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Song of Existence
by PD Allen A story of transformation, personal and social, and the magic within us all.
Fiddlesticks Press hand-crafted fiction
Also by PD Allen Fiction Blood Moon — Tales of da Yoopernatural Volume 1 The Secret Life of Trees — Tales of da Yoopernatural Volume Afraid of the Dar! — Tales of da Yoopernatural Volume " A #iller$s Pride — Tales of da Yoopernatural Volume % &omplete Tales of da Yoopernatural Stran'e Attractors 8 (iddlestic!s Murderer$s S!y — )nder Shattered S!ies* Boo! 1 Daemon S!y — )nder Shattered S!ies* Boo! Mournin' S!y — )nder Shattered S!ies* Boo! " Poetry +uantum Meditations, Boo! -ne (ebook) +uantum Meditations. Boo! T/o (print) +uantum Meditations. Boo! Three (print) +uantum Meditations. Boo! (our (print) +uantum Meditations 0 (ebook) +uantum Meditations 0" (ebook) +uantum Meditations 0% (ebook) +uantum Meditations 01 (ebook) +uantum Meditations 02 (ebook) +uantum Meditations 03 (ebook) Experimental arrati!e A/a!enin' Dra'on. a Shamanic Ad4enture 5nto the 6i'ht 7 the first eboo! in 5lluminated Print
Visit PD Allen online at pdallen8/ordpress8com8
8 The Son' of (reedom Part % — A&&renticeshi& .558 Trouble in the To/n .V58 :escue and 9auntin' Part " — A #alse $ote ....5..V5558 Amon' the <loriosi .V558 :a4en =in' Part ' — Hatching .5..58 Ma!in' Peace /ith Loss .V58 (inal Lessons ...5558 The A/a!enin' Part ( — The Song .V8 )nfinished Business .5V8 A 6e/ A'e ..V8 -penin' 6otes .V5558 Serenade at Path$s >nd .558 &ourtin' the Muse .8 The <ift of Music .V558 The Tin!er @ .8 The Son' of &hochopalli .8 5n the Dun'eons .58 5n the Moment ..8 The Penalty for Attendin' ..V8 Thie4es and =itches ......558 The Authentic Son' and the -fficial =ord Part — Ene!ies of the State ..5V8 The Mon!ey and the &rocodile ...8 Vision +uest .5558 The Truth about Stran'ers ..V558 <ardenin' ...5V8 The 9arper (ractured ....58 :eborn .Contents Part 1 — The Hunchback 58 The Tribe 558 The (amily 5558 9a/! Descendin' 5V8 Meado/ and Villa'e V8 The &ripplin' V58 The :ape Part 2 — The Birth of a Song V558 The Minstrel V5558 The True Performance of a 9arper 5.5558 To &arry a Tune ..V58 To Play the 9arp ..
%tephanie.For my lo!ing father and mother. #andace $ %amantha For &ichael. "rian. (ony. Frank and "etty Pfeiffer For my daughters. for e!eryone and All that *s ?You are the music /hile the music lasts8@ — T8S8 >liot ?6o problem can be sol4ed from the same le4el of consciousness that created it8@ —Albert >instein )ntro*uction This boo! /as /ritten in t/o bouts8 The first* occurrin' from December of A1A into midBCanuary of A11* sa/ the composition of the first half of the boo!* up throu'h the dun'eon section8 The second /as in (ebruary of A1" and sa/ the completion of the manuscript8 5n bet/een came the entire +uantum Meditations* alon' /ith the editin' and publication of the same* &omplete Tales of da Yoopernatural* (iddlestic!s* Stran'e Attractors and the )nder Shattered S!ies trilo'y8 This boo! had its 'enesis in another* a retellin' of Victor 9u'o$s The 9unchbac! of 6otre Dame* be'un early in A1A8 That effort had a stron' psycholo'ical effect upon me and /as abandoned /ith only t/enty pa'es or so /ritten8 Yet the hunchbac! in that early manuscript haunted me* and 5 considered finishin' the proDect in late A1A8 After readin' throu'h the manuscript* 5 decided a'ainst it8 But the main character could not be so easily dismissed8 And so he morphed into 9a/! Descendin'8 The first half of this boo! could be considered as a statement of the problem8 The second half is the transcendin' of the problem* and the resolution achie4ed from a hi'her le4el8 Thus* this boo! demonstrates the truth in >instein$s famous Euote about problems and solutions8 5 could not finish this boo! in Canuary of A118 5 !ne/ ho/ the boo! /ould end — Dust as it does in this 4olume — but at that time* 5 could not reach the hi'her le4el reEuired to affect that solution8 5n the interim* +uantum Meditations — alon' /ith a number of other inspirations and intuitions — pro4ided the ladder from the lo/er le4el of the first half to the hi'her le4el of the second half8 By the time 5 returned to the manuscript in A1"* it /as almost painful for me to lo/er myself bac! do/n to the le4el /here the conflicts /ere stated8 5n the ori'inal manuscript* after the dun'eon section the story /andered do/n a different a4enue8 9a/! /as inducted into the military* as a fife player and si'nalman8 That /as a 4alid possibility* /hich /ould ha4e led to the same conclusion /hile ma!in' . atalie. 'aniel. and athan. and for their spouses and children &ost of all for Eli)abeth And lastly.
for a much lon'er boo!8 But it /as a maDor di'ression from the main themes of the boo!* and it muddied the conflicts alon' /ith their resolution8 So /hen 5 pic!ed up the manuscript a'ain* 5 cut it bac! to the dun'eon scene and brou'ht the plotline bac! on trac!8 Let me only add that this boo! is not autobio'raphical in the usual sense8 5t is rather the /or!in' throu'h of certain psycholo'ical factors in the mind of the author* and is in that /ay a record of the author$s metamorphosis8 (or'i4e an author for tal!in' about the process of composition8 This boo! is a /hole* and the second half is a perfect compliment to the first* offerin' full resolution8 At present* 5 am Euite happy /ith this effort* particularly /ith its transcendence and transformation8 You could say that this is a study of the caterpillar$s metamorphosis into a butterfly8 9opefully* it /ill affect a similar transformation /ithin the reader8 PD Allen April 11* A1" @ .
The Tribe All of us are 4ictims8 All of us are heroes8 Some of us are monsters8 6one of us are 4ictims8 6one of us are heroes8 And the monsters are ne4er /hat they appear to be8 There once /as a tribe of people much li!e ours* yet different8 They /ere a 'ood people* /ho tended the land /here they d/elt /ith care8 =hen first their tribe /as founded* they !ne/ the secret of eFistence.Part One — The Hunchback I. /hat you so/* so shall you reap8 They li4ed in lo4e and /ellBbein'* and many happy a'es passed8 -4er time* ho/e4er* they lost touch /ith the spirit realm from /hich they came8 Due to the nature of the physical realm /here they d/elt* the spirit /as hidden and /as e4entually for'otten in the minutia of daily eFistence8 Petty animosities and Dealousies di4ided them* and they no lon'er li4ed in lo4e and /ellBbein'8 >ach tribe member li4ed only for himself or herself* and the sacred dance /as for'otten in an'er and strife8 A stran'er came to their land* a po/erful stran'er named =aGicu* /ho sou'ht to increase his po/er by tric!in' the people into ser4in' him8 =aGicu became >mperor8 9e presented himself as a rich and !no/led'eable authority* and the people belie4ed /hat he told them8 They could see ho/ rich he /as* and ho/ !no/led'eable* and he used his authority to bac! others and place them in positions of po/er8 @ =aGicu told them* ?There is somethin' missin' from your li4es8 This land of yours is full of /ealth8 -nly if you eFtract this /ealth can you become rich and !no/led'eable li!e me8 This /ealth /ill 'i4e you fulfillment* if you ta!e it for your o/n8@ The people did as he said8 They stripped the /ealth of the land and horded it for their o/n8 And for the moment* it did ma!e them feel 'ood8 Yet this feelin' passed and they /ere soon car4in' more /ealth out of the land8 >4entually* the land be'an to die around them* yet the people did not see this8 They /ere so hun'ry to increase their /ealth that they loo!ed at each other and said* ?My nei'hbor is /ealthier than me8 =hy should he ha4e so much /ealthH@ They be'an to steal from each other* and many found more subtle /ays to manipulate their nei'hbors into 'i4in' up their /ealth8 Soon there /as 4iolence amon' the people* and their tribe almost succumbed to strife and bloodshed8 Seein' ho/ bad /as this ri4alry* =aGicu instituted la/s to protect the properties and persons8 A system of punishment /as set up* /hereby la/brea!ers /ould pay for their trans'ressions throu'h fines and the loss of personal freedom8 Soon this Dustice system 're/ into an abusi4e system8 The tribe /as 'o4erned and policed* and those /ho /ere found 'uilty had their /ealth stripped from them and /ere forced into li4es of ser4itude8 Throu'h this ser4itude* prisons /ere built to Dail the 'uilty and dispossessed8 And mansions /ere built for the rich and po/erful* foremost =aGicu* /ho stood as the top authority in this system* and /hose riches and po/er had 'ro/n as the rest of the tribe /as impo4erished and sentenced to li4e in misery8 .
This Dustice system did not sol4e anythin'8 6othin' /as resol4ed8 5t /as simply part of a society desi'ned to siphon /ealth and po/er to those /ho 'o4erned* and particularly to =aGicu8 The tribe li4ed in increasin' pain and misery* and their i'norance increased8 6ot only had they for'otten the secret of eFistence* they lost any memory of ho/ they li4ed before bein' blinded by i'norance and 'reed8 They /ere lost* and e4ery action only seemed to ma!e matters /orse8 @ .
II. The Family At the far northern reaches of the >mpire* at the frontier /here the >mpyreal :oad became merely a /a'on trail throu'h a'rarian lands after passin' throu'h the forest* li4ed the people of Path$s >nd8 Beyond Path$s >nd /ere the 6estled Plains* /here people farmed the land for food and trade8 The only to/n of any siGe in the 6estled Plain /as a small hamlet called (oF :un* /hich /as half the siGe of PathIs >nd8 This land /as isolated from the rest of the empire* connected only by the /heat they produced for trade8 Path$s >nd ori'inated as a tradin' to/n* /here the farmers of the 6estled Plain /ould brin' their 'rain to trade /ith merchants from the empire8 This trade too! place in the late fall* other/ise 4isitors to the to/n /ere fe/8 And in recent years* /ith the drou'ht and the /heat bli'ht* the fall trade /as a 'host of its former self8 (e/ merchants felt the Dourney /orth/hile anymore8 The people of Path$s >nd still held many of the old customs* such as namin' their children after an e4ent or somethin' obser4ed at the time of their birth8 The people here li4ed by farmin' the surroundin' countryside* and their dealin's /ith the rest of the >mpire to their south /ere fe/8 Amon' the people /as a ci4il ser4ant* a man named 5ron Ca/* /ho upheld the code of the la/ in society8 5ron Ca/ led /hat appeared to be an upri'ht and proper life8 People found him to be a pri4ate and ri'hteous man8 9e /as loo!ed up to in the tribe as an eFample of ho/ to li4e in their society8 9e horded his /ealth* and !ept his o/n council8 =ithin his home* 5ron Ca/ ruled absolutely8 9is /ife and his children /ere his property8 =ithin his home* 5ron Ca/ too! for @ himself the po/er and personal /ealth of his family8 5n this /ay* althou'h they appeared a healthy and /ellBbalanced family to the rest of the tribe* inside the home 5ron Ca/$s /ife and children /ere impo4erished and abused* li4in' li4es of silent a'ony8 5ron Ca/$s youn'est child /as a 'irl named &ro/ Shado/8 -f all the children* &ro/ Shado/ /as the most li!e her father8 (or this reason* she /as tar'eted by his animosity* his disappro4al and his abuse8 As is the /ay /ith children li4in' in such an intolerable situation* &ro/ Shado/ belie4ed she must ha4e done somethin' terrible to deser4e such abuse. she thou'ht the fault lay /ith her8 She did e4erythin' she could thin! of to /in her father$s appro4al8 Yet* /here all of the other children recei4ed praise /hen it /as due* she recei4ed only stern silence — or /orse yet ridicule8 &ro/ Shado/ 're/ to loath herself* /hile at the same time she stro4e to /in the admiration of e4eryone around her8 5n response to the constant abuse and a complete lac! of pri4ate space* she dre/ her soul up into a ti'ht protecti4e ball8 As she 're/ older* this made her e'oBbound8 To ma!e up for her selfBloathin'* she loo!ed do/n on e4eryone around her* armorin' herself in false pride8 To the rest of the tribe* she appeared hau'hty and Dud'mental8 -nce she reached the a'e of consent* &ro/ Shado/ sou'ht to escape her father$s house throu'h marria'e8 She attracted the attention of a youn' man /ho /as /ellBli!ed in the tribe* yet /ho bore his o/n /ounds from childhood* #in'fisher8 .
#in'fisher$s father /as addicted to the Duice of the loco/eed* and #in'fisher had 'ro/n up as most children of such a parent* al/ays a4oidin' the truth* al/ays hidin' from his o/n emotions* deaf to his o/n heart8 =hile &ro/ Shado/ married #in'fisher to escape her father$s house* the /eddin' /as also another bid to /in the appro4al of 5ron Ca/8 Thou'h 5ron Ca/ 'a4e her to her husband* he ne4er 'a4e her his blessin'* nor his appro4al8 &ro/ Shado/ found herself trapped in an empty marria'e8 #in'fisher lo4ed her and tried to be a 'ood husband* but &ro/ Shado/ did not lo4e him8 She tried to do her duty to him* but she could not because 5ron Ca/ had stolen her po/er from her and replaced it /ith selfBloathin'* pain and distrust8 &ro/ Shado/ /ould not undress in front of her husband* nor /ould she allo/ him to see her na!ed8 #in'fisher /as patient /ith her8 9e did not understand /hy she /as so modest and he felt that he must be to blame8 -nce their marria'e /as consummated* she rarely let him touch her8 6ine months later* &ro/ Shado/ 'a4e birth to a son8 @ .
Hawk Descending 9a/! Descendin' /as born to be a po/erful shaman* /ho /ould help his people heal8 9e /as born into this most inDured of unions* to these t/o most inDured people of their tribe8 6or /as he spared the inDuries that pla'ued his family8 9e /as a beautiful baby* but he possessed a defect.III. he /as born /ith a sli'ht hunch in his bac!8 5t /as barely noticeable* this 'ro/th Dust behind his ri'ht shoulder8 This lump /as formed by a concentration of his po/er* /hich !ept it bound to him and protected from the predations of his people8 Yet his po/er /as so bound /ithin this hunch that he could rarely access it himself* and then only in the innocence of play8 (rom the start* all of the other tribe members found him an odd child8 They sensed that somethin' !ept him apart from the rest of them* and they shunned him for this8 9a/! Descendin' /as &ro/ Shado/$s last maDor attempt to /in her father$s appro4al8 =hen she and #in'fisher brou'ht the baby to sho/ her family* 5ron Ca/ too! one loo! at the boy* sniffed and pronounced* ?This child is a hunchbac!8@ ?6o he isn$t8@ &ro/ Shado/ cried as she s/ept up her baby8 ?5t is a 4ery small hump* and it /ill /or! itself out8@ ?6o* it /on$t*@ 5ron Ca/ said8 ?The child is a hunchbac!8 5t /ould be better had he ne4er been born8@ #in'fisher did not !no/ /hat to say8 9e too! his /ife and his baby* and left 5ron Ca/$s house8 -n the /ay home* he tried to comfort his /ife8 ?5t is o!ay8 9e /ill 'et o4er it8@ ?6o* he /on$t*@ &ro/ Shado/ spit < out in an'er8 ?And you Dust let him8 A real man /ould defend his /ife and child8 A real man /ould put him in his place8@ #in'fisher felt admonished8 =as he a failure as a manH 9e did not /ant to stri!e out in an'er* and so he held his ton'ue8 &ro/ Shado/ too! this as a further si'n of his co/ardice8 =hen they reached their home* she ran into her bedroom /ith the baby and loc!ed the door behind her8 ?9oney*@ #in'fisher called to her throu'h the door8 ?Please let me in8@ ?<o sleep in the spare room*@ &ro/ Shado/ told him8 ?5 /ill not share my bed /ith a co/ard8@ #in'fisher stood tall8 ?5 /ill 'o to your father and demand that he apolo'iGe8@ ?The dama'e is done8 Don$t try to ma!e it better after the fact8@ #in'fisher tried a /hile lon'er to sooth his /ife8 Then he 'a4e up and /ent to the spare room* lea4in' &ro/ Shado/ alone /ith the baby8 This /as the pattern that /ould play out throu'h their marria'e8 ?You are not a hunchbac!*@ &ro/ Shado/ said as she hu''ed and !issed her baby8 ?You are my child and 5 lo4e you8@ 5n the e4enin'* she attached herself closely to her son8 ?5t is you and me a'ainst the /orld* my little one8 =e /ill sho/ them8@ The family of &ro/ Shado/ and #in'fisher /as unbalanced8 5nstead of bein' centered around the t/o parents* it /as centered around the mother and her son8 #in'fisher found himself on the outside* feelin' that he had done somethin' /ron'* thou'h he had no clue /hat that mi'ht be8 =hile he lo4ed his /ife and son a 'reat deal* he came to resent them both8 And these feelin's of resentment left him feelin' e4en more 'uilty8 .
This child /ould be &ro/ Shado/$s sa4ior8 She /as ne4er clear on ho/ he /ould do this8 =hether he /ould some day /in her father$s appro4al for her* or /hether he /ould stand up to 5ron Ca/* she did not !no/8 She only sensed that he /ould help her /restle bac! her po/er from this tyrant8 &ro/ Shado/ /ould pray for that day as she held 9a/! Descendin'8 She /ould sin' to him as she stro!ed the sli'ht bul'e on his shoulder* ima'inin' that she /as flattenin' out the croo!8 5n her mind$s eye* she sa/ herself dra/in' this hump from her baby and ta!in' it into herself8 5n this /ay* she attached a cord from her solar pleFus to the hump on the child$s bac!8 Throu'h this cord* she tapped into her baby$s po/er8 She felt better immediately* dra/in' po/er from her son8 And she soon came to depend on this po/er* claimin' it for her o/n* usin' it to ma!e herself much lar'er than she /as8 9er child$s po/er amplified her o/n thou'hts into reality8 9o/e4er* as she d/elt upon her /orries and her fears* they /ere /hat she brou'ht into fruition8 @ .
Meadow and Village 9a/! Descendin' 're/ up feelin' li!e the center of attention8 9e also felt that he /as responsible for !eepin' his family happy8 As he 're/ from a babe into a youn' child* he found it difficult to escape from his mother$s attentions8 -nce in a /hile* he /ould 'o to a nearby field* separated from their 4illa'e by a /ooded rid'e8 9e ne4er sa/ another person in the meado/8 =hile there* he felt protected and free8 9ere he could let 'o of e4erythin' and truly be himself8 The only bein' /ith /hom he shared this field /as a lar'e ha/! circlin' hi'h o4erhead8 5n time* he came to loo! for this ha/!8 9e /ould /a4e to it and call out in Doy* and the ha/! /ould dip its /in's in reply8 9a/! Descendin' /ould rise up throu'h the s!y to Doin this ha/!* and they /ould 'lide to'ether* far abo4e the 'round* ridin' the thermals8 (rom this perspecti4e* they /ould sur4ey the entire landscape* the meado/* the rid'e* the surroundin' forest land* and the ri4er that arced around to brin' its /aters past his 4illa'e8 9e sa/ that all these lands and e4erythin' that inhabited them /ere one lar'e mosaic* /here e4ery part /as tied to e4ery other* and all /ere essential to the /hole8 And the ha/! /as the obser4er that made the /hole complete by its perception and reco'nition8 The only eFception /as the 4illa'e* /hich /as li!e a dar! stone dropped onto the fabric of the land8 (rom the 4illa'e* tentacles ran out into the surroundin' countryside* tentacles that tore and disrupted the mosaic* drainin' the 4itality from /hate4er they touched* transformin' splendor into desolation8 9a/! Descendin' and the ha/! sa/ the 4illa'e as an aberration that must be pluc!ed out in order to heal the land8 Yet they @ laid no blame on the 4illa'ers* notin' only that they no lon'er danced the sacred dance* and feelin' sorry for them that they could not see the lofty 4ision of the ha/!* nor share their proper place in the mosaic8 This 4ision filled 9a/! Descendin' /ith 4itality* eFuberance and Doy8 9e /ould run throu'h the meado/s* chasin' the /ind8 -ne day /hen he came to the meado/* he found men from the 4illa'e8 They /ere di''in' up the field* turnin' the earth o4er to eFpose the riches /ithin8 -ne of the men stopped him at the ed'e of the forest8 ?=hat are you doin' here8@ ?5 came here to play*@ 9a/! told him8 ?This is no place for you*@ the man said8 ?5t is dan'erous here8 <o bac! home8@ 9a/! Descendin' did not ar'ue /ith him8 9e loo!ed /ith sadness at the meado/ that /as no more8 9e scanned the s!y* loo!in' to say 'oodbye to the ha/!* but it /as no/here in si'ht8 .IV.
V. The ri!!ling 9a/! Descendin' found fe/ playmates8 There /as one 'irl his a'e /ho li4ed nearby* :ose Petals8 The t/o of them /ere Euite naturally dra/n to play to'ether8 They played house* they sle/ ima'inary dra'ons* and — as /ith most children their a'e — they played at formin' small balls of po/er and passin' them bac! and forth8 This /as a natural childhood attempt at simulatin' the sacred union of matin' adults — /hen t/o lo4in' adults /ould share their ener'y* e4entually usin' it to create a ne/ life* or to some other hi'h purpose8 This /as a 4ery innocent 'ame for children to play8 6ormally* it /as a phase of childhood that adults o4erloo!ed or handled 'in'erly if it appeared to become an obsession8 -ne day* 9a/! Descendin' and :ose Petal /ent into the shed /here #in'fisher !ept his tools8 There they be'an to play this 'ame8 :ose Petal made a ball /ith a bit of her ener'y8 5t /as a li'ht and airy thin'8 She tossed it and it floated o4er to 9a/!8 9a/! Descendin' too! the ball and fed ener'y into it8 The ball 're/ and solidified8 5t too! on a /hite 'lo/8 :ose Petal let out a little sEueal of appro4al as he tossed the ball bac! to her8 Soon they /ere both 'i''lin' in deli'ht as they passed the ball bac! and forth8 &ro/ Shado/ stormed into the tool shed8 9er disappro4al /as plain to be seen8 ?=hat are you !ids doin'H@ =hen she sa/ the ball of po/er* she 'asped in dis'ust8 ?You stop that8@ She 'rabbed 9a/! Descendin' and hauled him out of the shed /ithout 'i4in' him a chance to claim bac! his po/er8 A thread of po/er ran from his hump to the ball* unra4elin' as she dra''ed him throu'h the @ yard8 :ose Petal dre/ bac! her o/n po/er* feelin' much li!e she had been !ic!ed in the stomach8 She ran home* cryin' all the /ay8 Many nei'hbors /ere outside to /itness this scene8 They sa/ &ro/ Shado/ ra'in' on her son as she dra''ed him into the house* and they sa/ his thread of po/er trailin' alon' behind him8 9a/! /as mortified to ha4e himself thus eFposed to the nei'hborhood8 ?You dis'ust meJ =hat are you* some !ind of a per4ertH =hat is /ron' /ith youH@ Thro/in' him do/n on the !itchen floor* she struc! him about the face and body8 ?Don$t you e4er let me see you doin' that a'ainJ You$re a dirty little boyJ 5$m so ashamed of youJ@ 9a/! Descendin' too! the beatin' and the abuse8 9e /as a dirty little boy8 9e /as ashamed of himself8 9er ra'e spent* &ro/ Shado/ be'an to cry8 ?5 don$t !no/ /hat to do /ith youJ@ She thre/ up her arms in disappointment8 ?<o to your roomJ@ 9a/! Descendin' obeyed8 5n his room* he /ept as he /as finally able to reel in his po/er8 The thread of po/er /as bruised and soiled8 5t /as the most painful inDury of this beatin'8 9e sobbed in shame* pain and an'er as he dre/ his po/er bac! in8 9e /as humiliated to be so eFposed to the nei'hborhood8 9e did not 'o outside for se4eral days8 And he 4o/ed ne4er to sho/ his po/er to another8 KKK .
