art by Shothot Designs
Not the Chosen One
by Amber D. Sistla
Grikl paced in the clearing surrounded by bekel trees, their boughs overflowing with delicately waving blossoms that filled the sultry air with a sweet scent. She took care not to stop lest she sink into the mud. It was bekel bug season and she couldn't even seek the steadier ground near the roots of the trees. One bite from the bug would paralyze her so that it could burrow inside and lay its eggs. The thought of the danger nauseated her, but it was the perfect spot to wallow in her shame; no one would think to look for her in the groves.
The Elders said true spirits rejoiced in the accomplishments of others, but she was sure they'd never had to live in the shadow of the Chosen One. Archery, hunting, running, singing, dancing, shouting... Ekkli's list of talents was unending and Grikl was always a distant second. Only beauty, that is my undisputed domain. The thought wormed in her mind like a bekel bug. Of what use was beauty? The boys cared little for such a transient, unskilled thing when they could bask in the glory of Ekkli's bright accomplishments.
Villagers had come from the farthest fars to witness Ekkli's Initiation. Ma, who never smiled, had smiled when Ekkli had emerged from the goddess cave wearing not one, but two brass rings in her ears. She'd gone to Ekkli's ma and said that now they could finally hope and thanked her for birthing the goddess's chosen.
It wasn't even that Grikl wanted to best Ekkli. Just the thought of traveling to the neighboring villages made her violently ill. She'd no desire to be the Chosen One and leave home to journey south and battle the Oppressor on Mount Selon. Ekkli was probably already on her way.
Grikl paused for a moment and closed her eyes. She couldn't even attend the farewell, sure that others would see the joy in her eyes. She'd been glad Ekkli was going for it meant she wouldn't have to be second-best anymore. The shame of it withered her soul.