Loztu felt worried while he waited for the starting of the ceremony. He had put on his rigid leather breastplate and the brown cape half of an hour ago. And he waited alone in the sitting room of his home.
When, finally, his entire family entered, dressed with their best clothes, he became anxious when he thought about the consequences of failing at something. This would be the most important ceremony devoted to him. Loztu knelt and two girls, his cousins, brought to him an open recipient filled with incense and a lit candle. He burnt the incense with the precise movements that he had trained during weeks. When Loztu started to tell the prayer, the remainder persons in the room knelt and prayed whispering.
Asking Koet Wasgu's and ancestors' blessing was only the first part. The room was filled with incense odours when his father sat up, asked his brother for a wrapped in fabric package and told to Lotzu:
"This is the axe that your grandfather gave to me twenty-three years ago. I give it to you now. If you grip it, do it with good reason. If you release it, do it only after victory or death."
Loztu got up and he could not contain the trembling of his knees. He accepted the axe and unwrapped it as if it were a treasure. It was a wonderful axe, with his family's motto engraved in the blade. He held the gift with both hands, knelt and told:
"I will do thus"
When his father gave him permission, he got up and, carefully, put the axe into the sheath that hung by his belt. Loztu gazed at his father and it was difficult for him not getting moved. After a while in which nobody talked, his father continued the ceremony.
"By this ceremony, you become the representative of our family in the Hakol Republic army. Because you already became worthy for using in battle the axe that passed from elder son to elder son, from this moment you can start the mission that you have imposed to yourself. You have my permission for leaving Hakol and look for our brother peoples in the mainland"
Only in the last words, his father's voice trembled. Leaving alone his father for starting that mission was the thing that most saddened to Loztu. This time, he would not return home after a boring month serving in the Bukret's Dyke. He would penetrate in Govria, he would earn enough money for buying a passage to the mainland and he would find the republics ruled by other hakols. That was a dream for a lot of young men in the Republic, and it was a true dream for Loztu. The Republic was weaker every day, and its only hope was the help of its brothers from other parts of the world. He dreamt with coming back with an army that would defeat the govrians and would return to the Republic the lands that Govria snatched to the hakols. His father surprised him:
"I know that your mother would have loved to see you became a man, and she would have wanted to help you. By this, add this to the goods that you intend to sell in Govria."
And he left in his hands the most beautiful pendant that belonged to his mother. He answered, really moved:
"I can't accept it. It is your most beloved memory about her."
"It saddens me to lose it, but your mother would have wanted this. We will not have a future if we continue attached to the past. Take it with you and sell it. Hopefully, you will be able to but the passage with that."
It was inexcusable for a hakol male to cry in public, and it was hard for Loztu to contain himself. He did not want to leave alone his father. He would miss the evenings devoted to training with the axe and improving his unarmed combat skills, and his father would miss them even more. His father gave him a permission that he did not want to give.
After he accepted the jewel, his relatives said goodbye to him following the rehearsed order. The men hugged him; the women kissed him in his cheek. When the ceremony had finished, Loztu took his equipment: crossbow, shield and rucksack, and went out his home walking with his father. He had to contain himself for not turning the head and gazing at his home for the last time. He expected to come back some day, but he did not know when he could return. Suddenly, he heard a known voice:
It was Klastu's voice and he was his best friend. Loztu's father gave him permission touching his shoulder, so he ran and they hugged each other. Loztu told:
"What are you doing here? I thought you were in Lwaart."
"And I am still posted there, but I couldn't let you leaving Hakol without saying goodbye. Let's have some beer!"
The travel from Lwaart lasted several days and it was necessary to take a ferryboard from Massur to Sekte. Loztu only needed a short look at his father, who had come close to them, for receiving his permission. Loztu and Klastu ran the narrow streets of Koltu and they arrived to the tavern where they had shared unforgettable moments. They ordered two mugs of beer, toasted, laughed a lot and they talk even more. When they was about to finish their beers, Klastu told.
"I'd give one of my arms for going with you, man. Can you imagine? You and I going across the world."
"I'd also give an arm for having you close to me in my travel."
"Better not. We wouldn't fight very well lacking an arm each of us."
Loztu laughed and Klastu, after laughing too, talked in a gloomy way.
"But I can't go with you. I'll marry in three months and I'll have to take care of my spouse. I hope that she will give to me a lot of children. Each day, our population goes down."
Loztu sighed and finished his beer. Klastu also finished his drink and told:
"Be very careful, man. Govrians are monsters. No matter how good our training can be: they are as twice as big that us. They have very long arms and legs, and they fight with huge swords. Coming enough close to them for giving a good axe blow is very difficult."
It had to be added that they were not used to practise fighting against govrian foes. Loztu calmed down his friend with several jokes, but he felt anxious about facing a govrian fighter. Finally, they left the tavern and went to the meeting point with the unit in which Loztu was posted. Both friends joked and remembered anecdotes along the way. And when they arrived where Loztu's father was with Loztu's equipment, the three men said goodbye. It was a bitter farewell: his father tried to hide his sadness, but he could not. Klastu and he went together and Loztu arrived to the square where his unit was already congregated.
He had to wait for almost half of an hour, but it was not an unpleasant wait. For Koltu inhabitants, the departure of a relief for Bukret's Dyke garrison was a party for two reasons: the ones that departed would execute the most valuable task between hakol people, and the departure promised the return of the friends and relatives who had spent a month or more serving in the Dyke.
There was not much time left for the departure when a group of girls arrived where Loztu was. Following the traditions, they fastened a flower in the soldiers' breastplates. Two of them came near to him, smiling. The one who took a flower from a basket held by the other girl was gorgeous. She had black long hair and nice dark-coloured eyes. And she was so shy that when she realised that Loztu gazed at her while she was adorning his breastplate with the flower, she blushed. He averted his eyes for not disturbing her and the girl told:
"I did not take offence, sir, it's only that..."
Instead of completing the sentence, she kissed his cheek and thanked him for being so nice. And when Loztu turned his head and saw that the girl looked at him smiling, before fastening a flower in other soldier, he felt more sadness for leaving Hakol.
At last, their officer came and ordered them to form into a column of three lines. Loztu was in the left side. A few minutes after, started one of the traditional military marches of the Republic and they departed between applauses, cheers and good vibes. He searched for the girl who hung him the flower, but he could not see her.
The column crossed the main street of Koltu, the one that joined the square with the Gate of the Path of the Dyke and went out the city. They crossed the Western Bridge and penetrated the dark forest that they would not abandon until reaching the camp in the Dyke. And, in that moment, Loztu felt the entire weight of the decision that he had taken. He felt a lump in his throat when he thought that he was leaving Koltu and, perhaps, he would not come back. He felt miserable thinking in the loneliness to what he condemned to his father. After the death of Lotzu's younger brother, his father's only family was him.
Although the path where they walked was well plotted by the thousands of feet and carriages that ran it so many times, it was sinuous and the forest was infested by vermin. Increasing the velocity of the march for avoid camping in the forest was imprudent and unnecessary. However, that implied the risk of being attacked during the night by those monsters. Loztu only witnessed one attack of those vermin in their several return trips, and it was a really nasty experience.