Don't own WoT
Prologue: Grey Skies
It was early morning in the town of Four Kings but with the thick grey clouds hanging low overhead threatening to burst at any moment. So it wasn't all that surprising to see the streets reasonably empty still. Steam was rising from various pipes and works around the town adding to the early morning gloom.
A lot had changed in twenty years since the end of the War. Twenty years since the Dragon had declared himself to the world, and drove it on to the inevitable war with the shadow. In truth it was the Dragon who was ultimately responsible for the changes after the war.
Technology was like a fast flowing river now. With the schools set up by the Dragon, inventors had flocked world wide to flex their creative muscle. Whether people wanted it or not, change was inevitable. The steam engine was on the upswing and had been for the last fifteen years. Electricity was also slowly starting to appear in the larger cities such as Tar Valon, Caemlyn, Cairhien and Tear. Roads were being rebuilt with stone.
It really was a time for change and Four Kings was no exception. Many of the larger newer houses were heated by boilers. Large machines were dotted around the town suited for heavy lifting and moving as well as many other devices and wonders that had never existed twenty years ago. The town it self had nearly tripled in size.
It was on this dreary late autumn morning that Alinda Snown was walking with her father towards the local office of White and Black Tower. In truth the office was just a room kept aside at the town hall for the use of the two towers. But once every two months an Aes Sedai or Asha'man would stop by to pick over those interested in joining either tower and offer their services to the locals.
Today was Alinda's sixteenth birthday and her father had offered to escort her to the town hall to visit the Aes Sedai currently in town.
"I heard that she was a Yellow, father." Her breath made little white puffs in the chill morning air.
"Aye, that's what I heard to Ali, and an Asha'man is with her as well." The last part of her fathers' statement sounded as though he didn't quite believe it himself.
This was understandable he had grown up in the time when a man channeling was a strict taboo. Although both male and female channelers had earned a great deal of respect in the last twenty years since the war male channelers were still looked at a little fearfully.
It was changing though, despite the old stories the younger generations were infatuated by the deeds channelers had accomplished in the war against the shadow. So it was not uncommon now for people to seek out a recruiter for either tower. A good number of families even held those members who could channel in high regard. Particularly in Andor where the Queen herself was an Aes Sedai and her two children could apparently channel.
Dain Snown looked down at his daughter's hooded form and suppressed a sigh. It wasn't that he distrusted Aes Sedai he just didn't want his daughter to be disappointed. She had experienced disappointment more then the average girl. First losing her mother when she was barely two years old then having to suffer the teasing of other children around the town calling her 'whitey' or 'redeye'. Although the teasing had stopped when she was about twelve the other children generally left her alone. She only had one true friend, Sil Tawney, the daughter of fellow local merchant, who was one year younger then her. The pair was nearly inseparable and he was glad for Sil's constant urging to get Ali to go outside and see the world.
As if sensing his looks she looked up to her father through the top of her cloak with piercing red eyes.
"What is it, father?" Alinda said, her slightly frayed cloak framed her pale white face, and hid the straight shoulder length silvery white hair.
"I was just wondering," He replied. "where Sil is today. I would've figured you two girls would've done this together."
"She had to help her father today. He didn't want her to go anyway. He said she's too young! How's that fair?" Grumbled Alinda.
Dain smiled inwardly at his daughter as he mounted the small flight of steps leading up to the town hall. Reaching the top, he held open the door for Alinda then followed through himself letting it close behind him.
The town hall was one of the larger buildings in town. It was a two story tall structure primarily made of stone. The upper level was mostly offices, while the lower was primarily dominated by a large hall for town meetings. The small entry hall they were in now contained stairs leading to the upper level, as well as two small doors on the right leading to an office and a kitchen, and a large double door on the left which led to the meeting hall.
From the small downstairs office a portly man of average height with a mop of brown hair emerged carrying a large steaming mug. Deputy Mayor Davlin Briggs grinned at Dain. "Ah, Dain my friend how good it is to see you and your daughter on this dreary clouded morning."
