writing meme, BEFORE THE BEGINNING
The andhar of children, fluid and chaotic, could not really be considered in the same light as the andhar of grown mages. It was not even entirely their own, fusing easily with those nearest to them. Scholars suggested that about half of all Elentian children formed a spontaneous bond of this kind, to a parent or parent of the blood, brother or sister, nurse or close friend. Regardless of the object, Elentian law agreed that it could not be permitted to persist; all bonds must be severed in childhood.
Princess Evadne knew this. Though she’d never bonded to anyone, her mother and several of her cousins had, and in due course been severed with no ill effects. It was both law and custom. And yet as she watched Lyssaré holding Val in her small arms, smiling happily into his face, something in her recoiled.
“Not yet,” she said; Val, still an infant, might be harmed by so invasive a procedure. Everyone considered this a reasonable point. The severing of the very young was often delayed for that very reason. By the time he was four and Lyssaré eight, however, the enquiries began again.
A good age, said the Queen; the Duchess of Kyristeia, subtler, merely remarked that the princess seemed very devoted. But Evadne, watching her little children together, could only say again—not yet.
At ten, Lyssaré was to begin her education at the Collegium of Athian-Llyrende, with all the other children of empresses and queens and great ladies. It must be done before then, Evadne promised herself. The law put down twelve as the absolute latest, and nobody had pushed it so far. But at ten, Lyssaré left promising her brother that her absence would not be so bad. They could still hear each other, even if they could not see, and though six-year-old Val sobbed when she passed out of sight, it seemed to console him.
Perhaps then would have been the best time; distance always weakened attachments of this kind. But there seemed a dishonesty in that. And so a year passed, and nearly all of another. Lyssaré’s twelfth birthday drew nearer. And so Evadne took her children to the pleasant estate she had inherited from her grandmother, to do the thing in something like privacy. It would be harder now; she had been foolish.
When the attack came and flames swallowed up her wards, she could only thank the gods for her folly.