I stumbled through the doorway into the sacred hut and collapsed onto the fur rug. Sweat had soaked the inner wraps of the ceremonial garb in spite of the cool breeze from the sea that night, and I struggled to get out of the confining, heavy clothing. I let the pieces slip to the ground as I closed my eyes and breathed the salty cool air in deeply.

A moment later, the knock of a staff against the frame of the building brought me out of my stupor. It could only be Mhorik daring to enter the hut after the rebirth festival, and he would be sorely disappointed if he saw the ceremonial clothing scattered on the ground. I got up with a tiny grunt of effort, pulled up the clothes and hastily placed them on the pegs on the posts. I wrapped a thin hide around myself and fell back down on the rug

“C’min,” I mumbled. The entry cloth was pushed aside and Mhorik came in.

“A wonderful ritual, Dorua,” he said as he smiled. He stroked his long, white beard with excitement. “The fruit gatherers said they have high hopes for the season’s blossoms after that performance.”

I looked up at the old man through half-closed eyes. “Drained, tired,” I manage to form the words.

He looked down at me and frowned. “You pushed yourself too hard. Rest, and we’ll talk a bit later.”

I nodded, slumped down, and fell asleep on the rug.

*****

I awoke sometime later, wondering how long I had slept. I caught the scent of burning herbs, probably placed on the fire by Mhorik. The pungent smoke made the scar runes on my arm itch as it always did. I thought about tracing the flame rune to calm the fire, but decided playing with fire wasn’t a good idea when I’m still groggy.

I stood up with the hide still clinging to me. Clearing my head, I heard the festival still going on outside. I didn’t sleep that long.

Stumbling outside, I saw everyone from the village enjoying the festival. Some were draining the last of the burning ice drink. Others were feasting upon the remaining scraps left from the giant hunk of meat roasted over coals the whole day. One was dancing around wildly, letting the energy of the festival that I unleashed overtake him. Another couple were using the energy in the traditional way, hoping to be blessed with a child that year. A few others noticed me and nodded, but gave me space. They feared me like they didn’t fear Mhorik.

I found the old wizard sitting just outside the range of the firelight, facing toward the sea. I might not have seen him but the light of the large moon was shining off his pale hair and beard. He had grown so old in the years since he first took me as an apprentice. He tried to deny it, but the snowy hair told the truth where he wouldn’t.

He murmured a welcome as I sat down next to him. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw that he was looking up. Using the end of his staff, he was measuring something in the sky.

“Where is the Wizard at?” he asked all of the sudden, turning his gaze to me. I looked up and found the familiar cluster of stars that form the end of the staff as quickly as I can. Followed it down to the base and over. “Near where the sun rises,” I half guessed.

“Right. So, it is time.”

“For what?”

“For the convocation, Dorua. This year I feel I must go. And, you will go with me.”

The news shocked me. To the convocation? The meeting of the wizards?

“Wh… when?” I stammered out.

“In two weeks. Start preparing supplies tomorrow. It will be along trek.”

With that, Mhorik got up and walked off toward the sacred hut. I sat in the gloom for a moment, my mind racing around and around at the news, before physical fatigue hit me and I went off to bed.


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