In the first part of the third chapter of “On Ordeal: Ronan,” Ronan discovers that his “normal” life isn’t going to be normal for a long, long time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For talk of anxiety
I’m remembering Nina’s own introduction to wizardry long ago (I FEEL LIKE I STARTED THIS SERIES A BILLION YEARS AGO), and I don’t think it was quite like the flood that Ronan experiences here. Which makes sense! Wizardry looks differently to everyone, you know? And in Ronan’s case, he’s also a little older than most of the other young wizards who were granted wizardry, and his predicament is so vastly different. I would like to propose a theory: Ronan’s anxiety absolutely affected how wizardry appeared to him.
Everyone’s mind is different, okay, and wizardry is deeply specific. On top of that, it appears to Roland amidst a particularly tense day while he’s hiding from the dread and existential torment of his life. As someone with LOTS of anxiety, I know how it can feel like there’s a flood in the mind, a torrent that spreads to all parts of the body as my brain obsesses over all the terrible possibilities that won’t actually happen, but I’ve convinced myself will happen. So this felt like a fitting analogue for the experience, just transferred to wizardry. When Ronan looks at anything, he doesn’t slowly begin to understand that thing through wizardry. It’s a DELUGE of information that pummels him. That happens with the cold virus; when he watches television; and especially when he turns on the sink in the bathroom:
…he went off to the loo—and got the shock of his life when he turned on the faucet to get a glass of water first, and the stream form the cold water faucet immediately started shouting Water water water cold hard wiggly tubes pressure (Navier-Stokes equations) exciting wheee!
Okay, that’s a little funny, but goddamn, it’s also so overwhelming. He is inundated with information, and it never, never stops coming. I imagine that this is just part of the initial experience. The second time this happens, I’m guessing it won’t be as loud. Over time, Ronan is going to learn how to train himself to control information. But right now, this is a lot. It’s no wonder his first night of sleep is so fitful and restless! His mind is moving at a million miles per hour as it struggles to take in all this information, which was probably still flooding in while he was unconscious, too. I’M TIRED JUST THINKING OF THIS! I say that because I often have really terrible sleep if I don’t try to clear my mind before bed. I can’t even imagine how bad of a time I’d have it if I was experiencing a flood of info like this, you know?
And then there’s the temptation. Y’all are free to laugh at me comparing this to an angel and devil sitting on Ronan’s shoulder mere seconds from the text actually saying the same exact thing. (WHY DO I DO THIS SO OFTEN.) I’m not used to Powers actively participating in the story as much as the Lone One and the One’s Champion do here, but I am not complaining. It adds tension to the story because they keep hinting at where this is going. In this case, though, Ronan braces himself for the eventual moment when his father gets the letter from school that he’s been suspended… but it doesn’t come. And Ronan wasn’t the one that made it disappear! (Oh god, I can’t actually tell who is who in that one scene break. I think the Champion is responsible for it, but I’m not sure.) So, he’s free from the inevitable event he was certain would happen, and you can tell that he doesn’t actually know what to do with his day, since he assumed he’d have to deal with his parents.
But this is an interesting twist for a different reason: It forces Ronan to actively think about his next step, and suspicion starts creeping in. He suddenly can’t ignore this feeling that he is supposed to be doing something important, something that has nothing to do with his suspension. Y’ALL. HIS ORDEAL IS IMMINENT, I FEEL IT DEEPLY AND TRULY.
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