***This post will only be Part 1 of the chapter due to the holiday season and the many activities that surround it. I am determined to still put out something every Monday that will move the story along, but it may be a shorter chapter or a part of a chapter from now until after the start of the new year.***
They had spent the better half of a new morning discussing what to do, opting to remain for the night. The prospect of Pitney meeting his mother had proven a worthy reason to stay. There was so much they still wanted, needed, to know. Yavin tried to get them to sleep back with their horses, still a little uncomfortable with the company, but they heartily disagreed, wanting to keep an eye on him at all times. They took rounds at night, each for two hours, noting the curious intricacies of their host. For Benjamin’s watch, he ate salted meat and downed a bottle of fermented grape juice that he pulled out of an old trunk shoved up against the far wall, unlocked by a sequence of symbols Benjamin didn’t even try to figure out. For Ottelo’s, he belched, scratched, and snored in his sleep, occasionally stroking his long white beard until his own snoring grew so loud, it jolted him awake. Pitney had the fine pleasure of watching him rummage through papers in a fit, throwing them this way and that, before plunking down with a blanket (also from the trunk) and scratching and snoring some more.
It was during Edward’s watch that he awakened with a start, walking past each table at least a hundred times, muttering certain things to himself. Edward listened intently, able to make out only a few words, despite the acoustics of his cave-like habitat. He rattled on and on about the giftings and the Providence Treaty. But then, he seemed to switch thought processes all at once and muttered “…Wentry didn’t know…didn’t tell him…”
But before Edward could interrupt and ask Yavin what he was saying, he flung his hands up in the air and with them, the few books he was holding, of which thudded on the floor right next to Pitney’s head. It wasn’t long before all four were awake and the moment was lost.
After they fed and made sure the horses were secure, they returned to find Yavin had a breakfast feast laid out for them on his small, corner table. Eggs, fresh bread, and the ever present salted meat of the day, along with a bowl of fresh fruit.
When Yavin gave his consent, the four all hurriedly sat and started reaching until Benjamin stopped just short of the bread.
“Where did all this come from? Is this going to mist when I touch it?” Benjamin eyed Yavin, to which their host belly laughed and rubbed his beard. His eyes formed happy creases in the corner and his wide mouth created a crevice between mustache and beard.
“There are many things I will throw a mirage for, my boy, but food is not one of them.”
“But where did all this come from?”
“Some secrets I will yet keep to myself. Hurry, eat. We still have some things to discuss.”
All of them too hungry to care about the mention of yet more secrets, they breathed a collective sigh of relief and ate their fill.
Their conversation after inevitably fell to that of Belda.
“I know it sounds curious, but it doesn’t have to be her, Pit.” Ottelo put a hand on his shoulder for reassurance. “I’m sure many ladies share her name.”
“Are you sure, Ot? Because-” Edward was not quite as sure, and by the look on Benjamin’s face, he wasn’t either.
“I’m only asking because if it is-“
“I said it is not her.” His tone was sharp and his hand subconsciously dug into Pitney’s shoulder making his knuckles white, betraying his confidence.
“Ottelo, it would make no difference, in any case. She is not why we are here.” Pitney’s lips sat straight across his face, unmoving, unflinching, barely opening to speak.
“I know, but-“ Ottelo stopped when Pitney grabbed his hand with a nod, and removed it from his shoulder.
They were all markedly tired from their already taxing journey. Another stop to find yet another person was not in any of their plans and their spirits were down at the thought of it.
Yavin smirked as he stroked his beard, watching, but remaining oddly silent. Pitney turned to him, barely taking a breath before he asked, “What do we need to know, old man?”
Yavin didn’t skip a beat. He clapped his hands together and giggled like a child in the marketplace when a cat would play with a string. They watched him as he bounced from one table to the next, scouring his books once more, settling on an old scroll wrapped with a leather strap.
“The old kings, the very first ones were gifted with the six giftings we know of today. Foresight in Shadow, Veil of Mind, Somatic Mending, Endearing Presence,Mind Mirage, and Hindering Touch.”
The four all nodded their knowledge of this.
“Not many know that each king was given the six giftings so that they could bestow them on their offspring, ensuring a line of royalty that would rule fairly and justly. After the Provider’s passing, those who were historians…the first Elders…and those who were adept at healing…the R’phas who formed the Order…they held the first Assembly and called all the kings to weigh in on their decision.”
“What decision?” Benjamin asked.
“To enforce a one gifting rule to each offspring. They reasoned that if all the children of royalty had all the giftings, there was a higher likelihood of unrest among the royal families, inevitably leading to a battle for power among the six families. Both within the family, and between the kingdoms. The kingdoms would crumble under another war that seemed to never end.
The kings were hesitant to relinquish such power until one king, King Mirias, saw the wisdom in this decision and stepped forward. Eventually, the other kings followed suit. They signed what we know today as the Providence Treaty.”
“But I thought the Providence Treaty was an effort to combine our borders, recognizing the protection of the Provider and the Spirit of Blessings given by him. The call to protect it and all who reside within her territory.”
“Yes. That was on there, too. But it is not the main reason the Elders and those in the Order wanted it signed.”
Yavin undid the leather strap and rolled out the scroll onto the table beside him, gesturing for all of them to gather around it. He held a new candle over the bottom half of the scroll where the last paragraph read:
All of these, we do testify to be true according to our gracious Provider, of whom gifted us with six, indispensable giftings. In the presence of those he appointed, whom offered him great wisdom and service, we do declare our sole gifting to each other from this day forward. As such, let the company of these Six Kings, of the Provider’s choice, hold one in high regard above the others, to bequeath in the manner of the Provider, singularly to each of our blood. This day, the Six Kings do make this proclaimed sacrifice for the betterment of Providence and those of noble birth who succeed us. We retain all rights to give of the six, but of the remaining five not of our choosing, we commit to be abstinent, thereof.
In this day the Provider has given according to his great mercy and sacrifice for us. May we honor his memory and all people under the Providence Treaty.
His candle had almost burnt all the way down, but there was enough light to shine on the crowd of signatures at the bottom. Six of them were accompanied by candle wax seals, depicting the authenticity of the six kings and their acquiescence to all of the treaty, including the final note. Next to their names, was the sole gifting they held in regard above all others. Among the other signatures, Edward noted Elder Roem had also signed. It was he that wrote of the history of Aoife and her maiden’s eye witness account.
“So, they could still use them, but they were signing a treaty stating they would allow the other five giftings to go dormant. One gift to use above the others, each picking a different one. For balance, I assume. And yet retained the ability to bestow all of them.” Edward spoke his thought process out loud.
“But they were blind. How did they know what they were signing?”
“Ah, Benjamin. That is a valid question. However, one assumes it was read aloud, for each one did as it says. And was able to choose. Blind or not. I believe in Elder Roem’s histories, he also includes that they chose without a fight, each having already had one gifting they preferred and they were all different. But as it was with the Vex that remained in our borders and found themselves bound to the shadows, so it was with the king’s offspring and the Foresight of Shadow. When the gift was needed most, when more and more vex were lost to shadow, less of the royal lines would choose the gift to see them. Edward is the first in five generations. And before that, there were very few, indeed. One might even be led to believe the Elders and R’phas were to blame for the lack of acceptance. Subtle instruction here. A slight of word, or a hint, there…”
“Or the idea that you could not be bound is to blame.” Edward spoke in such a small whisper, that only Benjamin gave any indication that he was heard at all.