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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Summoned ATTN: Kathleen Sedai


Phelix
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The dinner hour was just ending, and Elin was dreading the evening chore section. She had been assigned to kitchen duties, which meant she would be scrubbing the pans that had so recently held the delicious cobblers that had been served as a treat for the novices and accepted. While it was a treat going down, Elin knew that the sugary fruit mixture would have baked hard onto the pans and getting it clean would be a true chore. She was torn between finishing quickly and hoping that the Mistress of the kitchens gave her light duty for being early and delaying as long as possible, in case the Mistress was in a foul mood and gave the pans to the first girls she saw.

 

As Elin swirled the last bite of cobbler around her plate, she felt a tap at her shoulder. It was another novice, who nodded and gave Elin a note.

 

Please come to my rooms after you've finished your meal, for a private lesson.

~Kathleen Sedai

 

 

Elin was shocked. It was rare that a novice got called for a private lesson, especially with a newly raised Green. The other novices said that new Greens were rarely around the Tower long. The rumor was that once one was raised into the Green Ajah, one would go off to fight trollocs in the Blight to make sure you were the right material to be a Green. Elin wasn't sure if she believed that rumor, but she had to admit she was intrigued by the Green Ajah. Battle weaves could be very important to keeping an Aes Sedai alive if she were alone, out in the world searching out young channelers.

 

With a smile for the other novice, Elin tucked her hair back into her bonnet, and quickly walked over to the kitchens to excuse herself from chores.

 

"Excuse me, ma'am. I was assigned to kitchen duty, but..." Before she could finish, the Mistress handed her a wire brush and shoved her towards the dreaded cobbler pans.

 

"I don't take well to lollygagging girl. Everyone on Kitchen duty works a fair share, and if you shirk you get the dirtiest share. Get to."

 

"I'm sorry ma'am, but I've been..." She cut off when the Mistress swatted her butt with a wooden spoon.

 

"I don't take well to excuses neither!"

 

"But ma'am, I've been summoned to an Aes Sedai's rooms! I have to go!" Elin practically wailed, knowing that there would be a small grease stain on her dress from the spoon, and now that she would be late to see the Aes Sedai.

 

"Why didn't you say so, girl? If you had the sense the Creator gave tiny green apples you'd be at the Sister's room by now! Get gone!" Before Elin could say another word, the brush was taken from her hand and she was pushed out of the kitchen with another smack on her rear to get her moving. It stung, and she rubbed it as she walked briskly through the Tower to the Green Quarters.

 

Each door bore a sword that hung in a different manner. Some were enameled, others had gold and silver filigree, but the door to Kathleen Sedai's room had a rather utilitarian sword, but it gleamed in the warm light in the hallway.

 

She had been summoned, so it was proper to knock and then enter. Kathleen Sedai would be expecting her. Grabbing the doorknob, she knocked, then twisted, and pushed her way into the room. Inside, she curtsied, and said "You summoned me, Aes Sedai?"

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OOC: Okay, this one is a lot longer than I planned, I promise they all wont be this long!

 

IC:

 

Kathleen sat waiting in her room in the Green halls. She smoothed out the skirt of the simple green dress she was wearing. She thought that wearing green may be to much of sign of her newness to the Ajah, but in all honesty the reason she was wearing it had little to do with her Ajah choice and more to do with the way the dress fit her. It was the most comfortable dress she had, and it didn't hurt her figure, but today she wore it for the comfort. She hadn't met the girl she had summoned, but she had heard enough about her. She knew well enough that what she had planned was going to be a very tricky task, and even if done correctly to its finish there was still a chance it would not work out the way it was planned, and the poor girl would have to go through all of the process again with another experiment. Hopefully her plan would work, this girl had a lot of potential and the Tower wasn't about to loose that potential because of a dead man.

 

Kathleen sighed as she rose from her desk and set to straightening up her room. Her mother had taught her to keep the house ready for visitors to drop in at any moment and so her rooms were never too far out of order. Kathleen always made sure to do what her father called and ‘idiot's check' just to be sure, one last time before people arrived, that you don't have things left out that you don't want others to see, or that nothing is left in a place it doesn't belong only because you didn't bother to check it. Everything seemed to be neatly out of the way, the desk that was centered up against a wall had a few clean sheets of paper available on the left had side of the desk and her inkwell was sitting in the same place it always was, other than that it was cleared off completely. Opposite that wall were her two matching chairs with a small round table between them. On the farthest wall she had a tea station set up and as she was just checking that it had everything it needed she heard a knock at her door. "Come" she called as she reached out to Saidar to heat the tea.

 

She turned around to greet the Novice she had summoned as she entered. When the girl was in the room she dropped into a curtsy and said "You summoned me, Aes Sedai?" When the girl rose Kathleen gestured for her to take a seat in one of the large chairs as she replied, "Yes child, I did indeed. Have a seat if you will. I don't believe we have met, my name is Kathleen Sedai, and I would like to have a friendly talk with you." Kathleen paused, she didn't want that to sound quiet as it had, but she was doing her best to not come off too harsh, she needed the girl to feel comfortable enough to open up and be honest with her. She will never be free of this block if she can't face it honestly, and she won't be able to face it honestly if she is on the defense. She will be on the defense for a number of reasons I don't want my harshness to be one of them, but perhaps that was a little too sweet, she thought.

 

She quickly caught herself and told herself that it was too late to double guess everything and it was time to move forward. She smiled at the Novice, who thankfully didn't seem to notice the oddness, and was now sitting in one of the chairs. "Would you like some tea?" Kathleen didn't wait for a reply as she poured the girl a glass and one for herself and then made her way over to sit. She set the girl's cup out on the table and she kept her own mug in her hand. The two cups matched each other perfectly, and while they had an identical beautiful swirling design, it could get confusing having them together.

 

"Now, I have been hearing a few little things about ‘this new Novice' and I thought I would go straight to the source to see what of the rumors are true. Now, Aes Sedai can not lie, so don't go thinking I'm saying anyone has, because I am not. I have heard your name a few times and I would like to hear your story, from your point of view." Kathleen took a sip of her tea. She had wanted to do this with a little more tact, but she didn't have all night to mingle with this Novice and she knew Elin would have other things to attend to when this was over. This was not a social call and while she wanted the girl to be comfortable she knew that the girl knew there was a purpose.

 

"I will let you know now that there is more to this meeting than just a social call, but please do relax, I may be Green, but I will not bite." It was meant as a joke and she hoped the girl would take it so, she seemed to be a strong girl, and having lost her brother in the way she did and to still carry on, Kathleen knew that the girl had to be strong. "I want you to be honest, and know that I am open to what you have to say, and I really am curious to know your story. Most girls learn to embrace the source by focusing on the rosebud, I have heard that you use another method, can you please tell me how it is that you believe you use the One Power? And please tell me a little bit about your first encounter with the Power that you can recall." Kathleen smiled at the girl, relaxed back into her chair and sipped at her tea as the girl replied.

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OOC: Heh... this is great!

 

IC:

 

Doing her best to behave properly, Elin sat listening to the Aes Sedai. What shocked Elin the most was that Kathleen Sedai said the other Aes Sedai were talking about her, a dusty wilder from Amadicia. She got over that shock, though, when Kathleen went on to ask Elin about how she embraces the source, about the first time she channeled. Ha! Greens don't bite, she says. This meeting must be the first step in the process of giving Elin the boot. She would lay out her story, and they would find Nile in her mind, and then remove him... take hi away from her, and she would be a normal girl again. She'd seen novices sent away before. The girls had always been poor studies or flighty, and they wept when the Mistress of Novices gave them a pouch of silver and walked them to the Tower's gates. That would be her.

 

Taking a long sip of tea, Elin centered herself. It wouldn't help to weep. It wouldn't help to lie. She would tell Kathleen Sedai everything.

 

"Kathleen Sedai, please don't judge me or think me mad. I know my story sounds like madness, but it's not." Elin forgot herself enough to look the Aes Sedai in the eyes with that earnest plea, but ducked her head again when she remembered herself. "I was born with a twin brother. I'm Elin, he was Nile. He steadied me, took care of me when I pushed too far, and was always there for me. Even when we weren't together, I knew he was there. When we were young, we would play and work and do everything together, and I barely had to speak to him, or he to me. One of us would look at a task, think it through, and almost without words the other would know what was to be done."