9a/! Descendin' !ept mostly to himself after that8 9e played /ith his ima'ination* usin' it to open /orlds of ad4enture and heroics8 And no/ and then* /hen he /as alone in his room* he /ould sin'8 9is 4oice /as a thin' of transcendent beauty8 -n /in's of music he could soar throu'h the s!ies as he had once done /ith the ha/! o4er the meado/8 =hen he san'* his po/er shone around him* shimmerin' in the colors of the rainbo/ as it ran up and do/n his spine — red at the base* then oran'e* yello/* 'reen* s!y blue* dar! blue* then 4iolet at the cro/n* and a bri'ht pin! o4er his head8 &ro/ Shado/ heard him sin'in'* and it bothered her8 9er father had used son' to ta!e a/ay her po/er* and hearin' her son sin' /orried her that he mi'ht do the same8 9e /as a male* after all8 And he /as Dust li!e his 'randfather8 She /ould find eFcuses to ra'e on the boy /hen she heard him sin'in'* ne4er tellin' him it /as the son' that bothered her8 -nce #in'fisher heard his /ife beratin' the boy8 5t /as in the mornin' on his day off* and he /as tryin' to sleep in8 9e burst out of his room — he and &ro/ Shado/ !ept separate sleepin' Euarters by this time — demandin'* ?=hat$s all this noiseH =hat$s 'oin' on hereH &an$t a man 'et any sleepH@ &ro/ Shado/ placated her husband until his an'er subsided8 9e felt foolish for losin' his temper8 9e returned to his room* mumblin'* ?5$m 'oin' bac! to bed8 <i4e me Dust one hour$s peace* that$s all 5 as!8@ After her husband /ent bac! to bed* &ro/ Shado/ sat her son do/n and told him* ?You must stop sin'in'8 5t disturbs your father* and you don$t /ant to do that8@ ?But Mommy* 5 sin' Euietly8 Sometimes 5 Dust ha4e to sin'8@ ?This sin'in' is not a 'ood thin'*@ she told him8 ?5t stirs your po/er* and you do not /ant that to happen8 =hen you feel a son' comin' on* you must stop it8 9old your breath and force it do/n8@ 5n this /ay she tau'ht him to bloc! his o/n po/er* !eepin' it loc!ed into the hump on his bac!8 9a/! Descendin' heeded her ad4ice* and soon the hunch on his bac! 're/ harder and more pronounced8 9e became a true hunchbac!* deformed by the denial of his o/n po/er8 9is po/er /as bound up* bleedin' off a little at a time to feed &ro/ Shado/8 (or a time* &ro/ Shado/ seemed to prosper8 9er attitude bri'htened8 She too! to Euiltin'* ma!in' lar'e* colorful Euilts8 And she dre/ on the lo4e and affection of her son8 #in'fisher lost himself in his /or!* retreatin' from his family and his failed marria'e8 9e /as Euite dedicated to his family* /antin' to pro4ide for them and fill their needs as no one had e4er done for him8 9a/! Descendin' /as made their surro'ate8 They dre/ from him /hat they should ha4e 'ained from each other8 Bet/een the three of them* they formed a circle of dysfunction* a feedbac! loop that became a noose about all their nec!s* but particularly the child8 .
The "a!e 9a/! Descendin' /as ridiculed by the other children8 They made Do!es about his hunchbac!* and aped his /arped posture and his shamblin' mode of locomotion8 Beneath it all* they could sense the illness and pain /ithin him* and they reacted ad4ersely to it* ma!in' him an obDect of ridicule8 9a/!$s refu'e /as the /oodlands outside of to/n* /here he /ould retreat to play alone* escapin' his pain in solitude8 =hile his mo4ement on the 'round /as a/!/ard* once in the forest he /ould ta!e to the trees* /ith a 'race and a freedom he found no/here else in his life8 9e could tra4el for miles /ithout once touchin' the 'round* s/in'in' from limb to limb* tree to tree8 9e !ne/ ho/ to mana'e e4en the smallest of branches* so that they mi'ht support his /ei'ht for that bare fraction of a second it too! him to pass onto the neFt limb8 9e !ne/ e4ery tree in the forest* /hich offered the best shelter from the /eather* and /hich /ere the tallest8 9e lo4ed to climb to the cro/n of the tallest trees and sit there for hours* loo!in' out o4er the to/n and the landscape8 )p there* he could see the ha/!s circlin' their territory* and he en4ied them their freedom8 More than once* he spo!e to them* sayin'* ?=ould that 5 could fly li!e you* to lea4e this /orld behind8@ Many times he felt the ur'e to step off his limb and let 'o of the trun!* feelin' that he /ould 'lide throu'h the air* Doinin' his /in'ed friends8 Yet he ne4er let 'o* !no/in' that his body /ould fall to the 'round* brea!in' him e4en /orse than he already /as8 There /ere a fe/ hidea/ays on the 'round /here he /ould 'o as /ell8 &learin's in the middle of thic!ets* forest 'lades* and stands of brush /here the folia'e acted as /alls and ceilin'* concealin' open chambers @ ribbed /ith limbs8 5n these hidea/ays* he /ould allo/ himself to dra/ his po/er out of his hump* to eFercise it as he san' Euietly to his po/er and to himself8 -ne day a stran'er /as passin' throu'h the /oods and chanced to hear the boy sin'in' in one of his hidea/ays8 The stran'er reco'niGed a son' of po/er* especially one so concentrated and pure8 9e follo/ed the sound to its source and found the boy seated on the 'round in a chamber of brush8 The stran'er dre/ close enou'h to /atch and listen8 All about the lad* he sa/ a shimmerin' /hite li'ht* blindin' as the sun in its intensity8 -n the branches o4er the boy$s head* a line of chic!adees /ere perched* and beside the boy lay a red foF8 A rainbo/ of li'ht ran up the boy$s spine* runnin' throu'h the entire color spectrum* from red at the base to purple at his cro/n* and bri'ht pin! o4erhead8 Threads of li'ht ran from this rainbo/ to the foF* the chic!adees* the brush* the insects and /orms in the soil* and hi'h up to a ha/! that circled o4erhead8 And all of these creatures and plants radiated their o/n nimbus of li'ht* communin' /ith the child8 The stran'er stepped closer* so that he mi'ht taste of the boy$s po/er and essence8 The ha/! cried out a /arnin' and fle/ a/ay8 The red foF leapt up and raced off as all of the chic!adees too! /in'8 The child /as startled by this sudden brea!* not understandin' /hat had disturbed the animals8 9e reached out /ith his po/er* feelin' for /hate4er scared a/ay his friends8 6aL4e as he /as* he reached out openly* /ithout protection8 The stran'er seiGed the opportunity8 9e sent out tentacles of his o/n po/er* latchin' onto the boy$s po/er and dra/in' it to himself before the lad could snatch it a/ay8 .VI.
the taint this stran'er left in the place of his stolen po/er8 9a/! loc!ed this taint a/ay into his hunch* /here he hoped none /ould e4er see it8 9e left the /oods and returned home* feelin' /ea! and ill8 9e too! to his bed and stayed there for a /ee!* /hile his mother nursed him throu'h his sic!ness* his nausea and his fe4er8 Subconsciously* &ro/ Shado/ sensed ho/ diminished /as the po/er he offered her8 She accepted his /ord that he /as merely sic!8 She nursed him* feedin' him of her o/n limited po/er until he should reco4er8 9a/! Descendin' did heal some/hat /ith the passa'e of time* but he ne4er fully reco4ered8 9e /as e4er after a /ea! and sic!ly child* more deformed than before8 (or a month he moped around the house* not darin' to 4enture into the /oods8 And /hen at last he did return to the forest* he did so cautiously8 9e had lost his free spirit8 6o/ he hid in the trees8 9e no lon'er san'* nor communed his po/er /ith that of the forest and its deniGens8 And at ni'ht* in his sleep the taint of the stran'er came out to haunt his dreams8 .9a/! let out a cry as he felt somethin' cold* stron' and alien 'rab hold of him8 5t felt li!e coilin' serpents /rapped around him* sEueeGin' the life out of him8 9e stru''led to /ithdra/ his po/er into the safety of his hump8 The stran'er /as surprised at the stren'th of the po/er in this deformed child8 6ormally* he could strip a person$s po/er /ith hardly any effort8 Yet he must eFert his /ill a'ainst this boy8 ?<i4e it to me* lad*@ he commanded8 9a/! Descendin' started to bend to his /ill8 Loo!in' at the fierce stran'er so full of po/er* he blanched and co/ered8 The stran'er 'rappled /ith him* dra/in' out his po/er by brute force8 The ha/! do4e at the stran'er unseen* stri!in' him /ith its talons* 'ashin' open his forehead and dra/in' blood* /hich flo/ed do/n his face8 The man struc! out at the bird of prey* di4idin' his po/er to do so8 The ha/! felt the assault* losin' tail feathers as it fle/ a/ay8 9a/! Descendin' pic!ed that moment to pull free and escape* yet the stran'er still held his po/er firmly8 Yan!in' /ith all of his mi'ht* 9a/! Descendin' felt somethin' tear8 The stran'er fell onto his bac! and 9a/! rolled throu'h the brush from the momentum8 5n a moment* he /as in the trees* s/in'in' a/ay from branch to branch* tuc!in' /hat remained of his torn po/er safely into his hunch as he fled8 ?:un* boyJ@ The stran'er called after him8 ?5 /ill ha4e the rest of your po/er another dayJ@ 9e absorbed the bounty of po/er he had raped from the boy* tastin' it thorou'hly before ma!in' it his8 6o/ that he had tasted the boy$s po/er* he /ould be able to trac! him do/n /hene4er he desired8 (or no/* @ let him flee* !no/in' there /as no place he could hide8 ?5 !no/ you* boyJ And 5 can find you /hene4er 5 chooseJ@ 9a/! Descendin' fled far into the /oods* until he felt that if he /asn$t safe* at least he /as alone* far from the e4il stran'er8 There he cried o4er his assault* his stolen and diminished po/er8 9e felt 4iolated and he cried out to the /orld* /onderin' /hat he did to deser4e this8 The /orst part of the /hole ordeal /as not /hat the stran'er stole from him* but /hat he left in its place8 9a/! Descendin' no/ harbored a dar!ness /ithin.
Althou'h his po/er /as stunted and he no lon'er felt free to use it to commune /ith the animals and the forest* he could still climb throu'h the trees* s/in'in' from limb to limb8 5t /as the closest thin' to freedom and fulfillment that he had in his life8 9is mother* &ro/ Shado/* clun' to him tenaciously8 And his father* #in'fisher* also held on to him8 Both of them needed him to fill their empty marria'e8 And 9a/! lo4ed them so much that he stro4e to fill this emptiness for them* thou'h it loc!ed him into his childhood* not allo/in' him to 'ro/ up8 9is peers 're/ into adulthood8 They married* had families* and found their place in society8 9a/! Descendin' /as an outcast* chained to his parents* escapin' into the forest /hen he could8 .
The Minstrel -ne day* as he lay nappin' on a hi'h branch* he heard a distant musical sound8 5t resembled the son' of a bird* but such a bird as he had ne4er heard before8 Listenin'* he heard it a'ain* a little clearer no/8 S/in'in' from tree to tree* limb to limb* he follo/ed the sound until he arri4ed at the road that bisected the forests8 -ften he had studied this road* /onderin' /here it mi'ht lead8 :umor /as that this road led far from this land* throu'h a distant mountain ran'e* throu'h eFotic realms to an immense ocean8 6o one tra4eled on it* and in 9a/! Descendin'$s lifetime* and that of his parents and 'randparents* no one had e4er left the 4illa'e to follo/ this road8 6or did anyone e4er 4enture from those distant lands to 4isit his 4illa'e8 That is* not until no/8 (or the sound that dre/ 9a/! to this road came from no bird* but from a man* playin' some hollo/ stic! that he held to his mouth /hile dancin' his fin'ers o4er the holes cut into it8 And /hat a man8 9e /ore a purple cap of some sheer material* /ith lon' peacoc! feathers dra/n do/n the bac!8 9is lon'* blac! hair /as all in braids /ith colorful beads at the end8 9is lon' beard /as also braided and beaded8 9is s!in /as the same li'ht color as 9a/! Descendin'* but his eyes had an odd slant to them8 9e /ore a cloa! that /as a /arm red inside* and on the outside /as a motley riot of bri'ht colors8 9e rode a burro* and behind him /as sto/ed a bed roll* a fe/ coo!in' utensils* and oddBshaped cases* the li!e of /hich 9a/! had ne4er seen8 9a/! Descendin' /as so amaGed at@ the si'ht of the man that he almost for'ot to hide himself as the man turned his 'aGe up to the tree /here he /as perched8 9e duc!ed behind the trun! and held his breath* hopin' he had not been obser4ed8 The man stopped playin' and dre/ the hollo/ stic! a/ay from his mouth8 9e 'a4e his burro a 'entle nud'e /ith his !nees to stop it8 =hen he spo!e* his 4oice /as loud and clear* nearly as melodic as the sounds he made /ith the stic!8 ?My flute has been !no/n to enchant many creatures* dra/in' them out of the /ilderness to listen8 But ne4er ha4e 5 seen a sEuirrel or mon!ey so bi'8@ 9e paused8 9is 4oice had an unusual accent8 9a/! Descendin' /as sure he had been obser4ed* but he remained hidden8 After /aitin' a sufficient time to assure himself there /ould be no ans/er* the man said* ?5 am headin' to the 4illa'e 5 am told lies alon' this road* on the far side of this dar! forest8 5f this sEuirrel has an ear for music* then it should come alon'* for this is only a small sample of the performance 5 shall 'i4e this e4enin'8@ =hen 9a/! Descendin' made no reply* the man spo!e to his burro8 ?Mayhaps my eyes decei4e me* and 5 am tal!in' to no one but you* old Moonbeam8@ 9e loo!ed up at the tree* then nud'ed his mount into motion and headed do/n the road8 ?Let us be off if /e are to reach this to/n /hile it is still dayli'ht8@ 9e dre/ the flute to his lips and resumed his tune8 9a/! Descendin' /aited until he /as Dust out of si'ht* and then he follo/ed after* dra/n by the music8 9e stopped in the trees at the ed'e of to/n* !eepin' /ellB hidden as the minstrel rode into the 4illa'e* playin' his flute8 &hildren came out to follo/ him into the to/n sEuare* and adults came to their door/ays to listen8 .Part Two — #irth o$ a %ong VII.
At the sEuare* the minstrel /as met by the Mayor* the &hief &onstable* and the inn !eeper8 The minstrel stopped playin' his flute and dismounted in one smooth motion* flourishin' his cloa! as he did so8 The Mayor stepped up to 'reet him8 ?=elcome to our to/n8 =e seldom ha4e 4isitors* other than the merchants /ho ha4e business here8 :arely ha4e /e 4isitors of your station8@ ?Than! you* !ind sir8@ The minstrel bo/ed his head to the Mayor* includin' the other t/o men in the 'esture of obeisance8 ?My name is &hantien8 And my station is but a humble story teller and musician* hopin' only to entertain and share the ne/s of distant lands8@ ?=e are al/ays ea'er to hear of the /orld outside our little to/n*@ the Mayor told him8 ?And /e /ould /elcome the di4ersion8@ ?Then* if it please you* 5 /ill perform in this sEuare follo/in' supper8@ ?And 5 shall pro4ide ale and cider* s/eet ca!es* cheese and bread for those /ho attend8@ The inn !eeper added* ?At a nominal fee of course8@ ?>Fcellent*@ &hantien said8 ?And no/* ha4e you someplace to lod'eH 5 am /eary of the road8 5t /ould ser4e me /ell to /ash and rest a bit8@ ?You shall ha4e a room in my inn8@ The inn !eeper insisted8 &onsiderin' ho/ much he stood to ma!e sellin' refreshments at the performance* he added* ?At a discount of—say—ten percent8@ ?Very 'racious*@ &hantien replied8 ?And ha4e you a stable /here my noble mount can be 'roomed and fedH@ ?Stable boyJ@ The inn !eeper bello/ed8 A youn' boy hurried o4er to ta!e the @ burro$s reins8 ?9ere* my boy8@ &hantien pressed a coin into the lad$s hand8 ?See that he has an ample ser4in' of oats* and a 'ood brushin'8@ The boy$s eyes 're/ /ide at the coin in his hand8 9e loo!ed to the inn !eeper* /ho 'a4e him a barely perceptible nod* before respondin'8 ?Yes* SirJ@ &hantien unleashed his instrument cases from the don!ey before the stable boy led it off8 T/o other youn' lads hurried for/ard8 ?Let us help you /ith those* Sir8@ ?=hy than! you8@ &hantien handed them the cases8 ?Be 4ery careful /ith those8@ Before the inn !eeper could lead him indoors* the &hief &onstable stepped for/ard8 ?5 shall need to ha4e a /ord /ith you before your performance8 =e ha4e many local ordinances of /hich you must be apprised8@ ?&ertainly*@ &hantien told him8 ?5 ha4e the utmost respect for all your la/s and customs8 And 5 ha4e no desire to 4iolate any ordinances8@ ?Very /ell* then*@ the &hief &onstable said8 ?5 shall Doin you as you sup8@ ?As shall 5*@ the Mayor put in8 And /ith that* the inn !eeper led the minstrel into his hall8 The cro/d bro!e up8 ?Bac! to your business no/* all of you8@ The &hief &onstable sent the lin'erers on their /ay8 9a/! Descendin' /atched these proceedin's from the shado/s8 A minstrel had come to his to/nJ 9e could hardly /ait for the e4enin' performance8 The to/n sEuare /as sure to be pac!ed that e4enin'8 9a/! /ould not be able to see or hear much from this distance8 And* considerin' the /ay that all of the to/nspeople shunned him* he /ould not be /elcome to Doin them in the audience8 &onsiderin' his .
dilemma* his eyes settled on the lar'e chestnut tree that shaded the far side of the plaGa8 That /as his solution—he /ould ha4e the best seat in the house8 9e hurried home to eat a late lunch* tellin' his mother all about the minstrel as he ate8 =hile she /ent out to fetch the /ashin' from the clotheslines* he bundled up some old bread and cheese for his supper8 9urryin' bac! to the sEuare* 9a/! !ept /atch until he /as sure not to be noticed8 Then he scampered o4er to the chestnut tree8 The trun! /as broad and the lo/est limbs /ere far o4erhead* but it too! him little effort to climb the tree8 The bou'hs /ere thic! and lush8 They /ould !eep him /ellBhidden8 9a/! settled in to /ait for the e4enin'* certain he had the best seat in the sEuare* and that none /ould !no/ he /as there8 There /as one /ho sa/ him climb the tree8 &hantien /as standin' at the /indo/ of his second floor room* /hich o4erloo!ed the sEuare* as the boy made his ascent8 9e /as apprisin' the e4enin'$s sta'e8 ?Ah* there you are* my little sEuirrel8@ 9e chuc!led to himself as he /atched ho/ the youn' man climbed the trun! /ith ease* disappearin' into the branches8 Აτ .
VIII. The True Per$ormance o$ a Har!er The sun /as lo/ o4er the /estern horiGon /hen &hantien came out of the inn* and the sEuare /as full of to/nspeople8 Many brou'ht out blan!ets and spread them on the 'round* ma!in' a picnic of their supper as children ran and played8 A festi4e atmosphere filled the sEuare8 9a/! /atched them from his hidin' place as he ate bread and cheese* en4ious of their normal* happy li4es8 Amon' the fe/ /ho did not attend /ere his parents and 'randparents8 9a/! /as not surprised8 Despite his 'randfather$s position as a ci4il ser4ant* his family /as an insular lot8 To others* they appeared hau'hty and condescendin'8 Then shortly before &hantien made his appearance* 9a/! sa/ his father at the ed'e of the sEuare8 #in'fisher /as by himself8 9a/! searched the sEuare* but could see his mother no/here8 9is father 'reeted friends and too! a tan!ard of ale offered to him8 9e loo!ed happier and more at ease than 9a/! could remember him8 9is heart /ent out to his father* and he /anted to climb do/n* race o4er and 'i4e him a hu'8 But he stayed /here he /as8 The Mayor and the &hief &onstable emer'ed from the inn8 The Mayor too! a seat at the head of the sEuare* neFt to his /ife8 The &hief &onstable 'a4e instructions to a couple of 'uards* /ho then follo/ed him to the front of the sEuare8 The &hief &onstable too! a seat neFt to the Mayor8 The 'uards stationed themsel4es to either side of the stone dais /here &hantien /ould perform8 T/o boys came out of the inn* one bearin' a lute* and the other an ornate harp8 They held the instruments carefully* eFhibitin' pride that they had been chosen for this Dob8 A buGG of con4ersation /ent throu'h the Აτto/nspeople at si'ht of the harp8 This /as no ordinary minstrel8 This /as a 9arper8 Possession of this instrument /as an emblem* si'nifyin' that &hantien /as a master of all of the arts of a minstrel and a poet* heir to a linea'e eFtendin' bac! to the da/n of history8 5t /as said that 9arpers /ere e4en s!illed in ma'ic of a sort8 All doors /ere open to a 9arper* and to do a 9arper harm /ould damn the perpetrator8 The 4illa'e /as truly 'raced by his 4isit8 This /ould be a rare performance indeed8 This e4enin' /ould be tal!ed about amon' the 4illa'ers for 'enerations hence8 They boys set the instruments on the dais /ith 'reat care8 The one boy had a foldin' stand of /ood and leather on /hich to place the lute8 Then the lads ran out to Doin their families8 The audience hushed as &hantien stepped out of the inn8 -n his flute* he played his o/n fanfare as he proceeded to the dais8 5n the chestnut tree* 9a/! sat so close to the dais* he felt he had a pri4ate audience8 9a/! sensed some displeasure in the 9arper$s countenance* thou'h it /as doubtlessly lost to the rest of the audience8 -n the dais* &hantien finished his fanfare8 9e 'a4e a dar! loo! to the &hief &onstable and the Mayor* and then he raised his 4oice in son'8 9is 4oice /as stron' and s/eet* as pure as a fresh sprin' mornin'8 >4eryone 'asped and rose to their feet* includin' the Mayor and the &hief &onstable8 &hantien /as sin'in' an in4ocation8 9e turned to face south* openin' his arms as he san'8 ?To the po/ers of the south* to the essential innocence of field mouse* to the sensual fire of the serpent* a/a!en us to the beauty /ithin8@ Turnin' /est/ard* he continued8 ?To the buffalo and the Da'uar* sho/ us ho/ to lo4e and 'i4e selflessly* ta!e us beyond death8@ .
