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Rudimentary Geography -- Lesson Two


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The Accepted sat at her desk, hands clasped, as the Novices began to arrive. Perhaps she had been too harsh on them at the previous lesson. No matter, her own teachers had been -- still were -- harsh and it had only done her good. She scanned the class from her seat and stood when all the present Novices were sitting. One was missing.


Standing before the map-covered board at the front of the class, she gently tapped cane against hand behind her back, waiting for the girls to quieten. It did not take long. “Good morning, girls,” she began. “Welcome to your second lesson of the Rudimentary Geography class. Now, I trust you have completed your assignments. I expect them on my desk at the end of the lesson. We started on the anthropological side of the course last lesson, and will continue that topic later on. Next lesson, we will discuss your assignments which you will have handed in today.”


She observed the girls’ reactions to that. One or two of them seemed displeased. They had best learn quickly how to live in the Tower. “For today, we shall discuss what caused the landscape. We shall discuss the Breaking of the World.” A couple of gasps came from some of the younger girls, and a pair of older ones looked a little uneasy. “You mustn’t be afraid to discuss certain things, girls. Tower life is about strength and courage: something a few of you need to learn, it seems.”


Sweeping between the girls’ desks, Auriane continued. “Now, we are all aware of what caused the Breaking. The male Aes Sedai, most notably the Hundred Companions and their leader Lews Therin Telamon, driven mad by the Dark One’s taint on saidin, destroyed the land as they knew it. We today live in the aftermath of this disaster, and we all know the effects it has had throughout the years on the world we live in. The stigma associated with the “Dragon’s Fang,” that symbol representing the male Aes Sedai, unity and equality, which has been distorted over the years, even overlaps into stigma associated with all Aes Sedai, all channelers, even.” She pursed her lips. “Countries like Amadicia and Tear, for example, go so far as to outlaw channelling.


“If you look out of many windows in the White Tower, you will see Dragonmount: the grave of Lews Therin Telamon, created in his insanity.” Auriane stopped talking. She stood behind a girl, looking over her shoulder, who was doodling some nonsense on her paper. It took the girl a while to realise the class had become silent -- she obviously was not concentrating. When she did realise, and saw some other girls staring in embarrassment behind her desk, she dropped her pen and turned around to see Auriane looming above her. “Do not waste time or paper on such frivolousness, Miss Halinor.”


Auriane recommenced her circuit of the classroom. “The world is a very diverse place, girls, and those of you who make it to the shawl will no doubt traverse it widely.” Arriving at the front of the class, Auriane pointed with her cane at an area coloured beige in the centre of the map, flanked by mountain ranges. “This is the Aiel Waste. To the west, we have the Spine of the World, and to the east, the Cliffs of the Dawn. These mountain ranges are enormous, jagged and perilous, created by madmen during the Breaking. The Aiel Waste is a good example to look at when studying geography, due to its extreme differences to our side of the world. An Aiel will believe that snow is a myth. An Aiel will be glad to see a puddle and believe oceans do not exist, but from what we know of them, they do seem to believe in the reality of Trollocs, Myrddraal and the other foul creatures which many of you knew as myths before coming here. It mostly does not rain in the Aiel Waste, and it never snows. Consider this in comparison to the landscape of your homeland. I would like you to write down a list of similarities and differences in the geography of your homeland in comparison to the Aiel Waste and hand in your list to me at the end of the lesson with your assignment.” Auriane began walking between the aisles once more, occasionally looking over a girl’s shoulder to check her work.

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