Good ole Kent sure did work me hard!
by Uma Thraene ~Novice-to-be~
Wed Nov 6 2002 9:25:09 pm
Uma stood at the rail of Wind Blossom and watched the docks of Illian fall away from the ship. It wasn’t a Sea Folk ship, she had found out to her dismay. The Atha’an Miere didn’t give passage to Aes Sedai or their pupils- or their pupils’ mothers.
Frowning, she turned to look at her mother. Jaina Thraene should have remained in Illian. She would have been happier; she had a suitor, and a nice shop to sell her art in. Without Uma to look after, she would begin to rise in the world, and her name would be well known. So why had she come? The White Tower surely wouldn’t allow Jaina to stay there. “Do no worry, Uma.” Jaina said, sitting on a coil of rope as thick as her arm and sketching the birds flying about the masts of the ship. “I do no go to Tar Valon. Aringill do be a place where an artist can find shelter, and if it do no have what I want, I will go to Caemlyn.” Uma blinked. Had her mother read her mind?
“But…” She had been relying on her mother being somewhere she would know when she was finished with training. “But I do no want you to be in Caemlyn.” She finished in a voice so low that Jaina didn’t even hear it.
“When I do have enough money, I will come visit you, Sunshine.” Her mother said, and Uma nodded, leaning over the railing to look at the water far below. Her hair fell over her shoulder, a mass of honey-brown curls that defied any brush’s efforts to straighten it, blowing in the wind. The soft green ribbons she had intertwined in it fluttered gaily.
“Child,” Kaeleen Sedai called, and Uma turned reluctantly. “While we are sailing, you may as well practice a few of those exercises.”
“It will no do any good,” she grumbled, uncharacteristically grumpy. She loved her mother, but she had wanted to go on an adventure of her own, without her mother to pat her head at every step! “You yourself said I do be bloody blocked, whatever that do mean, Kaeleen Sedai.”
“Blocked or not, you can practice.” Kaeleen said sharply, and Uma looked at the ground to avoid Jaina’s shocked glance. “Every time you practice, it keeps you from dying, or did you so quickly forget the sickness that nearly killed you, wilder?”
“I do no be a wilder!” Uma said, nearly in tears, and collapsed down, crossing her legs as she went. “I do no bloody be a wilder, Aes Sedai.” She closed her blue eyes, and envisioned a rosebud. As usual, it seemed to have a glass barrier about it that she could not get by. Am I?
The sea voyage was boring, after the second or third day. Jaina proved to be prone to seasickness, and spent most of the time between Illian and Aringill either hanging over the railing, or in bed. Uma felt grateful, and because of that, she felt guilty.
She herself spent most of her time perched in the stern of the ship, sketching whatever caught her fancy, and then filling it in to make a complete drawing. She would sell them, if she was allowed to. She would need coin, after all, and it had taken all Jaina had to buy passage. It seemed unfair that the Aes Sedai wouldn’t pay, but Uma wisely kept her mouth shut.
When they docked in Aringill, she was given five minutes to say good bye to her mother. And as an after note to that bit of bad news, Kaeleen added that she probably wouldn’t be seeing Jaina for several years, if not for a decade or two. That frightened Uma badly. Sixteen years old, she couldn’t help but cry as she bid her mother farewell.
“Please do no make me go,” she begged Jaina, the tears going down her face unheeded. “I will no see you for so long, and I do be afraid!”
“Do no worry, Uma. I will come visit. They can no stop me.” Uma instinctively glanced for Kaeleen, but the Aes Sedai was standing by the captain, discussing something. “I”ll come for your twentieth name day. I do swear by the Light.”
Uma thought she could last four years. She would have to. “Good-bye,” She said, and Jaina was helped down to the dock. “Light shine on you!” She added, waving, and then Jaina turned away and disappeared into the crowd. Creator shelter you from the winds of time… She added silently, and turned away.
She came face-to-face with Kaeleen, and flinched as she curtsied. “Child.” Kaeleen said, as Uma was about to move away, and she froze. “Practice. I will know what is keeping you from reaching the rose, even if I don’t manage to get past it.”
With sigh of resignation, Uma followed the Aes Sedai into the cabin. Light, she was tired of these useless exercises!
“We’ll reach Tar Valon in three days, Kaeleen Sedai.” The captain was telling the White when Uma came out of the cabin. Blinking, the Illianer hastily turned, and slipped way, toward the door into the hold. She had found that Kaeleen –or Kae, as Uma had discovered she called herself sometimes- never found her when she was in there.
She slipped in, and shut the door. It was dark, and smelled musty, but sitting down there, against a bolt of something that felt like silk, she pretended she was Aes Sedai already, clothed in the finest clothes, and sporting a shawl with fringe colored green or blue, gray or yellow. She bonded Warders by the dozen, fought Shadowspawn and traitors and Dragons. She called on all of the tales her mother had told her, sitting down there, and made her own, grander than any other. And, she thought, when she stopped imagining for a moment, completely unrealistic. But so what? She went back to imagining herself as a Green battling a Myrddraal.