To the north* he san'* ?9ummin'bird and bear* help us to loo! /ithin in un/a4erin' honesty* and teach us to honor the Ancient -nes8@ (acin' east* he san'* ?<reat >a'le* 9a/! and &ondor* lift us to the s!y* that /e mi'ht see beyond the horiGon* e4en further than the 'lory of the risin' sun8@ Bo/in' o4er the dais* he intoned* ?Mother >arth* brin' us into true relationship /ith all of your children8@ Liftin' his arms and his face hea4en/ard* he san'* ?To the sun* and the moon and the stars* shine do/n on us from beyond /ith the face of the <reat Spirit8@ (inally* facin' the audience* he seemed to sin' to somethin' or someone beyond their si'ht8 ?To the lon' line of 9arpers* of /hich 5 am the present* 5 call on you to /itness my performance here* attestin' to its honesty and purity8@ >ndin' his son'* he said to all assembled* ?You are here to /itness the true performance of a 9arper8 Let none interrupt* for fear of earnin' the animosity of all those spirits here in4o!ed8@ 9e ended his /ords /ith his eye on the &hief &onstable and the Mayor* /ho both loo!ed li!e they /ere about to cho!e on their ton'ues8 They 'a4e a start* as did many in attendance* /hen the 9arper clapped three times to si'nal the end of the in4ocation8 >ach clap of his hands seemed so loud that it must be heard throu'hout the to/n8 Before anyone could reco4er* &hantien /as playin' a li'ht and /insome Di' on the flute8 &hildren lau'hed in 'lee* and many of the adults chuc!led in relief8 Soon e4eryone /as feelin' Doyful and festi4e a'ain8 Layin' aside the flute* &hantien pic!ed up his lute* chec!ed the tunin'* and then launched into the ballad of the (isherman and the Le4iathan8 5f /as a tale full of suspense and ad4enture* and e4eryone listened /ith /rapped attention8 After this* he sat on a stool and played his harp8 9ere /as a true eFpression of his s!ill8 9e played a lon'* symphonic piece* full of beauty* heroics and /insome melodies8 =ith his t/o hands* he played melody and accompaniment* rhythm and counterpoint* fully orchestratin' the piece until his audience /ould ha4e s/orn there /ere a doGen musicians bac!in' him up8 (rom there* he set the harp aside and re'aled the to/nspeople /ith humorous stories8 9e had his audience in stitches8 Bac! to the harp* he san' of t/o starBcrossed lo4ers* /hich had all of the /omen /eepin'—and not a fe/ of the men8 5n the end* as is usually the case /ith such tales* the lo4ers too! their o/n li4es* and left the listeners /ishin' the lo4ers$ families could ha4e resol4ed their differences and so brou'ht the tale to a happier end8 &hantien played his harp Euietly as he spo!e8 ?And so it is throu'hout the /orld e4en no/* /here petty strife* i'norance and 'reed ma!e a bad end for all* /hen all any of us really desires is for our lo4e to be reEuited8 ?Such is the state of the /orld8 >4ery/here there is en4y and Dealousy8 Yet there is also a 'reat deal of 'ood /ill and compassion* and it is my eFperience that /hile the en4ious ha4e a more strident ton'ue* compassion has the stron'er impetus8@ This /as met /ith approbation from many* thou'h the &hief &onstable and the Mayor set their faces dar!ly8 ?9uman!ind is a creature of infinite creati4ity* and on my tra4els throu'hout the /orld* 5 ha4e seen the endless 4ariety of human eFpression8 (rom the #in'dom of #atai behind its 'reat /alls of 'ranite* to the isle of the birdmen* /here people li4e in trees and .
e4ery sentence spo!en is uttered in a /arble of birdson'8 (rom the 4ales of Doomar* /here e4eryone /or!s to'ether to create 'reat crystal hi4es abuGG /ith ener'y and li'ht* to the deserts of Acrotis* /here sla4es toil to erect tremendous monuments to their masters8 >4ery/here* all anyone /ants is to ha4e their lo4e ac!no/led'ed and returned8 ?>4en here* in the pastoral lands of )r* from the tiniest 4illa'e to the 'reatest metropolis* /here people bar'ain /ith their o/n po/er and claim for their o/n the riches of the >arth* all anyone really /ants is lo4e8@ The &hief &onstable 'a4e the 9arper a stern loo!* /hich &hantien i'nored8 ?5 brin' you ne/s from the far reaches of your o/n land* /here the mysterious <loriosi* /ho ha4e lon' held their secret /ays e4en in the midst of your society* ha4e opened the doors to their nomadic temples and stepped out to share /ith the /orld the secret truths they ha4e so lon' protected—secrets 5 am not allo/ed to share /ith you8@ This last /as said /ith a curt nod to the Mayor and the &hief &onstable* /ho /ere no/ sittin' stiff and strai'ht8 ?5t is said that the secret !no/led'e of the <loriosi has stirred dissent amon' the people of your capital city* &oriolas* /here /or!ers ha4e laid do/n their tools and demand the fruit of their o/n labors8@ This report stirred the audience8 This idea* that each person is entitled to the product of their o/n /or!* /as no4el to the to/nspeople* and none !ne/ /hat to ma!e of it8 The &hief &onstable made a motion of his hand to the 'uards on either side of the dais* /ho both made a step to/ard the 9arper8 &hantien held up a hand for silence8 ?:emember* the lon' line of 9arpers of 禐ο and ill /ill come to any /ho interrupt the /hom 5 ha4e descended stand here /ith me* truth of my performance8@ The 'uards stopped* loo!in' from &hantien to the &hief &onstable8 These t/o loc!ed eyes until at last the &hief &onstable bro!e a/ay* 'i4in' the 'uards a sha!e of the head to tell them to stand do/n8 &hantien resumed8 ?This rumor 5 can hardly credit* !no/in' the secrets from the mouths of the <loriosi themsel4es8 There is nothin' in their secrets that /ould so/ dissent8 =ould that 5 could share their /ondrous !no/led'e /ith you no/8@ 9e paused* and e4eryone held his or her breath* certain the 9arper /ould re4eal the secrets of the <loriosi8 ?But the interdictions of your society forbid me from spea!in' of such8 Yet the truth /ill e4entually /in out8 5t has the 'reater impetus* and it resides in the heart of each of us—thou'h /e !no/ it not8@ ?That is enou'hJ@ (rom the ed'e of the sEuare* someone interrupted8 (rom his perch* 9a/! sa/ that it /as the stran'er—the same /ho assaulted him in the /oods and stole part of his po/er8 9e felt a'ain as thou'h he had been !ic!ed in the stomach* and he almost fell from his branch8 The stran'er /as dra/n up to t/ice his siGe* in a 'reat display of po/er and authority8 Around him stood a doGen of his personal 'uard8 ?=ho /ould chance the curse of interruptin' a 9arper spea!in' truth before his ancestorsH@ &hantien as!ed8 ?5 fear no curse8@ The stran'er proDected his /ill most commandin'ly8 ?You* 9arper* are not /elcome here8 You /ill lea4e this land* sayin' not a /ord to anyone until you are beyond its borders8 >4eryone /ill disperse no/8@ .
The audience hastened to obey8 &hantien remained on the sta'e* sho/in' no fear8 9e /a4ed to the Mayor and the &hief &onstable8 ?5 ha4e the to/n$s permission to perform here8@ ?Yes* that is a mista!e8@ The stran'er eyed the t/o to/n officers8 ?=ho are you to o4erride the Mayor and his constableH@ &hantien as!ed as thou'h it /as only a matter of interest and not a command8 ?5 am the Ma'istrate here8 Those /ho hold office in this 4illa'e do so only by my fa4or8 This land is mine* and these people are mine8 Mine is the po/er8@ =ith this* the stran'er dre/ himself up e4en taller8 This man /as !no/n to 9a/! Descendin' by reputation8 9e /as a member of the nobility and reported directly to the >mperor8 9e had come to this territory the 4ery summer that 9a/! Descendin' /as assaulted in the /oods8 And he /as the stran'er /ho assaulted 9a/!8 9a/! Descendin' could see him dra/in' po/er from all of the to/nspeople8 9e felt the tu' at the po/er remainin' in his hunch8 =ith /hat stren'th remained to him* he clun' to his limb and resisted8 &hantien played a flourish on the harp* and spo!e in some un!no/n ton'ue8 =here the Ma'istrate stood* 9a/! sa/ a hu'e and /rithin' liGard* to/erin' o4er the to/n8 5t /as alien and repulsi4e* reptilian in nature8 ?5 !no/ you*@ &hantien said8 ?And 5 !no/ your !ind infest this land and all the /orld8 Your end /ill soon come8 6ot by my hand* nor by any other$s8 Your fall /ill come /hen the truth pre4ails and all men are blind no more8@ ?Be 'oneJ@ The Ma'istrate commanded8 ?6o/J@ 禐ο ?5 /ould not stay /here 5 am not /elcome8 5 /ill 'ather my thin's and lea4e8@ &hantien /as not to be intimidated8 9e turned a/ay from the Ma'istrate* /ho /as a man a'ain* and pac!ed a/ay his instruments8 To the inn !eeper* he said* ?Let us settle up8 Then 5 /ill fetch the rest of my belon'in's and my ass* and 5 /ill be 'one8@ The inn !eeper hastened to lead him into the inn* noddin' his head apolo'etically both to the Ma'istrate and—surreptitiously—to the 9arper8 The sEuare cleared out8 The Ma'istrate spo!e to the Mayor and his constable8 ?5 /ill ha4e a /ord /ith you t/o8@ ?Yes* Sir8@ The Mayor nodded8 ?=e are yours to command8@ ?&ome*@ the Ma'istrate said as he led them from the sEuare8 5n a short time* 9a/! /as alone8 Thou'h he could ha4e descended from the tree /ithout bein' seen* he stayed /here he /as* fearful that the po/erful stran'er /ould attac! him if he should sho/ himself8 Presently* the stable boy hurried to the front of the inn* leadin' &hantien$s burro* Moonbeam8 &hantien came out of the inn* arms loaded /ith his instruments and other belon'in's8 9e /as follo/ed by the inn !eeper* /ho darted a 'lance about the sEuare as he stepped outside* no doubt assurin' himself that he /as not bein' obser4ed8 9e /run' his hands and bo/ed his head as he spo!e to &hantien8 ?5$m so sorry the sho/ ended badly* Master 9arper8 5 had thou'ht to as! you to stay and rest a fe/ days8 &ertain* 5 am* that the to/nsfol! /ould ha4e /elcomed you8@ ?And you /ould ha4e /elcomed the coppers my eFtended 4isit /ould ha4e brou'ht8@
?Ah*@ the inn !eeper cast his eyes to the 'round for a moment8 ?The business /ould ha4e been /elcome8 But your performances /ould brin' a li'ht to us all* eFceptM8@ ?>Fcept*@ &hantien finished for him* ?there are some thin's you /ould rather not ha4e illuminated8@ ?Yes* /ell it is unfortunate that you could not stay the ni'ht in a 'ood bedM8@ ?=ith a stra/ mattress cra/lin' /ith bu's8@ &hantien finished tyin' his belon'in's to the burro$s bac!8 ?5 am Euite used to sleepin' under the stars* and often find the company better there8@ Loo!in' at the inn !eeper* he cau'ht the man dartin' another anFious 'lance about the sEuare8 ?5 am 'one* least anyone should see you tal!in' to me8@ 9e too! the burro$s reins from the stable boy and started off* headin' bac! the /ay he had come* leadin' Moonbeam8 ?(are you /ell* Master 9arper8@ The inn !eeper said* not too loud8 ?And fare you /ell8@ &hantien made his /ay across the sEuare and disappeared do/n a lane* headin' bac! to the /oods east of to/n8 ?Don$t da/dle*@ the inn !eeper told the boy8 ?Bac! to the stables8@ As the boy hastened to obey* the inn !eeper darted one last loo! at the departin' 9arper* then he hurried inside* shuttin' the door behind him8 9a/! Descendin' sat in the chestnut tree a /hile lon'er* ponderin' /hat he had /itnessed in the sEuare8 =hat had &hantien done to transform the Ma'istrate into a reptileH 9a/! had sensed that man$s alien nature /hen he /as assaulted in the /oods8 =as this /hat he had seen, the Ma'istrate$s true natureH 땀2 this8 Somethin' told him that the 9arper 9e /anted to tal! to &hantien about could help him to understand /hat /as 'oin' on8 Slippin' do/n out of the tree* he shambled into the shado/s and trailed the 9arper out of to/n8 5n the forest* he too! to the trees a'ain* al/ays !eepin' the 9arper in si'ht8
I&. The 'i$t o$ Music &hantien put a rid'e bet/een himself and the to/n before turnin' off the trail* into the thic! forest8 9e san' a Euiet son' as he made his /ay throu'h the dense brush* really more of a /hispered chant8 As he passed throu'h* the forest seemed to open a path for him and his burro* closin' it behind him8 9a/! Descendin' doubted anyone could ha4e follo/ed the 9arper on the 'round* e4en if they could ha4e found his trac!s8 But up in the trees* 9a/! had no problem follo/in'8 &hantien came to a forest 'lade* and there he ended his /hispered chant8 9e turned to his burro and untied his bedroll from the animal$s bac!8 ?=e should be safe enou'h here* Moonbeam* should the :e'ent send out 'uards to find us8@ 9e laid out his bedroll8 Then he 'athered stones and set them in a circle8 Venturin' around the ed'e of the 'lade* he 'athered fire/ood8 Soon he had a nice campfire 'oin'8 &hantien sat on his beddin'* 'aGin' into the flames as Moonbeam bro/sed the 'rasses in the 'lade8 ?5t is much /orse than /e thou'ht*@ the 9arper spo!e to the fire8 ?>4en out here in the farthest reaches of the empire* the people are enthralled8@ 9e seemed to listen a moment* and then nodded8 ?Yes* they are e4ery/here* and their hold is stron'8 >4en /hen 5 lifted the 4eil none could see—/ell* almost none8@ 9e stood and loo!ed directly at 9a/! Descendin'* /here the lad perched in the dar!ness of the forest8 ?5t reEuires bra4ery and po/er to trac! a 9arper thus8 Bra4ery to defy the Ma'istrate* and po/er to follo/ a hidden path8 5 am tired of 'ames8 &ome do/n* Bi' SEuirrel* it is time /e met8@ ֤ 턐◌ 9a/! Descendin' held his breath* but there /as no use in hidin'8 &hantien !ne/ he /as there* and he /anted to meet him8 >Fhalin'* 9a/! realiGed that he /anted this also8 5t /as /hy he follo/ed the 9arper to this spot8 9e climbed out of the tree and shambled into the clearin'* humiliated by the contorted ima'e he must present8 ?=ell met* fello/ tra4eler8@ &hantien 'reeted him as he stepped into the fireli'ht8 There /as no shoc! or dis'ust in the 9arper$s 4oice8 9e spo!e /ith /armth and ci4ility8 >Ftendin' his hand* he said* ?As 5$m sure you !no/ by no/* 5 am &hantien8@ 9a/! dared to loo! into the 9arper$s face8 There he sa/ neither Dud'ment nor condemnation8 6either did he see o4er/rou'ht sympathy or compassion8 &hantien loo!ed upon him as an eEual* nothin' more and nothin' less8 9a/! stood a little strai'hter as he shoo! the 9arper$s hand8 ?5 am called 9a/! Descendin'8@ ?+uite appropriate8 You see /ith 'reat clarity8@ ?Sometimes all too clear*@ 9a/! allo/ed8 ?=ill you sit /ith me* 9a/! Descendin'* and share my campfireH@ They sat8 9a/! loo!ed into the fire for a moment8 Then he dared to as!* ?=ho /ere you tal!in' toH You /ere loo!in' at the fire8 Thou'h 5 didn$t hear it* 5 am sure someone ans/ered you8@ &hantien thou'ht a moment about his reply8 ?5 spo!e to the fire* as you obser4ed8 (ire is a po/erful transformati4e8 5t transforms matter into ener'y* /hich then radiates out throu'h the /orld8 5f you !no/ ho/* you can send your /ords and thou'hts into the fire as /ell* and it /ill transmit them* /here they can be recei4ed by another /ith the prereEuisite s!ill8@
9a/! loo!ed into the fire* hopin' to see /ho &hantien /as addressin'8 9e sa/ only flame8 ?=ho are you tal!in' toH@ ?5f this is a 'ame of Euestions* then it is my turn8 =hy do you hide in the treesH@ 9a/! cast his 'aGe upon the 'round8 ?5 tra4el much easier in the trees than on the 'round8 And that /ay no one has to see me8 5t pains them to loo! at me8@ ?That is because you are a reflection of ho/ they truly see themsel4es8 Most people are not ready for such honesty8 That is /hy none of them sa/ the Ma'istrate as you and 5 did8@ ?=hy did you ma!e him into a 'iant serpentH@ ?5 did not Nma!e$ him into anythin'8 5 simply used the truth to pull aside the 4eil* sho/in' him as he really is8@ 9a/! Descendin' !nitted his bro/* troubled by this re4elation8 &hantien sou'ht to eFplain8 ?=hen people are so deluded they can no lon'er reco'niGe the truth* they are easily led8 There is an alien race that has ta!en po/er in this /orld8 They use this delusion to rob people of their o/n true po/er* and to strip the land of its riches8@ ?They are aliens* not of this /orldH@ 9a/! sou'ht to understand8 ?Some say they come from another /orld—another reality—and ha4e opened a portal to this one8@ 9e let 9a/! consider this for a moment8 ?-thers thin! they are of this /orld* Dust as /e are8 5t is said they /ere no more than reptiles and serpents until our selfBdelusion 'a4e them an opportunity to /al! amon' us and claim po/er o4er us8@ ?And youH =hat do you thin!H@ Აφ ?5 belie4e they are human* or once /ere8 But their manipulations* their abuses and their hubris—their e4il intent—transformed them into somethin' inhuman8@ &hantien turned to eFamine his 'uest8 ?Most people cannot see them for /hat they really are8 But you are different8 Tell me* ha4e you had some encounter /ith this Ma'istrateH 9as he harmed you in any /ayH -r re4ealed himself to youH@ 9a/! dre/ protecti4ely in/ard8 Yet he could not !eep himself from spea!in'8 9e needed to tell someone8 ?-ne day 5 /as sin'in' in the forest8 5t /as the only place 5 could sin'8 The Ma'istrate attac!ed me8 9e robbed me of my po/er8@ &hantien loo!ed at him closely8 ?Yes* 5 can see you ha4e been abused* by him and others8@ ?5 fou'ht him8@ 9a/! /ent on8 ?As /e stru''led* 5 sensed ho/ different he /as8 5 felt he /as not human8@ ?=hat happenedH@ ?5 escaped8 But he stole much of my po/er8@ ?5t ta!es a 'reat deal of inner stren'th to sur4i4e such an encounter8@ 9a/! 'aGed into the fire* reli4in' the pain and shame of his molestation as &hantien meditated8 &hantien /anted to help this youn' man /ho /as so maimed* yet /ho held such promise8 The lad needed healin'8 Yet such a tas! /as beyond &hantien$s abilities as a 9arper8 There /as one thin' he could do thou'h8 ?5 should lo4e to hear you sin'8@ 9a/! /as embarrassed8 ?5 cannot8 6ot since that day8@ .
?That is a shame8@ 9e dre/ his flute from the folds of his cloa!8 ?Perhaps if 5 play a tune* you mi'ht find your 4oice8@ ?5 doubt it8@ ?Then 5 /ill play for you8@ &hantien held the flute to his lip and played a slo/ air8 9a/! felt the sadness /ell up inside of him8 9e /anted to sin' out* of imprisonment* of inDustice* of defilement and abuse8 9e lon'ed to spread his /in's and fly* to eFtend his po/er and let it shine bri'ht and pure as a beacon to all8 But his po/er /as a torn and tattered thin'8 6or did he ha4e /in's to fly8 9e /as bound to the earth* a shamblin' deformity /ith no 4oice to sin'* nor the po/er to do so8 9e /as no 9arper8 9e could only soar throu'h the music &hantien played8 9e could only lend /hat little po/er he had to the 4oice of the flute8 And so he reached out to caress this poi'nant melody8 Silently* he added his po/er to the son' of the flute8 &hantien played the plainti4e melody many times* !eepin' it as simple as possible* until 9a/! /as intimate /ith e4ery bar of the tune8 The youn' man be'an to anticipate the melody* leadin' it in his mind and in his heart8 Then* as he pre4ie/ed the neFt phrase /ith his inner ear* 9a/! added a little ornament* a turn* to the melody8 =hen &hantien played the phrase* he added the turn* Dust as 9a/! had ima'ined it8 9a/! almost missed it* it seemed so appropriate8 9ad he added the ornament to the tune* or had the 9arperH The neFt time throu'h the melody* he heard a fe/ more ornaments* more intricate than the first8 And &hantien follo/ed alon'* reproducin' them eFactly8 Აυ 9a/! 're/ more ad4enturous8 9e added more ornaments* and then he be'an to alter the melody* strayin' from the ori'inal tune* thou'h ne4er too far8 &hantien follo/ed him note for note8 To'ether they /o4e throu'h a doGen 4ariations of the theme* pro'ressin' in compleFity and /anderin' further from the ori'inal path* /hile still co4erin' the same territory8 The final 4ariation seemed to fully eFpress all of the pain and all of the beauty 9a/! felt /ithin8 9a4in' nothin' more to add* 9a/! let it 'o /ith a si'h8 &hantien returned to the ori'inal melody* and it /as a re4elation* as thou'h 9a/! had ne4er heard it before8 5t /as perfection in its simplicity and honesty8 9a/! cried silently* /ith his head cradled in his arms* and the 9arper brou'ht the air to a close8 There /as only the crac!lin' of the fire* the /ind in the trees* and Moonbeam feedin' on the 'rasses8 9a/! thou'ht he /ould burst8 This air had so thorou'hly eFpressed his inner nature that there /as nothin' left for him8 9e felt somethin' tap him on the arm8 =ipin' his tears upon his slee4e* he raised his head8 &hantien /as holdin' out another flute* not so fancy as that /hich he played8 ?9ere* you /ere meant to ha4e this8@ The 9arper handed him the /ooden flute8 ?6o/ play8@ 9a/! too! the flute* thou'h he made no attempt to play it8 The flute /as so strai'ht and perfect* it /as the antithesis of his /arped and ra4a'ed body8 ?5 don$t !no/ ho/8@ ?6onsense8@ &hantien spo!e /ith confidence8 ?You played mine /ell enou'h8 9old it li!e this8 Pout /ith your lo/er lip8@ The 9arper instructed him8 ?Place it under your lip8 6o/ blo/ do/n o4er it and turn the flute until you find the ri'ht—that$s it8@ .
9a/! produced a note* falterin'* but a note nonetheless8 ?You /ere meant to play the flute8@ 9a/! found the ri'ht position8 This time he sustained the note8 ?6o/* place your fin'ers li!e mine and follo/ me8@ &hantien led him throu'h the scales* pausin' a couple of times to sho/ him ho/ to find the more elusi4e notes8 9a/! follo/ed alon' /ith ease8 5t /as as thou'h he had been playin' for years8 Soon they /ere playin' the air to'ether8 Then &hantien added harmony and counterpoint /hile 9a/! held the melody8 =hen 9a/! had sufficient confidence* they too! turns /ith melody* harmony and counterpoint8 They eFplored the air at len'th* and this time /hen they returned to the basic melody* it /as different than it had been before—thou'h related8 As he lo/ered the flute* 9a/! loo!ed at &hantien Euestionin'ly8 ?Do you remain the same person from one moment to the neFtH@ 9a/! thou'ht about it8 ?Yes and no8@ &hantien nodded8 ?>Factly8 You are al/ays chan'in'* /hile your essence remains the same8@ ?Yes8@ 9a/! understood8 ?And so you /ould not eFpect your son' to remain the same /hile you chan'e8@ ?My son'H@ >4en as he spo!e* 9a/! !ne/ it /as true8 This /as his son' they had been playin'8 And as he 'ained confidence* so had his melody* until it /as transformed from sadness into somethin' upliftin'8 ?This is the most essential talent of the 9arper. to hear and to translate the son' /ithin e4erythin'8@ Აφ &hantien loo!ed o4er at Moonbeam* feedin' on 'rasses across the 'lade8 ?See my burro feedin' yonder8 Don$t Dust loo! at her /ith your eyes8 (eel her8 -pen yourself to her /ithout preconceptions8 >mpty your mind as you obser4e her8 &lear your mind and let her spea! to you8 &an you hear herH@ ?YesJ@ 9a/! did hear her8 The burro$s son' /as rather ele'ant* /ith more than a hint of de4otion and determination8 ?<ood8 6o/ pic! up your flute and play her son'8@ 9a/! did so8 As he played* the burro raised her head and loo!ed at him8 She nic!ered* and then she strolled o4er to his side and nud'ed him lo4in'ly /ith her muGGle8 9a/! left off playin' to pet her8 ?There you ha4e it8 You can do this /ith anythin'8 >4erythin' has a son'—e4en the air8 5t is the ability to find these son's and play them honestly that distin'uishes a 9arper from an ordinary minstrel8 This is /here the 9arper finds his po/er* and this is /hat /e mean /hen /e spea! of the true performance of the 9arper8@ &hantien poc!eted his flute inside of his cape8 9e stood and stretched a moment8 Then he /ent to his other instruments and dre/ his harp from its case8 Sittin' bac! beside 9a/! Descendin'* he said* ?6o/ /e shall orchestrate this entire 'lade8 5 /ill start /ith the 'rasses and the trees* the ni'ht s!y and the stars* the fireflies and the cric!ets8 =hen you are ready* Doin in /ith the campfire8 You may add your o/n 4oice* mine and Moonbeam$s* as you hear them8@ And so they played the forest 'lade on harp and flute8 5t /as a lon'* rich symphony that 9a/! thou'ht /ould ne4er end8 Yet it finally did /ind do/n as the .
campfire d/indled8 =hen they stopped playin'* the symphony /ent on* carried by the 'lade itself* /ith e4ery element addin' its o/n 4oice8 =hile &hantien added more /ood to the fire* 9a/! sat bac! and eFperienced a moment more 4i4id than any he had e4er !no/n8 5t /as as thou'h e4erythin' around them had ta!en on an added intensity and an added po/er in this present moment8 9a/! told himself it /as from hyper4entilatin' as he played the flute8 Thou'h he /as li'htB headed* he !ne/ there /as more to it than that8 As &hantien sat bac! beside him* 9a/! tried to tal! about it8 ?>4erythin' feels soM soM ali4e8@ ?That is the po/er of the 9arper*@ &hantien assured him8 ?=hen you play the son' of a thin'* you accentuate it* you celebrate it8 Playin' the son' of a thin' imparts a blessin'—to both the thin' and the musician8 5t ties them to'ether* and ener'iGes them both throu'h this bond8 But to play a thin'$s true son' comes /ith 'ra4e responsibility8 You must be careful8@ ?=hyH@ ?5f you alter the son' of a thin'* you can alter the thin' itself8 And that you ou'ht ne4er to do8 That is a 4iolation* a manipulation—an abuse8 You ou'ht ne4er to force your /ill on anythin'* /hether for 'ood or ill8 To do so /ill result in harm* possibly for the thin' itself* and /ith certainty for you8@ ?But /e alter the melodies8@ ?=e are follo/in' the /ill and natural tendency of the thin' /e play8 Do so /ith honesty and you aid the thin' in 'ainin' the full eFpression of itself8 But ne4er force a chan'e8@ Აφ ?That seems difficult8@ ?5t is8 That is /hy you must al/ays be 4i'ilant8 Play in true honesty and selflessness8 Ma!e yourself an eFtension of your instrument and allo/ yourself to be a 4ehicle for the thin' you are playin'8 ?5t ta!es many years of trainin' to learn the art of a 9arper8 But it is all contained in these simple rules. /hen you play the son' of a thin' al/ays do so in full honesty and selflessness8 6e4er ma!e a false note and you /ill brin' blessin's to yourself and the thin' you play8 ?6or should you ma!e a habit of this /hen you are around other people8 Playin' the true son' of a thin' lea4es both that thin' and yourself open to outside influences8 You can easily lea4e yourself open to attac!8@ ?But you played openly before the to/n8@ ?5 called on the Linea'e of 9arpers8 5n this /ay* they come do/n to protect your performance from interference8 5 do not call on the Linea'e e4ery time 5 perform—maybe once in a moon8 Most of the time* 5 stic! to set pieces. ballads and lays* fully composed tunes and stories8@ ?Yet you did so this e4enin'8@ ?There /as reason to do so8@ They each fell to their pri4ate thou'hts8 9a/! thou'ht about this 'ift of music the 9arper had 'i4en him8 &hantien a/o!e a talent he ne4er !ne/ he had* and this talent opened /hole /orlds to him8 9e /anted to become a 9arper8 9e /anted to lea4e this to/n and /ander throu'h the /orld* playin' a son' of all the /onder he sa/ there8 .
