09 The Chroniclers of Northport
Theotello, a young apprentice, sat on the front steps of the Meeda building in Northport. It was the heart of the city where the occasional visitor came to request an audience with a Chronicler. But the community was busy with fellow scribes.
Every Chronicler had a single task – record history unchanged and with accuracy. It would never be a chosen profession but a calling.
Fellow historians walked the cobblestone path leading to various buildings. While they all wore white robes, the color sashes identified the assigned cities. There were some apprentices in the crowd clad in white linen and a long leather tunic. These were the vestures for Chroniclers still in training.
With his elbows on his knees, Theotello leaned forward. He allowed his tight-curled locks to dangle in front of his face. He hated waiting as it required discipline. But he was to meet with Brother Sammil, the leader of their order, who was late as usual.
Theo was a Los Terran, a people from the West Mainland who never ventured much outside of their land. Like most Los Terrans, he was tall with bronze skin, black hair, and a two-tone diamond tattoo on his forehead.
Unlike the elaborate tattoos selected by most of his people, his was simple. The markings were his silent proclamation that life was always about making choices. He thought about his father, Tef, who dared to seek business in Mercil and leave Los Terra. He planned to return in time so Nala would give birth to their child back home.
But that didn’t happen. Theodor, the child’s given name, was the first Los Terran to be born on foreign land. His father decided that Mercil would provide the best education for his son, so they stayed.
Over time, both Tef and Nala noticed that Theodor wasn’t like the other boys his age. He was always lost in thought, spoke when he had to, afraid to touch anyone. Theodor found refuge in solitude, continually writing notes so he wouldn’t forget things. What Tef saw as fear in his son’s eyes were questions Theodor couldn’t answer.
Then there were moments when Theodor spoke of things yet to happen. Tef worried his son would suffer ridicule, or worse. He had to do something now. He convinced Nala that the best thing was to take him to the Chronicler village in Northport. They may know what was happening to Theodor.
But he couldn’t take him there until he was ten years old. Theotello thought of the day his father brought him to Northport. They both knew Theo wouldn’t return to Mercil. The calling of a Chronicler was for life.
His father came a few times to visit, as his mother stayed to care for the remaining siblings. But the rough seas and the cost made it difficult for Tef to travel to Northport with any regularity.
“Father,” Theo remembered his last words, “I’ll always be your son. But today, I’ve selected a new name. Theotello. I’ll soon be a Chronicler and will leave Northport, but I won’t know where I’ll be. So there is no need to return.”
Theo lifted his head and gazed at the only Chronicler allowed to wear a crimson sash, walking his way. It was Brother Sammil. Standing up, the young apprentice brushed himself off. He straightened his tunic and watched as Brother Sammil made his way to him with quick steps.
“Grace and peace,” Sammil greeted the young man with a slight bow.
“May it be lasting,” returned Theotello, a standard response.
Brother Sammil, wearing his summer robe, still felt the heat of the late summer sun. “Why don’t we step into one of the libraries and get some cool relief.”
Without waiting for a response, the older man walked up the steps to the enormous pair of weathered doors. It had a carved scene of sunbeams streaming down upon a crowd.
A gentle pull on the perfectly balanced door swung it open. It closed on its own, once all who waited to enter passed through the doorway. Theo spent many days in this building, reading histories recorded by other Chroniclers.
The gleaming, wide hallway separated offices on the left from the libraries on the right. There were thirteen rooms, one for each territory that made up their known world. Karune, the only city not represented, remained a mystery.
Brother Sammil decided to walk into the Mercil room. “Why did you choose this library,” asked Theotello.
Brother Sammil sighed, knowing that Theo’s questions were never random. “I don’t know. Perhaps because it’s closer to the door.”
Theotello couldn’t hide his contempt for the answer as they both pulled out chairs to sit. “Okay, I give up,” Brother Sammil exclaimed while raising his hands. “I woke up thinking about taking a journey to Mercil before winter comes to Northport.”
“Brother Sammil, whether in a dream or not, I could not tell. I saw you start a journey to Mercil.”
“Really?” questioned Sammil.
“But Mercil wasn’t your destination. You were to go to Weshaven.”
