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First Touch


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Mentors-mentee relationships were fascinatingly variant, and someday a Brown might probably look into the why and how of this. Some relationships got along as wonderfully as a house on fire, and others got along as dreadfully as a house on fire. Saline had learnt the hard way, thanks to Mina Daryl, whom she had loathed for the majority of a year or three, not to try and build houses for others when her own house was in shambles, but when the sun was shining she had learnt to make hay with the best of them, offering her services to other Mentors for when their houses were on fire. And every once in a while, over the years Saline had spent ever since she first volunteered to take charge of Ino, she would be asked to take care of another student here or there, intermittingly. Regrettably, Mentors got busy, and due to the demand elsewhere, had to prioritise and delegate their lessons to others. When Evaida Sedai waltzed out of the Tower, why she neither told nor was asked, she had left Saline to cover Intro course for a student, one that Saline knew nothing about, although she sincerely hoped the Gray’s student would not have a block


Her record so far for breaking blocks had been an impressive two-nil, in favor of the stubborn walls that her students had developed. Having been told that every wall must have a gate, and one must persuade the other to open the gate was one thing, but the actual process of persuading had been frustrating, to say the least. However, others with more experience such as Lillian and Arette Sedai had done the persuading, and she was able to move on without hitting her head against that very, very visible wall.


That was, until Rory was taken from her, and that had been as hard a knock as any she had received in or out of the Tower, for not only was Rory her former student but also a roommate, and the excommunications had been awful. Faced with a traumatizing amount of spare time, Saline would gladly distract herself, and perhaps prove to Darienna Sedai that she was capable of teaching well, as well as the persuasive Sisters she admired.


As she understood it, Mentors had one task only and that was to ensure each student had enough motivation to pass the testing, which was in her experience so far, Arches. One must be steadfast, and learn that non-action was still action. Not that she would tell the Sisters this small insight, not when she was always told to instruct her students with a focus on discipline, to such extent that the Novice had a good grasp on Saidar whenever she channeled, and rudimentary control over the quantity of the Elements she drew out. This, in Saline’s most humble opinion, was something to the effect of sounding smart and getting people to agree to you because they could not be bothered to argue, or even listen, rather similar to the way squids would spray their ink so to get away, if Saline had known of those creatures. 


Recognising the womanly child, a pretty face wreathed by shiny curls, although when they had first met those curls were matted by sweat from toiling in the kitchens, Saline could not help grinning, setting down her embroideries, and waving aside any attempt on the other’s part to curtsey. "Oh, Kalinde, I had not realised Evaida meant you. Please, sit, sit." She gestured at Rory’s emptied bed and asked with a gush of genuine pleasure "How have you been?"


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It had been a long time coming and finally Kalinde was to start learning about Saidar. Her mentor Evaida had unfortunately needed to go out of the Tower on a trip of some importance and Kalinde had not even thought of asking her what the trip was about. She much rather dreamt of the woman fighting Trollocs in the Blight or preventing a becoming war by counseling with the kings and queens. To her a life as Aes Sedai was all excitement and glamour. She had not yet learnt of the hardships they would also face, and disdain that some people felt for them.


Evaida had been determined that Kalinde start her lesson even though she could not teach herself, and had sent Kalinde to the Accepted quarters looking for Saline, who would be given charge of her lessons. Kalinde had not seen the Accepted since the prank she pulled in the Kitchens switching sugar to bath salts. The memory of the sight of the bubbling teas in the dining hall had been a sight worthy of the punishment she had been given.  She was sure that one prank would not be the last she pulled during her years as a Novice. At least she hoped not.


She knocked on the door and waited until she heard a voice asking her to enter. Kalinde did and almost managed t curtsey as was proper before Saline waved her to stop. Kalinde took a seat on the other empty bed and looked around curiously. She had not seen an Accepted’s room before. And was happily surprised that there only was two beds. Some advantages at least. "How have you been?" she heard Saline ask and turned her gaze from the walls to the other woman sitting on the other bed.


“I’m good. Finally got a break from Kitchen duty, and I must say I prefer sweeping floors to scrubbing pots anytime.” she grinned, relaxed that Saline would not be expecting Kalinde to keep completely formal during the lessons. She folded her legs underneath her and looked at the pile of papers on the table. “Are you close to finishing your studies as an Accepted yet?” she asked trying to postpone the inevitable lesson of Saidar further away. She had been waiting for this lesson to take place for ages, but now that it was to happen, she was not so sure she was ready for it.


