The Provedshi of Eithnee had to work together to keep the moons from pummeling our small planet, however, they rarely interacted and mostly kept away from one another. The reason for this was very simple: if they became acquaintances, or even friends, there would be a need to compete, as is natural in semi-gods since they are half human. Some people even speculated that they could hate one another, although this idea was usually dismissed for it was illogical. The Provedshi were usually brothers and sisters.
The ocean lapped softly at the shore, and young children roamed around the sand, occasionally picking up seashells and running to their mothers with glee to show what a treasure they'd found. It was a beautiful day and many of the inhabitants of Eithnee were savoring the afternoon in the sunshine. Mostly mothers and children, as the men had to work.
I sat quite a way off, as I knew I was not really wanted within the social circles of the normal. I sat alone and knitted a small sweater, which probably added to how bizarre I was in their eyes, since they all knew I was barren.
The clickity click of the knitting needles and the calming sounds of the ocean soon put me into a trance and I let my mind wander as my hands worked busily. In my heightened sense of peace I didn't realize anyone was near me until a hand touched my shoulder. I whirled around, expecting a child who didn't know any better.
The sight I was met with, however, was a woman with thick black locks of hair cascading around her face. She studied me with serious brown eyes before turning away with a small smile. After a whispered word that I couldn't quite catch, she dissolved as though she'd never been.
The Tracker will want to kill you. Be aware. Hide yourself and your child. You are important. Run swiftly and hide your tracks. Dim your essence as well, for he is not human.
The words echoed through my head, and I was jolted out of reality. Pictures of a dim figure passed before my eyes, and when I came to myself I was lying on the ground, the small sweater I'd been knitting lying in tangles beside me.
What child? I had no children. Confusion muddled my logic, and I lay on the ground for several moments before deciding that this was a mistake, and that the Traveler had gotten the wrong person.
Often in Eithnee, the gods did not entrust us completely to ourselves when fulfilling the roles that they've laid out for us. At times they would take certain women (never men, for a woman's essence was tied to her present much less then a man's) and train them in the art of traveling through time. These journeys were very strenuous, and few women ever made more then one.
Their purposes varied, from notifying someone of an important task, to bestowing a gift, and sometimes even choosing the next Provedshi.
At times these Travelers would choose the wrong person, and another one would be sent hastily after, so as not to disarray the natural flow of things.
What else had she said to me? Something about essence? I wondered then what she was talking about, and this curiosity led me to plan a visit to the oldest man in the village, whose only purpose was to answer questions and educate the next Elder.
When I picked myself up off the ground however, I felt in no condition to visit anyone. I dragged myself into the small house which Ilas had left me in good will. It was not customary for marriages to break up, but in the event that one did, it was always assumed that the woman would be turned out onto the streets to fend for herself. I was thankful to Ilas for his kindness.
Once inside I collapsed onto my small bed, and to my amazement discovered that I could not sleep. Looking out the window I saw the Hunter's Moon, and was soon illuminated by it as it moved past. Out of the corner of my eye a saw a glimpse of purple and whipped around to see my hand casting off a strange purple light. The glow spread up my arm, and I realized that my whole body was weakly pulsating with this purple light.
I rushed to the window, and in astonishment saw that they all pulsed with different colors, and different intensities. The children, I noticed, were particularly strong, almost over powering the adults when they were near them. All except a small child carried by one of my old friends. Margaret, I believe her name was. I recalled that she'd had a sickly child.
What was this? Was it the essence that The Traveler was talking about? Turning my hands around and around, I observed the Essence dance along my skin, seeming to come from deep inside and be unable to go far away from me.
A quiet scuffling brought my attention back to my room, and I cursed, believing mice to have inhabited my walls. To my surprise, an unyuu raced out from under the bed, and along my dress. Carefully plucking it off my skirt I held it up in front of my face and whispered the customary blessing. It gave a cat-like meow, touched its nose to my own, and disappeared out the window.
I smiled, and realized that it was nearly dusk, and if I wanted to know anything about the idea of essence, I should been going. The Elder always went to sleep as soon as dark hit, so as not to waste daylight hours.
