2 002

A Frog in the Well

It was still early, after spending some time speaking to Huojin instead of heading home Moss decided to go into the nearby woods to practise his new toy. There was still time yet before the Ceremony took place, he would know when it was time because a bell would ring in the village to gather everyone for that moment.

It was strange, the rope like weapon in his hands seemed more like a toy than anything else. That was the thing with Huojin, Moss wasn't sure if he could believe all the things that he said, still he trusted him enough and understood he meant well.

Many people in the village said Huojin was crazy but Moss knew the old man wasn't crazy, he had strange ideas, and stories too. He was just different. The one hand he had left had five fingers, his skin colour was also a different shade to everyone in the village.

Huojin often told him stories about his home on Earth, he said that he had left his home one day and ended up here. There were many things that Huojin had said but the one thing they both agreed on was that he was unfortunate, his missing arm was proof of that alone.

Throwing the 'bolas' in his hand, Moss found the weight awkward and he didn't know if he was doing it right. The sound of the weapon falling just before reaching the tree and hitting a rock that was jutting from the ground could be heard loudly in the air. Luckily there was no one else about.

"Maybe I need to throw this harder? Or do I hold this rope instead of the ball to throw?" Speaking to himself, Moss quickly analysed the strange contraption, the good thing with being friends with someone much older than you is that he found himself often forced to use his head and think.

For example, being together with Gui, he often had questions that he never thought of himself, like how come the wheat that they used to make food from was green in the wilderness and not a different colour. Moss didn't know, in the end he had simply asked his mum who told him that wheat had always been green. It was like asking why the sky was blue.

Glancing around to make sure no one else was there to witness his strange actions, Moss braced himself before making a lurching motion, this time making a quick intuitive snap with his wrist before loosening the bolas.

A short gasp escaped from his mouth as he quickly exclaimed "so it does work!" Curled around the slender tree, Moss could see his gift snagged around the trunk.

Practising a few times, he was quickly satisfied with his new gift. 'Maybe I'll really catch a live Cane Sparrow.' The reason why he had set this as a goal was simple, it was the only thing he could catch without endangering himself. There was a relatively safe area nearby which they would occasionally pass through. That and he knew how much money it could bring in, it would help lighten his mum's burden of looking after him and keeping the house.

Time slowly passed as he quietly played with his new gift.

"DOO DOOO DOO" the sound of the village bell could be heard.

It was time. Carefully brushing off his clothes, Moss walked back home which was on the way. Placing his new gift in his room, he quickly reported to his mum before telling her where he was going.

He knew she didn't approve but it was his choice. At least she understood that much, the reason why he wanted to try out for the Ceremony was that even those who did not awaken were allowed help from the tribe. Despite what everyone said, Moss knew his dad was not a coward and he had not ran away, but the tribe was very strict, the fact that his dad had disappeared for no reason had left them on tenterhooks. Not long after a year had passed some of the people who his father had offended before made a commotion in the tribe and quickly passed a motion to remove their family from the village registrar.

The outcome was what it was today. Without a male head who had reached of legal age, the tribe refused to support them, and his family had to make do and struggle to survive as they had to this day. This was also one of the reasons why they were living further out compared to the other people in the village.

Sighing, Moss braced his body to stand straight as he walked towards the village where the Ceremony would take place. A deep set purpose filled his eyes and his ears seemed to be mute as he shut himself away from the sounds that he could hear and the people pointing at him every now and then.

Finally making it to the gather spot, Moss could see the group of people silently standing there. Other than an occasional glance no one else paid him any attention.

"It looks like everyone is here. Those who are here to take part in the Ceremony please stand forward," the pitter patter of children who had received the age to take part stepping together in the same direction could be heard above the quiet.

"Good, take down their names."

Lined up a man in simple clothing came round quietly taking down the names of everyone taking part.

"Your name?"


Moving on to the next, Moss's eyes never left from staring at a certain point straight ahead from him. It was all that he could do just to remain confident. It was weird being part of community which focused on unity but at the same time could put you to the side because of some rules.

"The Ceremony is an important part of our heritage, those who want to take part must first swear an oath to keep all the things that you learn on this day and never disclose what happened behind the doors that we are going to enter."

Silence filled the air, a hint of apprehension could be felt in the air causing the atmosphere to be heavy.

Countless voices rose in the air as they quickly followed the words that was said by the man in the front causing an eerie aura to pervade the scene. Moss carefully followed as he clearly repeated each word, word by word without missing a beat.

"Good, follow me." Satisfied that everyone had followed the traditions of the Ceremony that were long set in stone, he carefully led the group past a set of double doors which led to an open courtyard in the building in front.

Following the others Moss quickly discovered a cauldron in front, which was placed in the centre of the courtyard. A strange pattern seemed to shine on the cauldron showing strange creatures and insects that intricately circled the outside as if fighting a battle.

"Line up, and put your hand forward one by one when it is your turn. I will make a cut on your palm in a moment, all you need to do is reach out your hand into the cauldron and place it there for a count of three."

One by one the children lined up as they braced themselves for the strange situation. Though they had all taken an oath, it was clear some of the children knew what was coming as they didn't flinch when a cut was drawn on their palm welling with blood. While others quickly grimaced and their faces went pale.

Seeing the strange scene infront Moss wondered why they had to draw blood from their body. In fact he was calm instead of nervous. Sometimes when you're in the company of a genius long enough, you might eventually become smarter. The same could be said for a child growing up whose closest friend was an old man, Moss was indeed mentally older than those his age.

When it finally arrived and it was his turn, Moss simply remained staring ahead while holding out his palm. Like the rest of the other kids he simply stuck his hand in the cauldron while counting to three before re-joining the group that had finished at the side.

He didn't feel any different, though his wound seemed to be healing. Blood didn't seem to be pouring out of the cut. Glancing around he could see a few others like him while others simply stood in a daze while attempting to stop the blood flowing from their palms.

"Its finished. Everyone hold up your hands in the air and keep it up there."

A sea of arms quickly lifted to the air as everyone did as they were told.

Moving around the group, the man who had been conducting the Ceremony quickly pointed out those whose palms were still bleeding.

"Everyone who I pointed out to please move to the back, those of you who I didn't point to drop your hands and follow me," despite the curt instructions there was no way to cheat. At the side stood a group of adults who quickly came to separate them into two groups.