 

Elin couldn't help but smile remembering some of those days. Before they were old enough to work in the bakery, near the ovens, she and Nile had been tasked with cleaning the house while their mother and older sisters worked. One day, without anything more than a single, mischievous glance, they quickly rearranged every loose item and piece of furniture in the home. Their mother couldn't help but laugh, and she'd spent months finding every piece of misplaced silverware.

 

"When we were thirteen, another villager, the man who owned the other mill in town, he accused my brother of being able to channel. I don't know if it was true or not, I'd not seen any signs, and in our class about the male half of the Power we were taught boys don't show the spark until they are older... so he shouldn't have been showing any signs even if he could channel... but we lived in Amadicia. A patrol of the Children made its way through our town at least twice a week, and everyone knew the laws about channelers. Our friends, neighbors, people whose children had played with Nile and me, all turned against him. Papa kept me inside the house, but even in there I could smell the smoke and the burning flesh. I could hear him screaming, coughing... until I couldn't anymore. Mama wouldn't let me mourn him, for fear the townspeople would think I was tainted too, or the whole family was."

 

The bitterness of those memories still stung. After Elin had shredded her sheets to wear them for mourning ribbons, her mother hadn't replaced her sheets for a whole month. Elin took a sip of tea to clean those bitter words and memories away.

 

"After two years passed, I was fifteen, strange things started happening. I sat down with Nile's favorite cow's sick calf, and it got well. While I was baking in the oven Nile had broken, my loaves came out perfect. The rival miller's millstone even cracked. Twice! Our neighbors started to shun me again... they thought Nile was cursing me from beyond the grave." She let out a small, bitter chuckle. "When our sixteenth birthday came, I couldn't take their stares and poorly hidden signs to ward off evil, so I went into the woods. I sat down, alone under a tree, and talked to Nile. I told him everything about the year since our last birthday, and while I was talking with him, I was so calm, so at peace, I just felt good. I felt that warmth fill me, and it felt just like a hug. There was a glow, just beyond my line of sight, and I heard my brother speak to me. He told me that they'd been right, he could channel. I felt the glow get stronger, warmer, and a small dust devil formed there."

 

Elin dared a glance at the Aes Sedai, looking to see if the sister was reacting, but despite being a new sister, Kathleen Sedai wore the calm serenity every Aes Sedai wore like armor.

 

"That warmth, his presence, that is what I feel when I'm asked to channel. I lean into him, to a connection I have with Nile, and I can feel him again. When I'm asked to weave something, it's just like the chores when we were children. I look and decide how it should be done, and he does it. I feel him do it, because of how we're connected... but ... I just know that he's really here with me." She sighed, and looked up at Kathleen Sedai again. "When we channel, I can see the flows, yes... but they don't come from me. I see all the other girls in my class, the Accepted who teach us, even the Aes Sedai, and when they all channel, the flows of the power come straight from them. But not me. Not me. For my channeling, they have to come from Nile."

 

Elin finally stopped, took a breath, and sipped her tea. Now, to wait to see what the Aes Sedai would do. To see how quickly they would expel Elin.

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Kathleen listened to the story Elin told and while it seemed accurate to what she had been told, and simple enough to expose all the wholes, she realized the true problem with breaking this block was not going to be teaching the girl to use the power at her own will and on command like it is with so many others. No, the true problem with breaking this block was going be in having to destroy this girls 'connection' to her brother. Kathleen sipped at her tea while she thought about what the girl had said. How should I approach this? The logical thing to do is show her that she is in fact the one who is channeling. She knows know about Saidar and Saidan, so that will be easy enough to do, the problem in showing her this is that the moment she sees it she will have to begin to realize that her twin really is not present any longer. After letting the girl have a moment to collect herself Kathleen rose from the chair and retreived two mirrors from a hidden drawer in her desk.

 

As she stood in front of the Novice she spoke, "Child, I know this is hard for you to hear, and I know that many will have spoken these words to you before me, but it is time you really see it for the truth that it is." She paused, unsure how to continue. Do I show her first, and then console or the other way around? Either way she will need both, and she won't believe it without proof. "I have here two mirrors, one shows the flow of Saidar that comes from every woman who is channeling, and the other shows the flow of Saidan that comes from every man who is channeling. I want you to look closely," Kathleen embraced the source and asked the girl if she could see the glow around her, when Elin nodded the Green continued, "now I am going to weave a simple thread of air and I want you to tell me when you can see it in the mirror." Kathleen held up the male mirror and looked at the girl, she looked at the mirror and back to the Aes Sedai, but before she could speak Kathleen said, "This is the mirror that shows threads of Saidan, any weaves that come from a male. You cannot see the weaves in the mirror because I am a female and I only have access to the female half of the power, Saidar." She held up the other mirror and the weave of air she was holding came suddenly into view. Kathleen held back a smile as she saw the girls eyes light up at the sudden change and she said, "This is the Mirror that shows when the female half of the one power is being drawn, only females can draw on this power."

 

Kathleen released her hold on Saidar and handed the mirrors to Elin. "I would like you to ask your brother to channel. Feel yourself fill with his presence, and when you do and you believe he is ready I want you to hold up the mirror that shows Saidan. No matter what you see or feel I need you to hold onto the feeling of his channeling and then hold up the mirror that shows Saidar." Kathleen paused again, and looked at the girl. "I am not doing this to hurt you, in fact, its quite the opposite. I am doing this to help you and everyone else see what the truth is, no matter what it is. No matter the out come, Child, know that I will help you with all that comes next, and I will see that you are alright." Kathleen wanted to say more, but she knew she would have a chance to speak with Elin again, but now was the time to show her. It was going to be difficult but things always must get worse before they get better. When the girl was ready Kathleen handed her the mirrors.

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Elin had been prepared for a lecture, for another long 'discussion' on why the dead cannot be with us, why they cannot channel... but to be shown a mirror. That was definitely not what Elin had expected. She watched as the Aes Sedai wove the thread of Air, and while she could see the light blue thread with her eyes, when she used the mirror, all she saw was Kathleen Sedai. That made sense, the mirror showed saidin, so it wouldn't show anything a woman was doing. The calm reason of that fact steadied Elin's nerves. When she held up the other mirror, and looked at the Aes Sedai through it, she could see the blue flow. It was such a sudden change, Elin had to smile. Seeing the power being woven was almost like weaving it herself, and she could just almost feel the joy that came with weaving it.

 

"I would like you to ask your brother to channel. Feel yourself fill with his presence, and when you do and you believe he is ready I want you to hold up the mirror that shows Saidan. No matter what you see or feel I need you to hold onto the feeling of his channeling and then hold up the mirror that shows Saidar." Kathleen paused, and looked at the girl. "I am not doing this to hurt you, in fact, its quite the opposite. I am doing this to help you and everyone else see what the truth is, no matter what it is. No matter the out come, Child, know that I will help you with all that comes next, and I will see that you are alright."

 

The Aes Sedai almost seemed nervous, but Elin knew that the sisters never became nervous. The years of learning in the Tower, the tests to become Aes Sedai, drove nerves out of the women who would become Aes Sedai. But the way Kathleen kept trying to reassure her had Elin's palms beginning to sweat. What would happen when they found out Nile was real? Would Kathleen have to give her over to the Red Ajah? No... Kathleen Sedai had said she would see that Elin was alright, that she would help her with the next steps. She couldn't have meant help her to the Red Ajah's quarters.

 

Holding one mirror in each hand, Elin took in a deep breath, and leaned into that connection that had grown between herself and her lost twin. The warmth filled her, and she felt Nile all around her, holding her strong and steady. Of the five flows, Spirit came to them most easily, which made an odd sort of sense seeing as Nile was dead, so Elin asked him to weave a simple knot of Spirit. She'd seen the ward made by an Aes Sedai. Its purpose was to mark a book for later recollection. It was a very simple weave, and after seeing it the once, Elin had memorized it. With their mental touch, Elin felt Nile pull the thread of Spirit, weaving it into the proper knot, and then they held it there, floating in midair. There weren't any books to mark right now. Elin looked to the sister, and saw her nodding approval, so the novice picked up the male mirror, and looked at herself.

