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Mantle Maker

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At some point around forty years ago, Caineghis started to wear a mantle. One day he wore nothing but his belt, sandals, and robe -and whatever he may have worn underneath, something the smitten young Gallians who came into this world after Caineghis’ time on the battlefield ended spent much time fantasizing about- and then the next day it seemed like nobody in Gallia would be able to see him without the blue and gold fabric that covered much of his right side.

The sudden change in his daily appearance with a garment that was likely of foreign make, while ultimately favorable to most of his peers over him choosing instead to forgo one of his usual articles of clothing (and being somewhat of a slap to the face to those who felt otherwise), nonetheless lead to much gossip. Caineghis would respond to these prying questions with nothing but a slight, knowing smile and -if the asker had been paying close attention- a bit of a blush as he said ‘I wonder…’ but without any sort of answer people were left to come up with their own and as those prone to gossip were prone to doing, they allowed their imaginations to run wild.

Who had given it to him? Had the king finally found a suitor among the many that had approached him over the years that suited him? But the silk, the golden thread used to embroider the intricate design that covered the entire piece of fabric, the fur that lined the collar, the stitching and the golden chain that held the mantle together… few people in Gallia had the wealth to pay for the materials that made this magnificent mantle, much less compensate whatever skilled artisan had crafted it for their labor. Had it been a gift from a visiting friend who had the money to spare on such a luxurious item? Perhaps King Ramon, or his brother, Prince Renning, who both would have no issues in appropriating the small portion of Crimea’s vast wealth required to make the piece? Maybe it was a peace offering from a dignitary that had yet to gain Caineghis’ favor?

Eventually, one of the chatty cats that had chosen to occupy their time obsessing over the clothing of a king realized that there was one person who Caineghis likely confided all these answers to.

Giffca, the man known as Caineghis’ shadow.

And to their credit, Giffca did know.

Giffca knew who had spent hundreds of hours making the mantle in secrecy. Giffca knew who had surprised Caineghis with the blue and gold garment right as they were about to retire to bed after the conclusion of the king’s birthday festivities, together.

Giffca knew the pleased shock on Caineghis’ face as he unfurled the fabric, and he knew the wide smile that soon replaced it. Giffca knew the warm embrace of the king as he thanked the one who made him the mantle, and he knew the lingering taste of Caineghis as he gave the crafter of the mantle a short kiss of appreciation before they both got into bed, having a full day’s worth of work ahead of them.

Giffca knew how Caineghis fell asleep with the person who made him the mantle wrapped in his arms that night, and he knew how excited Caineghis was to wear the mantle the next morning, to show it off to everyone.

Giffca knew how Caineghis was a bit sad he couldn’t share the creator of his mantle with everyone who asked him where he had gotten it from, who had given it to him as a gift. Giffca knew the reason for the secrecy, the reason why Caineghis’ relationship with the person who made him the mantle had to remain out of the public eye. He knew why the person who made the mantle wanted it to remain a secret, and he knew that as much as it hurt Caineghis’ heart that he couldn’t shout to the world how much he loved the one who made the mantle, above all else Caineghis wanted to respect the mantle-maker’s desire for privacy.

Giffca knew that Caineghis gripped the garment tightly whenever possible, thinking of the person who gave it him, sad it wasn’t his beloved’s hand. Giffca knew that Caineghis cherished every tender moment he could have with the maker of the mantle, every look, every slight touch as documents were passed from one person to another, every word that was passed between their lips.

Giffca knew that Caineghis loved the one who made him the mantle with all his heart, and he knew that the one who made the mantle may very well be the single being in and out of Tellius that Caineghis loved more than Gallia itself.

Without a doubt, Giffca knew who made the mantle.

But he’d never tell.