The Chosen One Part One

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The Chosen One
Part One
by

Jacquimac

The invaders came the first time bearing gifts, we all thought that they were just traders but a year later they arrived in force with rifles and cannon and attacked us in great numbers. We didn't stand a chance and retreated deeper and deeper into the Great Forest where we would be safe for a time.

Our Shamans and Wise Ones foretold of the invasion some years ago, usually their advice and warnings were good, but this time even they had difficulty understanding the Visions and Dreams. We were a peaceful people with no Gods we lived by tilling the land hunting in the forests and fishing in the rivers, the land, forest and waters provided everything we needed.

Although we worshipped no Gods we did at various times of the year give thanks to Gia the Earth Mother and the Green Man of the forest, not as some tribes did, with ritual sacrifice but by rejoicing for the bounteous gifts we had received during the year. When we killed and animal everything was put to use, the meat we ate, skins provided clothing and shelters, even the bones and hoofs where put to use by turning them into tools of various kinds, we wasted almost nothing and what we couldn't eat like the some of the offal the dogs did.

The invaders called us primitive and heathens, alright we might be primitive by their standards but we understood the land, forests, waters and the elements better than they did. We didn't waste time on our knees praying to some unknown Deity they called a God, no we worked , played and rested life was too short not to enjoy life to it's fullest.

After we had retreated into the Great Forest some of our scouts reported that the Shamans and Wise Ones that had been captured and put to death for what the invaders called Witchcraft Witchcraft what a joke, there wasn't any magic in the use of herbs and other plants being used as medicines, that was a knowledge gained over many generations and carefully preserved among our people.

After we had been forced into the Great Forest our Wise Ones left us for a while, where they went we didn't know that was Wise Ones business and for them alone. When they returned many days later we were told that the Green Man and Gia would come to our aid but only if we gave up one of our own to them.

That alarmed everyone, never before had we sacrificed a living body, but Mardra the Senior of the Wise Ones calmed our fears telling us that whoever was selected would life a full and long life but would be greatly by the Great beings, This did ease our fears somewhat, but we a close community and very rarely did anyone leave the village.

At the time of the invasion I was a child off around seven years but even as children we were taught to respect our surrounding and the life it held, our lessons were reading and writing so that we could keep our family records up to date, the rest of the lessons revolved around the land and the forests, we were all taught to swim at an early age so even in our play we learned about our surrounding and we interacted with other forms of life whether it be the birds of the air or the deer or the forest or the fish in the rivers and lakes we learned and sometimes we learned the hard way and a child would be killed by one of the Great Cats due to going too far from the village.

The Great Cats were big as long as man was tall and very fast and powerful, usually we avoided each other but if you met a mother cat with her newly born young you usually ended up dead unless you get somewhere safe. They very rarely entered our Villages but if they did they usually went to homes of the Wise Ones, for what reason I didn't know but would in time find out.

The Tribe had a year to select whoever was to be given up to the Great Beings and it would be up to Mardra and her Clan who was selected in the end, every child between seven and ten years of age would be put through various tests and ordeals to decide who would be given the honour and the majority of parents were hoping that their child was rejected.

In the whole village I was the only one without a family although I was treated no differently from any other child, to the village I was everyone’s child, my parents had died mysteriously form a sickness that only affected them and that all the medicines form the Wise Ones and Shamans couldn't heal, after they died their bodies as was the custom were burned and their ashes scattered across the land and forest.

I had never really known my parents being only weeks old when they died and so I had been adopted by the tribe, who fed and cared for me although Mardra seemed to have a special interest in me.

Our Wise Ones were all women and the Shamans mainly men who were different in some way from other men of the village, being young we didn't know why and what made them different and as village life was a constant learning experience for the young it didn't matter to us. Being different wasn't wrong it was a gift from the Earth Mother to be revered because they were special in various ways in some way and Mardra explained in her lessons that everyone of was different in some way, some where taller that others, some had dark hair and some light hair she told us that being different was what us recognisable to each other and that there was no right or wrong type of person.

We had a couple of children that were mentally handicapped and Mardra told us that they always have the minds of a small child but should still be treated with dignity and respect and not feared, children like this were very rare but the village kept and looked after them and never scorned or humiliated them in anyway, to the people they were still ours and always would be even though they would never be able to more than the simplest of tasks.

At seven everyday is an adventure for us whether it was work or play but I was different and everyone knew it, I played with the other children but sometimes would go and roam the edges of the forest around the village, everyone said I was looking for something but could never find it. I found the peace and tranquillity of the forest soothing and loved the quietness where all you could here were the birds of other creatures moving through the forest. On one occasion I had faced down a Great Cat and now and again saw the creature in the trees near the village, how did I know it was the same cat you ask, well it was larger than any other cat and jet Black except for the golden coloured strip that ran round it's neck. When I described it to the Wise Ones I was told that I had the Great Mother herself and it was Omen of great things to come, thinking about the meeting I wondered why I never showed fear or why it hadn't attacked me but in the end I was alive to tell what I saw and was happy with that.

