Choose Your Own Adventure Shaoman 2010

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The Choose Your Own Adventure story during Shaoman 2010. Which of the two paths the story would take was determined by a poll where everyone could vote, though then the alternative story was posted too.

Part 1

Saria Danchel was tired.

Day after day of endless chores, strict lessons with Aes Sedai, worse lessons with prickly Accepted practicing their version of Aes Sedai serenity, and sessions with the Mistress of Novices for what she viewed as trivial offenses - okay, so maybe slipping fish guts into that horse-faced Accepted's bed hadn't been as trivial as her other pranks. She was bone-weary, and no longer sure that being Aes Sedai was worth all the sweat and tears - especially when her own strength with the Power was so small. Three years as a novice, and she could still do so little. How she envied those girls who had the spark inborn, those girls who had more strength their first day in the Tower than she had after all her long hours of study and practice.

She had to run away. But Saria, while weak in the One Power, wasn't stupid. She knew that as a novice, she was forbidden to leave the Tower. Furthermore, all her clothes from home were packed away, and her snowy white novice dress would give her away if she tried to sneak out. The guards would haul her in, turn her over the Mistress of Novices, and...

"No," she surprised herself by saying aloud in the silence of her tiny room.

Saria would just have to come up with a plan - a plan so brilliant, or at least foolhardy, that she could get away with it. But what to do.

She paced her room, muttering to herself for several hours, watching as the moon moved across the sky. She'd better come up with a plan, and fast, or it would be time for another day of chores and lessons, and since she was awake and plotting instead of sleeping, she was certain to be sent to the Mistress of Novices at least once for inattentiveness or botching a lesson.

Her eyes brightened as she had a thought. Tomorrow morning, she was assigned to do laundry. The servants laundry. Surely, she could pull aside a dress close enough to her size, that wouldn't mark her out so obviously as a novice. Within the Tower, as long as she didn't move too closely to an Aes Sedai or Accepted, no one should notice her small ability - not if she was careful.

But where to go? She was Tairen - as soon as her family realized her dream to learn, and an Aes Sedai passing through Tear confirmed she could learn, they had bundled her off before she even had a chance to say goodbye.

Maybe Andor, she mused silently. There are plenty of country villages I could try and find a home in, where I wouldn't be likely to find any Aes Sedai.

Running through plans in her head, she recalled a whispered conversation between two Accepted she had overheard a year ago, when another girl had successfully run away. A story of women who helped runaways find a new, safe place in life. The Family? The Sewing Circle? What were they called... Saria struggled to bring the correct name to mind. Ah! The Kin, that's right! Candeara was telling Norsuva how she heard that these Kin, women who had left the Tower, helped runaways and often found them in villages outside of Tar Valon.

But, which path was less dangerous? Or, more likely to succeed?

Run away to Andor?

Or go to a village outside the City, and hope the Kin found her?

Part 2 - To the village

Saria stared at the plain, not-quite-white wall for what felt like hours as she tried to decide. Part of her didn't want the danger of remaining so close to Tar Valon while she sought out the Kin, but there was another part of her, a more dominant part, that couldn't bear the thought of never channeling again.

She wasn't leaving Tar Valon because she didn't want to learn. Quite the contrary. Saria was just tired of all the bowing and scraping she had to do. She was tired of the chores and menial work while others, who surpassed her in power, were Raised and applauded.

With the Kin, she could still learn, still channel.

It would be dangerous.

Saria barely held back a shudder at the thought of getting caught. Aes Sedai didn't tolerate runaways. She had to be clever, and she had to get away the first time. The Light knew there wouldn't be a second time.

She finally pulled her eyes away from the wall and curled up in the narrow bed, wondering what the next day would bring. She dozed off into a fitful sleep that only lasted a couple hours before the first morning bell rang.

Putting a weary hand to her brow, she donned her stockings and slippers. Anything she could find of value, which wasn't much as a novice, went into her belt pouch. She didn't have many possessions, and the larger things would have to be left behind.

Gathering her remaining coin, she stepped out into the hall and made her way toward the laundry area. Her heart hammered as she worked. Saria had to find the courage to do this. She had to. Her fingers probed into the wet clothes, smelling strongly of a vile mix between human sweat and lavender soap. Another batch of clothing hung behind her, drying in the morning sun. She had already found the garments she would steal. Now, she just had to wait for them to dry.