 

There she was. Some would call her pretty with her black curls and dark eyes, others would say she was too modest hiding under an Amadician bonnet, and Elin would, secretly, agree with both of them. As she looked herself over in the mirror, paying especial attention behind her shoulders, looking for traces of saidin, Elin began to worry. With her physical eyes she could still see the weave of spirit floating in front of her, between her chest and the mirror. The ward was perfectly placed to show in the mirror, but nothing was there. Elin felt more sweat in her palms, and she set the mirror back in her lap. Her connection to Nile roiled, like the branches of a tree in a windstorm. It was hard to keep in touch with him with this fear filling her, but she had to do something. Maybe the mirrors were broken. Maybe she'd lifted the wrong one!

 

Mastering herself, she lifted the other mirror, clearly a more feminine accessory, and she knew that this one was designed to show saidar. Holding it in front of herself, so it would show from her waist up, she gasped. There was that silvery floating knot of Spirit, mirrored back on itself and the shining silver threads all traced directly back to Elin's own chest. Suddenly the warmth was gone, Nile was gone, the weave was gone.

 

She dropped the mirrors, both, into her lap, and brought her hands up to her face to hide her tears. It was true. The reason she and Nile were strong in the female elements was because she was female and Nile wasn't there. The threads of the power really were coming from her. She was a channeler herself, and her brother was dead. It felt like she was losing him all over again. Yes, he'd been dead for more than three years now, but for the last year he had been a part of the best moments of her life. He had come to her with the Power and made her feel whole again.

 

"It's true, isn't it, Kathleen Sedai? Nile was never with me... he was just in my head?" The tears trailed down her face. Suddenly, it occurred to her to her to try to touch the source on her own. If she was a channeler, she should be able to, right? Reaching out, not for a connection to a long dead boy, but for the True Source, she felt nothing. The glow was behind her, always out of reach, but she could not touch it. She felt like a parched woman who could see the purple rain clouds and couldn't reach a drop of their moisture. "The power is gone, Kathleen Sedai. I cannot reach it!"

 

She sobbed quietly, sitting there in a plush chair in a room that she would never know its equal. Only those who could channel at will could become Aes Sedai, and now that she knew her brother wasn't real and she couldn't reach the source on her own, Elin no longer qualified.

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Kathleen watched as the Novice began to weave spirit into the simple ward and she kept her face neutral as the girl held up the mirror. From the angle she was on Kathleen could not see the reflection in the mirror but she didn't need to see it to know what it was showing the girl. As the girl held up the second mirror Kathleen could see in her face what she must be realizing, almost as it happened. And just as the girls eyes glazed over the threads of spirit winked out, as Kathleen had all but known they would. The girl set the mirrors down on her lap and Kathleen gave her a moment to let it all sink in. Kathleen walked back to her seat beside the Novice and refilled her tea. She didn't think the girl would want it now, but it was always nice to have the option of sipping hot tea when your nerves were on edge. When the girl raised her head and asked, "It's true, isn't it, Kathleen Sedai? Nile was never with me... he was just in my head?" Kathleen replied with the first words that came to her.

 

"Yes child, it is true that the weaves came from you. It is true that you are the one who has been channeling all along, not Nile. However, it is not true that Nile was never with you. Nile will always be with you so long as you remember him. You say he was just in you're head, but no he is not just in your head. So long as you remember him, and take the qualities he had with you, and then will never truly loose him. Just as your mother and father are not physically with you, what they have taught you will never truly be gone as long as you put it into place. My mother taught me to keep house, and always be ready for guests. She has long since been buried, yet at any hour of the day my rooms are always ready to comfortably entertain. If anything Nile is now closer to you then he perhaps was when you were children. Now you must only look inside of you for the answers to the questions you would have for him. His opinions and answers will still be there." Kathleen took a sip of tea, and then she continued.

 

"I know this isn't much consulation, but when you become Aes Sedai you will not have the time or the ability to go back to your family and your old way of life. The Tower is your life and the Sisters are your only family, your only concern. All we have of our past is what we have learned from it. You know how your brother thought and felt without talking to him, as he did you, that is part of your connection. Knowing that, you can still know what he would be thinking, feeling and saying to you if he were hear to tell you. Just as you know what your mother and father would say. They are not here to say it, just as Nile is not, but their opinions and values will always be with in you and you know them well enough to know what they would want you to know. Keep this with you as you continue your journey." Kathleen hoped what she said would help the girl, but she knew its not what she wanted to hear, her brother was still gone and the connection she thought she had to him was not a connection to him at all, and she knew that had to break the girls heart. Kathleen sipped her tea to give the girl a chance to take it all in.

 

"You saw that the flows were coming from you. That means that you can channel. Now I know that you lost your hold on it, but don't fear, I told you I will help you with all that comes next, and I will. For a while it will seem like you'll never touch the source again, but it can be done if you try hard enough. If you decide that you aren't willing to do anything it takes to learn to use the Power again, and you decide that the life of an Aes Sedai is not for you, than I suggest you go to the Mistress of Novices, turn in your dresses and tell her your room is vacant. She will walk you out and see that you have enough money to support you while you make your way back to your mother's skirts. If, however, you decide that you would like to be able to learn to use the One Power at your own will, to be able to know all the strength you possess, and if you are truly dedicated to discovering all you can be, than I will see you here again tomorrow after your lunch. If I do not see you at that time, do not let me see you in the Novice white after it." Kathleen hating being that harsh, especially after the girl had her whole world ripped out from under her, but the girl needed strength and purpose now, it was the only way she would be able to touch the source again. With out complete dedication and without giving herself completey to the process of doing it on her own the girl would never be able to access Saidar in the way an Aes Sedai needs to, and if she couldn't put in the effort the hard work that was about to start would all be nothing more than a waste of time for both Elin and Kathleen.

 

"Now go child. Go to your room, think on what has happened today. Think about what I have just said, and make a decision. I will be waiting here for you tomorrow, and I truly hope I will see you on time." With that Kathleen rose from her chair and returned the mirrors to her hidden desk drawer.

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Elin was dismissed. Completely dismissed from the Aes Sedai's attention, just like she would be forever if she did not come back tomorrow after lunch. Climbing to her feet, Elin curtsied to the sister's back and let herself out of the room, though she moved in a daze. Her body knew the motions, but her mind was entirely somewhere else.

 

What would happen if she left the Tower? She would never know the touch of the One Power again. Already, that knowledge, the fact that that joy was out of her reach made her long for it. Her teachers had said the One Power was addictive, that some women had burnt themselves out because they had drawn too deeply after abstaining from channeling. Some had even died. Those women had said it was like sitting beside a river, knowing you could simply reach out to take a drink, but refusing to do so until they absolutely couldn't stop themselves anymore. They hadn't had a block though. There was a fence between Elin and the river, and try as she might, she could not reach the sweet waters of saidar.

 

Obviously, she would not be welcomed home. In Amadicia, if anyone learned she had gone to the Tower, let alone that she technically could channel, they would have her on a stake just like Nile's. Unless the Children caught her. Then they would take her to Amador and hold a trial for her. She is an initiate of the Tower, which is a sin much worse than simply being able to channel. Her trial would be lengthy, the end known before they began, and her execution would make death at the stake look pleasant.

 

She shuddered at those thoughts, walking down the halls in the novice quarters. Entering her room, she sat on the bed and looked at the scant belongings she had. Barely worth noting. The year's worth of silver would see her to any major city. She could hire on as a baker in 'most any bakery. Maybe marry into the family, using her silver as leverage, and inherit when the current baker died. She obviously couldn't stay in Tar Valon to do that. And she did not want to go back to Caemlyn, in case she met Shyla Sedai again. Tear and Illian were too hot, as was Tanchico and Bandar Eban. The Borderlands were too chill and full of the threat of Shadowspawn. After her lesson on Daes dae'mar, she had no desire to live in Cairhien, where every action took on five more meanings and everyone was for sale. Neither did she want to live in Mayene, which was always under the threat of invasion from Tear. That left Far Madding, with its odd ter'angreal. There she wouldn't even be able to sense the source glowing, taunting her. Women's rule was absolute there, and perhaps she could marry into some minor family. It might work... but it was just down the river and a few leagues of road from Tar Valon. Aes Sedai came to Far Madding frequently, mostly on their way to other places, but some to meddle.

