Asahi smiled as he woke up to a small, dry, almost burnt piece of bread that was placed in front of him. The so-called traditional cake of the orphanage. His poor adoptive family had managed to scrape some money and bake him something for his 16th birthday. Asahi was happy at the smallest thought his younger siblings could afford, but he was happier at the fact that he just turned 16. It meant a lot in this era, after all. It was the age where every child turns into an adult after a beautiful ceremony of receiving their fate in their hands.
It completely revolutionised the standard of living as it differed from person to person. In the alluring country of Etheria, a tradition was passed down, from ancestors to their successors. It began at the age of the “Mystical Meteor Shower” that had destroyed and changed the normal world full of old-timey machinery and ancient beliefs into this beautiful world of magic. If this was the past, people would have believed it to be impossible. After all, magic was all a myth. But now, it had become the new normalcy.
From that Hallelujah yet deadly moment, every child, adult and elder was gifted with something new. A small tweak in the head seemed to have made everyone more aware of the magic in their veins. If a woman was inclined to gardening, she suddenly had a taste for plant magic. If a man loved hunting, he had the ability to produce weapons out of thin air.
Miracles were happening all around the world. It was shocking but soon accepted. It was theorised that this didn’t just happen out of nowhere. It happened because of the appearance of these libraries that had popped up in places where the meteors hit, and they provided the books that seemed to just fly towards people at the age of 16. Thus, the tradition was born.
After that, the child is allowed to go home, to show off to their family and friends about what they were gifted with. Even during the tradition, to watch that it has been going smoothly, the religious priest and other devotees are allowed to pray for the child in the topmost room, which is covered in glass. Of course, the child’s family too can come to see and cheer for their family member. In any case, those partaking in the tradition cannot and will not be disturbed.
This was and is the process of the beloved tradition that everyone excitedly waits for and Asahi was ready for it too. Because today was the day, he was finally leaving the orphanage and going on a long journey, to learn about himself. He was extremely happy and almost couldn’t wait.
He smiled when his siblings sang for him and broke the piece of bread into smaller pieces so he could feed the treat to all of them which ended in tickles and laughter. Asahi smiled sadly. Even though he was leaving with a smile and no regrets, he would still miss this place a lot. After all, it contained all his childhood memories.
He enjoyed his very last watery gruel and burnt ‘tatoes for breakfast on the table he shared with all the kids, the old Father and his two daughter nuns. They were smothering him with a bit of love, due to the special day. Not to forget that he couldn’t stay in the orphanage anymore because he was an adult now. He had to leave today with whatever belongings he had, which was barely anything, and a little money that came from the church so that they could have a start in life.
Asahi quickly went and got dressed in his best which was a slightly larger white shirt from his graduated senior and a pair of brown trousers. He couldn’t afford shoes to go with it. But he did do his hair neatly with a broken piece of comb and washed his spotlessly pale face with water. His silver cross pendant hid underneath his shirt. All of this didn’t take very long, and Asahi was ready to go to the nearest tower for his “Book of FATE”.
The nearest tower was at least three miles away and Asahi held the nun’s hand as they made their way. They couldn’t afford transportation so none of his siblings would be able to cheer for him as he gets his book. But that was okay. Asahi understood that.
In an hour and fifteen minutes, walking under the boiling sun, Asahi made his way to the tower, and he was guided into a room just as he had come. He was tired and needed to just sit down and get a sip of water. Maybe adjust his clothing. But he was given no chance whatsoever. He was just pushed in to get done with it.
The staff had noticed the boy was poor. They could make out with his terrible, almost torn clothing so they didn’t really have to give him the respect or anything.
Asahi stumbled in and looked around. Instantly, he was marvelled at the sight. There were arrays of books and it seemed to have no end as the rows and shelves seemed to go on and on. Father was right. It was a truly mesmerising experience. And he hadn’t even started with the tradition.
Asahi walked around, his eyes bulging in awe. He almost wanted to touch them and was even going to, but he then remembered. Father had told him the books were shy and some were even monstrous to have traps and spells installed for protection. So, he held back. The child looked around while his book was waiting to be summoned. What he didn’t know, was that before he was a rich prodigy so a lot of people had come to observe his tradition and were congratulating him on getting a strong and rare power. There were still in the glass observation room, even though they didn’t really care about the current participant.
Asahi walked around and once he thought he should get back on track, he sat down, cross-legged, closed his eyes and began to breathe deeply. While meditating, he began to concentrate and detect the presence of his book. The book that solely belonged to him. It took him a while, but his book responded to the search and flew out from its shelf with a loud bang which caught everybody’s attention. Especially those in the glass room as the glass vibrated with the sound and they all stared below to see what was happening. What was that noise? That has never happened before, right? Was a trap triggered?
It scared Asahi quite a bit as he jerked back a bit, but his determination grew and so did his concentration. He was going to get his very own book.
The book came in with quite a high speed and began to slow down the closer it came to his owner. The moment it reached his owner, it stopped in front of his face and slowly floated down his lap. Asahi opened his eyes when he felt the book in his hands that were on his lap. Everyone above was expectantly looking. What was going to happen next? Since the noise was unexpected, that meant something different was going to happen, right? Will he be another rare? These thoughts echoed in everyone’s mind.
Everyone was waiting for that glow. One moment passed, then the other. Nothing happened. There was no glow. The kid from the previous tradition began to chuckle and with that, mountains of laughter burst out. A tattered book in the child’s hand and no glow. Of course, he was rare. Just on the other side than they were expecting. People were going back to what they were doing. Nothing to see there. Just a poor kid who was hoping to strike gold. But in turn, he is the weakest of them all. Just a kid with no magic and a mediocre future.
Asahi couldn’t hear anything. Instead, he smiled and looked at the old book with just three pages. No matter, what its form was, Asahi loved it regardless. After all, it was his book. He watched as the pages flipped and it bestowed a gift to him. A small black smoke puffed up and fluttered around before turning into a small gold metallic dragon who flew around him in circles. It then went and settled around his ring finger when Asahi tried to reach out to it. He thought it would be his pet dragon but instead, it turned into his ring.
Nobody realised at that very moment, the child’s eyes shot gold and then red. Something that hasn’t happened in centuries. Another spiral of events just waiting to come.
Contributor: Sanaya Parkar
About our Writing Program Student
Why fit in when we were born to stand out and do greater things? A passionate writer for whose words come naturally as ants to sweet jaggery along with design running in the veins. An avid reader, researcher as well as a learner whose dream is to change the world with each step.