This is a story of Felurian. Lady of Twilight. Lady of the First Quiet. Felurian, who is death to men.
Where to start? So much to consider Her name? Her song? Her magic? perhaps her titles! Words that tell us what she actually is. Words that we can work with? Yes, minds over hearts it is.
A. Lady of Twilight is easy. This is where she lives, this is where to find her pool… somewhere about track purple on our Faen LP. She can go wherever she wants to of course, even to mortal, but she is the undisputed boss of the twilight zone. She is famous and immortal and very dangerous.
B. Lady of the First Quiet is more interesting. You could break it down in many ways, not least by suggesting that the first letter of her sentences is almost always written quietly in lower case. But I’m more drawn towards two of the definitions given in Chambers, namely ‘Before all others ~ Peace‘ Since she was there at the beginning of the Fae. She was a founding faerie, and before that time, when there was only one moon, ‘all round and cozy in the mortal sky’ she herself lived under that mortal sky as she once sat on the walls of Murella eating magical fruit in the days of peace before the coming of war to the Ergen empire. Murella is one half of the twin cities of Murilla and Murella and Felurian may well have been called a Lady there too, if she had even a fraction of her current powers back then, which seems likely. Among the early citizens of Ergen she would have had the powers to walk about like a tiny god. The kind of power that one achieves through naming.
C. Death to men is not a title as such, but it is nonetheless, true. She has sex with men and they die.
But what really sets Felurian apart from anyone else is that no man can resist her siren’s song and like the pied piper, they desire to follow it wherever it may lead them. When she sings her song with it’s enchanting lyric, all men come running, every strong man’s will shatters before it. Now this song has another magical property, you only have to hear it once and it stays perfectly in your head for ever. Dedan heard it re-told in a story that was twenty years old, and he repeated it back perfectly after just one listen. Her song had not lost one letter of it’s shape or form in all of it’s many tellings since and every storyteller since still has it stuck in his head where it has made it’s new home like a worm in a fruit. We hear it repeated from her own lips for confirmation and Kvothe takes the bait.
‘The sound of her voice was strange. It was soft and gentle, far too quiet for us to hear across the entire length of the clearing. Far too faint for us to hear over the sound of moving water and stirring leaves. Despite this I Could hear it. Her words were clear and sweet as the rising and falling notes of a distant flute. It reminded me of something I could not put press my finger to.’
‘I could not understand a word of it… Nevertheless I felt the draw of it, inexplicable and insistent. As if an unseen hand had reached into my chest and tried to pull me into the clearing by my heart.’
So the song and the words reminded Kvothe of something he could not press his finger to… and I can’t either. It pulls at the heart and overpowers the mind meaning that this is a song of Love and Desire. Possibly it has something to do with Jax beguiling the moon, possibly it reminded Kvothe of the time when echoed back to his mother’s lovesong, he sang before he could talk after all. Something tugging at a maternal melody would explain the lack of women in her victims, and a maternal instinct is present in all men. Adem men are not as good as Adem women… I don’t know, but something especial about this song of Felurians works on all men regardless. She exudes desire through every part of her being and it is a powerful spell to resist… but it can be done.
Whilst she slept, her eyes were shut and her spell was lessened, which would imply it is finite and that it is necessary for her to employ will power to sustain it. When she awoke, kvothe had used this brief respite to raise his own defences a little and eventually managed to retreat into the ‘heart of stone’, a kind of inner peace where an arcanist can collect his thoughts together and hold his ground in competition. But Felurian is powerful, and when she wanted to keep Kvothe from leaving she turned the spell up to full force. I could now quote the entire chapter97 to try and explain the scene to you somehow, but you can go do that better yourself. The important line is this though.
‘Felurian… her eyes intent as it trying to read something written deep inside me.’
As we well know by now, this means that she was attempting to read the long name of Kvothe like a heavy lettered book and thus know his heart’s desires and thus, control him. But Kvothe’s long name fought back and her attack instead woke his sleeping mind and in doing so allowed him to see the world the way that namers do, the way that Elodin does, the way that Taborlin the Great did. The angry bear of the sleeping mind was rudely awakened and through it, Kvothe saw the names of all things and all things shook to please him and all things were his to command, if his ‘angry bear’ proved stronger than hers that is. The power that lies sleeping within us all was now awoken in Kvothe and made tangible to him, power that has always been present but just awaiting it’s correct time to rise and come forth, and it’s time was now. Kvothe looked deep into Felurians eyes and their battle of wills was met. Kvothe was subjected to everything she had to offer and her weapon of choice was the power of her inate and overwhelming desire which Kvothe says ‘rose around him like a sea in storm’.
The Wise Man’s Fear~Part One
‘There are three things all wise men fear: The sea in storm…’
Now, this line is famously from Teccam’s Theophony and also famously used by Devi to describe the power of her alar when she and Kvothe are battling their arcane wills against each other. The winner of each of these contests with willful ladies shall gain absolute control over the loser and this phrase ‘a sea in storm’ is perfectly descriptive of the force of the terrible powers that are employed and unleashed during battles of this kind. I think we can align ‘Desire’ to Teccam’s words as being quite descriptive of this exact fear, not a fear of women precisely, but of the wise man Teccam’s (Selitos’) own very real fear of having his own long name tossed into an imprisoning maelstrom of anothers making without the power to resist and thus becoming possessed to the desire of another mind and lose the power to exercise your own mind’s desires (again!). This would be a very great fear indeed to any namer worth his salt and a worthy entry into the top three worst things to fear in the world.
