Actions

Work Header

The Eaten One

Work Text:

In years to come, Tenar will look back on her days here at the Place, will see the years of her youth with a certain longing. She will not regret leaving the Tombs, will not say to herself that her life was better as the Eaten One. She will always think that Ged was right, that the Nameless Ones are unworthy of human worship, of human love. Yet the memory of Their dark hatred will wake her at night for many years, and she will feel the urge to beg forgiveness, to return to the deep places that no longer exist. She will look back all the same, to a time when she had great certainty, and was sure of the regard of her Masters. She will look back to a time when she knew faith, and friendship and love.

In years to come, when the wizard people of Gont call her the White Spider, Tenar will remember when she had no name. Now she is Arha, the Eaten One, then she will be Goha. Only for a small space of time is she Tenar. Only one person will call her that. She will not regret her ordinary life, for ordinariness is all she will crave. She will not regret her husband, her son, and her daughter. She will love them greatly. But she will learn that women are not highly regarded in the Inner Lands; that they have a set place in life as a man's mother, or wife, or unmarried sister. She will learn that women's power and women's magic are bywords for evil. She will learn that the most highly regarded and feared of men will have nothing to do with women. The man she will come to love is one such. When she truly realises that, she will throw herself into ordinary life.

Tenar will look back at her years at the Place, and see that ever afterwards she has been an outsider. She will have the wrong coloured skin, and will never be unnoticeable. She will be too tall, especially on Gont. She will have strange ideas about the worth and capabilities of women. She will believe in souls. She will not laugh at jokes about the Kargad Lands, but will soon enough learn to stop saying 'Kargad Empire'. She will always have a harsh Kargish accent. She will be the White Spider, and not as Ged promised the White Lady. She will not mind that, for spiders are industrious and useful creatures, and ladies she will think are mere ornaments for the Archipelagan men.

She will look back at the years on Atuan and remember she had a friend. She will hope Penthe did run away from the Place, did find the life she wanted. She will tell herself that Penthe found a wandering minstrel who took her away and loved her fiercely. She will be sure he was not a man from the Inner Lands, but was a tall Kargish man who knew women's worth. She will remember Manan too, but will try not to, for she will cause his death. She will weep at night when she thinks how she made his life difficult, though he loved her as a daughter, how she jeered at him for not being a full man. She will hear his gentle voice in her dreams, always. She will tell herself he felt no betrayal, but she will know herself for a liar.

She will always remember Penthe, tall and plump and cheerful. She will hear Penthe's laughter every time her husband disciplines their daughter for her overly free tongue. She will see Penthe's bare feet balancing on the Wall around the Place when she goes out to milk the goats. She will see Penthe's hands spinning the worst thread imaginable when she teaches her daughter the working of wool. She will see Penthe's back striped with cane marks when she stops her husband beating their son. She will think of Penthe dancing for the rites of the God-King when she watches her neighbours in their Long Dance. She will see their happy faces, and think of Penthe's face, scared and enthralled as she watches Arha practice the Dance of the Dark of the Moon, throwing and catching the little knife. She will feel the tremble in Penthe's hands as she pushes the hair back from Arha's face slowly and carefully, when Arha brings her into the Small House.

In years to come, the woman whom no one will call Tenar will look back at the nameless girl Arha and will wish she could tell her to take a different person's hand when she ran. But that will be in years to come, not now. She does not yet realise how much she has to lose.