Tes Alden, collector of words, rescuer of books and counter of objects, knows ze isn’t like everyone else. This wouldn’t be such a problem if everybody else didn’t struggle with it. Hir mother prays a run-down school in the middle of nowhere may be the best place to stow hir brand of peculiarity, and Tes has nowhere better to go.
Darius Liviu lost a limb and his lover in the hell of Mul Dura. He spent the last three months as a guest of the Greensward, crafting a jointed hand from elf-sung wood and trying to ignore the mutterings of the ghost that haunts him. Now, he returns to the College to take up the second-most dangerous job open to a magician: teaching.
Tes just might be a magician in the making, if ze can survive adventures in alliterative magic and hir own lethal curiosity. Darius, though, keeps a secret that makes the usual problems of overgrown rhubarb, basilisk hordes, verbose eldritch objects, shrieking purple monkeys and cauliflower explosions look like nothing at all.
The elves are coming, and nobody fears elves more than Kit March.
Shadows: Tes overhears March talking to Darius, ponders the mystery that is the Greensward and decides to risk the Left Tower in search of fabric.
Chapter count: 7250 words
Content advisory: Description of a near-emaciated man. References to previous/off-scene instances of murder. A conversation that is likely to confuse at this point in time. Tes’s code of ethics in matters of investigating other people’s secrets is likely appropriate given hir tendency to acquire unloved books, but that doesn’t mean it’s meant to be a positive trait.
Note the first: Because I can be from here to kingdom come pointing out that in this universe traditionally-gendered terms operate without regard to gender, I think I’ll just leave it as said that words like “witch” are as gender-neutral as “king” and “lord” and “sir”. Let’s just assume that words that aren’t “man/male” or “woman/female” are used as gender-neutral terms (and even then the aforementioned don’t always mean binary-gendered identities) and move on.
Note the second: I’m the kind of person who possibly goes overboard in attempting to “pay back” the people who are kind to me through whatever ability (including my craft) I possess. Tes’s character arc is about finding a healthier way to relate to others: yes, I love that we autistics are the kinds of people who’ll venture into a burning house (to paraphrase Temple Grandin, problematic in so many ways but right in this) but when one’s self-esteem is such that one ventures into a
burning house tower of flesh-eating gnomes when it actually isn’t required, that’s not autism. That’s a lifetime of awfulness become terrible self-esteem because of how others see autism, and it sad that ze/I feels/feel that way.
Aren’t human lives the shadows of the stories we share?