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Laughing she was surprised that Kalinde would think of asking about her studies. Wasn't the Novice wonderful? Good humour flickered in her eyes, as she registered the question, and then thinking slowly she said. "Far from it, I'm afraid, but my Advisor, Vera Sedai -- do you know her? -- is marvellously forgiving and we'll get there." Was there a glimmer of recognition in the other woman's face, or only her imagination?


Rummaging through her papers she gestured to the bed, the bed she occupied and continued, "Sorry about the mess. My roommates had to put up with much worse, believe it or not, while I was a Novice." Saline had this hypothesis that rooms often reflected the mindset of women who inhabit them, so neat people like to have everything sorted into useable or not and a space for working, while the packrats like herself never manage to get around to throwing anything away. Many an afternoon, far too many by count, she would spend reading stories instead of doing anything productive at all, which probably was why she was still an Accepted when the roommates she started her novitiate with were indeed already tested and shawled.


Still there were some advantages to being Accepted that she was definitely appreciative of. The carpet was nice, she could kick off her slippers and pace the room barefoot as she crammed for exams. Cleaning it was a chore though, and she, like Kalinde, preferred sweeping floors as well. The Tower worked its initiates hard, and rarely did an hour go by that there was not some drudgery, physically or mentally (or both!), left to perform, dragging from one hour to the next without a decent breather in between. Those days were not so long ago that Saline could not remember the craving for some peace, and now that she had finally situated the Novice in Rory's bed she had no intention of letting the other move.


However, this was not to say that the lesson would not be moved on. Finally, with a slight inward curse at her own lack of organisation she found the list she had compiled of the channellers who had burnt themselves out, and grinned. She remembered when the Perine Sedai of the Red Ajah had first sat opposite herself, cushioned in her chambers, and being scared out of her wits at the Sister's warnings, although not so much at the idea of stilling herself no, she had not the faintest idea what that entailed, as the prospect of a quiz, or rather, doing badly on that quiz later in the course. She had gone to the library immediatedly and stayed until curfew just researching, and after adding to the list quite a few times during her two decades at the Tower Saline had managed to compile a fairly hefty list. It was this list she handed to Kalinde, explaining, "This is just for reading in your spare time. It consists of stories about women, young women like us who had been fellow initiates. Unfortunately, their studies weren't finished, and unlike us, will never be." The first time she taught Intro she tried to keep her tones light, but there was little point in not stressing the importance of her message, or rather, messages that women like Sara Farhas, and others had given throughout the years. Saline proceeded, matter of factly, "as you will find in these pages, it is for our benefit, as well as the benefit of the Tower, that we do not attempt to reach for the Power when we are still learning about basic controls, and will not be able to control at all without our Mentor's supervision. Something much more serious than a simple kitchen prank, cool as that was, a trick like this is something that may threaten our lives, and the lives of the people we care for."


It was a sombering moment, but then Saline brightened, "Tuck it away for later, and moving onward let's discuss terms." Cocking her head at Kalinde "How much has Evaida Sedai told you about, well, yourself? Do you know how rare we all are, that only 2-3% of the people in the world could access the Source. Year by year, Aes Sedai numbers dwindle, and they hardly need this count to go lower. However, life in the Tower is, and has always been strict. Not only is the purpose to show you mastery over the Source, or the One Power, but also to produce more Sisters. We have to prove ourselves worthy of being Aes Sedai, and the way the Tower goes about doing this is weeding out the people they consider are unsuitable. Pranks are all well and fun, but at the end of the day, I would advise you, and this is from personal experience, not to try the Aes Sedai's patience. It would not bode well, and desperate as the Sisters are for new blood they will not tolerate a weak link in their numbers, which is why not every woman in the Novice books has become Aes Sedai, and those of us who are striving must pay attention to our studies."


"That being said and done," Saline smiled "some questions to consider before we discuss, of what two parts is the One Power made of? What defines an Aes Sedai? And what exactly is the One Power?" She had always found this particularly interesting, and wanted to know what the Novice speculated, or the school of thought Evaida Sedai had been part of, since the reasoning differed with each Ajah. Though the third and first questions were similar, they had very different answers.

