The Fire Within

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Chapter 1:

The Man and the Bird

(Note: Mhykol is pronounced Michael. Annetoc is pronounced Anna-tock. Daen is pronounced Dane.)

Mhykol stumbled along, weary from the day’s work and anxious to relax. He had spent the day hauling grain, and it felt like punishment considering they knew he lacked physical strength.  When he reached the river he quickly undressed, giving special attention to safeguard his mother’s spirit stone. It was always all had left of her and was sacred to him. The stone was a shade deeper then night, and sparkled like fresh dew in the sun. Mhykol dived into the pool; its chilly waters purifying him from the sweat and grime. He floated along, his cloudy brown eyes watching the sky.

He thought about the coming day. The 20th cycle of his life, when he becomes a man. His thoughts began to drift to darker things. The Warlord Grom was on the march again, people said he was an evil man that sold his soul to gain mystical powers. Mhykol didn’t know if that was true or not but he knew that Grom destroyed everything and everyone in his warpath. He was relentless and unstoppable. Tales floated around of his unholy acts. Eating children, bathing in blood, tearing people apart with his bare hands. Mhykol shook those thoughts off when his ear twitched, he heard something. Mhykol looked over and saw Daen. When Daen realized he was spotted he ran off.

Mhykol cursed himself for not paying attention. Daen had followed him, and had caught Mhykol swimming, the village people considered it unholy for a human to swim. They believed that belonged to the fishes, Mhykol thought that was idiotic. Mhykol got out and dried himself off and got dressed. He looked to the ground to find his tracks; he was obviously heading back to the village. Daen was always the one causing trouble. He was also the one that regarded Mhykol with the utmost suspicion and hate and he was always looking for Mhykol's downfall, now he found it. He pounded through the forest, heading towards the village as his lithe form flitted through the trees. Not once did the thought of running away cross his mind.

As he neared the village he saw that his Father was waiting for him. "Mhykol! I have to tell you something. It concerns all that was kept from you." he hissed. Before he could say anything more, two of the village warriors grabbed Mhykol. "Out of the way! This boy is being brought to The Wise Man!" They yelled at his father. He calmly stepped back, watching the men carry Mhykol away.

The Wise Man was at the center of the village, he was "conversing" with the "spirits". As the warriors came towards him he raised one of his hands, ordering them to stop. He unpacked the bones; they were carved with glyphs and were bleach white. He started muttering under his breath and rolling the bones in his hands. He cast them down with great extravagance. He studied the bones, noting the glyphs that turned up. "The bones have spoken! A trial will be held! Gather all who wish to see, here!" The Wise Man cried, his voice echoing with authority. Mhykol was afraid, the whole thing looked like a sham, and a sham would let anything happen to him.

Everyone except the children had gathered around to see Mhykol's fate. Mhykol knew every face. There was Trum, the man that taught him how to hunt. There was Shari, the woman who looked after him when his father was gone, and there was his Father. Theirs faces held no emotion, their eyes glimmering in the light. They had built a roaring fire, and in the falling sun, it cast long shadows upon the ground. The Wise Man, was sitting in front of the fire, eyes closed and muttering to himself. The Wise Man hardly spoke out loud, and always gave a great show. Mhykol never like him, he could always tell he was a fake, he never got why everyone else was so ignorant. The Wise Man's muttering ceased. He rose up, unsheathing his wicked ceremonial knife. "The Trial is nigh! If the man if innocent, the Good Spirits will intervene!" his voice rang out on the deathly silence.

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