Through the Cracks Ch5 bit – Too Quiet

It’s quiet, Kaoru thought darkly as she stood on the engawa, scowling out at her freshly-weeded garden as it steamed under the unseasonably hot sun. A garden notable for a distinct absence of Kenshin. Too quiet.

No Kenshin near the laundry, though it was washed and hung to dry. No Kenshin adding a last artistic touch of tiny maple-leaf ears to the rabbit-shaped riceballs left for her breakfast. No Kenshin near the woodpile, shredding out the nerves he pretended he didn’t have on unsuspecting logs.

“Hey, ugly!”

Her toes left the floor in a start; Kaoru touched down in a whirl that flourished her bokken at the smirking brat who’d taken advantage of her distraction. “Yahiko-chan…!”

The boy ducked, tried to snag a particularly tempting riceball, shook out a stinging hand after her bokken made sure she got to it first. “Is Kenshin up on the roof again?

“Like you could tell,” Kaoru grumbled through a mouthful of rice and pickled plum, checking that inner sense of Kenshin and trying to get a where from it.

Calm. Quiet. Concealment.

Meaning he’d probably found somewhere out of the way to meditate, and was once again wrestling down nervous tension that had jumped to life the moment Instructor Sejanes hauled the cannon off, and only seemed to increase with each passing day. Where, though, she had no clue. He could be sitting right behind her; he could be halfway across Haven.

He’s probably not at Companion’s Field, though, Kaoru thought darkly. Megumi would have said something. Whatever Rolan had said to Sano, the scarred Companion had stuck to the Field ever since, avoiding them even when she and Megumi visited to speak to Talia; haunting the Field’s far corners, BeSpeaking no one, and in general acting about as friendly as a wild boar with a toothache. If Companions could cry, her beautiful Megumi would have been in tears.

As it was, her beautiful Megumi had come within inches of leaving bite-marks on various Palace grooms.

:They deserved it,: Megumi sulked.

:No they didn’t, and you know it,: Kaoru countered. :What is wrong with you? Why isn’t Sano here, with us?: And why, whenever she thought too hard about Kenshin and Karal, did she have this feeling of something blurred in her head?


A/N: If you think I really don’t like Rolan’s canon go-to solution for handling sticky situations, yes, yes you are right…

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72 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch5 bit – Too Quiet

    1. Let’s just say playing fast and loose with what someone remembers about a situation is a standard Companion tactic.

      To the point Kerowyn wasn’t able to tell Eldan they were spirits, Talia thought Gwena was an ordinary Companion instead of a Grove-Born (as in yes, Elspeth’s Companion is the result of direct Divine Intervention!), and Alberich kept running up against, “yes, magic works; yes, demons exist; yes, Iftel is on your country’s border and we have to consider if enemies will move through there.”

      This has always struck me as one of the things that makes me very, very doubtful about Companions and all their good intentions. Heavenly spirits or not. We know where intentions often lead….

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      1. Playing fast and loose. With someone’s //memories//.

        I…. I have no words, beyond “What the //hell// is he thinking?!?!” That — that —

        Request Kenshin Dou Ryuu Sen this idiot to Pluto!

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      2. Valdemaran canon. Oh, sometimes they apologize later, but… among other things, it’s apparently standard practice that when they Choose someone who has no idea what they’re getting into (Talia was one), they block the memory until their Chosen gets to Haven. And then just encourage them to go that way.

        …Yeah. The errors here are not all on Yamato’s side. Or, possibly more accurately – both sides are doing what they consider standard good procedure.

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      3. “among other things, it’s apparently standard practice that when they Choose someone who has no idea what they’re getting into (Talia was one), they block the memory until their Chosen gets to Haven. And then just encourage them to go that way.”

        Okay, that? Doesn’t get a pass per say, but its much more understandable. From what I gather, a Companion’s Chosen is their platonic soul mate. Pure outright fear of the, “I’m going to loose this person who is quite literally part of my soul oh Divines hell no I have to do //something//!” variety can do a multitude of It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.

