02-06 Rites of Passage

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Coming of Age, Politics, Workplace, Extra Sensory Perception, Royalty, Young Adult, Vignettes,

Desc: Young Adult Story: Many societies have a rite of passage where a boy is called a man and a girl is called a woman once they pass the rites. Young Gordie wishes to stand early, as is his right. However, there are things to be done to organise them, and the normal events of life don't stop just so he can do this. As is usual for Gordie, he does it all in his own way, and different to what others expect.

In the Amiri tribe a boy becomes a man when he's Stood the Tests of Manhood and passed them. This is a set of tests to ensure a young man has the skills and attributes to make a worthy adult member and warrior of the tribe. They include the use and care of weapons, jungle craft, leadership, knowledge of the laws, courage, and many more skills. All the tests can be retaken twice in the testing period, except the Coup, which can be taken only once a year. This simple pass or fail test requires the young men to enter another village and remove something of value without being captured. They leave a token in place of the item. They return the next day to hand back what they've taken and collect their token. Points are assigned on the value of the item, the level of security beaten, and the status of the person who owns it. This is because the higher the status means the higher the security to be beaten when they collect what it is they've taken.

Well in the past it was called the Raid, because they stole something of value and death was the result of failure. With civilisation this changed to a less fatal process. Great Coup is when the item can be returned before midday the next day while the owner is on the alert, and without being caught returning it. Being caught in the removal or return is a failure. Most settle for the Coup by using a formal ceremony to return the item and collect their token. In the one hundred and eighty years of its existence no one has been successful in the Great Coup, although many have failed by being caught trying to sneak the item back to where it was taken from.

The young men usually Stand for the tests when twelve or thirteen years of age. Some wait until fourteen years old and some Stand early at eleven years. The youngest on record was the Great King Garandu who stood when ten years old, that was over seven hundred years ago. The boys can't Stand at sixteen years of age or later, and thus can't be a warrior.

You don't have to be a warrior to stay a member of the tribe and participate in most of the tribe's life, but only warriors can hold positions like Tribal Elder, Amur Elder, Clan Father, and many other positions of high responsibility. Also, you're a legal adult as soon as you pass the tests, otherwise you have to wait until you're eighteen and a legal adult according to the parliamentary laws.

There are similar tests for girls with the same age restrictions. But few of the young girls have worried about going through the tests since World War Two. There are very few advantages for a girl to be a legal adult until after she finishes school, so most don't bother with it, because, by then, they're legal adults by the parliamentary laws due to them being eighteen years of age.

The Request

Just before his ninth birthday Gordon Mannheim asks for a formal meeting between his mother and himself with the Clan Father on the afternoon of his ninth birthday. The Clan Father is the clan's Patriarch and Leader, currently his grandfather - King Edward. Perplexed by this inquiry his mother arranges it. Two weeks later at 2:00 p.m. on his ninth birthday she escorts Gordon into the Clan Father's office.

Clan Father Edward asks, "Well, young Gordie, what's so important it requires a formal meeting?"

Giving the formal bow of great respect, he replies, "Clan Father, I seek your support in Standing the Tests of Manhood this year." Both adults are surprised, because they didn't expect this for another year.

Edward responds, "Why the great urgency, young Gordie, surely next year will do?"

Gordie responds, "No, Clan Father, it won't. My plans don't allow me the time to do this next year. And the sooner I'm legally an adult the better my own plans will go." His mother starts to speak, but King Edward holds up his hand to stop her.

With concern, Edward asks, "And what of any plans your parents or I have for you? Also, those Standing are already half way through their training, can you catch up?"

Smiling, Gordie says, "I've already incorporated all those plans you and my parents intend for me into my own plans. If you've others you haven't yet told me of, then you're too late. You should've informed me well before now. However, I may be able to include some adjustments. As for the late start! I've deliberately left my start late to catch unaware those who'd prepare to stop me counting Coup or work against my Standing early. The training done so far is for things I already know and can pass with ease. I can pass all the tests already, only the timing of the Coup is a problem. They Count Coup in three weeks, I must Stand now, so I can do this test this year."

Edward says, "And why the urgency on this matter, can't it wait?"

