THE TREASURE HUNTER
By Terho Häkkinen
"You want to know more about me?" Grezak laughed. "Fine. I'll tell you about my past, even though it will be very painful. This is something why I left my tribe and decided to become a treasure hunter."
Grezak sat down before the fire, and threw in a few pieces of wood. His face darkened, and he clinched as his memories roared back from the depths in which he had buried them...
"All right Grezak, it's time to go."
Grezak stood up, and walked out of the small hut. He was blinded by the bright light outside of the hut for a moment, as his vision had adapted to dark after spending the whole night preparing both his mind and body for the event at hand. As Grezak's tribe's traditions required, every young warrior reaching their maturity had to complete the Ritual. In this ritual, two warriors were sent to the temple outside of the tribe's village to find and bring back the artefact which the tribe's leader had taken there. It was common to keep the warriors from seeing each other until they had begun their journey.
But, in this ritual, only the strongest warrior survives. As there was only one artefact to bring back to the village, the ritual usually ended in to a bloody duel, from which only the mightier warrior could survive. There were even times, when neither of the young warriors returned to the village alive. Normally, the survivor would claim the deceased warrior's property, but if both warriors would end up dead, the warriors' families would keep their properties.
Outside of the hut were all of the village's residents. All of them watched, as Grezak walked slowly past them. Grezak couldn't help but wonder, who would be his competitor on the Ritual. Other warriors started to walk behind him, as they had always done for the ones who went to the Ritual before.
Before the village's gates, everyone stopped. The tribe's chief, Kha'el, stepped forth. Grezak hoped, that he'd have some idea of who his opponent would be. He also wondered, where Kaaz, Kha'el's son and Grezak's friend, was. Grezak looked around trying to find Kaaz.
"Tribesmen! Hear my words!" Kha'el shouted. "Once again, we have come to our village's gates, to send the first of the two young warriors to his journey!"
Kha'el turned to Grezak. "Now, Grezak, son of Selakh, you must give away your weapon. You are not allowed to wear anything to protect yourself, as has no-one else been allowed to before you."
Grezak stepped forward, as many warriors had done before him, and kneeled down before the tribe's chief. After a short while, he stood back up, and took away his weapon, a small sword that he had received from his father. After giving the sword to the tribe's chief, he took off his loincloth.
Kha'el began to speak. "Grezak, son of Selakh, you are now ready to begin the Ritual. After we have closed the gates, you will not be allowed to return, unless you have the artefact with you. If you try to come back without the artefact, you will be killed for violating our tribe's traditions." The chief lifted his hand, and the gates were opened. "May you come back as a true warrior!"
Grezak bowed before the chief, and walked to the gates. He gave one last look to the village. After he had looked around the village for a moment, he turned his back to it, and walked through the gates. The gates were shut behind him, and so began his ritual.
"The first thought that came to my mind after coming out of the village, was to find something that I could use to hunt food", Grezak said. His face was still dark with the pain of his memories. Grezak stared at the flames, and continued his story. "Somehow, I managed to make myself a crude spear. And to my greater amazement, I was able to hunt down a few small animals with it, but the spear was not good enough to be used as a weapon against a skilled warrior."
Grezak relaxed a bit, and he looked to the stars in the clear night sky. "The journey to the temple took a few days. I didn't see even a single glimpse of my opponent during that time. But I know, this will not last for the rest of my trip.
This adventure is just about to begin…"