The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 51




Wilders have difficulties, it is true. Almost always they have built up walls to keep themselves from knowing what it was they were doing, and those walls interfere with conscious control. The longer those walls have to build, the harder it is to tear them down, but if they can be demolished - well, some of the most adept sisters ever have been wilders."
Nynaeve shifted irritably, and looked at the entrance as if thinking of leaving.
"I don't see what any of that has to do with me," Egwene said.
Verin blinked at her, almost as if wondering where she had come from. "With you? Why, nothing. Your problem is quite different. Most girls who want to become Aes Sedai - even most girls with the seed inside them, like you - are afraid of it, too. Even after they reach the Tower, even after they've learned what to do and how, for months they need to be led, step by step, by a sister, or by one of the Accepted. But not you. From what Moiraine tells me, you leaped into it as soon as you knew you could, fumbling your way through the dark with never a thought of whether there was a bottomless pit under your next step. Oh, there have been others like you; you are not unique. Moiraine was one herself. Once she knew what you had done, there was nothing for it but for her to begin teaching you. Did Moiraine never explain any of this to you?"
"Never." Egwene wished her voice was not so breathless. "She had ... other matters to deal with." Nynaeve snorted softly.
"Well, Moiraine has never believed in telling anyone anything they did not need to know. Knowing serves no real purpose, but then, neither does not knowing. Myself, I always prefer knowing to not."
"Is there one? A pit, I mean?"
"Obviously not so far," Verin said, tilting her head. "But the next step?" She shrugged. "You see, child, the more you try to touch the True Source, the more you try to channel the One Power, the easier it becomes to actually do it. Yes, in the beginning, you stretch out to the Source and more often than not it is like grasping at air. Or you actually to channel saidar, but even when you feel the One Power flowing through you, you find you can do nothing with it. Or you do something, and it isn't what you intended at all. That is the danger. Usually, with guidance and training - and the girl's own fear slowing her down - the ability to touch the Source and the ability to channel the Power come together with the ability to control what she is doing. But you began trying to channel without anyone there to teach you any control at all of what you do. I know you don't think you're very far along, and you are not, but you are like someone who has taught herself to run up hills - sometimes, at least - without ever learning how to run down the other side, or to walk. Sooner or later you are going to fall, if you don't learn the rest of it. Now, I am not talking about anything like what happens when one of those poor men begins channeling - you will not go mad; you won't die, not with sisters to teach and guide you - but what might you do entirely by accident, never meaning to?" For an instant the vagueness had dropped from Verin's eyes. For an instant, it seemed, the Aes Sedai's gaze had flicked from Egwene to Nynaeve as sharply as the Amyrlin's had. "Your innate abilities are strong, child, and they will grow stronger. You must learn to control them before you harm yourself, or someone else, or a great many people. That is what Moiraine was trying to teach you. That is what I will try to help you with tonight, and what a sister will help you with every night until we put you into Sheriam's most capable hands. She is Mistress of Novices."
Egwene thought, Can she know about Rand? It isn't possible. She'd never have let him leave Fal Dara if she even suspected. But she was sure she had not imagined what she saw. "Thank you, Verin Sedai. I will try."
Nynaeve rose smoothly to her feet. "I will go sit by the fire and leave you two alone."
"You should stay," Verin said. "You could profit by it. From what Moiraine has told me, it should take only a little training for you to be raised to the Accepted."
Nynaeve hesitated only a moment before shaking her head firmly. "I thank you for the offer, but I can wait until we reach Tar Valon. Egwene, if you need me, I will be - "
"By any gauge," Verin cut in, "you are a woman grown, Nynaeve. Usually, the younger a novice, the better she does. Not with the training necessarily, but because a novice is expected to do as she is told, when she is told and without question. It is really only of use once the actual training has reached a certain point - a hesitation in the wrong place then, or a doubt of what you have been told to do, can have tragic consequences - but it is better to follow the discipline all the time. The Accepted, on the other hand, are expected to question things, as it is felt they know enough to know what questions to ask and when. Which do you thin

Nynaeve's hands tightened on her skirt, and she looked at the tent flap again, frowning. Finally she gave a short nod and settled back down on the floor. "I suppose I might as well," she said.
"Good," Verin said. "Now. You already know this part, Egwene, but for Nynaeve's sake I will take you through it step by step. In time, it will become second nature - you will do it all faster than you can think of it - but now it is best to go slowly. Close your eyes, please. It goes better in the beginning if you have no distractions at all." Egwene closed her eyes. There was a pause. "Nynaeve," Verin said, "please close your eyes. It will really go better." Another pause. "Thank you, child. Now, you must empty yourself. Empty your thoughts. There is only one thing in your mind. The bud of a flower. Only that. Only the bud. You can see it in every detail. You can smell it. You can feel it. Every vein of every leaf, every curve of every petal. You can feel the sap pulsing. Feel it. Know it. Be it. You and the bud are the same. You are one. You are the bud."
Her voice droned on hypnotically, but Egwene no longer really heard; she had done this exercise before, with Moiraine. It was slow, but Moiraine had said it would come more quickly with practice. Inside herself, she was a rosebud, red petals curled tightly. Yet suddenly there was something else. Light. Light pressing on the petals. Slowly the petals unfolded, turning toward the light, absorbing the light. The rose and the light were one. Egwene and the light were one. She could feel the merest trickle of it seeping through her. She stretched for more, strained for more...
In an instant it was all gone, rose and light. Moiraine had also said it could not be forced. With a sigh, she opened her eyes. Nynaeve had a grim look on her face. Verin was as calm as ever.
"You cannot make it happen," the Aes Sedai was saying. "You must let it happen. You must surrender to the Power before you can control it."
"This is complete foolishness," Nynaeve muttered. "I don't feel like a flower. If anything, I feel like a blackthorn bush. I think I will wait by the fire after all."
"As you wish," Verin said. "Did I mention that novices do chores? They wash dishes, scrub floors, do laundry, serve at table, all sorts of things. I myself think the servants do a better job of it by far, but it is generally felt that such labor builds character. Oh, you are staying? Good. Well, child, remember that even a blackthorn bush has flowers sometimes, beautiful and white among the thorns. We will try it one at a time. Now, from the beginning, Egwene. Close your eyes."
Several times before Verin left, Egwene felt the flow of the Power through her, but it was never very strong, and the most she managed with it was to produce a stir in the air that made the tent flap stir slightly. She was sure a sneeze could have done as much. She had done better with Moiraine; sometimes, at least. She wished it was Moiraine doing the teaching.
Nynaeve never even felt a glimmer, or so she said. By the end her eyes were set and her mouth so tight that Egwene was afraid she was about to begin berating Verin as if the Aes Sedai were a village woman intruding on her privacy. But Verin simply told her to close her eyes once again, this time without Egwene.
Egwene was sitting, watching the other two between her yawns. The night had grown late, well past the time she would usually be asleep. Nynaeve wore a face like weekold death, her eyes clamped shut as if she never meant to open them and her hands whiteknuckled fists in her lap. Egwene hoped the Wisdom's temper did not break loose, not after she had held it this long.
"Feel the flow through you," Verin was saying. Her voice did not change, but suddenly there was a gleam in her eyes. "Feel the flow. Flow of the Power. Flow like a breeze, a gentle stirring in the air." Egwene sat up straight. This was how Verin had guided her each time she had actually had the Power flowing through her. "A soft breeze, the slightest movement of air.

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