Attuned to his thou'hts* &hantien said* ?You should come /ith me as my apprentice8 You ha4e an enormous talent* but you ha4e much to learn8@ ?&ome /ith youH@ 9a/! dared to dream8 ?=ould you li!e to someday earn your o/n cloa! of colorsH@ &hantien /a4ed a portion of his cloa!8 ?-h* yesJ@ ?Then it is settled8 :eturn to the 4illa'e* ma!e your 'oodbyes and 'ather your belon'in's8 =e lea4e at first li'ht8@ 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht of his family* his 'randparents* his father* and most of all his mother8 She /ould not /ant him to 'o8 =hile she allo/ed him free ran'e in the forest* little mindin' if he stayed there o4erni'ht* he !ne/ she /ould not part /ith him easily8 5t /ould ta!e a lot of tal!in' and a lot of coaFin'8 9is 'randfather* too* /ould not be happy /ith his choice8 ?The mornin' is too soon8@ 9e must let 'o of this dream* no matter ho/ it appealed to him8 ?5 need more time to say 'oodbye to my family8@ ?You loo! a 'ro/n man8@ &hantien eyed him8 ?Are you under some contract or obli'ationH@ ?6o* it is only so sudden8@ ?Short lea4in's are the easiest to ma!e8@ ?Yes* but 5 o/e my family more than a hasty 'oodbye8@ ?6o man can stand on his o/n t/o feet /ho is obli'ed to his parents8 Are you the sole bread/inner in your familyH@ ?6o8@ 9a/! could not eFplain8 Აφ /hen you are 'one8@ ?Then they can feed themsel4es easier ?5 need more time8 &an you tarry here a fe/ daysH@ ?>4en one more day /ould be dan'erous8 The Ma'istrate /ants me out of here8@ ?5 can$t Dust disappear o4erni'ht8@ &hantien sa/ that the youn' man$s mind /as set8 9e pointed to the full moon8 ?5 /ill pass throu'h here a'ain on the neFt full moon8 That /ill be your last chance8 Meet me in this 'lade and 5 /ill ta!e you as my apprentice8 Be here /hen 5 return8 5 shan$t camp here for more than one ni'ht* and once 5 lea4e this land* 5 shan$t return8@ 9a/! considered8 That /ould 'i4e him one month to 'ain his family$s blessin' and prepare to depart8 5t /ould ha4e to be enou'h time8 9is family mi'ht resist* but once he performed for them* they /ould ha4e to understand that this /as the ri'ht choice for him8 ?5 /ill be here /aitin'* under the neFt full moon8@ ?>nou'h tal! then8 ? &hantien reached for his harp8 ?Let us play8@ They performed late into the ni'ht8 &hantien tau'ht 9a/! Descendin' many son's8 9e also 'a4e him some be'innin' instruction on the lute and the harp8 5n short order* 9a/! /as able to play a scale on the harp8 The lute pro4ed a little more difficult8 9is fin'ers seemed to stumble* and he de4eloped blisters on the fin'ers of his left hand8 ?The lute can be a hard instrument to be'in /ith8@ &hantien counseled him8 ?Be patient8 <i4e it time8@ They set aside their instruments in the early hours of the mornin' and closed their eyes8 The neFt thin' 9a/! !ne/* it /as full dayli'ht and he /as alone in the 'lade* beside the dead campfire8 .
There /as no si'n of the 9arper or his burro8 9a/! Descendin' searched for their trail* but the /oods hemmed in this 'lade so ti'htly* there could be no passin' throu'h it on the 'round8 9a/! be'an to /onder if the /hole ni'ht /as but a dream8 9e sat by the ashes of the campfire* as!in' himself /hy his mind /ould decei4e him so cruelly8 All the /orld had opened up for him* offerin' him a life he ne4er dreamed /as possible8 And no/ he /o!e to find he /as all alone* isolated in this little 'lade8 9e petted the earth /ith his ri'ht hand8 (indin' pebbles* he too! a fe/ and thre/ them one at a time into the ashes of the fire8 (eelin' for more* his hand chanced upon a stic!* eFcept it /as too smooth and strai'ht8 <rabbin' hold of it* he found it /as the flute &hantien had 'i4en him to play8 Then he remembered that he left it here in the tall 'rass by the fire pit* before he /ent to sleep8 9e /ept /ith Doy at the si'ht of it8 Dra/in' it to his lips* he played a note so pure and Doyful it had to come from deep /ithin him8 9e played for a short /hile* the son' of his self8 6o/ it /as a li'ht and happy dance8 9e almost thou'ht he heard a harp playin' in the bac!'round* thou'h he /as sure it /as Dust the /ind in the trees8 Აφ .
&. The Penalty $or (ttendance ?=here ha4e you beenH@ &ro/ Shado/ as!ed /ith an ed'e to her 4oice8 That ed'e told 9a/! that she /as on the 4er'e of eFplodin' and anythin' could set her off8 9e felt anFious* least he ma!e a misstep8 ?5 slept in the /oods8@ ?=ould that you had stayed there8@ She sounded eFasperated8 ?=ell* you$ll Dust ha4e to 'o bac! and find your father8@ 9a/! could not help loo!in' at her Euestionin'ly8 This /as his father$s day off8 #in'fisher should still be asleep8 :a'e crept into his mother$s 4oice8 ?The Ma'istrate has le4ied fines on e4ery household in the 4illa'e for allo/in' that /anderin' minstrel to spe/ his blasphemy in the sEuare—double for anyone /ho attended the performance8 And your father /as fool enou'h to 'o there8@ She /a4ed her hands at the s!y8 ?5 don$t !no/ ho/ /e /ill pay for his stupidityJ As it is* /e barely ha4e enou'h to li4e on after payin' the taFes8@ 9a/! made sure the flute /as /ellBhidden inside his Der!in8 5f she spotted the flute* his mother /ould !no/ he had 4isited the 9arper* and she /as sure to ha4e a fit of an'er8 ?=here is fatherH@ ?9e has 'one to cut /ood from our yearly allotment* to pay the fine8 5 don$t !no/ ho/ /e /ill stay /arm this /inter8@ ?5 /ill 'o help him8@ 9a/! turned on his heel8 ?=ait8@ 9is mother reined in her an'er8 She reached for a parcel on the !itchen Აφ counter8 ?9e did not ta!e a lunch8@ She handed the parcel to 9a/!8 ?9ere is some bread and cheese8 There should be enou'h for you as /ell8 By ri'ht* /e should cut bac! to one meal a day8 But choppin' /ood is hard /or!* and you /ill need to eat8 5 /ill Dust ha4e to do /ithout8@ She too! a lon'Bsufferin'* martyred attitude8 ?You 'o no/8@ As he left* 9a/! heard her say* ?A fool for a husband and a cripple for a son8 =hat did 5 do to deser4e such a lifeH@ The lunch /as /rapped in oil s!in8 Bac! in the /oods* 9a/! sou'ht out a hollo/ tree that had been his secret treasure chest as a child8 9e un/rapped the bread and cheese and tied the oil cloth around his flute to help protect it from the /eather8 9e sto/ed the pac!a'e in the hollo/ tree* /here it /ould stay safe8 9e /ould ha4e to !eep the flute hidden for the time bein'* until &hantien$s performance 'ained the distance of memory and the Ma'istrate$s fine /as paid8 9e /ould /or! hard to help pay the double fine* feelin' someho/ responsible for the /hole thin'8 9e could hunt and fish* sellin' the meat and s!ins to help pay the debt8 9e must put off tellin' his family of his intentions8 There /as no /ay they /ould 'i4e him their blessin's ri'ht no/8 9e /ould !eep the flute hidden* bein' careful to practice only /hen he /as certain no one /ould hear him8 (or no/* his audience /ould be the forests and the animals that d/elt there8 9a/! Descendin' too! off his Der!in and used it to /rap the bread and cheese* eatin' Dust a little as he did so8 Then he hurried throu'h the forest to find his father cuttin' /ood from their yearly allotment8 Alon' the /ay* he could hear the son' of the forest* and he /ished that he had his flute to play alon'8 9e contented himself /ith hummin'8 .
As he proceeded to/ard the common lands /here each family of the 4illa'e held its yearly allotment of /ood* he noted a chan'e in the son' of the forest8 A sorro/ crept into the melody* a sadness born of pain and loss8 5t crept into the son' in subtle /ays* and it /as not until he reached the commons and sa/ that many of the to/nspeople /ere cuttin' /ood from their allotment* that the a/areness of this chan'e in the son' o4ertoo! him8 Stoppin' to listen as the son' became an eFpression of an'uish and loss* he sa/ the to/nspeople clearin' their allotments* /or!in' to'ether to strip the forest bare8 )sually* each family too! only a little /ood at a time from their allotment8 They too! care to cut a/ay the diseased and dyin' trees8 =ith a s!illed eye* they sou'ht to prune the trees so they /ould continue to 'ro/ in a healthy manner8 This is ho/ his father tau'ht him to cull /ood from the forest* in the same manner as his father$s father8 Thus many 'enerations could fill their yearly need for fire/ood* and still lea4e a healthy forest for future 'enerations8 But no/ they too! e4erythin'* lea4in' only dyin' roots and barren 'round8 9a/! could not belie4e his eyes8 9o/ /ould they sur4i4e the /inter* much less the years to comeH As he stood there dumbfounded* one of the 4illa'ers called out to him8 ?9ey apeman* you come do/n out of the trees to fulfill your responsibility as a humanH@ ?=hat are you doin'H@ ?=e are cuttin' the /ood to pay the fines the Ma'istrate le4ied on the entire 4illa'e*@ the man told him8 ?But ho/ /ill /e sur4i4eH@ ?The forest is bi'8@ A youn' man not much older than he paused bet/een blo/s Აφ of the aF8 ?The Mayor is petitionin' for ne/ allotments from the commons8@ ?Doubtless they /ill be smaller and further from the 4illa'e*@ the youn' man$s uncle put in8 ?The Ma'istrate is loathed to car4e much out of the >mperor$s forest for a ne/ commons8@ ?And /hat of the forestH@ 9a/! mumbled8 ?=hatH@ Se4eral /or!ers stopped to 'lare at him* uncertain they heard him correctly8 ?=hat of my fatherH@ 9a/! corrected himself8 ?=here is heH@ ?9e$s /or!in' on your allotment* of course8 =ith your 'randfather and your uncle8 5$m sure they$re /onderin' /here you are8@ ?Than! you8@ 9a/! hurried on his /ay8 9is family allotment /as on the south side of a broad hilloc!8 5t /as a rich stand of timber* /ith a clear crea! runnin' alon' the base of it8 =hen 9a/! crested the hilloc!* he found that most of the trees had already been felled8 9is father* #in'fisher* and his 'randfather* 5ron Ca/* /ere choppin' at one of the fe/ remainin' trees /hile his uncle* 9ard &orn* and his cousins tied a felled and stripped hic!ory tree to <randfather 5ron Ca/$s team of horses8 ?9a/! Descendin'J@ 9is father called to him8 The youn' man pic!ed his /ay around a tan'le of stripped branches and uprooted brush8 ?Mother 'a4e me bread and cheese for our lunch8@ ?Did she 'i4e you nothin' to carry it in but your o/n Der!inH@ .
?6o8@ 9a/! lied8 ?5t /as /rapped in an oil s!in that cau'ht on a branch and ripped to shreds8 But 5 sa4ed the food8@ ?6o doubt you /ere climbin' amon' the trees /hen you should ha4e been /al!in' on the 'round li!e any normal man8@ 9is 'randfather spo!e in disappro4al8 ?6e4er mind8@ 9is father brushed aside the criticism8 ?=e /ere 'ettin' hun'ry8 Let$s ta!e a brea! and eat8@ 9a/! offered bread and cheese to his father and 'randfather8 ?5 ha4e my o/n8@ The elder turned his nose up at the offerin'8 9is father tore off a hun! of bread8 ?This bread is 4ery dry8 Did she send nothin' to drin!H@ ?The stream isM8@ 9a/! stopped as he loo!ed at the crea!8 5t /as a muddy mess* clo''ed /ith do/ned limbs8 9is father noted his pained loo!8 The man patted his normal shoulder in sympathy8 ?Yea* it$s not ho/ 5 e4er thou'ht to see this hillside8 >specially not by my o/n hands8@ ?5t is Dust tree and brush*@ 5ron Ca/ said8 ?Better to 'et some use of it /hile /e can8@ 9is father shared a Euiet* pained loo! /ith him8 To his fatherBinBla/* he said* ?5 only hope it pays enou'h to ma!e up for the loss8@ ?5t mi'ht ha4e*@ the old man Dud'ed* ?if you$d had sense enou'h not to attend that performance li!e the rest of us8@ #in'fisher lost his appetite8 ?5$4e had enou'h8 Lay the rest aside for later8@ They 'ot bac! to /or!8 9a/! piled up stripped limbs and cleared brush /hile his Აφ father and 'randfather /ielded aFes8 The commons /as an empty* muddy mess in a /ee!$s time8 The /ood /as sold off to pay their fines8 And the ne/ commons they /ere 'ranted /as half the siGe of the former8 5t /as a cho!ed /oods of spindly* ailin' trees* difficult to access* particularly in the /inter8 .
death lost in birth lost in death8 9e didn$t e4en realiGe he /as sin'in' out loud until he finished and a youn' man /or!in' nearby as!ed* ?=hat son' is thatH@ ?The &ycle of Life*@ 9a/! ans/ered /ithout thin!in'8 9is listener /as a man named (ield Mouse8 (ield Mouse had married a beautiful youn' /oman named Spotted (a/n a year a'o8 This sprin' she bore him a son* but the boy passed a/ay after only a fe/ months* lea4in' his parents to mourn his loss8 9a/! felt sorry that he had 4ocaliGed this son' of birth and death /hile (ield Mouse stood /ithin hearin'8 9e had no intention of reopenin' such a painful /ound8 ?5 am sorry8@ ?Don$t be8 &an you sin' it a'ain* please8@ There /ere tears in the man$s eyes8 .&I. Making Peace with )oss 9a/! /as so busy helpin' to clear the commons that he had no time to practice the flute for the neFt /ee!8 Still* as he /or!ed he listened to the son' of the /oods* and he often found himself hummin'—and more freEuently /histlin'—alon' /ith it8 =hile tin'ed /ith sadness* the son' /as o4er/helmin'ly one of Doy8 (or a /hile he thou'ht there /as somethin' /ron' /ith this miFture of sadness and Doy8 9o/ could there be Doy in a forest that /as bein' clear cutH =hat Doy /as there to be found in death and destructionH Then* one day as he /as clearin' brush and branches from an area that had been cut se4eral days past* he made a disco4ery8 6e/ shoots /ere pushin' up throu'h the soil8 The cleared land /as not so barren as he had thou'ht8 The melody came rushin' throu'h him and in a flash he understood /hy the son' /as predominantly one of Doy8 There /as sadness in the passin' of the tall trees* but e4en as they /ere felled* a ne/ forest /as 'erminatin' underfoot8 Death /as not an end* it /as simply a part of the ne4erBendin' cycle of life8 Loo!in' hea4en/ard* he sa/ a ha/! s/oop do/n o4er the cut forest8 5t do4e at the 'round* stretchin' its talons at the last moment as it pulled bac! its /in's8 And then it /as airborne a'ain* /aftin' its /ay up/ard on its po/erful /in's8 And in its talons it bore a lar'e sna!e8 The sna!e hun' limp* its head se4ered by all but a thread8 5n that moment* as he stood on the decimated hillside /ith ne/ sprouts at his feet* /atchin' the ha/! fly a/ay to de4our the dead serpent* he composed his first son'8 Be'innin's and endin's are human terms Აφ that only hold meanin' for us8 &reation has only Dust no/ be'un* the endin' has already come. for e4ery second lasts centuries8 Time eFists only for man8 All other creatures* all but man* see only eFistence and chan'e8 &han'e they call death and* as /e obser4e* e4erythin' chan'es* e4erythin' dies8 >ach second of time is a birth and a death.
?Are you sureH@ 9a/! did not /ant to ma!e anyone cry8 ?Yes8@ 9a/! loo!ed around to ma!e sure no one else could hear8 Then he repeated the son' /ord for /ord* note for note8 (ield Mouse had tears flo/in' do/n his chee!s by the time 9a/! /as done8 But there /as a smile on his face8 ?Than! you8 5 /ish my /ife could hear this son'8@ ?5 can teach it to you8@ ?5 ha4e no 4oice8@ (ield Mouse paused before he dared as!* ?5 /onder if you could come to my home /ith me this e4enin' and sin' this for my /ife8 5t /ould mean a lot8@ ?&ertainly* 5 /ould be happy to do so8 Are you sure your /ife /ill li!e it8@ ?She needs to hear it8@ They made arran'ements to meet /hen the day$s /or! /as done8 Then they parted* each to his labors8 KKK Before meetin' /ith (ield Mouse* 9a/! made a side trip throu'h the forest to fetch his flute8 5t /as ri'ht /here he left it8 The oiled s!in !ept it dry and clean8 9e hesitated a moment before liftin' it to his lips8 =hat if he could no lon'er playH =hat if he could only play it because &hantien /as there* /or!in' his ma'ic throu'h him to help him playH But he heard the son' of the forest* and it bid him to play8 9e dre/ the flute to his lips and ble/ as &hantien had sho/n him8 Აφ A note sounded* soft and pure8 9e pic!ed up the son' of the forest and played a /hile* reDoicin' that he had not lost touch8 Tuc!in' the flute into his 4est* he hastened bac! to the cleared commons to meet (ield Mouse* /ho /as ea'er to escort him to his ho4el8 Spotted (a/n /as /aitin' for her husband /ith a simple meal of boiled tubers8 =hen she sa/ that her husband /as accompanied by the to/n hunchbac!* she said only* ?5 did not !no/ you /ere brin'in' company8 5$m afraid /e don$t ha4e much to offer8@ ?5 /ill not stay for dinner*@ 9a/! said* thin!in' to sa4e her of the burden of hospitality8 ?But you must*@ (ield Mouse insisted8 ?5 /ill ne4er turn any 'uest a/ay from my door8@ Spotted (a/n ushered 9a/! into the house8 ?Thou'h our fare is plain* /e ha4e enou'h to share8@ 9a/! sou'ht to ma!e up for this sorry introduction8 ?5 'ratefully accept8 You ha4e a nice house8@ ?You flatter me8@ 5t /as clear that Spotted (a/n /as not as ta!en /ith 9a/! Descendin' as /as her husband8 And it /as flattery8 The house /as as plain as the meal8 The only furnishin's /ere a table and some /ooden chairs8 There /as a crib in one corner* empty no/8 5n all* the interior /as rather blea!* 'loomy and un!empt8 As (ield Mouse !issed his /ife* 9a/! noted that she only /ent throu'h the motion of returnin' his affection8 Loo!in' into her heart* he sa/ sadness and loss8 9e felt sorry for her* and he /anted to offer her a little /armth and li'ht8 Turnin' bac! to her 'uest* Spotted (a/n said* ?5 am afraid /e cannot offer much in the /ay of entertainment8@ .
?That is not necessary8 5 ha4e come to entertain you8@ Spotted (a/n 'a4e him a loo! such as he recei4ed often around the 4illa'e8 5n this case* the loo! said. N9o/ could a pitiful hunchbac! li!e you entertain us8$ ?9a/! Descendin' has /ritten a son'*@ (ield Mouse told his /ife8 ?And 5 really /ant you to hear it8@ 9a/! dre/ out his flute as (ield Mouse spo!e8 The si'ht of it surprised both husband and /ife8 ?=here did you 'et thatH@ (ield Mouse as!ed8 ?The 9arper played an instrument li!e that*@ Spotted (a/n obser4ed8 ?Yes* 5 had it of him8@ Spotted (a/n rounded on her husband8 ?Thin's aren$t bad enou'h /ithout you in4itin' trouble into our houseH You shall ha4e the Ma'istrate after us* and the 9arper tooJ@ ?The 9arper 'a4e me this flute*@ 9a/! said8 ?Sure* he too! pity on a hunchbac!8 More li!ely* you stole it from him8@ ?9e tau'ht me to play it8@ 9a/! played a fe/ bars of a li'ht and mesmeriGin' Di'8 Spotted (a/n had to hold her ton'ue and listen for a moment in spite of herself8 5t did not last lon'8 Brea!in' free of the enchantment* she shouted him to silence8 ?Surely* the /hole nei'hborhood can hear thatJ 5 hope there are no constables nearby8@ She hurried o4er to the door/ay and loo!ed up and do/n the street8 ?5 am sorry8@ 9a/! tuc!ed the flute a/ay8 ?5 did not thin!8@ ?5 did not !no/ you /ere brin'in' that /ith you*@ (ield Mouse said more 'ently8 ?The flute can reach into places my poor 4oice cannot8 5 thou'ht it /ould help to Აφ orchestrate the son'8@ ?All 5 /anted /as for you to share the son' /ith my /ife as you did /ith me8@ ?5 can do that*@ 9a/! bo/ed his head* ?if you still /ish8@ ?5 don$t !no/8@ (ield Mouse reconsidered8 ?Maybe it /ould be best if you left no/8@ ?Did you enchant my husband /ith some son' of the 9arperH@ Spotted (a/n accused8 ?6o* it is a son' 5 made myself* Dust today8@ 9a/! made ready to escape8 ?The son' 'a4e me healin' and acceptance*@ (ield Mouse told his /ife8 ?5 thou'ht it /ould do the same for you8@ ?9eal me of /hat—the loss of my babe8@ Spotted (a/n turned on her husband8 ?5 doubt any son' could do that8@ ?5t /as /orth a try8@ To 9a/!* (ield Mouse said* ?=hy did you ha4e to brin' that flute /ith you8@ ?5 am sorry8@ 9a/! Descendin' shambled to/ard the door* but Spotted (a/n /ould not step aside and let him pass8 ?5 /ant to hear it8@ Spotted (a/n 'lo/ered at him8 ?Sin' this son' that has mesmeriGed my husband and made him for'et his son8 But do not eFpect the bond bet/een a mother and her child to pro4e so /ea!8@ ?Please let me lea4e8@ 9a/! !ept his head do/n8 ?6o*@ Spotted (a/n refused8 ?Sin' for me8@ 9a/! 'lanced at (ield Mouse* /ho offered the sli'htest of nods8 Ta!in' a deep breath* 9a/! said* ?Very /ell8 (irst 5 must redisco4er the melody8@ .
