January – 1022 YD
Gesula Temple, Lenyol
Months passed. Kesia stood nervously at the entrance of Gesula Temple clad in bronze ceremonial tunic and trousers. Beside her in identical garb were Lasair and Toran. A dragon of golden thread was embroidered both on their chests and the right leg of their trousers, the first coiled, the second stretched to the knee. Mellena was with them also but, unsure of etiquette, her mother had embroidered the same fabric with flowers instead.
Priest Caleb ascended the hill near the temple carrying a basket of candles. He came upon the four youths and smiled. Inside, villagers and their parents smuggled excited waves.
‘We will begin,’ said the priest warmly, at a volume their audience would hear.
Two musicians began to play their pipes. The priest led them into the temple, through the corridor of witnesses, to the altar. Each took up a small stool and sat, eyes downcast self-consciously. An urn of rose-hip water rested behind each stool.
‘Today we gather to mark the end of childhood for these four people. They now enter their time of greatest learning, both in trade and life; it is these years which determine their direction as adults, and we congregate to bid Lenyol guide them to their right paths.’ Heads nodded. ‘You know there is some exception today, as two of our number are late in this rite; circumstances have stalled Mellena and Kesia’s journey.’ Tradition dictated that childhood concluded at twelve, heralding vocational training. The girls would soon be fourteen.
Caleb spoke: ‘Great Mother, we ask you shield these four from harm. Let your words guide them in these sensitive years, and let your light be ever a source of strength. May An Líonra be their family wherever their travels take them, and your temples open in times of need. May it be so.’
‘May it be so,’ chorused the villagers.
‘Let them be born again.’
Four young priests and priestesses, summoned from Alendae, stood and collected the urns. One by one the youths were doused with pink liquid, Priest Caleb leading the others in quiet incantation all the while.
‘Though not of Lenyol’s flock, we greet and accept Mellena as one of our own. She is hereby taken into the fold of An Líonra.’ With golden paste he marked her forehead with the Alia. He did the same to the others.
‘May the masters of trade step forward.’
Ànlisia and Tàvae arose, with a man long absent—for Kengar had returned to Gesula.
‘Lasair.’ She stood at the priest’s request. ‘You have chosen the trade of herbalist. Before Lenyol, do you swear this to be your present and future trade, and to complete your apprenticeship with diligence?’
‘I swear to the trade of herbalist.’ Lasair replied quietly, burning bright.
Priest Caleb turned to Ànlisia. ‘You have chosen to accept Lasair as your apprentice. Before Lenyol, do you swear to lead and tutor her with dedication?’
‘I swear to this apprentice.’ Ànlisia placed a hand on Lasair’s arm.
‘Then you may take these beads as a symbol of your oath, and be seated.’ He passed to each a bracelet of green beads, and they took their seat in the front row.
‘Kesia and Mellena, please stand.’ They did so. ‘You have chosen the trade of energy weaving.’
‘Art,’ Kengar muttered, ‘the art of energy weaving.’
‘Before Lenyol,’ Priest Caleb tacitly ignored Kengar, ‘do you swear this to be your present and future trade, and to complete your apprenticeship with diligence?’
‘I swear to the trade of weaver,’ both affirmed.
He turned to Kengar. ‘You have chosen to accept Kesia and Mellena as your apprentices. Before Lenyol, do you swear to lead and tutor them with dedication?’
‘I swear to these apprentices.’ Kengar’s clasped fingers happily tapped his knuckles.
‘Then you may take these beads as a symbol of your oath, and be seated.’ Loops of brass beads were given, and the three were seated.
He then moved to Toran, who swore to the trade of scribe under Tàvae, and with white beads both took their place by the others.
‘And so we bestow these new apprentices and their masters with our prayers, that their endeavours meet success.’
‘May it be so!’ the audience cried, breaking the solemnity. Handfuls of dried corn were thrown into the air as the new apprentices vacated the temple, and the musicians resumed their playing.