"Not as good as what's in that mug I bet. It smells delicious, did your wife make soup again?" responded Dain, lowering his hood to reveal short black hair and deep green eyes. He stood nearly half a head taller then the portly deputy mayor and a foot taller then Alinda.
"Aye she did, she did. I'd offer you some, but this mug is all I have." Eyeing Alinda he asked. "Besides, what brings you here so early today?"
"We're here to see the Tower folks, Ali would like to try her hand at the Power." Dain replied, resting his hand on his daughters shoulder. She was beginning to look nervous.
"Oh, well, lucky for you they are both here early today. Truth to tell they are always here early. Although the number of folk wanting to see them has dropped off some in the last few days. They'll probably be moving on soon they've been here nearly a week." Davlin scratched his chin.
"Good folk for the most part, a little strange but I guess that's to be expected of outlanders especially those from Tar Valon. Corele Sedai and Asha'man Flinn are their names, both healers it seems. The Aes Sedai is a Yellow at least." He continued.
"They're in the room third along at the top of the stairs" He finished pointing towards the steps with his mug. Dain thanked him and motioned for Ali to go ahead of him when they headed towards the steps. While they climbed them he reached up and pulled the cowl of her cloak off her head with one hand.
Walking down the hall they stopped outside the third door and he turned to his daughter.
"Are you ready for this Ali?" He resisted adding you may not be able to channel he didn't want to disappoint his daughter but he also didn't want her to get her hopes to high. Being able to channel was a rare gift.
She nodded at him and raised her hand to the door hesitating just a moment before knocking on the panelled wood door. "It's open." Came the muffled reply. Twisting the handle she opened the door and entered the room followed by her father.
The room wasn't exactly cramped, but it wasn't exactly spacious either. It contained two desks facing the door away from the window a lounge along one wall and a cabinet on the other opposite filled with books and papers.
Sitting behind one desk sat a slim seemingly young pretty woman with dark hair thick eyebrows with blue eyes and a slightly upturned nose wearing a pale yellow and white dress. She had her hands wrapped around a mug with steam rising from it. The teapot sat on a small table behind the desk near the wall. Alinda could see the serpent ring on her finger.
Leaning near the window was a leathery old man with a fringe of white hair. He was wearing dark grey trousers and a long black coat with a sword and dragon pin on the collar. In his left hand he also held a steamy mug of tea. He nodded to her father and then smiled at her before taking a sip from his mug.
"Good morning to you both, I'm Corele Hovian Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, and this is Asha'man Damer Flinn. How can we be of help to you?" The Aes Sedai welcomed them in a lilting Murandian accent. The Asha'man just nodded in welcome to them and drank his tea in silence while looking out the window.
"Hello Corele Aes Sedai, my name is Alinda Snown. And I was wondering if I could learn the Power?" Alinda replied while gripping the edge of her father's cloak.
"Please take a seat, child." Corele offered gesturing to the seat in front of her desk. When Alinda was seated she continued. "Well then, since you do not have the inborn spark, we will have to do this the long way." She finished with a warm smile.
Pushing her mug to the side, she laid her hands flat on the table. "Now this test can take some time, a quarter of an hour or more." Suddenly there was a small flame flickering in the air above the middle of the desk. "I want you to concentrate on this flame. For the next fifteen minutes, your world be this flame. Nothing else matters."
Gulping Alinda turned her gaze to the small flickering flame and nodded. "Feel for the flame, child. It is just you, and the flame." Corele's voice was hypnotic. The small flame was flickering in Alinda's red eyes. She was studying the flame intently, separating the different yellows and oranges. She could feel the tiny warmth coming off it, despite the goose bumps it was giving her from looking at it so. Rubbing her arm, she continued focusing on the flame.
After a period of time, Dain had taken the lounge along the wall and sat leaning his elbows on his knees and watched the back of his daughter, and the flame flickering in front of her. He was worried how this would turn out. If she was successful, she would have to leave, and there was a chance he wouldn't see her again. But if she failed, she would be disappointed, and he didn't want to see that.
