Prologue: It Tells the Truth
Daley Silvertongue ran through the hallway of the orphanage in Oxford, England. She was ten years old, with a British accent, and a young red-head eager to learn and please. Her world centered around one thing, her "Aunt" Lyra.
Lyra was a scholar who often visited the orphanage. She took Daley under her wing, for reasons that confused Daley but pleased her all the same.
A small bird, a sparrow, fluttered by Daley's head.
"Daley, don't you think Aunt Lyra will be, you know, busy?" the sparrow hissed into Daley's ear.
"She always wants to see me, Andræm. You know that," Daley smiled.
"Well, I don't know. Her dæmon glared at me, that marten," the sparrow landed on Daley's shoulder, but then changed into a snow-white ermine.
"It's too cute to glare at anyone. And when did you see Pantalaimon?" Daley asked, her hands on her hips, "I didn't see him, and we're not witches, or Lyra. We can't separate from each other for more than what, a few metres.
"He was in the hallway, prowling around. Avoiding us, I think," Andræm hissed.
"You joke!" Daley turned to face her dæmon.
"No! Come on now, Daley!" Andræm sighed.
"Well, I want to see Aunt Lyra. Come on!" Daley began running, and Andræm was forced to follow, of course.
A dæmon was a person's spirit, an animal companion that reflected their personality. As children, a dæmon could change form at will, reflective on their human's mood. When one reaches adulthood, their dæmon stays in the same form. A dæmon is, in a word, a person's familiar.
Daley ran through the hallways quietly, and Andræm became a serpent to follow her soundlessly. Daley ran through the dark hallways of Jordan Collage, next door to her orphanage and where Lyra worked. (She was the first female scholar at the college, an Alethiometrist, or one who studies the Alethiometer, which Daley had never seen or learns what it does.)
"Daley!" Andræm hissed angrily as Daley paused at a door where she heard multiple voices discussing things.
"It's Aunt Lyra in here!" Daley grinned at Andræm. Andræm sighed in annoyance, changing into a golden retriever to show obedience, when a small brown marten walked down the hallway. He looked at Daley and Andræm, and hissed.
Andræm walked up to him and began talking in hushed voices, although Daley knew what they were saying, because she could hear Andræm's thoughts.
"Pantalaimon says that we can go in now," Andræm explained in words after a while.
"Oh, good!" Daley smiled and rushed into the room.
"And there she is!" a smiling, twenty-three year old woman with curly, dirty-blond hair walked over and hugged Daley.
"Hello Aunt Lyra!" Daley smiled up at her. Pantalaimon jumped to the woman's shoulder, whispering things frantically. Lyra nodded.
"Daley, these are the Marins," Lyra spread her hand to introduce a couple, an older man with graying hair and a woman a little younger with black hair. A little boy, only about four years old, stood between them. The woman's dæmon was a robin, the man's a lizard.
"Hello," Daley smiled politely, "Are you scholars as well?"
"No-oh," the man smiled, "I'm a lawyer, and she is a primary school teacher," the man had a Californian accent.
"Oh? Well that's interesting…" Daley turned to Andræm, who raised his eyebrows (now a monkey.)
"They are looking to adopt a well-meaning child, and came all the way to Oxford to find one," Aunt Lyra continued.
"But you have a child," Daley smirked.
The little boy smiled toothily at her, a small owl on his shoulder.
"Yes, it's a miracle we do, a late-in-life child. But we have known Lyra for a while, and she knows we're looking to adopt, and recommended we come here," Mr. Marin nodded.
"Wait…" Daley turned to Lyra, "But Aunt Lyra, I like it here!"
"I know, child," Lyra hugged her again, "and I don't want to let you go. However, I really do think that it is a good idea for you to find a real home, and get a real education. And I asked the Alethiometer, which said it was a good idea to send you. But we'll continue this discussion later," and Daley was left thoroughly confused.
Daley sat crying on her bed. The Marins were nice people, living in the country of California, but she loved it here in Oxford. The orphanage, her friends, Jordan, Aunt Lyra…
Andræm was a small kitten, curled up in Daley's arms. A knock issued on the door to Daley and her roommate Margaret's room.
"Come in," Daley sighed.
Lyra walked in, Pantalaimon walked in beside her.
"Daley, I need to talk to you about this," Lyra sighed, sitting down next to her.
"Why? You obviously don't love me as much as I thought you did," Daley whimpered.
"But I really do. Sweetheart, this is no life for you. I had the same life, and I only turned out okay because of my adventures. And I got to study as an Alethiometrist. You won't have that kind of life unless you get a proper family. I don't want you to go, you're like my own daughter, for I can have none, but the Alethiometer told me to let you go with the Marins," and Lyra sat back and sighed.
"Why can't you have a child, Aunt Lyra? You are not a nun," Daley stalled.
"Because the one man I will ever be able to love lives in a different universe, Daley," Lyra sighed, "A universe with buzzing cars, planes instead of zeppelins, the cinema, and no outer dæmons. But that is beside the point…"
"Aunt Lyra, please! I don't want to go! Why do you pay so much attention to the Alethi-whatsit?" Daley sighed, "It's just a toy."
Lyra looked over at Daley, contemplating her.
"Daley," Lyra looked at her, "do you know what the Alethiometer does?"
"It's like a bronze compass," Daley shrugged.
Lyra pulled out a golden compass-like object. It had four hands, three small ones and one big one. They were all pointing at different pictures, which lined the circumference of the compass.
"This is my fellow Alethiometrist, Belinda's Alethiometer. She left it in my care to give to one child who I thought would have a lot of promise. The Alethiometer tells the truth. It is very confusing to understand, however with practice you can. And ask it anything you wish. And it's made out of gold, not bronze. I want you to have it, look after it, and show no one you have it, understand? I will also give you a book, a small explanation of how it works, so you can try to figure it out. If not, then just write me a letter, and I'll begin to teach you by mail. Understand?" and Lyra handed Daley the Alethiometer.
"Oh, I will Aunt Lyra! Where's yours?" Daley asked eagerly.
"In my pocket, of course. I use it to ask about Will," Lyra sighed, "and now, I ask you to be careful with it. Here's the guide," Lyra handed Daley a worn out book, about the size of a five-subject notebook.
"Thank you so much!" Daley smiled. Lyra smiled back.
"You will have fun in California. Now, be good on the Zeppelin, pack everything, and please try to look presentable, alright dear?" Lyra hugged Daley warmly.
"Oh, I will. This should be fun!" Daley grinned.
AN: Hee hee. This should be fun to write. I LOVE His Dark Materials. Read it, or you will be sad. Very, very sad. J