Her fingers touched the light and it was like she was falling. The magic enveloped her and her senses were overwhelmed. It was as if a million voices were talking all at once, in a language she didn’t understand that wasn’t transmitted by sound. She could feel its curiosity, poking and prodding at her mind, trying to understand her and communicate. It was simultaneously amazing and terrifying.
She wanted to put her hands over her ears, but it wouldn’t have done anything. It was like she was drowning in somebody else’s mind. She wasn’t sure where she began and where it ended. It was crushing. She wanted to run away, to reach back to Kevin and ask him to help her, tell him he was right and she shouldn’t have touched it.
And then it stopped. The weight lifted and the… entity seemed to become clearer. It vibrated through her mind like a pulse.
Who are you?
…Wendy. Gwendolyn Hayes.
That is not your True Name. But I feel your fey soul, below the surface. You are changeling.
Why are you here?
We need help. We need to help others by making a new mantle.
No, why are YOU here?
I… want to protect… the world, the people I care about. From people who want to hurt them.
One in particular. Even though you are angry with him now, he is the most important to you.
You need my power.
That is possible. There are enough of you to bear the load.
Is it dangerous? Can’t I do it?
No. There is always a danger, but you are not strong enough. It must be shared.
Tell me, little one, what do you need me to be? What am I to do for you?
We need the mantle back, the first one. We need a way to get it back, and keep it where it belongs, without hurting anyone. And when it’s done, when the mantle is back where it belongs, we need this mantle to no longer be usable, so that nobody can use it to take the first mantle away.
It is important to be useful, to be shaped according to the needs of many. But that is what others need me to be.
What do you need me to be?
What? I… don’t need…
All those who shape me need something, even if they do not know, or cannot say. Look deep and speak true. What do you need me to be?
Yes, I see. That is a good purpose to have.
It lifted from her, like a bubble bursting between her ears. She felt different. She wasn’t sure yet if it was a good thing. She hoped it had worked.