9e closed his eyes and listened for the son' of Spotted (a/n8 5t /as a slo/ and !eenin' lament that he heard8 Puc!erin' his lips* he /histled the melody of her son'8 9e had ne4er heard such a sorro/ful lament* empty and unfor'i4in'8 9e /anted to brea! off and run from the house8 &hancin' to loo! up* he sa/ ho/ stric!en Spotted (a/n /as by this full eFpression of the mournin' inside of her8 9e /orried that she /ould succumb any moment8 (ield Mouse stood at her side* not darin' to mo4e or e4en breathe8 9a/! Descendin' closed his eyes and continued to /histle8 This lament /as unremittin'8 5f he continued it for too lon'* it /as li!ely to stran'le them all8 The only son' he had e4er heard that bore any similarity /as the lament of the commons* but that at least /as tempered /ith rene/al8 And /ith that* he realiGed the trouble /ith Spotted (a/n$s lament8 She /ould not let it 'o8 She held herself* and her husband* trapped inside her loss8 Somethin' caused him to open his eyes and loo! at the crib8 There he sa/ the 'host of their baby* cryin' and clin'in' to the bars* tryin' to reach for his mother8 5n refusin' to let 'o of her 'rief* Spotted (a/n had imprisoned the spirit of her baby* not allo/in' it to mo4e on8 And /ith this 4ision* 9a/! !ne/ /hat he must do8 9e subtly altered the melody* ta!in' the unremittin' ed'e off of it* allo/in' it to soften and chan'e8 9e transformed the melody from the son' of the mother to the son' of the baby$s spirit* cryin' for release8 Spotted (a/n be'an first to sob* and then to cry8 (ield Mouse reached out for her* but she resisted8 =hen the transformation of the melody /as complete* 9a/! let it 'o8 9e stopped /histlin' and be'an to sin' his composition The &ycle of Life8 And /ith this son'* Spotted (a/n finally released her 'rief8 She hu''ed her husband and cried* loo!in' o4er Აφ his shoulder at the empty crib8 =ith his inner si'ht* 9a/! sa/ that she /as lettin' 'o of her child8 The spirit of the baby left the crib8 5t started to ascend8 Then it paused and sent a fresh thread to touch its mother$s /omb8 9a/! !ne/ that Spotted (a/n /ould concei4e a'ain* and soon8 She /ould be 'i4en a second chance to brin' her son into the /orld8 =hen he finished his son'* he /histled a'ain* a li'ht melody of promise and rene/al* /hich brou'ht fresh tears from mother and father ali!e8 They hu''ed and !issed* consolin' each other /ith their lo4e8 9a/! finished the melody and silently too! his lea4e* !no/in' they needed to be alone to'ether8 9a/! Descendin' needed to be alone as /ell* so he returned to the /oods* /here he meditated on /hat happened this e4enin'8 9e stayed out late into the ni'ht* playin' his flute for the /oods and for himself8 .
The (uthentic %ong and the O$$icial *ord 9a/! no/ !ne/ /ith certainty /hat he must do8 (or a /ee! he slipped a/ay /hene4er he could to practice his flute8 9e /as !ept busy cleanin' brush and trimmin' branches as his family mo4ed on to clear his 'randfather$s allotment* so there /as not much time left for musical studies8 9e too! to /histlin' as he /or!ed* testin' his memory of the fe/ tunes he !ne/* and impro4isin' ne/ tunes on the spot8 -ften as he /histled* he /ould slip into the son' of the land about him8 =hen he did so* he /ould emphasiGe motifs of rene/al* and he thou'ht the land responded8 9e noted healthy saplin's spreadin' fresh folia'e o4er his father$s allotment and other areas that had been cleared early on8 -thers too! note of this 'ro/th as /ell8 Se4eral times* men paused from their /or! to measure saplin's that 're/ as much in one /ee! as /ould normally reEuire a year or more8 Some said they could see a measurable difference o4erni'ht8 This 'ro/th /as ta!en as a si'n of pro4idence* a blessin' of the 'ods* /ho sa/ their need and 'ranted this boon8 The reDu4enatin' lands /ere 4ie/ed as sacred8 (e/ tread throu'h them* and those /ho did /ere careful of e4ery step* a/are they /ere on hollo/ed land8 The most !no/led'eable shoo! their heads in /onder and said that at this rate the old commons /ould be completely re'ro/n /ithin a couple of years8 They cleared the rest of the old commons /ith a ne/ faith8 The 'ods /ere loo!in' after them8 =ith the ne/ commons allotted to them* and this reDu4enation of the old* many sa/ a ne/ a'e of prosperity ahead8 5n Dust a fe/ years* they could har4est the old commons a'ain and li4e /ell off the profits8 There /ere some /ho felt the re'ro/th Აφ should not be har4ested a'ain8 They had been blessed /ith a miracle and should not ta!e ad4anta'e of it8 They lobbied to ma!e the old commons into a sacred shrine to the nature 'ods8 &uttin' the ne/ 'ro/th /ould defile this miracle and call do/n calumny upon them8 There /as much debatin' amon' the 4illa'ers as to /hat should be done about the old commons8 9a/! stayed out of it* not that anyone /as interested in the opinion of the 4illa'e hunchbac!8 9e /ent on /ith his /or!* /histlin' as he did so8 And in spare moments* he /andered into the areas of re'ro/th* /histlin' a special melody to the saplin's there8 5f anyone obser4ed him* they paid him no mind8 They certainly said nothin' about his odd beha4ior8 The only person /ho had any in!lin' of /hat 9a/! /as doin' /as the youn' man* (ield Mouse8 9e /ould occasionally stop to /atch the hunchbac! /histlin' to the saplin's* and to offer up a silent blessin' of his o/n8 (ield Mouse o/ed 9a/! Descendin' a 'reat debt8 After the e4enin' /hen 9a/! 4isited his home and san' for he and his /ife* his life chan'ed for the better8 Spotted (a/n opened her heart to him and /as no/ more lo4in' and attenti4e than e4er8 And both of them !ne/ /ithout any need to say it that they /ould be blessed /ith more children8 =hene4er (ield Mouse met 9a/! Descendin' in to/n or in the old commons* he offered the hunchbac! a little nod and a sli'ht smile8 9e /anted to 'o do/n on his !nee and bo/ before him8 But he !ne/ this /ould cause trouble amon' the other to/nspeople8 6or did 9a/! /ish to be /orshipped8 9is small sho/ of 'ratitude and friendship /as more than enou'h for the hunchbac!8 .&II.
The other to/nspeople i'nored 9a/! Descendin'* or made him the butt of their Do!es8 =hen one of them /as an'ry about anythin'* the hunchbac! pro4ided him or her /ith someone on /hom to ta!e it out8 (or the most part* they i'nored his /histlin'8 -n occasion* 9a/! /ould ta!e up the melody of someone nearby /ithout realiGin' it8 =hen he did so* the person /ould ine4itably le4el a loo! at him as thou'h he had 4iolated his pri4acy* /ithout and understandin' of /hy he felt this /ay8 )nder the 'lare* 9a/! /ould brea! off /histlin' and hurry a/ay* lest he incur some more physical /rath8 =ithin the /ee! of &hantien$s performance* a to/n crier /as installed in their 4illa'e8 T/ice a day he /ould /al! throu'h the 4illa'e* callin' out the 4irtues of the >mperor* the Ma'istrate* the Mayor and the &hief &onstable8 9e also deli4ered any ne/s of the empire that /as brou'ht to him8 Many of the 4illa'ers made a special point of stoppin' /hate4er they /ere doin' in order to listen to his tidin's8 &ro/ Shado/ /ould come out of her house to listen alon'side her nei'hbors8 And 5ron Ca/ /ould lea4e the commons /here he /as /or!in' to hear the ne/s8 9a/! Descendin' listened the first fe/ times that the crier attended to his duties8 9e noted maDor differences of 4ie/point bet/een the announcements of the crier* and the ne/s brou'ht to them by the 9arper* &hantien8 Accordin' to the crier* the >mperor stood for e4erythin' 'lorious in the /orld* and the empire /as the cro/nin' achie4ement of ci4iliGation8 9e spo!e of bri'ands* bands of miscreant /or!ers Dealous of the o/ners and the >mperor* /ho hid in the countryside and held up merchants and other tra4elers8 -rders came from the >mperor by /ay of the Ma'istrate to beef up the constabulary and pursue these hi'h/aymen in the surroundin' territory8 Tra4elers /ere /arned to be careful8 Აφ 5t /as !no/n that a lar'e band of these robbers resided in the forests outside of to/n8 T/enty youn' men /ere drafted into the constabulary* (ield Mouse amon' them8 Their Dob /as to patrol the road to to/n* pursuin' any robbers and ta!in' them before the Ma'istrate8 The sentence for hi'h/ay robbery /as death by han'in'8 &ro/ Shado/ /orried about her son8 She implored him to stay out of the /oods* lest he run afoul of bandits8 9a/! tried to assure her there /as no si'n of anyone in the forests* other than him8 9ad there been one outla/ hidin' there* much less a 'an' of them* 9a/! /ould ha4e been a/are of their e4ery mo4ement8 9is mother /ould not listen to him* placin' her faith instead in the /ord of the crier8 She forbade 9a/! to 4enture into the forests8 9a/! Descendin' continued to 'o there* /ithout tellin' his mother8 (ield Mouse once approached him to su''est that he become a scout for the constabulary8 9a/! told him* as /ell* that there /ere no bri'ands in the forest8 Li!e his mother* (ield Mouse chose to belie4e the to/n crier instead8 There /ere no hi'h/ay robberies in the countryside surroundin' the 4illa'e8 The to/n crier* the constabulary and the 4illa'ers all attributed this to the 4i'ilance of the constabulary8 The to/n crier told them /ord had 'one out amon' the bri'ands to a4oid this territory* /here Dustice /as s/ift* certain and merciless8 Still* the crier /arned them to be careful should they 4enture out of to/n8 The crier also told them the empire /as pla'ued by the <loriosi8 They /ere portrayed as /anderers /ho told fortunes and cast spells for a fee8 5n reality* accordin' to the crier* they /ere all liars* cheats and thie4es8 5t /as their special mission to spread .
disenchantment /ith the empire8 5t /as suspected that many of the <loriosi /ere in lea'ue /ith the hi'h/aymen8 -nce the &rier related ho/ the >mperor$s troops rooted out a band of <loriosi and herded them to the capital* /here they /ere put to the Euestion8 5n the end* they confessed their crimes* e4en admittin' that from earliest childhood they /ere trained in blac! ma'ic8 Their confessions /ere published and all of them /ere put to death* ri'ht do/n to the youn'est baby8 After/ards* the >mperor proclaimed in his /isdom that none should suffer a <loriosi to li4e8 Many of the <loriosi too! refu'e in the nei'hborin' !in'dom of #atai8 =hen they made incursions bac! into the empire* troops /ould pursue them to the border8 The <loriosi eFacerbated tensions bet/een the t/o lands* and there /ere e4en rumors of /ar if the #atai continued to 'rant the <loriosi refu'e8 The ne/s as presented by the to/n crier could not be more opposed to the 4ie/s offered by &hantien8 >Fcept for 9a/! Descendin'* the 4illa'ers too! this as proof that the 9arper lied to them8 9a/! !ne/ the onus placed upon the 9arper to spea! the truth8 =hat is more* he heard &hantien$s son'* and therefore understood that he could not perform but for the stren'th of his inte'rity8 And so it must be the To/n &rier /ho t/isted the facts8 The To/n &rier made no sacred oath to tell the truth8 9e claimed to spea! for the Ma'istrate and the >mperor* and /hile this 'a4e him authority in the eyes of the 4illa'e* it /as no indication of the 4eracity of his reports8 5ndeed* as 9a/! sa/ it* the crier$s alle'iance to the >mperor /as in itself an admission of bias8 =hile the rest of the 4illa'e 're/ to depend on the crier* and adopted his 4ie/s as their o/n* 9a/! disre'arded Აφ e4erythin' the man said8 .
The Truth about %trangers Then one day* 9a/! did find stran'ers hidin' in the forest8 5t /as late in the afternoon* follo/in' a day spent clearin' dead brush from /hat remained of the old commons8 9e had returned home /ith his father for dinner8 After/ards he 4olunteered to haul trash to the 4illa'e dumpin' 'rounds8 After disposin' of the 'arba'e* he snuc! out into the /oods* retrie4ed his flute* and climbed from tree to tree until he /as certain no one from the 4illa'e /ould hear him8 9e settled into a shoulder bet/een a limb and the trun! of a lar'e maple* and /as about to play his flute* /hen he heard the noise of someone tramplin' throu'h the underbrush8 6o* it /as t/o people8 9e thou'ht of trac!in' them do/n* but soon realiGed there /as no need8 They /ere headin' to/ard him8 Satisfied that he /as /ell hidden* he sat still and listened to their noisy passa'e throu'h the forest belo/8 Soon he cau'ht si'ht of them8 There /as a man in his midBthirties* and a boy of no more than ten8 The man carried a huntin' bo/ in his hand* and a Euarrel of arro/s /as slun' o4er his shoulder8 (rom his belt hun' a freshly slain rabbit8 The man at least made some attempt at stealth8 5t /as the boy /ho made most of the noise8 The lad trud'ed alon'* !ic!in' up dead lea4es and rattlin' branches8 9e seemed do/nhearted about somethin'8 Presently* he 'lanced sidelon' at the man and said* ?5$m sorry 5 missed that sEuirrel8@ ?That$s o!ay*@ the man* ob4iously the boy$s father* assured him8 Აφ ?But 5 lost us another arro/8@ ?=e ha4e more arro/s8@ ?(e/ enou'h8@ ?5t /as /orth the price* if you learned your lesson.Part Three — +nemies o$ the %tate &III. ne4er loose an arro/ in haste8@ ?5 !no/*@ the boy recited from rote* ?ne4er let 'o until you feel the shot already stri!in' home8 But 5 /as sure 5 had it* Da8@ ?=ere youH@ The man stopped and loo!ed at his son8 ?-r /ere you sure that if you did not loose the arro/ soon* your Euarry /ould 'et a/ayH@ The boy thou'ht a moment* and then nodded8 The father patted him on the bac! of the head8 ?5t is nothin' to be ashamed about* so lon' as you learn from the eFperience8@ ?Yeah* but that one rabbit$s little enou'h for all of us8@ ?5t is better than nothin'8@ The father set out a'ain* passin' ri'ht under the tree /here 9a/! perched8 ?=ho !no/s* perhaps /e /ill !ic! up somethin' else on our /ay bac!8@ ?Maybe /e$ll find a harteJ@ The boy$s disappointment disappeared8 ?A bi' harte that /ill feed us for a /ee!—or e4en a month8 Then /e could stop tra4elin' for a spell8 That /ould ma!e me so happyJ@ ?Maybe8@ 5n that one /ord* the father reached for his son$s anticipation* thou'h his 4oice held too much of sadness and disappointment8 They /ent on their /ay* the boy full of hope* and the father hardly darin' to hope8 9a/! Descendin' /atched them a /hile lon'er8 The father clearly !ne/ some /ood lore* but they /ere dressed as city fol!8 True* their clothes /ere old* possibly castB .
offs8 But somethin' about them said they /ere cityBbred* especially the boy8 And they had a family /aitin' for them8 Thou'h it /as doubtful they had permission to hunt in the >mperor$s forests* 9a/! could tell they /ere not outla/s8 Most of the 4illa'ers hunted in the forests /ithout permission8 9a/! li4ed there for days at a time* ta!in' 'ame* fish and fire/ood /ithout a license8 The constables rarely troubled themsel4es about it unless they /ere faced /ith a poacher huntin' for profit8 6o* these /ere normal fol!* much li!e he and the other 4illa'ers8 &urious as to their purpose in tra4elin' throu'h this land* 9a/! tuc!ed a/ay his flute and follo/ed after them8 9e tra4eled so silently* neither the son nor the father had any in!lin' they /ere bein' tailed8 Before they e4en reached their destination* 9a/! Descendin' !ne/ /here they /ere 'oin'8 The cree! that ran throu'h the old commons /ound its /ay throu'h the /oods until it emptied into a small la!e8 The forest opened up here* 'i4in' /ay to 'rassy hills and marshy bottoms8 Thou'h not suited for farmland* it /as a 'ood spot for huntin'* campin' and fishin'8 There /as many a campsite and fire pit atop the hills8 <ame birds and /aterfo/l /ere plentiful in the bottoms* and the la!e held many fish8 Sure enou'h* father and son made for a hilltop adDacent to the pond* /here the rest of the family /aited for them8 There /as the mother* t/o youn' 'irls* and a small boy8 The mother nursed an infant in front of the small fire* /hile the oldest dau'hter tended camp and the other children chased fireflies8 (rom a hi'h perch on the ed'e of the forest* 9a/! /atched as father and son reDoined their family8 The children 'athered round to see /hat 'ame the hunters had Აφ 5t /as a lar'e specimen* but it /ould not ba''ed8 They oh$ed and ah$ed o4er the rabbit8 'o far amon' the siF of them8 The father and mother* and the oldest son* !ne/ this8 But they said nothin'* content to ma!e the most of /hat little they had8 ?>lise*@ the mother called to the oldest dau'hter* ?'et the !ettle and fill it /ith /ater8 =e /ill ha4e a ste/8@ The dau'hter$s name confirmed they /ere city people8 9a/! Descendin' had lon' heard that city d/ellers lost the /ay of namin' their children in honor of the land about them8 They bore t/o names. their clan name and a common name8 And neither name bore any relation to /ho they truly /ere8 5t must be confusin'* /ith so many Da4yds and Maras* and /hole families of Burro/s and &ruppers8 9o/ did anyone !no/ /ho they really /ereH 9a/! reached out to hear the son's of this family8 They /ere a confused bunch* out of touch /ith their true nature. but they /ere 'ood people* as their son's /ere full of innocence and purity8 The father$s son' came throu'h the clearest* bearin' out 9a/!$s intuition that the man /as not ori'inally a city d/eller8 9is son' /anted to Doin /ith the land around him* thou'h it held bac!8 There /as somethin' restrainin' him* and somethin' sad about his son' as /ell8 The mother$s /as full of lo4e and sadness8 She used her son' almost entirely to harmoniGe the son's of all her family* lea4in' 4ery little for herself8 And her son' /as /ea!* as /ere all of their son's8 Their son's spo!e of troubles* po4erty and lac!8 5t /as clear to 9a/! they had not eaten in a lon' time8 They /ere all undernourished8 The older children !ept their son's muted /here a healthy child /ould sin' loud and free8 They /ere 'uardin' themsel4es* so as not to deplete /hat little they had8 The .
youn'er children san' /ith less inhibition* but their son's seemed to come and 'o* startin' and stoppin' li!e the fireflies they had been chasin'8 The infant san' in a pure thou'h sli'ht 4oice* announcin' its eFistence and eFclaimin' in /onder at the /orld in /hich it found itself8 =ith a start* 9a/! Descendin' realiGed he !ne/ this little one$s 4oice8 5t /as identical to the 4oice of (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n$s dead child8 Thou'h /here the 4oice of that spirit cried for release and return* this infant cried to find itself8 9o/ could this beH 9a/! had seen the spirit of the dead babe reach out to plant itself bac! in its mother$s /omb e4en as it departed8 9e /as sure Spotted (a/n /ould soon be pre'nant /ith her son$s second comin'8 &ould it be that this plantin' had not ta!en* and so the spirit cast about for another hostH 9a/! had to find out /hat /as 'oin' on here8 This family needed help8 Very clearly* they /ere star4in'8 A thin ste/ of one small rabbit /ould not be enou'h to feed them8 (rom their son's* 9a/! Descendin' could tell the mother and father /ere s!impin' on their o/n meals to 'i4e their children more8 The mother* in particular* /as /ea! as she nursed her baby and 'a4e her ener'y to the rest of her family8 9a/! decided to approach them and 'i4e them /hat aid he could8 &limbin' do/n from the trees* he dre/ his flute and prepared to play8 &omin' on them unannounced /ould startle the entire family and ma!e them /ary* and he had no desire to do that8 Very softly* he played a tune that harmoniGed /ith their o/n son's8 9e played Euietly for a /hile* then increased his 4olume until he /as sure his flute /as heard8 9e emer'ed from the forest to find all of the children standin' at the ed'e of their Აφ camp* /aitin' to catch a 'limpse of the musician8 Their father stood Dust behind them* bo/ in hand* ready to 'reet a stran'er or protect his family* as need be8 The mother continued to nurse her baby by the campfire8 Pretendin' to ha4e Dust cau'ht si'ht of them* 9a/! stopped playin' and /a4ed his flute at them* callin' out* ?=ell metJ@ ?=ell met* minstrelJ@ The father let do/n his 'uard8 A/are of the fi'ure he must present* 9a/! Descendin' tried not to shamble too much as he climbed the hill and closed the distance bet/een them8 ?5 am no minstrel* Dust a commoner from the 4illa'e Path$s >nd* on the far side of yonder forest8@ ?Path$s >ndH@ the father echoed8 ?Then /e ha4e reached the farm lands of the 6estled Plains8@ ?The 6estled Plains truly be'in another day$s tra4el from Path$s >nd* or so 5$m told8 You /ill be in the hills until you reach (oF :un8@ =ith these /ords* 9a/! closed the distance bet/een them8 9e bo/ed to the father8 ?5 am 9a/! Descendin'* son of #in'fisher and &ro/ Shado/8@ ?5 am :oban Meechum8@ :oban held out a hand8 9a/! heard of this city custom of sha!in' hands8 9e reached out his hand* and :oban too! it and pumped it up and do/n8 ?Yonder is my /ife* A'nis8 And this is our brood8@ ?You are a minstrel8@ The youn'est 'irl said in /onder8 9a/! i'nored the /ay the children eyed his hunch8 ?6o* Dust a commoner8@ ?You play the flute as /ell as any minstrel 5 ha4e heard*@ :oban allo/ed8 ?Than! you8@ 9a/! duc!ed his head a'ain8 ?5 had a 'ood teacher8@ .
a stric!en animal can turn fierce in its last moments8@ Yoseph bri'htened8 9a/! Descendin' led the older children to the far side of the thic!et8 There :oban and >lise found lon' branches to beat the 'rasses8 9a/! stationed them se4eral yards out* to either side of him8 ?(ollo/ my lead*@ he told them8 Dra/in' his flute* 9a/! felt for the son' of the thic!et8 9e played this son'* callin' out to all of the animals /ho inhabited the tall 'rasses8 The children /aited impatiently8 9a/! Descendin' added nuances to the son'* eFpressin' the hun'er of the family encamped close by8 Then he called for the animals li4in' here to ans/er this need* sharin' in their abundance8 6oddin' to :oban and >lise* he paraded throu'h the middle of the thic!et8 The elder children flan!ed him* flailin' /ith their stic!s8 =ithin a fe/ feet* they chased up a co4ey of Euail8 The father mana'ed to ta!e t/o on the /in'—4ery 'ood shootin' for an archer8 By the time they reached the far side of the thic!et* the father had also ba''ed t/o pheasants* a duc!* four redB/in'ed blac!birds* and a lar'e /oodchuc!8 9e had to put t/o arro/s into the /oodchuc! before it died8 Yoseph bore it proudly up to the campsite8 .?Coin us for dinner8@ :oban in4ited8 ?And then maybe /e can ha4e some music* if you don$t mind8@ The children made a chorus of sEueals and affirmations8 ?:obanJ@ The mother called them short8 ?Yes* my dearest8@ :oban attended to his /ife8 ?=e don$t ha4e enou'h for us*@ A'nis said in an aside that 9a/! politely pretended hot to hear8 ?My dearest*@ :oban said8 ?Music ma!es a li'ht heart* and a li'ht heart is easier to fill than a hea4y one8@ 9a/! had no intention of eatin' /hat little they had8 5ndicatin' :oban$s bo/* he said* ?Been huntin'H This is a 'ood land for it8@ ?Ah*@ :oban said8 ?5 mana'ed to ta!e a hare in the forest8@ ?The bottoms here are /here the best huntin' is found8@ 9a/! pointed to a thic!et of 'rasses and cattails at the base of the hill8 ?5$ll 4enture that a /al! throu'h that thic!et /ould !ic! up plenty of 'ame8 5f the children /ould help me s/eep throu'h* /e can 'i4e you opportunity to sho/ off your archery /ithout lea4in' the campsite8@ ?5 should li!e to see that*@ :oban said8 ?=e don$t /ant to trouble you*@ A'nis countered8 ?5t is no trouble for me*@ 9a/! assured her8 ?:ather* the trouble /ill be yours* as you /ill ha4e to do all the cleanin' and coo!in'8@ ?5 am eEual to the tas!8@ ?Very 'ood then8@ -f the children* 9a/! as!ed* ?=hat are your namesH@ The father ans/ered for them8 ?My eldest is named :oban* after his da8 6eFt is Აφ >lise8 And the youn'er t/o are Mair and Yoseph8@ The children cro/ded around* ready for instructions8 ?:oban and >lise* you /ill accompany me8 And you t/o*@ he spo!e to Mair and Yoseph* ?stay /ith your da8@ ?A//J@ Yoseph /anted to help* li!e his older brother8 ?Yours is an important Dob*@ 9a/! told him8 ?=hen your da hits his mar!* you must race o4er and retrie4e the priGe8 You must /atch closely* so as not to lose any 'ame that cra/ls off to die8 And be careful /hen retrie4in'.
