When the nights were their darkest and the moon and stars were hidden from view, she tried to remember the first time she had seen the stars from the tower windows. No matter how long she tried, the memory would never come. In the years that came after, there were times too numerous to count and she had long since stopped trying.
At five, Teza had climbed atop another girl's bed to so she could reach one of the small windows and stare out into the night. The air had been cool and the breeze on her face felt like freedom. But when she stared out too long the empty night started to look like a black abyss that she could fall into at any moment and she had quickly scrambled back inside for fear of toppling in.
Something about all her life in the Kinloch tower still felt like that, even more than a decade later. As though at any moment she might fall out of that window and tumble down into the silent darkness, crashing beneath the still waters that lay below.
One of the Enchanters told her that she had shown up on the docks just across Lake Calenhad as a toddler, old enough to walk and talk, but little more. They didn’t know for sure how old she was and nothing had been left with her that would tell them. Only three things were certain to them: that her name was Teza - as it was of the only things she could say clearly, that her pointed ears clearly hinted at her parentage, and that the tiny sparks that emanated from her fingers when she clapped excitedly said exactly why she had been left for them.
She had been far too young to remember any of that. They celebrated the day of her arrival as the day of her birth, not that there was much celebrating involved for anything in the tower. And it was really only important to her in that it marked the passing of the days and the weeks and the years she spent waiting for a different life to begin.
Kids as young as Teza were rare in the tower, so when she was six and a young girl with dark skin and a mop of curly hair showed up that was just her age, they became quick friends. Jeanne knew her family, could pass letters to them if the templars let her, and she remembered bits of her life at home. Some nights they would lay in one of their bunks, toes pressed to toes with heads at opposite ends, and Jeanne would recount her memories. Teza thought when Jeanne recited them all, one after the other, that her voice sounded like a chant or a prayer the templars repeated in the chapel; things said out of love and reverence. It was as though Jeanne thought if she said them often enough, faithfully enough, one day she would get to go home again.
When they were eight, she and Jeanne helped each other up to the ledge just inside one of the large windows high up in the tower. They opened it, but sat just inside and watched the rain as the wind turned it sideways and drove it past the tower in thick sheets. She fell in love with the the rain then, with Jeanne's dark hand held in hers, and both of them laughing when the wind changed and drove the rain inside soaking their robes completely.
Teza found she loved nearly everything about the rain, the way it sounded against the tower’s walls, as though it might break each stone down into pieces so small there was nothing left to keep anyone within. The way the sky turned dark and grey and menacing was a reminder that there was a world somewhere beyond the tower walls where other people lived, and like her, they too could be drenched from head to toe if they stood outside too long. The rain could beat against her skin, the sensation not unlike the tingle of magic that sizzled underneath each time she readied a spell; it evened her out, trouble inside and out.
It wasn’t that they meant to make trouble, she and Jeanne, but invariably they found themselves in it: exploring parts of the tower forbidden to the children, searching the kitchen for snacks after mealtimes, in the library reading spells that were far more advanced what any pair of eight year old girls should be capable of. So yes, the rain knew her, and she it. The bright flashes of lightning through the sky were nothing different than the sparks that still came from her hands when she was too excited to remember control. And the booms of thunder were the hammer beats of her heart on the days she feared would be the day the templars took her and branded a sunburst on her forehead.
Then the rain would come again to wash away her fears. It would be quiet at first, small drops beading on tan skin when she stuck her arms out open windows. She would press her face near the glass and inhale the breeze that brought her smells from other parts of Ferelden. If she closed her eyes and remembered her lessons and the brightly colored maps tacked to the walls of First Enchanter Irving’s office, she thought she could place each scent. Rich pine from the forests sent by peoples that looked like her, but that she’d never seen and likely never would. The tang of metal and coins exchanged in cities in every direction, places full of people that were free to come and go in the sunshine as they pleased. Earth and stone from the stout dwarves near the Frostbacks. She had never seen a mountain before, but like the rain, she knew the snow too, and supposed she might like it there very much.
It wasn’t a girlish dream that she clung to, imaging the day she might escape the tower. For the teachers and templars had already instructed her she couldn’t trust her dreams. But she hoped. Hoped that one day, the templars might trust her enough to let her out into the garden to pick a flower or that she could wander free through the hallways and the gardens, or swim in the lake somewhere far, far below her feet. Hope was her version of Jeanne’s litany of memories from home. Hope was her fuel, her fire, like the sparks under her skin and the rain that leaked in from badly sealed windows. Hope that she was more than just Teza, the elven girl locked in the stone tower.