As evening approached, the tension and excitement in the tribe was almost palpable. Everyone was in high spirits awaiting the two grand ceremonies that were to take place tonight. Even amongst the elders in the tribe, it was a rare thing to have an awakening ceremony and a rite of passage ceremony on the same day.
In the east wing of the living quarters staring outside his window, Suluvu was getting ready for the evening rituals. The Rite of Passage ceremony popularly known as ‘THE NIGHT OF THE UDATA’ was the most sacred ritual in the Ooranyanwu tribe.
On the night of the Udata, a ritual was conducted to create a life bond between the next tribe chief and the tribe’s most sacred possession; THE TAKOBIDAMMA.
A short sword made from the finest steel curved like the husk of an elephant at the end, no one alive knew the origin of the sword as the elders claimed that it has been in existence long before the tribe herself. Rumored to be the arm of the gods themselves, the sword granted magical abilities to whoever it bonded with. The present Udata his father, had control over the sky and the lightning seemed to recognize the sound of his voice and he had heard that his grandfather could control mother earth to do his bidding.
Filled with a mix of excitement and fear, Suluvu didn't notice the footsteps approaching until he heard the all too familiar voice that instinctively dropped him on one knee.
"Suluvu, it’s almost time" the Udata said.
"I'm almost ready your greatness" he quivered.
With everyone else in the tribe including the finest warriors, Suluvu usually felt an air of superiority that he could not quite explain. It felt like deep down inside he knew they were subject to him and no match for him. But anytime he was before his father he felt like a feather in the wind; fragile and weak.
This wasn't just because his father was physically superior to him in every way standing at almost 7 feet with a build that made Suluvu seem like he had chicken wings for muscles, it was something deeper that he had never been able to understand or shake off.
"Stand up son, today is not the day for formalities" he smiled as he held Suluvu on the shoulders.
"Today, we stand as almost equals" declared the Udata as he reached into his side pouch and brought out a necklace.
"This necklace made from lion bones was given to me by my father on the day of my rite of passage, today I want you to have it."
Suluvu stretched out his hands and his father placed the necklace in his hands.
"You will wear it from this day until you succeed me as Udata, then give it to your son as I have given you" he said.
"Thank you, your greatness" the boy said taking a bow.
The Udata held his son's hands and the young man quivered in fear, he hadn't seen the Udata like this before.
"From this moment on, you will call me Father" the Udata smiled.
Suluvu's eyes widened in disbelief as he wallowed in the moment. It was cut short by the raspy voice of Seleya who snapped him back to reality.
"Can I call you father too, your greatness?" She teased.
The Udata laughed out loud at the sight of his daughter and beckoned for her to come closer. She reminded him so much of his wife in their youth. But there was something in her that he couldn't quite place that made him feel like he was looking at a mirror.
"How long have you been standing there?" Suluvu barked.
"Long enough, you should have seen your face" she giggled.
"Stop it, the both of you" their father said. Turning to face Suluvu, "You shouldn't let her get under your skin so much son, control your emotions like a man".
"Yes your gr...Father" He said.
"Okay, I'll see the both of you later tonight" the Udata said and at those words he left the room.
After about a minute of uncomfortable silence, Seleya spoke first.
"It's a really big day for you, are you nervous?"
"It's a big day for you too, I should be asking you as well" he answered.
"We both know it’s not the same thing" she shrugged.
"Awakenings happen all the time in this tribe, its customary for all girls at sixteen and being the Udata's daughter doesn't make it any different"
"Fair point" he replied.
"Exactly but the night of the Udata, that is something some people never get to see in their lifetime" she continued.
"No pressure yeah?" he chuckled.
"You'll be fine, don't worry" she said as she hugged him and dashed out to get ready.
"Why is everyone being so nice today" he mused as he put on his ceremonial robe.
The moon shone brightly as the whole tribe gathered at the center of Ooranyanwu. Popularly known as THE HEART OF THE UDATA, the center of the tribe was the location of all rituals conducted by the tribe Shamans. There were five huts arranged in a circle where the shamans lived detached from the affairs of the tribe people and right in the middle of the huts a few feet away was a circular pool of water. According to the shamans this pool was at the very center of the tribe and its depth was the center of the earth.
