|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Initiate's Trial.|
The siblings' father was conscripted to the True Sect's army many years ago when Tarens was a toddler. The croft is nearly bankrupt following the recent fever deaths of their Uncle Fiath, Aunt Saffie, and two nephews, Paolin and Chan.
Role in the Story
|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from multiple books in the series.|
Third Age 5922: Efflin, Tarens, and Kerelie encounter Arithon on the road to Kelsing while traveling to the market. Theorizing that he might have fled from a nearby Koriani-occupied ruin, they load him into their wagon. Arithon wordlessly helps them set up their wares in the Kelsing market and moves on to help others. The trio return home after a disappointing showing at the market, not realizing that Arithon has stowed away in their wagon.
Kerelie is preparing breakfast the next morning when Tarens wakes up. They discover that Arithon completed many farm chores during the night. Tarens and Kerelie argue over whether to allow Arithon to stay. As Efflin's fever gets worse, Kerelie sends Tarens to town for medicine and accepts Arithon's help to move Efflin closer to the fireplace. Arithon proves unusually resourceful in foraging ingredients for dinner. Tarens returns empty-handed at nightfall after the Mayor of Kelsing puts their family on the debt rolls and the apothecary refuses to serve him. Overnight, Arithon forages for the plants needed to treat Efflin, which slowly increases the family's trust in him.
While Tarens is working the fields, Grismard pays an unexpected visit to Kerelie. Arithon defends her when Grismard persists in unwanted advances. Grismard is ejected but warns that the High Temple of the Light is searching for a minion of Darkness. An argument with Tarens is sensed by Arithon, who flees rather than have his presence put them in danger. The next morning, True Sect soldiers ransack the croft in search of Arithon but find nothing.
When Efflin's fever fails to improve, Kerelie finally relents and allows Tarens to call Arithon back to the croft. She remains suspicious of his actions until he allows her to see beyond her disfiguring scar and the false belief that she has no worth. Arithon plays Paolin's flute for Efflin, instinctively describing the deceased family members in his music. Kerelie and Tarens realize that Paolin and Chan were Efflin's children, fathered with Aunt Saffie, and this shared knowledge is enough to begin Efflin's recovery.
The Lord Examiner, a diviner, and True Sect soldiers arrive at the croft the next morning to take everyone into custody (later revealed to be the result of Grismard informing the temple about Arithon's presence). As a gambit to protect Efflin and Kerelie, Tarens murders the diviner and takes full blame for harboring a minion of Darkness. The Lord Examiner invades Kerelie's thoughts and finds her innocent. After a cursory examination of Efflin's thoughts, he sentences the pair to one year of forced labor at the temple and orders the croft to be auctioned. He orders that Tarens be taken to Kelsing for trial, final confession, and public execution.
While evading True Sect soldiers, Tarens' grief triggers a wave of prescience in Arithon that reveals the fates of the rest of the family: Kerelie will find skilled work in a quality dress shop and Efflin will become a clerk and marry a good woman.