As Fen sat in his customary seat in the middle of the classroom he smiled at the irony in today’s lesson. Emotions… well, he was quite emotional today, that emotion being pride. He hoped some of his classmates, perhaps even his instructor, would take note of the Sword Pin that now adorned his collar. He had yet to gain a cord, though, having just begun his exploration of Ajahs, but the pin alone should alert others to the fact he had passed successfully through the Three Arches.
And indeed it seemed to be working! The Novice with whom he had interacted during a previous class now approached him as Mirin Aes Sedai told them to find a partner. What was her name again? Silene? Silece?
“Dedicated, would you care to be my partner?” the raven haired young woman asked as she took the seat next to him. Nodding his assent, Fen tried to remember what they had discussed last time. Oh, yes, it was her blue eyes. Funny, he hadn’t noticed then but her eyes were quite stunning, contrasted as they were by her black shoulder length hair. In fact, she was very attractive all over!
“So, Silece,” yes, that was her name, the smile on her face assuring him that he had gotten it correct, “Would you care to go first?”
And she did, explaining that it made her sad and upset to eat meat. She actually teared up as she explained how emotional she would get when thinking about the poor animals slaughtered so that humans could consume them.
“I understand,” Fen replied, putting as much sincerity into his voice as he could fake, “but look at it this way, Silece. We raise those animals for such a purpose, sheep, goats, pigs, even cattle. Were we to stop using them as a food source, what would happen, can you imagine? They would continue to propagate and soon there would not be enough for all of them to eat. Some would starve to death, a slow and painful way to die, I am sure. Others would fall victims to predators, to be ripped to pieces by wolves, wild cats, or bears. Think how sad that would make you. Is it not better that we humans kill some of these animals in as humane a fashion as possible, in order to insure that worse does not befall them?”
Wiping a tear from her eye, Silece smiled at Fen. “I see what you did there. You took my emotions, my concern for the poor beasts and used it to persuade me what we do is correct. I’m not sure I believe it is, but I appreciate your effort.” She smiled and added, “Now it’s your turn.”
This was the part of the exercise Fen had dreaded. What would he share with this girl? What COULD he share? Dare he admit the anger and fear he felt so much of his life? Would that not tend to lower him in her eyes? He decided to take a chance.
“When I was growing up, in a small village in Altara, I was different than the other children. My mother was from Saldaea, and I inherited this nose and my short stature from her. This made me the object of scorn and ridicule, especially with girls. My mother would tell me I was better than the others, that they were jealous, but all I felt was anger and hurt. It has made me awkward and shy, especially around females.”
Silece reached out and took his hand in hers. No woman, no female, other than his mother, had ever touched him in such a way.
“Oh, poor Fen,” she cooed, not a hint of ridicule in her voice, “I am so sorry! Look at you, a Dedicated! Think how rapidly you rose to that rank! Why, those foolish girls from your village would wish they had been kinder to you if they could only see you now!” Her smile seemed genuine, her sympathetic tone unforced. As if to prove her sincerity, she added “I think you just need to be around women more, to see we aren’t all like those horrid girls in your village,” again the smile, the blue eyes sparkling, “Would you meet me in the Gardens tonight after evening dinner? We could talk.”
A smile burst across Fen’s face. She had done it; taken his emotions and turned them around with her sympathy!
“I would like that, Silece,” he answered, meaning it this time, “Very much indeed!”