        Blocking a memory can be acceptable in extreme circumstances. Mild manipulation of memories, likewise. (Because honestly, how many lay people would survive with their sanity intact in, say, the Bleach ‘verse if they remembered seeing a Hollow?)

        Outright removing or deleting memories? //Hell no.//

        So these aren’t so much white shaped-like-horses as they are… grey.

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      4. Relatedly, informed consent. I mean, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books aren’t shining examples of progressiveness, but dragonrider candidates know that they’re being chosen on search, and know what impressing a dragon means (to the extent that anyone can be informed on becoming telepathically bonded to something that’s not human) and have the explicit right to _refuse_ to try to impress. And for underage characters, their parents also have some say in what happens.

        We…do not get that in Valdemar. I mean, Alberich was very understandably _pissed off_ because Kantor did not get so much as a by your leave from him, despite Kantor rescuing him from being burned to death. Talia and Mags have no idea what a Companion even is before they’re Chosen. There is pretty explicitly no choice on the part of the unfortunate Herald candidate.

        And! As also stated in the Exile books, undoing the bond _damages your mind._ So even if you decide you want out of this thing that was forced on you, you have to metaphorically cut off your hand to escape. If we were talking about alignments here, that does not sound particularly like “Good.”

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      5. Hmm. *Waggles hand back and forth* In a sense Valdemar’s situation is a whole pile-up of “best of bad options”. The Companions came about because Valdemar wasn’t willing to leave the fate of his people to a merely human dynasty. The “don’t think about magic” spell got started by Vanyel. And not only does he agree it was a mistake, but he made a mistake in the middle of casting it, and it got tangled up with an old defensive spell, the vrondi, that did not quite go as planned when it was cast. (Happens when you have all the Adepts run ragged and very few left!)

        And then the guy we now know was Ma’ar wiped out all the mages left in Valdemar….

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  1. And why, whenever she thought too hard about Kenshin and Karal, did she have this feeling of something blurred in her head?

    If I were a suspicious and cynical person, I’d guess that was because someone was tampering with your mind, my dear.

    Since I’m a suspicious and cynical person, I think I’m right and someone, or several several someones, some human shaped and others not-so-much, need a good solid meeting with your boken.

    Because it is a stupid solution. Pretending the thing didn’t happen or doesn’t exist does NOT make it go away. See, Mage Storms, etc.

    Whatever Rolan had said to Sano, the scarred Companion had stuck to the Field ever since, avoiding them even when she and Megumi visited to speak to Talia; haunting the Field’s far corners, BeSpeaking no one, and in general acting about as friendly as a wild boar with a toothache.

    I have theory as to why.

    And while humans aren’t allowed by law in Valdemar to interfere with a Companion’s Choosing, I bet other Companions aren’t . . .

    And while Kenshin doesn’t particularly want to be Chosen (and has reasons), I have very strong urge to tell a certain horse-shaped brawler to tell those {insert favorite expletive here} where to stick it. Politics, etc, yadda, yadda, blah, blah. I’m not inclined to be sensitive to their politics right now. I want Sano to stop hurting. And it is one thing to lose someone. It is quite another to have hope that maybe you hadn’t and have that hope stomped into the dirt.

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    1. Rolan, unfortunately or otherwise, is a big-picture guy. Selenay and Talia want to deal with Yamagata first because that’s politically wise, if they mean to treat the people he leads as being under his command. If a few people get temporarily stomped in the process – well, what’s that against the good of Valdemar? After all, the Yamatoans live here too now, this will be better in the long run….

      Oh Murphy, thou art summoned.

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      1. He might be big picture but he is apparently crap at long-term.

        Rolan, remember how making people forget or forget to mention magic, mages, and demons meant that you never had to deal any of those ever again?

