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Question: Fade Back


August 10, 2016 by Lyn

Inventrix asks:
Is it possible for a Faded to ever become un-Faded?

Regine answers::

That is, sadly, more a question of definition than one with a concrete scientific answer. It comes down to pinpointing what makes someone “Faded” and at what point they actually Fade, as it were, into humanity.

In the time in which Linden-Blossom was coming into Adulthood, for instance, if a child did not Change by their seventeenth birthday, they were considered lost into humanity. Of course, in those days, a child whose Change was not one of the three accepted pure-breed Changes was considered flawed, something in status between humanity and a pet, and never allowed to earn an Adult Name.

Only in recent centuries have halfbreeds been considered a full part of Ellehemaei society. I believe this was mostly a bowing of the Elders to clear trends: the longer we breed with humans, the more halfbreeds we will continue to produce. I don’t believe any of the truly elder Ellehemaei will ever acknowledge the far more important truth of those they want to dismiss as barely better than animals: the halfbreeds are far more versatile than the full-bloods, and far more numerous to boot (matings with humans, Faded, and half-breeds, in that order, are far more likely to produce offspring than breeding with another full-blooded Ellehemaei).

Working with a definition of “Faded” that included halfbreeds, one can say “no.” A halfbreed will never become a fullblooded Ellehemaei; one only goes through one Becoming.

But looking at the question as I believe you actually meant it, one would have to pinpoint when one actually becomes “Faded,” which is trickier than one would think. It is, after all, not a fixed point but a continuum: some Faded are for all extents and purposes human, except that they carry as a recessive gene that for Ellehemaei. Some have some small innate power – people who see auras, or who can taste energy, or predict the future with some degree of accuracy, for instance – but no physical Changes. Some have physical Changes but no ability to use Words; some can use Words but have never gone through any Becoming.

In short, in modern parlance, “Faded” refers to anyone who does not have at least two of the following: the ability to use Words, a physical Change, and some sort of innate magic. As to when someone can be called “Faded,” therein lies another question.

We are only now beginning to understand all the factors that provoke a Becoming. Clearly, proximity to others who have Changed has something to do with it, and the greater numbers of Ellehemaei, the better chance of Changing. The genetic factors are still not entirely predictable, and having a full-Blooded parent doesn’t seem to make one more likely to Change early than having a Faded or halfblood parent.

And as for “early:” we have enough of those with predictive abilities that we can usually gauge to within a school year when a student will Change. If they are reaching their eighteenth birthday and still haven’t, there becomes more concern that they won’t. Those students – those like Mark, Adrian, and Ardell – who show no signs of Changing by then are those we believe would Fade without our intervention.

And therein lies the question: were they Faded, and came back from that state, or were they simply late bloomers? Is a Faded – always or sometimes – merely one who hasn’t been given the proper stimulus to undergo the Becoming? And if it is a matter of “sometimes,” what factors determine this? We have, on two separate occasions, had a Faded visit our Village – in one case, the woman was in her mid-twenties; in the other, the man was thirty-three – who underwent spontaneous Becoming. And, of course, Ambrus was over 18 when he Changed.

The answer to your question becomes “we don’t know,” because we cannot yet pinpoint the moment one becomes Faded.


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