Telan’s life in the Circle at Jainen had settled considerably in the past several months. Approximately one year prior, his friend Callista had orchestrated an escape; she and four other mages, including Telan’s friend, Jestin, made an explosive departure from the tower. Over the following months, between reinstating order, fixing damages, and dealing with the return of two of the escaped mages, things had been stressful and hectic. At last, though, things had seemed to settle.
Well, settle as much as they ever did. In the middle of a lecture he was attending, Telan felt himself pulled out of his reality and transported to the Fade…again. This did not come as a surprise to him; it was a strange happenstance that occurred every now and again. He resigned himself to wandering the raw Fade as he waited for this episode to end, knowing full well he’d reappear, and that no one would remember he’d been there previously.
This time, though, he was not alone. He found a little girl peeking out at him from behind a strangely-shaped tree. He recognized her as Shandy, one of the newest apprentices to the Circle. Even though she had recently arrived, she was making quite a splash: the little girl was the most powerful person the Circle had seen in ages. She had tons of raw talent, and was known to be a Dreamer; that all-but-disappeared kind of mage whose true talent lay in walking dreams. This made her potentially dangerous – both to others and to herself. Dreamers were known to be walking targets for demon possession.
She didn’t understand that, though; she was just a child. A very sweet child, at that. Shandy instantly befriended Telan, and the two spent time walking and chatting in the Fade until Telan’s “episode” ended and he felt himself pulled back to the lecture hall.
He went to go confer with his friend, mentor, and confidant, Senior Enchanter Raza. He found her distracted, and in the privacy of her office, she confided in him.
Normally, any decision as to a mage’s Harrowing or Tranquility would be made solely by the First Enchanter and the Knight-Commander of the Circle. In this case, though, the subject was troubling enough that the First Enchanter asked for the council of his Senior Enchanters. And even they were so split that Raza’s vote would be the determining factor:
Shandy, no matter how sweet, how endearing, was a danger to herself and to all around her, however unwittingly. Her power had to be addressed, either by putting her through her Harrowing immediately, thus proving her ability – or non-ability – to ward off possession, or by turning the child Tranquil, thus cutting off her ability to be possessed.
But what kind of choice was this? To either send a child to wrestle with a demon, potentially killing her, or to cut off all ties to feeling and dreaming, turning a child into an emotionless doll? Raza did not know what to choose.
Telan advised that it was certainly better to choose the path of hope, despite the risk. Raza, still torn up at the idea, agreed. She would cast her vote for the child to go through her Harrowing.
The next morning, Telan was awakened by a shake of his bed; when he investigated, he saw Shandy clumsily trying to hide under his bed, panicked. She begged him to not tell anyone she was there.
With perfect timing, the Knight-Captain came knocking. Shandy was not where she was supposed to be, and it was time for the Templars to collect her. Had Telan seen her?
Telan took a moment, and then asked the Knight-Captain a quiet question about betrayal. The Knight-Captain reminded him that the Great Redeemer was forgiven his betrayal.
In the end, Telan took his own advice and chose to believe there was hope. He told the Templars where Shandy was hiding.
Shandy was removed from her hiding place, scrabbling and sobbing, and dragged off to an uncertain fate. Telan met briefly with Raza; they commiserated for a while before Raza, wanting to be alone, excused herself.
Left to his own devices, Telan wandered the halls of the Circle, mulling over his choice.
An unknown and yet strangely familiar voice whispered in his mind,_ “Do you think you did the right thing?”_ Almost an echo of a conversation he knew he had never had.
The voice seemed to get stronger the further down the corridor he traveled, until he found himself at a picture of a lovely glade. The strange thing, though, was that he knew this hall, and he knew that picture – and it was not supposed to be a picture of a glade.
He reached out to touch it, and it reached back…
1. Journey OST: Nascence. Daily life in the structured silence and study of Jainen’s Circle.
2. Dragon Age: Origins: The Fade. Telan is pulled into the Fade. Again.
3. The Banner Saga Soundtrack: Huddled in the Shadows. Shandy’s theme.
4. Journey OST: The Call. Telan wanders the halls of the Circle, trying to follow the strange whispers that draw him on.