Four years earlier:
“You show promise,” Mage Vidya announces, folding her arms and glaring at the young woman before her. “Are you from Priangan Village?” The mage’s hard eyes fall on Yena.
“My father’s from Garut, and my mother’s from Tasik,” Yena confesses. “But I was born, raised, and educated here in Priangan Village.” Her lips quiver, and her gaze falls to the ground before she forces it back toward the mage’s face. She knows this is the final interview and needs to make a good impression. After all, she has dreamt of going to Menara ever since her talent was detected at age ten.
“Your talent is just above average,” Vidya announces as she walks around the girl, examining her from head to foot. Vidya's expression is stern, like a disapproving school teacher. Her words are the strike of death to Yena’s dreams. “But your tutors tell me you’re a quick learner and are creative. That’s a combination we need in the Jimber.”
Yena’s hope revives, dispelling all fear.
“I’ve already spoken with your family and tutors,” Vidya assures, “and they’ve all agreed to our invitation. You have the final say.”
“Yes,” Yena answers without the slightest hesitation, her expression business-like as she gives a quick nod. She bows before the high mage and deliberately walks away slowly, hoping to leave an impression of capability and calm.