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Small Packaged Determination
Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:47 (XFF:

Dia pulled in a slow, steadying breath as she came to a stop before what was finally, the Mistress of Novices. Her eyes, now bereft of the ability to follow the gentle sway of Aranisia Sedai’s thick light brown braid, took advantage of her nervousness and latched onto the first few things to catch her interest: a shiny bauble tucked into the corner of the room, the glint of silver from the thick spine of a leatherbound book, a curiosity hanging from the wall. From there, it was only an infinitesimal step to casting inquisitive golden-hazel orbs about the office.

In all honesty, Dia found herself somewhat disappointed with what she saw. Asides from a few things here and there she did not recognize and could not name, the Mistress of Novices’ office was rather…ordinary. Save for the marked differences in décor and colour choices, the room was rather similar to her father’s study hidden away deep inside House Saighan. Dia had been expecting a room belonging to an Aes Sedai to be…grander than that of her House, even a room as mundane as an office. A few objects floating about, lightning arcing from the ceiling, even a chair or table on fire that did not burn, that sort of thing…things that could not be explained by conventional means. She would have even settled for her mother’s version of opulence; a room bedecked in lavish silks and velvets saturated with expensive, cloying perfumes that made Dia’s skin crawl.

But such was not the case in either prospect.

Now faced with the actuality of it, she had to admit it had been an ill educated assumption and she could not help but feel a little daft. Daft… One of Melina’s favourite words. Tar Valon wasn’t Cairhien. The petty ostentatious games her parents played would not be played out here. Why would Aes Sedai feel the need to impress anyone, much less a silly girl with equally silly thoughts? They were Aes Sedai.

As if cued by her thoughts, eyes of swirled honey swung away from the room, going to focus on the Aes Sedai before her. Oh Light, she’s watching me… While Aranisia Sedai’s serenity and regality had thoroughly impressed Dia a few minutes earlier, this Aes Sedai before her now gave off such an incredible presence that Dia found it hard pressed not to fidget, her mouth going suddenly and inexplicably dry. Golden hazel met blue – both Aranisia Sedai and the Mistress of Novices had blue eyes Dia realized – and blue pierced straight into her. She found herself pinned beneath the weight of the gaze and unable to look away. A slight smile touched the Aes Sedai’s lips but Dia barely noticed. Soft white hair fanned out around the Aes Sedai’s shoulders, the only colour in it being the streaks of deepest auburn about the temples. As the seconds stretched on, Dia clasped her hands behind her back, sparing the yellow silk of her skirts the indignity of being twisted fistfuls at a time.

The Mistress of Novices’ smile deepened and if it would not have made Dia look like a complete milksop, she would have clutched her chest in relief. Her heart hammered away loudly in her chest, so loudly in fact that she had to wonder if Aranisia Sedai beside her could hear it. As it was, Dia obeyed hastily when the wave of a hand motioned for her to sit. “Greetings, child. I am Madeline al’Roise, of the Green Ajah, and Mistress of Novices for the White Tower.” There was the slightest of pauses before Madeline Sedai continued. “Aranisia, if you’d care to join us, perhaps you can show our newest novice around when I’m finished with her.”

“Of course.” The answer was simple and Dia darted a look at Aranisia Sedai before turning her attention back to Madeline Sedai. Between these two women, she would have had better luck reading the emotion off a stone wall.

As the Mistress of Novices took her seat, Dia found her attention drawn to a rather large, heavy looking leatherbound book that Madeline Sedai reached for. With motions perfected by Light only knows how many long years of practice, Madeline Sedai’s voice sounded again. “Now then, what do you call yourself?” Quickly, Dia answered with her full name, spelling out the letters at the Aes Sedai’s request. D-i-y-a-r-i J-a-h-d-i-e-l S-a-i-g-h-a-n. When she was finished, she would have given the very kesiera on her forehead to know what Madeline Sedai and Aranisia Sedai were thinking. By luck or ill fortune – Dia was more partial to the belief that it was ill fortune – she was a member of no small standing within House Saighan thanks to her parents’ rank within the hierarchy. It could all burn, for all Dia cared, burn and let her live out her life as she wished to without the cloud of her family name hanging over her.

