“Understanding is enough for now,” The Shautu agreed. “At least I’m not a monster in your eyes.”
The King couldn’t contain his question. “Can you really change into a bird?”
“Falcon,” clarified the Shaman. “The answer is yes. It is one of the requirements of the Blue Robe.”
William eyed him speculatively, but the Shautu shook his head. “Never mind how. There are many complexities involved, none of which I quite understand. Now, I have a gift for you.”
“A gift?” The Warrior King stared at the Shaman’s empty hands.
“Nothing tangible, but a prediction, a prophecy. You will have a son.”
All camaraderie fled. William looked stark and disturbed. The subject of a son had struck home.
“When the gypsies come to our village, we chase them with dogs and stones. Had I known of this prediction when you stood in the clearing, I might have done the same to you. Have I humbled myself to a fortune teller?”
The Shautu was not put off. “I have certain gifts, which do not include concocting useless potions or lying to lovesick girls. You will have a son. I’m telling you the truth.”
The King gave an odd bark of laughter. “May it be as you predict, but I’m an old man at thirty-seven. I ache and chill; sleep is often denied me. The leeches tell me it is not the plague, chiefly because I’m still living. The Earth Skyll, Elymas, is currently concocting a remedy. He claims it will be perfected upon my return.”
“Despite his remedy, you’ll have a son,” the Shautu replied, then added, “In a twelve month.” He stretched out his arm and without warning, the falcon landed. “Your father’s soul has easement, but not until I gather my brethren for the final absolution will he truly know peace. I will send a feather to you from my falcon.” Lightly, he touched one of the white circles on the bird’s wing. “A feather dyed blue. When you receive it, know that your father has found his road in the Deep.”
“Peace this day and each day waking between the Royal House of Casoria and the servant of the Elyon,” said William. “As long as there is breath in my body, the Eld Forest, as well as the other Sikestran, are sacred. I will keep my word.”
“Well spoken.” The Shautu nodded in agreement.
The King turned to go, then turned back to the Seer. “Will I see you again?”
An odd look of sympathy rested on the Seer’s face. “I can’t say. It’s still possible, but if we never meet again, know that I will see you in the face of your son.”