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The First and Last Tepia

Oh, poor Torpas

By RuthPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

The Tepia Festival is one of the most known festivals in my village. I’ve always wondered why and this year, I was finally going to find out. For some reason, if you were under the age of fifteen, you couldn’t know what the festival meant, nor would you be allowed to go.

It was an order. A silent rule.

No one in the village had broken that rule, and why would they? Although we are warm loving people, our laws are very strict, and to those who don’t obey…well good luck is all I can say.

Conveniently, I turned fifteen two days before the festival, and for some reason, they treated those like me differently. Some say it is because of how close the dates are, others argue that it is favoritism. Whatever it is, we always stood from other birth dates, so for my previous birthdays, I had always gotten more food portions or a ride around the nearby lagoon, where only the adults could go.

I am named Torpas. I was given a name starting with a ‘T’ because my people wanted to symbolize the festival without bringing disrespect to it.

The day of the festival arrived, and I got up to prepare for it. I was very excited at what it could be. Would it be a bonfire, like usual? Or a dance festival? There were so many ideas in my head. I passed by my fellow villagers and nodded to them, to which they nodded back.

I always loved looking at the sea horizon in the mornings. It was my personal morning ritual. The way the sun looked like it was melting in the water was so beautiful. I went to my usual spot to sit and wait for the sun to ‘leave’ the water. The sin would rise soon. I made sure to mentally time myself as usual so as not to overspend my time. We still had to prepare.

There was something different this morning. For some reason, I could see a silhouette. It looked hazy but that was definitely a ship. It looked nearer for some reason. I understood that sometimes, our fishermen would go fishing and on hunts, but since today was the festival, everyone was to prepare for that and only that. That was how special this festival was.

I was worried for whoever those sailors were. They clearly weren’t supposed to be on the water today because of the festival. I had to report to The Village Mamman. She was something like an oracle for our village, always there when the sailors would go for expeditions, or when we needed rain. She was highly respected, but also feared. That was because she had two eye colors. One pure white, an the other blue.

I went to report those villagers on the sea to her. I reached her tent and asked to see her.

The guards looked at me weirdly, and I understood why. You wouldn’t see teenagers wanting to see Mamman on their own unless they were with their families.

“Who is that?” I heard a voice inside ask.

One of the guards replied. “It is Torpas Mamman. She requests to see you.”

There was silence for a while, then light footsteps approached. An old woman opened the tent. You could see her staff opening the covers. She was here. I bowed and looked up a little, glancing to see the eyes, then looked back down because we made eye contact.

She giggled. “It’s okay child. I have experienced worse cover-ups. It’s not a sin to be curious. Look up.”

I did, and finally saw them. It wasn’t my first time but seeing them each time surprised me. They were pretty yet terrifying. I snapped out of my thoughts.

“Happy Tepia Mamman.” I curtsied. She nodded. “Happy Tepia.”

“So, what brings you here child?”

I opened my mouth to speak. “I am here to- “

“What did you say your name was again?”

I paused, confused as to why my name was important, but told her anyways.

“My name is Torpas, Mamman.” I curtsied once more. It was important to always show respect for the elders.

“Torpas…” she repeated. “You are one of the Tepia children. Those born a week before Tepia. How can I assist you dear Torpas?”

I blushed, then cleared my throat. “As you know today is the day of the festival and should be of utmost importance. Unfortunately, there are some that do not abide by that rule Mamman.” I paused.

She frowned. “Go on.”

I saw a sailing ship on the horizon this morning and decided to report it to you. I started to explain what I saw and didn’t see the guards and Mamman freeze. The guards in fear, and Mamman in pity.

I was startled and stopped speaking because she had unexpectedly put her hand on my head and started praying. It was in our ancient language:

Oh Tepia,

Yet again you show,

But through her so directly,

You who shall be exalted,

I hereby give this child to you.

She chanted twice. I said nothing and accepted the prayers. It wasn’t weird for her to pray for the villagers after all.

She then smiled sadly at me. “Child, go prepare for the festival. You know how fast the night comes. She led me out of her area. I turned around confused that the sailors were going to get away with it. I didn’t see the look of pity on Mamman’s face.

As Mamman said, the night came quickly. I had spent all day preparing for the festival, and I was very excited.

Then a chime sounded and all the villagers under fifteen left. They couldn’t be out by this time. I was proud that I didn’t have to join them this time. I saw my friend Torhigt, also among those born a week before Tepia.

He smiled at me, equally excited. When the underage had been cleared, the guards told us to follow them. They were six in total; three in front and three at the back. They led us to the opening, and of course the sheep was still there. I wanted to talk but decided not to in case it was against the rules.

There was a small fire, even smaller than our regular ones, which added to my confusion. It was then.

“Welcome all, to Tepia. Another year has gone by and they have protected us. It is only normal we give back in return.”

The villagers cheered and I joined. She then put her palm up, and it became quiet. Not a peep.

Then she cleared her throat. “This year is a little different though because their gift was revealed earlier than expected, it caught even me off guard.”

The villagers murmured. ‘This time?’ ‘Earlier? What does she mean’ the whispers and murmurs filled the place?

Then “Torpas.” She called me, and I was startled. Why did she call me? It wasn’t till I was nudged by Torhigt did I go upfront. The villagers gave me curious looks, then turned happy. I also smiled, although still confused. I reached the front where Mamman was and stood in front of her.

“Kneel, child. You are the most important part of this festival.”

Before I did, the ship seemed closer, and evidently bigger. I was about to point that out when I was pushed to my knees, and then a hand on my head. She said the same thing earlier today:

Oh Tepia,

Yet again you show,

But through her so directly,

You who shall be exalted,

I hereby give this child to you.

She chanted once more, and then I felt it. Pain. Very severe pain. I couldn’t hold it in. I screamed, wanting to get away from whatever it is. I could faintly hear Torhigt scream my name, I wanted to turn to him for help, but couldn’t because Mamman’s grip on my head was too strong.

“Mamman, it hurts!” I could only say.

“Shh shush child. This is for our village. I happened to glimpse at the sea once more and it was more than a ship, the ship now looked like a hat, and not on water anymore. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Then a voice in my head appeared. “Stop fighting child. Do it for your village, the villagers, your friends. Come to me now. Come, this child.” It repeated.

Mamman’s grip loosened when the child beneath her stopped thrashing. She looked down and her eyes were now both as white as the moon. Mamman bowed, then everyone too, including the guards holding Torhigt.

Torpas, no, whoever it was kept silent.

Then “Well done, my subjects.” Tepia

Tepia made eye contact with a boy. Torhigt. It smiled, said nothing, and walked toward the sea, toward the horizon. Till Torpas couldn’t be seen again, it left. Then everyone stood up. It was over. Another one gone. Their village was safe again for another year.

Torhigt looked terrified. Mamman noticed that Tepia has looked at him and looked around to the few who were equally as terrified.

“Fear not, it is done. Our village is safe. As you know you must not tell a word of this to those who could not participate. I promise it gets better with each passing year. Come, let us eat, drink and dance. Thank Torpas and most importantly, Tepia.”

The villagers cheered, and the few who had seen one of the worst things ever said nothing. They couldn’t say anything, and could only watch as yet another would go through the same next year…

urban legend

About the Creator


I am here to see how creative I can be :) Enjoy.

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