trials of the teldear
A crystalline being with amazing powers transformed the small animals humanity brought with them to their new world. Forming those changed creatures into a colony, it promised to nurture and shepherd the young race into maturity. More than two hundred years later, only a few colonists still inhabit their once proud underground city. On the edge of extinction, their elderly leader approaches the time of her passing. The trials of a new Teldear must soon begin.
Overview & Preview
A new Eden for humanity, and the resting place of a lost alien artifact. An intelligent crystalline being with amazing powers sought out creatures it could use to return home. Transforming the small animals humanity brought with them to their new world, this living jewel stone began the work of returning to its creators. However, the leader of the creators found the stone before its plans were complete, and with it, the new race of intelligent life it had brought into being. Forming those changed creatures into a colony, the powerful alien promised to nurture and shepherd the young race into maturity, leaving the jewel stone to guide them.
Then, the great war among the stars forced the creators to break contact, and the colony was on its own. Nearly destroyed when mankind found incredible weapons of devastation left by its ancestors, the shaken colony split into groups fleeing to ensure some of their number would survive.
Now, more than two hundred years later, only a few colonists still inhabit the Homesafe, their once proud underground city. With the colony on the edge of extinction, their elderly guide and leader, the Teldear, approaches the time of her passing.
The trials of a new Teldear will soon begin!
The moment was very near. Absorbed by the merciless silence of her own room, Dynaea Andromeda Traedar stood alone, staring through the mottled surface of a tarnished mirror. She felt her soul was achingly vacant, as empty to her as any word she tried to place upon the feelings pervading her being: grief, loneliness, fear. They failed to compare with what she truly suffered. For so long, she had been able to banish her emotional pain beyond waking thought, at least partially, but, now, the shortness of time demanded she not deny misery’s presence any more.
As if slipping by weary guards, memories crept into her thoughts and played before her. For the last few weeks, Dynaea had noticed a glazed, distant look coming into the eyes of the Teldear. Jessica’s white fur had seemed to gray and lose its normal sheen; her steps were slower, and her naps more frequent. The amulet, its deep blue stone embedded within a setting of gold, now appeared a burden to the Teldear as she went about her normal duties. Absent were the power and presence and assurance Dynaea knew as a little girl. Teldear Jessica seemed so much smaller, now, diminished.
Helplessly watching this deterioration happen was painful enough, but stabbed into her memory was a moment when Jessica had actually shown fear at the mention of “going to be with the Opulis.” A few days ago, Dynaea had asked Jessica about the Relinquishing, and the Teldear’s face flashed with emotions, regret and sadness registering, yes, but her eyes were tinged with brilliant terror.
Over the years, when Dynaea had asked about this time, Jessica had been so sure, so confident. “When that time comes, I will gladly go. Not because I want to leave you, but because I’ll know my work is done. I can go, knowing that I will be with all the ones who have gone before us. I also know that when we do say goodbye, it won’t be forever. One day, you’ll join me. Don’t be afraid. This time is as much a part of life as being born and growing up.”
The comfort of those words was now gone, chased from her soul by vivid remembrances of death – now, it seemed, a constant companion of her colony. Dark images raced through her mind: a great rotting carcass found in the forest, the bodies of slain animals that had attacked their fields, nightmares of her own losses, her parents. She had watched so many of her own kind, sick or injured, simply fade away as if carried off by the wind, carried off by death. Closing her eyes, she could almost imagine death surrounding her, trapping her, and finally overwhelming all she was with absolute nothingness.
A tap came on the wooden door, startling her free of the siege. “Dynaea,” the gentle voice of her grandfather, Asbel Traedar, echoed through the room. “Come dear, it is time.”
Only now did she recognize the tears that had rushed to her eyes and started to run down the brown fur on her cheek. “I’m … coming,” Dynaea nearly choked. She checked her appearance in the mirror; tired eyes met her view, and her fur seemed dull and matted. She could imagine the feel of the dirt from the fields in her hands, caked into her fur, just like the moment when her Grandfather had come to her yesterday to tell her that the moment they all feared was now here. “You … deserve so much more,” she thought as if speaking to Jessica. With painful steps, she walked to the door, took a breath, and tried to hold back her tears as she closed the door behind her.
