grace. I don’t know if I’m capable of this… not right now, surely.

Time continued to pass, and Milandra continued to jot her complaints down in her diary. Most were your standard fare – she moaned about chores, she whined about punishments. Several pages were all but illedgible from tear streaking; she was even more indignant about being so upset as to ruin her own words. Many days were noted, at best, with:

Too tired to write. I’m so empty and miserable here. The suffering never ends.

Too tired to write. I’m so empty and miserable here. The suffering never ends.

Too tired to write. I’m so empty and miserable here. The suffering never ends.

Little did she know, it was her own pride and ego that was making the transition so difficult. Like so many of higher upbringing, it was hard to reconcile the noble existence of Aes Sedai with the menial suffering of the rudest servant. Coupled with the fact that, knowing her family were so near by, it made it harder for her to even begin contemplating letting go of the life she had known, to become the person that she must become. It was only in the depth of misery that she was able to surrender to it, much like one learned to surrender to Saidar. Without her even noticing, hints of optimism began to creep into her diary:

Day 200
Dear Diary,

I was at a seminar given by Carina Sedai today. Apparently, some of the Aes Sedai have recently figured out how to create new ter’angrael! It all seems very dangerous to me; so many sisters have died trying to figure out what some of the old ones were supposed to do. Still, it’s neat to see how things can progress so we can improve life. Or those who have the talent for it can, at least; I’m pretty sure I’ll never have enough strength in Earth to be of real use there.


Day 214
Dear Diary,

Apparently, I remember more of the Old Tongue than I thought! Pia Sedai said that I might even be permitted to teach the basic class… when I’m an Accepted. Light, that’s so far away, isn’t it?

And eventually, even a letter:

Dearest Mother,

I hope that this finds you well. I apologise for not writing sooner; life in the Tower is so busy! I am currently a Novice, which is the first step on the road to becoming an Aes Sedai. Apparently, the training takes many years, but I am working hard and trying to do my best. I was surprised at how much there is to learn, and I have a feeling that I’ve not more than scratched the surface. I hope to make you and Father proud. I miss you all very much, and while I do not know when I can see you all, I look forward to when I can.

With love,

It was hard, and would continue to be hard, but at least Milandra was firmly on the pathway now. That didn’t mean that she wouldn’t slip and scream and want to quit anymore, but she found that as the years past, the childish desires and misconceptions of ‘fair’ started to slide away. This, the White Tower, was her home now, and all those dwelling beneath its roof were her family too. She could take comfort and that, and did for years to come.