Lea4in' the thic!et* the elder children raced up the hill to help clean the 'ame8 9a/! tarried a /hile lon'er to do some fora'in'8 =hen he topped the hill* the father a'ain shoo! his hand8 ?Than! you8 That is the best huntin' /e$4e had since lea4in' the city so many months a'o8@ A'nis smiled at him as she added meat to the pot8 9a/! offered her his hat* full of cattail tubers* and a couple of lee!s8 ?Peel these and add them to the ste/8 They /ill 'i4e it more substance8@ ?Than! you8@ She too! the 4e'etables8 ?=e /ill ha4e Euite a feast8@ 9a/! dre/ a handful of berries from his poc!et* offerin' them to Maire and Yoseph8 ?There$s a lar'e patch of huc!leberries do/n there as /ell8@ The children eyed the berries8 Maire ate one* and eFclaimed about ho/ 'ood it /as8 Yoseph piled se4eral into his mouth8 ?5f you !ids can find them* they /ill ma!e a nice dessert*@ 9a/! su''ested8 The children loo!ed to their mother for permission8 Yoseph$s chin /as stained /ith berry Duice8 ?Ta!e the buc!et /ith you8@ A'nis chuc!led8 ?And don$t eat too many* you$ll spoil your appetite8@ Maire 'rabbed a leather buc!et and the t/o youn'sters raced do/n the hill to pic! berries8 :oban senior lau'hed to see his family so /ell pro4ided8 ?5 ne4er /ould ha4e thou'ht to find such abundance ri'ht at our feet8@ ?You Dust ha4e to !no/ /here to loo!*@ 9a/! told him8 Აφ here8@ ?5$4e half a notion to build a house ri'ht ?That /ouldn$t be such a 'ood idea*@ 9a/! ad4ised8 ?This is part of the >mperor$s forests8 The local constabulary allo/s huntin' here* and short term campin'8 But they$d be sure to run you off if they cau'ht you buildin' a house8 The Ma'istrate /ould slap you /ith a period of indenture until you paid off the dama'e you$d done8@ :oban 'rimaced8 ?There$s little left but crumbs for the common fol! to fi'ht o4er in this empire8@ 9e shared a loo! /ith his /ife8 ?Sadly true*@ 9a/! a'reed8 ?And the >mperor seems intent on ta!in' /hat little /e do ha4e8@ ?The >mperor proclaims the freedom of the mar!et8@ :oban spat8 ?Bah* in this empire you are only as free as the money in your poc!et8 And the maDority of the /ealth is horded by the >mperor and his cronies* /hile the rest of us are left /ith empty poc!ets8@ ?Don$t spea! a'ainst the >mperor8@ A'nis /arned her husband8 ?=ho /ill hear me* but our friend hereH@ :oban demanded8 ?5t /as spea!in' a'ainst the >mperor that lost you your Dob* and our home* and dro4e us from the city Dust ahead of the >mperor$s troops*@ A'nis reminded him8 ?5f you don$t mind that ton'ue of yours* /e$ll ne4er be /elcome any/here8@ ?5$ll /atch my ton'ue /hen /e$re amon' others8 But out here /here there are none to hear* 5$ll enDoy /hat little freedom 5 do ha4e8@ 9e shouted o4er the hills and the la!e8 ?The >mperor is a thiefJ@ .
9a/! in4oluntarily loo!ed about him* at the enshado/ed hills* the still forest and the Euiet la!e8 ?Do not practice your freedom too loudly* e4en here8 Such a proclamation tra4els far* and this area of the >mperor$s lands does ha4e ears8@ :oban cau'ht himself as he /as about to shout a'ain8 ?-hH@ ?The constabulary maintains patrols alon' the >mperor$s :oad8 They$re e4er on the /atch for hi'h/aymen8 The /ord is that many dis'runtled /or!ers ha4e left the cities for a life of bri'andry* preyin' on the merchants and taF collectors /ho ply the roads8@ :oban lau'hed8 ?And so they turn the country fol! a'ainst us as /ell8 The city d/ellers are sorely oppressed8 Bet/een the pitiful /a'es and the taFes* there is nothin' left to feed a family but charity8 And there is too little of that to 'o around8@ ?5t is much the same out here in the country*@ 9a/! obser4ed8 ?>4ery day the Ma'istrate car4es do/n /hat little /e do ha4e* and then bleeds the rest /ith fines and taFes8@ ?5f the country fol! /ould Doin us*@ :oban dared hope* ?there$s no /ay the >mperor could stand a'ainst us8@ ?Little hope of that*@ 9a/! said8 ?The fol! in my to/n do not understand city people8 They are 4ie/ed as spoiled and pampered* li4in' off /hat our hard /or! pro4ides /ith no 'ratitude8@ ?6ot true*@ :oban protested8 ?Most city fol! are star4ed and /or!ed to death8@ ?=e ha4e a to/n crier /ho deli4ers the ne/s of the >mpire e4ery day*@ 9a/! told him8 ?5 ha4e thou'ht that most of /hat he says is propa'anda* but people belie4e him because he spea!s /ith the authority of the >mperor8 The crier is al/ays tellin' of murder and mayhem in the cities* and of the outla/s from the cities /ho ha4e ta!en to Აφ >4ery day he bears /ord of an outlyin' the countryside to prey on innocent tra4elers8 to/n that /as sac!ed in the nei'hborin' pro4ince8@ ?=hat rotJ@ ?And the Ma'istrate has beefed up the constabulary to patrol our roads8 They arrest anyone /ho has no 'ood reason for bein' on the roads8 Those /ho are arrested are put to the Euestion until they confess* and then they are eFecuted8 5f you ha4e no coin in your poc!ets* it is not safe to tra4el these roads8@ A'nis turned to her husband8 ?=hat are /e to doH@ ?5 /ould su''est you 'o bac! the /ay you came8@ 9a/! counseled8 ?That /e cannot*@ :oban stated8 ?Then tra4el at ni'ht*@ 9a/! ad4ised8 ?And 'i4e the roads and the to/n a /ide berth8@ ?This is sorry ne/s you brin' us*@ :oban said8 ?5 had hoped thin's /ere better in the country8 =e thou'ht to find a farmer in need of laborers8@ ?And maybe you shall at some isolated farm8 But be /ary of /ho you approach8@ ?9mmm8@ :oban loo!ed at his children listenin' silently* and sa/ the ne/ apprehension in their eyes8 ?5 shall ha4e to thin! on this8 5t is too bad /e cannot d/ell here8@ ?Aye* it is*@ 9a/! a'reed8 ?You are 'ood people* and 5 /ish 5 had better tidin's for you8@ ?=ell*@ :oban affected some small cheer* ?you ha4e brou'ht us a feast8@ ?Spea!in' of /hich*@ A'nis chimed in* ?supper is ready8@ This brou'ht the children to life8 Soon they /ere all eatin' the delicious ste/8 .
&IV. you are no common piper8 -nly a trained 9arper could play li!e that8@ 9a/! Descendin' bo/ed his head at the compliment8 ?$T/as a 9arper tau'ht me to play8 =hen he passes this /ay a'ain* he has promised to ta!e me as his apprentice8@ ?And if he doesn$t* 'et yourself to the 9arper$s 9all at 9i'hbrid'e8 You ha4e too much talent to /aste out here playin' for nau'ht but the hills and the li!es of us8@ ?5 could not as! for a better audience*@ 9a/! demurred8 The thou'ht of 'oin' to the 9all at 9i'hbrid'e !indled a fire /ithin8ઠ◌ (unny that he had ne4er thou'ht of attendin' ֤ the 9all8 9e had not felt himself /orthy8 Simply apprenticin' himself to &hantien /as a bi''er dream than he dared hope only a month before8 ?9a4e you e4er been to 9i'hbrid'eH@ ?Aye* /e ha4e*@ :oban affirmed* ?as it is the only brid'e crossin' the :i4er Laird bet/een here and &astlebury8@ ?And did you stop by the 9all of the 9arpersH@ ?That /e did8 5t is a 'rand buildin'* se4eral floors hi'h* and it ta!es up fully half the to/n8 The practice of the initiates fills the air /ith music and ma'ic8 =hen all of the 9arpers Doin to'ether to play up the sun at morn and play it do/n at ni'ht* the concordance of their son' blesses the land for miles around8 =hy 5 /as offered a place there myself—? A'nis po!ed her husband in the ribs8 ?<o on* :oban8 Don$t be tellin' your stories /ith a true born 9arper seated before ya8@ ?$Tis true*@ her husband insisted8 ?=as 5 not offered a position at the 9arper$s 9all8@ ?$T/as only a temporary Dob helpin' in the stables durin' the >mperor$s 4isit8@ ?And it /ould ha4e led to somethin' permanent* had there not been that ro/ bet/een the >mperor and the &ouncil of 9arpers8 =as 5 not offered an auditionH@ ?$T/as the open audition on the e4e of the full moon8@ To 9a/!* she eFplained* ?They offer a free public sta'e at the full moon to any /ho /ould perform8 6o/ and then an apprenticeship is offered to them that ha4e true talent8 6ot to bi' /inded bra''arts*@ she added /ith an eye to her husband8 . The Monkey and the rocodile After/ard supper* the children be''ed for music8 ?Soon enou'h*@ 9a/! told them8 ?(irst /e must clean these dishes8@ ?6onsense*@ A'nis insisted8 ?You are our honored 'uest8 Play your pipe /hile the rest of us clean up8 The music /ill ma!e the /or! 'o faster8@ ?Very /ell* then8@ 9a/! dre/ out his flute8 9e thou'ht of the pond and the /etlands* the forests and meado/s* and he thou'ht of the lon' road this family had tra4eled8 Surely there must be a place here for these 'ood people8 Then he be'an to play* a tune of the land* the lon' Dourney and the home /aitin' at the end of the road8 The Meechum$s /or!ed Euietly and soon had the dishes /ashed8 The !ettle of ste/ /as co4ered and left to /arm by the fire8 5t /ould feed them a'ain on the morro/8 =ith their chores done* the children found seats at 9a/!$s feet8 A'nis nursed her babe by the campfire* and :oban sat by her side* smo!in' his pipe8 6o one spo!e* so attenti4e /ere they to 9a/!$s tune8 =hen finally he brou'ht the music to resolution* :oban offered a /ord of praise8 ?5 ha4e heard minstrels enou'h* and e4en a 9arper or t/o* and 5 must say.
?5 /as /or!in' up a 'ood act of Du''lin' and balancin'8@ :oban fished three roc!s out of his poc!et and be'an to Du''le them8 9e did fine enou'h until he missed a roc! that landed on his toe8 ?And that$s the best you$4e e4er mana'ed8@ A'nis lau'hed alon' /ith the children as :oban 'roaned o4er his sore toe8 ?>nou'h of your stories8@ ?Yes* a storyJ@ :oban Cunior eFclaimed8 ?A storyJ A storyJ@ All of the children too! up the cry* turnin' to 9a/! Descendin'8 ?=ell* let me see if 5 can come up /ith somethin' for you8@ 9a/! fished around8 9e thou'ht of the 4illa'e and the countryside* and he thou'ht of his life8 There /asn$t much there of /hich to ma!e a story8 ?-f /hat /ould you li!e to hearH@ ?A mon!eyJ@ Little Yoseph chimed in8 ?A mon!ey* is itH@ 9a/! loo!ed out upon the /oods8 ?=ell* then* there /as a mon!ey that d/elt in the /oods outside of to/n8 9e li!ed to 4enture into the to/n /here he /ould steal food and 'et into all sorts of mischief8 The 4illa'ers /ere al/ays tryin' to catch him so they could put an end to his shenani'ans* but the mon!ey /as much too sly for them8 ?There /as a ri4er that flo/ed throu'h the /oods and by the side of the 4illa'e8 -nce a /ee!* the /omen /ould brin' their /ashin' do/n to the ri4er8 There /as a youn' mother named Mournin' Do4e /ho had a little baby* li!e your brother there8@ ?Mi!al*@ Yoseph put in8 ?=hy* yes* Mi!al /as the baby$s name8 Mournin' Do4e /ould brin' Mi!al s/addled in blan!ets* and lea4e him on the ri4erban! as she /ashed her laundry8 All the ֤ he did not cra/l too close to the /ater8 턐◌ /omen !ept an eye on Mi!al to ma!e sure Mournin' Do4e tried to time her laundry so that Mi!al /as ta!in' one of his lon' naps8@ 9a/! paused from his narrati4e lon' enou'h to tell the children* ?&oincidentally* Mi!al /as the name of the mon!ey as /ell8@ ?6o8@ :oban Cunior scrunched up his face8 ?Mon!ey$s don$t ha4e names8@ ?Sure they do8@ ?Do's ha4e names*@ >lise pointed out8 ?And cats too8@ ?Yes* but that$s because they are pets8@ :oban /ould ha4e none of it8 ?=e 'i4e them names8@ ?Mum and Da 'a4e us our names*@ his sister ar'ued8 ?But they are ours all the same8@ ?And the children of the 4illa'e 'a4e Mi!al his name lon' a'o8 They did that so they /ould ha4e someone else to blame /hen they had a mishap8 N5 didn$t do it* Mi!al did it8$@ ?5t /asn$t ri'ht of them to blame Mi!al*@ Yoseph spo!e up8 (rom the sour loo! he 'a4e his siblin's* it /as clear that he had often been used as a scape'oat8 ?6o* it /asn$t8@ 9a/! a'reed8 9e returned to the story8 ?The /omen of this 4illa'e /ere noted for the brilliantly colored cloth they /o4e8 5t /as said that the clothin' of their /omen put the sunset to shame8 And nobody /as a bi''er fan of their bri'htly colored cloth than Mi!al the mon!ey8 9e al/ays came do/n to the ri4erban! to /atch them on laundry day8 The /omen had lon' since learned to !eep a close eye on him* lest he steal some colorful item /hile their bac!s /ere turned8 .
?-ne day* Mournin' Do4e brou'ht her infant to the ri4er s/addled in a sheet of the bri'htest* purest red8 The baby /as sleepin' soundly* and she left him a safe distance from the ri4er as she Doined the other /omen /ashin' clothes8 ?Mi!al* the mon!ey* sa/ the red sheet and he Dust had to ha4e it8 =hen he sa/ /here Mournin' Do4e left it* he !ne/ it /as left there for him8 -ther/ise* she /ould ha4e ta!en it do/n to the /ater /ith the other laundry8 >4erybody !ne/ better than to lea4e colorful cloth lyin' distant8 So he crept o4er to the bundle of red* ready to ta!e it and run for the trees before anyone could stop him8 ?=hat about the babyH@ Little Maire /ondered8 ?The infant /as sound asleep*@ 9a/! eFplained8 ?9e /asn$t mo4in' or ma!in' a sound8 The mon!ey snatched hold of the red cloth and turned to run for the trees8 And Dust then the baby a/o!e /ith a sEuall8 Mi!al loo!ed into the bundle and found himself nose to nose /ith a /ailin'* /rithin' infant8 Baby Mi!al lashed out a hand and bopped the mon!ey on the nose8 ?Startled* the mon!ey dropped the bundle8 All the /omen /ere screamin' at him8 Mournin' Do4e ran to/ards him* shoutin'* NMi!al* my babyJ$ ?Mi!al left the bundle /here it /as and raced to the safety of the trees8 There he /atched /ith some interest as the mother reco4ered her infant* chec!in' to ma!e sure her baby /as not inDured8 -ne of the bi''er /omen came o4er to the tree /here Mi!al /as ensconced8 ?$You ha4e al/ays been a troublema!er* but you ha4e ne4er before tried to steal a baby8 You are a bad mon!ey*$ she admonished him8 ?You had best strai'hten up* or /e /ill hunt you do/n and put an end to youJ$ ) ?9e didn$t !no/ the baby /as in there*@ Yoseph defended the mon!ey8 ?6o*@ 9a/! a'reed8 ?But they did not !no/ that8@ ?Mournin' Do4e cradled her baby until he /ent bac! to sleep8 She had to finish her laundry yet* but she did not dare to ta!e another chance /ith the mon!ey* so she brou'ht her baby ri'ht do/n to the /ater$s ed'e* /here she could !eep a close eye on him8 ?6o/ it Dust so happened that a lar'e and ferocious crododile /as ma!in' its /ay do/n the ri4er* ha4in' eaten all the 'ame around its former nestin' 'round8 (rom his perch hi'h in the tree* Mi!al sa/ the crocodile approachin'* submer'ed in the /ater8 The mon!ey be'an sEua/!in' in /arnin'* Dumpin' from branch to branch8 ?All of the /omen loo!ed to Mi!al* not !no/in' there /as a crocodile approachin'8 Se4eral too! stones and handfuls of ri4er clay and thre/ them at the mon!ey8 Mi!al dod'ed out of the /ay* still shrie!in' his /arnin'8 ?Mournin' Do4e stepped a/ay from her laundry and her baby* /atchin' the /omen tryin' to pelt the nau'hty mon!ey8 There came a loud splash ri'ht behind her and she turned bac! Dust in time to see the crocodile launch itself into the ri4er* /ith her infant in its mouth8 ?$Mi!alJ Mi!alJ$ she cried as she splashed out after the monstrous reptile* but the crocodile outdistanced her /ith one thrust of its enormous tail8@ The 'irls eFclaimed in distress as they listened to the tale8 ?6ot so* Mi!al the mon!ey8 9e Dumped from the tree and bounded off the head of the /oman /ho /as cursin' him most 4ehemently8 Do/n the ri4erban! he raced8 9e passed Mournin' Do4e in an instant and soon came abreast of the crocodile8 .
?Mi!al had to scale fences and Dump from rooftop to rooftop to !eep up /ith the crocodile8 Behind him* the /omen follo/ed alon' more slo/ly* cryin' NMi!alJ Mi!alJ$ and NStop him* he has the babyJ$ ?A man /ho /as fiFin' a hole in his boat heard the cries and sa/ the mon!ey racin' by8 9e 'rabbed a paddle and s/un' it at Mi!al8 The mon!ey 'rabbed hold of the oar and used it to s/in' himself o4er the neFt fence8 ?There a /oman /ho stood on her bac! porch listenin' to the commotion let out a shrie! as Mi!al landed in her yard8 9e turned to her and chattered8 N5$ll teach you* you little beastJ$ the /oman opened the door to her house and /histled8 T/o lar'e do's rushed out and bounded after Mi!al8 ?=ith a sEuea!* Mi!al leapt up into a tree8 The do's bar!ed at him* Dumpin' up and snappin' their Da/s to sho/ him /hat they /ould do /hen they cau'ht him8 The crocodile /as 'ettin' a/ay8 ?Mi!al s/un' out on a limb and follo/ed it hand o4er hand* /ith the do's leapin' at his feet* until he could Dump onto the neFt fence8 Then he /as do/n and after the crocodile a'ain8 ?The crocodile led him on a chase ri'ht out of the 4illa'e* /hich /as all in a commotion by then8 Some boys /ith slin's pursued Mi!al* but he eluded them in a /heat field8 =hen he cau'ht up /ith the crocodile a'ain* the monster had climbed out of the ri4er on a sandbar to sun itself8 Mi!al /atched the reptile from some nearby reeds* /onderin' /hat to do8 ?9e noticed the crocodile scratchin' at the side of its mouth /ith a forepa/8 =hen the beast ya/ned* he heard the baby cryin' yet from deep in its cra/8 The red ◌ sheet in /hich the baby /as s/addled /as ɰ֩ t/isted around one of the crocodile$s teeth in a manner that /as most uncomfortable8 Try as it mi'ht* the crocodile could not unsna' its tooth8 Mi!al sa/ an opportunity8 Still huddled in the reeds* he said* NSay* that is a pretty red blan!et in your mouth8$ ?$Pretty maybe to you* but to me it is pain*$ the &rocodile replied8 ?$5 should lo4e to ha4e such a pretty red blan!et8$ ?$Then come and 'et it8$ ?$And ha4e you s/allo/ me up* oh no8$ ?$You /ould be doin' me a fa4or to rid me of this blan!et8 5 /ould not eat you for that8$ ?$6ot /hile the blan!et is cau'ht in your teeth8 But /hat is to !eep you from eatin' me after 5 remo4e itH$ ?$5 promise8$ ?$5 /ould not trust your /ord enou'h to stand in your mouth8 6o* 5$ll Dust bide my time8$ Mi!al lolled bac! amon' the reeds8 N5t shouldn$t be too lon' before you cho!e to death8$ ?This introduced a ne/ concern to the crocodile8 9e soon be''ed* NPlease help me8 5 promise not to eat you8$ ?$=ell* maybe if you let me prop your Da/s open /ith a stic! of /ood8$ ?The crocodile did not li!e this idea8 9e tried a'ain to pull loose the blan!et /ith his pa/* but only succeeded in laceratin' his 'ums /ith his sharp cla/s8 At last* he said* N-!ay* but you must remo4e the stic! /hen you are done8$ .
