UNNAMED [ON HOLD]

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Festival part 1

FESTIVAL
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“I was beginning to wonder if you would make an appearance, my son,” His mother said as he entered the hall where she was checking the preparations for today’s festivities.

“I would not miss such an important event, mother,” He said as he placed his forehead tenderly on hers. “What can I do to help you?”

“Nothing. Just go and get yourself ready. Hurry Cayleb. We will be leaving shortly. Your covering is in your quarters.”

Cayleb hurried to his quarters and found his bath prepared. He stepped into the warmth of the water and allowed himself a few moments to relax. Moss was set in shallow bowls. The steam carried the fragrance around the room. The moss from his favorite tree released a soothing scent of clary sage and rosemary.

Cayleb hurried to dress in the ceremonial covering. He was glad he was only required to wear coverings for social events. He found the material restrictive. Cayleb prefered the simplicity of his loin pouch.



The festival was a lively, raucous event. Food and drink flowed on every table; laughter and music filled the air. Cayleb’s parents sat at the center of the festivities near the stage. His parents were always mindful of being accessible to all, watching and participating in the festivities alongside everyone else. It was good to see such laughter and happiness among the colony.

Cayleb was anxious. Tomorrow the list of those who qualified for this years’ Time Trial will be announced. He had watched, with great interest each year. Brave males and females proudly stood on the platform. Cayleb dreaming of the day he would be old enough to participate.

The time trial was a test of endurance, strategy, teamwork, strength, leadership, and skill. A small (thing) was hidden in an area about 25 yerns away. You were to find it, assemble it, and bring it back safely. There were always five less than the number of qualifiers. Those who came back empty-handed got eliminated. Those that did not show the six key elements were held back for the following year. There were real dangers out there. Wild, predatory beasts that followed the grazing ones on their migration path were in heavy numbers. There were hostile plant life and treacherous mountainous trails, sinking sands, and caves you would wander in for days.

Cayleb was finally old enough to participate. The time trials determined who would be allowed to make the dangerous trek to the dark side of the planet to harvest the precious Goa fruit. Every year they would lose a few of their citizens to the difficulty of the journey and other unknowns. One cycle, the casualties were uncommonly high; the ninth cycle, his people were here.


Surviving one day to the next was the refugee’s prime goal. The newcomers were woefully unaware and ill-prepared for this new terrene’s enormous amount of potential dangers and secrets. Survivors of that cycle’s harvest said some unknown entity hunted them. However, no one knew or could accurately describe the threat. No one could see the danger. His people speak of the incident as a legend shrouded in falsehood. The bodies never recovered, which made it debatable that those missing went off on their own to make their way.

Wrathe and Phoenix, brothers and full Raa-men like his father, approached him, stuffing pie made of groundberries and Goa in their mouths, talking excitedly about the females they were meeting. They each took a turn greeting Cayleb’s family before turning and giving him a warrior’s grasp. Wrathe had participated last year in the harvest, and his brother Phoenix was a guaranteed pick for this year. They walked to the edge of the platform, jostling some of the bystanders with their large girths. Wrathe’s markings were prominent and impressive as he puffed out his chest and flexed his muscles for the ladies, which earned him a multitude of smiles and shy giggles. Wrathe, set to choose a mate upon his return from the journey, was excited. A custom in which, he left no doubt in anyone’s mind, he was ready to partake.

“Cayleb, my brother, how are you? Are you ready for the trials? Phoenix and I have trained hard this year to prepare.” Wrathe said in his booming voice, “Look at my vestati! Speed, agility, and this one” He pointed his beefy mitt at his right pectoral muscle, flexing it for emphasis. “Take a look at that beauty!”

Cayleb leaned in to have a closer look. There was no need. That coveted vestati mark was impossible to miss or misinterpret.

“Me too, Cayleb,” Phoenix proudly boasted. His marks still a little inflamed. “Just came in this morning!” He said with a toothy smile.

Cayleb’s eyes widened as he saw the coveted mark of the warrior. The symbol did not appear as often as it used to on Verbinia. Their belief foretells the appearance of certain vestati. The warrior vestati meant you were born with a warrior’s spirit and danger was imminent.

Wrathe whacked Cayleb on his back in a show of brotherly affection.

“I am sure your markings will appear soon. Thank the universe; you can go through the festival and time trials without them. No one quite prepares you for the pain as they appear. Phoenix yowled like a stuck beast.” He said, laughing, earning a punch from Phoenix and a hearty denial.

“Oh...was that the odd noise I heard earlier today?” Cayleb said, smiling, joining in the fun, and congratulating them.

The giant ceremonial bell hung from the gathering tree was struck twice; the sound carried over the festival like a finger being placed at one’s lip, quieting everything in earshot. All eyes and ears focused on the small platform to the left of where his parents sat. His father rose to address the crowd reaching his hand out to his mother. Their eyes met, and the spark between them was palpable. The crowd erupted in applause and cheer as they shared a brief kiss before his father spoke. The colony was smitten with them as a couple and as leaders.

“Welcome to the naming ceremony for the Time Trials. We, along with the Tyto, and through your petition, have selected those we think are most qualified to participate in the hazardous journey set before us each year. The time trials determine who will ultimately make the journey to harvest the precious Goa fruit. It has been a staple in our civilization on this new homeland, and we appreciate the brave Harvesters who have made the arduous trek before you.” His father paused as the applause and cheers rose.

Rook continued. “The species that show bountiful reproduction numbers were at the top of the list. There were over 250 volunteers, so please know it was difficult choosing only the amount needed. We think we have chosen well. Please lend your energy and support as the new harvesters get ready for the arduous journey. This cycle, we will be sending additional support. Mechanics, weapons experts, and analysts. The added presence and skill will allow the harvesters to focus on their task entirely.

Births this cycle were very high. We hope to bring back more Goa than ever before. Analysts will look at the land closest to it for possible settling. So there will be the opportunity to petition to start outer colonies soon. We will see if living that close to the dark side of the terrene is a viable solution. It must be a sustainable one that will not upset the balance of the planet. Yet more importantly, not be life-threatening to the couples that wish to make a home there. We still have much to learn about this new planet and are only in our infancy here. Your sacrifices and bravery throughout have not gone unnoticed. So, eat, drink and be well in kinship. “Rook said as he raised his glass towards the festival-goers.

“Eat, drink and be well in kinship,” Cayleb’s mother repeated before they retook their seats.

“Eat, drink and be well in kinship,” the colony roared back.



© Venis Nytes


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