It was a short walk, no more than 20 minutes, and I stood in front of the large wooden home, quite a bit finer than my own. There was a small set of stairs leading up onto the porch area, and a beautifully carved door, portraying scenes of knowledge, legends, and various information. I tore my gaze away from the fanciful designs, and quietly knocked on the door.
Margaret, who I at once remembered to be one of the Elder's keepers, looked at me through narrow eyes. She obviously had the dusk shift, which next to the night one was the least stressful. I had been asked to take the night shift, as I was practically a widow, and this was one of the prerequisites.
"May I help you, Lesslyth?", she asked suspiciously.
"I have a question for the Elder.", I gave her the traditional response, and accompanied it with a dirty look. With a sigh she led me inside, as no one of Eithnee could be turned down any question to the Elder.
We arrived in a small room with large windows, though they hardly mattered, as the Elder's eyes had failed him long ago. The few wisps of hair remaining on his head were a pure white, a definite contrast from his mouth, inside which only remained his pink gums. I looked to make eye contact, but remembered that his eyes were no longer functioning as they were such a pale blue that they almost melded in with the whites of his eyes.
"Who comes to ask a question?", he asked in a voice surprising strong for someone of such a feeble disposition.
"Ah, the barren one." , he replied with a tone of finality in his voice. I bit my lip to keep from making a sharp remark. This was neither the place nor time.
"What is essence?", I asked.
"Essence is something I know nothing about. It is seen and remarked upon only by immortals, therefore of no concern to you, me, or any other people of Eithnee. Leave now."
So I did.
My visit to the Elder was not entirely useless, as I was told that it was seen only by immortals. I lay awake wondering what use this was to me when I felt the presence of another in the room. I could not take it anymore.
"Show yourself." , I said, injecting my feelings into my voice, and to my surprise I saw them ripple out from me with bit of my aura. Most hit the walls unopposed, except for a few directly in front of the window. They curved around, and I clearly saw silhouetted against them the figure of a man.
"Who are you?", I asked in surprise, for few were capable of sorcery. I was very nearly frightened, for if this sorcerer wished to kill me, there was no one to stop him. But then again, it mattered little, as I had nothing to live for.
"Provedsh Keeram, Miss Lesslyth.", he said drawing back his camouflage spell. I gasped in horror and sunk to my knees, my forehead on the floor.
"Nonsense, you weren't so formal a second ago. Besides, the offer I bring you will put us on equal footing, so there is no need for all these formalities." He said as he sat himself down onto my bed, "You wish to have a child, but you are barren, is that right?"
I continued to sit on the ground, numbly shaking my head in surprise at everything that had just happen. I had used a rough tone of voice, and magicked a Provedsh, and he did not wish me ill. There was a Provedsh in my bedroom, bargaining with me. This Provedsh knew of my life, and my troubles.
Provedsh Keeram had a nonchalant air about him, like he didn't care whether or not I accepted whatever offer he would propose or turn it down, although his essence changed, and I could see bit of a nervous orange leaping up here and there. He reclined on my bed, as if in thought. Suddenly an idea came to my mind.
"What is essence?", I asked, as soon as the idea came into my head, the words flying out of my mouth. Provedsh Keeram was temporarily thrown out of his element. He looked at me with a questioning look, before replying smoothly.
"Well, I haven't a clue what you could possibly do with the information, but an essence is a reflection of a person's being. It reflects one's mood, health, and general well-being. It usually dims if you're ill, old, although if you're unhappy the colors will change. Mortals can't see them anyways, why does it matter to you?". I told him that it was just a thing of curiosity. He looked at me oddly, and then finally gave his reason for being here.
"Let me make love to you. I am no mortal; therefore I do have the ability to impregnate you. I will give you this child, and I ask for nothing in return, other than you keeping it safe. My terms are that you reveal the child's father to no one."
I understood his reasoning. The first Provedsh was disgraced by lust, and it was an understood fact that the Provedshi were not to reproduce, for it would produce too much competition for their mates, as a direct blood relative would have to take over the role of one of the Provedshi, rather than the other method (a mystery to the inhabitants of Eithnee) that was used.
I stood; shocked that he would suggest a thing, I thought at first this was in jest. But he remained sitting firmly on the bed, and gazed at me quietly, waiting for my answer.