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Kalinde looked at the paper Saline had given her. It was full of scribbling, names and numbers. She told herself she would have to start learning to read and write soon. She could make out a few words, her own name and some others, but she could not complete this training without accessing the knowledge hidden in all the books in the library. Kalinde tucked the paper away and continued listening to Saline speak. Seh felt a warm blush on her face at the mention of pranks. Saline spoke with such ease and kidding about the pranks, but still severe that it sounded like she was almost rebuking Kalinde for pulling a prank in the Kitchens. Kalinde tugged at her curly hair pulling the strands straight and letting go. What Saline was saying made sense; she needed to straighten up if she wanted to become Aes Sedai.


"That being said and done, some questions to consider before we discuss, of what two parts is the One Power made of? What defines an Aes Sedai? And what exactly is the One Power?" Saline spoke and Kalinde nodded at her teacher before beginning to list all that she knew of the Power. That was not much. Only what she had picked up here and there in the Tower.


"The One Power is made of Saidar and Saidin." she said, that had been one of the first things she had picked up. "Saidin is tainted." she added remembering hearing about this fact. She had known of it before coming to the Tower already, but not known that the Power was called different. She had thought that it was the Power and men that were tainted. Women could channel without loosing their minds. Learning the truth had been quite a shock to her. She had to think about the next answer. "Aes Sedai are woman who can channel and that are trained in the White Tower." she said finally knowing full well that there is more to the definition of Aes Sedai. But she could not think of anything that could help her complete her answer.


"And the last question, the One Power is a well type thing that the Creator made and gave a select few a permission to drink from it and giving them the ability to Channel." that was the explanation that the cook in the farm had said when Kalinde had been a child asking silly questions. She had not thought of that answer in many years, and now hearing it out loud sounded so stupid that Kalinde felt her cheeks grow redder. She frowned at herself as she looked to Saline to give the correct answer to the question she had failed at.

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Her face remained very still as Kalinde nodded, presenting the blankness she wore whenever she played stones and was up to a particularly racy tactic, which was more often than she would have liked, but that was another thing that 'Rome would eventually have to teach her, how to place her stones in a better position. Experimenters often gave away what they wanted to hear, whether with a sigh of relief, or something in their eyes, and Saline knew enough not to nod, and somehow had kept from smiling her encouragement, when Kalinde nailed the first question on the mark. The Novice had even known that Saidin was tainted, a fact that Saline did not realise until she attended Saya Sedai's lecture series, White Tower and the World. It was educational, and perhaps the first step to Saline's fascination with all matters to do with the taint, and ultimately the Breaking.


The other two answers made her smile, though she was careful not to let it show as the little pucker on Kalinde’s forehead deepened, and she decided to tackle the last answer first.


"You have answered quite correctly that the One Power is made of two halves, Saidin and Saidar. But what is the One Power? Your analogy can be expanded upon, but nonetheless it is not bad. Not even the Aes Sedai know what Saidar is, exactly. It can be seen as a well, or pure energy, from which we can draw out threads, and weave them to alter our surroundings. The One Power has five different threads, or elements, also called Five Powers, are all around us. Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Spirit. Now, you can draw on any of these threads, and control them: this action is called channelling, and people who are able to manipulate the elements are called channellers.”


“Are all channellers Aes Sedai, then?” She was unsurprised that the Novice had not known of males as Aes Sedai; nowadays there were too many stories concerning rogue channellers and not enough emphasis on learning the facts, or rather the pack of items that historians had agreed upon.  “Actually, Aes Sedai just mean that you can channel, and are loyal to the Tower. It did not use to mean this. Aes Sedai literally translates to be, in the old Tongue, Servant of All. There were male and female Aes Sedai who were in guildhouses, but after the Breaking the White Tower revised the meaning of the word, Aes Sedai to its contemporary use. If you’re interested in learning more about male Aes Sedai and Saidin, by the way, there’s a great series of lectures entitled Saidin and Taint, which really, really forced us to think about a lot of the influences based on gender differences.“


"But this brings us to our purpose. You have the ability to channel, and whether you aspire to be a Sister and bind yourself to the Tower or not, you are come to learn how to control this ability. Touching this source requires some mental preparation, and there is a Novice exercise that helps you embrace Saidar. Let’s begin. Please close your eyes, and take deep breaths, lie down on the mattress if it makes you more relaxed. I want you to clear your mind of all thoughts but a rosebud…” It was a mantra she had gone through countless times, both as a Novice and as an Accepted teaching Novices how to start. The beginnings were always most difficult as the image of a rosebud had to be firmly ingrained in one’s head, surrendering to the warmth of the sun, and she would murmur this softly many times before ending the drill with “the rose is yours.”


