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Tea and Sympathy
Wed Nov 8, 2006 19:15 (XFF:

"One's first lesson," Akadias said, allowing the humor of the situation into his voice, "speak when spoken to." The remembered intonations of a long-ago Mistress of Novices crept into his voice as he continued: "The privilege to begin a conversation is reserved for those who have something to discuss. But," he said, shrugging broad shoulders, "the Light's greeting on you this day, Novice. I will instruct you in the One Power." He allowed saidin to close the door behind the young man, observing him closely for a reaction. An early test often showed symptoms of an abnormal relation to the One Power, but if this Jaem had any such reactions, he kept them hidden.

As they traversed the corridors toward the cavernous heat of the Kitchens and the promise of breakfast, Akadias broke the silence. "You'll find everyone here has some sort of tale, and it's best to get it out of the way. I am Akadias din Starwind, and I am a Grey Aes Sedai. I'm also the only male Aes Sedai from my people, the Atha'an Miere: before me most of them were drowned, lest they break the world or worse. Recently they've begun to train boys as Windfinders, and it's an improvement, but it was too late for me, and yes, I resent that." He shrugged - it was a gesture he'd learned to use to deflect painful conversations - and took the stairs at a faster rate. To his credit, the boy beside him didn't falter.

They reached the Kitchens in good time, just as Laras pulled some of her fresh hot rolls from the stone ovens lining the room. The dining room was sparsely populated, which suited Akadias' melancholy: he chose a table beside a wall before breaking open the steaming roll to apply butter and honey. Politely, he allowed the younger man to finish his meal before he directed his dark gaze at the lad: he hadn't taken the earlier opportunity to tell his tale and have done with it. Akadias didn't mind that: he himself hadn't spoken for a week from sheer mortification. To be a man, housed in halls of women - it was a difficult thing.

"It's best simply to say it all," Akadias advised. "I can see Kandor on your clothing and I hear Shol Arbela on your tongue. You weren't born poor and you've had training as a warrior even though your build doesn't suit the craft. And, of course, you'll never win a prize for your beauty," he said, critically eyeing the deep scars he could see around the linen. "Tell me how you came to know you could channel. For me, it was a trick - a sword that always returned to my hand. Even when it was bent and should have broken, the blade could not be dropped. I would say that you made the fire that made those scars, but I might be wrong and then I might not be able to help you if you had a block."

He poured tea into two small cups - sized again for women - and pushed one toward the man. "Drink, and talk, and when you're ready, I'll teach you how to find saidin when you want it and make it do as you please."

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    • Tea and Sympathy — Akadias din Starwind, Wed Nov 8 19:15
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