Ema's Wedding in 406 in the Carpathian Basin
When I started writing the Ancestor's Secrets Trilogy, I did extensive research into ancient Hun life, customs, and legends. I wanted to write a story that I enjoy reading, a magical realism fantasy with historical bits.
The story in a nutshell:
When a young doctor, Ilona, starts to develop unusual powers, her life and her beliefs change. Thrown into a world of clan mysteries, traditions and secrets, she begins remembering her mother’s instructions concealed as rhymes.
Punished by the ancestors long ago, Mora has waited centuries for the chance to reunite with her beloved Joland. Now, she seeks to gain the power to rule the ancient clan with a strict hierarchy and deadly laws that still exist hidden among us.
Ilona has been chosen by the ancestors to stop Mora and save the future of the clan.
Her birthright as a Healer runs alongside her desires as a woman. She has been in love with her best friend but is also drawn to the stranger who appears in her peculiar dream.
Ilona must save herself and her family from Mora’s evil plans, uncover ancient tribal secrets, and find her Destiny Box… the box that contains the message of the Ancestors.
Does she have the strength to fight evil?
The following excerpt plays out in the past, in 406 when Ema visits the ancestors, gets stuck in the past, and falls in love:
I accepted my destiny. I was deeply in love with Mundzuk, and we were planning our wedding, but I was very concerned about Ilona. She didn’t visit me. I wanted her to be there so badly. She should be here to share my happiness, and I was thinking about delaying our wedding until I heard from her. The Seer told me Ilona was okay, although her future was not very clear. She could see bits and pieces in a far and distant future, but because nothing had been decided or established yet, she could only see the possibilities.
The Seer also said that in the future, that was my present before, Ilona was in danger from Mora and had to hide for a while until a solution could be found. Sadly, she was not going to attend my wedding. The Seer said by delaying the wedding I would greatly alter the future. My first son had to be born the day that was written. Otherwise, everything would become chaotic. Evidently, Ilona was healthy and happy, yet her future from that point on was hazy. It was enough for me; I knew in my heart that as soon as possible, she would visit me.
I’ve spent my days writing about the everyday life of the tribe while Mundzuk was on the hunt. I wanted to paint, but because I was used to modern oil paint and canvas, I couldn’t find anything as a substitute. Elana said that my life as a painter was over, and I should concentrate on writing instead. She was right of course, but I still missed my canvases and favorite brushes. I learned to ride a horse properly as a Hunor should, and after a few weeks, my backside and my thighs stopped aching.
Mundzuk was teaching me how to aim and shoot with an arrow. My arms were so tired at first that I could barely lift them, but they got used to it, as well. I wasn’t a proper woman warrior yet, but I was getting there. The girls and boys in this culture started their training very early, and they began riding horses as soon as they were able to sit and walk, so I had a lot of catching up to do. There was only one woman who constantly made fun of my clumsiness. She annoyed the heck out of me; I thought of ways to get back at her for her sharp tongue. Everyone else was understanding and helpful, except for her. Kids surrounded me, and they gave me tips on how to become one with the horse when I rode, and they happily ran and fetched my arrows when they missed the target. The adults learned to respect my strong work ethic and intentions of learning, and they helped me along the way. It was just Palia, that dreadful bitch who constantly laughed at me and made fun of me.
Picture credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/374995106462854121/?lp=true
I spoke to Elana about her, and she said that she understood the jealousy. Palia wanted Mundzuk for herself. She wanted to become Queen, and her family was not happy with my engagement to Mundzuk. They were totally against Mundzuk’s father as well, because he refused to take more than one woman in marriage. Palia’s father wanted his sister to be the second wife of Mundzuk’s father, but he refused to take her. There was bad blood between them about that to begin with, and when Mundzuk refused Palia, their resentment toward him just escalated. Anyway, the Dreamweaver placed a protective spell on me, so she or her family couldn’t hurt me. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make her a mute.
Elana was happy. Her first rite mate Botond finally gathered enough courage to talk to her, and he offered his red tulip to her instead of leaving it by her door. She accepted it. They talked, and Elana told him about the restrictions she had as a Healer. He knew he could never marry her or have another child with her, but he wanted to be with her, even if it had to be a secret for the rest of their lives.
They met in secret and lived as man and wife inside the house, and they hid their relationship from everyone else, except me. I was happy for them. Elana’s pregnancy progressed. She was getting close to giving birth to their daughter. It saddened me that her destiny was ready made, and she didn’t have a choice of accepting or rejecting it. I did have a choice, and I chose to accept it without remorse, but, at least, I had a choice. I was happy and content; I just missed my Ilona and Elza terribly, hoping I could see them soon.
Our wedding day was the happiest and most stressful day of my life. The women dressed me in baggy white trousers tucked into butter-soft leather boots, and long kaftan-like overcoat adorned with flower designs and protective spell motifs. They braided jasmine flowers into my hair and placed a fur-trimmed pointy hat on my head decorated with pearls and precious gems. The long, silk veil attached to the hat trailed behind me as I walked. I was excited and nervous. The women made jokes about the wedding night and reminded each other how happy they were when they were getting dressed for their weddings. They drank quite a few cups of fermented horse milk, which made them giddy and a little unsteady on their feet.
