Polgara the Sorceress

Page 6

At first, Beldaran and I were identical twins and as close as that term implies. When mother’s thought woke us, however, she rather carefully began to separate us. I received certain instruction that Beldaran didn’t, and she received lessons that I didn’t. I think I felt that wrench more keenly than Beldaran did. She knew her purpose; I spent years groping for mine.

The separation was very painful for me. I seem to remember reaching out to my sister and saying to her in our own private language, ‘You’re so far away now.’ Actually, of course, she wasn’t. We were both still confined in that small, warm place beneath mother’s heart, but always before our minds had been linked, and now they were inexorably moving apart. If you think about it a bit, I’m sure you’ll understand.

After we awoke, mother’s thought was with us continually. The sound of it was as warm and comforting as the place where we floated, but the place nourished only our bodies. Mother’s thought nourished our minds – with those subtle variations I previously mentioned. I suspect that what I was and what I have become is the result of that womb-dark period in my life when Beldaran and I floated in perfect sisterhood – until mother’s thought began to separate us.

And then in time there was another thought as well. Mother had prepared us for that intrusion upon what had been a very private little world. After my sister and I had become more fully aware and conscious of our separation and some of the reasons for it, Aldur’s thought joined with hers to continue our education. He patiently explained to us right at the outset why certain alterations were going to be necessary. My sister and I had been identical. Aldur changed that, and most of the alterations were directed at me. Some of the changes were physical – the darkening of my hair, for example – and others were mental. Mother had begun that mental division, and Aldur refined it. Beldaran and I were no longer one. We were two. Beldaran’s reaction to our further separation was one of gentle regret. Mine was one of anger.

I rather suspect that my anger may have been a reflection of mother’s reaction when my vagrant father and a group of Alorns chose to slip away so that they could go off to Mallorea to retrieve the Orb Torak had stolen from the Master. I now fully understand why it was necessary and why father had no choice – and so does mother, I think. But at the time she was absolutely infuriated by what, in the society of wolves, was an unnatural desertion. My somewhat peculiar relationship with my father during my childhood quite probably derived from my perception of mother’s fury. Beldaran was untouched by it, since mother wisely chose to shield her from that rage.

A vagrant and somewhat disturbing thought just occurred to me. As I mentioned earlier, father’s educational technique involves questioning and argumentation, and I was probably his star pupil. Mother teaches acceptance, and Beldaran received the full benefit of that counsel. In a strange sort of way this would indicate that I’m my father’s true daughter, and Beldaran was mother’s.

All right, Old Wolf. Don’t gloat. Wisdom eventually comes to all of us. Someday it might even be your turn.

Mother and the Master gently told my sister and me that once we were born, mother would have to leave us in the care of others so that she could pursue a necessary task. We were assured that we would be well cared for, and, moreover, that mother’s thought would be with us more or less continually, even as it had been while we were still enwombed. We accepted that, though the notion of physical separation was a little frightening. The important thing in our lives from the moment that our awareness had awakened, though, had been the presence of mother’s thought, and as long as that would still be with us we were sure that we’d be all right.

For a number of reasons it was necessary for me to be born first. Aldur’s alterations of my mind and my personality had made me more adventurous than Beldaran anyway, so it was natural for me to take the lead, I suppose.

It was actually an easy birth, but the light hurt my eyes right at first, and the further separation from my sister was extremely painful. In time, however, she joined me, and all was well again. Mother’s thought – and Aldur’s – were still with us, and so we drowsed together in perfect contentment.

I’m assuming here that most of you have read my father’s ‘History of the World’. In that occasionally pompous monologue he frequently mentioned ‘The humorous old fellow in the rickety cart’. It wasn’t long after Beldaran and I were born that he paid us a call. Although his thought had been with us for months, that was the first time we actually saw the Master. He communed with us for a time, and when I looked around, a sudden panic came over me.

Mother was gone.

‘It’s all right, Polgara,’ mother’s thought came to me. ‘This is necessary. The Master has summoned one who’ll care for you and your sister. That one is short and twisted and ugly, but his heart’s good. It’ll be necessary to deceive him, I’m afraid. He must believe that I’m no longer alive. No one – except you and Beldaran – must know that it’s not true. The one who sired you will return soon, but he still has far to go. He’ll travel more quickly without the distraction of my presence.’

And that’s how uncle Beldin entered our lives. I can’t be entirely sure what the Master told him, but he wept a great deal during those first few days. After he got his emotions under control, he made a few tentative efforts to communicate with my sister and me. To be honest about it, he was woefully inept right at first, but the Master guided him, and in time he grew more proficient.

Our lives – my sister’s and mine – were growing more crowded. We slept a great deal at first. Uncle Beldin was wise enough to put us in the same cradle, and as long as we were together, everything was all right. Mother’s thought was still with us – and Aldur’s – and now uncle Beldin’s, and we were still content.

My sister and I had no real sense of the passage of time during our first few months. Sometimes it was light and sometimes dark. Beldin was always with us, though, and we were together, so time didn’t really mean very much to us.

Then, after what was probably weeks, there were two others as well, and their thought joined with the ones which were already familiar. Our other two uncles, Beltira and Belkira, had entered our lives.

I’ve never fully understood why people have so much difficulty telling Beltira and Belkira apart. To me, they’ve always been separate and distinct from each other, but I’m a twin myself, so I’m probably a little more sensitive to these variations.