Gordie says, in a serious voice, "Clan Father, time passes, events occur; the hour of this fledgling's flight grows ever nearer. There's much I must do to ensure my wings are strong and my talons sharp before this falcon can attack our enemies. I don't have time to waste, because there aren't enough days and the number grows shorter each day."

Both adults suck in their breath in shock. Reference to being a falcon in this fashion is usually reserved for speaking of the King or a great military leader in action against clan enemies. They all know Gordon is being trained to be the Royal Protector and the supreme commander of the Guards when he finishes uni and has suitable experience. Now he's saying there isn't enough time for that to happen as planned.

Concerned, Edward asks, "You have The Sight, you've seen this?" Gordon's mother is shocked by the question, because only women have The Sight, the term used to cover the ability to see the future or sense people's lies.

In a quiet voice, Gordon says, "I've the Truth Sense and can sense the winds of history, but I can't see the future. Recently I spoke with the Great Mother of the Amiri, she has the Long Sight. She can sense my Truth skills and other skills, but can't see my future. She said I should consult the Great Mother of the Amira."

This information is stunning, never has a male had the Truth Sense, and he has other undisclosed senses. Of more concern is the Great Mother's inability to see his future, because this is supposed to be impossible for one with her level of The Sight. Sitting back, King Edward thinks. He sends for the Great Mother. A short time later she arrives in his office. He says, "Great Mother, is it true you can't see young Gordon's future? I thought this wasn't possible, that one with The Long Sight can see everyone's future!"

She replies, in a very serious tone, "Clan Father, I can't see his future yet, nor can anyone else, because he hasn't made the critical decisions yet, the ones that'll say what it will be. Gordon is one around whom the future can, and will, revolve." The other adults are stunned by this. "The Great Mother of the Amira has The Great Sight. She may be able to see what the main choices or chances are. I do know a great nexus rests here, now, in this room. An important decision about his future is about to be made, that's all."

Leaning back, King Edward says, "Tomorrow we see the Chief Elder and have you tested to Stand. You've my support. How say you, daughter, do you support your son in his request to Stand?"

Gordon's mother says, "Much as I hate to do so at this young age, I do support him."

The Great Mother looks up, and stares at Clan Father. She says, "That's the right decision for the country and the people. Still, I can't see his future, but I can now see a better future for our people, but our time is now limited." All in the room are shocked by the revelation, except Gordon. He feels the winds of history starting to pick up; they blow stronger while they lift him up and carry him forward, faster - much faster.

Testing Time

The next day Clan Father, Gordon, and his mother meet with Chief Elder Ebber of the Amiri, asking for Gordon to be accepted to Stand the Tests of Manhood at this time. They've discussed his young age and his late start in the training. They're starting the circle of discussion again. Growing weary of this, Gordon says, "Chief Elder, why not resolve this by simply having me take the tests I've missed! If I pass them then my training is already adequate, if not, you know what to teach me."

Sighing, the Chief Elder says, "I'd hoped to dissuade you from this because it's very difficult and strenuous. And the time for being a child is so short as it is." They leave his house to go to the training and testing area at the village's edge. He tells the Trainer of Men, the elder assigned to conduct the training, "Prepare all the Manhood Tests of Skill. Young Gordon wishes to Stand early and I need to learn what he already knows." Surprised, the Trainer of Men sets up the tests for the use of bow, knife, rifle, pistol, spear, fire making, rope making, and use of rope. Going to the test position Gordon goes through the preparation rituals and he places his bow, pistol, rifle, knife, and fire starter at hand. At the signal he raises the pistol and fires six rounds at targets, three stationary, three moving. Changing weapons he does the same with the rifle and bow. Next is throwing his knife and spear at the moving targets. Walking to the fire circle he's quick to start a fire. After checking the test materials he selects suitable materials and makes a short rope before using it to demonstrate various knots. Both elders examine the results of his work, and agree he's completed every test perfectly.

The Trainer of Men says, "That leaves the skill tests of courage and knife fighting."

.... There is more of this story ...

The source of this story is Finestories

For the rest of this story you need to be logged in: Log In or Register for a Free account