Sammil closed his eyes before looking at Theotello. A gentle smile betrayed the stern leader’s love for the young man. “You have been a blessing to me since the day you came to Northport, Theo. But I must admit, I am astonished at how you know things you shouldn’t .”
“But what if these are visions offered by God to help understand what is to unfold?” ask Theo.
“Theotello, give me your hand.”
The young man extended his hand to Brother Sammil. “Let me remind you of the gifts received by Chroniclers. Most have one or two. You have them all, besides one more. Close your eyes.”
Theo did as instructed and allowed his mind to rest. He could hear Brother Sammil’s voice, but it sounded as if he was somewhere in the distance.
“You have the gift of ‘Dotek,’ the art of unfolding the past. Take a moment and listen to my conversation with your father when he first arrived with you to Northport.”
In a moment, Theotello heard voices as if echoing through a long tunnel before stopping. After a moment of silence, he listened to Brother Sammil speaking with his father.
“I know why you are here.” Sammil paused. “Do you believe in God, Lord Tef?”
Theotello could see his father struggle before responding with a weak answer, ‘”You know better than I.”
One quick look, Theo recognized they were inside the Mercil library. “Well, I do. If God has called your son to be a Chronicler, I cannot undo his selection. And you cannot keep him from his call. Have you ever seen any of the tapestries from Buberra?”
Sammil didn’t wait for Tef to speak. “They have tapestries large enough to fill this entire wall. Each one starts with a strand. That’s what Chroniclers do. They listen and discern whose history to preserve. They speak to people and try to understand their journey. When appropriate, they write their history.”
“Each story they write is a strand, Lord Tef. Nothing grand by itself. But put the strands together, and they display an amazing picture.”
Theo watched as Sammil moved to the door leading out of the room. “The Ancient One is working through lives, as He is telling a story. Our task is to write it down. Walk with me.”
The young Chronicler saw faded images of Sammil taking his father back into the hallway. Theo remembered he was asleep on the bench that day, with his head resting against the wall.
“Look through the colored glass in this window and tell me what you see.”
Tef paused in front of the window, made of various glass shapes, colors, and thicknesses. It overlooked a common area. He attempted to look through it, but glass variations obscured his vision. “I see shapes that appear to be trees.”
Sammil smiled. “Chroniclers write down history. We have gifts to ensure we capture the precise details. We read what we write, adjust, read again, and adjust some more. Sometimes, stories come together and provide a glimpse of what He is doing, but never a full picture.’
“The shapes you see outside the window are some of the residents of Northport and not trees. They often gather outside to share stories and a meal for encouragement.”
Sammil released his grip and watched Theotello snap his head back slightly. “Now, I need you to focus and find the conversation I had with a visitor who came after your father. Her name is Oona Sera.”
Theotello held on to Brother Sammil’s hand again. Locating the conversation that followed wasn’t challenging. He saw a woman with a bright countenance obscuring her features, as she made her way to Brother Sammil.
“Oona, it’s been so long since you’ve been here. Your visit must have something to do with the Los Terran lad, doesn’t it?” he asked.
Oona hesitated, then nodded her head. “I still don’t know anything about you,” said Sammil. “I cannot read you like others.”
Theo watched with curiosity as she shook her head. “We cannot talk here. The time will come when you will need to be in Weshaven. It may be soon or for some time. But when the time does come, you must not wait.”
Brother Sammil motioned Oona to start walking to the Meeda building. They didn’t exchange any words. They entered the hall and into the Mercil library.
“What I’m about to tell you cannot leave this room,” said Oona. “There is growing darkness that is slowly taking over the city.”
“Which city?” asked Sammil.
“All the cities.”
Sammil tried to comprehend what she meant. “My timing was not by chance,” Oona lowered her voice. “I was to be here when the young Los Terran arrived. The boy has an extra gift. You must help him develop it.”
“What gift?” asked Sammil.
“Why, he can see the future, at least some of it. He is not your normal Chronicler.”
Theo tried to look into Sammil’s eyes while in the vision, but he had turned away. “We never had a Los Terran as a Chronicler. Theodor is our first. How do you know he can see the future?”
Oona stood and waved her hand, “That’s not important.”
