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Novice Jaem Harlon
Wonders and Trepidations
Thu Nov 2, 2006 07:21 (XFF:

True to Doreen Sedai’s prediction it had taken the better part of the next day for the young borderlander to take in his first sight of the Shining Walls. Oh he had heard of them, no one who lived on the Blightborder was ignorant of those who shared their struggle with the shadow. Still to hear of Tar Valon’s beauty was as describing a flawless diamond as if it were another gem, true but without doing any justice to the wonder of it. The city truly shone like a diamond, floating on the island that forked the river into two sides.

For a moment he had only stared in wonder, when inquired as to what troubled him Jaem had spoken slowly, “Open…the city is so…open…” So used to a city built to be an unbreakable anvil, the sight of so many gates, all of them freely open to anyone that wished to enter, was as astonishing as the elegant bridges that crisscrossed above the stone streets. She had merely smiled and led him through the northern gate at an easy pace. Riding proved difficult passage through the throng of people, citizens of every land were represented in some fashion…Cairhienan to Illianer, to Falman and every land in between.

Finally he had dismounted and led the horse behind the Green sister, but even that was slow going. Jaem took the time to grow familiar with the sights, sounds and even the smells of this foreign city. Acrobats performed on street corners, hawkers cried their wares with voices that would be hoarse by nightfall. Guardsmen, with the mark of Tar Valon across their chest, moved to their next post while others watched from the high walls. Many he passed by gave a curious glance at his raised hood despite the clear day and the strip of cloth tied to cover his face save for his eyes. After a moment they returned to their work, but Jaem felt those glances as he had everyone who had looked at him since the fire. Then his breath was taken again as he looked down the street, no one who walked within those walls could long go without their gaze being arrested by the white tower.

It glistened in the morning sun, as if stars had been painted upon it’s surface, standing like a radiant symbol of hope in the middle of a city that had stood in the most turbulent times. With the Tower one felt they could weather any storm that came, and indeed the Aes Sedai had helped the world weather much. Leaning back to stare, his chocolate colored eyes tracing the smooth ivory colored walls, Jaem felt a sense of wonder…and trepidation as he felt the full strength of the tower. He could not help wondering how anyone would feel that they could conquer that. Many had tried, and would if history was any predictor.

His Aes Sedai guide directed him to the stables where those few novices who had horses were able to keep them. It was a relief for he had a deep affection for the horse and had fretted losing him. That was when Doreen had told him where to find the Mistress and Master of Novices offices were. It had been a surprise when the pang of regret had hit, but then it most likely should not have been as she was his only acquaintance within the city. Once in his room, officially a novice, he had fingered the white clothing that had been readied for him for a while. It fit a bit too loosely but then little clothing fit him properly any more.

Hours had passed, the true dark just before dawn finally arrived, but he had not slept much and that little plagued by dreams that left his mouth dry and his eyes wet with tears. He lay in the white tunic, trousers, belt and even white pouch containing very little of consequence; a few coins, thread and needle to repair torn clothing, he truly had traveled lightly. He even had a white length of cloth, almost a short scarf that would serve to wrap his scarred face in, though he did not know if they would permit it. But above all else were the whirling thoughts that plagued him.

He wondered about his home, and the family he had left behind, and the new life that lay before him. All he had ever wanted was to serve and fight with his father, battling Trollocs on the border. That was before he had channeled, before he had been forced to come here. But he remembered his promise in the woods, to both himself and Doreen Sedai. That promise had been to more than that; his promise had also included the brother whose life he was trying to fill in for. One hand idly ran against the silver trinket in his braid, marked with an R for his brother’s name.

The knocking at his door caught him completely off guard and he jumped, and subsequently fell from his too-small bed. Even for his slight form it was too small, but he had slept in worse conditions. Rubbing his head with a wince, Jaem went to the door and opened it slowly. Seeing someone who was certainly not a fellow novice, nor even one of the accepted, he stepped back with his right leg and bent his right knee in a bow over his straightened right. His eyes looked down as he spoke slowly without realizing it and giving the greeting he would at home.

“The light welcome you Aes Sedai…” realizing what he had said he bit his lip to cut off a curse. Novices did not greet Aes Sedai as if they were coming to a keep, but it was too late to take back words spoken aloud. All he could do now was wait for the man before him to decide his fate, though a visit to the Mistress of Novices was rather expected at least if the rumors were true.

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