The instant before Kalinde’s eyes snapped open she would have just experienced one of the best sensations of her life. The seductive, sensuous Saidar rolled through her sweeter than Andoran wine, and the ecstatic joy of touching the Source had been a major problem for many Mentors as they had trouble with their students practicing by their onesies, before they were able to control the flows. Only slightly relieved that the Novice had no block, Saline was about to deliver the most evil speech she would ever give anybody who had just touched Saidar, and it was only in the good conscience that it was for Kalinde’s own good that she said, opening up with a softener. “Congratulations. You have just channelled for the first time. Felt good, didn’t it? You will not do it without Aes Sedai permission or mine, because draw too much and you will never be able to do it again. Too much goodness can burn out the ability to channel altogether, and right now your control isn’t developed yet. Do you want to be burnt out, or even die? Think about it before you do some foolish risk that would endanger you and the people around you.”


"If you see another Novice channelling without permission, I'd appreciate it if you tell her to stop, if you don't want to turn her in. She could hurt you accidentally, and no matter how she didn’t mean to, it would not matter if in the story of your life, Death placed his comma, and you are gone." She looked at the sweat gleaming Novice, but did not think she was taxed enough from first contact with the Source.


"Ready? Let's try it again. Eyes closed."


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  • 1 month later...

ooc. I’m slowly pulling myself back to DM again. :)


ic. The lesson moved forth after Saline had given the correct answers for the questions the she had asked and Kalinde answered, incorrectly though not surprising as she had not yet had time to absorb into the wonders of being in the Tower. She still needed to figure out how to read and write. But that would come later. Now she was to learn to channel. To touch the source and channel. The thought gave out a tingling feeling all over her body and Kalinde found it hard to concentrate on what Saline was speaking. She pushed the thought of channeling out of her mind before focusing on the accepted in front of her.  "Let’s begin. Please close your eyes, and take deep breaths, lie down on the mattress if it makes you more relaxed. I want you to clear your mind of all thoughts but a rosebud…” Saline spoke. “the rose is yours.”


Kalinde did as she was bid and closed her eyes and let Salines words engulf her. She saw the rose and could feel the wind on its pedals. Saw it swaying there in its lonesomeness. It was beautiful, but it was just an image of a rose. Kalinde decided she was not going to give up yet. Saline seemed to expect that by imagining this rose, Kaline would somehow channel, if she thought that then she must be correct, she decided and forced her eyes shut again. She saw the rose and felt the wind swirl around it. The pedals waered in the wind like the hair of a woman standing on a field alone on a windy day. She could feel the wind on the rose and smell the sweet fragrance so clearly... and suddenly she felt it.


The most wonderful feeling she had ever felt engulfed her. She gasped for breath and in shock opened her eyes back to the room, where everything was just as it had been a few moments ago. But everything was different, she could see more clearly and smell the dust in the corners and hear the clanking of swords together way down in the yard. And then just as it had happened it was gone. Kalinde looked around the room and sighed happily.


Saline went on immediately to confirm what Kalinde had thought. She had channeled. And understood immediately why channeling was called addictive. If she were given a choice, sh would never want to let go of the feeling the power gave on her. But she was not given a choice. She was going to beat the addictive power and not let Saidar control her but control Saidar herself. Kalinde nodded excitedly as Saline went on. In her mind she thought that if she was not allowed to channel out of supervision, she would surely not let any other Novice break that rule either. "Ready? Let's try it again. Eyes closed."


"I'm ready." she said and closed her eyes again. But the image of the rose would not come anymore. It was merely a rose sitting alone in a field; no wind touched its pedals. It was still, dying and depressing. Kalinde opened her eyes and took a deep breath. "I'll get it again. I think I just lost my concentration." she said aloud, not really to Saline, but to convince herself that she could do it. And on the third try the wind was back and the red rose was flowing happily in the wind and Saidar came to Kalinde again. She felt so happy to having managed to summon the wind to the rose that she had not even noticed that as she lay on the pellet on the ground, her mouth was stuck in a wide grin.