The mysterious woman turned from Brother Sammil. “Karune is at the center of this growing darkness. Theodor must be able to tell us what they are planning before it happens.”
“Karune is on the other side of our seas,” protested Brother Sammil. “There are no chronicles for any person in Karune. There is no recorded history. What can they do?”
Oona looked at Sammil with fear. “They have been doing something for some time, and it can’t be good. But we don’t know what.”
Sammil walked to the window. “And you think Theodor can tell you? I don’t know anything about seeing the future, so how can I help the lad? Are you sure you have this correct?”
“Yes, I am. I can tell you this much. By Theodor’s tenth year at Northport, you and he will part ways. He will leave Northport for some time, and you will never return.”
This time, it was Theotello who released his grip. He started to shake his head, refusing this news to be true. Today was the start of his tenth year in Northport. “How could she know? If I’m the only Chronicler who can see into the future, how could she know?”
Brother Sammil raised his hand. “You have ‘Pravdo,’ the art of knowing what is true. Search your heart, as it will confirm what you have heard.”
Theotello lowered his head for a moment before he began to nod. Brother Sammil continued. “You have ‘Namjera,” the gift of discerning intention. And ‘Senza’ to help you recognize danger. Put them together and tell me what I need to know.”
Sammil stood, placing his hands on his back as if he carried a burdensome weight. Theo stared at the volumes of materials bound in leather and stored on shelves, all about Mercil. People knew the city for its shipbuilding and enrichment centers.
“It’s not by accident that all these conversations happened in this library. I don’t understand why Mercil is important, but it is. As I said, you will travel to Mercil before going to Weshaven. What I didn’t tell you is that I am to go to Bon Abbi.”
“Bon Abbi?” Sammil repeated.
“It’s not clear. I can only see vague images of Bon Abbi and the need to be there. But I do know something about Karune. It came to me late yesterday, which is why I requested our meeting.”
Brother Sammil sat back down. “Then what Oona Sera said is coming is true.”
Theo exhaled and held his breath for a moment. “There is something dark and sinister about Karune, but what it is, I cannot say. What I do know is that they have been mining the caves of Bojafalla. They are extracting a mineral called “Krysmorta.”
“What is it? And why would Ooner Sera want to know about it?”
Theo paused for a moment. “It’s like a crystal but stronger. Karune enlisted some Buberrans, transporting the mineral to their artisans in the North. That is all I know, for now.”
Sammil rubbed his eyes, then his head. “Perhaps this is all Oona Sera needs to hear. I don’t understand why I have to travel to Mercil or continue to Weshaven.”
“I must go to Bon Abbi for the same reason. Our presence may change the course of the future.”
“Our future is always in doubt,” chuckled Sammil, an attempt to relieve some of the tension.
He tapped on the table and stood up. “I must prepare for my trip, as you do too! Captain Munro and the Molly Red arrives in the morning with supplies. I’ll start my journey to Mercil tomorrow. We’ll part ways in the morning.”
Theotello stood slowly, his thoughts moving to someone in Northport. Brother Sammil smiled again. “I don’t need to see the future to know Leena will not be happy with you parting ways. Speak with her before the evening comes.”
“I will. Grace and peace to you,” Theo said with a slight bow.
“And as we need it, may it so last.” Sammil left the Mercil library without looking back.
Theo made his way back outside and walked down the cobblestone path to the docks. The walk seemed less crowded once he made it to the Beo Aris Memorial Parkway. This dense grove of trees stood before the pier and away from the water. He knew he would find Leena there.
With each step, he thought about the many seasons he spent with Leena. She was the first person he met in Northport close to his age. They bonded over lessons, trials, and meals.
Beo Aris was a large parcel of land separating the only two paths leading from the dock to Northport. All buildings that housed libraries and writing rooms were on the east. The Chronicler living quarters were beyond the Parkway on the west.
A grove of blue trees, meticulously maintained, honored the fallen Chroniclers. Each trunk bore a round metal badge of a single name, honoring one of the fallen. Some lost their lives during their quest to record history.
Theo knew Leena often found solace being there, and today was no different. He found her with a hand on a named badge. Using Namjera, Leena could discern the intentions of the fallen Chronicler. She turned her head to Theotello when she heard the muffled sounds of his steps.
