"It would be amazing! Bion, imagine the difference it would make! We will finally be able to get out of these slums." The young man's arms waved haphazardly in the air as Bion attempted to ignore his friend. He secretly shared the same excitement, but there was also worry that came along with it. Being branded as Forsaken was a reality that loomed over every sixteen-year-old’s head.
"Get back to work you two!" A loud voice boomed over the small room, the two young males jumping at the sudden interruption.
"Sorry, Sir!" They simultaneously called back towards the man in the back.
Bion glared at his friend who only shared a sheepish grin. "You got us in trouble. Now help me with these fish." If there was anything the region of Marinel never lacked, it was fish. The whole region was covered by freshwater. Buildings erected from the depths below as long wooden walkways connected buildings, homes, and communities.
Marinel was the only home Bion knew. Small communities scattered the water, ranging from the shores to the deepest depths. However, the buildings above the water were not the full extent of the community. Below the surface, many lived and worked in the crystal clear water. All invoking the power from their spiritual contracts.
The young man never had the opportunity to experience life below the water. Not yet. As the ceremonial time approached, Bion would no longer be restricted to the community above the water. The rarity of being chosen by a spirit different from his born element was high.
Once the contract was formed, Bion only hoped he could bring his family out of the lower ranks in Marinel.
Both Bion and Denik began moving the large buckets filled with enough fish to feed thousands of people. The work was split between various age groups, all making preparations for the fish. Some would be food, others would be used for offerings. Many were used for trade with the other regions to help each area prosper.
The familiar sound of the large bell ringing over their heads signified the day’s end. Various grunts and exhausted sighs echoed throughout the area as many shuffled past the small room Bion inhabited. "Denik, do you really believe that we will be lucky enough to be chosen by one of the legendary spirits?" It was impossible.
Denik smacked the back of his head, a groaned complaint leaving his lips. "What was that for?"
"Stop being so pessimistic," his friend chided. "I think you're the only one that doesn't want a legendary spirit."
Bion sighed, packing up the few things he needed to head home. "It's not that I don't want one, I just know there is no chance. The two that are free right now are fire and earth. We are in the region of the water dragon. When was the last time you heard of someone changing regions?"
Denik gave a disappointed look, his shoulders slumping knowing that Bion was right. The two boys made their way from the small, wooden area and back towards their homes. They grew up together, their parents lifelong friends and neighbors.
Although Denik could be eccentric and wild, Bion enjoyed the company of his friend. He was someone who he could relate to and only hoped their friendship would continue after the ceremony.
The two said their goodbyes, parting their separate ways. Outside his little wooden hut stood his mother, preparing for their trip to the capital. The journey would be several days as they had to cross various landscapes to reach the bustling city.
A trek he despised.
Bion had already made the trek once to the capitol. He was several years younger, attending the ceremony for his older brother, Beniu. The memory of that ceremony was one he wished to forget. It cost him his brother and the fear of following him to the forsaken land scared him.
As he approached, his mother turned and smiled at him. Opening her arms wide, she brought him into a bear hug, squeezing the life out of him in the process. "Oh there's my ceremonial boy!" The happiness radiated off of her, but Bion knew she was nervous. Scared at the possibility of losing another son.
"I'm back." He greeted as she finally released him. Laid out at the bottom of his feet were various food items and clothing, he wondered if it would be enough for their group of four. "Do you need help?"
His mother shook her head, smiling at her son. "No. Besides you're tired from working all day. Go inside and freshen up for dinner." Bion saw his mother as a saint. She was always so focused on taking care of him, his father, and his younger sister. There was nothing she wouldn't do for her family.
Their humble home consisted of three rooms. A small kitchen crowded the right side of the front door. The smell of cooking seafood wafted over the rest of the small home. The main living place took up the left side, currently inhabited by his younger sister helping his mother with house chores. The third room was back in the center. It was a shared bedroom between the four of them, a couple of small dividers kept some privacy between the close family. The home was nowhere near being called ‘extravagant, but to Bion, it was home.
Bion shared a small greeting with his younger sister, Areti. The young girl never glanced towards him as she focused on folding the clothes in front of her. Areti was seven years younger than Bion but she was mature for her age. The two siblings did their best to help remove the stress on their parents. Bion worked with capturing and preparing fish while Areti assisted their mother. His father worked in the underwater region, making the most revenue for the family.
Gathering a change of clothes, Bion made his way towards the bathroom. The room was attached on the outside of the hut. The walls were high but the roof was nonexistent. As the cold water raced down his body, Bion found himself reflecting on the conversation he had with his friend. Tomorrow marked the day of their journey to the capital and the days that followed would signify his place in the world.
The thought of finally having a spirit was thrilling. Everyone looked forward to it and Bion was no different. There was a chance that he could give his parents a break and give them the world they deserved. But his fate could already be decided, set in stone. The chance no spirit would find him worthy frightened him, or even worse, a Necrospirit.
Feeling renewed and refreshed, Bion dried himself off, dressing in simple, comfortable clothes. A faith conversation caught his attention before he entered his home. Leaning up against the outside wall, he did his best to focus on his parents’ familiar voices.
“I know you’re worried, Mida, but there is nothing we can do.” The sad tone of his father’s voice reached his ears, Bion knowing exactly what they were talking about.
The sound of his mother’s stifled tears made his heartbreak. “I don’t want to lose him. Not like we did Beniu.”
He could not bring himself to listen anymore. The reality of the situation settling at the bottom of his stomach. The fear of putting his parents through that situation again pulled at his heart. He wished he could just tell them they did not have to worry, but it would be a lie.
No one knew what would happen during the ceremony. The spirits had free reign and anything was possible.