Heralds are exclusive to Valdemar, possess the highest quality of moral fiber and are selected only by being Chosen by a Companion. Heralds are called "The Arrows of the Queen," and serve the Kingdom of Valdemar and its Monarch as messengers, spies, information-gatherers, peace-keepers and civil marshals. They serve on "circuit," where they cover a section of Valdemar to resolve civil disputes, support the Guards in maintaining order, uphold Valdemaran law, dispense justice, and act as the representatives of the Crown. They also serve as leaders in times of crisis.
Fair, incorruptible, self-sacrificing, and above question due to the mystical nature of their Companions, the Heralds are respected throughout Valdemar and feared by her enemies.
Each Companion is destined to Choose someone, and most do so well in advance of reaching ten years age, though occasionally the wait can be quite long. (Yfandes was ten years of age when she Chose Vanyel Ashkevron, shortly after the death of his lifebonded, Tylendel.)
When a "youngling" or young person is chosen, the Crown may, if its family is poor, provide a stipend to cover the labor that person might have provided for the family. It is perceived as an honor to have a family member "Chosen".
Heralds are Chosen because they have the ability to contribute to Valdemar, or on occasion, because they have exact skills which are desperately needed by the kingdom at the time. There is often a certain wariness that is brought on when a large number of new Heralds are Chosen, as this means one of two things: that Valdemar will be expanding in coming years, or that there will be a significant conflict or trouble in the coming years. Both of which would require more Heralds. Historically, the latter situation is more common, especially when the newly Chosen possess certain Gifts that are more suited to battle rather than diplomacy.
Heralds are often chosen when their special Gift emerges; although usually chosen as young adults, a person of any age might be chosen. It is a violation of Valdemar law to prevent a Companion from accessing its Chosen.
Those who are chosen have at least one Gift which is psychic in nature (the Mage-Gift is special, and restricted in the stories to the Ashkevron line (including the royal family) after the 500 year loss of magic following the death of Vanyel Ashkevron); training completed at the Colleqium and through mentorship by fully trained Heralds, as well as provided by their Companion, enhance and develop the Gifts to their maximum which varies from Herald to Herald. Additional gifts may arise during or after the development of the first Gift.
All Heralds start as Trainees, and learn law, languages, weaponry, strategy, geography, science, survival skills, orienteering, horsemanship, surveying, maths, literature and sometimes specialist topics such as disguise, spycraft, or how to use their gifts in a specific manner. Trainee Heralds wear gray; fully trained Heralds wear Whites, a white uniform sometimes referred to as "Oh Shoot Me Now" due to its conspicuous and visible nature.
Past Herald-Trainees are noted as including assassins, spies, foreign agents or military personnel including officers, and a host of other unexpected things. Skif becomes the first Herald-Trainee to have been an actual thief, though Donni was an apprentice thief.
The average age of a Herald-Trainee is usually twelve or thirteen, though Trainees have been known to be as varied in ages as in background. After anywhere from three to five years worth of education, the Trainee is then granted Whites and sent out on an internship of rounds with a more experienced Herald which lasts from a year to two years. Exceptions are made for some Trainees, including the Heir-Presumptive, who usually undergoes a long term internship serving in Haven's Courts and other duties within Haven, and those who have certain special abilities which cannot be risked, including Herald-Mages.
Certain roles within Valdemar, such as being Monarch or the Monarch's special advisor (Monarch's Own) require that the holder be a Herald, thus a presumed heir to the throne must be "Chosen" to be an heir.
Heralds all form strong mind-to-mind bonds (called Mindspeech) with their Companions, even those who are not able to speak mind to mind with anyone else. The Companions use this to maintain a web of communications keeping all Heralds and companions linked.
Heralds are held to an extraordinarily high moral standard. If a Herald or Herald-Trainee does not abide by this moral standard, they will be hounded by their Companion until they fall into line, and one who does unforgivable acts will generally be repudiated by their Companion. This will usually be followed up by the Companion's suicide in some manner or another. The result for the repudiated Herald or Herald-Trainee is generally a wound so deep that it may mar the soul, though that is not assured, but it will also quite commonly leave the victim catatonic as a result, blankly nonresponsive. Those who are responsive, are typically insane to the point that they are unable to use any Gifts that they might possess. However, repudiation does not necessarily mean that one is relieved of their Herald status, as when Tylendel was repudiated, the Death Bell tolled for him, indicating that he was accepted by the Companions as a full Herald and should be buried with Herald's honors. One can assume that Tylendel was given this distinction because his repudiation and the terrible acts that caused it were in turn caused by severe psychological trauma.
Heraldic Gifts (with the exception of the exceptionally rare Mage-Gift) are the psychic abilities which result in the individual being Chosen. The 'power' which fuels them flows through mental 'channels'. In a Herald, at least one of these channels is open, allowing for use of a specific MindGift. Typically these channels open on their own, but varying kinds of trauma (mental as in the case of Tylendel Frelennye or magical as exampled in Vanyel Ashkevron can 'blast' or 'burn' them open -- moving the Gift from latent or potential to open and active, or close them, often painfully.
A Herald can possess anywhere from one to all Gifts in varying degrees of strength, but typically has one primary Gift. It is rare for a Herald to have more than three Gifts of any degree.
Although all Gifts require training to develop, a Companion can, in certain circumstances, deliver the training mind-to-mind to a receptive Herald although this is not routinely encouraged except when required to prevent harm to the Herald or others.
Noted Heraldic Gifts
- Animal Mindspeech
- Bardic Gift
- Empathy (Sensory/Projective)
- Mindspeech (ThoughtSensing and/or Projection)
- Mage Gift
- Projecting/illusion (causing others to see an image that is not present)
There are several specialized positions within the Heraldic Circle. These include:
- Dean of the Collegium
- Lord Marshal's Herald
- Monarch's Own Herald
- Seneschal's Herald
- Herald Chronicler
Herald-Mages, another form of specialized herald, are Heralds with the Mage Gift -- a rare gift of True Magic in addition to their MindGifts. A Herald-Mage might have a strong Mage-Gift and a weak MindGift, or alternately a strong MindGift and a weak Mage-Gift.
List of Heralds
The complete Herald list is available on another page.
- Take a Thief
- Arrows of the Queen
- It is implied that being connected, mind-to-mind, by way of Mindspeech, with another person at the moment of their death is an extraordinarily traumatic moment for anyone, but in the case of Tylendel, he was connected mind-to-mind with his twin and felt the murder of his twin firsthand. For this reason, one can assume that Tylendel's experience was far more traumatic than being connected to someone one does not know, and it is implied that even the act of killing an enemy by the use of Mindspeech (which is possible for those strong enough to do so) is highly traumatic on the individual who uses Mindspeech to kill, since the individual is still mind-to-mind connected to the individual at the moment of their death. Vanyel once had occasion to need to kill an enemy using his own Mindspeech; in the aftermath deciding he did not wish to ever repeat the experience.
- Magic's Pawn
- Bardic Gift is not a typical gift to have as a Herald, though it is not completely unheard of for a Herald to have a touch of the Bardic Gift in addition to their other Gift(s) (ex. Jadus, the Herald Bard).
- Shared MindSpeech between Companion and Herald has little bearing on the Herald's ability to MindSpeak others.