 

Setting aside all the options of what would happen if she left, Elin began to think about what would happen if she stayed.

 

If she stayed, she would first have to take whatever Kathleen Sedai was going to give her. She would have to learn to touch the source again. Those were a given. But, after that, she would likely take the test to become Accepted soon. Her novice classes with the Power were starting to move toward repetition for the slower girls, and her history lessons were self-study in all but name. She was close, and she knew it. If she could become Accepted, she would definitely become Aes Sedai.

 

So, if she became a sister, what would she do? She was torn. She knew that she wanted to be out in the world, which meant she likely wouldn't become a Brown, a White, a Yellow, or a Gray. She could become a Blue, a Red, or a Green. The blues Elin had met were very dedicated, though they ran the gamut of personalities... but underneath all of their personality differences, Elin saw that they all burned with a passion. That much passion was uncomfortable, and Elin wasn't sure she had it in her. The Green Ajah called itself the Battle Ajah... they were there to stand against the Dreadlords that were sure to be present at the Last Battle, to help win the Last Battle for the Light. In the mean time, they went around righting wrongs and helping in the Borderlands. The Red Ajah, though, made sure to send its sisters throughout the lands, looking for men who could channel. Yes, they were hunting them to bring them in to Gentle them, but they were still out there. If Elin wanted to help young ones who were experiencing things like what she and Nile went through, perhaps the Red would be the right place for her to end up.

 

No matter what ajah she chose, she would outlive all of her relatives. Her siblings, so much like herself and Nile, but so different too. Her dear papa, and her cantankerous mother. They would all be in their graves not too long after she gained the shawl. Even if Nile had been a channeler, he would have gone mad and died long before Elin's training was complete. Part of her rebelled at those thoughts, while another part secretly took some comfort in Kathleen Sedai's words. She would lose all her family, physically, just like she'd lost Nile. But they would all live on in her memory, even the tension between her and her mother.

 

She thought long into the night, debating and rehashing the points she had come up with. She was not assigned to a morning chore section, and her first class was remedial weaving, so she skipped it. If she cannot touch the source, she cannot practice weaving. At lunch, she ate a small meal of a roll and a bowl of soup. She would have to keep her strengths up, but her stomach rebelled at the thought of anything more hearty.

 

At the appointed hour, she found herself knocking on Kathleen Sedai's door. There had really never been any other option.

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When the knock came on Kathleen's door she couldn't help but smile. She had been fairly certain the girl would be there, but there was still a small chance she would have left. "Come," Kathleen answered and the girl entered the room. "I wasn't sure I would see you today, child. I assume your presence means that you have decided to stay in our Tower and that you are ready to learn to channel. I will not lie to you, this process can be a lot of work, but I warned you of that yesterday and I know that you would not have returned to me if you weren't up for the challenge. Now, we both know that you have channeled in the past, so we know you can do it. Let us begin." Kathleen paused and looked to the tea station. "Did you like the tea I served yesterday?" She asked the Novice, and waited for the girl to nod, "I liked it as well. In fact I think I would like some now. Will you get me cup of warm tea please child, I served it yesterday, so it is you're turn today. You have my permission to use Saidar while in my view, and I expect my tea to be heated sufficiently and before bedtime." Kathleen let a small smile flash across her face for a moment and sat back in her chair with a good book. Hopefully she would have that tea before she was done her reading.

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Tea? What did tea have to do with channeling? Elin was shocked and confused, until she heard the phrase "You have my permission to use saidar..." obviously, the sister wanted her to channel. While the sister sat there reading, Elin despaired. She couldn't touch the source, how was she supposed to heat the tea?

 

I can't very well give up without trying. Elin thought to herself. Glaring at the tea kettle, hoping her irritation and anger would push something into line. Or at least that it would transfer heat to the blasted kettle. Anger was counter to everything she'd been taught about channeling so far, but up until now nothing normal had worked for her yet, so why shouldn't it work to be different now? Apparently it wasn't enough, and the kettle stayed cool.

 

Elin sat, her feet neatly tucked under her chair, and centered herself. If unconventional no longer worked, perhaps she should try the conventional means. As she closed her eyes and imagined herself to be a rosebud, she knew the sun, saidar, was out there. In her mind's eye, she opened the leaves of the bud, letting her petals unfurl, but no warmth filled her. The Accepted and Aes Sedai all said when they did that, it was as if the heat of the sun fell on their petals, warming them and saidar filled them, but not Elin. For her, it was as if someone were holding a large sheet of metal between her rose and the sun, blocking her from that warmth. She knew it was there, knew she was open to it, but it was beyond her reach.

 

Frowning, she set aside that mental image. Concentrating, she reshaped herself in her mind's eye to be the banks of a river, waiting for the water to flow through her. Controlling the flow by simply containing it. The water never came. Where before it had been a sheet cutting off the sun, now there was a dam holding back the water.

 

She had a block, and her mind knew it very well. The Aes Sedai demanded tea, so tea she would have. Elin would not accept being punished for not heating the tea just because she couldn't channel it to proper warmth.

 

Looking around, there was a fireplace, but no wood. So, grumbling under her breath, Elin got to her feet, curtsied, and left the rooms. Novices were only allowed to fetch wood from the pile outside the kitchen on the ground floor, which meant she had approximately 20 floors between herself and that pile. Muttering the whole way, Elin walked to the woodpile, curtsying to every sister and Accepted she passed. When she had enough wood to build a sufficient fire, she gathered it into her arms and trudged back up to the Green Quarters. With sore arms, and quite a bit of irritation, she knocked and was admitted back into Kathleen Sedai's rooms.

 

With the wood in the fireplace, tinder properly placed, and the kettle the correct distance to heat thoroughly without damaging the rather ornate pot, Elin began looking for steel and flint. She looked in the flint box on the mantle, on the desk, and even on close bookshelves but found none. She looked to the sister, and opened her mouth to ask for a flint, but Kathleen Sedai simply raised an eyebrow.

 

The dinner hour was fast approaching, but Elin sat down in front of the fireplace and went through all the novice exercises again. None worked, which did not surprise her, so she got to her feet, and trotted down the hallways again, back to the kitchen. There, she politely requested, and received, a flint and steel that she was told to bring right back. On the way back to Kathleen Sedai's room, she saw several of the other novices and had to explain to them why she was going the wrong way for dinner.

 

Back in Kathleen Sedai's room, she struck the fire and got it merrily burning, the tea kettle just the right distance to heat properly. With another curtsy to the sister, she explained she had to return the flint and steel. Down and back for the third time today, Elin was getting winded and sore throughout her body. When she arrived back in the Aes Sedai's rooms, she found the tea kettle had boiled while she was gone, and had done so so violently, that it had overset itself. With her teeth clenched, Elin tried the exercises again, trying to reach the source, hoping for a simple solution to her problems, but between her anger, her growling stomach, her shame at not being able to perform a simple task correctly, and that blasted block, she could not mop up the water or create new water for tea.

 

Another trip out, this time to the cleaning supply room on the floor to mop up the water, and then another trip to the fountain at the end of the hallway, and Elin had water in the kettle sitting over the fire. When it was hot, she poured it over the tea leaves, allowed them to steep properly, and then poured it through a strainer into a cup for the Aes Sedai.

 

"Excuse me, Kathleen Sedai, here is your tea." As she said the words, the bells that signaled the end of dinner rang throughout the Tower.

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Kathleen sat in the chair from just after lunch until she heard the end of dinner bell ring, well except for the few times the girl left her room and Kathleen stretched her legs and gave her eyes a break from her book. It was a boring way to spend the day and Kathleen was not used to sitting idle, but she knew it was necessary for the full impact of her test, so she sucked it up and made sure to be back in her seat before the Novice returned. A few times in the day the Aes Sedai found her self chuckling at the extents the novice was going to, and the misfortune of the poor girl's actions, but it was always when Elin was out of the room.