        Yeah. I can’t either.

        For a few centuries, yes. But not forever.

        Because making people forget is not a solution. It, at best, delays the problem, not fixes it .And it can create a slew of new problems and unnecessary headaches.

        Like when they needed mages, there was no one to teach anyone Valdemar born. Because no one in Valdemar had used that gift in centuries. Which meant they had to rely on foreign born mages being willing to teach them. Well, guess how SOL they would have been if no one had been willing to teach them? Or they found a teacher but not in enough time to do Valdemar or the world a darn bit of good?

        Not to mention, one day, someone is NOT going to accept your “for the greater good” as enough reason for tampering with their mind and memories and reduce you to a red smear. Or not take your word that you only messed with their mind that much – since you are proven that you will suppress memories when they are inconvenience, that makes your word pretty damn useless.

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      2. The whole forgetting mages stuff… well, part of that was actually Vanyel and Stefan’s work Gone Horribly Wrong. Plus, never forget Ma’ar. He’d been attacking Valdemar off and on for centuries. Who’d have a better reason to make sure they got totally screwed?

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      3. I think Sinbad would at least pause to consider the situation.

        …No, bunnies. You may not dump Sinbad on Valdemar no matter how awesomely broken that would be.

        Although honestly, I think Aladdin and Alibaba would grab a bunch of Companions by the – er, manes – and say “Help us get that evil spirit out of him!”

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      4. …No, bunnies. You may not dump Sinbad on Valdemar no matter how awesomely broken that would be.

        Evil aren’t they?

        He’d certainly make things . . . . interesting for the various powers in that world. Because they aren’t used to be people like Sinbad. Through Ja’far says that because nobody in any universe is ever fully prepared or used to dealing with crazy idiot kings who always have to one-up their last bout of crazy . . .

        Although honestly, I think Aladdin and Alibaba would grab a bunch of Companions by the – er, manes – and say “Help us get that evil spirit out of him!”

        There is that.

        I think most of them would take one look and go :Yes! Let’s get that . . . thing . . . out of him. And let’s see if we can rid of it because that, that thing is nastier than some demons I’ve encountered . . .:

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      5. It seems it is canon that they got David out of Sinbad somehow. But I have a bad track record assembling canon from wikis.

        Magi, Valdemar, Campione, Mahouka and Star Gate would go great together. The Furlings had magic, a gate network it takes magic to access, and there is a Gou’ld infested surviving Furling. In written fiction you can rejuvenate the retired SG1, and send them out searching for the magical weapons needed to protect the post series status quo from the new big bad’s magic. Says the guy who thinks reincarnating the cast of Bleach into a RWBY/Tokyo Ghoul cross is at least halfway viable.

        Quite possibly my taste in crossovers is broken (more, more, more) and useless (How often do I say something will not work?)

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  2. ……….So show of hands: who thinks this is going to blow up very hard in Rolan face and potentially the Companions in general?

    Because if the Companions have altered X memory ‘for the person’s own good’ what ELSE might they have changed?

    Seriously, this is why I hate the HP Wizards. Memory alteration and erasure to me is a very sketchy thing at the best of times. I suspect it’s primarily because of the societal engineering that the Companions are still trusted after all the mind wiping/fuzzing they did in regards to stuff.

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    1. Agreed on the HP wizards. One Buffy cross I’ve read has the Scoobies finding out about memory alteration and immediately lighting out after the Wizarding World as bad guys. Which, on the one hand, look before you leap, but on the other….

      Frankly, memory alteration should be burned with fire.

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    2. And I suspect that Rolan, being the big picture guy that he is would consider it to be for the good of Valdemar that certain practices from foreign lands never catch on. And that said practices phasing out amoung the populace that do practice them would be a smashing notion.

      Like say protecting your Ki for example which I would suspect make it a lot harder for Companions to remove unneeded information. Which is why Kaoru is the only one walking around Obliviated. Either Megumi was forced into doing it by Rolan or he did it and she doesn’t have the power/authority to undo it.

