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A Companion

Companions are highly intelligent magical creatures who look like (but are not) horses. They are as intelligent as humans. They are easily recognized by their pure white coats, bright blue eyes, and the sound of their silver hooves, most commonly referred to as the sound of bells. Companions are white because of their connection to Node magic. They draw upon Nodes to enhance their abilities, giving them extended endurance, greater speed and the ability to Heal themselves quickly. Aside from the Grove-born, Companions are reincarnated Heralds.[1] Only a person Chosen by a Companion can be a Herald, and the two become partners for life.

Companions also seem to have a deep connection to the Star-Eyed Goddess, much like the Firecats have a connection to Vkandis.

There is a list of Companion-Herald pairings.

The Choosing[]

Companions "Choose" Heralds, but the exact nature of the "Companion's Choice" is not stated explicitly. Heralds have described the moment in various ways: "being weighed and measured," "falling into [the Companion's] blue eyes," and "finding something I didn't know I was missing." The defining factor of one's Choosing seems to rely on the individual's moral fiber and where applicable, their ability to provide something that is needed by Valdemar at the time. The Choice bonds Companions to their Heralds into a mutual relationship, and the bond can affect both parties' spiritual and physical well-being. The Companion becomes a loving friend who guides, supports, and sometimes augments a Herald's abilities. The joining is known to strengthen the Herald's Gifts, especially Mindspeech.

The Choice is, for the most part, permanent; it can be broken while in its early stages, although doing so will physically and emotionally scar both parties. After the initial phase, however, the bond becomes so important that the loss of either Herald or Companion is followed by depression and almost always death.[2] Despite this, a Companion can break the bond with their Chosen if at any time, they believe the Herald or Herald Trainee to have become unworthy. This is called repudiation.[3] The most famous case of this was Tylendel, who summoned wyrsas to kill his family's enemies for revenge.[4]

Every Herald hears their Companion Choose them and identify themself. That might be the only time some Heralds hear their Companion. Heralds Sherrill and Talia only heard their Companion's voice when they were Chosen. Herald Sherrill couldn't communicate with her Companion at all after that. Talia was able to get feelings and impressions from Rolan.

Abilities[]

All Companions have Mindspeech and can communicate with each other, and most Heralds can mindspeak with their own Companions even if they don't have the Mindspeech Gift.

In cases of extreme urgency, Companions use the nodes to make short "jumps" in space --- an ability Yfandes describes as a "sort of Fetching" except with themselves and their rider--- which when coupled with their speed allows them to cover great distances in a small fraction of time.[5]

Some Companions can also enhance the abilities of their Chosen, feeding them energy from nodes and ley-lines. Rarely, a Companion might have some Mage or Healing ability.

The Grove and Grove-Borns[]

The Companions first appeared from a grove near the palace in Haven, seemingly in response to King Valdemar's prayer, though there are indications that the king, also a mage, may have cast one or more spells as well.[6] Though the first Companions were all Grove-Born, later generations were born in the manner of normal horses, with only a few Grove-Born appearing for special circumstances. The Companion to the Monarch's Own Herald is always a Grove-Born Stallion, and is considered the leader of the Companions. In "present-day" Valdemar (Reign of Queen Selenay), only three Companions are revealed to be Grove-Born: Gwena (Companion of Herald Elspeth), Rolan (Companion of Monarch's Own Talamir and later Talia), and Rolan's predecessor Taver (Companion of Talamir).

Gwena is the only female Grove-Born since the time of King Valdemar. She seems to have been "newly created" for the purpose of being the Companion to the first Herald-Mage in centuries. Being Grove-Born means she does not suffer some of the same limitations as other Companions. For example, not only can she feed Elspeth mage-energy, she can do so over any distance. There is no such thing as too far away from her Chosen.

Spirits, the afterlife and reincarnations[]

Though the true nature of the Companions has not been fully revealed, it is inferred they are both the returned spirits of departed Heralds and Companions,[1] as well as divine agents or avatars of the gods. The Shin'a'in goddess has specifically referred to a Companion as the "child of my other Selves."[7] Mages from outside Valdemar (such as Quenten and Darkwind) recognize the otherworldly, "guardian spirit" nature of Companions, but decide not to speak up, since the Goddess has clearly chosen to keep the Heralds oblivious.[8] Sometimes non-Valdemarans want to say something, but find that they cannot.[9] That being said, Companions take great pains to reveal that they are both fallible and mortal.

When a Companion or Herald dies, he or she is sent to The Havens, an afterlife "resting place" where they can recover from their recent life. After a time they are given the choice of returning as a Companion, with all memory of their past life intact, or to lose all of their old memories and become a human baby destined to become a Herald. Not all Heralds are returned from previous lifetimes, many are "new souls" who are then Chosen by the Companions to join the ranks of the Heralds.[1]

These spirits are not allowed to return as Companions within the lifetime of the people they knew to avoid emotional entanglements such as Choosing their own child, or revealing themselves to their former lover.[10] When they return as Companions they often use some variation of their former human name. For instance, Herald-Mage Savil and Companion Sayvil; Herald Tantras and Companion Tantris.

The Companion to the Monarch's Own "was always a stallion, and never seemed to age (though it was possible to kill him)"[11] and has the ability to bond with a second Herald if the Monarch's Own dies; as Rolan has Chosen both Talamir and Talia.[12] The Monarch's Own Herald is also subject to this; if his or her Companion dies, it is possible for the Herald to bond to a newly-arrived Grove-Born Companion.[13] Also, presumptive Monarch's Own who are also Heralds are only temporarily bonded to their first Companion; though the exact nature of this bonding is not explored.[14] The Monarch's Own Companion is not a reborn Herald; they are a true Avatar.[15] There seem to be several who take turns. Rolan was Monarch's Own Companion during the Collegium Chronicles and Brightly Burning, two hundred years later Taver has replaced him, and Rolan returns when Taver is killed in battle.

Music[]

I Found a Land

Sports[]

Over the years, several sports have been developed that are meant to be played on, and with, Companions. These include Kirball and Hurlee, both of which were either intended to be, or evolved into, training exercises.

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mercedes Lackey answered a question about the current Heralds and Companions on Quora on February 27, 2021: "All but the Grove-born Companions are reincarnated Heralds. Some of the Heralds are reincarnated, most are 'new.'"
  2. When mage Kilchas dies suddenly, his Companion Rohan is found dead by the Companions in a faraway field. Yfandes says, "Unless we die in battle or by accident, we’re Called, and we generally have time to say good-bye to our friends before we go."
  3. In Arrows of the Queen, Ylsa says that the last repudiation was 200 years ago. Arrows takes place in approximately 1376AF, so the referenced repudiation would have occurred around 1176AF. That is halfway between the Reign of Theran and the Reign of Arden and Leesa. Prince Gregori may have lived in this era, but Rodri did not repudiate him. ("Winter Death" by Michele Lang in Sun in Glory and Other Tales of Valdemar, Anthologies, Volume 2)
  4. Magic's Pawn
  5. Magic's Price
  6. Arrows of the Queen
  7. Oathbreakers
  8. Winds of Fate
  9. By the Sword
  10. Mathias seized re-incarnation against the rules in "Rebirth" in Sun in Glory and Other Tales of Valdemar, and was punished accordingly.
  11. Arrow's Fall
  12. Arrows of the Queen
  13. Exile's Honor
  14. Magic's Promise
  15. In answer to a question received in 2003, Lackey Mercedes Lackey said, "The Grove-Born are the equivalent of Archangels; spirits that never were human." The World of Mercedes Lackey website, "Ask Misty Archive - Valdemar."
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