The Empty Boy

 Sovarden, as Gwynli his mother named him, was staring vaguely at a crowd of people, of whom he was standing before. He did not know exactly why he was standing in front of them, and truth be told he did not know exactly who they were. Listening Sovarden caught a few words of their talk but he could only string together a few sentences he heard and make sense of it before forgetting what had gone before or after them. He did not understand what these people were talking about and did not particularly care as he never remembered anything that ever happened to him anyway; try as he might he could never seem to make sense of the world around him.

The village of Iscar was a small village in the world made up of many huts and a few more solid wooden houses. Iscar had gone relatively unnoticed in the passage of history, known for its population of farmers and mountain hunters it was widely shunned by travelers being as it was an unfriendly place for strangers and there was not much there to offer in the way of trade. Currently the men of Iscar were gathered upon the village knoll in the centre of the village; arguing over the fate of one of the young boy’s currently on the cusp of manhood; Sovarden. What Sovarden did not understand was that the Iscarian men were arguing over whether or not the trial of manhood was to apply to him.

Abe the grizzled Sword-Chief stood sombre and tall. His role in the village was to tutor the young men in the way of hand to hand Iscarian fighting and basic hunting skills. Being the solely dedicated warrior of the Iscarian’s Abe’s counsel was respected by all the men; save a few. Frowning at the collection of men around him Abe’s voiced boomed out, “Surely you do not consider this addled young boy to be able to complete the trial? He does not even recognise the day of the Taum for peaces sake.” Abe stared down his opponent in the debate William the Hill, the Chief-Bovine stock. “Leave him exempt from the trial and set him instead the peaceful task of caring for the chickens. You all know how fond I am of the lad and his skill with the blade comes naturally; about the only thing that does. Yet he is not there in spirit and will be dangerous with any work more harrowing then the feeding of the lowest valued livestock.”

“All men here have taken the trial. No foreign men may say of Iscar that the men have not proved their courage and their manhood.” Intoned the sneering voice of William the Hill, staring straight back into the grey eyes of Abe, “I will not stand by and let the first man to abide in Iscar to not take the trial and get away with it. I do not accept the excuses you so righteously, put forth. We all here recognise your fondness of the lad and your sympathy towards his condition. Yet men, mark my words, he will be the first of many to skip the trial of manhood, soon the trial will be regarded as worthless. I will not stand by and be of the generation that first degrades our reputation as men, and, as a people.” William had the crowd going now, he could gauge the vote would swing his way, people were raising their voices in agreement already, he had spoken truly and believed wholly in his argument against allowing Sovarden to bypass the trial, if a man cannot be a help to his village, why should we shelter him he thought inwardly.

“The vote will not go well for the lad.” Abe whispered into the ear of Gwynli, who stood silently with tears running down her cheeks grasping at Abes arm.

“I fear for the lad’s safety, going off into the forest of Mandor; any other of our young boys I would not fear as much but… Sovarden? He can only come to ill in there.” Luke the Mille whispered to his companion Franard just behind Gwynli. Abe turned round to stare the pair of them into sudden silence.

Mancori, The Oldest-Chief, hobbled forward, resting heavily of his oak staff, he stood with his back to Sovarden and facing the rest of the village announced, “On this day, the thirty-second season and sixteenth year of the life of our young Sovarden it is time for him to take the trial of manhood and find his token of value among the forest of Mandor and bring it back to Iscar; where from it we may deduce his place among us, be it warrior, hunter, chief or chicken feeder,” repressed laughter issued at this from William the Hill and his companions, “all Iscarian’s raise your hand in favor of Sovarden undertaking the trial and proving his manhood.”

The End

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