They look alike, but one of them is broken on the inside
Writers can get inspiration anywhere, and any time.
The idea to write this novella came to me when I found an old letter from grandma in my drawer where I keep precious holiday cards and letters. I saved that yellowed letter because I loved her neat handwriting.
It doesn't take much to trigger a writer's imagination, so I started thinking. What if... what if this letter was written by an ancestor who lived hundreds of years ago? What if it would contain information that could save someone in the present? From that moment, the story started to form in my mind.
I imagined Sofia as a med student who is planning to spend the summer in Hungary with her brother who is an archeologist. On the flight she meets a man who turns out to be her puppy love from long time ago.
Jayden finds a leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a shaman. Sofia can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. If it remains unbroken, the curse will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries.
Can they find the way to break the curse? Could Sofia find happiness with her long-lost friend?
When I had the rough outline of the story, the words started to pour, and I added a lot more secrets, historical facts and legends as well as suspenseful moments to keep the readers at the edge of their seats.
A short excerpt:
Jayden hurried toward the parking garage, pulling Sofia’s luggage.
“Slow down, Jay,” Sofia cried out as she lagged behind with her carry-on bag. “I can’t keep up if you’re running like that.”
“Sorry.” Jayden looked back and slowed down, “I’m so eager to show you what I’ve found.”
“What is it?” Sofia tried to catch her breath.
“It’s kind of a 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 like you did.”
“That’s so exciting.” Sofia started walking faster. “Did you bring it with you?”
“Yes, it’s in the car, I thought you could start translating it on the ride home. Here is my car in this row.”
They reached the old Porsche that was their grandma’s car and Jayden packed Sofia’s luggage into the trunk. He reached into the back and pulled a duffel bag from the back seat. He opened the zipper and took out a package wrapped in old-looking leather sheets. When Jayden unwrapped it, inside she saw the book made of leather sheets sewn together.
Jayden handed it to Sofia and asked, “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 got into the passenger seat, opened the book and scanned the pages. Jayden started the engine and pulled out of the parking space. The traffic was heavy in the city, but soon they were driving northeast on the smooth highway.
“So, what do you think?” Jayden asked.
“Wow! Let me read it.” Sofia turned to the first page and started translating.
I am Zoan, the humble Shaman of the Roaring Falcon tribe. I’m going to write Elana’s story in detail with the hope that the descendants of Elana could read this and break the powerful curse. It happened on the third moon of the year, the events that led to Tuana’s curse. The day Elana was forced to leave her happy childhood behind and take 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 said, “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 is 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.”
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 it was a giant carved falcon, standing with wings open wide, as if it was 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 who was carrying firewood stopped and shook her head in disapproval. “These youngsters are riding like demons,” she mumbled, looking after Elana.
Elana reached her home. She slid off the mare’s back in a hurry and fastened the horse’s rein to a 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 from a leather bag that hung on the pole into a clay bowl. She whispered, “I have to hurry, but I’ll be back soon, Willow, promise.”
She hurried up to the entrance of the tent-like building, called Jurta, with a few long strides. She parted her kaftan-like dark blue overcoat, pulled up her baggy trousers, and smoothed her tunic that her mother had adorned with delicate flower designs. Elana pulled the leather entrance cover aside with a heavy sigh, and she braced herself mentally for the long lecture 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 really 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 got some herbs, too. Look!” Elana hoped that she could divert her mother’s attention, so 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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