A Choice Made (Attn: Mistress of Novices)

Milandra paced back and forth in her chamber, and tried to decide what her course of action would be for the nth time. “Mistress Larindrha said I could channel,” she spoke aloud, pausing momentarily in place, “That doesn’t mean that I have to be an Aes Sedai. I could try to figure it out on myself…”

She trailed off, tapping her foot while her brain processed. Milla had heard the same tales as most people pertaining to those who pretended to be Aes Sedai. The real Sisters didn’t take too kindly to pretenders, she recalled, though she couldn’t believe some of the details of the stories that got around; they didn’t match the image of regality and refinement that filled her head when she thought of the denizens of the White Tower. It just sounded so much more exciting than being a banker; being a banker meant a lot of not going anywhere, and trading correspondence. Not that she knew much about Aes Sedai, other than they could channel the One Power, and stay in palaces, and all sort of exciting things. “Perhaps I could meet a prince instead of a merchant,” she thought with a smile, “At least it would be something more than this life.

Having made up her mind, she called in the servants. She explained that she wanted her things packed up, and her best gown laid out so she could make all haste to depart across town. While Milla was waiting, she crossed the house to her mother’s study, and presented her case, “Mother, as you know, I was tested and it was found that I am able to channel. I think that it is only prudent to go to the Tower and become an Aes Sedai.” Her mother smiled, but acquiesced, “You know that you can do with your life what you see fit to do, little Milla.” She reached over to stroke her daughter’s long hair before continuing, “Not so little any more, though – are you sure about this?” Milandra nodded, feeling more certain about this than anything else in her life to date. “Very well then – I shall make sure that the carriage is ready for you; I presume you’ll be leaving immediately?” “Mmhmm,” the girl nodded.

Her mother gave her another hug, and assured her that there was ever a place for her at home should there need be. Milandra smiled, but barely heard the words – she had the future to face!

Like all things, it took a bit of time to get her things loaded onto the carriage for the trip to the Tower. Milandra tried to not be fussy; it wasn’t the servants’ fault that she had so many things that she had to take with her! After all, everyone knew that Aes Sedai wore the finest gowns and could match the style of royalty, so her lesser silks would hopefully pass muster to start with. In time, however, the carriage was moving, and she stared out the windows at the city that was her home; her eyes tried to drink it all in. “I might have to go far away soon, and I’ll miss home,” Milandra thought to herself, enjoying the slight breeze blowing past. The sound of the crowds, the marvelous buildings; it made her homesick even as she was still home.

Soon, she was dismounting before the Tower; her family’s servants were scurrying to offload her trunks and bring them into the foyer. Leaving them to their tasks, Milandra stood there uncertainly; was she supposed to wait to be greeted, or was she supposed to find her way through this strange place alone? Her answer came in the form of a woman in a white dress asking her what she wanted of the Tower. “I’ve come to be an Aes Sedai,” Milandra explained politely to the woman before her, “Larindrha Sedai tested me and said that I could learn to channel.” Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but it seemed the other woman smirked as she replied, “If you’ll follow me, I can take you to the Mistress of Novices.”

Mistress of Novices? She was here to be an Aes Sedai; what was a Novice? And who was going to get her things for her?!

24 July 2010 (7:40pm)

Bowing politely, Milandra stepped into the room. “Greetings, Pia Sedai. I am called Milandra; my family call me Milla. I’d met Larindhra, erm, Larindhra Sedai at a ball in town recently. In the course of conversation, the Tower naturally came up, and I asked her to test me on a whim.” She chuckled nervously, “Imagine my surprise when she found out that I could learn to channel; I didn’t even know it could be learned!”

She looked around the small room, and spying a chair, Milla closed the door behind herself and sat down. It was a cramped room in her opinion, and there were many items about to invoke her curiosity; why the slipper, and why the placement of the mirror? She shook herself, and turned her attention to the other woman again.

“I hadn’t thought about what I was going to do with myself,” the younger woman confided to the older, wondering if anyone had fetched her things up behind her, “I could have stayed in the banking business like Mother and Father, but… I guess the chance to do something different is hard to turn down.” She stared at her hands; she was feeling a bit uncomfortable with that silent, staring countenance.

Milandra knew she was babbling to fill in the void, but it was better than enduring uncomfortable silence, “So, when do I get to become an Aes Sedai, and is someone going to bring my things up? What is a Novice anyways? Larindhra have time to say much, since there were many people who wanted her attention.” She paused for a moment, suddenly struck by a thought, “Hopefully my garb is good enough for an Aes Sedai; I packed my best silks, even better than this one.” She realized her hands were dancing along her blue-clothed knee, and she willed it to stillness, and her mouth to silence. “Light, she’s going to think me a blathering idiot, whomever she is. Someone important, obviously, but whom?”

08 August 2010 (8:22pm)

“Y-y-years?!” Milandra stammered; incredulity was splashed across her face for a moment. Almost as quickly, it fled with a sigh. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it takes time,” she mumbled downwards towards her lap, “Mother and Father always said that it took time to learn anything, but still…” She trailed off, only to jerk her head upwards in alarm, “I can’t wear any of my silks?” she exclaimed, almost jumping out of her seat, “What am I supposed to wear if I cannot have my silk – am I to wear rags?!”

Milla opened her mouth to issue further complaint on this matter, when the woman before her looked at her. It was the merest lift of the eyebrow above a piercing, questioning stare, but it was enough to quell her desire to complain. “Interesting,” she thought to herself as she issued a wavering smile to the Aes Sedai, “How does an ageless, expressionless face manage to emote so strongly? She could give my parents lessons on conveying only what they want people to see…”

Speaking slowly, Milandra raised her eyes back to where she could respectfully address the older woman, “So, I cannot wear my silks; might I ask why? Why does the training take so long? I’ve already had an education fit for nobility; what is there to learn still?” She picked up speed as she continued on, “What is so great about being an Aes Sedai that I should consider surrendering my things and… Light, what does it even mean to be an Aes Sedai?!” It was all she could do to not throw up her hands in frustration; Milla didn’t want to be rude to this important-seeming woman, but she was totally confused.

14 September 2010 (4:41pm)

Biting her lip, Milla listened intently to what the Mistress of Novices had to say. For one who only knew silks and fine linens, the thought of wearing less was about as appealing as rolling through brambles. “I bet it’s so the poorer girls don’t feel bad about having decent garb,” she speculated, “But why don’t they just give them some proper clothing? Surely there’s no need for us to be in garb of poorer quality than your average household servants wears…”

She had to admit to herself that she was desperately curious as to what could be learned at the Tower besides channeling. Her parents had assured that she had an education as good as any noble could; they had hoped to find suitable marriage prospects for herself and her siblings amongst their numerous social contacts. In fact, she was due to debut after her next naming day, when she would be judged a woman in fact. “Something tells me that wouldn’t happen if I were to become a Novice. Though Samri was able to debut late after coming back from her studies in Illian; I guess I could find out about doing the same when I’m done here in… however long it takes.” Light, she might even manage to snag a prince; being an Aes Sedai should make her marriage prospects just that much more attractive!

Feeling much better about this option, Milandra felt much calmer, and even smiled at Pia. When asked for her details for the other woman’s book, she recited them clearly and at a pace that made for easier copying. She had to suppress a grimace at the bland white clothing she was handed… but a little discomfort would be worth it to see what was on offer.