As she walked through the ancient wooden halls of the Homesafe, an entire life of memories seemed to be vanishing within her. There had never been a time when she could not go to that peaceful friend and mentor for advice and consolation. Thoughts of all Jessica had meant to her and all she would no longer be cast emptiness upon emptiness. Approaching the door to the Place of Healing within the Homesafe, she felt like a hollow shell, robbed of all light, filled only with darkness.
Opening the door from the passageway, she looked into the room; its cool air filled her senses with an antiseptic fragrance, a natural substance they distilled. In the center of the room, bathed in soft blue light, lay the Teldear. The bed she rested upon was draped in ancient ceremonial cloths embroidered with strange symbols and pictures. Around the sleeping figure, a small group had been gathered – only those Jessica had requested.
As she walked to the side of her grandfather, Dynaea was, again, heart-struck by the change to the normally vibrant white mouse. Jessica had always been such a beautiful female – graceful, elegant, and petite. Now, she seemed to so ordinary, so plain. Dark aspersions tried to creep into Dynaea’s thoughts, snidely accusing the Teldear of holding to a baseless and purposeless faith, but she willed such heresies silent.
Admiration for all Jessica had meant to her and all she had ever done returned to Dynaea’s thoughts granting the sad brown mouse a feeling of warmth for which she was grateful. She held to her most treasured memory of Jessica: sitting completely entranced at Jessica’s feet as the Teldear told stories about how life was in the old times, when she grew up. “It’s over, now; she’s going to die,” Dynaea thought to herself in hopelessness. “There’s nothing anyone can do; not Grandfather, not Grath, not even … the Opulis.”
She tried to take comfort in her grandfather’s earlier council as she scanned the saddened faces of those around the bed. He explained to her yesterday, when Dynaea was unable to stop crying, that Jessica would not die. Instead, she would be transformed by the Great One, the Opulis. Dynaea had not yet been born when the last mystical transformation made Jessica the Teldear. In his story, the old Teldear lay then on the same bed Jessica rested upon now. After speaking his farewells, a bright blue light surrounded him, and then, he just disappeared, faded away. The stone appeared around Jessica’s neck, and from that day, she had been Teldear. Dynaea had heard the stories of the last transformation, but to her, now, they were only stories. For her, the only reality was barely breathing beneath purple and blue satin covers.
Asbel put his arm around the shoulders of his granddaughter. Quietly he whispered to her, “Don’t be afraid. Soon, she will be transformed and be standing in the presence of the Opulis.”
“If I could only be certain, I might be able to … bear the thought of her not being with us.”
“There will be another,” came the voice of Grath, a tall and nearly sinister looking rat. She looked up at him, for even his deep, whispered condolences commanded the attention of everyone in the room. His gray fur darkened to black along the sides of his face, and his eyes glowed with a commanding sparkle. “The next Teldear will be chosen from among us by the great Opulis himself,” he explained. “His choice will be perfect and final. Jessica will be living a new life in a transformed body at his side.” Grath, the leader of what remained of the military forces of their colony, the Asteravis colony, spoke with such certainty, such absolute finality, that it eased Dynaea’s fears a little.
“Grath?” The faint voice of the Teldear gathered the attention of all in the room.
“Yes, Jessica,” he answered, “I am here.” He stepped to her side and knelt.
“Grath,” she said with more strength, “my good friend, you have served this colony almost as long as I have been Teldear. You have served well. I see the Opulis choosing you to succeed me as Teldear. Promise me, that if you are chosen, you will protect our colony. You will … find a way to save us. Promise me, Grath, please.” Her weak hand reached out and clutched Grath’s arm.
“I will do all which you have asked,” Grath promised, “but when you greet the Opulis, please tell him of our great needs.”
“I will,” Jessica replied weakly, slurring her words. “The Opulis knows all – may send us aid if we are unable to accomplish survival ourselves. That is what I fear the most – not my death, but the death of the colony.” Her aged hands encircled the blue amulet still around her neck. As she gripped it, the amulet seemed to strengthen her. In a moment, she continued. “Be patient with your new Teldear, whoever it may be. Farewell my friends, my dear friends. I love you all.”
Bathing her somber and aged form in a blue aura, the stone within her hands began to glow brighter. The Teldear’s words began to echo as she spoke. “I, Jessica, have come to the end of my service as Teldear. Great Opulis, I ask that you bestow this mantle upon another, for I am too old to do what must be done. By your wisdom and power, Great Opulis, I am now … in your hands.” The small group watched with anxious wonder as the whole of the Teldear’s body became slowly engulfed in shimmering blue light. Dynaea watched in wonder as the aged form of Jessica blurred and became, for a moment, transparent.
