Rain ran down the smooth curve of her head and pooled in the collar of her coarse black shirt before finally trickling down her back with dispassionate slowness.
They had shaved her head upon her arrival; her beautiful, silken hair falling at her feet. Now, after a year, her head was covered in rough stubble, a sign of favour from the academy’s solemn hierarchy and a symbol of her slow progression through the ranks.
No newcomers, no matter what their background or status, were entitled to keeping their hair. It was both a tradition and a form of control, a small example of the wider philosophy that enriched the academy’s educational programme.
Hair, like identity, was something not granted to the unpolished but rather something that had to be earnt. She understood now why so many people had been hesitant to use her name before she came here; in their hearts they had known that she had no chance of retaining possession of it.