Weeks went by and the test started, at first they seemed simple enough, usually revolving around what we had already learned about the land, forest and rivers or maybe about the creatures we interacted with or about the seasons the times of plantings and harvesting our crops. One test did seem unusual even to us children, one by one we were taken into one of the communal shelters and saw laid out various objects and told to pick four items, which the Wise Ones made a note of after which we would have to explain why we selected what we did. In my case I chose a small skinning knife, a pan, a picture that represented a canoe and a fishing line.

The Wise One that conducted the test with me asked why I hadn't taken a bow or a bigger knife, why had I selected the Canoe and the pan and the fishing line, I told her that the canoe was means of transport, the pan could be used not just for cooking but to catch rainwater, the fishing line could be used to fish or be used as a snare and the why would I need a larger knife to skin small animals. Various other questions were asked my choice but the answers I gave seemed to satisfy her at least I though so.
As I left the shelter I was told not to say what I had selected or what the test was.

A month later our numbers had been reduced to six of which I was one, I expected that as I was the only one with no family so wouldn't be a loss to anyone. We were taken away from the village and with what we had selected were dropped of at various places in and around the Great Forest and were given fourteen sunrises to make our way back to the village, we could only arrive on the fourteenth day not before or after, at the same time we had to forage for ourselves and provide more than what we wear wearing at the time which was almost nothing, even our footwear was taken off us but we were given one days supply of food to get us started.

I had been dropped off at a small river in the forest itself, the canoe tied to a tree near the bank, the pan, fishing line and small knife were lying on the bank, after my escort took everything else she left and I never felt more alone than any time in my short live. Well the time had come to see if I could by what I had been taught, the first thing was some sort of shelter which I made using fallen branches and some of huge leaves of the trees, I made the shelter well up in a tree easily accessible and a safe and comfortable as I could.

I dug round the roots of trees and found some worms and grubs and fished for while and caught a few that were big enough to eat. For fire we had been left a flint and steel so that was easy enough as long as it was kept small and contained in a pit, there was always the danger of setting fire to the trees causing great damage to the forest. Some of the excess line I made into snares and placed them some distance from my small camp, those I would inspect in the morning. After I had completed my tasks I checked the canoe was secure was the night and on a full stomach climbed into my shelter and went to sleep till the sun rose.

I was up at sunrise and after doing what I had to do to relieve myself and washed I went to check the canoe, it was still tied up. I then checked my snares and found a few rabbits in them which I quickly killed, I took them back to camp and skinned, cleaned and cooked them, some of the meat I wrapped in leaves to provide me with a meal for later. I selected a couple of fine fish bones and manages to make a hole in one end and sharpened the other, good I now had a couple of rough needles for later when the skins were ready, I had recovered all my snares and packed everything I had which wasn't much into my canoe and dismantled the rest of the camp, I tried to leave as little sign as possible that I had been there, boarded my canoe and paddled down stream for a while.

While going down stream I was on the lookout not just for danger but for a large gourd that be hollowed out and used to hold a supply of water, it took a while but I found one that large enough for my needs and that too went into the canoe. I continued paddling till well into afternoon and eventually found a small clearing with a sloping bank, I secured the canoe and again a shelter off the ground after which I set a few snares, I was going to fish later but I wanted to hollow out that gourd and do a bit more cleaning of those rabbit skins, if they were ready by tonight at least I could make something for my feet. As it looked like it would rain tonight after the gourd was ready I made a catchment to catch enough water at least to fill it. I secured the gourd into the ground near the trees, then using leaves and branches made a largish funnel which I placed over the top of the gourd then I fished for while, cleaned and cooked my catch, ate and slept till morning.

Food wise I now had a couple of days worth, today it poured down non stop so I dragged the canoe onto the bank well away from the river and turned it over, went and checked my snares which had two rabbits in, back at camp I leaned then and smoke the meat so it would keep for a day or two, then cleaned the skins. I wasn't going anywhere today so the skins I already had I made into simple moccasins, they'd do for a few days. Towards dusk the rain stopped and I retrieved a now full gourd and after eating walked deeper into the forest to look for some fruit I found few bananas and a couple of oranges and they would be added to my diet.

Being on the river after a heavy downpour you had to watch for the water rising, and dead falls that could lie just under they water and damage a canoe,I hadn't yet been taught to build and repair canoes. I decided to spend another night where I was just in case there was any flood water coming down the river, no way did I want to be on the river if that hit, my size and strength would be against me and the canoe I had was a child’s canoe and not build like the big ones which were a lot stronger.