      Meanwhile Kenshin is hiding because it’s his fault Kaoru-dono is like this (and he doesn’t want to bring more trouble to her) while his inner Youkai is making very tempting suggestions about how a certain horse-skin hide would look absolutely wonderful as a wall ornament.

      Come to think of it, HAS there been a fic where the Companions got lasting back-lash from their memory wiping?
      The closest I ever ran into one was in ‘Friends Across Borders’ where the Herald went “That horrible, how could you do that?” the Companion went “Sorry” and the Herald seemed to simply go right back to trusting it implicitly in no time flat again.

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      1. I’m going to have to think about this for edits, ’cause I’m not entirely sure Kenshin would actually be able to pick up what happened. He might notice she hasn’t asked more about Altra, but he’s not a MindSpeaker himself, and he may not have heard everything Altra told Kaoru.

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      2. There’s a Valdemar/Melusine crossover called Safe Now where the primary Companion character gets called out hard on his kidnap of his Chosen.

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    3. Ah yes, memory manipulation, it basically does not have a moral use.

      I once read a harry potter fic where the reason why purebloods are so stupid is because they remove the unpleasant memories after getting healed – so they basically never learned from getting burned.

      I sadly can’t remember mush else from it. just that it was in the context of Draco returning from the hospital after getting beaten up, only to return to doing the exact same thing that got him send there while his indifferent housemates didn’t even try to warn him because he didn’t ask.

      The only ‘good’ use of memory manipulation I can think of is teaching people, like in the matrix or like how the lion turtle teaches bending.

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      1. Yet, for decades, Xavier was seen as a hero, and the whole X-men changing the world so that people couldn’t record them wasn’t condemned as wrong, just poor writing. I honestly don’t blame Lackey for worldbuilding for a middle of the road fantasy series not standing up completely after three decades. I just find it interesting how the culture around it has changed.

        Maybe I just tend to try and take a bigger picture view after years of dealing with superhero mentalists, both on page and in game. Though it’s gotten more difficult as times change to have them be heroes(Heck, I think the only one that’s still mostly heroic is Martian Manhunter, who mainly uses it fairly passively and only to protect people.)

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      2. Those two are mind readers before they are mind wipers. removing people’s memories is just one of their abusable abilities, I think Xavier could straight up steal people’s bodies.

        I don’t read comics much.

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  3. You are really turning the screws today. I was not particularly happy with the last piece of this story. I thought “Kenshin is being way too saintly and Valdemar (all representatives except Karou, Sano, and Megumi) are being smug, obnoxious, flaming idiots.” But this addition proves the stupidity is intentional (to this story). Yes, let’s just poke the tiger with a sharp stick many times. What could possibly go wrong? He’s in a cage, right? I hope the beatdown is EPIC. Because the Valdemarians (and one Karsite cat) deserve to be hammered into paste and taught some manners.

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  4. …okay, memory alterations. Wow, because the current situation isn’t messy enough with everyone having all the facts. So how much is missing? Anything that connects youkai and hanyou to actual demons would me my safe bet, but did the overzealous horse also erase *all* their memories and knowledge of youkai and hanyou? Because that’s really, really not going to work, long term. Maybe if Kenshin was the only one and Rolan convinced him to scram, but he’s *not*.
    Also, considering everything he’s been through, I also vote that Sano should kick Rolan in the face, and ask Kenshin straight out if he wants to be his Chosen. Because seriously, Kenshin could easily say *no*, with everything that’s happened I don’t think he wants to be bound to any government ever again. And that would have solved the problem *without* all this ham-fisted (ham-hooved?) memory alteration nonsense.
    I agree with you about the memory alteration stuff. If the good guys are using it, it should be something that they agonize over, not something that is a matter of course. Mind-magic stuff in general gives me the creeps, one of my problems with Star Wars was how nonchalant the Jedi were with teaching and using mind tricks. (Forces self not to go off on massive rant tangent, grumbling all the while)

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    1. Thank you. Finally somebody else that sees the Jedi’s mind trick BS as something sketchy. I mean it’s deliberately negating another being’s free will for your own benefit. So why is it considered a Light Side ability?

