THE WEAVER KNELT FORWARD, examining her work. On the loom was the cloth she had created, one that wove together the threads of space and time, the present and the past, into a tapestry with a pattern so large and so detailed, no person could grasp it without seeing the cloth in its entirety. The cloth began with the beginning of the world, telling the story of how the first ray of sunlight had reached the land, and it would not be finished until the end of time.

Critically, the weaver looked over her most recent work. She could not undo it, but she could alter the work after it to make the pattern fit. What was finished was perfect- there could be no other way for the weaver to work without perfection. Examining her most recent work, she decided it was time to bring in a new thread, and to allow it to manipulate the pattern.

Blindly, she selected a golden thread, then, she once again began to weave.

THE OLCOTTI FAMILY WAS quite well off within a few years of Merluson Olcotti's marriage to Zerliv from the Telcume family. After inheriting the merchant legacy of his father, Merluson Olcotti set about Olcotti merchandise the most respected in the land. It was only a matter of time before he bought more ships, and soon he dominated the sea trade.

That was not the only good news for Merluson, however. Four months after his marriage, his beloved Zerliv brought him the great news that fortune had smiled upon them, and nine months later, his son was born.

A great celebration was held in the city, and Merluson hosted a grand feast, in which anyone who attended would be filled. No invitations were sent out, but everyone from the city was welcome. After all, when one controlled the Olcotti wealth, one could afford the extravagance of feeding the homeless, the wealthy, the clergy, the rival merchants, and any others from the city who wished to partake in the celebration.

Three days after his son's birth, Merluson had him baptized in the grand chapel, which was situated in the middle of the city. Once again, any who wished to attend came to the opulent chapel, but this time, instead of celebration, the guests watched the solemn ceremony in which the boy was named Riccidari, after Merluson's father.

As an infant, Riccidari had the best nannies to watch over him. Merluson hired a storyteller to come to the nursery daily and tell happy stories of bravery and heroism. Zerliv sometimes complained that the storyteller was frivolous, for their son was too young to understand what was being said, but Merluson insisted that the stories were instilling young Riccidari with a sense of morality. By hearing of the great things the heroes did, Riccidari could understand the complexities of honor from a young age.

Three months and ten days after Riccidari's birth, Zerliv became quite ill, and the doctors told Merluson that the only way his wife would survive was not through medicine, but with a change of home. The cool sea breezes that blew through the town caused Zerliv uncontrollable and unstoppable coughing fits, and because Merluson loved his wife dearly, more than anything else except for his son, he sold the Olcotti mansion and instead bought a manor in the country. He found the perfect place- a castle from the old days that was situated three days' journey from the city. There, Zerliv was safe from the chills, but he was close enough to still manage his business affairs.

At that time, Merluson's riches were great enough that he was able to afford to not only bring the entire household with him, but he also paid the story teller, a priest, four street vendors, a shoe cobbler, a royal stable-hand, seventeen guardsmen, three doctors, a toy maker, and a dress maker to leave the city and make the family's stay in the country more comfortable. These were the advantages of wealth that Merluson had always dreamed of.

When Riccidari's first birthday came, Merluson held a grand celebration in his country home even larger than the celebration for Riccidari's birthday. Now, he was richer than anyone in the Olcotti family had ever been, and without the crowded streets and neighbor's houses, he invited guests not only from the city, but all the smaller towns in the country, and of course, travelers from distant lands came to take part in the young heir's birthday party.

There was much to celebrate on that day. Zerliv's health had improved, and her stomach was beginning to swell. In a few months, Riccidari would have a young sister or brother, and this thought gave Merluson unspeakable joy. In a burst of frivolity and generosity, he gifted each of his guests with a bottle of wine, ranging from rare vintages to the new sweet liquors from the southern countries.

At that time, a fortuneteller was roaming the land, telling the future of those he came across. Merluson heard reports of the accuracy of the fortuneteller's predictions, and he sent his servants out to find the man and bring him to the country manor so that he could foresee the great things his son would do. The old man arrived on Riccidari's birthday, and before all the guests and revelers, he announced the young boy's future.

"He will be a holy knight of the Daerlim Order," the fortuneteller said. Merluson couldn't help but gaze proudly at his boy after he heard these words. Secretly, he'd hoped Riccidari would follow in his own footsteps and become a merchant, but the notion that any son of his would join the Daerlim Order was nearly too amazing to contemplate. Only the finest, strongest, bravest men in the country were aloud to join the Daerlim Order.

The fortuneteller continued his predictions. "The boy known as Riccidari will become famous throughout the land, and legendary hero. However, he will throw everything away for love of a girl." The old man stepped back from the boy, and Merluson stood up in alarm. He wanted to raise a boy who was brave and honorable- not one who would bring shame to himself and his family because of silly romantic notions!

The guests were uneasily silent while the old fortuneteller hobbled away. No one wanted to comment on the disgraceful future that had just been suggested for little Riccidari. For several minutes, the only sound that could be heard was that of the birds chirping.