[Story] Ember Kindled - Avowal (Chapter 3):
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The ground stretches out before him, his autonomy is seized as his legs tremble, “there’s no way,” he whimpers. Fear gripped Cælius by his shoulders, if only it could hold him up from the potential demise, all of which required only one misstep. She pats the floor and exclaims, “come on, just sit, it will be fun!” One leg after another goes off the ledge as he hesitatingly sits. Maecia smiled, pleased in the knowledge that only she could convince him against his fears. “Is it not beautiful? Oh, the wonders of our land,” she sighs. Yanked from his fearful obsession, the orange sun comes into focus. “Amazing,” he murmurs in rapturous thought.
They sit in silent company, overlooking the vast expanse of Kyzon City, watching the people and the birds about with their busy lives. The time slips by as dusk turns dark. Bearing a gentle smile, she breaks the tranquil silence, finally saying, “you are going to be of age tomorrow and I have just the thing to celebrate.” She takes out a small flask from her satchel and has a taste before passing it to Cælius. “That’s not something you see every day,” he ponders while beholding the spiced wine. Despite her casual demeanour, Cælius knew Maecia and her family faced a multitude of hardships. Clasped in the palm of his hand probably lay the fruits of her life’s work in the fields. Not wanting to ruin the mood, he suppressed his feelings of guilt. They conversed under the gleaming indigo, parting for home after a long day spent in pleasant company, the moonlight being their only guide.
Cælius’ heart swelled with excitement, the full event held in his commemoration was truly once in a lifetime. He sat in the chair of honour, gaze flanked by smouldering braziers. Amidst the deathly silence, the Scriba bellows, “do you, Cælius Spurius, son of Marcellus Spurius, honour your Kysar and pledge to answer his call to arms should the request be made?” With the most authoritative voice he could muster, Cælius replied, “I pledge my life to the defence of the empire, his majesty, the Kysar’s call shall be answered.” Once again, the voice of the Scriba echoed throughout the compound, “Cælius Spurius, son of Marcellus Spurius, has overcome the trials of life and men. He has demonstrated his fortitude in speech, swimming and fighting, and has brought great honour to his family. His loyalty to the empire is formally recognised. Per imperial decree, and vested authority, I declare Cælius Spurius a man of Kryizon.”
As an individual of humble standing, Cælius was not used to having a retinue of his own. He strode down the streets of Kyzon City with his relatives, friends and his parents’ associates, face glowing red. Customarily, he peregrinated Kyzon City, paying homage to the locales of culture, history and ancestry. Dusk marked the commencement of meal festivities and Cælius spent the evening with his relatives enjoying the grand occasion. He was grateful for Klu’s protection, his loving parents and his friends who had supported him all the way, knowing full well that most children did not have the privilege of experiencing adulthood like he has. At last, the night grew dark and Cælius withdrew from the festivities, resigning to his own room. Being alone felt all too familiar, he longed to be with Maecia and the feeling of contentment and fulfilment that she provided. Although unspoken, they shared a bond so tight, it could only have been rivalled by his very parents who had raised him since infancy. Gazing down upon the ring adorning his finger, Cælius made up his mind. He was going to give it to Maecia the next time they met; he was a man now.