?$5$ll be ri'ht bac!8$ Mi!al scouted around until he found a stout limb* lon' enou'h and stron' enou'h to do the Dob8 ?:eturnin'* he stepped out onto the sandbar8 N5 am ready8 -pen your mouth8 And no funny business8$ ?The crocodile spread his Da/s /ide* and Mi!al /ed'ed the branch into place8 The baby /as cryin' deep in its cra/* t/istin' around in its s/addlin' blan!et8 The crocodile$s teeth /ere sharp and its breath smelled bad8 Mi!al reached in /ith one foot and tapped the croc$s ton'ue /ith his toe* pullin' his toe out Euic!ly8 The crocodile instincti4ely tried to clamp its Da/s shut* but the branch /as too stron' for it to brea!* and too firmly set in place for it to dislod'e8 ?Mi!al 'athered his coura'e and climbed into the crocodile$s mouth8 5t$s ton'ue /as slimy* and its teeth /ere 'reen /ith al'ae8 Mi!al could hardly breathe for the foul odor8 NYou really need to learn about proper dental hy'iene8$@ The children lau'hed8 ?The crocodile 'rumbled and the branch crea!ed8 Mi!al prepared himself to leap free8 NStop mo4in' or 5 /on$t help you8$ ?The crocodile relaFed8 Mi!al freed the blan!et from its tooth8 Then he tried to pull the baby up from its cra/* but the crocodile ti'htened its throat* refusin' to 'i4e up the tender morsel8 ?:eachin' outside* Mi!al 'athered up a handful of reeds and used them to tic!le the croc$s tonsils8 The croc lashed its head about* but Mi!al held his place* tu''in' on the baby$s s/addlin'8 At last the crocodile ya!!ed and its throat muscles loosened8 -ut of its mouth tumbled Mi!al* the blan!et and the baby8@ ɰ֩◌ ?YayJ@ The 'irls and little Yoseph cheered8 ?6ot so fast*@ 9a/! hushed them8 ?-n his /ay out* Mi!al bounced a'ainst the branch* !noc!in' it loose8 The crocodile shoo! it out of his mouth and turned on the mon!ey /ith a roar8 ?Mi!al snatched up the baby and leapt out of the crocodile$s /ay* but he /as not Euic! enou'h8 The crocodile snapped its mouth shut on the end of his tail8 ?$6o/ 5 ha4e you*$ the crocodile 4o/ed throu'h its clenched teeth8 ?Mi!al stru''led to pull free8 The crocodile pulled bac!* dra/in' the mon!ey closer8 ?Cust then* Mournin' Do4e appeared8 Mi!al thrust the baby into her arms8 Then he 'rabbed the stout limb and Dumped atop the crocodile$s snout8 9e landed it such a blo/ bet/een the eyes that the branch crac!ed8 The croc$s eyes 'laGed o4er for a moment and Mi!al pulled his tail free thou'h the end of it /as shredded8 ?The crocodile reco4ered and /ould ha4e been on him a'ain* but throu'h the reeds came a cro/d of 4illa'ers armed /ith clubs* pitchfor!s and aFes8 The crocodile too! one loo! at them and fled into the ri4er* ne4er to be seen a'ain8 ?The 4illa'ers turned on Mi!al* and he thou'ht that /as the end8 But Mournin' Do4e rushed to his side8 NDo not touch the mon!eyJ 9e sa4ed my baby8$ ?She told them her tale* and the 4illa'ers sa/ Mi!al in a ne/ li'ht8 They /elcomed him bac! to the 4illa'e as a hero* /rapped in the red blan!et he had so co4eted8 ?(rom then on* the 4illa'ers did e4erythin' they could to please the mon!ey8 They made him a home in one of their temples and brou'ht him trays of fruit and .
4e'etables to eat e4ery day8 The /omen of the 4illa'e made him many colorful blan!ets and sheets8 ?Mi!al ne4er had it so 'ood8 But after a fe/ months he tired of the life of luFury8 -ne day he 4anished8 Soon after* thin's be'an to disappear — food* trin!ets* bri'ht clothes8 >4entually* Mi!al /as identified as the culprit8 =hen people cau'ht him up to mischief* they pretended to scold him and chase after him* but they al/ays let him 'et a/ay* and under their breath* they blessed him for sa4in' the child that /as his namesa!e8@ ?9urrahJ@ The children applauded* and their parents as /ell8 ?See* he really /as a 'ood mon!ey*@ Yoseph said8 ?Yes* he /as8@ 9a/! a'reed8 ?<et yourself to 9i'h Brid'e*@ :oban Senior told him8 ?You are a 9arper born8@ ?Many than!s8@ 9a/! Descendin' bo/ed his head8 =hen he lifted it* he had his flute in hand8 ?And no/ for some music8@ ?YeaJ@ The children /ere all on their feet8 9a/! played a number of li4ely reels and Di's as the children danced around the campfire8 :oban e4en mana'ed to 'et A'nis on her feet for a dance* until the baby started cryin'8 5t /as 'ettin' late8 A'nis /anted to put the children to bed* but they /ere too /ound up8 9a/! played a slo/* soft lullaby* /indin' the son's of each child — e4en the baby — in /ith the melody8 5t /as a relaFin' and resti4e piece8 5n no time* they /ere all asleep* lea4in' the three adults sittin' around the campfire8 9a/! laid aside his flute and A'nis handed him a cup of herb tea8 ?5 say it a'ain*@ :oban told him o4er his o/n cup* his lo4in' /ife close by his ɰ֩◌ 'et yourself to 9i'h Brid'e8 They are sure side* ?if this 9arper of yours does not return* to ha4e a place for you at the 9all8@ ?(irst 5 need the blessin' of my family8@ ?Surely you already ha4e it8@ :oban noted the loo! of doubt pass o4er 9a/!$s face8 ?They can$t deny that it is /here you belon'* and if they ha4e heard you playM8 They ha4e heard you playH@ ?6o8@ 9a/! admitted8 ?Play for themJ@ A'nis ur'ed him8 ?5f one of my brood could perform li!e that* 5 /ould 'ladly ta!e the child to 9i'h Brid'e myself8@ ?Aye* that /e /ould*@ :oban a'reed8 ?And /or! to pay the tuition* if necessary8 =hen they hear you in 9i'h Brid'e* they /ill ha4e no choice but to ma!e a place for you8@ ?And your family /ill ha4e no choice but to 'i4e you their blessin'*@ A'nis added8 They tal!ed a /hile lon'er* and then 9a/! Descendin' too! his lea4e* promisin' to return on the morro/* if the Meechums tarried one more day8 ?That is easily done*@ :oban told him8 ?=e need a rest from the road8@ -n his /ay bac! to the 4illa'e* 9a/! Descendin' /ondered if there /as a place in their community for his ne/ friends8 They /ere 'ood people* surely the to/n could ma!e room for such as them8 9e decided to broach the subDect /ith his parents and his 'randfather8 Then he could brin' the in4itation to the Meechums8 They /ould be so happy to ha4e a ne/ home8 5t /ould be a 'ood thin' for all8 Yet* in the bac! of his mind* .
there /as a little ni''lin' Euestion about the infant* Mi!al* /ho should ha4e been born to (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n8 ɰ֩◌ .
&V. Thie.es and *itches 9is parents /ere /aitin' up for him8 The moment he entered the house* he !ne/ somethin' /as /ron'8 ?=here ha4e you beenH@ 9is mother demanded8 ?-ut in the /oods8@ ?5 don$t !no/ /hy you spend so much time out there*@ she /ent on8 ?Mean/hile the crier has brou'ht bad ne/s for the entire 4illa'e8@ ?The boy had no /ay of !no/in'8@ 9is father spo!e in his defense8 ?6o responsibility* more li!e8@ ?=hat ne/s from the crierH@ 9a/! as!ed8 ?-nly that the Ma'istrate has appropriated the old commons for the >mperor8 =e made so much money clearin' it*@ she directed a dar! loo! at both husband and son* ?/e 'a4e the Ma'istrate a taste of /hat it is /orth8 And /ith the forest 'ro/in' bac! so fast* they ha4e ta!en it to start their o/n enterprise8@ ?But that /oods has been the 4illa'e commons for 'enerations8@ 9a/! Descendin' protested8 ?-nly by the 'race of the >mperor and his Ma'istrate8@ &ro/ Shado/ /as Euic! to point out8 ?They /ill build a mill at the ed'e of the /oods8 And /e /ill /or! it* and clear the /oods in our fealty to the >mperor8@ ?5n fealtyH@ 9a/! Descendin' echoed8 ?=ithout /a'es*@ &ro/ Shado/ clarified8 ?5t /ill cut into the time /e ha4e to attend to our o/n li4elihood8 And it /ill render impossible payin' off the remainin' fines from attendin' that minstrel sho/8@ ɰ֩◌ #in'fisher cast his eyes to the floor8 ?You should feel 'uilty8@ She Dabbed at her husband8 ?=e /ouldn$t be in this mess if you hadn$t attended that performance* and let yourself be seen there8@ ?=e didn$t !no/ it /ould end so badly8@ ?9mm8@ &ro/ Shado/ turned up her nose8 ?5 sa/ no need to 'o8 6or did my father8 =hy couldn$t you be more li!e himH@ #in'fisher set his Da/ and said nothin'8 ?9e is abo4e reproach* and he /ill be little hurt by this* beyond the loss of his share of the old commons8@ ?5 /ill find some /ay to ma!e this ri'ht8@ #in'fisher lifted his head8 ?And 5 shall help*@ 9a/! added8 ?You t/oJ@ &ro/ Shado/ harrumphed8 ?You t/o are /orthless enou'h8 5 shall ha4e to 'o to /or! if /e are to sur4i4e8 Tomorro/ a number of us ladies are ha4in' a meetin'8 =e shall find a /ay to !eep food on our tables /hile you men ser4e your fealty8@ #in'fisher cast his head do/n a'ain* ashamed that he must let his /ife pro4ide for him8 ?5 already ha4e an idea8@ &ro/ Shado/ announced8 ?The meado/s bear plenty of fruit* and the ladies of this to/n are noted for our Dams and Dellies8 =ith a little more effort* /e could turn it into a business8 And 5 thin! it should do 4ery /ell8@ ?And /hat of the Dars* and eFtra cannin' eEuipmentH 6ot to mention the cost of su'ar8@ .
their son had already been reborn to the Meechums8 Throu'hout the mornin'* he could not sha!e the feelin' that the babe /as lost out on the hill* lost and cryin'8 6ot lon' after lunch* the &hief &onstable stopped by to press (ield Mouse and a couple of other members of the constabulary into ser4ice8 9e had a /ord /ith them and then /ent on his /ay as they 'athered their thin's and hurried after8 As the &hief spo!e to them* (ield Mouse could not help 'lancin' at 9a/! Euestionin'ly8 After the &hief departed* (ield Mouse as!ed 9a/!* ?=ere you playin' your flute on the hills east of the /oods last ni'htH@ ?Yes8@ ?(armer Lon' <rain came into to/n to report music durin' the ni'ht8 9e fears there mi'ht be robbers in the hills8@ ?There are no robbers out there*@ 9a/! insisted8 ?=e$re bein' sent to patrol the hills8 You left no si'n of your presenceH 6othin' that /ould point bac! to youH@ ?6o8@ 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht of the Meechums* but dared not to say anythin'8 ?Best you stic! around to/n this e4enin'8@ (ield Mouse Doined the other constables* lea4in' 9a/! and the men to continue /ith their /or!8 The afternoon passed slo/ly for 9a/! Descendin'8 9e !ept loo!in' to the /oods east of to/n8 Se4eral times his father and the other men directed his attention bac! to /hat he /as doin'8 .?You lea4e us to /orry about that8 You men /ill be busy enou'h fulfillin' your duty to the >mperor8 =or! on the mill be'ins tomorro/* and you ha4e !ept us up late enou'h this ni'ht*@ she said the 9a/!8 ?Best you both 'et some sleep8 You ha4e many days of hard /or! ahead of you8@ 9a/! did not bother mentionin' the family Meechum8 9e realiGed the last thin' the 4illa'e needed /as another set of mouths to feed8 9e slept poorly that ni'ht* his thou'hts returnin' a'ain and a'ain to the family encamped on the hill8 (or some un!no/n reason* he felt anFious for them8 9e /orried they /ould run afoul of the constabulary and the Ma'istrate8 =hen he did sleep* he dreamed of a little baby cryin'8 5t /as the baby* Mi!al8 9a/! Descendin' /as on the road to 9i'h Brid'e /hen he heard the cryin'8 A crocodile /as bearin' the infant do/n the ri4er in its Da/s8 9a/! left off his Dourney to 'i4e chase* but he ne4er cau'ht up /ith the beast8 9e !ne/ the crocodile bore the baby to Dud'ement8 The infant$s cries haunted him e4en after he a/o!e8 9e /anted to hurry out to the family on the hill and /arn them to flee8 Yet he had to /or! /ith his father and the other 4illa'ers* di''in' the foundation for the mill8 9e told himself a'ain and a'ain there /as no reason for his apprehension8 Still there /as no easin' his anFiety8 (ield Mouse /as amon' those /ho turned out that mornin' to clear 'round for the mill8 9a/! had a brief opportunity to spea! /ith him8 9e had an e4enin' patrol of the roads* and so his mornin' /as free to sho/ his fealty to the >mperor8 9e than!ed 9a/! a'ain for helpin' him and his /ife8 ?Spotted (a/n is doin' /ell no/8 -ur marria'e is bac! on trac!8 -f course* the income from the constabulary is helpin' to ease the tensions at home8 =e are tal!in' ɰ֩◌ about ha4in' a child a'ain8@ ?5 /ish you luc!8 You /ill ma!e fine parents8@ Despite his blessin's* 9a/! could not help thin!in' that it /as too late.
?Stop your daydreamin'* lad*@ his father told him8 ?You$4e plenty of time to play in the /oods8@ They !noc!ed off /or! late in the day8 9a/! Descendin' and #in'fisher returned home to eat the mea'er meal &ro/ Shado/ prepared for them8 &ro/ Shado/ /as in a foul mood8 The ladies$ meetin' had not 'one as she hoped8 ?They /ouldn$t e4en consider ma!in' a business of our preser4es*@ she complained8 ?They said /e don$t ha4e the money to in4est in it8 And it /ould ta!e too lon' to 'et it off the 'round8 >at your beans and cornbread*@ she admonished her son8 ?5$m not that hun'ry8@ The beans /ere unseasoned and the cornbread /as burned8 Any/ay* 9a/! had no appetite* so concerned /as he for the Meechums8 9e /anted to slip a/ay as soon as possible to 'o /arn them8 ?You$ll eat the dinner 5 made you8@ 9is mother commanded8 She 'lared at him until he sho4eled a spoonful of beans into his mouth8 ?So /hat did the ladies decideH@ #in'fisher as!ed to di4ert her attention from the boy8 ?=hy* /e$re 'oin' to ta!e up the /or! you lea4e idle /hile you do your fealty8 That /on$t help us out of the hole /e$re in8 6obody here !no/s ho/ to thin! bi'8 5$4e half a mind to start a cannin' business all by myself* Dust to sho/ the /hole bunch of you8 >at your cornbreadJ@ 9a/! had stopped eatin' because he thou'ht he heard the to/n crier$s bell8 There it /as a'ain* louder and more distinct8 #in'fisher put do/n his spoon and rose from the table8 ?Must be a special announcement8@ ◌ ?You ha4en$t finished your dinner8@ɰ֩ &ro/ Shado/ obDected8 ?This could be important*@ #in'fisher said8 ?=e$d best listen8@ 9a/! Doined him as he opened the door8 Many of their nei'hbors stood in their door/ays as /ell* as the crier passed do/n the street* shoutin' his ne/s8 ?Bri'ands cau'ht outside of to/nJ =itchcraft in the hillsJ The Ma'istrate commands e4eryone to assemble in the to/n sEuare to see Dustice meted outJ@ 9a/! Descendin' felt ill at this report8 (ortunately* neither of his parents noticed ho/ pale he became8 ?=e$d best attend8@ #in'fisher reached for his Dac!et and cap8 ?=hat of dinnerH@ &ro/ Shado/ as!ed8 ?5t /ill !eep8@ 9a/! Descendin' /as already out of the door8 9e did not thin! of the e4enin' chill8 ?The Ma'istrate bid e4eryone to attend8@ #in'fisher reminded his /ife8 ?Alon' /ith you thenJ 5$ll follo/ after 5 ta!e care of these dishes8 Dinner /as ruined any/ay8@ 9a/! Descendin' hurried to the sEuare* dreadin' /hat he !ne/ he /ould find8 The sEuare /as pac!ed /ith to/nspeople8 There /ere easily t/ice as many people as had attended &hantien$s performance8 The air at this 'atherin' /as not festi4e* it /as 'rim8 There /ere no Do4ial 'reetin's* and little tal!in'8 5nstead of a murmur of anticipation* there /as a 'rumble of an'st* and e4en that /as made /ith reluctance8 These people had ta!en time from their troubled li4es to see the >mperor$s Dustice ser4ed .
the desire to see someone hurt and to /atch someone suffer8 The son' of this audience /as discordant and strident /ith dar! intent8 They /ere ma!in' of this e4ent a ceremony to banish their o/n misfortune by transferrin' it to a human sacrifice8 Sensin' that this mob /ould easily turn on anyone /ho incurred their ire* ta!in' out all of their ill feelin's on the unfortunate and assurin' themsel4es in the process that they /ere better than their scape'oat and more deser4in'* 9a/! stood at the ed'e of the sEuare* outside of the cro/d8 9e stood in the shado/ of the inn and tried to ma!e himself inconspicuous8 There /as his 'randfather* standin' prominently to/ard the front of the audience8 5ron Ca/ loo!ed about and spotted #in'fisher8 9a/! duc!ed behind the corner of the inn8 5ron Ca/ /a4ed to #in'fisher and called him o4er8 9a/! sa/ his father obediently pic! his /ay to 5ron Ca/$s side8 5n the process* his father* /ho /as a 'ood and 'entle man* became a part of the mob8 9a/! Descendin' had ne4er felt so separate from his family and the 4illa'ers8 5n this moment* he understood ho/ he truly feared his nei'hbors and relati4es* and ri'htly so8 9e /anted to run from the sEuare and the 4illa'e* retrie4e his flute and set out to find &hantien /here4er the 9arper mi'ht be8 -r set out for 9i'h Brid'e and the sanctuary he thou'ht to find at the 9arper$s 9all8 But he could not 'o* not until he found out /ho /as the intended sacrifice8 9e /atched his mother arri4e* ma!in' her /ay throu'h the audience to stand ɰ֩◌ her father /ere so much ali!e* nose in the bet/een her father and her husband8 She and air* stiff and Dud'mental8 9a/! Descendin' felt such shame and repu'nance* he /anted to shout o4er the cro/d* renouncin' his family and his tribe8 Still he !ept silent* /atchin' and /aitin'8 >4en from the bac! of the cro/d* he could see /ell enou'h8 The Ma'istrate sat on a tall stool* brimmin' /ith all of the authority 4ested in him by the >mperor8 5f 9a/! 'lanced at him side/ays* he could almost see the serpent &hantien had once disrobed8 At the si'ht of him* 9a/!$s shoulder ached /ith the old /ound /here this reptilian e4il had raped his po/er8 9e fou'ht for breath* feelin' as thou'h he had been !ic!ed in the stomach8 Beside the Ma'istrate stood the &hief &onstable* posin' in his position of office8 The &hief /as nearly as formal and dispassionate in his bearin' as the Ma'istrate8 At the corners of the dais /ere stationed four constables bearin' spears8 (ield Mouse /as amon' them* tryin' not to loo! ill at ease8 (rom a thic! limb of the chestnut tree hun' three nooses of thic! hemp* one shorter than the other t/o8 5n front of the dais* three /ooden posts /ere planted in the 'round8 Thou'h he could not see it throu'h the audience* 9a/! supposed there /as /ood piled around the posts — /ood cut from their o/n 4illa'e commons8 The Ma'istrate nodded to the &hief &onstable* /ho in turn spo!e to (ield Mouse and the other constables8 (ield Mouse and the others used their spears to clear a path to the dais8 The cro/d hushed as the prisoners /ere ushered out of the stables by a sEuadron of the >mperor$s <uard8 9a/! Descendin' nearly cried out as he sa/ his /orst fears realiGed8 .to deser4in' miscreants8 There /as nothin' to be 'rateful for here in the sEuare this e4enin'8 9a/! Descendin' sensed in this audience a terrible hun'er.
that you /ill burn at the sta!e and your ashes be scattered in the 4illa'e dump8@ ?6oJ@ Three 'uards stru''led to hold :oban still8 (ield Mouse and another constable held the boys8 >lise and Maire cried out as 'uards dre/ near /ith burnin' torches8 ?Let the sentence be carried out*@ the Ma'istrate commanded8 The 'uards laid their brands on the fire/ood stac!ed at the base of the posts8 The 'irls screamed e4en louder as the /ood cau'ht flame8 A'nis bit her ton'ue in the effort to !eep from cryin' out8 :oban Dunior bro!e free of (ield Mouse and stumbled from his stool8 9e s/un' free* /rithin' and cho!in' as the noose pulled ti'ht8 ?:obanJ@ 9is father fou'ht all the harder8 (ield Mouse stepped o4er to retrie4e the boy and return him to his stool8 The Ma'istrate shoo! his head and (ield Mouse stood bac! to let the boy cho!e8 .5t /as the Meechum family8 :oban led the /ay* /al!in' on his o/n /ith his hands trussed behind him8 The t/o boys follo/ed him* led by 'uards to either side8 Behind them came A'nis* /eepin' but /al!in' on her o/n as did her husband8 And behind her 'uard$s carried the t/o 'irls* /ho cried /ith terror8 :oban and his sons /ere stood on stools and the nooses /ere placed around their nec!s8 A'nis cried out at the si'ht8 Then she and the 'irls /ere led o4er to the posts8 A'nis nearly fainted* but reco4ered as she /as tied to the center post* her dau'hters at her sides8 The Ma'istrate stood forth and spo!e8 ?Does the condemned ha4e any last /ords to sayH@ 6one of the Meechums made a response* but for the /eepin' of the mother and dau'hters8 The Ma'istrate turned to :oban senior8 ?Do you /ish absolution before the sentence is carried outH@ :oban tried to spit at the Ma'istrate* but his mouth /as too dry8 T/o of the >mperor$<uards started for/ard* but the Ma'istrate /a4ed them bac!8 9e /al!ed around to face A'nis8 ?Do you and your dau'hters /ish to repentH@ ?Shame on youJ@ A'nis found her 4oice8 ?Shame on all of youJ@ The Ma'istrate started to /al! a/ay* but A'nis shouted at him8 ?You are a monsterJ =ould there /as one Mi!al to sa4e another from your Da/sJ@ >4eryone thou'ht her out of her mind* babblin' nonsense8 -nly to 9a/! Descendin' did her /ords re'ister8 -ne of the >mperor$s 'uards struc! her in the stomach* silencin' her8 ?A'nisJ@ :oban cried out8 A 'uard behind him had to hold him steady* or he ɰ֩◌ /ould ha4e stepped off his stool and stran'led in the attempt to reach his /ife8 The children /ere all cryin'8 The baby* 9a/! thou'ht* the infant Mi!al /as not amon' them8 9e /as sure A'nis /as spea!in' to him8 =hat /as she tryin' to tell himH The Ma'istrate /ent on* announcin' his sentence8 ?A'nis Meechum* you and your dau'hters ha4e confessed to /itchcraft8 Specifically* that you did manifest the 9orned -ne out in the hills and dance to his pipes8@ A 'asp /ent throu'h the 4illa'ers8 ?(or this most heinous of acts* there can be only one sentence.
?:oban Meechum*@ the Ma'istrate spo!e to the father8 ?You and your sons are 'uilty of armed robbery* and of consortin' /ith /itches8 You are hereby sentenced to han' by the nec! until you are dead8 Your bodies /ill be disposed of in the city dump8@ ?Damn youJ@ :oban cursed8 Before the Ma'istrate could 'i4e the si'n to carry out the sentence* he leapt from his stool* fallin' hard to snap his nec!8 The Ma'istrate stood /atchin' his limp body s/in' for a moment8 Then he turned to the 'uard standin' behind Yoseph and 'a4e him a nod8 The 'uard !ic!ed out his stool and Yoseph fell8 )nfortunately* the small lad did not ha4e enou'h /ei'ht to ma!e a Euic! end8 9e /rithed from the rope* cho!in' slo/ly li!e his brother beside him8 The flames /ere leapin' up to embrace the /omen8 The t/o 'irls stopped screamin'8 5nstead* they emitted a hi'hBpitched* unearthly !een that chilled all /ho listened8 A'nis fou'ht bac! her o/n cries* loo!in' steadily out o4er the cro/d8 9a/! could ha4e s/orn she /as loo!in' at him8 Yet e4en at his distance* he could see that somethin' in her eyes /as already dead and unseein'8 9e /anted to lea4e* but there /as one thin' he had to determine first8 9e reached out to the mother* and much thou'h he did not /ant to* he listened to her son'8 There /as a 'reat deal of ra'e in her son'* and an immense pain beyond endurin'8 Yet there /as in her 4oice a 'ro/in' purity that brou'ht a merciful distance bet/een her and the e4ents playin' out here8 She /as lea4in'. she /as lettin' 'o8 9a/! /anted to respect her pri4acy and allo/ her /hat relief she could find8 But he had to send one outside theme to her* the motif of one not present8 A'nis paused in her retreat* returnin' to the torment of her immolation lon' enou'h to ans/er him8 And then she /as 'one8 And so /as 9a/!8 슰τ .