It might have been smarter to take something that was already dirty, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. There was no telling when she'd get a chance to replace the dress she stole this day.

A voice behind her startled her from her plans. "Child?"

She looked up at the cool serenity of a full Aes Sedai. Her heart hammered even harder when she recognized that ageless face. With a jerk, she stood and made a curtsey, hoping her nervousness didn't show. "Eliana Sedai."

Eliana Draston raised a fine eyebrow and sniffed before handing Saria another garmet to add to the wash. Without another word, the Aes Sedai turned and left, leaving Saria to breath a sigh of relief.

She couldn't go around jumping at everyone who approached her. She had to get out now before her nerve failed her. She carefully removed the somewhat damp dress from the line behind her and folded it into the basket sitting at her feet. It would have to do. It was now or never.

Saria carried the basket back inside, wondering where she could change. She found a hall off the Tower's main entrance that was seldom used. It would be perfect for her purposes. Visitors were often seen around this area, and Saria was relieved when she found the place empty.

She changed as quickly as she could, donning the semi-wet garmet in haste. The copper-colored wool was a little snug around the hips and bust, but it was managable. The deep brown cloak was next, and a bit dryer. She pulled up the hood and left the basket--novice dress folded inside--sitting in a dark corner of the hallway.

Sweat started to form in the small of her back as she walked. She planned to take the southwestern bridge into Alindaer. It was very close to Tar Valon, but Sisters rarely had a reason to visit there.

The bridge was wide and polished, bronze bands running its length. Three years as a novice, and the sight could still take her breath away. Even so, she hoped with all her might that she'd never see the place again.

Halfway across the bridge, a young man with black hair bumped into her shoulder. Lost in thought as she was, she recoiled in shock. His hands shot out to steady her. "Miss, are you alright?"

Gathering herself, Saria met his gaze. "I'm fine. Thank you for asking." The young man didn't dress like a Lord, but he was more than a merchant. Not wanting to attract undue attention to herself, she turned and continued her walk to Alindaer.

"Miss? Miss!" The young man's voice came behind from behind her. He might be able to help her get out of the city and find the Kin. Then again, he might turn her over to the Aes Sedai.

Should she respond?

Or should she keep walking?

Part 2 - To Andor

Saria decided, after looking out the window at the city of Tar Valon, that she wanted nothing to do with staying anywhere close to the Tower.

"Andor it is." She muttered under her breath. Now for a few minutes sleep before waking to start on laundry.

She slept fitfully, dreaming of running into Aes Sedai all up and down the road to Andor and being shuttled back to the Tower. She even dreamt of running into the Queen of Andor herself, and having the woman shackle her and drag her back here to learn and become Aes Sedai.

When she woke, she felt horrible, but knew there was no going back on her plan. She dressed hastily, knowing that she wasn't going to have the dress on for long, and forgot to put on a pair of stockings. No one would notice, they were only stockings, for crying out loud......

Down to the laundry room she went and started in, finding a dress almost immediately that would fit her. Pale brown wool, obviously old and well worn, with a few small tears that needed mended. The neck was high, like the gowns women wore in the Maule. "Now," she thought,"if I could find a pair of aprons this would work quite well for a disguise as a visitor. And a cloak." She bundled the gown up and set it aside. An Aes Sedai she hadn't met before looked at her askance and she said, "It is in need of mending, Aes Sedai. I sat it there to take to someone for sewing." This seemed to satisfy the woman and she left.

When her chores were done and she was to be on her way to class,supposedly dropping the gown on the way, Saria darted into a side passage she new was rarely travelled. She stripped down and put on the dress, noting sadly that it was actually a bit too short for her and showed a good deal of her ankles. She hadn't been able to find any aprons, but she had found a bonnet that had a wide brim around the front, that tied below the chin (quite odd, really), effectively hiding your face if you looked at the floor. She donned this and headed out through the rest of the servants corridors, stuffing her novice dress behind a large statue on her way.

Saria kept her face down and made it out of the Tower grounds without running into a single Aes Sedai. How she managed she wasn't sure, but she was grateful the Creator had his hand in it. Through the gates and down to the bridge she walked, checking the small coin purse at her belt she had hidden under her Novice white that morning. As she neared the final gate, she bumped into someone and raised her eyes to see who it was.