Damer had finished his tea a while ago, and was looking out the window contently trying to ignore the ache slowly creeping up his leg. The old wound he had received back when he was in the guards always ached on cold days. Oh he could have had it healed, but that would be like cutting off a part of his past he didn't want to forget. Sighing inwardly, he turned towards the table and channeled briefly, just a bare moment, enough to drag his chair out from under the desk.
His eyes flicked to the pale girl sitting across from Corele, and he frowned, what was that just now. For the briefest moment when he channeled he thought he felt something. Embracing the source again he studied the girl. Nothing, dismissing his flight of fancy he plonked down in the chair and placed his mug on the table and rubbed his hand over the scrap of white hair still clinging to his leathery old head.
Eventually the flame flickered one last time, and died away. Alinda sighed disappointedly, she knew she failed.
"I'm sorry, child. But don't lose hope. You can try again next year if you wish. It can take years for the gift to manifest." Corele consoled.
Dain gave an inward sigh of relief, and then berated himself for wishing to deny his daughter some happiness. Standing he watched as the Aes Sedai stood and walked around the table to his daughter. When she got there she kneeled down looking Alinda in the eye.
"Have you had much trouble with your vision, child?"
Shaking her head Alinda replied "Not really Aes Sedai, just the sun hurts my eyes on bright days, so I wear a hat or my cloak. I, I burn easy to when the suns out."
"May I?" Corele asked raising her hand. When she nodded Corele placed two fingers on Alinda's forehead. Alinda shivered as the power moved through her.
"That makes me feel funny." She complained. Damer chuckled from his desk.
"It's called Delving. It lets me see if you are well. Other than goose bumps and a slight headache from staring at one spot for the last twenty minutes you're completely fine."
Corele stood and looked to the girl's father, who stood there for the moment looking at her, before lamely offering his hand. "Dain, Dain Snown. Ah, I'm Ali's father." Taking his hand she gave him rueful smile.
"You must be proud of your daughter, Master Snown. Not many fathers would be so calm in letting their daughter join the tower."
"Ah, yes, well she always liked stuff to do with the Power. She's keen on learning things to, and I hate to see her disappointed. She reminds me much of her mother." He said rubbing the back of his head with a slight smile on his face while glancing at his daughter.
Corele nodded before releasing his hand and turning back to her desk her long dress swishing as she walked. Turning she placed a hand on the corner of the desk and looked at Alinda and Dain. "It was a pleasure to meet you both, I hope you have a nice day, may the Light be with you." The polite dismissal was clear in her voice.
Alinda and Dain bowed their heads towards then Aes Sedai and the Asha'man then turned to leave the room. Over her shoulder Alinda said "Thank you Corele Sedai." Then they were out the door.
When the door had closed Corele turned to look at Damer. The leathery old man was stark in contrast to her. He easily looked to be nearly three or times her age. But the truth was a lot further from what it seemed.
"What startled you during the testing Damer dear?" She asked her warder and partner. She had noticed the small sensation in the back of her mind where there bundle of feelings and emotions that represented him resided. The startled feeling had only lasted a moment, to be replaced by curiosity before that to faded away back into the normally contented ball of feelings. Still she was curious to ask.
"Humph, for a moment there I thought I felt a resonance when I channeled to move the chair. But the strange thing was I thought it came from the girl, it was only for a moment. Truth be, it was gone again when I looked closer. Was just my imagination I'd say. A girl being able to channel Saidin… it's impossible." Damer replied while rubbing a hand over his aching leg. Nodding Corele turned to look back at the door for a moment before retrieving the teapot from the small stand to pour herself and Damer a fresh mug. Both channelers thoughts were cast back to the day Saidin was cleansed and the first story of a female forsaken who could supposedly channel the male half of the source.
Have to thank viggen author of Youngest Channeler for the idea here, though his story is a lot better. :)