Warpaint of the Initiated

The freezing northern wind was crashing into my bare chest, yet it wasn’t the wind that made me shiver to the bone; in fact I didn’t feel the cold at all. My trial trial into adulthood was about to come, and even though I was aware of my own skill and strength that surpassed most of my age, I also knew many self-confident initiates who never returned from the trial. The shaman of our clan was standing in front of me, finishing the final verses of the mythical rite that was supposed to prepare my body and mind for the upcoming initiation ritual. A group of his apprentices then brought forth a vessel containing boiling tar-black liquid, and I tensed my body, for I knew what was about to come. He then put two of his fingers into the vessel, not showing any signs of pain as he was probably protected by his shamanistic powers, and then proceeded to start the initiation. A sharp burst of pain entered my body as he laid his fingers on my chest and started drawing the ritual markings. The paint was searing my body, causing me to almost faint from the shock, but I had vowed that I wouldn’t let out a single sigh, a single scream of pain. The pain was supposed to rid me of my fears and the markings were supposed to protect me during my trial, but I would give anything for it to stop at that time. As all the important wards and markings were drawn on my chest and searing through my flesh, the shaman moved his hand up to my face. I know not how long the ordeal took, but it seemed like hours to me. However demonic the process might have seemed, when all was done, I noticed that I was no longer shivering. I was one with pain and pain was one with me, and nothing I was to face during the trial would stop me. I was destined to be a warrior, but for the first time I truly felt like one. At this moment I realized how many members of our clan were watching my initiation, among them my father, who no matter how gruff and tough he tried to look, still had a visible proud smile on his face. The shaman looked straight in my eyes and I returned the gaze. I seemed like he was looking straight into my soul, before the intense glare weakened and he did a simple nod. I knew what this meant, I was prepared for this moment. I took a crude wooden spear that was jabbed in a snow mound next to me, and started walking towards the frozen wastes outside of our village. I would return victorious… or not at all.

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