 

When the girl finally brought her tea over, her dress was covered in wood splinters and she looked as exhausted as she must have felt from going up and down the Tower so often. Kathleen wanted to tell the girl she had done well to try so hard and to complete the task even without the power but she knew that too would defeat the real purpose of this task. Kathleen had known the girl wouldn't break that easily, though she had kind of hoped she would. Kathleen had other things to do in her life than babysit a Novice who can't channel but when she set out to do something she would see it through. She had set out to help this girl break her block, and Kathleen wouldn't rest until the girl could channel on demand or was out of the Tower for good. Of course she hoped more for the first option but she knew ultimately it was up to the girl.

 

Kathleen accepted the cup and took a sip to judge the temperature. The devious side of her teased at her to tell the girl it wasn't hot enough yet, but she knew that would just be cruel as she heard the quite rumble of the Novice's hungry stomach. Kathleen nodded in approval of the tea's temperature and then said, "Yes, I do quite like the flavor of this tea. It seems I've been held up over my dinner time though, go and retrieve my dinner plate for me, will you? Tell the Mistress of the Kitchens that you will be back directly for yours and tell her I said to keep it warm for you until you get there. You will need you're your strength for tomorrow, so we can't have you missing any meals." With that Kathleen dismissed the girl and waited for her finish her clumsy curtsy and close the door before Kathleen rose to stretch her legs again. When her plate arrived back to her Kathleen told the girl to return just after lunch, and not to miss her classes. Just because she couldn't channel was not an excuse to miss the lesson learned.

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OOC: When I read that last line, my first response was "that was such an Aes Sedai thing to say!" :biggrin:

 

IC:

 

Walking back to the kitchen, Elin dusted as many of the splinters off her dress as she could. It wouldn't do to be seen with wood dust all over her dress, or she'd earn a penance for it. A large part of her was irritated about the whole day, and another small part was specifically irritated about the last comment from Kathleen Sedai. "Just because you can't channel, that's not an excuse to miss the lesson learned." Phaw! If the lesson is on weaving the one power, what was she to learn if all she can do is see it?

 

She wiped the frown off her face when she arrived at the kitchen to get her plate, and she was lucky Kathleen Sedai had ordered it. Novices rarely got hot plates if they were late. She took it to her room, and sat on the edge of the bed, her plate balanced above her washbowl. It was beef, sliced fine, and served with a brown gravy and roasted potatoes, a very hearty meal that made up for her skipped breakfast and light lunch. As she cut the beef, she thought over her day. It was obvious she had a block, just like the one most wilders had. She'd read about wilders' blocks before. Some women had foolish blocks like they could only channel with their eyes closed, or they had to be in love to be able to channel. Elin paused, her fork halfway to her mouth. Her block might well be called a foolish one as well. Only a silly girl believes in ghosts... but Nile had felt so real.

 

With a hunk of bread, she mopped up the last of the gravy and set the plate aside to be taken to the kitchen in the morning. As she went through her nightly ritual of hanging her dress, neatly folding her bonnet, and brushing out the coiled curls she called hair, Elin thought through why Kathleen had made her attempt to make tea. It was a simple chore, and anywhere along the process channeling would have simplified the task beyond measure. Elin would never think asking a servant for tea was a simple request again! The only logic behind it could be to frustrate the One Power out of Elin. Make her want to channel by pure frustration.

 

As she went to sleep, her mind began to fill with the idea of days of pure frustration. In her dreams that night, she chased a flint and steel all over the Tower, knowing that if she just held it, she would be able to channel fire. It was not a restful night's sleep.

 

The next morning, she found herself sitting in a class with her peers and the younger girls, learning about weaves of Spirit. It had always been the thread that came most easily to them... to Elin... and today's lesson was a special kind of torture. The Accepted knew Spirit came easily to Elin, and she asked Elin to help her demonstrate a weave in front of the class. Blushing, Elin had to explain that her block had come into effect, and she could no longer channel, but was working with Kathleen Sedai to break her block. The shocked look from the other novices, and the sympathy on the Accepted's face only made Elin's blush worse. Throughout the lesson, the Accepted kept forgetting about Elin's block and asking her to channel, only to apologize and move onto the next girl. It kept Elin blushing for the whole lesson. By the end, she felt like she was going to melt into the floor of the classroom.

 

At lunch, she forced herself to eat something, though she didn't remember what, knowing that while shame might have her stomach in knots, Kathleen Sedai had said not to miss meals. If the Aes Sedai thought she needed to keep up her strength, that meant there was more hard work to be done.

 

As soon as the lunch bells sounded, Elin found herself outside Kathleen Sedai's doors, and knocked dreading today's torments and shame.

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Kathleen had finished her lunch early and made her way back up to her rooms, she knew Elin would be arriving soon and she had to be prepared. She was sitting at her mirror fixing the last of a simple braid into her long brown hair and clipping a silvery pin into to match with her silver lined emerald sun dress when the expected knock came on the door. Kathleen called the Novice in as the girl dipped down into the required curtsy Kathleen rose and grabbed her shawl. It wasn't a very cool day, but being that she was still new to the Ajah Kathleen always made a point to wear her shawl when she was leaving her rooms. She straighted out the fringe on her shoulders as she instructed Elin to take the bucket that was waiting at the door and led the Novice down through the halls and out to the water gardens. If she was going to have to sit and watch the girl stare hopelessly for hours, Kathleen was at least going to get to enjoy some fresh air while doing it.

 

When they arrived to the nearest pond Kathleen made a line on the ground a few feet away from it with sticks. She set a mug with a handle down beside the girl and she said, "I would like you to fill this bucket, full up to the top with water from the pond. Now, I know that it is muddy close to the edge there, and I would hate for you to paddled by the Mistress of Novices for having a messing dress because I made you go in the mud. See this line?" She pointed to the sticks and continued, "Don't cross it. I will be sitting just under the tree over there, so I will be close enough to supervise any use of Saidar. Come to me when the bucket is full and not a moment sooner." Kathleen turned to the tree and sat on the stump some had placed there earlier and watched as Elin began her task.

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"Yes, Aes Sedai." Elin gave the required response through gritted teeth. The bloody, and Elin knew her mother would wash her mouth out with soap for even thinking such language, woman knew that Elin couldn't channel, so her false solicitous words where she said she was looking out for Elin were pure cowpie. Elin knew that the restriction was there to force her to channel. Yesterday's task was something she could do without the One Power, and she had done it by hand, the way anyone but an Aes Sedai would do it.

 

Apparently that wasn't what Kathleen Sedai wanted from her. Why give her the mug if she couldn't use it to scoop water directly from the pond? If the only means of success were channeling, why taunt her with the mug? Fuming, Elin sat crosslegged on the ground. The grass here was wet, and Elin knew she was getting grass stains on the back of her dress, but she would have to deal with that later.

 

The rosebud sprang to mind, tightly coiled due to her anger with quite a few thorns, and she felt for the sun, for the one Power. That blasted block was still there. She couldn't simply open herself to the Power and let it fill her the way everyone said she should be able to do. A tear leaked out of her eye, and before it could drop, Elin leaned over the bucket and made sure that bit of moisture landed where it would do her some good.

 

She had to chuckle at that last bit of drama. It was a bit much, even for this situation.

 

Staring at the pond again, Elin leaned into that part of her mind that used to be Nile, but there was nothing there. She felt like she was leaning over the edge of a cliff. If she pushed just a bit farther, she would fall into the abyss. The glow of saidar was still there, taunting her, teasing her.

 

Hours passed, her back and knees began to ache, but Elin sat in that crosslegged position, willing saidar to fill her. She tried, by sheer force of willpower, to make the water move on its own, but that failed. She had tried imagining the flows of Water, thinking that if she just willed them to exist they would... but that failed.

 

As dusk settled around the garden, and the bell that signaled the end of dinner tolled, Elin got to her feet. She had failed. She picked up the bucket and the mug and walked over to the Aes Sedai.

 

"Kathleen Sedai, I am sorry, but I've failed. I did not fill the bucket." Then she waited for her punishment.

