Out of all the histories Abby had read, the history of the Borderlands was her favorite. She sat curled up on her mother’s couch in her sitting room, a happy tune playing in her head. She quietly hummed to herself and twirled her dark hair between her fingers as she read about Trolloc raids, and how these different nations came to be. Or, at least, she tried to read. Her mind comprehended the words, but her consciousness was...otherwise occupied. She wore her favorite dress, a muted green wool with just a little yellow embroidery. Her feet were bare, and her legs were propped up in front of her, holding her book for her to read. She was just like she loved to be, but...
Uncomfortable thoughts grated her mind. She was seventeen now. Her future had certainly gotten brighter since her mother adopted her five years ago, but she was beginning to wonder what the future held as she went into adulthood. Abby knew full well that she couldn’t stay with her mother forever. But...there was something else.
She could be tested.
Aes Sedai had been clamoring to test her for the ability to channel the One Power since she had stepped foot in the Grey Tower. Torianin always shooed them away, saying that she would be the one to test her, when she was ready. Abby could tell that her mother was getting worried, though. Of course, living with and around channelers of the One Power, she had heard. She had heard what could happen if she channeled without realizing it, or if she channeled too much without guidance, or…
Letting out a small huff, she closed her book. She couldn’t concentrate on the words anymore. Her instinct to appease a master who no longer owned her was thankfully pushed easily back. She placed the book on the table next to her and thought. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she thought some more. Channeling the One Power sounded so...extravagant, something beyond her. Could she really even think she could do something like that? She was good at reading, she was good at being a student. The Browns and Whites, both Sisters and Brothers eyed her whenever she came in for lessons.
Her mother opened the door and walked in, face still and free of emotion until she saw Abby’s posture. Her brows rose just a bit. “What’s wrong, Abby?” she asked, quickening her pace to sit with her.
For a moment, she didn’t answer, she just stared into her mother’s green eyes. If she became a novice...would she get to see her mother as often? She would have to leave her side one day… That was what had been holding her back. Her eyes dropped and she set her feet on the floor once again. Her mother had been her safe place for so long...what would happen if she had to leave? But, she knew she couldn’t stay ignorant forever.
“Mother...I’m scared, but I’m ready to be tested.”
Torianin leaned over and threw her arms around Abby, like she had the day she was adopted. “I am very proud of you, for coming to that decision.” Pulling back from the embrace, they smiled at each other. Her mother’s expression became thoughtful. “Well, normally, women are tested with a jewel or some such, but I think you would do better with a book, don’t you? It would give you something familiar, something you like, to connect to.”
Had Abby not spent the last few years of her life around channelers and their trainees, she would have had no idea what her mother meant. But, she understood. Some girls were asked to light up a jewel or something like that. Knowing how Torianin was tested, Abby wouldn’t complain one way or another. “Do you want me to try to open a book, Mother?”
“I think perhaps just a page.”
Of all the snippets of conversations and discussions Abby had heard about testing for the ability to channel Saidar, she had never actually seen a test done. Torianin cleared the table, using the Power, then set the book that Abby was reading on the table, open to a random page. She instructed Abby to become comfortable, and settle in.
Settling herself, she folded her legs in front of her, like she was about to read the book and looked to the Aes Sedai. “Focus your mind completely on the book.” Blinking at the calming and almost hypnotic quality of her mother’s voice, she did just that. It was hard to close the rest of the world off, and even as she was trying, her mother continued. “There is only that one page that you want to turn. Think only of turning that one page.” At first, she was stiff, nervous that she would fail, but as Torianin continued, she relaxed a bit. Her breathing calmed.
The world had washed away. All that laid in front of her, one of her favorite books, was there. She stared at the well-worn pages, but dared not move her hand to turn the page. That instruction was clear in the droning voice of the Aes Sedai. However, her hands knew that pages well. How thick they were, how easy it was to move, and how willing to separate from other pages they were. Her arms wrapped around her knees in thought.
Her eyes fixated on the page and slowly glossed over the contents. She recognized some words, and something clicked in her mind when she recognized the name “Togita,” the ruling house of Shienar. Resting her chin on her knees, her mother continued encouraging her. Togita...she knew how they had come into power, and she knew from the position on the page what part of their story came next. She could not turn the page with her hand, though.
Tilting her head, she stared at the corner of the page. These books had been her only friends for so long. She would talk with novices and soldiers sometimes, but she was the only one among them in the Library that wasn’t under Aes Sedai supervision. Her books and studies were what she used to see the world. They were familiar to her, what kept her going. Turning this page with the One Power would mean that she could stay with them, near her family, and learn even more. She wouldn’t become a burden to her mother later in her own life, she wouldn’t be out on the streets, she could find herself.
If only...she could…
The page moved, almost imperceptibly, but it moved. It could very well have been a slight movement from her mother that caused it, though. She focused again, but Torianin stopped her. “Abby, that was it!”
“Hm...it was?” she asked, lifted her head and unfolding herself.
“Yes! You can be taught! Oh, I’m so proud.” Her mother beamed. Abby had never thought about what it would mean if she had been found to able to be taught. It was exciting, to say the least. She felt her heart jump. Aes Sedai had always been a legend in their own right. Could she really count herself among them one day?
She felt tears well up in her eyes as the Aes Sedai in front of her rushed to embrace her.