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The first step is the toughest (Aiel Training What it means to be wise - Attn Leala)


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Endora listened to the other Wise Ones in silence. They were discussing the newest addition to their ranks of apprentices. The girl, according to them, was flipping back and forth between the attitude of a Maiden and that of a first time mother. She was either too severe or too leniant. A common issue with new apprentices, as Endora knew all too well. While they didn't exactly include her in the conversation, she noticed some did occasionally cast an eye in her direction. Trying to read her reaction. She smiled at them and sipped her tea, content in listening for the moment. It threw some of them off guard, though the more experienced ones smiled right back, holding eye contact a while longer before continuing with the conversation. "You may be unpredictable," those smiles said, "but we know your heart." Endora didn't mind her sister Wise Ones to feel that way. In many ways, they were right and they did know her heart. For her heart belonged to her people and their survival through the trials that awaits the Aiel.


After a few hours, she shifted herself in a more upright position and announced simply that she would speak with the girl. The others instantly ceased their talk and looked at her.

"Are you sure, Endora?" one of them asked. "You already have several apprentices under your care. We do not shy from taking our share of the burden."


"I'm sure," she replied. "Besides, just because I speak to her once doesn't mean she can not learn from anyone else. I will know what I have to work with once I've spoken to her myself. You know I prefer it when apprentices have more than one teacher. It enriches them far more than hearing the same bell over and over again."


"Very well," a sturdy, rock hard looking Wise One said. "You are good with the girls, Endora. Of that, there can be no question." The others quickly agreed, as people were proned to do when Maliya spoke, and they ordered the gai'shan to dose the fire, clean up the tent and go to bed. The Wise Ones filed out one by one, seeking the warmth of their own blankets.


"Go fetch the girl." Endora ordered one of the gai'shan. Tell her to go to my tent and wait for me there.


She instantly left for her tent, disrobed and crawled under her blankets. Sleep came instantly.


The next morning, Endora awoke and found the girl standing still in front of her tent. Bleary eyed and swaying side to side, fighting to stay awake.


"Good morning, child." Endora greeted her cheerfully. "Come in here and set us some tea."

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Aphynea was just about to change to curl up in her blankets and go to sleep when a quiet gai'shain told her that Endora needed her at her tent. Leaving thoughts of sleep and warmth, she headed out of her tent and went to meet with the Wise One. She must have a new lesson to give her, some new facts, new stories, new knowledge. But when Aphynea arrived, the tent was closed, and Endora was fast asleep in her own blankets. It was amazing how fast Dreamwalkers could bring themselves to sleep.


She knew what it meant.


At least, she knew what it meant to find a sleeping Wise One for an apprentice when one was specifically summoned. She was being allowed time to think, and being forced to endure the elements of the Three-Fold Land until the Wise One awoke. Her task was to find what would be discussed when Endora awoke. To maintain her honor, she had to find the slight that she had done. As she stood and faced the rest of the Aiel tents, she set about thinking, making sure not to make eye contact with anyone else walking by, so they wouldn't notice her shame.


In her behavior as a Wise One, she had tried to bring balance to her words and decisions. She was hard when she thought it right, and kind when she thought it appropriate. What was she doing wrong? She had seen the Wise Ones do such a thing before...what was it that she was missing? Was she supposed to give cryptic answers? But that would just create confusion. The Wise Ones needed to make the right decisions for the good of the clan. Was there some sort of technique she was supposed to employ? Was there a code she wasn't aware of? If one thing could be said of the Wise Ones, they didn't coddle their apprentices. They didn't insult them by spelling out everything they needed to know. They didn't lead them by the hand and guide them step-by-step...not like when she had been an apprentice seamstress to her second-mother.




Hours passed as she thought of her time among these strong women called the Wise Ones. Aphynea had come to love her time with the Wise Ones. She was learning new ways to learn, and she was learning things that most wouldn't dream of. But she had done something to hurt her mentors, it seemed. Was she being too soft? The Wise Ones were known for being harder than clan chiefs at times. Perhaps she was being too hard too often. Or perhaps it was both... Perhaps she needed to find her own balance and stick with it... But it seemed more complicated than that. What was there?




The sun finally rose, and Aphynea had run out of pertinent things to ponder. Now she was thinking about the beautiful city of Rhuidean. She wanted to study it and find its secrets. She wanted to see every facet of those unfinished palaces. But that would be an insult...like the insult she had dealt those that would be her sisters... Yes. What was that...?


"Good morning, child. Come in here and set us some tea."


Blinking, Aphynea came to. Her body wobbled in a strange way. Had she really stayed up and stood up the whole night? "Yes, Wise One," she responded, ducking into the tent. She set the tea as fast as she could, which was slower than usual, but she was trying to be careful, too. She walked over to Endora and handed her her tea before pouring her own. Once she had her tea in hand, she sat in front of the Wise One, and before she sipped her tea, she said in a voice that she hadn't realized was so scratchy before, "I have toh, Wise One. In my attempt to find balance in my words, I have done the opposite, and have ignored the needs of the clan to perfect my words."

