Lost and Found
 Feb 6, 2018

Write a romantic back story to a lost and found wedding ring.

Contest Rules
* Entry Fee: Free
* Prize: Advanced Trophy
* Level: Advanced
* Character Limits: 1000 - 2500 words
* Submit period: 24 days
* Voting period: 3 days
* All regular Writing Deck Rules apply.
* Multiple entries are allowed in this contest.

Thanks to Cosmix for the contest idea

Thanks to Grahamcracker for supplying our themepost!
1st place

Tock had been sent out on his manhood hunt right after his thirteenth winter. Normally this initiation was conducted after one’s fourteenth winter, but his grandfather thought him capable; so much so, that he loaded a hot coal pit starting on the second day. On average, an initiate would return with their kill in four to five days.

The kill was special, in that it must be a wild boar. These creatures hibernated through the winter, and were ravenous when they emerged from their dens. And they loved the taste of humans! If that were not enough, they were also very cunning. They would leave tracks for predators to follow, and ambush creatures over twice their size.

Tock managed his kill on the third morning, but it took him till well past dark to haul it back to the village. He was glad his grandfather had continued feeding the coal pit, thus ensuring the roast would be ready by mid-morning. He was sure he would have no problem sleeping until it was done.

When he woke, Tock noticed that his grandfather had left a note telling him they would be expecting his feast at the noon meal. He wasted no time in getting everything ready, but removed the tongue and made a couple sandwiches of it, to share with Soo. After carrying everything out to the communal table, he snuck off to find her.

Soo was busy working her garden area when he snuck up behind her. “Guess who,” he whispered in her ear.

She jumped at being startled, but immediately turned around and playfully hit him. “How dare you scare me like that?” she laughed. “Your grandfather said you had returned sometime last night and for us to expect a roast for lunch. Did you get everything set up already? Do you need help with the preparations?”

“Not to worry,” Tock answered, smiling. “Everything is ready for the meal, but I brought you the best part. Let’s sneak away and enjoy it by ourselves. I don’t need all the fawning that would happen if I were to be at the table. I’d much rather just be with you.”

“Oh, we really shouldn’t,” Soo managed to say, before being distracted by a redbird flying overhead. “Ooh, look!” Tock saw the bird, too, and they both followed its flight toward a tree atop Sacred Hill. “Let’s go there, she said.

“But that’s forbidden,” Tock replied. “We could get in a lot of trouble, if anyone found out.”

“How could anyone find out?” Soo asked. “No one ever goes there, so no one would see us.”

Reluctantly, Tock agreed to have their lunch on Sacred Hill. He did want to be alone with her. So they climbed, talking about how they really just wanted a closer look at the redbird; nothing wrong with that, is there?

The tree seemed to sit alone on its throne up there, but the foliage was so thick they could not see the bird. “You’d think it would be easy to spot against all that green,” commented Soo, as they were walking around under it, looking up.

“Ouch,” Soo exclaimed after a short time. “I stubbed my toe on something.”

“Let me see,” Replied Tock, “does it hurt.”

“Not really,” she responded, “but it will teach me to watch where I’m walking.”

Looking down, expecting to see just a rock, they noticed that it was really more of a step. They started parting the grass, and after some work, found themselves looking at a large circular step with many runes all around the edge and with a single post in the center.

“This must be the reason it’s called Sacred Hill,” announced Tock. “Maybe this is an altar? Anyway, let’s eat our lunch before the tongue gets too cold.”

“Ooh, my favorite,” exclaimed Soo, as she reached over and kissed him.

They sat on the step/altar and enjoyed their sandwiches, while taking in the grand view. “If I had known what a view there was from up here, I would have come more often, forbidden or not,” whispered Soo.

“I agree,” Tock said, as he stood up and went to look at the post. Soo got up and followed him there. “Not much to this, but I guess it could be used as a book rest,” he said. “Anyway, I think we should head back on down.”

“Okay,” said Soo. As they both looked for a last time out across the sweeping view, they did a double take. “Did you see that,” she asked?

“Uh, huh,” he stuttered, “it was quick, but I could have sworn a saw a flash of gold on top of what I can only assume is a mountain because of the distance.”

