The new tomorrow
Chapter I Eira
I have suddenly awoken, breathing heavily. My chest was rising back and forth wildly. I felt a painful sting with my every breath and it took me a little while to find my bearings in the dark of the night. I was lying in the middle of the bed. I felt my nightgown, sticking to my wet body, dripped with sweat. I looked towards the window. The curtains were flowing lightly with the blows of the unnaturally warm wind, the one you can only experience in the deep of the summer. I still had trouble catching my breath. I filled my lungs deeply with the hot air and I slowly rose up and sat on the edge of my bed. I looked at the window again. I saw the dimmed light of the street lamps soaking through the curtains to my room. It slowly filled me with strange feeling of comfort and I managed to calm myself again. It was just a dream.
Sadly enough, that didn´t change the fact, what was awaiting me when the darkness passes, and the morning comes. I ran my fingers through my hair, removing it from my face. I was fairly certain I can´t possibly manage to go back to sleep. I stood up from the bed and walked to the dressing table. I slowly sat down and looked at the reflection of my face in the mirror, gently illuminated by the soft yellow lights from outside.
I´m sixteen years old today. When the sun comes up in a few hours, I´m about to go through with my initiation. The initiation. My face scrunched in a despiteful grimace. I couldn´t believe my mother and father would actually let me go through with it. More so, they acted like it was some kind of honour, to risk my life, to prove some virtually non-existent values to the tribe. Only the best can survive. Only the finest, the strongest and the wisest. Maybe I would have a different opinion if the circumstances were different. But it has been only fifteen years since the Reckoning. My mother likes to pride herself in her children. Her sons, my older brothers who were so brave, so strong, they passed the initiation with flying colours. The pride of the tribe! She never had to experience what they have. Nor did my father or any of the elders in fact. They grew up in a different world, the world I only know from pictures and from the books. Those that haven´t been burnt yet, that is. Elders are greedy with their knowledge. They claim it would only bring misery and destruction, same way as it did before the dusk of time.
I shook my head, trying to sway the unpleasant thoughts away. Before the morning comes, I knew what I had to do. I quickly dressed in the teal long dress; my father gave me on my fifteenth birthday, when I reached my adulthood. You are a woman now, he told me. It sounded bittersweet in my head. I combed my hair back a little bit, trying to tame my dark black curls and I freshened my face with an ice cold water from the basin. Then I quietly ran down the stairs, leaving my shoes behind, making sure I don´t wake my parents. When I ran out of the door I tried not to look back on the cold, stone bricks of my parents keep. I swiftly walked barefoot to the east, to the little brown house I knew a little too well. All of my favourite childhood memories happened here. I gasped at the horizon, seeing a long bright orange ring at the edge of the darkness, an inevitable sign of the dawn approaching. The stars were slowly fading away as I made my way to my destination. My feet were sore from the harsh pebble ground, and I my breath became irregular. Then I finally saw it. A small brown house, with a tall stone chimney, peacefully spitting out smoke. I stood a few feet by the gate and I whistled three times. I knew he was waiting for me.
The heavy wooden gate finally opened and he came out. Dressed only in his bleachers and a plain white shirt, his fair hair catching the first sunrise of the new day.
„You came. “ Sawyl breathed out with an apparent relief. He stepped closer to me, eagerly.
„ I told you I would.“ I answered quickly. „ You know what will happen today. Either I pass the initiation and I will have to marry Aneirin, before the forthnight passes.“ I stopped for a moment and I bitterly realised the unappealing heaviness of my current situation, „ Or I´ll die.“ I breathed out quietly. I looked at the ground beneath my feet, but I could feel his eyes piercing through my soul. Sawyl and I were friends ever since I could remember. In the past couple of years, the friendship slowly grew into something stronger, but neither of us ever said it out loud. He was only a fisherman´s son. I was ever so angry with his father like at this moment. He could have easily submitted Sawyl into the initiation. He was strong and bright, and I was as certain he would pass, as I was certain Eira is my name.