The drums sounded outside, announcing the start of the ceremony. Elana looked me over, adjusted my veil and once satisfied; she motioned me to walk with her outside. I took a long, deep breath and accepted her extended hand. We looked at each other; she smiled, and we walked toward the door.
Outside, people were lined up smiling and cheering. As we walked, they lined up behind us. When we reached the circle in the middle of the village, I saw a small tent erected around the pole with the carved Turul bird on top. The shaman stood in front of the pole; Mundzuk was standing on his right and Elana walked me over to stand on his left. People stood around in a circle, smiling, swaying to the music of the flutes and drums. I saw Palia’s sourpuss face in the back. If looks could kill, I would have been dead on the spot. I sent a big smile her way, and she turned and stomped her foot on the ground.
I laughed inside and, feeling a little more relaxed, I focused my attention on Mundzuk. His eyes were on me, adoration shining over his entire face. He mouthed silently, “I love you so much,” and I did the same.
The shaman cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention and began his speech: “We are gathered here to witness this woman Ema and this man Mundzuk declare their love for each other by joining in marriage as one.”
Then he started chanting and lit aromatic herbs while the drums slowed to complement the rhythm of chanting. I ran through the next steps we rehearsed with Elana for days. I knew exactly what came next and what was expected of me. My stomach was in a tight knot, but I tried to put up a brave face and not panic about the tasks that awaited us. If I failed, the marriage would be annulled. The amount of pressure was too much, and the butterflies went into a frenzy in my belly. Everyone around us held hands and swayed to the slow rhythm. After a few minutes, the shaman looked up and extended his hands holding a white shawl. Mundzuk and I held our right hands, and the shaman wrapped the shawl around our hands and said, “You are now bound together, only you can break this sacred bond.”
Then he untied our hands and motioned toward the white horses, which were led close to the tent by his assistant. Holding hands, we slowly walked to the horses; we touched our foreheads together and then mounted the horses. We rode in opposite directions, and we had to circle around the village and meet under the Turul bird statue, the clan’s sacred falcon, asking for the God’s blessing. The first circle was smooth; we met before the pole, greeted each other in traditional hand touch and then turned to start the second circle.
Suddenly my horse reared, almost throwing me off. I grabbed his mane with both hands and tried to hold on. The horse neighed, kicked out with his hind legs, wildly shaking his head. I tried to soothe him, cooing and holding his shoulders with my knees when I saw something in his left ear. Leaning forward, I let go of his mane with my left hand and reached inside his ear. Something stung my index finger hard; sharp pain shot up to my arm instantly. I didn’t let go and kept searching. I’ve touched something soft and felt wings vibrating under my finger.
I grabbed it between my achy index finger and middle finger and squeezed it hard. The horse calmed instantly after I pulled out the fat, funny looking insect from his ear. I threw the bug on the ground and urged the horse to move forward with a gentle pressing of my knees. I looked back and saw an old woman lying on the ground—where I threw the insect—in fetal position, slowly moving her legs. What a…? Nah, it’s impossible. I shook my head, but I couldn’t waste time trying to figure it out and focused on the ride.
We successfully completed the three circles around the village and got off the horses. We had to face one more test before the marriage became real and accepted. Bows and one arrow each was handed to us. We walked away from the pole and stopped about a hundred feet away. Turning back, we faced the Turul pole and saw the round target woven from grass attached to the pole. There was a red center painted in the middle. Our task was to hit the red dot with our arrows at the same time. If either of us missed, it would mean to the tribe that we didn’t belong together. I looked up at Mundzuk and showed him my swollen index finger. His face became pale, and he looked at me, horror-stricken. He knew I’d have a very hard time pulling the string and aiming my arrow. His expression turned to great sadness.
All the while I was learning and practicing, I always used my stronger right hand to pull the bow and aimed with my left. I knew I couldn’t do that with my swollen, throbbing finger, and I knew this was the doing of Palia. I remembered previously seeing her with the old woman I had seen on the ground; I knew they used some kind of magic to jeopardize my marriage to Mundzuk. I had to try to switch hands. I was spitting fire, mumbling under my breath while I switched hands, “Oh, no honey. You can try until you’re blue in the face; you’re not going to beat me and change my destiny. In your face bitch.”
Mundzuk drew a sharp breath; I motioned to him to get ready to fire, “Are you sure? You never switched hands before.”
I was determined and very angry, “Now or never!” I said and lifted my bow.
He looked worried but obeyed and lifted his bow to aim, as well. Our eyes interlocked for a few seconds and then I turned my head toward the target, “On three we fire.”
I heard Mundzuk’s whisper, “With the help of the Gods, let’s do it.”
I aimed my arrow, took a sharp breath, and counted quickly, “One… two… three” and fired. I heard Mundzuk’s arrow rush into the air at the same time.
We looked at each other instead of following the arrows with our eyes. Suddenly cheers erupted. We looked and saw that both our arrows were embedded in the middle of the red dot, side by side.
Mundzuk picked me up. He held me so tight that I couldn’t breathe, “You are my wife!”
I hope you enjoyed the short sneak-peek into Destiny, the third book of the Ancestors' Secrets Trilogy:
Mythology and Folklore Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
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