“He may be deranged, but his brilliance is none the less for it.” ~ Angela
Tenga was an elder magician who lived in Edur Ithindra during the events of the Inheritance Cycle. He often mumbled to himself.
Eragon was on his way back from destroying the Ra’zac in Helgrind when he first encountered Tenga, who sensed him watching and offered a meal in exchange for help weeding around pea plants in his garden. Eragon was surprised a short time later not only to witness Tenga’s use of wordless magic to start a fire in the hearth, but also to see the hermit’s collection of many books and scrolls on complex subjects such as history, math, astronomy, botany, and-most notably-six compendiums of true names. Tenga was especially mysterious about his activities and reasons for living in the tower.
“I search for the answer! . . . A key to an unopened door, the secret of the trees and the plants. Fire, heat, lightning, light . . . Most do not know the question and wander in ignorance. Others know the question but fear what the answer will mean. Bah! For thousands of years we have lived like savages. Savages! I shall end that. I shall usher in the age of light, and all shall praise my deed . . . You don’t know the question? . . . Still, I see you understand my search. You search for a different answer, but you search nevertheless. The same brand burns in your heart as burns in mine. Who else but a fellow pilgrim can appreciate what we must sacrifice to find the answer? . . . To the question we choose.” (Tenga, Brisingr Deluxe, pages 135-136)
Eragon slipped away after distracting Tenga by asking about a series of carved animal figurines, which the old man said were made by “her” before she left.
Readers later find out that Angela the herbalist was Tenga’s apprentice for a period of years, and she had likely been the one to carve the animal figurines. However, Angela and Tenga had had a falling out, and they parted ways. After recovering from the shock that her old mentor was still alive, Angela was uncharacteristically forthcoming in her assessment of the hermit.
“Tenga always had a question he was trying to answer. If he succeeded, he immediately chose another one, and so on. He may have answered a hundred questions since I last saw him, or he may still be gnashing his teeth over the same conundrum as when I left him . . . Whether the phases of the moon influence the number and quality of the opals that form in the roots of the Beor Mountains, as is commonly held among the dwarves.”
“But how could you prove that?” objected Eragon.
Angela shrugged. “If anyone could, it would be Tenga. He may be deranged, but his brilliance is none the less for it.”
He is a man who kicks at cats, said Solembum, as if that summed up Tenga’s entire character.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 260)
Readers hear nothing more of Tenga until Jeod mentions him in his letter to Ertharis, describing the events in Alagaësia after Eragon and Saphira left the land. Nasuada had sent four spellcasters to visit Tenga to inform him of her new laws regarding magic. He killed the visitors and escaped, likely going into hiding.
“As of yet, naught else has been heard of him, which is worrisome. The situation bears close attention.” (Jeod, Inheritance Deluxe, page 868)
Close attention should have been paid, indeed.
“A single man sat hunched among the rows of plants, weeding a patch of snap peas. Shadows covered his downturned face. His gray beard was so long, it lay piled in his lap like a mound of uncombed wool.” (Narrative, Brisingr Deluxe, page 133)
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