A man in Andoran dress was stepping back from his wagon and bowed. "I'm sorry Mistress. I didn't mean to step into you."

"That's alright, good sir." Saria said. "You wouldn't be going south into Andor would you?" She asked on a whim.

"Why yes, I am. My name is Andric. Are you in need of a ride toward Camelyn, then?" he asked.

"Yes sir, I am. I'm going to try to be a servant in the Palace. It's much better than a fishwife back home! I have a small bit of money left from the boatride up, if I can pay you for your generosity?"

"No, just come ride with me. Company is always welcome. I'll tell you of my family. I have a son only a year or two older than you, I think. Perhaps you should stay with us when you get to Camelyn." Andric started.

Saria smiled and lifted her skirts to step up on the wagon.

"I've never seen a style of dress that showed so much of a lady's legs, and, Mistress! You aren't wearing any stockings! You'll have to tell me all about where you came to Tar Valon from and if you're going back home."

Peeking behind after they had been travelling a while, Saria sighed with relief. Andric was sweet, and Tar Valon was fading into the distance.

But what to do when she arrived?

Stay with Andric and meet his family?

Or go on to the Palace to apply as a servant there?

Part 3 - To the village

Saria's heart skipped a beat as the young man called out for her. Her thoughts raced over whether she should stop for the man, or run and try to lose him across the bridge and into Alindaer. She took a deep breath and tried not to let her nerves get the best of her. If I run, it could attract too much attention, and if I don't stop, he will surely attract it more so calling after me. Saria gave it one more quick thought, before deciding she should stop for the man. She hoped she had not landed herself in a one way boat back to the Tower.

Saria halted her steps two-thirds of the way across the gleaming bridge, and turned to face her pursuer. He was taller than her, with a soft face that gave away his age––possibly in his early 20's––and he was quite striking now that she had a chance to concentrate on him. Saria's face turned a light crimson thinking about him, and she attempted to hide it with a quick scratch of her nose as the young man walked up to her. Saria's heart pounded and she wondered if he could see her trembling. I don't want to go back to the Tower. Please.

“Miss, I am glad you decided to stop,” he said with a smile that somehow made him even more attractive. “You had dropped this when I bumped into you and I wanted to give it back.”

The young man reached out to Saria, and a very familiar pouch was lying in his hand. Saria quickly checked her person to make sure it was really her's, and to her surprise, she was missing her pouch of valuables. How the man had acquired it she was not certain, but it gave her even more reason to let her nerves take control of her. She had to get away from him somehow and get off of that bridge before her whole escape was ruined. She did her best to calm herself and respond as best she could with an air of confidence.

Saria replied in a guise of urgency, hoping the man would take the hint and let her be on her way. “Oh, well thank you very much. I am not sure what I would do without this. You are very kind for returning my purse to me, and while I have no way to greatly repay you, I do give you my wholehearted gratitude.”

At that, Saria slowly took her pouch from the man's palm, and proceeded to conceal it hastily. After making sure it was secure she gave the man a quick curtsey and a smile. Before she could turn to continue on her way, the man laid his hand on her shoulder. He looked down at her and gave her a knowing yet gentle smile that chilled her marrow and set her nerves dancing yet again.

“I noticed your clothes were damp, and a little misfitted. You also do a poor job at hiding your your anxiety. If I was to presume, I would say you are running away from home.” The clear emphasis on the word home made Saria's eyes widen against her feigned composure. “Easy child, I am a member of a family that cares for run away....children.”

Saria's hopes for escape soared at the man's gesture. Could this be the chance she needed to get to the Kin and secure her life of freedom? She couldn't be sure, but the man appeared genuine enough. Saria wasn't completely taken in, but this was as best a lead as any. If all went well, she could very well be on a boat or carriage to wherever the Kin would take her in., and that was a chance she needed to take. Saria did not want to go back to the tower, no matter how unsure of the man she was, she was not going to scrub any more pots, or bow to any more Aes Sedai.

“So you are with the....them?” said Saria. “The family that takes in us, ah, runaways?”

“Not officially, but I lend my assistance when I can. Calo Sandin is the name.” Calo took a bow during with introduction. “It's a pleasure to meet you miss...”

