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To enter The Tower


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Saelia looked up at The Tower. She had seen it grow from a dot on the horizon to the soaring masterpiece that she stood at the bottom of now. She could hear the bustle of the city behind her, but all her attention was focused on that one building that had occupied her thoughts since that day she had left to be Aes Sedai. 


Saelia had been waiting in the inn common room when the Aes Sedai who had tested her came day to break her fast and start the day's journey. She had politely waited while the woman ate, while she left the inn, while they mounted their horses, while they set out on the road. Thinking that she had waited long enough, she asked "Aes Sedai.... what will happen at The Tower?" 


The Aes Sedai didn't respond, she was gazing into the distance, face unreadable. Did she hear me? Saelia thought or is she just ignoring me? She did say during my testing that she was … brusk.  "Aes Sedai?" she said again hesitantly. The look the Aes Sedai turned on her, not stern exactly but piercing, made Saelia decide that perhaps now was not the time for questions. I need to know though! Why I left my family behind, why this is better for them.  


The day was clear, a light breeze moved Saelia's hair across her face. A good day for riding, a good start to her journey, but her questions would have to wait. She didn't often journey away from home, not with the responsibility of her younger brothers and sister, so she decided to focus on the journey itself rather than the destination until the Aes Sedai was ready to talk. 

To both sides of the road were fields, the crops just beginning to peak above ground. The last frost had been several weeks ago - she thought it would be a good year for the farmers this year. There were few people on the road this early, and none she recognised. She spent a few minutes ideally wandering where the travelers were going and why, but being as most of the few seemed to be merchants that game held little interest for her. 


They had barely been on the road for an hour when Saelia saw a dust cloud on the road - it was distant but seemed to be travelling towards them. Someone riding hard towards us fast, she thought. The Aes Sedai had clearly noticed as well, as she had sat up a bit straighter and was leaning forward slightly. 


The dust cloud got closer, until Saelia could see that there were in fact two riders not one. She watched them with interest at first and then slight stirrings of alarm as she realised that they were slowing. Her worry increased once she could see them clearly - two men, clearly strong and fit, both armed with swords. They also felt dangerous in some way. Saelia struggled to put words to it but she would have been wary of either of these two men if she was in a crowded market in the middle of the day, let alone on the road in the early morning.


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  • 3 weeks later...

The Aes Sedai stopped her horse, so Saelia did the same. She was nervous, but surely nothing could happen with an Aes Sedai with her?


The Aes Sedai moved forwards, so she was a few paces ahead of Saelia, and the two men approached. They drew their horses close together, and started to speak softly. They are her Warders! Of course! Saelia started to relax, travelling with an Aes Sedai and two warders would be much safer than just the two women alone, and she relished the chance to learn more about the Tower.


Saelia was curious to know what the Wardes were saying, and where had they been rather than with their Aes Sedai? She tried to remember all the stories of Aes Sedai and Warders she had heard: a Warder protected his Aes Sedai, that is all she really knew for sure despite how many times she had heard tales of them. Saelia realised how much she didn't know about Aes Sedai.


The Warders had finished talking, reporting, and the Aes Sedai glanced back at her and started talking to the Warders in the same low tones that they had used. They all glanced at her together, with piercing glances that made Saelia shift nervously. Their hushed conversation went on for several more minutes, untill at last the Aes Sedai turned her horse back towards Saelia.


'My plans have changed' the Aes Sedai said 'I am no longer going directly to the Tower, I have business else where'. So I won't be Aes Sedai Saelia thought. Her decision to go to the Tower had been so rushed, leaving home so soon, she hadn't realised how much she had wanted this, yet her heart sank, and there was a heavy feeling when she thought of going back home. But the Aes Sedai continued.


'I won't let the Tower loose you, however. It isn't a particularly long journey to Tar Valon, and relatively safe if you travel in day light and sleep at an inn each night. This should be more than enough to get you there, ask for the Mistress of Novices when you arrive.' the Aes Sedai was pressing a belt pouch into her hands, Saelia could feel the weight of the coins it held.


The Aes Sedai turned, and was clearly gathering herself to ride with her Warders on her ..... other business.


'But.... wait.... please' Saelia struggled to get a sentence out, as much as she struggled to understand.


she can't really be expecting me to travel to Tar Valon on my own she thought, panicking slightly at the thought.


The Aes Sedai glanced back, and she hesitated a moment before she spoke again.