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  • 1 month later...

Endora considered the girl's words for a moment while sipping her tea. She always started her time with apprentices the same way. Have them spend a night or day doing absolutely nothing. People often underestimated the power of nothing. The effect it had on a person's mind. The underlying layers that bubbled to the surface and the truth it unveiled at the end of it. It wasn't a punishment, but a test of how the girls saw themselves. And again, Endora's method proved sollid. This one instantly jumped to the conclusion of having toh. A tricky business that, for among Aiel toh had to be met and no one could decide if you had any or when you were done meeting it but the person themselves. It was also one of the main parts of being Wise, to distinguish real toh from missplaced pride, fear or unrealistic standards.


'balance in my words' Endora pondered. 'Yes, there is no doubt. This one is full of pride.' But honest pride, with a big level of responsibility. They would need to find a way to culture that responsibility without letting it become rigid and unyielding. She motioned to Aphynea to sit down.


"Why are the Wise Ones called wise?" she asked, ignoring for the moment the comment about toh. "Why do Clan Chiefs listen when Wise Ones speak?"

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That small amount of pause in the Wise One's words made Aphynea's heart thump faster than it had in a long while. But she took a breath and sat down when Endora motioned for it. She knew that her methods of giving advice were erroneous somewhere...but--


"Why are the Wise Ones called wise?" Endora's words shocked her. Before she could think to answer, she asked another question. "Why do the clan chiefs listen when the Wise Ones speak?"


As Aphynea sat there, she ran through any possibilities. Some of the Wise Ones channeled, some of them were Dreamwalkers. Some did both. Some did neither. It wasn't their skills. She knew their had to be a reason, but it had never occurred to her to think and find it out. Being a Wise One had never crossed her mind until the day they found her talent. Since then, she had been put to lessons of facts, of history, of channeling...but she had never thought of why they were called Wise Ones. she had never thought of why the clan chiefs would consider their thoughts. She had simply fallen into her position as apprentice.


Knitting her brow, Aphynea shook her head. "I do not know, Wise One," she admitted. But maybe knowing would help her somehow.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Endora smiled.


"That, child, may well be the wisest thing you will say in a very long time." She let that simmer for a while.

"To know a thing is not the same as to understand it. But before you can learn to understand you must first come to know it. Would you consider it wise for one to give advise before she has learned to understand?"


Endora took another sip from her tea and watched the girl closely. The other Wise Ones had mentioned that Aphynea would give advise at every opportunity. To the clan members, the blacksmiths, the warriors. She even had tried it with the Maidens, though they put a stop to it quickly enough. The women were convinced her efforts were well meant, but it was not the place of an apprentice to give advise unless bidden by a Wise One. Most Aiel would simply nod and go about their business without giving the matter too much thought, but there were those with prickly toes and the girl could step in to a pit of vipers without realising it. She had just begun her journey towards becoming a Wise One and she was not ready to be giving advise to anyone just yet. The sooner she learned that, the better she would be for it in the long run. Some Wise Ones adhered to rather unpleasant ways of teaching apprentices their place. Endora wasn't among them. She knew a lesson was learnt best if it came from the subject itself. Much like Ji'e'toh, wisdom came from within. It could not be forced upon you.

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Aphynea thought on that question. It wasn't really a question, but it presented to her some thoughts she should have considered earlier. when she was found to be able to channel, she knew something of the Wise One's ways. She had to find her own way. She knew that Wise Ones gave advice, so she tried to do just that. But it never seemed to work, or was not wanted. But had she not seen other apprentices give advice? Her natural curiosity had been screaming at her for these past weeks to slow down and examine as much as she could from these people that she was supposed to be guiding. But she had been making herself miserable, trying to go with what the Pattern apparently had in store for her. But also, what she had learned from her lessons in the One Power, she had to understand that too.


Life was so much easier as a seamstress.


But hadn't Endora just told her exactly what she had been telling herself? She had to understand the societies first. Perhaps not examine them like an animal or a plant, but understand the way they thought, what their goals were and how they reflected on the clan. It made her want to sigh. For all her want of knowledge, she had ignored what was in front of her. She had denied herself, and possibly hurt her clan in the process. But this Wise One hadn't spoken of punishment. But she felt like she should be running laps around the hold at the same time. Well, she had time to make up for it. And the first step was to admit that she had been wrong.


Aphynea held back a smile and a chuckle at herself. What a fool girl she had been! She would work to fix that, though.


"I see, Wise One," she said. "In trying too hard to go forward in my apprenticeship, I have ignored the very people I am learning to serve. I normally stop to examine things and grow to know them, but I have misunderstood my place among the Wise Ones. I am sorry."

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