“Saria. My name is Saria.”

“Such a beautiful name, Saria.” Calo's face took up that gentle smile again, and Saria could feel her face growing hot.

“If you would please follow, I can take you to my mother,” said Calo. “She is waiting at our home in Alindaer.”

Saria gave him a quick nod of understanding, and they both walked along the rest of the bridge and into the village. A smile crept across Saria's face. She was almost free.


After a brief time, Saria was lead to a modest two story home on the southeastern edge of Alindaer. The building was kept in good shape, with clean plastered walls and a tightly thatched roof. It was similar to many of the other buildings Saria passed on the way through the village. She felt more at ease after being away from the main thoroughfare. Throughout the whole walk, she had looked in every direction at once, or as best as she could manage without appearing suspicious, for any sign of an Aes Sedai. Being caught so close to freedom would have been a crushing blow to her spirit, and she thanked the Creator for letting her make it to her destination with Calo.

“Here we are.” Calo waved a hand towards the building and smiled at Saria.

Calo walked to the door, knocked twice, and went in, motioning for Saria to follow. There was a light on in one of the second floor windows, but all the others were darkened. The main floor also appeared dark through the ajar door. This struck Saria as a little odd. Hmm, maybe I am just paranoid, she thought. I am sure everything is fine.

Saria walked through the front door to find the main floor really was dark. The smell of mildew hit her nose as she crossed the threshold. The house appeared to be in dismal condition. A heavy layer of dust covered the floor, and cobwebs littered the ceiling like puffs of cloud in a dark wooden sky. The only furniture was an old square table flipped over on its side, some broken down chairs, scattered pieces of kitchenware, and a cabinet that had seen better days. The house had obviously been vacant for years, and the only resemblance of use were footsteps set in the dust that led to some dark area the light of the front door did not reach.

Saria's heart began to pound. “Calo?” she yelled. “Calo, what is going on!?” She realized that she had made an awful mistake in coming to this place. She needed to leave immediately. Before Saria could take a step towards the front door, it slammed shut, and the only source of light she had went away, along with her exit. A deep, sinister laughter echoed from somewhere in the room. She ran to the front door and tried to open it. It wouldn't budge an inch. She pounded and pulled, but to no avail. Tears rolled down her cheeks as an immense fear gripped her body. You fool! How could you let yourself be trapped like this! The laughter came again.

In her panic, Saria forgot that she wasn't completely alone. She had Saidar! Saria quickly embraced the One Power and weaved a ball of light, floating inches above her right hand. The light shone just long enough for her to see the face of Calo standing right before her. The shadows cast by the globe of light turned his face wicked, and a cruel grin was resting where that gentle smile had been just a little while before. Saria began a weave of Air to catch Calo, but an immense pain on the back of her head fumbled her attempt, and everything went black.


Morning's light rested on Saria Danchel's face. Her eyes slowly opened to a squint from the sun's rays. Her head felt like a melon that had dueled with a blacksmith's hammer, and came out the loser. Suddenly, a rush of memory flooded her consciousness and she sprang up to a sitting position with a shriek.

“Easy, child,” said a soft voice to her right. “You are safe now.”

Saria's head spun to her right, which was not so wise as it just angered the pain in her skull. Sitting on a small stool near her bed was a woman she knew very well. Kiarna Petris, the Mistress of Novices, stared with a perfectly serene face, but with a small fire behind her behind her light brown eyes that caused Saria to look away with a wince. Saria then noticed the familiar walls and trappings of her surroundings. She had known those walls for 3 years, and had tried to escape them. All her strength melted away and she fell back to her pillow, utterly broken.

“You are a very lucky girl,” said Kiarna Sedai. “If you hadn't channeled whatever it was you had, then Chestra Sedai may not have noticed and came to that abandoned house. Who knows what those men may have done to you.” Kiarna Sedai got up, walked to the entrance to Saria's chamber, and opened the door. “Don't forget to see me tomorrow morning. We have much to talk about concerning your little stunt.”

At that, the Mistress of Novices left Saria's room. As soon as the door clicked into place, Saria burst into tears. She had failed.

