"The trees used to laugh at me", he confessed to the old men perched above him at the table. |
The long-faced man at the far end of the table blinked slowly, almost as if his eyelids were made of glass and applying too much pressure would shatter them. He inhaled sharply and deliberately, but he exhaled much slower. His gaze was fixed on the child in front of him.
"They never said anything. They just laughed. I heard it, but what's worse is I felt it. There was a cacophony no matter where I went - it sounded different every time, but the laughter.. It always felt the same.. like cold iron wrapped tightly around your neck..", he pleaded to the old elder, "I can't go back there."
" Your spirit bleeds from you like colors from ancient cloth. Your aguish is self-inflicted, and we, the Seven, have made our decision. You will go to the wilderness."
Head hanging heavily, the condemned slowly lifted his eyes without moving any other part of his body. His pale skin looked ethereal in the flickering light of the fire, the bones of his knee, bulbous, accentuated his malnourishment and youth.
It had been a full year since he first went into the wilderness. It was the tenth Hyul of his existence, the age where boys of the Makla tribe confront the spirits assigned to them at birth. Each boy born into the tribe is marked by a Shaman - the mark indicates their spirit - water, fire, wind, and metal were the most common. The manner in which these boys confront their spirit is determined by the Seven, and requires them to find one of the spirits of their marking. Once found, they must bring the spirit from hiding.
For thousands of years these spirits had kidnapped and drained the blood from humans relentlessly and unchecked. Men from all over the kingdoms organized with their steel weapons, their enchanted staves, and their metal armors, and each had been utterly decimated because these weapons forged by the hands of men were insufficient to touch the wind that carried the spirits. Families, towns, cities, nations, and even entire continents were wiped out of existence until the long-faced member of the Seven, Folo, in an act of desperation, spent four hundred years crafting a new weapon. An infinitely heavy, but small, hammer that he forged and reformed and strengthened and pounded. And once it was finished, he ravaged hordes of spirits with it. With each successful bashing the hammer became stronger and stronger. Soon the mountains held legions of hammer crafters, and the spirits started to retreat, but the Folo and the six others who originally joined him became the Seven.
Cravo was to confront his spirit on his tenth Hyul, and had failed. He hid for an entire Hyul before he was found, and now that he'd been found was condemned to confront his spirit - this time weaponless. Cravo would die, and he couldn't change it. Folo looked down upon him and made the sign of the seven, waving his hand in the shape of a seven pointed star, whispered to Cravo, "Into the wilderness. Your spirit awaits you."