“...and Regar said he’d take me to see the Stone of Tear. Can you imagine? Me, in the Stone of Tear like some great lady. Then we thought we’d go to Illian after and become a Hunter for the Horn. Or go find the Seanchan and see if they’re really all that scary....” The two novices sitting down the aisle from Jesi were seemingly unaware of their gradually increasing volume.
Vanessa had had a lover who had promised to take her on adventures, while Leila had been married with children and owned a flower shop in Bandar Eban. So many lives like theirs were interrupted because Aes Sedai felt the need to stuff all channelers into white dresses; why was it necessary? Jesi glanced down at her own and made a face. She had not attempted to leave in years, had not talked back to her instructors, had begun to actually pay attention in class. Sure, she still crept out to spend nights with Paks, but she always returned. Did I finally accept that I’m stuck here?
Possibly. She simply did not have time, anymore, to get up to her usual tricks. Learning about her Talent with ter’angreal had resulted in a complete upset in her schedule. Where before she had been able to squeeze free time out of thin air when she needed it, now she found every spare moment consumed with research or she faced the ire of any number of Aes Sedai with a personal interest in her future. No thank you. How did one escape when one spent all of one’s time cooped up in a library reading about theory?
Leila was talking about her children. She had three, and Jesi was now intimately acquainted with their ages, sexes, and personal habits. The Mayener listened with half an ear as her eyes skimmed paragraph after dull paragraph about the uses of Spirit in the creation of ter’angreal. Reading it like that without context made no sense to her. The Mayener knew the words should mean something, but her brain could not draw a connection between the text and what she had been learning about with Kayla...and Elia...and Suzika. Jesi needed to see, touch, hear, and feel to learn, but the Aes Sedai insisted on these hours of dry theory.
Vanessa piped up once more, interrupting Jesi’s thoughts just as she had finally managed to focus. “He bought me a ring, and then that Aes Sedai-"
The Mayener stood up so suddenly her chair fell backward, flipping her book short with a clap that echoed through their corner of the library. The two women turned to look at her with big eyes.
“You have been at the Grey Tower for ten years, Vanessa. Your Regar is probably married with children by now,” she said shortly. “Get over it. Leila...” she sighed, her voice edged with sympathy despite her annoyance. “I know you miss your children, but rubbing salt in your wounds for years will not help them recognize you when you do go home. Be kind to yourself: focus on what you’re doing here, and trust they are happy and healthy on their own.”
That’s what it seemed to take to regain liberty, after all. To lose everything that made you human and become Aes Sedai. She turned on her heel and walked out without looking back, her head held high, but her heart bearing the weight of too many broken dreams.
“Yes, now with Air.”
Jesi sat cross-legged in the Indigo courtyard. On the ground before her lay the top from her original session with Kayla and a blob of ore that would become an exact duplicate if she laid her flows just right.
Obediently she mimicked the flows Suzika had shown her, laying Air in a fine mesh over the metal. Except…
She frowned, looking down at the weave. Then she channeled once more, flows of Earth and Fire, Spirit and Air overlapping and interweaving in rapid succession. “Jesinne!” Suzika sounded alarmed, and Jesi could feel the Aes Sedai channeling. She shook her head and kept going, her fingers moving as if pushing a loom shuttle back and forth. Moments later she tied it off; a breath later she felt the shield slide home.
“What do you think you are doing?” The Saldaean woman sounded utterly scandalized as she reached down to snatch the new ter’angreal off the ground.
“It will work,” Jesi said breathlessly, scrubbing her palms on her skirt. “Try it, Suzika Sedai. It will work, I swear.”
The Aes Sedai gave her a baleful stare, but did as Jesi suggested. When the top began to spin it emitted a light humming...that modulated into a lullaby the Mayener remembered from her childhood. The original had not done that; the novice stared at her creation with the beginnings of a pleased smile on her face.
“Irresponsible, foolish, girl,” Suzika snapped, and Jesi hastily wiped her face clear of pride as she looked up. “There is a time and a place for experimentation, and this isn’t it. You could have brought the Tower down about our ears!”
Jesi sat back, meeting the Aes Sedai stare for stare. “I mean no disrespect Aes Sedai, but I don’t follow your logic. I have created five of these today. Four of them were flawed. One of those four exploded, if you remember. All four of them I followed your direction exactly. And now there is this one, which is perfect. Surely there is some merit in following the instincts of my Talent?”
She fell quiet and held her breath. Her words were bordering on insolent; if Suzika took exception to her tone, their lessons might very well end. And that bothers me? Surprised at her own thought process, Jesi nearly missed the Aes Sedai’s bark of laughter.
“Light, you do have a mouth on you,” Suzika said. Jesi spread her hands. “You aren’t wrong, I’ll grant you that. I’ve seen too much promising Talent wasted because some hidebound instructor refused to give their students freedom to explore.”
Jesi blinked, her shock growing. “You aren’t-”
“Angry? No, I’m not. You did a fine job. If you could only learn when to keep your trap shut, you would be further along than you are, you know.”
The Mayener looked at the ground, her ears and cheeks pinker than usual. “I don’t know if I want to, Aes Sedai. Be further along, I mean. ”
“That’s a surefire sign that you’re well on your way,” Suzika responded. “Meet me here again tomorrow and we’ll talk about Tel’aran’rhiod.”
The World of Dreams? Interest piqued enough that she failed to catch the meaning of the Indigo’s original statement, Jesi scrambled to her feet and dropped a curtsy before scampering away, head full of new ideas.