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OOC: Doing well, you're good at these class posts!


Smiling, the taraboner Accepted laxed her defences. She remembered how taxing the experience was when Perine Sedai had first asked her to embrace Saidar. Kalinde must have been tired but she handled the stress well. That was to say, without complaints, or any of the ... delightful accusations Saline had gotten in the past concerning her worth as a Mentor, integrity as a person, and other attacks upon her person, ad nauseum. Such a pleasant change, she reckoned the zeal would carry the Novice far, if she continued to show such aptitude. It was simply easier to encourage when the other responded so willingly, without any pesky blocks or issues of insecurity. The baggage, that was what Saline had called the 'stuff' some girls brought to the cots.


Seeing Kalinde glowing on Rory's cot made her miss her roommate, her thoughts always involved the Illianer. Accepted did not usually room together, 'cept when they chose to. Rory had been one of Saline's most difficult students, and yet, she made great lengths in overcoming her block. Her strength was not as much as Saline's, perhaps from lack of experience, but both knew that the Illianer's control was more formidable. Somehow Saline was barely able to weave the essence of a new weave, whilst Rory could understand the finesse in the technology, then come up with creative alternatives without ever taking a formal lecture.  Finally, after years of learning to work and live together, the result had been wonderful, like a beautiful garden coming into bloom.


Rory was a prime model of why Saline believed all that she learnt she mostly got from her students. The next part of the lesson would involve control, and Saline wished Rory was around to meet Kalinde, but then again, she wanted to see her roommate interact with everybody she liked. And she did like Kalinde. The girl was quiet, gentle on the mind.


She roused, slowly so not to alarm the Novice, whose wits still appeared under seige by the power she accessed. Well did she know how some channellers became self conscious, and had to think about how to focus while in possession of the Source. At times, initiates would develop their own ways of coping, depending on meditation exercises or certain physical tricks to dull out the 'chatter'. Jagen Sedai did not like that Saline still used her hands, which should have been an unnecessary habit. Unnecessary, but helpful. The Taraboner was easily distracted, and anything to facilitate her concentration was a plus, even if that meant gestures, so long as her hands weren't immobile at a crucial moment. Being dependant was never good, and boy, did the stringent Red Sister drill that in. Saline had to argue though, that all the Sisters were interdependent; in her relationship with Rory, the other would come up with designs, blueprints of weaves she was unable to perform whilst Saline replicated them, and overall it was an immensely handy system for personal inventions, which almost every Novice or Accepted had tinkered with at some point during training. 


"Excellent. Now that you're able to reach the source we shall work on your control. Some Sisters call it discipline, but there is a technique for staving off the dangers of the Source without burning yourself out. Though the temptation is great, if you practice this technique enough, you'll be deemed worthy of gaining Acceptance, therefore the privilege of being able to channel without supervision. In the meantime, I'd like you to leave your eyes open -- close 'em if you must -- and reach the Source." She waited until the other had done so, before continuing, "your rosebud is open, but I want you to hold the sunlight there, no don't release it! Feel the sun... There, it has just struck the petals, good, no more."


"A cloud slowly covers your sun, masking its warmth. The sunlight fades, nowhere as golden as before. Your grasp on Saidar is weakened, the joy lessened. Push with all your strength the sun away from your rose, reject your longing to the point where there is barely connection."


"Control's not as easy as it sounds, is it?" She remarked idly.

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  • 1 month later...

Saline seemed pleased that Kalinde had grasped the method of touching Saidar. She herself was more than surprised to find how easily it had come to her when she finally concentrated hard enough. But she knew there was more to the lesson than just a list of names and imagining a rose. So she nodded anxiously when Saline continued to tell her about control. This sounded much harder to do than the embracing had been, Kalinde mused but decided that she would manage this as well.