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      1. Exactly! How is that *not* a Sith ability? Or at least a last-ditch thing that you should only use to stop mass catastrophe. I still wouldn’t like the good guys using it, but at least I could understand. But it seems to me that it’s more standard operating tactics, which makes no sense… although it does go a long way to explaining how Palpatine turned the whole galaxy against the Jedi, because if someone is willing to whip out mind control to solve a problem at the drop of a hat, how the hell can you really trust anything they say or do?

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      2. Because the Dark Side variation involves coring out the person’s brain? I’ve always kinda seen it as a sort of “oh no, we would never go _that_ far, so this is okay” sort of self serving justification. Influence vs. compulsion.

        I mean, in-universe I’ve always gotten the impression that Jedi were much more attached to “lawful” than “good” and promoting peace/civilization at the cost of individual free will would be right up that alley. I mean, if the ideals of freedom and tolerance were a big deal in the Republic, then the Separatist faction would have, y’know, been free to _leave_ the Republic. Not attacked with a clone army.

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      3. it is things like that, that are the reason why I find some Star Wars fan theories so damn interesting like these ones.

        From

        Tldr: there is no dark side, only the deep end of the pool

        and this one from cracked

        6 Reasons The Jedi Would Be The Villain In Any Sane Movie

        From

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      4. okay the links disappeared so I have to try again.

        respainey . tumblr . com / post / 142636216260 / jollysunflora-daxxglax-asgardreid

        cacked . com / article_22320_6-weird-ways-star-wars-had-us-rooting-psychopaths . html

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  5. This story has gotten me to look at Valdemar again (as in pick up the books for the first time in 30 years). Yes, the Companions are FAR too easy with the mindwipes, even for something as apparently innocuous as Bard Stefan’s last appearance, which was done by a generic Companion, not a grove born. I’ve skimmed Talia’s trilogy and read the last volume of Vanyel’s. Couldn’t take any more. Talia’s trilogy is especially full of stupid – did Vanyel’s spell turn off certain ways of thinking or is it Companions? My bet is both.

    and the shallow worldbuilding etc bugs me.

    What is their goddess’ agenda in all this? WHY not trust the humans, if you’ve got these beings to keep them straight? My fanfic writing family member says ‘not human, think differently’. But that doesn’t work with all the reincarnates. Said writer is annoyed enough to be plotting her own fic to have someone realize the Companions are sketchy as far as human interests go.

    Can a Herald repudiate a Companion?

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    1. It is implied that they can. There’s a part in Skif’s story where he is basically being tempted and told that he was only chosen for his abilities as a thief and that all love is is a manipulative tool, and Skif decides that if people giving a crap about him is deception he’d stay deceived. “You had to choose for yourself.” Is what his Companion said. I am blanking in her name….

      I also draw your attention to the Owl books, specifically the second one where it is implied that the main character was almost Chosen except she dug in her mental heels and mentally snarled that her place was here, in her village, as the local Healer. Her sister was Chosen, but it’s never made clear whether or not she was the original Choice or not.

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    2. 30 years of worldbuilding changes a lot, and the ideas around mental influence have also changed in the culture. It’s a lot scarier these days, when we know more of how that can actually be possible through controlling what info someone has access to and psychological dependency.

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  6. Note, the Magic spell is specifically Vanyel, not the Companions. It’s still incredibly stupid(and he admits it! It’s one of the few scenes in the Mage Winds books that don’t make me want to shake Elspeth.)

