Xenofos — A New Man
1627, Storm Season
Storm season, Straw weaver camp [[[s02:session-55|Session 55]]]
She nods briskly, then turns and walks away, leaving Dakajeel to explain.
The ceremony will take place in a few days. In the meantime, he is to prepare. He will be receiving his clan markings as part of the ceremony – an ordeal that will take much of the day. He’ll need to be stoic. Dakajeel gives him a speculative look when describing that bit.
“Tattoos? Scars? Where?” Scribe asks. He seems unperturbed.
“Scars on chest.” Despite the cold, Dakajeel hauls up his own tunic to show his. It’s a cross-hatching of scars – Xenofos has seen this on Rajar too.
“Ah, a weave?” He looks at his covered chest. “I suppose there is room for that too.
“A youth would have to know many things for this, learned over many winters.” He looks at Dakajeel “I suppose I will be told what I need to know now”.
And indeed, Dakajeel takes him away for those purposes. The next three days are spent in significant preparation. Every waking moment is spent learning about how to be a member of the Straw Weaver Bison clan, what it means to be a man of the clan, and other important knowledge. It seems as though every man of the clan and not a few of the women come to speak with him. During this period, he is fed exclusively on bison meat and kumiss. He receives many gifts from his visitors, which one of the older men quietly explains he will need to give to his new parents.
Xenofos soaks the information quietly.
When the day rolls around, Xenofos’ head feels more than a little fuzzy. Everyone is speaking Praxian, of course, but he finds that once again, the kumiss makes it a little easier to understand. The actual adoption is over quickly. He is presented to the chief by his new parents as their youngest son. This makes Garmeed smirk, but that expression vanishes as Roneer speaks of the bravery and leadership of X’fos at Alda Chur. From what Xenofos can understand, Roneer seems to have heard of his rallying of the Esrolian cavalry. Rajar speaks of his expert riding, though all note this on zebras rather than proper bison. Dakajeel speaks of his ability on the hunt.
Gallaf, khan of the Straw Weaver Bison clan, flanked by his wives Jokara and Jala listens to it all. He looks to Jokara, Herd Mother of the clan. She nods solemnly. He looks to Jala, mother of his own children, and she too nods. X’fos has been accepted by them.
Xenofos nods, showing no emotion, as if he was quite unconcerned with the outcome of the ceremonies.
Erhehta, his bones rattling with each step, comes forward. “Adult but not adult. This we change now.”
Xenofos eyes the shaman but does not say anything.
“Come child,” Erhehta orders. He leaves the yurt, obviously expecting Xenofos to follow.
Xenofos nods towards wives of the khan and follows the shaman outside.
The scribe’s new father and brother fall into step behind him, as do several other men of the clan. Already Erhehta has vanished from sight, but the others lead him to the shaman’s yurt, pausing only to strip him outside the door.
Xenofos hands his sword to his father and armour to his brother.
Inside the yurt it is dark, barring a low-banked fire. Xenofos’ new brother takes a seat on the ground by the fire and Xenofos is guided to sit in front of him, using the younger man as a support.
The rest of the men circle up and begin to sing.
The next several hours are arduous, as the shaman makes a series of small cuts on Xenofos’ chest, creating the mark of the Straw Weaver bisons, near to, but not touching his Saiciae tattoo. Each cut has ash rubbed into it, so that when it eventually heals, the scar will be thick and raised.
Xenofos takes this quietly. There is sweat on his brow though and his jaws tighten at times.1 Pass con5 roll
When the work is finally done, the shaman adds herbs to the fire and the rest of the men strip down. The air grows dense with smoke and Xenofos’ head feels muzzy from the mix of pain and herbs. There seem to be several rituals enacted, but he will never quite be able to recall the details.
What he can remember includes a lot of singing and dancing.
He has melted snow to drink and at one point, Roneer packs a handful of fresh snow onto the scholar’s wounds. It melts swiftly in the heat, but for a moment, the flash of cold is both a shock and a relief.
Eventually, Xenofos is taken to his new family’s yurt (not the one Neela is in), where he is given a place to sleep and is allowed to sleep as long as his body needs. He is taught to clean the wounds by melting snow and adding salt to the water. He will have to clean them with salt and water until they heal, which may take until Sacred Time.