|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Initiate's Trial.|
The siblings' father was conscripted to the True Sect's army many years ago, when Tarens was a toddler. The croft is nearly bankrupt following the recent fever deaths of their Uncle Fiath, Aunt Saffie, and two nephews, Paolin and Chan.
Role in the Story
|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from multiple books in the series.|
Third Age 5922: Efflin, Tarens, and Kerelie encounter Arithon on the road to Kelsing while traveling to the market. Theorizing that he might have fled from a nearby Koriani-occupied ruin, they load him into their wagon. Arithon wordlessly helps them set up their wares in the Kelsing market and receives Tarens' last silver. He then moves on to help others. The trio return home after a disappointing showing at the market, not realizing that Arithon has stowed away in their wagon.
Tarens wakes up the next morning to find that Arithon completed many farm chores during the night and repaid his gift of silver. He suspects that the silver was stolen and Arithon, sensing this feeling, produces a receipt from Tafe Aleman. Tarens and Kerelie argue over whether to allow Arithon to stay. As Efflin's fever gets worse, Kerelie sends Tarens to town for medicine. He returns empty-handed at nightfall after the Mayor of Kelsing puts their family on the debt rolls and the apothecary refuses to serve him. Overnight, Arithon forages for the plants needed to treat Efflin, which slowly increases the family's trust in him.
Tarens is working the fields when Grismard pays an unexpected visit to Kerelie. Tarens returns home to find Arithon defending her from Grismard's unwanted advances. Grismard is ejected but warns that the High Temple of the Light is searching for a minion of Darkness. Later, Arithon attempts to spell his name on paper for Tarens, who is scared by his knowledge of the old tongue. An argument with Kerelie is sensed by Arithon, who flees rather than have his presence put them in danger. The next morning, True Sect soldiers ransack the croft in search of Arithon but find nothing.
When Efflin's fever fails to improve, Kerelie finally relents and allows Tarens to call Arithon back to the croft. Arithon plays Paolin's flute for Efflin, instinctively describing the deceased family members in his music. Kerelie and Tarens realize that Paolin and Chan were Efflin's children, fathered with Aunt Saffie, and this shared knowledge is enough to begin Efflin's recovery.
The Lord Examiner, a diviner, and True Sect soldiers arrive at the croft the next morning to take everyone into custody (later revealed to be the result of Grismard informing the temple about Arithon's presence). As a gambit to protect Efflin and Kerelie, Tarens murders the diviner and takes full blame for harboring a minion of Darkness. The Lord Examiner invades Kerelie's thoughts and finds her innocent. After a cursory examination of Efflin's thoughts, he sentences the pair to one year of forced labor at the temple and orders the croft to be auctioned. He orders that Tarens be taken to Kelsing for trial, final confession, and public execution.
Tarens' escort halts on the way to Kelsing when a bonfire in the middle of the road snarls traffic in both directions. The scene attracts iyats and, in the chaos, the chains on Tarens are unlocked by a resonant whistle. Arithon rescues him from captivity and they flee in a passing cart. They hide beneath the stall of a mean-tempered bull to avoid regular sweeps of True Sect soldiers.
Tarens and Arithon escape to an abandoned root-cellar by hiding in a cart full of fleeces. Arithon conveys to Tarens what he remembers of his name in runes, but cannot bridge the gap between the "Ari" and the "n". Tarens agrees to call him Arin until a better name surfaces. His grief triggers a wave of prescience in Arithon that reveals the fates of the rest of the family: Kerelie will find skilled work in a quality dress shop and Efflin will become a clerk and marry a good woman.
Third Age 5923: To evade capture, Tarens and Arithon decide to enlist with the True Sect soldiers on the road to Valenford. Arithon's plan to be a clumsy nuisance to draw attention away from Tarens is hindered by fragments of martial memories that interfere with his focus. A reflexive catch of a thrown main gauche exposes his skills to the company and the soldiers tie him up as a potential escaped felon. Arithon tries to keep Tarens at a distance with harsh words, but the crofter is unable to look away. Tarens frees Arithon and the pair flee to River Silbern. Arithon recalls his mastery of Shadow and freezes the river, allowing the pair to cross over into the free wilds of Taerlin. Torn between a fear of Shadow and his loyalty, Tarens agrees to stay with Arithon until their pursuit reaches them, but he later binds Arithon to hand over to the True Sect.
The pair are watched by clan scouts in Caithwood. Before they can be killed, Arithon requests sanctuary in Paravian. The clan scouts are the first to refer to Tarens as Iyat-thos. Under Arithon's direction, Tarens is allowed to keep his freedom. Arithon creates a defense ward to prevent the True Sect from invading Caithwood, but Tarens succumbs to it as well. He is drugged by the clan scouts until Arithon can transport him away from the free wilds.