“Yep, that’s what I saw,” said Soo. I wonder what it was? Do you think your grandfather might know?”

“All we can do is ask him, and hope he doesn’t get mad for our just being up here,” Tock responded. “Let’s go.”

Before they got a few steps though: “What are you two doing up here?” came from behind them. They turned to see Tock’s grandfather just coming onto the top of the hill.

Tock explained what had led them to be where they were, thinking about how much trouble they were in, but got a surprising response when he got to their seeing the flash of gold.

“What? From that peak there?” he asked, pointing. “Oh if it is only possible…”

After noticing that Tock and Soo were just standing there looking at him, the grandfather said he’d better explain:

“You two are too young to know about the marriage ring. Soo, your parents were the last couple to have been here. See this rune? Look at the large middle finger knuckle on your left hand. Yep, it’s the same symbol. Tock, yours is over here.

“Tradition says that in order for a couple to be wed, they must endure a test, or trial if you will. The couple must journey to that peak over there, on the top of which was an altar similar to this one, called the marriage ring. Hovering above the post there, was a gold ring. They would stand on opposite sides of that ring, and insert their left hands so that the knuckle on each of their hands touched. If their love was true, the Earth Mother, who had observed their whole journey, would unite them. The couple would be in a sort of trance, and not feel any pain when the symbols on each of their knuckles were merged to create a new one of their own. This symbol would be on the knuckles of all their children as well, until they underwent the same ritual to create their own new families. The Earth Mother would then have the spirit dragon transport the couple to their home altar, or to another if she deemed it in her interest. Wherever they were transported to though, would know it instantly by the blinding light of the spirit dragon, and those in that community would immediately go to welcome the newlyweds.

“It wasn’t long after your parents arrived here, Soo, that this was all to change. The law states that the emperor must have an heir in order to step down. But it also states that that heir must have an heir of his own, before this can take place.

“Well, the emperor’s son did not think he should have to go through the trial, and was in a hurry to gain the throne. So he picked a female he thought would be a good mate, and had the court sorcerer transport them to that peak. Of course the Earth Mother did not find this acceptable, and the marriage ring did nothing.

“This angered the son so much, he ordered the sorcerer to destroy the altar, ring and all. The sorcerer did so, maybe for greed or power over the son. No one knows for sure, because after he transported the couple back to the palace, and the emperor heard what had taken place, he had the sorcerer executed. And the marriage ring was lost to us forever.

“The son still has no heir of his own, though he continues to get new females when the current one fails to conceive. We have been fearing that our entire race will become extinct, since no child has been born in over twelve winters now.

“But maybe, just maybe, that flash of gold you two saw is our ray of hope.”

Tock and Soo looked at each other and then back at the grandfather. “What do you mean,” asked Tock?

“Oh, well. You both love each other right?” asked the grandfather.

“Of course,” came in unison from them both.

“Ha, well then, would you be willing to put that love to the test? Take the trial? Journey to that peak and see if the marriage ring has returned?” asked the grandfather. “It is a long and perilous trip though, I warn you.”

After looking at each other: “Tell us what we need to do, and we will do it.”

Three days later, after having learned what they could, Tock and Soo set off on a journey that would take over a winter and surely test their love in ways they could never expect. Their adventures in the wild would encompass a large tome, but for purposes of this story, let it suffice that they bravely made their way to the peak of the marriage ring.

On the top of that peak, they saw broken rubble overgrown by long grass. Evidently no one had been here since the destruction. “But what about that flash we saw?” Asked Soo.

“I have no idea,” answered Tock. “Maybe the Earth Mother just doesn’t believe we love each other as much as we know we do. I guess we have a long trek back home.”

Before they could start back down the mountain though, a rumbling began that knocked them off their feet. When the rumbling subsided, they saw that the marriage altar was standing in front of them in pristine order. And there over the center post hovered a gold ring.

“Shall we?” smiled Soo.

“Oh yes,” responded Tock.

So the couple went to opposite sides of the ring and extended their hands into it until their knuckles touched. They were engulfed in a golden light that was surely visible even to Tock’s grandfather; maybe to all the ends of the earth. They would not know that until much later though. You see Earth Mother had the spirit dragon transport them not home, but to the altar at the palace of the emperor; and that too, is another story.