The End

Part 3 - To Andor

At long last, Saria sighted Caemlyn in the distance. She couldn't help but bounce on the wagon seat in her excitement. Andric noticed and chuckled, sounding akin to an indulgent uncle. "Your first sight of the City, girl? Tar Valon is fine, yes, but Caemlyn - ah, Caemlyn, it has such a wondrous beauty. Not as exact as where you come from, but beautiful all the same."

Saria couldn't help but agree as the hours wore on and the wagon traveled closer. Almost before she knew it, they were in Caemlyn, passing through the wagon-gate, and she stared. She knew she was looking like a goggle-eyed farmgirl, but, that fit with her disguise. She hadn't thought to ever see places like Caemlyn until she was Aes Sedai. A touch of sadness at that thought, knowing now, she would never wear the shawl.

"So, what's your choice going to be then?" Andric asked abruptly, but not unkindly. "My wife would surely love to meet you - she'd wear out your ears with questions about living in Tar Valon and working in the White Tower."

Saria had already made her choice.

"I would love to meet your family, Andric. Thank you." The young woman had always prided herself on being a good judge of character, and she just knew with how kind Andric had proven to be, his family would be wonderful.

She stared unabashedly at her surroundings as Andric masterfully handled the horses, the wagon making its careful way to his home, a humble two-story affair with surprisingly large stables.

"Well, this is the end of the road," Andric chuckled, climbing down from the wagon bench and offering Saria a hand down. "Marla! Jon! We have a guest!"

A middle aged woman wearing a dress of simple brown wool with a red rose embroidered on the breast came from the house, dusting her hands off against each other, eyes lighting up to see her husband. Her gaze cooled a bit when it landed on Saria. "Well now, Andric, a guest, you say?"

"Yes, yes; this girl was ready to walk clear from Tar Valon to Caemlyn for a chance to serve in the Palace! I thought her feet would do her more good all in one piece so I gave her a ride."

A different male voice interjected. "Father, you are full of surprises."

Saria turned and... well, stared. This must be his son... Jon. She thought the young man was very handsome. But then after too many long years as a novice, what man my age wouldn't look handsome?

Andric climbed down from the wagon seat and offered a hand to Saria, who accepted with a soft murmur of thanks as she climbed down. "Well, I have chores to do, girl," he said gruffly. "Why don't you get to know my family better until dinner."

Should she talk to his wife, Marla?

Or his son, Jon?

Part 4 - To Andor

Saria smiled fondly at the elder man as he walked off to speak with his wife. She didn't notice his son coming up to start unhitching the horses until he spoke.

"Your name is Saria, right? I'm Jon."

She blinked and turned to regard him, word tripping over her tongue slightly, not used to speaking to handsome young men. Novices certainly weren't encouraged to do so. "Y-yes, Saria. It's nice to meet you Jon. Oh, let me help you with that." She moved to unhitch the other horse, not unused to such tasks from several times being assigned to help in the stables in the Tower, mucking out stalls and tending to horses to build character when the garden paths were too snowy to rake.

They worked in silence for a while, Saria stealing glances at him now and then, blushing brightly each time their eyes met. Jon just smiled.

After they got the horses settled in, they went inside for dinner. Marla had set a wonderful table. Saria helped her put the finishing touches on it - being a troublesome novice did have some advantages, she knew more of cooking, cleaning, and other such things than she ever had before entering the Tower. While they ate, conversation was mostly limited to Andric and Marla catching up on things. Saria and Jon kept making eyes at each other, blushing, smiling, and doing all the other silly nonverbal things young folks do when they meet someone they find attractive.

Once dinner was finished, Saria offered to clean up the dishes, so Andric and Marla headed off to bed, and Jon went out to water the horses. She smiled to herself as she piled the plates on the counter and begin to wash them carefully. This won't be so bad. Marla doesn't seem overly fond of me, but, Andric is very kind. And Jon, her cheeks darkened again - Light! "Jon seems very kind as well."

She didn't realize she had spoken that last part aloud until she heard the man of her thoughts speak, "Who are you talking to, the plates and soap?" With a laugh he came over and started to dry the cleaned dishes while she kept washing. "I think you're very kind too, Saria. Tell me - what are your plans? Are you going to stay in Caemlyn?"

Saria nodded. "I think so. There's nothing left for me back home."

Jon smiled. "Good. Father said you can stay here as long as you need to get back on your feet. Mother will come around, she's not a bad person. And of course, I will help you in any way you need..."