When Seshkrozchiel and Davien alter the resonance of the planet through their changes in Kathtairr, it unhinges Tarens' identity. Arithon's efforts to use music to restore Tarens span several days and attract the attentions of the True Sect and Koriathain. Tarens returns to consciousness after Arithon has been captured by fishermen, realizing that exposure to the flux and the prince's anchoring music have changed him from what he once was. He stows away in the fishermen's dory and relives the day his father was conscripted into the True Sect army. His sadness is eased by a shared memory of Avar s'Ffalenn which triggers the memory of Jieret's initiate awakening. Past and present collide, triggering a meeting with the long-dead caithdein. Jieret entreats Tarens to stand as defender for Arithon instead of accepting death, and offers the sum of his knowledge in support.
Tarens awakens with the full breadth of Jieret's experiences including his private ties of commitment to Arithon. He overhears a band of smugglers plotting to kidnap Arithon from the fishermen. They steal a fishing lugger and cut loose the dory concealing Tarens so the fishermen cannot give chase. Tarens rescues the dory and reveals the smugglers' plans to the fishermen, but finds himself tied up as Arithon's accomplice. When the fishermen finally catch up to their stolen lugger, they find it completely derigged with Arithon tied to the railing and the smugglers hog-tied on the foredeck. The fishermen stow Arithon and Tarens in the hold while they assess the boat.
Arithon and Tarens are claimed by a True Sect blockade ship. Concerned for the damage done by iyats, the armada captain opts to sail to Torwent rather than make the longer trip to Barish. Ashore, Tarens reveals his claim to Jieret's lifetime of knowledge and pleads with Arithon to fight back against their captivity. The prince uses iyats to sabotage the wagon transporting them to execution, causing The Hatchet to move the prisoners into his own chariot. Arithon ejects The Hatchet and gains control of the vehicle, using Shadow as cover for their escape. At the edge of town, Arithon pauses to extinguish the fires caused by their escape.
Tarens fails to convince Arithon to avoid an encounter with True Sect troops decimating a nearby village. Arithon reacts poorly to Tarens' use of Jieret's memories and insists on proceeding, using Shadow to disguise himself as The Hatchet. Arithon bullies a True Sect diviner and orders an abrupt retreat of True Sect troops to Tysan's border, saving a barn full of women and children from burning. Tarens leads them to safety, but finds that Arithon has departed without him. When asked about his name, Tarens refers to himself for the first time as Iyat-thos Tarens.
Tarens resolves to see the rescued villagers to safety and travels south with them to Fiaduwynne. When he mentions his Sighted visions of Arithon's fate to soldiers of Havish, he is taken to a tent where Dakar, Esfand, Khadrien, and Siantra are being held in isolation, due to Dakar's immutable prophecy about Gestry's death. Based on Tarens' memories and recent dreams, Dakar demands an immediate audience with the High King.
Dakar pleads with Gestry to change Asandir's standing orders in the face of a Koriani plot to drive Lysaer south into Lanshire. Halika argues that the protection of the free wilds in Elkforest takes precedence. In confidence, Dakar reveals his Black Rose Prophecy and the particulars of Arithon's blood oath. Gestry agrees to assist Arithon after Tarens reveals the prince's role in saving the villagers at Torwent.
After the meeting, Dakar discovers that the children have fled. Tarens volunteers to track them down, since he already intends to travel to Halwythwood. Tarens catches up to the children on the Paravian road to Rathain after weeks of tracking. He allows himself to be caught in their trap and realizes that the clash between the True Sect army and High King Gestry's forces is imminent. From hiding, Tarens and the children observe as Gestry taps his crown jewels against the True Sect. This action ultimately summons projections of all three Paravian races, halting the fighting and rendering many combatants senseless.
A centaur appears before Tarens, Esfand, Khadrien, and Siantra, trailed by the reborn Isfarenn. The centaur charges one of them to rise and bear Alithiel, then vanishes when Khadrien claims this duty. Feeling as though he has failed Khadrien, Tarens resolves to see Esfand and Siantra safely back to Halwythwood.
Third Age 5923: Tarens, Esfand, and Siantra reach Halwythwood by the summer. Siantra suggests that Tarens visit a croft to trade, giving Esfand time to report back to the clans alone. Tarens is caught in a snare while attempting to catch up, and clan scouts bind and escort him for a clan hearing. They are received by Cosach and Laithen at the edge of Halwythwood. Tarens delivers news of Khadrien's death in Havish, angered that the children were allowed to leave Rathain on their own. Laithen reveals that Khadrien is alive, sent back chastened by Asandir after losing Alithiel. After learning of Tarens' unique background, Cosach asks him to swear a guest oath of amity.
Tarens argues with Cosach to join the party sent after Arithon. The pair constantly test each other while waiting for word of Arithon's location. During a drinking contest in a glen near the Willowbrook, Tarens has a Sighted vision of Arithon standing before the shamans of Ettinmere.