Fate of My Own Making
Previous story: https://forums.candarion.com/topic/567/the-beginning
When I awoke, I found myself in a bed with a broken leg, three days of my life missing, and a familiar dull pain under my left eye.
My very first thought was of Hetu, of what has become of him in those three days that I failed to save him from Tepiwah and of the chance still to save him. I never did meet him again. Or learnt what was to become of him since. The weight of my failure still haunts me - tearing me out of sleep from the tear-sodden memory of him. He might be alive. He wouldn’t be dead, though it mattered little with how young he had been when he was taken from me.
Sometimes, I see, wish to see, his face in the crowd, now a man himself who had made his own life, oblivious to the tragedy that occurred to him and his brother so many years ago. I, however, did not wish to see him look at me, even for a moment, in a passing glance, to show no recognition when he saw what I myself had become since then.
I did not know why I had so much hope then, having lost everything I had at that very moment. Perhaps it was because I had lost everything that I cling on to the hope that the pain was a bruise or a cracked cheekbone from the accident that placed me in a Wugum that day. Perhaps that was why I asked for a mirror, and to my utter despair, found the tattoo that denoted my class, a small diamond just under my lids, was now all black. I was a slave.
I so badly wanted to die; hoped the healer’s salve was not enough to cure an infection or stave off a fever. Death was preferable to becoming enslaved - an irreversible fate. I had known many husbands and wives who would strike at their owner so that they and their family would be killed for their transgression; the little choice they had left in their lives.
I had no such family, not even an owner I could kill myself from, as far as I knew. The healer hadn’t told me much beyond the group of officials appearing one day, wordlessly, perhaps without a second thought, to mark my new caste and move on to another victim of life’s fortunes.
What was one to do when thrust into a great change in their life? You could dwell on it, bitterly hoping for fate to right itself on one day that will never arrive. You could submerge yourself in work and force your mind to spare little time for grief. Or you could plunge yourself into the depths of uncertainty, will your desires in life and write the destiny bestowed upon by Twae. The Sogad had a saying for that, though I did not know it yet at the time. Yet I knew it then, perhaps not in the same way that I had known it now, that I was the son of a stone-mason and whatever caste the children of Twae had deemed me to be, I was and will always be what Twae had allotted me in life.
I had a purpose then, beyond what Chetiwimoch expected of me. All I had needed was a confirmation that this life I had chosen bed-ridden in a Wugum was the one that I was meant to live. That came when word spread, as it would later become known to all of Oniganche years after the fact, of Kaiaomec.
A trivial thing at the time, really. A family feud too distant for Chetiwimoch to pay attention to. But it mattered a great deal to me. Kaiaomec needed men. Men to fight, tax, and rebuild the ruins of the ancient city. I was the son of a stone-mason, too young to be orphaned, old enough to be taught in the trade.
You can dwell on your fate, ignore it and make of it as you will, or dance around it; will yourself upon a world that did not often let people do as they liked - bare feet upon a floor of broken glass.