Lana was staring at the golden waters of Lake Mistress as her silk dress muddied up on the coast's edge. Mother will be angry upon her return to the keep, but she did not care. This was her moment to clear her mind. To dream.
She would close her eyes and she could hear the sounds of nature whispering in her ears. Oh, it was always such a treat to listen to. The waters crackled and danced in unison, the clouds would sing a subtle humming noise, and the nearby trees would caress the slimmers of air as they kissed its branches. She would embrace this moment every day as the sunset mellowed into the horizon. It was her moment of zen. A time of peace, to forget the day's events and of those that have yet to occur.
Lana was of age 25, no longer a booming bud but a blossomed flower. Everyone said she looked like Mother, and she can see why. She had the same beautiful golden locks, hanging free down to her waist. Her eyes wore the same blue hue, with the with the same alertness of a doe's eyes. Fair skin and soft, glowing features, Princess Lana wore the very essence of her mother's reflection. She was a goddess in the eyes of men.
She threw a rock at the water as she caught a glimpse of her reflection. It rippled subtly, almost as if mocking her. It wasn't pleasant to look at herself. Not when it was getting close to her younger brother's First Breathe, his day of birth.
It is meant to be a day of joy and happiness, to celebrate one's own siblings and their life...but to her it was also a day of remorse; a day to weep.
She felt her eyes swell as the thought poured through her mind. Picking up a rock, she rose from her seat on the edge of the lake. Stiffening her back, she aggressively moved her right arm back and then lunged toward the water, tossing the rock into the deep.
“No.”, her mouth quivered, as her eyes streamed with tears. Without thinking about it, her knees fell to the ground. “Why me?! Why him?! Please, oh please great Goddess of Life and Hearth, please let him be. Let him grow up to be the man he has but dreamt of in his crib. The boy is nothing but a babe, a gift from you to me; a gift of friendship, and without his, I am but a broken vessel in your midst. Please sweet lady, I beg you...” The wind mourned for her, almost as if it knew of her sadness, but she knew better than to expect an apparition from a goddess...the gods never answered her prayers.
She pondered the thought as she adjusted herself back onto the edge of the lake, on a plump rock shaped like a stony stool. Do the gods truly exist? If so, why would they impose such cruelty into her life? Into her brother's? These gods were the very reason for her heartbreak, but they're also the heart of her people's culture and traditions, and for that she does not completely hate them.
The culture of the Lon'sayan is an ancient one – and it is followed faithfully by all. Those who ignored the words of the Goddess Akyra, written on the stone celts at Pyriite Rock, have been subjected to a public beheading.
In Lon'sayan culture, for example, it is custom for a man to hunt a glowing cyclops, freshwater creatures that stood at nearly ten feet long. This is how Father had conquered Mother, and how her young brother Kyle would have conquered his own lady. It is a ritual of first impressions. If a man were to like a certain other very much, then it is in his best interest to demonstrate his boyish charms to her. Lana had never understood the interest in such childish play, but it is the way of love in Lon'sa.
Another tradition is to celebrate each First Breathe with the sulk of the Second Sun's Tear. As a gift from the gods to mortal men, every king's first son shall be born on the rise of the Second Sun, which ascends into the sky every other year. In the years in between, we are graced with the presence of the First Sun, which ascends and descends daily into the heavens. When the Second Sun reaches the horizon, it is said that it drops a crystal unto Lake Mistress, so named the Second Sun's Tear, and it is then that a festival is thrown where the strongest warrior to retrieve this crystal would be named a knight.
The Tear is filled with a glowing liquid, which is said to be the blessed spirits of the of strongest warriors that have died in times of bloodshed through the history of time.
Lana has only seen her brother drink this liquid six times, but soon it will be time again to see him drink it yet again...and then never again. Although normally she'd be excited for her brother's First Breathe, it is another tradition that impales her from the joy to see her brother grow stronger.
In her culture, women aren't allowed to rule the kingdom, but they won't deny them their spiritual right to the throne. The spirit is divine and is to be treated as a sacred object of life, and the outer skin is only but a burden to be relieved of as we enter the heavens upon our deaths. Females are not allowed to inherit a throne because they are thought of as the lesser gender, and would only be a burden on her people during pregnancy, war, and challenges to the throne. However, although spirits are believed to have genders as well, they are still of higher importance than a body. Therefore, a spirit inherits a throne, not the vessel.
The gods would agree with their people's culture, and so they decreed a single commandment in the cases where females were first-born: every female heir must inherit the body of a male by his age of 14 in order to rule. This male must be the next in line after the female, but if a sibling is absent, then the male must be chosen among the kingdom by the gods, although it has never been done as there have always been males sons for a King to choose from, even if they were bastards.
The ritual to inherit the boy's body is cruel: the boy is paralyzed awake using a fine powder found at Pyriite Rock. He is laid on a stone table beneath the Temple of Akyra, and the girl is placed ontop of him. Barbaric men and women from the Southern Lands chant and dance around them in a forgotten tongue, and it is said that shadows dance beneath the shimmering torches of the night. Fire burns, and hot stones are thrust unto the girl, ontop of the boy. And then, they melt.
© Copyright 2017 E J Pierre. All rights reserved.
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