    As for Rolan…not only is he big picture, he’s very clearly different from every other Companion on the field. If he chooses, and they die? He picks another Chosen. He’s also basically “been there” since the country started. Which doesn’t help in this circumstance, because he likely remembers more of those fights between everything involved since the founding of the country then would make anyone comfortable.(The Pelagirs used to be a lot bigger. Which makes me wonder a lot about what happened to that one castle during the Mage Storms)

    And there’s likely more then a few gods agenda’s going on here. Which might be why Kero is involved, as well as Karal. (I think that Alta would have words backed with claws if someone messed with Karal’s memories that wasn’t the Sungod)

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    1. Oh I gathered the spell is Vanyel’s fault, and by comments here (and elsewhere) gather it’s blamed for more than he seems to have intended it to do. I’ve only read his story (sort of, #1 partially 30 years ago until it hit the wall with great force, #3 a week or so ago. He improved a lot.) So I’m not sure what it can ACTUALLY be blamed for, when all I know is what I saw in #3 of what he was set it up to do. But I *know* the Companions meddle with minds and thinking, so I’m blaming them for a lot of the stupid and blind spots I see in Talia’s part of the story and understand it’s basically all over the place in the ‘now’ of Valdemar.

      It’s that or the author just isn’t that bright or careful, which given the worldbuilding and what I’ve noticed over just 4 books in consistency/lack of, is also a possibility.

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    2. I suspect that was part of Sejanes’ reasoning getting Karal involved – he did know about the original protections against mages on Valdemar, he would have investigated what happened to them. Having another country involved in this mess might actually calm things down….

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  7. 1) Kenshin probably has at least some clue about the memory edits.
    2) The original Heralds would not have been raised to the position, and would have been in a better position to balance out alien inhuman weirdness. I don’t recall ever seeing the original Valdemar reincarnated as a Companion. One could speculate about internal Companion politics, the eternal recycling of the core Grove born, and whether the Heralds reincarnated as Companions are that subset willing to let the Grove born call the shots.
    3) I’ve got to wonder if Lackey wrote herself into a corner over the Companion political metastory. IIRC, continuing down the timeline would logically require tackling this.

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  8. I think part of it is that it’s hard to continue writing in a world you started almost 30 years ago, especially when the culture has changed so much. Especially on the virtues of consent, which is where a lot of this goes. I don’t think something like, oh, Kantor’s apology to Alberich could have been written and meant back when the series starts. Or heck, look at how she worked to deconstruct lifebonds in the Mage Winds and Mage Storm series!

    Heck, I remember reading both the Arrows and Last Herald Mage series right after they came out, the only thing people were talking about was she was treating homosexuals as people! The mental stuff never even came up except in a “ohh, that would be neat to be chosen.” way.

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  9. Aye for Mind control blowing up in faces! That does not include the (probable) fact you messed with KENSHIN’S LifeLine at this point in time. And kenshin -does- -Not- -Know- -how- -Many- -times- this has -happened- to his -people-.If you -WANT- !Angry¡ Battousai the Manslayer this seems a good way to get him.

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  10. No, Companions were always supposed to be a little sketchy in some of their behavior, as counterweight to the cuteness and the bonding and the supernaturalness. But the power of horse-love tends to overshadow that.

    Re: memory wipe as a favorite trope, it does tie in somewhat to the idea of some members of the older generation that you deal with psychological trauma or even grief by feeding a person lots of Valium. And they got that idea from the bestest cutting edge shrinks of their time. (You would be horrified if you ever read the treatment diary I read, of a rich and well educated middle-aged woman in the 1950’s. I was just sitting there horrified.)

    To be fair, there are times when a lot of sleep or deep relaxation is a good idea. But now we know that if you just sedate somebody, the sadness and trauma doesn’t magically go away.

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    1. Re: lifebonds, that of course came from the Elfquest comic series by Richard and Wendy Pini, which had a somewhat different concept than what Lackey later turned it into, but was pretty straight up about the disadvantages. The entire comic was about how the heck you managed to get along with someone, if you were bound for life but had nothing else in common.