Leena allowed the gentle breeze to flow through her hair. Theo thought her red hair and green eyes complimented her leather tunic. “I knew you would come looking for me, ” she half-whispered.
“How would you know that?” Theo asked without much emotion.
“Well, you missed our morning meal. I went out looking for you. Then I saw you at the steps of the Meeda building. I’m not expecting you to share any good news.”
Leena walked over to a different tree and placed her hand on another metal badge. Theotello didn’t immediately follow. “Of course, you are correct. I am to leave for Bon Abbi in the morning.”
Puzzled by his confession, she paused. “That’s only a day’s travel. I thought for sure you would sail away to some country, never to return.”
“Wait. Stop Leena and take my hand.”
Theo extended his hand and clasped Leena’s hand. “Go ahead. You can confirm my intentions are good. There is no danger ahead, so this trip to Bon Abbi should concern you very little.”
“Then why is Brother Sammil leaving in the morning, too?” asked Leena.
“How do you know?”
Leena let the question linger a moment, knowing how Theotello hated to wait. “It’s nothing mysterious. I happened to be in the supply building and overhead Brother Sammil. He told Brother Lawrence to order supplies from now on since he was leaving Northport in the morning.”
Theotello tried to play down the impact of her knowledge. “I know nothing about his travel plans. Mere coincidence, we are both traveling.”
Leena huffed. “And now you are lying. Not an admirable trait for a Chronicler.”
“It was unwise to hide the truth from you. Yes, we are both traveling for the same reason. But I can’t share any details, for now. I must work through the evening at the Mercil Library before I leave for Bon Abbi. So, please say you will wait for me at the dock, early morning.”
“Nothing new. It seems I am always waiting for you.” Leena started to walk to another tree but stopped and turned around. “You will be careful, won’t you?”
“There is no danger,” Theo started to say, but Leena interrupted.
“The world outside of Northport is dangerous! You don’t blend well and seem to draw trouble. Trust no one. There were times people respected our calling. Today they fear us. This grove is a testament that the world kills those they fear.”
Theo looked down at his feet and nodded slowly. “If you won’t meet me in the morning, then do not leave Northport until I return.”
“You will find me when you return. Of that, you can be certain. Grace and peace to you.” Leena bowed and walked further into the grove. She heard the expected response behind her.
Theo turned around and headed back to the Mercil library. There, he planned to absorb as many details before morning but wasn’t sure why. Entering the Meeda building, the young Chronicler walked to the kitchen at the end of the hallway. The Canteen maintained fresh produce, cheese, and baked bread throughout the day.
Placing food on a wooden plank, Theo took a wine bladder, then left the kitchen. Entering the Mercil library, Theo pulled down bound materials and started reading. He drank some wine, ate bread and cheese while browsing. It would be a long evening.
Morning came with the sunlight bursting through the colored glass. He didn’t mean to fall asleep. Straightening his tunic, Theo ran out of the building and to the dock.
People from the Molly Red loaded and unloaded cargo. One hoisted a large barrel on his shoulder, walking to the end of the pier where they stacked the goods. Brother Lawrence would have someone move everything to storage later in the day.
Two people rested against the wall, as they watched Theotello make his way toward the Molly Red. Theo observed two armed guards near the ship before seeing someone else waiting. To his surprise, Leena was there with his travel bag packed.
“Leena, what are you doing here?” asked Theo as he gasped for air.
“Waiting.” She smiled, picked up the travel bag, and tossed it to the young apprentice.
Brother Sammil was talking with the captain of the Molly Red. When the conversation ended, he turned and walked down the gangplank. Sammil’s broad smile and arms spread wide, conveyed his pleasure to see both Theo and Leena at the dock.
He hugged Leena and whispered, “I knew he couldn’t hide anything from you.”
Turning to Theotello, he clasped hands and pulled him close. “I have loved you as my own. And now, I must let you go.”
Stepping back, Sammil wiped tears from his eyes. Looking around, he lowered his voice to protect his conversation. “Tell no one of our journeys, Leena. I may never see you two again, but you will always be with me!”
Without hesitation, Brother Sammil boarded the Molly Red. What Oona Sera said would happen was now in motion. Things would never be the same.