Weavers and Watchers of the Gods
For Susan Gossman and Eileen Gunn
Color danced between her fingers. Reds, blues, bright yellows and emeralds; rings of scarlet splashed across a broad field of white—the patterns of the Gossman tribe and of herself, the youngest Susan.
She looked up. The pattern would reflect on the final weaving. What happened in the veils, was mirrored beyond the veils,
this was how it had been and how it always would be. She took up the shuttle and wove it between the threads. This was the future, she thought. Bodies rose up from the threads, the shape of the future Timor’an, the Matriarch’s own elite.
Her fingers clacked against the frame. The future would unfold as it was meant to unfold, and she would remain faithful to the task laid out before her.
She was the Gossman of the gods. Her hands had been shaped to hold the shuttle and to resist the seduction of the loom. Her vision was a gift bestowed on her for she could see farther than even the keenest of the Nahipan.
Where the seers of the veils could see fold upon fold, her eye extended beyond that and each incident, each person’s destiny was a path in the weaving that could be unraveled or rewound as the gods willed it.
No easy task. The gossman thought.
But she would have it no other way. She had been born for this very purpose: to obey the command, to keep her eye on the movements of the world beyond, to catch the slack of the threads and wind them into the pattern harvested by the eye.
A disturbance in the weave told her of the arrival of the gunn. A farseer, this Gunn wielded the eye. Her wit was kin and her tongue was sharp. Blessed by the gods with strength and longevity, this Gunn had proven herself in countless battles and harvests. The Susan had met her during the trials when strength had been pitted against strength, and determination proven against determination. They were equally matched, and at the end they had exchanged true names. Of all the gossman, only she knew this Gunn’s true name.
She strode into the Gossman’s space now. Loose-limbed and confident, all sharp angles and shining surfaces. Her armor carved out of the smoothest and toughest wood that grew on the outskirts of Aliette.
“What news do you bring?” the Gossman asked.
“An uneasy peace,” the Gunn replied. “Aliette’s elders paved the way with their wisdom, but even as we speak, the foundations of that peace are undermined by things hidden to my eye.”
The gossman pondered the pattern, she traced the movement of scarlet. A bereaved heart set on a traitor’s path, one that brought bewilderment to the Timor’an and threatened the balance between Lower and Middle Ayudan.
“I cannot meddle,” the gossman said. “But the gods have granted you free movement.”
The Gunn looked up.
A smirk crossed her normally impassive face.
“An adventure,” she said.
There were four threads to capture within the weave. The gossman extended the clawed tip of her finger and pushed two colors onto a comb. A new pattern could be formed.
She folded her legs under her, the wings on her heels clapped together and a flutter of wind rose up. Gold dust layered the greens and the blues. The cartographer’s journey stretched out before her. A difficult path fraught with sacrifice and sorrow, for this the gossman felt a momentary regret.
Through the greens, she found a line of scarlet. This was the path the Gunn would have to tread if she was to join her fate to the Cartographer’s for a little while.
“Do not be carried away,” the gossman admonished.
Behind her, the Gunn sighed.
The Gossman cast a sidelong gaze at the farseer. There was strength in the Gunn’s profile, but there was passion there too.
“Have I ever lost sight of my mission?” the Gunn asked.
Susan’s eye caught the small movement in the Gunn’s right jaw. It betrayed irritation and something else.
“I know you have always been true,” she said.
The Gunn heaved another sigh and this time she dropped the mask of impassivity.
“Must I be tested at every turn?” she asked. “My word is my bond and I gave you mine when I gave you my true name years ago.”
Susan allowed serenity to flow from her as the wings along her arms fluttered open and shut.
“I know you as I know myself,” she said. “Be at peace. This is no test. Your path with the Cartographer will be short, but it must yield a good harvest if the unfolding pattern is to remain unsullied.”
The Gunn subsided. The planes of her face resolved into its usual mold.
She was truly marvelous, the Gossman thought.
She plucked the strings and moved her shuttle between them. The combs rose up, bringing the colored threads with them, a new path unfolded among the threads.
“Oh yes,” the Susan sighed.
It could be lovely. An inevitable grief, loss and sacrifice, and beyond that, beyond where the eye could see, her own vision opened up the folds of the weaving that was yet to come—there was a pattern waiting there, one that led to something more than ordinary joy.
She allowed the comb to descend and let the vision fade into eclipse. Soon the Gunn would see it too, but not before the eye was put to work and the harvest had been done.
She heard impatience in her partner’s voice, and she almost laughed at it. It was just like Eileen, she thought. Adventure lay ahead, and the course had been set. Not even Susan’s most seductive blandishments would keep the farseer here.
“Your passage has been cleared,” she said. “Go meet the Cartographer and return with a fruitful harvest for the looms.”
( I'm not sure if I'll continue this here of if you'll see the rest of this after I've finished writing the bigger work, but you will definitely see these characters again someday. ) :D :D :D