Storytime with Erika
Read the story as I'm writing it
Sometimes I’m amazed at the stories my imagination creates when I let it fly freely. This is a story of an unusual wedding that plays out in 426 in the Carpathian Basin, in a Hun village. Of course, I couldn’t time travel to witness the ceremony myself, I had had to rely on my imagination. I hope you will enjoy this short story in four parts as I'm writing it.
Wedding in the Carpathian Basin in 426
The Hun village resembled a beehive, buzzing with excitement. It was the wedding day of the chief’s daughter of the Wolf Clan to the nephew of King Rua, the strongest warrior of the Horse clan. Unlike most arranged marriages when the bride and groom meet on their wedding day, Kira and Tula knew each other since they were babies. Their families visited each other’s villages often to strengthen the alliance between the clans. To their fathers’ delight, Kira and Tula fell in love when they were teenagers.
The wedding day was the happiest yet most stressful day of their lives. They’d been prepared for the crucial test before the marriage ceremony but knowing that their clan’s future depended on their success, heavily weighted on their shoulders. Tula stood on the heavy carpet of the guest Jurta, a tent-like structure that was built in the Hun villages across the land. The wooden frame covered by heavy animal hides provided comfortable homes and protection from the elements for the people of the clan. “Are you done, mother?” he asked growing impatient as his mother fussed over his outfit.
“I’m done,” his mother said taking a step back, looking at her handsome boy with admiration.
“Son,” his father looked up. Sitting on a large pillow, he calmed his nerves by sipping alcoholic Kumis, the Hun’s favorite drink of fermented horse milk. “Our clan’s future depends on you today.” He continued.
“Not helping!” his wife shouted. “Don’t you see he’s nervous enough already?”
“I know, but…” the middle-aged man grumbled. “The unity between the two clans is vital to our survival. If the spirit of the ancestors decide to make them fail the test, we’re doomed. My clan doesn’t have enough warriors to protect us.”
“I know.” Tula’s mother sighed. “But it’s up to the great spirit of the ancestors now.”
At the other side of the village, Kira pulled the heavy leather door covering aside and glanced at the Jurtas that were lined up in a semicircle, leaving a broad plaza in the middle. She 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 called Turul. It was a sacred symbol, the protector of the Hun clans, standing with wings open wide as if it were getting ready to take flight. That’s where I’ll have to prove that the right man was chosen to be my mate. Kira thought letting the door cover slide back into place. She turned and started pacing on the thick carpet-covered floor of the Jurta, anxiously wringing her fingers. 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.
“You’re going to wear a deep path on that rug!” her mother laughed, a beautiful, statuesque, dark-haired woman who slowly rose from a curved sofa-like piece of furniture. “You have nothing to be nervous about. Tula is a good man. He’ll make you happy. And besides, I told you what to expect on your wedding night, and the medicine woman trained him well. He knows what to do.”
“Mother!” Kira exclaimed, feeling embarrassed. “I’m not worried about that part. I’m worried about failing the test and turning myself into a pariah. People in the village will never let me forget if I fail.”
“Everything will be fine. The sacred Turul will protect you.” Her mother assured her but couldn’t hide her worry.
A group of middle-aged women entered the Jurta with armfuls of clothes. As it was customary, they drank quite a few cups of fermented horse milk, which made them giddy and a little unsteady on their feet. They chatted while dressed Kira in baggy white trousers and tucked it into her butter-soft leather boots and helped her to put on a long, kaftan-like overcoat that was adorned with flower designs and protective runes. They braided jasmine flowers into Kira’s shiny, dark hair and placed a fur-trimmed pointy hat on her head decorated with pearls and precious gems.
“Tula is a lucky man,” a plump woman said looking into Kira’s eyes, smiling while adjusting her braids. “You look beautiful.” She took a step back and looked at the blushing young girl.
A lanky boy burst in pushing the leather cover of the Jurta’s entrance aside. “Everyone’s ready!” he shouted as he flashed shy, admiring glances at Kira.
Kira took a deep breath to calm her frayed nerves. She looked at her mother who stood beside her. The drums sounded, announcing the start of the ceremony. Kira took a deep breath and forced a smile. Gathering her courage, she slowly walked toward the door beside her mother.
© Erika M Szabo, 2021
Copyrighted material. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission by the author, except in the case of brief quotations, reviews, and articles.
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