      Everybody else stole from Lackey or the Pinis, generally without the disadvantages and with a lot of bizarre baggage.

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      1. My own personal “this is horrible ” one, was years after reading the Yellow Wallpaper and finding out that it was based on real practices. I haven’t been able to reread it since, given it already gave me nightmares before that.

        Though I totally recommend it, if you haven’t read it. It is a particularly feminine horror story and is public domain.

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      2. Elfquest reads a lot differently for an adult than a kid, I have to say. Especially if you first read it too young to grasp that they were actually talking about sex, and had the idea it was supposed to be some kind of weirdly implausible friendship.

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  11. A thing to be aware of, meta-textually…Companions are still living creatures. They are the /result/ of divine magic and frequently are reincarnated heralds…but they are not, as such, straight divine beings.

    Which is a problem partially because a number of them are so close to ‘just back from heaven’ that they themselves don’t recognize or acknowledge this, and partially because they don’t appear to recognize how much their own minds have been a little..bent.

    There are implications that the companions themselves, while they remember past lives, often find those past lives a little blurry around the edges…*specifically* around the more unpleasant personal edges. The rare exceptions that don’t tend to bond to the kinds of people – Like Kerowyn – who /notice/ when edges are being messed with. And often don’t necessarily get along with other companions who do mess with them.

    This appears to partially be because companions who come back are *very often* heralds who have been murdered…and whatever it is that allows them to come back ‘blurs’ that memory – and they are well thankful for it.

    However, there is another reason why this is a problem that may also be in play at this point:

    Companions are mortal and subject to the limitations of mortal society as well…and unlike their heralds, don’t have hands to write stuff down for themselves. And when you are a society which has a very *high* incidence – as Valdamar has for the past several hundred years, having nothing but middling-to-weak psionic hearlds and shareing borders with countries where actual dark magic is a thing – of /untimely death/ …small things like what your procedures for dealing with the spell that makes everyone forget about magic should be and limits for dealing with your chosen’s possible trauma and you know, /mindspeaking ethics/ be tend to get…lost. Or stretched. Or ‘best I can do because nobody *currently living* remembers why or how it should be done.

    In this sense their heralds are noticeably better at this than the companions themselves, but culturally, the heralds are taught to presume that the companions know better than the heralds themselves…except that, in fact, the companions however divine they may be are still fundamentally mortal and just as capable of making mistakes as their heralds.

    In theory the Groveborn should be a mitigating factor on this loss….but the current eldest Groveborn /himself/ is a /thoroughly traumatized being/.

    As Rolan lost his own herald, the former Kings own, Talimir – to murder. And – although Talia has worked wonders – there is one emotional time bomb she /hasn’t defused/ – because her companion has, somehow, managed to almost completely fail to deal with it at all, because there were so many important things to be done. He buried it, he worked on making sure he kept Talia alive, sane and happy and get her to be able to fill the role the Heralds desperately needed her for. And by the time she was up and /able/ to deal with it he’d been burying it for so long that it was an un-delt with dull ache in the back of his soul, and both he and his chosen have enough of those they don’t want to touch.

    Which isn’t the same as him not needing to.

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      1. Really? From the Arrows book, esp. #1, I got the idea Selenay had been Queen for at least ten years, more like fifteen. Which makes her marriage last rather longer than various discusssions and wiki entries imply. ( I’ve gone looking trying to figure our it Lackey was really that sloppy or what.)

        Well.. she was apparently strongly influenced by MZBradley, who was upfront about not caring about consistency. But I can’t handle it. My brain goes ‘but in book [title] you wrote….and that flatly contradicts…” and then I’m in nitpick mode and the book will shortly be thrown with great force. This made it a struggle to get through Arrows last week. To drag this back sort of on the topic of skeevy Companions: Starting with why isi Rolan making her forget she’s Chosen? and going on from there.