“Uma Thraene!” Kae’s voice echoed, and Uma scrambled over the merchandise the ship carried, back, and back, away from the door. Then she pushed her way down into the bolts of fabric. “Child, where are you? It’s time for lessons.” Uma tried to stay where she was. But the idea of deliberately disobeying an Aes Sedai –especially when she could clearly hear the woman’s words- made her squirm, and finally she gave in, and went to the door. She waited a few moments, and then opened it, went through, and ran as hard as she could so her hiding spot wouldn’t be betrayed.
“I do be here, Aes Sedai…” she called, and her heart had never felt heavier. I do no belong here. I can channel, but I do no belong here. I do feel trapped, and Mother told me never to stay where I am no free. She shook her head. Jaina would want her to stay; had told her to stay.
Kae had her sit on the deck and try this time. “Envision a rosebud.” Anger got the better of her as she struggled, and then frustration, and finally something akin to sadness. Each new emotion seemed to strengthen whatever was holding her back, and though she struggled as hard as she could, reaching the Power was hopeless.
“Uma,” the Aes Sedai said, after nearly two hours of struggling. At some point, the Aes Sedai had disappeared; now she brought her hands into view, and deposited a small kitten into Uma’s lap.
Delight knocked the negative emotions away as she reached out to touch the little orange and white animal, and that quickly, the half-forgotten rosebud burst into bloom. “Ah.” Kae said, but Uma barely heard. Between the happiness she felt while petting the kitten, and the bliss she felt as she drowned in the Power, she couldn’t respond to anything.
The sweetness quickly became pain, and she shuddered, her eyes widening as far as they could go. “Child, let it go!” Kae was saying, but Uma didn’t hear. Must hold…it all… Suddenly it was gone, cut off by something that felt like a slap when she touched it. “I told you to let it go.” Kae said, and it disappeared. “That was a shield, and a gentle one. Next time you disobey me, it will be less so. It seems we have discovered your block.”
“Really?” Uma asked, dazed, rubbing the kit’s ears and feeling a soft rumble of purring begin in his chest. Kae actually laughed.
“Yes. It would seem we have to be almost ecstatically happy, which is the opposite of what most girls have to be- either in a rage enough to slaughter the Dark One with their bare hands, or very sad.” Uma nodded, but she clung to the kitten with all her strength to keep herself anchored in reality. “And I’m sorry, but you can’t keep the kitten. Novices aren’t allowed pets.”
That quickly the tears came, and Uma fled for the cabin. For once, Kaeleen didn’t try to stop her.
The Tower was gigantic. Uma gaped at it, as Kae led her across the plaza, and up the steps toward the gigantic door. “Curtsy to everyone.” Kae hissed to her. “Curtsying to me every time you saw me was a little ridiculous on that ship, so I didn't make you. But the Aes Sedai and Accepted here will not be pleased if you don’t show them proper obeisance.”
Uma nodded- and curtsied to a woman wearing a yellow-fringed shawl and a pale red dress. “This way,” Kae led her up, down, ‘round and ‘round, until Uma lost sense of which direction was which. “You’ll learn it,” Kae promised. “Probably by the end of the week; you seem the curious sort.”
Uma didn’t believe her, even though Aes Sedai had to tell the truth. But do they have to tell the truth about the future? What if I do no learn my way around? Will she go crazy because of it? It worried her, but she didn’t say anything.
“Sit.” Kae said suddenly, pointing to a row of chairs beside a door. “I’ll be back in a moment.” Uma sat, and the White walked through the door.
“She’s from Illian,” Kae said, touching her auburn hair to make sure it was still neat, and barely refraining herself from straightening her skirts. She was Aes Sedai, not an erstwhile novice. “She’s a wilder, but I think her block will be easily broken, now that I know what it is.” She flushed slightly, but it didn’t show. “She has to be absolutely delighted about something in order to channel. I have no idea why.”
“Yes…what’s her name?” The Mistress of Novices asked.
“Uma Thraene. She’s as stubborn as a goose and as skittish as a badly-treated colt. She draws anything and everything, and she actually has quite the talent for it. She is quite attached to her mother- that may cause trouble. Her tongue may cause her trouble as well, but I’ve told her to watch it, so maybe not.”
“Thank you, Kaeleen. Send her in, please.” With a nod, Kae turned to leave.
Uma looked up when Kae came out. It had seemed to take forever, whatever she had done inside that door, and Uma had had nothing to do, because Kae had forbidden her to bring her paper and pencils out until she was in novice whites. “Go in,” Kae said. “Treat her with respect, call her Aes Sedai, and answer her questions truthfully. And watch that flippant tongue of yours!” And with that, the Aes Sedai was gone.
Reluctantly, knowing she could probably just turn around and leave -If I could find my way out, she thought ironically- she stood, knocked on the door, and went in.
“Light shine on you, Aes Sedai,” she said, curtsying, and then crossed her hands at her waist and waited.
Uma is me- sorta. Sad, yes?
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