The Obstacle Course Within (Valla)
Wed Sep 13, 2006 16:49 (XFF:

It was all properly dramatic, Sonja thought, shifting in her seat in an effort for some sort of comfort. Demetri and the Head Gaidin took the up the conversation in turns as smoothly as if they’d practiced it, laying out the guidelines of the lesson. Only, it wasn’t so much a lesson—it was more like a game, the sort of game where you were supposed to pretend that you could get killed.

Easier said than done, Sonja thought, crossing her legs and waggling her foot back and forth. You could ‘pretend’ as much as you wanted, but it still didn’t change the fact that an arranged lesson in the safety of the Tower was a far cry than real danger, when life and death danced together on the head of a pin. She’d been in a situation like that, and didn’t care to ever feel that way again. Another reason to strike out the Green as a possibility, she supposed, if only Madeline didn’t nag at her so to consider it. The woman somehow didn’t see how bloody laughable that notion really was.

The Tairen Accepted looked around the room, studying her classmates while still listening to the Aes Sedai and Gaidin. As a novice, Sonja had been notorious for tuning out the teachers completely so that when the time came for the lesson she would flounder helplessly in ignorance. That only landed her with penance, and Sonja had long grown tired of penances. They didn’t get her anywhere. They certainly hadn’t granted her the freedom she had so longed for. Still longed for, even if she’d give up hope of it.

The novices and Accepted sat in separate clusters. You didn’t need the striped skirts to tell the groups apart—the novices wiggled and fidgeted like five year olds, and whispered and giggled even with the bloody Keeper only five paces away. Sonja’s eye snagged on her waggling foot, and she forced it to stillness.

She herself sat apart from the other Accepted creating her own private space without any conscious realization. Even with her self-defined distance, she watched them, curious at these men and women who were supposed to be her peers. They sat straight-backed and square-shouldered, listening attentively and taking obvious mental notes. There was a tension to the newer ones; Gaemalyn, and Kipcha. It was kind of hard not to be tense when you were a new Accepted, she thought, with the eyes of a few hundred Aes Sedai scrutinizing your every move. They were fresh clay to be molded into pretty shapes suited to the Ajahs needs, and had to know it unless they were bloody thick. Which was quite possible. And then of course, there was the imprint that those Arches left on a person’s soul. Her own soul was rather beat up and shabby, as it was.

The trainees were more interesting to her, if only because she wasn’t used to seeing them every day. Sonja had never really considered the possibility of a bondmate, and didn’t plan to on this day. The thought of even a ‘pseudo-bond’ frightened her, and she wasn’t afraid to admit to a little fear. She didn’t know these people, and they didn’t know her, and suddenly one of them was going to pop into her head and poke around?

I ought to protest that on sheer principle, she thought, frowning. Maybe she could say she was an aspiring Red and it was against her moral makeup to do such a thing. But hell, they’d probably just tell her this thing was optional and she was welcome to leave, thank you very much. Plus, she didn’t want to give those Reds any ideas.

And what did that mean, ‘they would know what she was feeling’? Sonja considered, examining her inner state. How did she feel?

Cold, for one. Light, where was that draft coming from? Her feet itched. It was the stockings, she thought. She wiggled her toes, squashing one foot over the other.

Was that what the Gaidin meant? Would this pretend bond really give someone the inside scoop on every minutia of the mind of Sonja Meranes? Somehow she didn’t think that meant her itchy feet or how cold she was. So what did she feel? Examining her cocktail of sensation, she found a nice blend of anxiety, irritation, self-doubt, and overall weariness with a dash of futility. Not something she really felt the need to share with some perfect stranger who hoped to bond an Aes Sedai some day in the future.

Once again, her green-gaze drifted across the group of trainees across from her. Which one would it be?

She looked up, realizing that now names were being called off. Light, how had her attention strayed so easily?

“Accepted Sonja Meranes and Sei’Tar Valla Karajan.”

Both women started at hearing their names called, and the two pairs of eyes swung to meet. Sonja rose, smoothing out the front of her skirt, and half-raised a hand in wave. She pointed towards a corner in the room, and the two moved aside to do as instructed—to ‘get to know each other.’

At least her partner wasn’t a boy, Sonja thought, eyeing the woman who strode across the room towards her. Not that she had anything against boys in particular besides general boorishness and arrogance—she just thought it would have made her more nervous.

Valla was prettier than Sonja, but she wasn’t exactly a beauty either. Most women were prettier than Sonja, really, with her horsey face and straw colored hair that hung raggedly past her chin. Valla was striking, all exotic and Saldaean, where the only feature on Sonja’s face that came close to ‘striking’ were her sea-green eyes. The other woman moved with the grace of good muscle and balance, if a bit stiffly.

Almond shape eyes that looked nearly violet assessed her, then Valla thrust out a hand. “Valla, Aethan’Tar. What do you make of this?”

Sonja pushed out her own hand. “Sonja, Accepted. And I haven’t the slightest idea. Guess we’ll find out, huh?”

The two women regarded each other for a moment. Sonja searched for something useful to say, but came up empty.

“We’re supposed to get to know each other, but I doubt we’ll become bosom buddies in five minutes,” she said at last. “I’m Sonja, I can channel, and I live here and learn what they teach me. What else do you need to know?” She shrugged. “I’m good with Fire, terrible with Water, and I haven’t a bloody Talent to my name. They say I’m a ‘late bloomer.’ She looked pointedly down at her stretched out board of a frame, and shrugged again.

“And you? What do you…um….do?”

OOC: Take it as far as you like. :o)

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