Coffee Break Read – Destiny

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“Come forward and face your destiny.”
The voice from beneath the stag’s head mask that addressed the two warriors was, surprisingly, female.
Tiach and Kungrun obeyed, both having to bow their heads to pass under the lintel of the door. They stepped together into the booth their friends had woven from strips of willow and yew, the day before, then decorated with ribbons of brightly coloured cloth.
The unfamiliar weight of the ceremonial amber beads newly around his wrist, Tiach faced the unblinking gaze of the obsidian-eyed stag. Was he was making the right choice? All the doubts he had suppressed before rose up like taunting demons. He knew he was not supposed to look, but from the corner of his eye he could see the bearded profile of Kungrun’s face and caught the determined set of his expression.
It was too late now for doubts.
They were committed and had to see this through. Not for themselves alone, but for those who would follow. They were the first in the clan to claim this right, but he knew they would not be the last.
The shamen was chanting and her voice rose with the smoke from the small fire of scented woods that she had lit. Both filling the booth. Then she grasped each man by the wrist with startling strength, pulling them around to face each other at last.
Feeling the smoothness of ancient bone thrust between his fingers, Tiach held his hand very still.
This was the moment.
The fragile bone that came from the breast of a long dead bird. How many had stood here before them, resolve tested by this symbolism? Who knew? But for sure it had never been two men who did so.
Taich found himself profoundly grateful that the smoke gave him every excuse for the tears in his eyes as the shamen spoke the words that bound him to his soulmate in marriage.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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