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The Choice

An elderly Aituserk walked to the center of the tribal ring at the Festival of Life. He stepped over the ornate ring of vines and flowers. His surprisingly strong voice reigning over the loud bangs of drums, and the groups of people chanting. “Nini yakone kez suz rohno!” he declares.

“An apprentice shall be chosen!” I mutter to myself. Aituserk began to spin around wildly with his arms outstretched. The sight of such an old man who seemed to have the power of a mighty lion dazzled everyone. The words spilling from his mouth came in silent whispers.

Haland, who had just been declared leader of the tribe, sat praying, wrapped in his Eurasian lynx fur cloak. "May his choice be wise, and let thy chosen one let Sura guide him through the ways he should go," Haland screamed over the bellows and moans of Aituserk.

Three ornately dressed women walked in next to a now exhausted Aituserk, they were holding a chamois. Slowly, Aituserk removed the large chamois from the women’s custody and sat it by his side. His lips began to quiver then he said "The choice has been made!". The Festival of Life began to grow quiet then suddenly became a chilling silence. Aituserk raised one arm, and the suspense of his choice grew higher and higher. He pointed his index finger to me and in a deep baritone voice called me to him. "Sura has led me to choose this child, Lenapi, you shall be the first female shaman. Should you accept my offer from the gods I shall led you to great discoveries in the worlds of meditation and healing'" he bellowed. "My child you are destined for great things, do you accept?"

My throat tightened, tears began to fill the creases of my eyes. A cold hand touched my shoulder but, when I turned to look no one was there. Then, a strong ghostly voice spoke to me and only me "Please accept this offer, you shall lead this tribe in a prosperous direction young one, Aituserk will not last long. He shall teach you all he knows, but that too is limited," the voices’ whisper like tone disappeared. I knew this voice to be the voice of the almighty Sura. I felt the hand touch my heart, and pass through my spirit. At that very moment I fell to the shifty ground in which so many apprentices have stood before.

Slowly, progressing incantations began to roll off of my tongue. I felt my spine jerk, and I fell silent. A cool wind blew over me. Aituserk turned away from me, and pulled two tubes from under his cloak. He pulled the stoppers out and sprinkled gold and silver powder in a circle around me. I could feel the vibrations of ancient making flowing through the ground. Memories, that weren’t mine, hung at the edge of my conscience.

Faces I had never seen before, places beyond my comprehension, and creatures unfathomable flickered in my mind. My eyes became flat brown discs, and I hovered into the air. A gold and silver light formed over my skin.

Shrieks of terror flowed through the crowd. Aituserk opened his mouth, “Hush,” he snapped. The chilling silence returned once more. Suddenly, I began to plummet to the ground. I crashed, my hands and knees were scraped and my eyes stung with dirt.

Aituserk grinned and walked over to me. “I need an answer,” he said slowly.

“Yes”

A roar erupted from the surrounding villagers, the pain was excruciating. My hands clasped over my ears. However, the pain was short lived. Aituserk pressed a dry thumb onto my forehead, and the world went black.

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