“Now, before I tell you about what you can expect from life as a novice, I would like to hear something about who you are. As Mistress of Novices, it is my duty to see that you are properly trained in the One Power, but that is only part of it. We train novices in mind, body and spirit. It takes a great deal more than strength and skill in the Power for someone to be judged worthy of the shawl. Life in the Tower is not easy, and that is purposeful. Many find that they do not have what it takes, and they are sent from the Tower to go on with their lives.

“If we are to teach you, we must know who you are. Tell me how you have come to the Tower, and what you hope to gain from being here. I need to know, too, what sort of experience you may have with the One Power, if any at all.”

Dia blinked when Madeline Sedai spoke, then blinked again as she suddenly found herself the subject of two steady blue-eyed gazes. “Ah…” Quickly, Dia bit off the rest of her sentence, clearing her throat as she began playing with the folds of silk bunched together on her lap beneath the lip of the desk. You’re not a fool, so stop acting like one! Straighten up! Proper women do not slouch! Answer with intelligence, not stuttering noises! This time, the mindvoice that snapped at her sounded suspiciously like Master Elid, but Dia obeyed it. She straightened in her chair, trying all the while not to make it obvious. She forcefully stilled her hands, placing them palm-down against her thighs and she took a deep breath, squaring her shoulders before speaking again.

“I was born in Cairhien to Lady Amerlis and Lord Kavin of House Saighan. My father is of high rank, as is my mother.” Unbeknownst to her, the very corners of her lips curled down at this. “I am the youngest of five children. My mother was hoping for a final, fifth son for Daes Dae’mar but when I came along…well, she didn’t want anything to do with me. My father had wanted a daughter, but he was content to let my mother have her way, as always, so I was raised by nannies and teachers.” Dia managed a faint smile at that and while her expression was sardonic, there was no bitterness in her eyes.

“They left me pretty much alone. When I turned fourteen, my parents started paying more and more attention to me…I suppose it was because I was old enough and pretty enough in their eyes.” A slight edge entered her voice at that and Dia looked down into her lap. “It didn’t take me too long to figure it out that they were intending to barter me away for more power and prestige to some old, stodgy nobleman and I decided I wasn’t going to play along. My father thought it was amusing at first, but as they grew tired of my honesty and my disobedience, he threatened me. I was never very interested in Daes Dae’mar…so I never got any good at it. At least, that’s what I let them believe and for a while, it staved off their wrath.

“My father simply had enough I guess, after I’d driven off some old House Maravin Lord. He was going to hit me, and that’s when I panicked. The window behind me shattered and he let me go. A few hours later, my parents came to tell me that an Aes Sedai had come to our House, that she had felt me channel and that it was I who had broken the window. They said I would be leaving for the White Tower the next morning… They never told me who the Aes Sedai was.” Dia finally looked up again, her face as solemn as her eyes. She met Madeline Sedai’s gaze again. “I swore I wasn’t going to wind up as some old idiot’s trophy wife. I want my life to have meaning, but more importantly, I want it to be something my House cannot take from me.”

As Dia finished, she lowered her eyes once more, alternating between watching Madeline Sedai and Aranisia Sedai for some sort of reaction through lowered lashes. She had expected naught but expressions of perfect serenity, but on some baser level, it frustrated her. She shifted in the chair, her eyebrows lowering ever-so-slightly. Dia rescinded her offer of just the kesiera on her forehead. She would have given away her kesiera, her signet ring, trunkfuls of gold and jewels to know what the Aes Sedai were thinking. As it was, all she could do was wait.

  • Ah, new novice!Madeline Sedai, Mistress of Novices, Tue Dec 12 14:40
    The girl who Aranisia ushered into the study certainly had the spark, and a strong one at that. Madeline rose, ignoring the tug of pain that yanked at her as she did so, coming round to survey the... more
    • Small Packaged Determination — Novice Diyari, Thu Dec 14 11:47
      • Determination of WorthMadeline Sedai, MoN, Sun Dec 17 16:03
        The tale was told simply, with no frills or frosting, and the telling of it tugged at Madeline’s heart strings. In some ways, it was as sad as any tale of poverty and hardship and woe. Even worse, it ... more
        • Cast It All AwayNovice Diyari, Sun Jan 14 11:38
          Dia considered very carefully if she truly did wish to voice any of the myriad of questions bubbling in the back of her mind. Somehow, after listening to Madeline Sedai’s response, it just didn’t... more
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