Edited by Phelix
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As the sun began to set and Kathleen's stomach began to notice its second day of missing its scheduled meal, the girl rose from her slump on the ground where Kathleen was beginning to think she was stuck. Kathleen looked up at her and watched her make her way over with the empty bucket. "Kathleen Sedai, I am sorry, but I've failed. I did not fill the bucket." The girl was waiting on the brink and as much as it hurt Kathleen to know how hard she had tried and that the failure at this task would otherwise be more than enough punishment, she knew it could not end here. "I gave you a task, that you have refused to complete. I told you not to come to me before that bucket was filled and here it sits empty. You will go to the Mistress of Novices and tell her that you have denied an Aes Sedai's simple order and you will take whatever punishment she gives you. I will have had the Mistress of the Kitchens holding a plate for you, I will tell her to let it cool, but it will be there waiting for you when you leave the Mistress of Novice's study tonight. I will see you back in my rooms tomorrow after lunch." With that the Aes Sedai rose and glided into the White Tower, unsure if really would see the girl after lunch the next day.

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It wasn't fair! Elin held back the tears as she watched the Aes Sedai leave her alone in the garden. After placing the bucket and mug in the gardener's shed, Elin walked to the Mistress of Novices' office, where she knocked and was admitted.

 

"Aes Sedai, I denied an Aes Sedai's simple order and am here to be punished." Elin used as much of Kathleen Sedai's wording as possible. She wasn't going to give away any more or any less. The Aes Sedai looked her over, for a moment, then took out the book of punishments and flipped to Elin's page. It wasn't blank, but she wasn't one of the girls who needed multiple pages. The Mistress of Novices wrote out Elin's exact wording, and then next to it wrote "10 strokes of the cane." The book was held at just the right angle for Elin to read as the sister wrote, and she blanched. Always before she had been spanked with a slipper or a brush, even a small paddle. Never the cane.

 

Bent over the padded armrest, Elin felt each stroke of the cane, and she sobbed. Her tears were for more than the pain, but for the shame of failing, for the anger at the impossible task. Kathleen Sedai was so kind in most respects, but setting her up to fail, setting her up for this punishment. Elin felt broken.

 

She slept that night on her stomach, and could count where each stroke had left a welt on her backside.

 

The next day, her morning chores were simple baking, and her class was on the Old Tongue, so she was able to let her mind wander off channeling. But only until she found herself back outside Kathleen Sedai's door, knowing another day of frustration awaited her.

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Kathleen was waiting in her room again after a larger lunch than usual. When Elin arrived Kathleen retrieved her shawl again and she could see the girl's shoulders slump from the corner of her eye as she wrapped the shawl around her. Kathleen led the girl back out to the gardens and when they were standing off to the side Kathleen found the marker she left earlier. She smiled as bent over to see that it hadn't moved and when she was satisfied that it hadn't she stood back up and eyed the Novice. Kathleen reached into a pouch she had brought and took out a small coin, showed it to Elin and said, "earlier today I saw another Novice dig up the ground here and place a coin like this one deep into the earth here. My father wasn't a cheap man, but he taught me not to throw money around. Retrieve the coin for me. If you get dirt on your dress I will clean it off for you before you go in. I will be waiting near by watching, so feel free use what every means are available to you to lift the earth."

 

Kathleen knew the girl was not strong in Earth, most women were not, but using the Power this would be an easy task for even the weakest Novice. With out it this task would mean hours of clawing the dirt, if the girl didn't just quit again like last time. To be sure she wouldn't Kathleen added a warning before she went to take a seat, "I will not accept failure this time, Child, I will not dismiss you from this task until I have that coin or the Mistress of Novices comes to drag you away, and I can assure you I will find a way to drag you back out here until that coin is returned to me." Kathleen turned to leave, and then added, "This task could take you as little as two minutes if you do it the easy way. I will wait here with you until you are done." Then the Aes Sedai went to sit on the most comfortable looking rock she could find. I hope I haven't been to harsh this time. When will this girl figure it out?!

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Elin followed the Aes Sedai back into the garden, and her heart sank. It looked like another day of staring at something hoping she'd be able to do the impossible. At least this time, the Aes Sedai said she could use whatever means she needed to actually achieve the chore.

 

Well, I'd better try to reach the source before giving up all together. Elin knelt on the ground, her knees would definitely be dirty. Her few lessons with Earth had shown that she was weaker than average in Earth, and she remembered how fuzzy the threads had been and how difficult to weave. Remembering it, Elin almost felt the Power again, but it was gone in a flash as she tried to seize it. She slammed her fist into her thigh, angry that she had lost it again.

 

Forcing herself to be calm again, Elin put herself into the rosebud. She could feel the Power so close. It had been days since she had channeled, and she felt like a wrung out cloth. Since she had first touched the source, she had embraced it at least, once a day, if not actively channeling. Her imagined brother had helped her to channel each day, and now without him, she couldn't channel at all.

 

Elin realized she was getting exasperated with herself again, so she took three deep breaths and pushed the tension out again. She was a rose; she was the bank of the river; she was a well; she was a seed... but no matter what thought pattern she tried, nothing brought her back to that point of almost being filled with the power. What had she done when she first knelt in the dirt? She'd felt it flicker into her... but then it was gone again.

 

Finally, as the dinner bells rang, Elin knew she wouldn't find source again tonight, sh got to her feet, and went to the gardener's shed and brought a trowel back to the spot the Aes Sedai had marked. She'd been given permission to use whatever means necessary, and Elin doubted the Aes Sedai would enjoy cleaning her dress, even if she was willing. Digging with the trowel, Elin did her best to keep her hands and her dress clean, but the deeper she got the more she realized it was truly impossible to remain clean. She eventually found the bloody coin about two and a half feet down.

 

Wiping the sweat on her brow, Elin walked back to the Aes Sedai who was perched on a rock watching her. "Kathleen Sedai, here is your coin."

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Kathleen watched as the day drew on and she had thought she had seen the glow for moment around the girl, but it was there and gone so fast it could have been a trick of the Aes Sedai's eye, but still it gave Kathleen hope that her efforts weren't all in vain. As the dinner bell rang and Kathleen saw the girl begin to walk away she had almost thought she had given up altogether but soon the Novice returned with a tool and Kathleen's heart sank a little. This girl was persistent, and that was a good thing. A lot of other girls in her position had left before going through some of the trials Elin had been through, but most of them wouldn't have made it to Accepted even if they could get passed their block.

 

When Elin broke her's Kathleen knew the girl would have all else it took to be Aes Sedai. When the girl gave Kathleen her coin, she wanted to thank her, or congratulate her on not giving up, but that was not part of the process Kathleen had set so she calmly took the coin, met the girls eyes and said "Did you mess this dress on purpose, just because I said I would clean it? Is this your simple way of getting back at me?" Kathleen began to pull the earth from the girls dress with the one power and then Kathleen wove a thread of air and used it lift the bucket the girl had carried the day before over to the pond and then tipped it so it filled with water. She let the bucket return to her and then Kathleen set to work scrubbing the rest of the dirt out of the Novices dress. She knew that using the power so simply in front of her would infuriate the already annoyed Novice and Kathleen couldn't bring herself to be much crueler so she dried the dress thoroughly in a the only nice gesture she could. She knew the girl probably wouldn't pick up that it was a nice gesture, but Kathleen hated having to be in the position she was in. She knew they couldn't be friends, but she hated that he had to make the girl aggravated beyond control. It is all for a purpose, it is all to help her out. Some day she will see. I will help her break this block.

 

************************

 

The afternoon knock came once more and Kathleen was ready with a new plan. Annoying yet doable tasks hadn't worked, getting fed up over otherwise impossible tasks hadn't worked, being made to do painful, dirty, meaningless work hadn't worked. It was time for a new approach, and perhaps if annoyance, frustration and determination weren't quite enough, fear added into the mix could get something going. Kathleen let out a silent sigh before going to the door, shawl already on. Why bother inviting the girl in when they were just leaving again. This time Kathleen didn't take the girl out to the gardens, she lead her to a small storage closet that was currently not being used. When the entered the room Kathleen showed the Novice a very simple ward to keep something closed tightly. She knew that Elin had been strong in Spirit, even for the reduced amount that the Novice could access, and she knew the girl couldn't stand rats.

 

Kathleen looked at the box in the middle of the room and then looked at Elin. "In this box are rats, I currently have that ward I just showed you surrounding it. In a few moments I will be removing my ward and leaving the room. You may place the ward back on the box at any time after I remove it. If you are too slow, they may get out though, so I suggest not waiting until I am out of the room. If you get frightened by them when they come out of the box to see who are just call out for me and I will make sure they don't get too close." Kathleen could see the fear in the girls eyes but she knew she had to do it, so she calmly removed the ward, stepped out of the view of the Novice, and hoped the illusions she had made too look like rats worked.