'The Shawl is not given lightly, child. You will be tested many times to show you are worthy. I admit, this usually waits untill a woman at least reaches Tar Valon, but the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. You have the ability to learn to channel, you could be Aes Sedai, the rest is up to you. I hope you are there the next time I am in the Tower, I hope one day I will call you Sister, but this part of your journey to the Shawl you must make alone.'


With that the Aes Sedai gathered her reins, and led her Warders back they way they had come at a gallop. As quickly as the Saelia was alone.

Edited by Elaevia
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  • 1 month later...

Activity along the road had begun to pick up: sho could see another rider in the distance, people starting their day of work in the fields, all perfectly normal. Nothing to suggest that for Saelia the world had turned about so fast she was dizzy.


Yesterday she had found herself thrown out of her old life, to travel with an Aes Sedai to Tar Valon: to study to become Aes Sedai herself. Now she was expected to journey there alone?


That couldn't have just happened! Saelia thought. It was a long way to Tar Valon, too far for her to travel on her own, surely too far for her to travel safely. She would go home, there would be no shame, she still had a place with her family.


She turned her horse, but still sat in the middle of the road. why am I hesitating? Saelia thought, not undersanding her own reluctance to return to her old life.


Saelia thought of her family: how they would welcome her back and comfort her, and was surprised that she was feeling sadness and regret at even the thought of it.


It is my old life, I have a new life now, in the Tower. I've already made my promise to the Tower, to my family and to myself. I won't betray that so easily!


Saelia turned the horse once more, but the Aes Sedai's coin purse on her belt and heeled the horse to start moving. It felt as if she was making her decision to leave home all over again, but she kept her focus on her goal - to be Aes Sedai - to prevent her resolve slipping.

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  • 3 months later...

It took may days of travelling for Saelia to reach Tar Valon. Many days of long dusty road, of nervously trying to find an inn, of nights rethinking and doubting her decision. But each morning she rose and continued on the path she had chosen.


It came as a surprise to find that the last night before her arrival at the White Tower was the worst.


As she had come into the habit of she had asked the innkeeper the next morning about her journey for the day and what she would expect. Usually she had been given advice on which road to travel and when to stop for the night. But this time she was given a warning.


'Only stop if you have to, my love' said the inkeeper, a fair haired dark eyed woman who reminded Saelia of friend of her mother's. 'There have been some bad sorts up that way. Nothing I'm sure the Aes Sedai couldn't sort I'm sure, but they are busy with their own business of course'. Being so close to Tar Valon she must have realised what a young woman travelling alone to the White Tower would mean.


Saelia could feel a sense of dread building at the prospect of a night in an unfriendly - and perhaps unsafe  - town, which obviously showed on her face.


'There now, don't worry!' smiled the innkeeper 'just keep to your room at the inn, just to make sure'.


Mumbling thanks Saelia quickly paid what she owed and gathered her things.


Once outside she could see that the wheather had turned; what had been days of clear skies and fresh breezes had turned into the edge of a storm, and sent her cloak streaming behind her. She spent the day riding in trepidation, concerned about what she would incounter at her next stop for the night. As they day wore into afternoon the weather got worse, the skies darker and the rain set in. She should have had another couple of hours of daylight for travelling but the cloud made the day dark: the wind started to cut through her as her clothing became more sodden.


Surely the next inn can't be that bad, she thought to herself, hopeful and very much wanting somewhere warm and dry to rest.


She had been careful with the purse she had been given by the Aes Sedai, spending only what she needed and not making it obvious that she was carrying a substantial amount of money on her. She now wandered if that might be a liability as the inn came into sight. Rather than the bright and well maintained buildings she had stayed at before, this looked run down and unloved. There was no sound of music of laughter filtering from the ill fitting windows, and very few rooms had any light in. There was no stable boy waiting to take travellers horses, instead almost half a dozen men were huddled under the eaves watching her approach.


As she slowed her horse the men started to move towards her: they had a hard set to the mouth, worn clothing and no smile or word of greeting.


No, no, no Saelia thought to herself, this is not right. Her instincts screaming at her she started the horse moving again, and was soon galloping on the road again towards Tar Valon.


Saelia rode through the night, not daring to stop, only slowing when it was clear she was risking a nasty fall if her horse tripped. During that time she had ample oppertunity to contemplate: the men had made no aggressive moves, not hostile words, no threats. She had had no bad experiences on this journey, no reason apart from a few words in passing from a stranger to give her cause  for such distrust.