As the source of all the life and magic in Ooranyanwu, the water was always clean and always clear with no signs of plant or animal life in it. No one had ever touched the water except the shamans and no one was allowed to drink from it except as instructed by the shamans. In the middle of the pool stood a long staff curved at the tip and resting on the staff was the Takobidamma.
The rite of passage ceremony was to take place first and the five shamans gathered around the pool. The rest of the tribe kept a safe distance from the pool gathering around the huts and watching as the rituals took place.
The Udata and Uditun stood not too far away from the pool with their children staying close to them.
The head of the Shamans, an old, small, stout man who looked like all his hair had fallen off only to grow back in grey patches started reciting incantations. At every call, the rest of the shamans responded in unison and a few minutes later the water began to stir. The shamans chanted louder and soon it seemed like the moon glowing, reflecting on the pool as it began to boil.
“SILENCE!!!” the head shaman roared.
The tribe obeyed as no one even dared to move and the murmuring ceased. The boiling of the pool was louder now and Suluvu was fairly certain that the whole tribe could hear his heart racing.
He gave his father a puzzled look as the head shaman summoned him to the edge of the pool.
“It’s okay my son, go ahead” he said.
Nodding in response, he walked to the edge of the pool. The four other shamans then stripped him of his robes and scooped some of the pool water with their hands. Before Suluvu could think about how that was even possible, they started to bath him it. He shrunk in fear as the water touched his skin almost letting out a scream until he realized it was not hot at all.
When they finished bathing him, they put his robes back on and the head shaman approached him with a scoop of the pool water in his hands still bubbling.
“Bend your head” he instructed.
Suluvu obeyed and the old man touched his forehead with the tip of his tongue three times.
“Now drink” he said.
Suluvu obeyed and drank from the old man’s palms. The water had no taste, it didn’t even taste or feel like water and he waited patiently for the next instruction. After a number of incantations the old man finally spoke,
“The Udata blood is strong in you my child, stretch forth your hands towards the Takobidamma and call for it.”
Suluvu blinked, partly in disbelief and mostly in confusion.
The old man smiled in understanding,
“Call for it and concentrate on it, the sword will come to your hands by itself and seal the bond” he said.
Suluvu nodded in understanding. He stretched his hands towards the staff holding the sword and called loudly.
“TAKOBIDAMMA” he shouted.
“Call it again” the shaman instructed.
“TAKOBIDAMMA!” he yelled even louder.
A few feet away the Udata was watching and he was filled with worry. He heard his son call the sword a fourth time and his worry was slowly turning into anger.
Clouds began to form and lightning slowly began to flash as the Uditun desperately tried to calm her husband down. Standing beside her mother, Seleya had a headache and her body was slowly burning up with a fever. She didn’t want to worry her parents but it felt like the more her brother called the sword the worse she felt.
“TAKOBIDAMMA” he called again. By now Suluvu had lost count of how many times he had called. It had already begun to rain which meant that his father was angry.
“This has never happened before” the old man muttered obviously worried.
Quick as a flash, the Udata was standing in front of the old man, the rains had increased and the wind was so strong it started to shake the roofs of the huts. The tribe was already in panic and started to move further away from the scene as lightning started to strike the ground.
“What is going on?” he demanded of both of them.
“It…It is not working your great….greatne…ness, Suluvu needs t…to conc…centrate more” he replied, obviously terrified for his life.
“Then concentrate and call the sword Suluvu!!!” he yelled.
Suluvu blinked back tears as he tried to summon courage and find his voice.
“TAKOBIDAMMA!!!!!!!” he screamed till his legs buckled bringing him to his knees.
The sword didn’t move and the only response they got was a scream from the Uditun. He dashed back to his wife to find Seleya on the ground.
“She’s barely breathing and her body is burning up” she sobbed holding her in her hands.
The Udata in his rage stretched his hands to the sky and let out a loud cry.
Everyone ran for their lives.
The ceremony was officially over.