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Standing in front of Kathleen's door, for the sixth day running, Elin couldn't help but feel a small bit of hate for the Aes Sedai. Berating her for getting dirty after Elin had worked so hard to keep clean. Elin had cried quietly to herself while the Aes Sedai cleaned and dried her dress for her. Her pride stung even as she watched the weaves that cleaned her dress. She knew she could form them, if she could just touch the source.

 

When she knocked, the Aes Sedai did not call for her to enter, rather simply opened the door wearing her shawl and lead Elin off to a closet. When the Aes Sedai showed her the ward, Elin let a small smile show. It was Spirit. If any of the Powers would be easy for her to weave it would be Spirit. Then she heard the Aes Sedai say there were rats in the box. Working in a bakery, Elin had learned to fear rats because they were a sign the bread or grain was going bad. They'd kept several cats to chase off the vermin, but there were no cats in the closet with Elin and the Aes Sedai.

 

When the Aes Sedai let her ward disolve, Elin felt her heart leap into her throat. As soon as the ward was gone, Elin saw the box move, its lid twitching. She clutched toward the Power, feeling its warmth, knowing it was there, and she felt it trickle into her, but before she could do anything with it, it drained out of her again. Even that moment of holding the power felt fantastic. Before she could celebrate, she saw the box move again, and panicked, reaching for the power again, but it was just beyond her reach.

 

When the rat showed its beady eyes, Elin screamed, and she saw the ward pop back into place. There was Kathleen Sedai, calmly watching. The box was sealed again, and Elin was panting against the wall. She'd held the source again. She knew she could do it. While the ward was still in place, Elin reached for the source again... and it was still out of reach. While she centered herself, performing the exercises again and again, but when she opened her eyes, the ward was gone again and the lid was trembling.

 

This time, Elin steeled herself, holding in her scream until there were two rats fully outside the box. Over and over again, she tried and tried, but never got close to success again. They kept trying, over and over again, until well after the dinner bell had rung. Elin kept trying, holding onto the rosebud, hoping it would finally yield and let her have access to the Power. She was sweaty with fear and effort when finally the ward did not disappear. Elin looked for Kathleen Sedai hoping that the sister would call an end to this trial.

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Kathleen sat waiting in her room again on the seventh day, thinking over the long night before and the events over the last week. She knew the girl was getting closer, she was almost there. The rat test had worked just as Kathleen planned, and to her surprise the girl had actually embraced the source. It was only for just a moment, and she hadn't been able to use it or hold it for long. But given the amount of fear the girl was clearly feeling it was not a surprise that she couldn't use the power. Kathleen was surprised she could even embrace it in that state. The Aes Sedai knew from experience that it is often impossible for Novices and Accepted to touch the source in circumstances of extreme fear. When the girl had successfully embraced the source, even though it wasn't intensional, Kathleen knew it was a success. She knew that the girl had done it without Nile, so she was past that part of the block. She had let the girl try it again and when she was sure that it was not going to happen again that night Kathleen put the poor girl out of her misery by placing the ward back on the box. She had simply nodded at the Novice and instructed her to meet back at her room the same time the next day and the Aes Sedai left the room. All that was left was for the girl to be able to do on command. She would give the girl a chance to do it on her own in calm, and if that didn't work she had one more idea in mind and to force it out of her, and hopefully the girl would be able to put it all together. Kathleen hoped it wouldn't come to her final test, but she had a feeling it would.

 

When the knock came to door Kathleen took a quick look around at her pristine room, smoothed out the blue silk dress she was wearing as she called the girl in. "Good afternoon, Child. You made progress last night with touching the source. If however that moment was all you can muster than I'm afraid you will not make it to Accepted. It is difficult to take hold of Saidar when you are afraid, so I do not hold it against you. It was progress, you should be pleased. Now, you must learn to embrace it and be able to control it in a calm state, on your own command, otherwise you will be no use to the Tower and a liability for the Aes Sedai and channellers of all levels. Today's attempt could be your final one, but you have all day and you can take as long as you need. I can be of no help to you in the task I am about to give, and you have kept me from many things that need my attention. I am going to give you a simple weave and all you must do is untie it. I will come back soon to see if you have completed the task, and I give you permission to use just enough of the power as is needed to untie the weave. When you are free you will wait here until I return and I will gladly supervise you as practice using the power on demand again."

 

With that Kathleen wove a thin thread of air and wrapped it around the girl. It was loose enough that the girl would be able to squirm and struggle, but solid enough to keep her in place. When the girl was calm and ready to be left on her own Kathleen left the room. She came back several times an hour but the girl was always where she had been left. Kathleen could see the emotions changing in the girl as she checked in on her. There had been determination, frustration, anger, and as the day drew on Kathleen began to see fear, and then not long before the starting dinner bell Kathleen could see the calm determination coming back into control. Kathleen told the girl she was going to have lunch and when she came back if the Novice still hadn't managed embrace and use Saidar enough to untie the weave, Kathleen would untie it for her, and the test would be done. When the end of the dinner bell rang Kathleen made her way back to her rooms. She had hoped to find the girl sitting on the chair with the thread of air long gone, but she prepared herself for what would happen next if the girl was still tied when she got there. Kathleen opened the door to her rooms and saw the girl still wrapped in the thread of air and the Aes Sedai frowned.

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Standing alone, wrapped in a flow of Air, Elin felt wave after wave of emotion. When she'd first been left here, all she felt was determination to succeed. She knew she'd touched the source, held it even, for just a moment the night before, and she hadn't needed Nile to do it. If she did it once, she could do it again. She went through the different steps of the novice exercises, becoming the rosebud, feeling for the sun, but it didn't work. All she had to do was embrace the source, grasp the thread of Air that was binding her, tug it gently and it would untie and dissipate. It was the easiest test of all the ones Kathleen Sedai had given her, but at the same time, in all the others she had been free to move. This one kept her standing, in one spot, for the entire day.

 

As the hours passed, determination gave way to anger, both at Kathleen and at herself. Drat the bloody woman for doing this to her. Elin snarled and cursed quietly to herself as she struggled with the flow of Air. She wasn't even trying to untie it anymore, just get free of the Light forsaken thing.

 

When Kathleen Sedai came back, and announced that if Elin did not manage to untie herself before the Dinner hour was over, the Aes Sedai would untie her and the test would be over, a small part of Elin was relieved. She would be free again! But another part of her wanted to succeed. She did not want to see that woman's face when she failed again. Elin did not want to listen to another lecture on how she wasn't trying hard enough, how she would never make it if she couldn't put the proper amount of effort into a task. While the Aes Sedai was gone, Elin set her teeth and redoubled her efforts, she would embrace the source. She would!

 

But she didn't succeed before the hour was over, and the Aes Sedai came back. The Sister's frown spoke volumes, and Elin knew she'd disappointed the Aes Sedai. She hung her head, and waited to be released.

Edited by Phelix
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As the girl hung her head Kathleen shook her's disapprovingly. "Really, child? You really couldn't do something as simple as untying a thin thread of Air? I gave you all day, and how do you spend it? Standing there staring into space. You reached the power yesterday, in extreme fear, I thought that said a lot more about you, but if you can't untie a simple thread of air after having all day to work at, I don't know what else to do. You are wasting my time, child, keeping me from important issues and you can't even be trying here!" Kathleen walked closer to the girl and let her voice rise, she knew Aes Sedai did not loose their temper so she kept her voice calm as the eye of a storm and let the sting of the words themselves and all they could imply hit the girl the hardest.

 

"You have stopped trying, and so I'm done trying this as well. I saw you hold the power yesterday and you obviously didn't try hard enough today. I suppose you just aren't capable of breaking the block. I had told you at the beginning of the week that you had to give this all you had to ever be able to touch the Source again, but you quit almost every task I gave you, and now you've quit this one too. I thought you said that you wanted to continue, I thought you were willing to put in the effort to touch the source again, but all I have seen from these attempts is failure and giving up." Kathleen pushed more hoping that the girls anger would build, and from the look in her eyes it was working.