The transcendent form of the Teldear slowly came into focus after a moment or two, and she looked down at Dynaea with a very deep and abiding love, a look that caused the mouse’s breath to catch in her throat. The figure before her was no longer aged, but young and beautiful, her fur again as white and shiny as new fallen snow. Slowly, the Teldear’s form rose above the bed and disappeared in a sparkling mist. Floating in silent luminescence above the bed, the stone remained for a moment, and then, it also was gone.
For a moment, no one moved, the magic and majesty of what they had seen overwhelming them with wonder. Dynaea closed her eyes and breathed, “Goodbye, Jessica. I love you.”
“She … she has been chosen!” Grath’s shout from beside her, startled and terrified her.
“Impossible!” the angry voice of Aldor growled through the room as the old, gray rat moved toward Dynaea in a blinded rage. Dynaea backed away, not knowing what would happen to her, for everyone looked as though they now hated her. It was only then Dynaea realized that Jessica’s amulet was now around her own neck!
Her Grandfather tried to get between Aldor and Dynaea, but it was Grath who quickly moved to hold Aldor back. “The Opulis must prove to me that he has chosen her!” Aldor screamed. He wriggled for a moment and escaped the big rat’s grasp.
Shoving Asbel aside, he stood, looming over the frightened Dynaea, glaring at the stone and its wearer. “You couldn’t be Teldear!” Aldor tried to snatch the stone off her neck, but blue bolts of energy sprang from the jewel with a harsh and angry crackle repulsing his hands. Screaming in pain, Aldor fell back. As he soothed his burnt hands, the stone sparkled like a multifaceted prism, brightening to an almost blinding radiance in warning, before sinking back into its normal soft glow around the neck of its new owner.
Gasping for breath and still trembling from the shock, Aldor glared at the astonished Dynaea. In a voice as strong as he could command, he growled, “The stone, for some unknown reason, has entrusted you with the future of our colony! Why? Why you?!”
Leslie, a beautiful young mouse with flowing brown fur, answered him as she stood. “It’s simple, Aldor. Dynaea has been chosen because there is not one of us who can save this colony, except her. The Opulis has made his choice, and as Grath said before, it is ‘perfect and final.’” Leslie walked over and gently put her arm around Dynaea’s trembling shoulders.
Aldor rang out in a blasphemous protest, “This … capricious stone, this device doesn’t have the slightest idea what it has done! The Opulis has nothing to do with this, if he even exists!” He scanned the faces in the room as he stood. “Look at her! She is a child and knows nothing, knows nothing of our past, nothing of the world except the fields, nothing!”
“Then, we must teach her,” Leslie asserted sternly as her nose angrily twitched, “about the past of the colony so she can save its future.” She looked down into Dynaea’s eyes and added, “our future.”
Grath spoke with confidence, his shock at not having been chosen appearing well under control. “I agree. Aldor and Asbel know more of this colony than has ever been written in any history log. They will be tasked with that aspect of her training, just as I will train her to grow strong in body for the task ahead.”
“Good!” Leslie exclaimed. “Let’s begin.” Dynaea’s legs felt shaky, like she might not be able stand much longer.
“Calm your excitement, my dear,” Asbel gently warned Leslie who was already attempting to maneuver Dynaea into a chair. “As wise as the Great Opulis certainly must be,” he observed, eying Aldor with an admonitory stare, “he must have the capacity to understand the need for rest and sleep as well as the need for diligence.” It was clear that any snide comments from the old rat would be unwelcome.
Leslie looked at Asbel who now gazed sympathetically at his granddaughter. Looking back at Dynaea and realizing the shoulders she held still trembled, she released Dynaea and nodded in agreement. Asbel asserted gently for all of their benefit, “Her education will begin tomorrow; it has been a long day and wearing upon us all. We will start early and work hard in the morning, but we must end today with sleep. Come, Dynaea.” Dynaea did not say a word and obediently followed her grandfather out of the room.
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Another great book by Mister Lewis.
Reader and Reviewer
I really loved this book and it worked flawlessly as a standalone spinoff from the Thurian Saga.
Reader and Reviewer
I couldn't switch between books before finishing it and I had some nights without enough sleep.
Reader and Reviewer
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The story a new Teldear!
Enjoy in paperback or Kindle eBook!