Kalinde kept her eyes open for this exercise as was Saline's wish, though she felt more at ease with her eyes closed. But her imagination soon filled the lone rose in the field and the wind and sun lit the flower up and Kalinde smiled. "your rosebud is open, but I want you to hold the sunlight there, no don't release it! Feel the sun... There, it has just struck the petals, good, no more. A cloud slowly covers your sun, masking its warmth. The sunlight fades, nowhere as golden as before. Your grasp on Saidar is weakened, the joy lessened. Push with all your strength the sun away from your rose, reject your longing to the point where there is barely connection." she heard Saline speak and formed the cloud in her mind coming over to the sun and hiding it. She felt Saidar shimmer in her and then wink out completely.


"Control's not as easy as it sounds, is it?"


"No." she agreed and shifted on the bed to a better position. She would try again until she did what Saline wanted her to do. She would not give up. Saidar came easily to her, but she could not keep the strength of Saidar as weak as needed without loosing her grip on the source entirely. She shrugged and tried the whole routine again with her eyes closed. But still the One Power winked out of her. Kalinde took a deep breath and looked helplessly at Saline. The Accepted gave her an encouraging nod and explained the routine to her once more. She nodded and tried again.


On her sixth time she managed to tune down Saidar into such a weak strop that she barely felt it, but she did feel it, the nudging in her mind to embrace it full was unnerving and annoying to her. Kalinde let the feeling get a bit of gain before pushing the warm sun away again and hiding the rose behind the cloud.


"Will the temptation to embrace fully be always this strong? This hard to fight off?" she asked her voice weak with the strain of keeping the power at bay.


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Saidar came easily to Kalinde, as if she remembered what she had learnt before. This was no wilder, and she would not have to unlearn any blocks. Her enthusiasm and limits seemed boundless, even as she accepted the discipline Saline set down. Glancing at the other, so trusting and friendly, Saline felt dark and small in showing only one facet of the teacher's role. Should she let the other know of her experience, her struggles in grasping the source?


Honesty won out, although some knowledge weren't hers to tell.


"Left to its own devices, Saidar is an addiction. It doesn't matter how much time you go without the relapse may come in a moment or several months. When the longing comes the desire to fill yourself with power never fades. You can distract yourself with tricks such as pushing and pulling, yet you're not out of the woods until you can control Saidar, not the other way around. The Tower will teach you discipline in a swim-or-drown manner. You need to be steadfast. I wish I can speak more bluntly but I cannot."


"But you tire." Smilingly, a tad weary herself "Don't protest, I can see it in your face. Do you know the way back to your room? Good. Get a full night's rest, and I'll see ya sometime tomorrow, yea?"




In the morning, the door to the Accepted room opened again. On the dark-cherry table stood a looking glass, a feather and pebbles, some parchments, a quill, and upon its glossy centre half a pitcher of water presided over two empty cups. Neatly, Saline unwrapped a bright blue handkerchief from her curls and dipped its edge into a stone basin propped by the door. She then waved a morning, as well as the icy wet handkerchief at Kalinde who paused in the doorway to examine her splattered dress. Seeing as Kalinde wore white, it may or may not have been done on purpose. At anyrate the result was convenient enough, as Saline channelled a thin strand of blue and touched it to Kalinde's dress, drying the Novice.


"Water can be used to drain water," she was charmed by the glowing interest in Kalinde's expression, but did not release her hold "it can also be used to create." Adding to the strand of blue with another strand she demonstrated by draining the moisture from the air, and guiding it into the pitcher until it filled up, "though one cannot create anything without borrowing from what's already there. And there are five elements, Water, Air, Earth, Fire, and Spirit. The first two concern themselves a lot with specialised control over weather and bonds. Women, specially cloud dancers, are usually better at these than Earth or Fire that men are better in, although this is not always the case." Saline herself had an affinity with Earth, after all, "Spirit is shared equally between the genders, or as equal as anything between genders could be shared."


She tapped at the quill with green flows. The tendrils wrapped around the vein and the hollowed nib, supporting it against the above pressures. "Up." The quill levitated, as Saline demonstrated by cutting her palm around the quill. "No hidden strings, only Air." Letting the Air harden she drew thin strands of Red and Brown.


"Take these, go on. What can you show me with Fire, and Earth? You can use any equipment in this room, and experiment. But first," she motioned at the oillamp on the writing desk, "it's dark, will you please light this?" The glow vanished, but Saline poised at the cusp of plunging in after Kalinde, just in case.


OOC: Will you break the pebbles or polish 'em? Will you set the parchement to fire, or heat the glass of water? Will you dry Saline's handkerchief?

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