 

Kathleen continued, "You were foolish to ever think you could be an Aes Sedai with no determination. You couldn't even admit that you could channel, yet you thought that you were strong and smart and capable enough to one day wear the Shawl? I don't know why I ever thought you would try so hard, as soon as you knew that someone wasn't doing the work for you, you couldn't even bring yourself to do it. So what? As long as Nile could make the weaves for you, you thought you could be lazy and let him do all the work. Then when you realized that you actually had to do the work, you had to reach out to grasp the source, you had to weave it and use it, then what, did you just decide that it was more work than you care to put in? Wasting the White Tower's time and resorces is not something we real channeller's take lightly, child, and by the looks of how little effort you are putting in to touching the power you are just wasting the time of the Aes Sedai. We know you could touch it when you thought you were in danger, but if that is the only time you can touch it you may as well leave the Tower now and run back back home to you're mother, because you'll never amount to anything if you stay here. You really think you have been trying your hardest these last days? If this is all your effort and all you can do than there is place in this Tower for you. It's a little sad really, when you arrived we all thought you had so much potential, but laziness will get you nowhere, and you need to actually do work, something I'm sure you could have tried harder to do these last days." Kathleen scoffed and stepped closer to the girl.

 

The Aes Sedai looked deep into the girl's eyes and could see the hatred directed at her. She smiled at the Nocive. It was a smile of success for Kathleen, but to the Novice it would be a smile of smug satisfaction of thinking Kathleen knew more than the girl. Before the look in the young girl's eyes could turn to despair Kathleen took her one last shot at breaking the block. "Oh, is that anger I see? Do you not like what I have said? I know that look child, you want to slap me don't you? Well go ahead child, hit me! Take you're best shot! Oh, that's right, you can't move from that spot because of a flimsy thread of air, and you can't even reach the source. Go ahead and try, child, I wont move!" Kathleen braced herself the blow she hoped to received. She knew the girl couldn't touch her with her arms or legs, but Kathleen readied herself for the burst of the One Power that she hoped would be coming next.

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At first, when Kathleen Sedai came back, all Elin felt was shame at having failed again, and the Aes Sedai's words heaped more and more shame onto the novice, but when the Sister spoke about Nile that shame was burnt away in a flash of pure anger. The anger boiled as she listened to the Aes Sedai call her lazy, mocking her, telling her to go home to her mother, but all of that was on the outside. She was so tightly coiled, her mind felt like a spring held at the ready. When the Aes Sedai offered her the chance to strike the Sister, Elin's mind turned the idea over a few times. Her cold hatred had burnt away everything else, and she was nothing but that tightly bound spring. All she had to do was release it.

 

Something inside her clicked, and the spring burst apart, and Elin felt the One Power fill her to bursting. She didn't take any time to bask in the Power, but quickly put together a weave of Air and Spirit, and slammed it into Kathleen Sedai's stomach. With the sister doubled over, Elin calmly untied the thread of Air and let it melt away.

 

As she stood over the coughing Aes Sedai, Elin realized she had just broken one of the few serious laws a Novice could break. In a wink, the Power was gone out of her, and she was on her knees beside the Aes Sedai, apologizing and offering to get her a drink. After a moment, Elin realized she was babbling in her fear. Yes, she could reach the source again, but she had just assaulted an Aes Sedai with the Power. If they wanted to, the Tower could still her and then execute her for doing so. That was the rather extreme end of the punishments available, but she doubted all she would get was a stern talking to for weaving something vicious enough to knock an Aes Sedai off her feet.

 

Finally, Elin closed her mouth and waited for Kathleen to say or do something. Anything.

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Braced as she was, the force of Air and Spirit that collided into her midsection was still enough to make the Green double over. As she gathered herself she couldn't help but chuckle. She had hoped it would not have come to that, but seeing the girl surrounded in the glow of Saidar gently untying the weave of Air that had held her made the pain Kathleen was feeling well worth it. When I chose the Greens I knew there would moments like this, Kathleen thought. She didn't know which was more strong in her mind, the pain in her abdomen or the joy in her heart as the girl was finally able to get past her block. When the girl was free Kathleen held the one power just in case she was still angry and decided to swing again. But clearly the girl had realized what had happened and she was standing before the Aes Sedai, wide eyed probably waiting for Kathleen to have her head for attacking a Sister with the One Power.

 

Kathleen couldn't bring herself to even entertain the thought of teasing the girl or pretending to be angry. This was a moment the girl had worked hard to achieve. This was a moment to be celebrated. "Congratulations child, you seem to have finally broken that block of yours," Kathleen placed a hand on her side and chuckled, "and perhaps a rib of mine with it! Now, let's see if you really do have it now. Heat me a cup of tea would you dear?" Kathleen thought it was only appropriate to have the girl achieve the goal she had worked so hard on that first day of her trials. When the girl embraced the source and heated the kettle with ease the two shared a smile and Kathleen made her run through a few more novice weaves, just to be sure the girl wouldn't loose it again, and to let the girl have a little while longer to bask in the glory that was touching the source. It had been a difficult start of the week for her, and Kathleen wanted the girl really enjoy this moment.

 

When Kathleen was satisfied that block was completely removed and the girl was in complete control she told her that they were done. "This is the last session you will have with me. Tomorrow you will return to your normal tasks, should the Mistress of Novices approve it. You will go to her tonight, tell her that you have successfully broken you're block under my supervision and you can now channel on your own, with no known restrictions." The girl smiled and as she turned to the door to leave Kathleen caught her just before it opened, "Oh, and make sure to tell her just how you broke the block. Unless they have changed the rules since my Novice days, striking a Sister is not generally looked upon as appropriate behaviour from a Novice, even if they tell you to 'take you're best shot'!" Kathleen winked at the girl, who dropped into a curtsy and left the Aes Sedai's rooms.

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OOC: Thank you, again, Kathleen! It's been a pleasure playing with you... and I hope Elin and Kathleen get to go on an adventure or two later on in life. :D

 

It was all Elin could do not to laugh, to cry, to sing even. She had control. She could channel. She could learn! Here was this woman who had only moments before been berating and belittling her, now smiling and congratulating her. This woman who had so skillfully made Elin's afternoons and evenings a torturous experience, who had made Elin feel like the lowest of the low, who had inspired a level of fear and shame Elin hadn't known existed, had apparently done it all as part of a plan. Elin knew that she had begun the week planning to work with Kathleen Sedai to break her block, but when their lessons turned into a series of impossible chores and situations designed to push her to her limits, she had forgotten their purpose. She had forgotten there was a purpose at all, other than surviving Kathleen's torments.

 

The hate Elin had felt for the other woman melted away, and Elin knew it had all been for her own good. She laughed when she was asked to make tea, heating it with a small flow of Fire. The balls of light came easily, as did a wall of Air. As Kathleen ran her through the weaves novices were meant to learn, Elin felt a new joy spreading in her chest. Yes, Nile was gone, well and truly gone, but now she had removed the bar that held her from growing into a woman powerful enough to do something about situations like the one that had taken her brother from her.

 

That joy curdled in her throat when Kathleen Sedai instructed her to go to the Mistress of Novices to explain what had happened tonight. Gratefulness warred with dread in her heart and on her face as she curtsied to the Aes Sedai, barely noting the friendly wink. Valeri Sedai was a very firm woman, and she would not take Elin's offense lightly.

 

As she walked down the halls, it was all she could do not to embrace the source and hold it tightly. Her block was gone!

 

With a smile, she found herself knocking on the Mistress of Novice's office door, and when she was admitted, she curtsied.

 

"Good Evening, Valeri Sedai. Kathleen Sedai sent me to you tonight. She has been working with me for the past week on breaking my block... and it finally happened tonight. She told me to tell you the full circumstances... and well, Kathleen Sedai told me to hit her, you see. I mean, back at the beginning... she had me bound with air, unable to move, and she mocked me, called me lazy, said I was using Nile to channel because I was too lazy to channel on my own. And she said if I could do it, if I could hit her, with my arms pinned with Air, I could take my best shot... and I did. I hit her with a weave of Air and Spirit, and she said I might have broken one of her ribs."

 

That last part came out as barely more than a whisper. The idea that she had broken the rib of a sister... she fidgeted, waiting for Valeri to say something.

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