CHAPTER ONE

X

THE DAY WENDELYN TERINAR spoke for the first time was her seventh birthday.

She had said nothing after the guards had delivered her to Norelbrech manor and into her father's care, nor when she was told at the tender age of four that she would never see her mother again. Barram wasn't a patient man, especially where children are concerned. He was put out that the child his imprisoned wife had reputably birthed turned out to be, instead of the male heir he naturally expected, a girl. The Lords of the Tower had withheld such information knowing it was doubtful he would pay the extensive bribes for a girl child's recovery.

To add to the loss of land and wealth, the girl Barram had wasted so much over was mute, silent from either dim-wittedness or the trauma of living in the brutality of the Tower. Wen turned out to be a shock to the entire household of Norelbrech with her silence, but even more so her unnatural appearance. Malnourished and pale her tangled mop of reddish gold hair was made even more alarming in it's contrast. Her eyes were brown and solemn as she stared up at her father, never saying a word.

Barram was convinced she had been damaged mentally and entrusted her fully into the hands of Jorith, a peasant nursemaid who raised many children and could keep Wendelyn out of his sight, thus he washed his hands of the whole situation, his only comfort that she did not possess the illness of her mother, the black conjury that had cost her freedom and life when she perished shortly after Wen's departure.

And so Wen grew up without knowing either her father or mother-- wiith only Jorith to speak to her. Though despite Barram's disparaging predictions she was not an idiot and was unsatiably curious about everything. She loved to play with her father's falcons and his horses, though she wasn't allowed to hawk or ride least she injure the beasts.

However on her seventh birthday Barram gave her one of the mountain ponies that he had bartered the travelling mountain folk for. She was so excited over the coarse little animal that she flung herself around it's neck and cried, "Erachnel!"

Jorith, who was the only one present was stunned, even more when the droopy, slow-plodding animal's head jerked up, it's ears swiveled forward and it nickered in a way that she later thought, appeared to be answering her.

From then Wen's silence was broken and she continued to talk animatedly to the animal, who followed her everywhere. Jorith had been nurse to Wen's mother and had seen her do the same thing as a child, and what it had done to her parents. She pulled the girl aside and told her to never speak in that tongue ever, it was treasonous, and her father would send her away.

Wen understood, she never forgot the Tower, what they did to those who were different. She hadn't meant to, she explained haltingly, it had sprung up before she could stop it. She wasn't Touched like her mother, it was only something she'd heard. Jorith wanted to believe her and so said nothing more.

Other than hiring a Tutor for morning studies Barram allowed Wen to do whatever she wished. Though Norelbrech was a vast castle it was old and rusticating and Barram never cared for frivolous clothing or furnishings that any other noble family would be accustomed to. Why should he when he never invited guests or visited the High Court. Wen grew up dressed as a peasant and as free-thinking as a boy having been given unknowledged access of her father's library. But that all changed on the eve of her fifteenth birthday when Barram passed away suddenly and without notice, leaving Wendelyn completely and utterly an orphan.


A/N: I've started a new novel and I'm not totally satisfied with the name right now (I'm pretty terrible at naming things, I guess). So, yeah, if anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it!

I know this a little rough, but please bear with me I'm working through the kinks. :)

-Saroo