Even though the battle was done and he was on the ground bleeding from the calf and was clearly in pain, he did not remove his mask and this bothered me a little.
Then my father spoke, “I will help Gawk get to the medical hut and once I do that, I will meet all of you near the dais for Ivor’s speech.”
I then crossed right in front of Gawk he did not utter another word.
He and my father walked a little behind us and even though Gawk was limping he only seemed to take a little help from my father, which was astounding.
We soon lost sight of them and walked towards the dais which was now within eyesight. As we neared the dais I asked my mom. “Why didn’t dad stop the fight when I tried to kill Gawk?” to which my mom answered. “He did. He was shouting at the top of his lungs, in fact, all of us were. But your gaze, your anger it all had consumed you so much that it seemed so surreal and....that anger, it did not let you think about anything except for....killing”
I could only picture the scene and the look on my parent’s faces as I said. ”I am really sorry you had to witness that.” to which she said, “It turned out okay now, but you better keep that anger in check Aiden, that is what almost got you killed today.” I agreed and made a mental note.
We had now reached the dais and so started looking for the leader. “And what about saving me when Gawk swung that hammer?” I asked as we waited for the leader to show up. “Father resisted us from saving you. He said you had the face the consequences of trying to end a man’s life.” she said and it was shocking to me, but I knew it was only fair.
My mom now chimed in clearly uncomfortable with the conversation.“He knew your reflexes were enough to escape from him, but he just wanted you to understand the consequences of what you had done. He always knew when was the right time to stop the fight, and he did that this time too.” I understood my mom and conveyed the same. We now got a glimpse of the leader walking proudly with his hands tied at the back as a new pair of guards walked by his side.
By now there was a large crowd and it was growing rapidly.
It seemed unusual to attend this event still in armor and a growing pain at the point where Gawk had hit me with his Kanabō, but my sister assured me that this was much more heroic than anyone else who had attended the event in plain clothes.
This assured me as the leader approached and we discussed what had just happened and what next was going to happen on the stage.
Surprisingly the leader maintained his monotone expression through the whole fight description, even with the sun reflecting off his long, pale face.
We were of course careful to leave out the part where I tried to kill one of his guards, which would, of course, anger him even more.
We actually had to explain the fight because of the absence of my father and when we thought he was going to call us out for lying and get suspicious, he once again surprised us saying that what had happened was nothing more to him than a simple battle.
He now, however, seemed interested in the speech he was going to give, and so made me prepare for what I was going to do on stage.
Essentially I had to do one thing and that was to stand in front of the crowd and look like I was ready to fight.
The leader even told me that I could speak a few words to the crowd, but I knew that this was the same thing he might have told Muite before his speech on the dais.
I wanted to say how unfair the leader was to which my mother and sister advised me not to speak anything negative of the leader as it would not be conveyed fully to the crowd because guards would probably escort me away like they had done with Muite.
And so I stood there quietly waiting. I could clearly hear what the leader was speaking and it very similar to what was spoken during Muite’s speech and of course with some alterations.
Finally, he called my name and I knew it was time for me to myself in front of the crowd. I now walked onto the dais and I was nervous because this was my first appearance in front of a large crowd that was essentially our whole village.
I now felt my legs buckle in fright at the thought that the villagers would insult me as I walked on to the stage and that they would also probably humiliate me.
But walking onto the stage it seemed to be a mixed reaction from the crowd. There was a mixture of cheering and booing and they seem to be a lot of familiar faces among the crowd, most of which were friendly. It was kind of heartwarming to see so many of my friends standing in the crowd and I felt a calmness settle into me as I knew that most of them were there to support me.
The few minutes that I was there on stage seemed to be like an eternity and although there was considerably more booing than actual cheering it was nice to be in front of so many people that cared for me.
Now te leader finished his speech and I think because of my mildly nervous mind I did not recall a single thing he said when I was on the stage.
Now awkwardness filled in as I thought he had asked me a question and was waiting for a reply. But just as opened my mouth to speak something, anything to fill in the awkward silence, the leader spoke again, which was a relief.
“Now let us pray for the doomed one.” and now my settling nervousness hit sky high.
Millions of questions filled my mind. There hadn’t been any mass praying that had happened to me up till now and since I looked so different from my friends and family it was a very real question of what was going to happen next. I by this point in my life knew that I was not a true Voulderan and that would be very apparent when no one would light up during my prayer, and all I could think of now was ‘Would at least one person light up and feel the pain I was feeling?’
Or was this going to be a bland praying for someone who probably did not belong to the village like how my sister had said earlier? An outsider? An outcast? This was the way I was going to find out if anyone really cared about me or were they just playing along, trying to blend me in, just like how I was trying to do, my whole life.
I suddenly felt like I did not want to know the answer, that if what indeed true, that I was an outsider and an outcast then it would something too much for me to handle, but as I looked at the leader to try and stop the prayer I saw his eyes were closed in prayer and then looking at the crowd I realized that everyone else too, were eyes closed in prayer and that there was nothing to stop it now.
I looked now, just like how I did during Muite’s confession, my eyes wide open looking at everyone else’s closed eyes and their skin, hoping I could witness the light show. As the crowd’s volume drastically reduced to the sound of a pin’s drop the leader spoke with his eyes still closed and hands yet again tied at the back.
"I pray to the gods to unite our souls and give him the strength to face whatever beast, monster or all hell that stands in his way.” and just like last time everyone else present in the crowd repeated his line in unison.
Seconds passed like minutes during this prayer and I had abandoned any hope of seeing the bright colors I had so longed to see when I was a kid, and then suddenly I felt something inevitable came up my throat. I tried to suppress it and looked at my mother who was now standing at the first row of the crowd and wished I could go into her arms and cry knowing that I did not belong here.
Like as if a connection had been made, my mother opened her eyes and looked into mine, trying to comfort me, and by her look ion her face, I knew she was not feeling anything which made the tears I was holding down come up and blur my vision. For the second time that day I was again on the verge of tears, but this time I knew nothing could stop me, as negative thoughts started filling my vulnerable mind.
And now I felt the first teardrop fall on the ground and I did not even bother to wipe myself as I knew there was no use. But the second drop I just had to clear from my eyes as I saw something unusual.
My mother’s hand was glowing a bright green and she looked at her own hand in amazement, like as if seeing for the first time ever, and then slowly the light crept all over her body and now she was glowing from head to toe in a green light, and then suddenly something else caught my eye, someone else standing quite far back started glowing a tone of light yellow and then another and another and then almost like magic everyone’s skin started glowing and even though it was hard to figure what color who was glowing because of the bright light casted by the sun, this was enough for me to wipe my tears and watch the show in amazement just like how I did when I was a small boy. I did not feel anything but happiness as I saw everyone light up until everyone was glowing.
The leader was one of the last ones to glow up and as soon as he glowed a dull shade of red, which kind of suited him, he opened his eyes and looked at his body before scanning the crowd. I looked at him and his eyes were wide open and showed pure wonder as he looked at the crowd and his one Gorse word confirmed what his eyes told. “Impossible!!"