Father has a semi-circle of chairs set before one of the fires in the great hall, with a small table before the one intended for Sister Mays. The chest and cloth are already on the table, and Jes and I go to bring up the disk when we are told she has arrived. When we get to the hall, Alan and Mynar are already showing her the chest and cloth. She doesn’t find either particularly interesting, nor do the two priests who are also part of the group.
Father decided to have this meeting in the great hall so as many people as possible can drift around the fringes, hoping to fight rumor with reality. Taver is also there, but like me, hasn’t bared his sword.
I lay the disk before Sister Mays, and unwrap it. Even my untrained eye can see the skill of the person who formed the disk out of brittle flint. Sister Mays picks it up gently, holds it for a moment, and lays it back on the table.
“I feel neither good nor evil in this,” she decides. “But there must be some reason for Rout to seek it. Perhaps it should, for a few days, lay on our alter, surrounded by blessings.”
“No,” I object. “You still have too many wounded in your wards, and we do not know for certain this brings no danger with it.”
“And father will not allow it in the castle chapel, since the chapel is in the keep, and so is mother,” Mynar adds.
“The Wayfarer Chapel near the lower gate is sparsely visited this time of year,” one of the priests suggests.
“It can also be easily defended,” Lord Taver adds. Good point, after going to all of the trouble this chest has put us to, it would be annoying to have the disk stolen.
“I will help watch it, if I may,” Alan volunteers and Taver accepts. Jes also steps forward.
Father agrees, and we form a parade through the streets. My guards and I leading. Lord Taver and a squadron of city guards following, and everyone else in between us. Sister Mays places the disk on the altar, and the two priests recite the same cleansing ritual used to banish demon remnants. Throughout it all, the disk lays there, showing nothing but skilled workmanship.
Finally, most of us go back to the castle, leaving Alan and Jes and a lot of guards.
Father calls in the historians who have been helping Kels re-discover how to make flint weapons, to see if they can date the chest. They are very excited, historians are not used to being considered helpful, and here they are assisting in two of the more important events in recent times. Mostly historians are ignored, to better facilitate making the same mistakes yet again.
They aren’t able to help a lot, but they are sure the chest is much newer than the disk. The making of flint weapons (and, one assumes, flint disks of unknown function) was well over before the brass hinges and latch would have been produced. The wooden pegs holding the box together are of no help, even today wood carvers will use the same technique for appearance. And to avoid paying blacksmiths for nails, when they can craft wooden pins themselves.
For three days, twice blessed each day, the disk lays on the altar, innocuous, inert. Even Alan admits to having nothing else to try.
After consulting with mother, father tells me to put it back in the chest and lock it in the vault. So now we have two boxes of mysteries secured, although the general population thinks there is only one.
“Any comment,” I ask my Sword as I put the chest in a dark, but not damp, corner, and get no answer other than a feeling of disinterest.
Jes has gotten father’s approval to tell the Shaman about the disk, and so has retreated to his room. Mynar has come to the realization it is better to visit mother each morning and engage in halting conversation with her new junior Ladies. If he does so, mother leaves him alone to retreat to his books and library.
When Jes reappears, tired and cold looking, he has no new information or even guesses, although the Shaman are willing to accept Jes’ opinion the knives and disk are related. They give Jes permission to tell the four of us about the knives. I’m sure that Jes didn’t tell them he had already shared that information.
Alan has gone back to smithing, but comes to the evening meal in the hall each night. Most people are just enduring the cold and wishing for the spring that is still weeks off, believing the excitement over, and life back to normal.
I come down early, and see Alan on a bench beside the fire, watching as the trestle tables are set up and the head table covered with white tablecloths. He looks forlorn.
“Did your blacksmithing go poorly today,” I ask as I settle on a bench across from him.
He shrugs and hands me a iron disk. I recognize the size and shape.
“Does it do anything?”
“It would be good to hold down papers on a windy day, if your desk were outside.” Definitely forlorn. “I have traveled since I was sixteen and my father disowned me. I have been across Isal, Halft, Verkal, and into the edges of Mysk. I have been to Abalem many times. Yet I have never met an Enchanter or even seen, much less slain, a demon. You just sit in your castle, in your hilltop city, and fight—defeat—both, and have a mystical mystery fall at your feet.”
“So life isn’t fair?” I ask.
“So maybe I made the wrong choice believing travel would be the way to knowledge,” he answers me.
I heft the disk, “It would probably hurt a lot if you threw it at someone, too.” I deliberately ignore the ‘father disowning’ comment; someday I will find out what a sixteen year out boy could do to warrant being disowned, but not today. Today he needs food and distraction, not questions with hard answers.