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  12. I wonder if it’s a mercy when the King’s Own Companion is killed with his Herald. In Vanyel’s story there was another KOC, named Taver. I suppose he and Rolan switch off when killed, and the stay in ‘heaven’ deals with the trauma.

    I have been wondering how Rolan could bond so completely with Talia when he had such a loss. Especially if I analogize to whatshername in the Talia story who lost her life bond and was basically bleeding out metaphysically. Until another lifebond came to life to close the wound. Even if it helps, the women had stuff to deal with. Rolan should too, if he’s that much of a creature.

    hmmm….

    ….you make a good argument, but I’m not sure I believe the Grove Born are as thoroughly critters as that, even if they are in bodies. But I’m not willing to read much more canon either, to see.

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    1. The Monarch’s Own Companion is different in that they are set up to go through *several* Chosen. There is a record of Rolan, during the Collegium Chronicles taking place at least 521 years before the Arrows books, had bonded with eight Chosen. Talamar also was kept alive after Taver died and bonded with Rolan. It is at the very least implied that for that to happen it has to be with a Grove-Born though. The Monarch’s Own and the bonds that happen are a bit screwy, like during Magic’s Promise a Herald who was *already Chosen* was bumped up to Monarch’s Own, with the bond being switched to the Grove-Born Stallion of the time.

      The main *problem* is that Grove-Born were never human. They are *specifically made* to be Companions, and have less/none of the usual limitations of a normal Companion/Herald pair. Which is why it was important for Elspeth to have a Grove-Born as the first Herald Mage in a very long time. Heralds are all about “throw myself into danger headfirst,” and until a regular school or system could be set up to teach Herald Mages how to *not die* the forerunner needed some powerful back up. Not important to the over all point, moving on.

      The first few generations of Companions were all Grove-Born, because there weren’t enough Heralds who’d died to have a sufficient soul pool to start reincarnating them, and then you had to set up the teaching areas to help Heralds prep to be Companions, and then you had to wait a minimum of one generation for all those the Heralds had known to die off. So, the original intent behind the Companions was the founder of Valdemar was worried about his country. He’d fled the Empire, and while *he* was a good king, and he knew his son would be a good king, he was worried that somewhere down the line that would change. So he prayed, and the Companions were the answer. Great, for the idea of Divinely Appointed Conscious, this is a wonderful thing. *So long as the only Companions were Grove-Born.* Once you start having reincarnated Heralds as Companions, it starts to get sticky. *Now* you are dealing with human bias, and until you get a larger soul pool, some of these are pretty immediate biases. Personally, I expect that it was probably a lot more then one or two generations, because we started with three Grove-Born. I’m guessing that to get a larger selection of sufficiently distanced souls was closer to three or four generations. Probably four, and that only after Companions started being *born* instead of *created.*

      Now, Companions are known to be 1) less fertile then horses, and 2) have harder times with pregnancy and birthing. Imagine a divinely created being who probably only had gender because mortals come with genders discovering the messy, painful, and sometimes life threatening reproductive cycle. I assure you, the newborn Companions were not the only ones in need of therapy. Given that we hear that Heralds and Companions are the ones reincarnating as Companions, and the first king was a mage, we can assume that there were spells cast in addition to prayers. If you postulate that the original three Chosen were all mages and involved in the working, then you have potentially two, maybe three generations of Grove-Born to start with. I speculate that four generations after *that* is when you start having natural born Companions. I’d have to read the short stories to be sure though, there are two set during the reign of Valdemar, four during the reign of his son, and two during the reign of his grandson.

      …Odds are, none of them get into the mechanics of the Companion Herd expanding from three to Lots.

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    2. Actually, it’s even worse. Talia and Rolan have the strongest Companion Herald bond seen in the books. Which means he was tortured right along with her in the middle of book 3. (Fridge moment I just had last night. )

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