The day I spent gathering more food and cleaning more skins and stitching them together with the dried sinew from the rabbits I had caught, you dry the sinew over a smokey fire then make it supple using oils which I got from the fish,It wasn't anything to shout about but it did what was needed. As I suspected there was a flood water, I watched as surged passed the clearing coming over the bank and carrying some dead fall trees with it, if that had caught me on the river I wouldn't have survived.

Over the next few days I paddled down stream, caught rabbits and fished, made myself some rough clothing and generally enjoyed myself surviving of the land, OK I was only doing simple stuff as regards hunting but at seven a deer is too big handle and would be a waste of resources but I had enough to survive and stay healthy and well fed. I had paced myself as at the beginning I didn't know where I was, but as time went on I started to recognise features that told me I was nearing the village and I had two left to get there, at the rate I was going I could be there in a few hours, but instead made camp until the fourteenth day.

The morning of the fourteenth day and I dismantled my camp, like the camps before I tried to leave as little sign as possible that was when I noticed the Mother of the Great Cats watching me, how long she had been lying there I don't know but all she did was watch. Just as was about to leave for the village I heard a voice "You have done well little one, you have learned your lessons well and are in harmony with your surroundings" I looked around but could see nobody, the Mother of Cats was still lying under the tree. I wondered if I had imagined the voice, but I got into my canoe and after paddling for a while reached the village.

I had amassed quite of food and took it and handed it to one of the old women so it wasn't wasted then went and sat at the village centre till everyone else was back, nobody approached and slowly the others arrived back at the village, most looking in pretty poor shape, I was the only one that had brought back more than what I started with one or two had lost some if not all of their items.

The Wise Ones came and took us to individual huts were we had tell them of our experience and how we survived after which we all checked out by one the one Shamans who treated some for wounds. We were finally allowed to go and get cleaned and dressed into something better, that I was glad off the rabbit shins were too hot in this heat, all our equipment and clothing that we had made on our trek was taken off us and examined by the Wise Ones, Shamans and Hunters.

Three days later the village was brought together, the choice was made and preparations were to made for the chosen one to leave the village, Mardra stepped forward

"Little one step forward "she said

Yes I was called little one, it wasn't my name that was Braka , no I was called little one because I was smaller than any one else in the Village except the babies. SO I stepped out in front of Mardra

"You are the Chosen One, you will be going to join the Great Ones soon" she continued

"Yes Mardra" I said

The Chief stepped up and everyone fell silent,

"Braka will leave us dressed in the finest we have, the Chosen one will not shame our people" he ordered

With that everyone returned to their homes, I knew the families would be happy that their children weren't chosen.

Mardra told me to accompany her to her hut were I would live till it was time to leave. Once we inside a few of the other Wise Ones joined us.

"Braka, you have been chosen to join the Great Ones as one of them. You told us that someone spoke to you this morning but that except for the Mother of the Great Cats there was nobody around. The Mother of the Great Cats does not speak to us except those that are very special and that was the reason you were chosen although you did better than the rest during the ordeal.
There is however something you should know, you name will be changed to Leia, yes it's a girl name it means child of heaven but form this moment on that is what you are called. The Great Ones have stated you will be changed into a girl and become one of them, so starting now you will learn to behave like a girl and dress like a girl at all times. There is nothing to afraid off and in accepting this you will be helping your people and we are all here to help you.
Just to show that we mean you no harm Kara and Alani are going to undress and show you something" said Mardra

I watched as Kara and Alani undressed and was surprised to see they were actually men.

"I thought all the Wise Ones were women" I said

"Some women are born with male bodies, they are rare and usually like these two are very clever and wise, it is the same with the Shamans but remember how special we are and the tasks we do. It is one way of sheltering them from the outside and at the same time using their knowledge and skills. I told you in you lessons that we are different well this is another way of being different and our people accept it as a way of live. said Mardra

Kara and Alani once dressed came to me

"Leia, if we could have women’s bodies we would but for us that isn't possible it is enough that we are accepted as women and treated as we deserve. You on the other hand will have the body of a girl according to the Great Ones, By rights we should have tested the girls of the village but were instructed to test all of your age group, and you would do better than anyone else, even the Great Cat Mother looks after and speaks to you" said Alani

"You know you are very special, you always have been. you were never like any other child of the village even though you were never treated any different from them. The whole Village loves you." said Kara

"Enough, Leia knows her duty to her people but we must get her ready to meet the village tomorrow. The women have been tasked with making her finest clothing they can and tomorrow will be a busy and unusual day for everyone so Leia needs to fed before she is put to bed" stated Mardra



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