Storytime with Erika
An alternative history suspense story
A curse of evil deed incites an unbroken chain of evil.
A powerful curse cast sixteen hundred years ago destroyed the lives of their ancestors for centuries. If it remains unbroken, the curse will ruin the lives of future generations as well.
Jayden’s life is in danger. When he finds a crude leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a Shaman, his sister, Sofia, deciphers the ancient runes.
They learn about their family curse and dark memories of their childhood start to surface.
Is it possible to break the ancient curse and save Jayden?
Jayden hurried toward the parking garage, pulling Sofia’s luggage. “Slow down, Jay,” Sofia cried out as she lagged behind him with her carry-on bag. “I can’t keep up if you’re running like that.”
“Sorry.” Jayden looked back and slowed down a little, “I’m just so eager to show you what I’ve found. You’re not going to believe it. You’ll see!”
“What is it?” Sofia tried to catch her breath.
“It’s a rudimentary book made of leather sheets sewn together. It’s written with ancient Hun runes. I think the letters were burned into the leather. I should’ve learned from Grandma to read it as you did.”
“That sounds exciting.” Sofia started walking faster. “You didn’t bring it with you, did you?”
“Yes, it’s in the car. I’ve been angry with myself that I didn’t learn the ancient language from grandma. But because I can hardly wait to find out what the writing is about, I’ll bring it with me and hoped you could start translating it on the ride home. Here’s my car in this row.”
They reached the old Porsche that was their grandma’s car and Jayden quickly packed Sofia’s luggage into the trunk. He opened the door, they got into the car and Jayden pulled a duffel bag from under the seat. Pulling the zipper, he took out a package wrapped in old-looking leather sheets. When Jayden unwrapped it, inside was the book made of leather sheets sewn together. He handed it to Sofia. “Well, what do you think?”
She fingered the soft leather, “It’s old and still so pliable,” she mused. “Look, the Sacred Turul is burned into the cover!”
“May the Sacred Turul protect you on your journey,” they chanted the ancient line that every Hun whispered when they saw a falcon, alive or in a picture. The spirit of the falcon called Turul in ancient Hun mythology is believed to be the protector of the Huns.
Sofia opened the book and scanned the pages. Jayden started the engine and pulled out of the parking space. The traffic was heavy close to the airport, but soon they were driving northeast on the smooth highway.
“So, what do you think?” Jayden asked, pointing at the book that laid open on Sofia’s lap.
“This is incredible!” Sofia exclaimed. “Every page is clear as if it were written yesterday. The runes are written from right to left, which will take some getting used to reading, and there are words I don’t know, but it seems like a story of a girl named Elana, written by a shaman called Zoan.”
“Awesome!” Jayden called out, nodding. “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“You were busy playing soccer and chasing girls when Grandma gave me lessons,” Elana laughed as she turned to the first page and started translating.
“Yeah, I didn’t care much for learning during my summer vacation, that’s for sure.”
“Nope,” Sofia laughed while turned to the first page of the book. “Okay, let me read it.”
I am Zoan, the humble Shaman of the Roaring Falcon tribe. I’m writing down what happened to Elana in detail with the hope that the descendants of Elana could read this and break the powerful curse. The events that led to Tuana’s curse happened on the third moon of the 426th year, the day Elana was forced to leave her happy childhood behind and face the reality and responsibilities of adulthood.
Sofia lowered the book to her lap and turned to her brother, “Jay, could this be written so long ago?”
“I think so, or rather hope so. Please read on.”
Sofia lifted the book and added, “I’m winging it here because I’m not familiar with this word átokja, but I think it is the old version of átok, which means curse. Also, there’s another phrase--akarata erősségje. I think it means powerful.”
“Just do your best and you can do a more detailed translation later.”
“Okay, here it goes.” Sofia lowered her eyes to the pages and ran her finger over the ancient runes. After she translated the sentences in her mind, she told the meaning in English to her eagerly waiting brother.
Elana, unaware of her fate gave her horse a gentle squeeze with her knees to run faster. Willow zigzagged between the jurtas that were lined up in a semicircle, leaving a broad plaza in the middle. Elana glanced up at the tall wooden pole that stood in the center of the square. It had intricate designs carved into it and was painted with brilliant colors. On top of the pole stood a giant carved falcon, standing with wings open wide, as if it were getting ready to take flight. Oh, I’m so late; my mother is going to kill me, she thought and prompted her horse to run faster. An old woman carrying firewood stopped and shook her head in disapproval. “These youngsters are riding like demons,” she mumbled, looking after her.
Elana finally reached her home. Sliding off the mare’s back in a hurry, she fastened the horse’s rein to a thick wooden pole. Her breaths came in short puffs, and her rosy cheeks glistened with perspiration. She patted the horse’s neck, gave her an armful of hay, and poured fresh water into a clay bowl from a leather bag that hung on the pole. “I have to hurry, but I’ll be back soon to rub you down, Willow. I promise,” she whispered.
She hurried up to the entrance of the tent-like building, called Jurta, with a few long strides. Parting her kaftan-like dark blue overcoat, she pulled up her baggy trousers and smoothed her tunic that her mother had adorned with delicate flower designs. Pulling the leather entrance cover aside with a heavy sigh, she braced herself mentally for the long lecture from her mother that she knew she must endure.
As usual, she was late for her herbal lessons with her mother, a beautiful, statuesque, dark-haired woman who slowly rose from a curved sofa-like piece of furniture. Soft light coming from the opening at the ceiling shone on her green, delicately decorated calf-length tunic that she wore with loose black trousers. Her hair was braided with thin leather thongs and hugged her shoulders.
Elana took off her boots and placed them by the entrance. She winced when Mara’s high-pitched, angry voice hit her like a whip. “You are late, again, young lady! Didn’t I tell you to be home by the time the sun reaches the head of the Falcon? Look!” she pointed at the pole through the door.
Elana quickly let the leather curtain slide back to cover the door, dutifully bowed, and whispered, “Yes, Mother. Sorry, Mother.”
She always wanted to please her mother, she truly did, but she could rarely live up to her expectations. Luckily, Mara’s anger and lectures were as brief as summer storms, so Elana obediently stood by the entrance and lowered her eyelids to hide the playful twinkle in her eyes. Her long, black hair, which was braided in thin rows, slid off her shoulders as she bowed her head, and she adjusted her delicately woven horsetail headband that kept the stray hairs out of her face. Elana took a hesitant step forward on the thick, wool carpet that covered the dirt floor of the Jurta.
“Where were you?”
“We were… I was… I was collecting herbs. Look!” Elana hoped that her mother didn’t notice the slip of her tongue and she could divert her mother’s attention. She quickly opened the leather pouch that contained some flowers that she had collected. Lying wasn’t in her nature but concealing the truth a little by trailing the conversation away from the sensitive subject was widely used in her tribe, especially by teenagers.
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Storytime with Erika. Enjoy!
Erika M Szabo
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