I don't know why that was so dangerous, she thought, but I know it was. I think I'm going to have to start trusting my instincts more. And I have learned that just because you have passed some dangers, doesn't mean their aren't more to come.


The sun was rising as she reached Tar Valon. Not quite the first impression I was hoping to make! She rode up the White Tower cold, wet and without sleep, but determined that she was going to call this magnificent structure home one day.


'Excuse me!' Saelia called to small squad of guards, bearing the Flame of Tar Valon 'Could you tell me where I need to go to become Aes Sedai?'

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Leala dismounted when she entered the stables, allowing the grooms to take the horse, and the servants to take her bags back to her quarters.  The Tower Guards who had escorted her back to the Tower had insisted on guarding her to the stables.  They always did.  They parted as she walked between them, though.  She thanked each one in turn, and heard a young girl's voice from outside, addressing the guards.  Leala exited the stables and saw a wet, miserable thing seated atop a horse.  She had very little experience with novices and Accepted since taking the shawl, but she could at least take this girl to the Mistress of Novices.  


Turning to one of the Tower Guards, she asked them to fetch the grooms to take the girl's horse and luggage.  She then approached the young woman, letting her snow white cloak spread in front of her, not bothering about the wet and the cold.  Aes Sedai always kept a mask of serenity and did not allow the temperature to affect them.  "Child, dismount and come with me," she said.  "I will take you to the Mistress of Novices.  That is where you need to go, in order to enroll in the White Tower.  I'm afraid becoming Aes Sedai will take quite a long time, but you seem to have shown some determination in getting here.  That should aid you in the future.  That being said, follow me."  With that, and without checking to see if she was following, Leala made her way toward the Tower's main entrance.

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Saelia was startled by the Aes Sedai - surprised to be escorted by a Sister herself.


She glanced backwards towards her horse as it was being led away by the guards, suddenly feeling lost and far from home without the bundle of belongings that she had bought with her.


Saeila had allowed herself to be distracted and had fallen behind the Aes Sedai, so had to scurry to catch up. The Aes Sedai stode confirdently through the halls, nodding at the curtsies and bows from the few servants they incountered. She now regretted coming straight to the Tower when she reached Tar Valon: she could have taken time and found a good inn in the city, and presented herslef clean and dry and will rested instead of sodden! She felt so out of place as she followed th Aes Sedai through the maze of corridors: everything was pristine and magnificent, much like the woman in front of her. Though perfectly polite to the Aes Sedai she could feel the looks the servants gave her: clearly measuring her against whatever standards the Tower held for new arrivals - they probably thought she was very lacking.


There's nothing I can do about my appearance now, she thought to herself, so you'll just have to make the best impression you can on the Mistress of Novices - whenever we reach her!

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Leala led the girl to the pair of wooden doors, the office of the Mistress of Novices.  She turned to the girl and saw the anxiety written plainly on her face.  Most of Leala's Ajah sisters eschewed any kind of emotion for logic.  Leala's take on that was that emotion should be calculated into the logic when dealing without people, otherwise, things did not end well.  "There is no reason to be frightened or anxious, child.  Every sister had to start somewhere.  When the Tower is done training you, you will either be a sister, skilled and confident in her art, or if you fall short, you'll still be able to control the One Power with confidence and skill out in the world.  Today, however, you take on a new life.  All you must do is knock on that door."  


She hesitated a bit before continuing.  She felt for a moment that she was adding a bit too much commitment to just one novice, but someone needed to show the girl that not all sisters were cold, faceless entities.  "If you ever have any questions or concerns, you make seek me out.  I am Leala Sedai of the White Ajah.  I look forward to seeing you around the Tower.  Now, I'll have to bid you a good day.  I have a bit of unpacking to do."  She gave the novice a polite smile and went on her way.

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Saelia watched the Aes Sedai glide away. While on the one hand it was obvious that all Aes Sedai would have gone through a similar moment when they first started their training, it did not seem to make the task in front of her any easier! A calm and collected Aes Sedai was so far away from how she felt know, it didn't seem possible that she would be one someday!


But now was not the time for self doubt, she would not consider failing before she had even begun, not after she had left her family and her home.


Turning back towards the imposing the door she took a breathe and knocked firmly on the door. She waited untill she heard a call to come in, and stepped in to meet the Mistress of Novices.

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