"Today, we celebrated the dawn of your seventh year. The time is at hand for you to learn your Task."
"Like me, and my father, and his fathers before him, you are Oathsworn to the Traveller. Each person who is Oathsworn has a Task to perform in preparation for the Traveller's coming.
"Like me, and my father, and his fathers before him, we await the coming of the Third Traveller. When he will come, we know not, though the portents suggest it will be soon." Avellar smiled at his young son. "Likely in your lifetime."
At this, the Celvani boy's eyes widened. "Do you really think so, father?"
"I certainly hope so. But should you meet him, and are honored to serve him personally, or should he come after you have passed beyond the Raven's Gate, your Task must be fulfilled."
"What am I to do?"
"It will be difficult, my son, and most of the people you meet will not understand. Such is a part of the price we pay for the honor of being Oathsworn. But let nothing deter you in your Task.
"Avallios, my son, your Task is to gather the Elements that will comprise the Gift of Five. Do you remember their meaning?"
Avallios scrunched up his face as he tried to recall. "The Elements are what binds us to Celvanos," he said, "but I can't remember the rest."
"That's right; the Elements bind us to this world for as long as we live, and they lead us to the Raven's Gate when we've passed to the world beyond. The Gift of Five, when presented to the Third Traveller, will bind him to Celvanos. He will belong to this world, and he will be ours."
"Even though he is not born of Celvanos?"
"Even though, my son. Think well, and name me the Elements and why they are significant."
"The first Element is Earth."
"That's correct," said Avellar.
"The first Element is Earth, taken from the land surrounding Thunderknell. Thunderknell is the ancestral home and birthplace of Nivalldier Arthanor, also called Farathan, Ta'uulho First-Traveller."
"Very good," Avellar smiled. "Next?"
"The next Element is Air, gathered from the Scythewinds that blow through the city-fortress of Northpoint. The Scythewinds are cold and fierce, as the Traveller must be in battle.
"The Element of Water comes after Air. The Water is taken from the river Huntrad, which flows through the Vault of Eternity where reside the Pillars of Promise."
"Only the true Traveller will speak to and be spoken to by the Pillars," commented Avellar. "Many have sought the Pillars, though few have returned, and none save the Traveller have heard their mighty voices."
"Fire is the next Element, gathered from the Three Blades Mountains. It was fire from the Mountains that Nivalldier used to molten the mithranium he poured into the runes he'd carved onto his chest." Avallios winced slightly at the thought.
"Those runes allowed Nivalldier Arthanor to escape -- with naught but his life, by his own account -- the Fleshpits of Kasima'ar. There are other tales of these runes, but those are for another time."
"Finally, the Element of Metal. This is to be the purest mithranium, from which was forged the Silver Sabre, Nivalldier First-Traveller's legendary runeblade, as well as the Successors Silverblade and Sabretwin. The ore must be mined from the Red Cliffs of Turon, where Nivalldier First-Traveller met the Dreambinder in singular combat for the first time."
"Well done, Avallios, very well done." Avellar embraced his son warmly, as Avallios' mother Nithen entered their house, bearing armloads of fresh vegetables. Avallios helped his mother put the vegetables away, before excusing himself to go play with a friend he saw passing by.
Once Avallios was gone, Nithen turned angrily towards Avellar. "I heard the two of you talking as I was walking up to the house," she said. "I thought we'd agreed you would stop filling Avallios' head with that quasi-religious nonsense."
"To be Oathsworn to the Traveller is his family duty," Avellar replied tersely.
"Family duty? Do you know what your 'family duty' did to your father and mother? Oh, Avellar... there never was a Traveller, there never will be a... " Nithen stopped, holding her hands up. "No. I will not have this argument again. I am going to seek a dissolution of our marriage, Avellar. And I am taking Avallios with me, and away from your fanatic mythologies..."
* * * * * * * * * * *
A few days later
Avallios woke to an unusually quiet house. Usually, if mother hadn't gotten him up by now, the smell of breakfast would have. He slipped into his favorite robe and headed for the kitchen.
There, he found his father, his face red and eyes swollen as if he'd been crying for some time. Avellar looked up and saw his son, and fresh tears formed in the corners of his eyes.
"Where's mother?" asked Avallios.
"Oh, my son, there was a... terrible accident," Avellar replied. "Your mother... your mother has passed beyond the Raven's Gate."
"I know, my son. I know. But now, she is free to complete her own Task, and help guide the Third Traveller to us..."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The events abovementioned take place some time before any of my other stories about Gabriel Frost and the USS Challenger; in fact, it takes place before Gabriel was born. The Celvani are a very long-lived race...