This is an excerpt from Chapter 11, chosen at random.
Tasmae drowned in cold, heavy waters; bathed in fire; was torn from the inside. The whole time, images and emotions pounded up on her: anger and hate, despair and confusion, passion and ambition.
Make it stop! Make it stop! Makeitstop!
That’s enough! Her warrior self exploded. Gardianju! Tell me what this means. We don’t have time for this.
Too many signals, all in conflict. She hung by a thread over an abyss, but when she blinked, it turned into a padded pink box. She screamed and tried to climb.
The rope snapped.
Tasmae was again flung from the Remembrance, this time full of adrenalin. Taking advantage of her guardians’ surprise, she dashed from the room.
She ran through the empty compound thinking only that the walls were too close, the air too heavy, the shadows full of phantoms ready to ambush. She cried with delight to see the sun burning bright. She drank in its heat.
A unicorn waited at the door.
Despite muscles that felt bruised and hands that felt raw, she threw herself onto his back and let him carry her to an open field.
Once there, however, she panicked at being alone with the images left from the Remembrance. She couldn’t make herself go back, either. Leinad would take her, by force, if necessary, and make her complete the Remembrance. I can’t let him, she’d thought wildly, I can’t.
She couldn’t be alone, and she couldn’t seek out anyone Kanaan. Not like this. She was contaminated with the insanities of Gardianju; she couldn’t risk touching someone’s mind now. She was barely handling it, and it was part of her Talent. No healer would touch her, no friend offer comfort.
Her mind reeling, she slid from the unicorn’s back and sat upon the ground, legs crossed, arms wrapped around her stomach, rocking slightly. She didn’t know why she was doing it. She couldn’t make herself stop. The unicorn nuzzled her gently, sending a cautious query, but she didn’t respond. She was trapped. Alone.
Suddenly, an everyn dove out of the sky and landed beside her, wheedling its way onto her lap. No, sister, he told her. You are never alone.
Another everyn joined, then another and another, until she was surrounded by a dozen or more, until her lap and arms were full of small dragon-like creatures, their cheeks stroking her skin, wings enveloping her. Carefully, they teased the tortured memories of Gardianju from her, replacing them with affection and reassurance.
We are the first of the Greater Beasts and brothers to the animals; share the chaos with us. We can handle it. We have done this duty before; it is our God-sent Talent. It is our avocation, our joy to help you as our ancestors had helped other Miscria. Take our aid, sister. Accept our love.
They guided her through a cleansing, led her gently to Divine Love. Words floated through her mind: Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness…
She blinked, suddenly aware of her surroundings. Not only everyn surrounded her now: unicorns and some lesser beasts had joined the circle of love and support. A large, wolflike creature had shoved his way through enough to lay its shaggy head upon her lap, and she scratched its ears gratefully. Normally, they were solitary creatures, feral and sometimes dangerous. She thought she knew which images it had shared for her sake.
It tolerated one more scratch and took off with an explosion of motion that sent several everyn flying and squawking in protest. She found herself laughing, and thanked the beasts who had saved her from herself and helped her back to sanity. Then she closed her eyes again, gave her gratitude to God, and felt His love in reply. The words came back to her. Sometimes, the Miscria were given words, like the recitation to call the Ydrel. But these were not from the Remembrance, or from Deryl. Even the accent was different.
Joshua. Tasmae rose and asked the unicorn to take her to the human.