Kvothe may have lost the sympathy battle with Devi, but in naming, the power of his sleeping mind weathered Felurians storm and swam through her raging sea of power to shore, and when she tried to read his name he had his feet firmly under him again and she instead found that he was in a position to read her own name right back at her.
‘First you must have control of yourself. Then you can gain control of your surroundings. Then you gain control of whoever stands against you. This is the Lethani.
Felurian’s name was written in her eyes, like four clear lines of song, and when he sang them out, Felurian was the one who’s power was broken.
‘I sang them out. They burst from me like birds into the open air. Suddenly my mind was clear again. I drew a breath and held her eyes in mine. I sang again, and this time I was full of rage. I shouted out the four hard notes of song. I sang them tight and white and hard as iron, And at the sound of them, I felt her power shake then shatter, leaving nothing in the empty air but ache and anger.
Kvothe now held her name in the palm of his hand and so could have made her do anything he so desired. He could have torn her apart like a butterfly, or strung a fiddle with her guts and made her play it whilst he danced. He could have made her Bite. Out. Her. Tongue. She was now just a puppet, a tool in his hand. He was her Lord and master and his power over her was absolute.
During this battle, Elodin believes that Kvothe spoke the long name of Felurian itself, which would be a very complex thing indeed and far too difficult for anyone to comprehend where to start, but sing it Kvothe did, because after all songs are what he does best…clever boy.
‘I doubt a creature as old and powerful as Felurian could be subdued with nothing more than wind But calling the name of a living thing, let alone one of the fae…The complexity alone…
To name a thing you must understand it entire… Some part of you did. Your sleeping mind.
If you’d known how difficult it was you would never have stood a chance of doing it.
Is this the ultimate level of possession? What could possibly be more god-like in power control than subdueing the most powerful of all others? Well there is a tiny flaw in this tinfoil theory because without a link you would be relying on your alar alone to sustain the control, and at naming levels you could only do this when your sleeping mind was awake. The need for normal sleep affecting the chances of successfully resisting a linked binding is touched upon in the books when the boys have to share watches to ensure they can cope with deflecting Ambrose’s blood malfeasance at all times, and it is not something you can do yourself whilst sleeping. And this sleeping enigma in regards to Felurian’s own power management Kvothe also discovered to be true in the Fae as he awoke before Felurian and found that he hadn’t been driven permanently mad with desire because Felurian, who is the radiating object of all men’s desire, was technically in hibernate mode and her control level was lessened.
How many hours sleep we need is up to the individual, Kvothe managed nearly five days awake once but was going a bit scatty at the end of it, but eight hours sleep is considered usual which makes up 1/3 of a day. And so the powerful Felurian is less obviously less dangerous in this down time and thus her rating in possession can never be considered to be fully 100% in control at all times, even if she held it on her target for her every waking hour it would still more like 66.6
It could be possible to get around this problem and achieve 100% perfect control if you had no need for sleep at all. Felurian is seen sleeping and so it would require a level of power greater than hers to hold a truly unbreakable binding. Such eternal unsleeping is the kind of power that would be only possible at a level above her own power in the scale of such things, we are now talking about the Gold Mark level of power, the mind level knowledge like that of Aleph… and Cthaeh… To them, the names of all things would always be theirs to command, and they themselves would be always switched on and awake to use them. And so anyone under their command must also be always ready, and waiting at all times held by their masters power over their name.
Outside of these two, unless I’ve missed something, nobody else could ever hope to hold such total control over their victim, even 99% would still require a sleeping mind to never sleep again and even that would still would be considered breakable by the mind of a god. A mere mortal man would never stand a chance in such a contest, it would be like a boy attacking a soldier with a willow stick. A common man would surely be driven insane at the power of Felurian, or Bast or any of the fae, and the fae are immortal to boot. Man doesn’t have the lifespan needed to defeat one or hold a binding upon someone’s name without cease or sleeping. Man can only ever be the tools that such powerful hands might control, not the other way around. If one of the fae ever gained power over a man’s name, then they would be held in utter servitude to them until they were finally bored and released and let them crawl away as a broken and maddened lunatic.
But another, darker, kind of Fae might decide to use a name harshly, like the one who possessed the mercenary in the Waystone Inn. Such a foe might wish to use you as a tool he could wield from a distance, a tool to walk the land looking… until finally this tool of choice reaches it’s limits and is overpowered unto breaking point whilst still trying to follow it’s masters wishes, even as it is smashed to a lifeless pulp by iron bars. Perhaps some tiny spark of the original mind might still remain before it snaps, a link needs two ends after all, one tied to the victims name, the other held fast whilst the controller had its sport with the body until the limits of flesh are reached and the link, like the tool, is broken. A man thus controlled would endure a lifetime of torment spent with his very name bound to somebody else’s desire. And every day until the day he died would be spent as a tool in their masters hand. Nothing More.
Eventually though, every tool will break. That is the fate of all tools. It’s like our wise tinker said of a knife…
Best knife you ever own until it breaks, but then I guess that’s true of all knives.
But Lanre is not like other men. no door may bar his passing and thus Lanre cannot sleep, cannot die, cannot forget, and cannot go mad. If his was the name that was possessed by another then his body would be a tool which can never break… Period.