"escue and Haunting 9a/! Descendin' shambled throu'h to/n as Euic!ly as possible* runnin' from the horrible obscenity of the to/n sEuare* runnin' in hope of sa4in' at least one soul8 =hen he reached the /oods he too! to the trees* pic!in' up his pace8 9e fle/ throu'h the canopy* leapin' from limb to limb /ithout thin!in'* /ithout e4en loo!in' for his neFt purchase8 9e /as /holly consumed by the one refrain sent to him by A'nis Meechum as the flames consumed her body8 9e follo/ed that clarion call eFclusi4ely8 5t /as his impetus* it /as his path* and by it he fle/ directly to that hill /here the Meechum$s had been encamped* /here he feasted /ith them a scarce t/entyBfour hours past* /here he performed for them little dreamin' the sound of his flute /ould dra/ them to their death* /here he told them the story of the crocodile and the mon!ey — that story that A'nis co4ertly used to communicate to him her one note of sal4ation for the only remainder of her belo4ed family8 So intent /as he on that note* that clarion call* that his eyes only cleared /hen he stood on the hill* at the ruins of the campsite8 The Meechum$s belon'in's /ere stre/n about the hilltop8 Their tents /ere ripped to shreds8 The ste/ pot lay on its side by the fire pit* the remains of the ste/ miFed /ith ashes and bits of charred /ood8 9e found :oban$s bo/ bro!en in half8 But no/here did he see any si'n of the baby* Mi!al8 9e listened* but heard only the /ind in the reeds8 The reeds8 9a/! Descendin' 'alloped do/n the hillside* into the thic!et /here a day a'o the eldest children helped him !ic! up 'ame for :oban to shoot8 There /as no 'ame here no/8 6or /as there a baby to be found8 Mi!al had to be here8 =here else /ould his mother hide him8 9a/! can4assed e4ery inch 슰τ of the thic!et8 9e loo!ed in e4ery clump of reed and 'rass8 9e combed throu'h the thic!et a second time* until he had to admit. the child /as not there8 9e returned to the campsite8 Turnin' a circle* he sur4eyed the surroundin' countryside* the forest* the hills* the /etlands* the la!e8 =here could she ha4e hidden the babe on such short noticeH 9e loo!ed for clues a'ain amon' the rifled debris of the camp8 Scattered arro/s — some bro!en battered coo!/are* soiled clothes — many of them /et* torn can4as8 9e pic!ed up a /et cloth diaper* trampled into the 'round8 5t /as stiff /ith dirt8 5t da/ned on him that he /as 'oin' about this all /ron'8 9e !ne/ this baby before he e4er met any of the Meechums8 =hen first he laid eyes on this family he had !no/n the infant by its son'8 +uietin' the chaos of emotions /ithin* he recalled that simple melody* unadorned by any of the 4ariations a full life /ould brin' it8 As the tune came to him* he /histled* repeatin' it se4eral times before pausin' to listen8 There8 9e heard it 4ery faint8 The cry of a babe8 5t /as so /ea!* it hardly carried abo4e the /ind in the reeds and the lappin' of /ater8 Then all of the pieces fit to'ether for him.&VI. the /et clothes* the story of the crocodile and the mon!ey* A'nis$s final messa'e to him8 >4en as it came to'ether* he raced do/n the side of the hill* to the spot alon' the ban!s of the pond /here A'nis had been /ashin' clothes /hen the constables came for her family8 There /ere /et clothes on the shore and some in the /ater* /here she /as busy scrubbin' them /hen she heard her children scream8 At the sound of trouble* A'nis left her unfinished laundry to run bac! to the campfire and find out /hat /as /ron'8 And there she left her baby8 She hadn$t hidden .
him8 She left him s/addled in a /ic!er bas!et* safe and sleepin' as his family /as rounded up and marched off8 9a/! found the baby* cryin' in his bas!et8 The baby too! one loo! at him and be'an /ailin' /ith ne/ force8 9a/! 'ently too! the babe* cradlin' it in his stron' arms8 ?There* there8@ 9e hu''ed the baby and sto!ed it reassurin'ly8 ?There* there8@ Soon he /as cryin' alon' /ith the baby* cryin' for the loss of the infant$s family* and for the sal4ation of this one innocent baby8 Mi!al /as /et* cold and hun'ry8 9a/! could do little for him but ta!e off his soiled diaper and hold him close for /armth8 And then he !ne/ /hat he must do8 9e had the ans/er to that /hich had been puGGlin' him since first he cau'ht si'ht of the infant8 And that ans/er /as both sad and miraculous8 9a/! could not belie4e an entire family /ould sacrifice their li4es Dust so an infant could resume its interrupted eFistence8 There /as no Euestionin' the /ays of the /orld8 9e had seen animals !illed by predators /ith /hat appeared to be 'reat pain* yet !ne/ that someho/ they /ent to their deaths /illin'ly — e4en 'ladly — thou'h they fou'ht a'ainst it the /hole time8 The a/ful beauty of this /orld /as o4er/helmin'8 The Meechums must ha4e lo4ed this little one a 'reat deal to ma!e such a sacrifice8 ?&ome@ he told the /ee lad8 ?Let$s 'et you out of here8 5$m ta!in' you home8@ KKK The 4illa'e /as Euiet that ni'ht8 After the eFecutions* e4eryone hurried home8 The 4illa'ers* /ho had been so 4ociferous /hile the sentences /ere carried out* /ere no/ subdued8 They spo!e only in /hispers*슰 /hen they dared spea! at all8 They !ept their τ eyes cast do/n so they /ould not ha4e to ac!no/led'e their presence to their nei'hbors8 6o/ that it /as o4er* fe/ could face the callous murder of an entire family — e4en a family of stran'ers Dud'ed robbers and /itches — not in their to/n8 Much less could they admit the part they had played in it8 Best to hurry home and 'o to bed* hopefully to sleep /ithout ni'htmares and so put the distance of ni'ht bet/een them and this sorry affair8 The >mperor$s Dustice /as s/ift and terrible8 Better not to spea! of it at all* lest they attract the Ma'istrate$s un/elcome attention8 Best to for'et8 Yet* thou'h most /ent strai'ht to bed on returnin' home* fe/ /ere able to 'et to sleep* and those /ho did reli4ed the e4ents of that e4enin' in foul dreams8 A dar! dread blan!eted the to/n8 Those /ho did not e4ade ruminatin' o4er the eFecutions !ne/ that the blood /as on them all8 The Ma'istrate enlisted them in an e4il Dud'ment* from /hich none /ould escape8 The to/n /ould pay for /hat happened in the sEuare this e4enin'* the to/n and e4eryone in it8 (ield Mouse /as one of those /ho could not sleep8 9e played a bi''er role in the e4enin'$s e4ents than most* and no/ he could not 'et them out of his head8 9e tried to tell himself that he /as merely fulfillin' his duties as a constable8 9e /as only tryin' to !eep his 4illa'e safe and uphold the la/8 But another 4oice deep inside him cried out in pain* and that 4oice named him murderer8 9e helped apprehend and eFecute an entire family* father* mother and children8 And their deaths /ere a horrible* brutal 4iolation of the sanctity of life8 Maybe they /ere bri'ands and /itches* thou'h he doubted their confessions for the manner in /hich they /ere eFtracted8 6e4er mind8 >4en if they had been murderers* practicin' child sacrifice .
the inDury of any person is an inDury to all* the punishment of any person is a punishment to all* the imprisonment or ensla4ement of any person is the imprisonment and ensla4ement of all* and the eFecution of any person diminishes all8 And for all of his eFcuses* that inner 4oice insisted there are no eFceptions8 And the hardest part of the messa'e of his inner 4oice* that /hich stun' the most* /as that he /as for'i4en8 So lon' as he learned from his errors and /ould not repeat them* he /as for'i4en8 But if he continued to persecute others* then he /ould not be able to for'i4e himself8 9e /ould 'ro/ dar! and sic! inside* he /ould turn to drin!* and he /ould become a sour and dan'erous man* feared by others and lo4ed by none8 9e too! this Dob because he and his /ife needed the money8 -ther/ise* it /as a stru''le holdin' onto their house8 9e didn$t see ho/ they /ould e4er afford to raise a ֨ 郐◌ family8 But he !ne/ that if he remained a constable* he /ould 'ro/ hard and cold8 And he /ould lose his /ife and his family8 >ither that or they /ould 'ro/ hard and cold /ith him8 -r he /ould ta!e out his pain and an'er on them8 6o* he could not ha4e that8 And so (ield Mouse resol4ed to resi'n from the constabulary8 9e /ould find some other /ay to support his family* some /ay that /ould sa4e him his soul8 9e must come up /ith an eFcuse for the &hief &onstable8 To tell the truth* that he could not consciously perform his duties* /ould ma!e himself an obDect of suspicion8 6o he must bide his time until he found the ri'ht eFcuse* so that he /ould not incriminate himself8 But once he found the /ay out* he /ould Euit the constabulary Dust as fast as he could8 9a4in' made this decision* he put an arm around his sleepin' /ife and closed his eyes8 Before he drifted off to sleep* ho/e4er* there /as a !noc! at the door of their home8 9e opened his eyes and listened8 There it /as a'ain8 =ho could it be at this hourH 5t must be duty callin'8 9is Dob as constable had hounded him out* e4en as he made up his mind to relinEuish the duties and see! the healin' balm of sleep8 =as it more bri'ands* he /ondered as he climbed out of bed 'ently so as not to /a!e his /ife8 The !noc!in' /as repeated as he put on his slippers and his robe8 9e too! the candle from the bed stand* but did not li'ht it until he left the room* so as not to disturb Spotted (a/n8 -nce he had lit the candle* he headed for the door8 There /as the !noc! a'ain* more insistent8 ?Yes* 5$m comin'@ he 'rumbled* raisin' his 4oice a little louder than necessary8 .many times o4er* that did not Dustify /hat he helped do to them8 There /as no la/ that le'itimiGed the punishment or termination of a human life8 And those /ho thou'ht other/ise only mana'ed to bloc! out the 4oice of their inner self* /allin' themsel4es of from their o/n soul in an effort to mute their 4oice8 Yet there /as no /ay to completely silence that inner 4oice8 That is /hy the other constables and the >mperor$s <uard /ent out drin!in' after the eFecutions8 They /anted to dro/n out their inner 4oices* numbin' themsel4es a'ainst the messa'e they preferred not to hear8 That is /hy constables /ho had been on the Dob for a number of years /ere all hea4y drin!ers8 5t /as either that or 'ro/ sic! inside* sic! and dar!* and full of selfBdis'ust and an'er for the entire /orld8 Thou'h (ield Mouse tried not to hear it* his inner 4oice called out /ith a clarity he rarely eFperienced* and the truth that it spo!e to him /as this.
9e eFpected to find one of the other constables /aitin' impatiently on the doorstep to press him into ser4ice8 And he /as tempted to tell the man ri'ht here and no/ /hat to do /ith his duties8 But /hen he opened the door there /as no one in si'ht8 9oldin' up the candle* he loo!ed all alon' the lane8 5t /as Euiet and dar!8 There /ere no li'hts burnin' in any of the nei'hborin' houses8 9e loo!ed do/n as he started to step out of the door/ay* and there on their stoop /as a /rithin' bundle of cloth8 (ield Mouse froGe in place* not e4en darin' to breathe8 5n that one moment* he felt his life turn8 5n that moment* he felt his recent resol4e /ai4er as ne/ responsibility o4ertoo! him* a responsibility that /as met by acceptance* lo4e and commitment8 5n that moment* the infant cried8 ?-h a babyJ@ Spotted (a/n /as there* pushin' past him to pic! up the child8 She hu''ed the cryin' infant8 ?5t is so coldJ@ Partin' the s/athin'* she noted* ?5t$s a boy8@ (or a moment* (ield Mouse thou'ht he heard a faint melody* played on a flute perhaps8 =ith certainty* he said ?9is name is Mi!al8@ ?That is a city name8@ Spotted (a/n loo!ed at her husband* /onderin' ho/ he !ne/ the child$s name8 But she !ne/ he /as ri'ht8 ?5 /onder /ho left him here8 9e is cold and hun'ry8 You build a fire and 5 /ill find him somethin' to eat* and some dry clothes8@ She bore the infant indoors8 (ield Mouse tarried a moment lon'er* loo!in' up and do/n the lane8 Then he closed the door and hurried to the fireplace8 KKK 9a/! Descendin' /as ready to Euit郐 the ◌ ֨ to/n and his family that ni'ht8 9e used to loo! do/n on himself as did the other 4illa'ers* 'rantin' them the ri'ht to thin! themsel4es better than him8 6o/ he sa/ them all as /ea! smallBminded* and e4en /ic!ed8 The sacrifice of the Meechum family had sho/n them in their true li'ht8 6o/ he felt dirty to be around them8 9e /as ashamed of them* and he did not /ant to be associated /ith them in any /ay8 The odor of burnin' flesh seemed to han' o4er the 4illa'e for days8 6o one else noticed it. he still felt tainted8 9e carried a maDor share of the blame for /hat happened to that poor family* because it /as his flute playin' that dre/ attention to them8 5t should ha4e been him that /as put to the torture and eFecuted* not them8 9e lost all desire to play the flute8 9e rarely e4en dre/ it from its hidin' place* preferrin' to lea4e it /rapped in the oiled cloth* tuc!ed a/ay in the hollo/ tree8 The only music he heard /as sad and burdened /ith 'uilt8 9e still spent his e4enin's in the /oods* climbin' and s/in'in' from limb to limb* or sittin' in the treetops loo!in' out o4er the landscape8 But no/ he /as haunted by the Meechums8 >4ery/here he turned* he sa/ the children loo!in' up at him as he told them the story* or dancin' around him as he played the flute8 And then he sa/ them as they /ere at the 4illa'e sEuare* the boys /ith nooses about their nec!s* the 'irls tied to their posts8 9e sa/ the pain and the terror in their eyes8 And he heard them !eenin' as the flames lic!ed at their bodies8 9e heard the son' of A'nis as she reached throu'h her pain and her death to tell him of her infant son8 . or if they did* they said nothin'8 =hene4er 9a/! smelled it* he /anted to pur'e himself and then run and hide8 9e bathed often in the stream* but it did not help.
5t made no matter to him that he sa4ed the babe8 A fe/ times he sa/ Spotted (a/n /ith the infant8 =hen the baby loo!ed at him* it seemed to be sayin'* ?You !no/ /here 5 came from* and you !no/ ho/ 5 lost my family8@ (or days after/ard* he /ould catch (ield Mouse loo!in' at him oddly8 9e !ne/ the man had Euestions for him* but he a4oided him8 A summer passed* and &hantien did not return8 9a/! Descendin' /atched the roads8 9e scouted o4er the land for si'n of the 9arper8 9e scoured the /oods e4ery e4enin'* 'oin' to the 'lade /here the 9arper camped that ni'ht8 But there /as no si'n of &hantien to be found8 9a/! Descendin' too! to stayin' in the /oods o4erni'ht8 9e /ould sleep perched in a tree o4erloo!in' the >mperor$s :oad* so he /ould notice if &hantien passed by durin' the ni'ht8 9e slept fitfully and /o!e at the sli'htest noise8 >4en in his dreams* he /as haunted by the murdered family8 As soon as they appeared in his dreams* he /ould /a!e /ith a start and stay a/a!e lon' after/ards8 The saplin's in the old commons had 'ro/n into trees already8 Their 'ro/th had slo/ed si'nificantly since 9a/! ceased sin'in' to them8 Yet they 're/ faster than any normal tree8 Many /ho used to enDoy 9a/!$s music /ithout realiGin' it /ere no/ disappointed by his silence8 6ot bein' fully a/are of the nature of their disappointment* they too! it out on the hunchbac!* intuiti4ely feelin' that he /as holdin' out on them* /ithdra/in' from them8 They noted his disappro4al and his dis'ust* and they mirrored it bac! to him8 9e /as ridiculed by all* and he /as 'i4en the most arduous tas! of mo4in' timbers and boulders — a Dob usually reser4ed for oFen and horse teams8 ◌ ֨ 9a/! Descendin' 'a4e himself to郐 this /or!* usin' the eFertion to 4ent his ill feelin's to/ard the 4illa'ers8 At the end of the day* he /ould shamble home eFhausted* eat a mea'er dinner /hile &ro/ Shado/ heaped abuse on him* and then snea! out to the /oods to maintain his desperate 4i'il8 9e had become a beast of burden* lean and tou'h* dirty and smelly* and the 4illa'ers /anted nothin' o do /ith him8 >4en his parents /ere 'lad /hen he left their home for the ni'ht8 -ne e4enin'* as he headed for the forest* he chanced upon Spotted (a/n /ith little Mi!al in her arms8 Spotted (a/n had 'ro/n attached to her foundlin'8 9e had* in e4ery /ay* filled the place of the infant she lost8 The 4illa'ers considered him a miracle baby8 9e /as so li!e the dead child that many thou'ht he had come bac! to life throu'h the lo4e and dedication of his mother8 =hen Spotted (a/n bore him throu'h (orest$s >nd people /ould stop /hat they /ere doin' to admire the child8 9a/! Descendin' sa/ Spotted (a/n* standin' amid a cluster of 4illa'ers /ho /ere cooin' o4er the baby8 An old man* one /ho had only abuse for 9a/! Descendin'* 'a4e the child a handBcar4ed duc!8 The infant stuc! its head in his mouth and then shoo! it eFcitedly8 The onloo!ers lau'hed at the infant$s ob4ious 'lee8 9a/! Descendin' /anted to see the baby and share in the Doy8 9e had not been near the child since the ni'ht /hen he rescued him8 9e dre/ near* respectfully see!in' to ma!e his /ay bet/een the to/nspeople8 Se4eral deliberately bloc!ed him from approachin' the mother and son* see!in' to protect them from his foul presence8 Pic!in' up their attitude* Spotted (a/n held her baby close and turned a/ay8 Little Mi!al fro/ned and started to cry8 The old man confronted 9a/!8 ?=hat do you thin! you$re doin'H@ .
?5 /anted to see the baby8@ ?You$4e already scared him enou'h*@ the man /ent on8 ?-ne loo! at you* and he$ll ha4e the colic8 6o/* off /ith you8 Be 'oneJ@ 9a/! /as at a loss8 5t /as he /ho rescued the lad and brou'ht him to his mother8 But none of these people !ne/ that8 ?The ner4eJ@ one /oman said8 A friend ushered Spotted (a/n and the baby into the safety of her home as the other 4illa'ers maintained their front8 9a/! /as shattered by this mistreatment8 9o/ could they e4er thin! he /ould harm the boyH Somethin' hit him in the bac! of the head8 5t /as a clod of dirt thro/n by some boys standin' behind him8 More clods of dirt follo/ed8 Loo!in' at the adults for assistance* he sa/ the same 4isa'es they had directed at the Meechums /hen they /ere put to death8 9a/! turned and ran* /ith the boys chasin' after him8 9e did not feel the clods that pelted him8 These /ere the people /ho murdered the babe$s family* and they /ould do the same to him — the babe$s sa4ior8 :eachin' the sanctuary of the forest* he scaled the nearest tree and flun' himself from limb to limb* tree to tree until he left his pursuers far behind8 5n his heartache* he sou'ht a perch o4erloo!in' the road* and there he cried himself to sleep* /eepin' o4er the tree trun! for all the comfort it offered8 5n his dreams* he stood alone in the 4illa'e sEuare mournin' for the family that had befriended him8 Someone called his name8 9e turned to see :oban senior approach him8 The man had a soft /hite li'ht around him8 9e loo!ed better than e4er he had in real life8 There /as no si'n of the torture he under/ent* no si'n of the bro!en nec! or rope ֨ 4ersion of the man* brimmin' /ith /ellB 郐◌ burn around his throat8 9e /as the idealiGed bein' and 'ood health8 :oban offered his hand to 9a/! Descendin'8 9a/! shoo! it* notin' ho/ solid it /as8 ?You$re really here*@ he mar4eled8 ?But you$re dead8@ :oban smiled at him and bid him to follo/8 9e led 9a/! throu'h (orest$s >nd* to the home of (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n8 They entered the house /ithout !noc!in'8 5t /as Euiet and dar! inside8 :oban led him into the bedroom* /here the husband and /ife lay asleep in their bed8 5n a cradle at the side of the bed lay the baby8 And around him stood the family he had lost8 9ere /as A'nis* :oban Dunior* >lise* Maire and Yoseph8 All of them /ere in perfected form* and all of them 'lo/ed /ith a soft /hite li'ht8 The youn'est t/o children /ent to 9a/! and 'a4e him a hu'8 Their embrace had substance and /as filled /ith lo4e and 'ratitude8 ?Than! you for sa4in' Mi!al*@ A'nis said to him /ith a smile8 9a/! approached the foot of the cradle* and loo!ed upon the infant8 Little Mi!al /as a/a!e8 At si'ht of his sa4ior* he !ic!ed his feet /ith deli'ht and 'ur'led Doyously8 The Meechums 'athered around* sho/erin' 9a/! Descendin' and the baby /ith lo4e and 'ood /ill8 .
/ — The Tinker 9a/! Descendin' /o!e to the sound of sin'in'* and the soft playin' of a lute8 Before he /as fully a/a!e* he leapt from the tree* do/n onto the road8 9e /as certain it /as &hantien* returnin' as promised8 The moment he landed* he realiGed his error8 Before him stood a hea4yset 4a'abond8 The man loo!ed nothin' li!e &hantien8 6or had he the cloa! of colors /hich /as the bad'e of a true 9arper8 9e /as hea4y to the point of bein' rotund* /ith curly bro/n hair and dar! eyes8 9e had a round face and full chee!s* and his chin /as not Dust doubled* it /as tripled8 9e /ore a suit of thic! leather that seemed to ha4e a'ed in place* ha4in' rarely been remo4ed8 The front of his 4est /as spotted /ith the droppin's of many meals8 -n his bac!* he /ore a plain blac! cloa!* barely bi' enou'h to drape his belly8 There /as no mount or pac! animal in si'ht8 9e tra4eled afoot* and on his bac! /as a /ellB/orn pac! that carried all of his belon'in's8 (rom the sides of his pac! hun' hammers and other tools* and an assortment of pots and pans that clattered as he /al!ed* creatin' Euite a rac!et8 5t /as a /onder 9a/! did not hear him miles off8 9e /as playin' a battered old lute that he dropped as 9a/! leapt do/n in front of him8 The lute hit the 'round /ith a discordant clan'in' of strin's8 Despite the /ei'ht of his pac!* the man Dumped a full three inches off the 'round* shrie!in' as he did so8 9e landed amid a clatterin' of pots8 :eachin' behind him for a hammer* he made do /ith a hea4y s!illet that he brandished in front of him as a /eapon8 ֨ 9is chins /a''led as he spo!e8 The pots 郐◌ ?Be 'one 4illainJ@ 9e found his 4oice8 rattled8 ?5$m a simple tin!er /ith nothin' to steal8@ 9a/! Descendin' held up his hands to sho/ he /as unarmed8 ?And 5 am only a simple 4illa'er /ho means you no harm8@ ?=hat sort of land is this /here 4illa'ers drop from trees li!e o4erripe fruitH@ The tin!er eyed him8 ?5 thou'ht you /ere someone else — a friend 5 ha4e been /aitin' for8@ ?And is it a custom in this land to drop on your unsuspectin' friends from a hei'htH@ 9e 'lanced up at the trees8 ?Do you ha4e nei'hbors up there /ith better aimH@ ?There is only me and you in this entire /oods8@ ?5 see8@ The tin!er relaFed8 ?And it /as my fortune to stroll under the tree that bears such odd fruit8 -r are you a can!erH@ ?5 am 9a/! Descendin'* son of #in'fisher and &ro/ Shado/* of the 4illa'e (orest$s >nd* Dust beyond this /oods8@ ?9mm8 5 had heard you /ere an old people* /ho yet too! your names from thin's around you* much li!e the <loriosi8@ The tin!er finally lo/ered his s!illet8 ?5 am <abon =inters8@ The pots and pans rattled as <abon t/isted around to han' the s!illet bac! in place8 ?5$m sorry 5 surprised you8 5 thou'ht you /ere a 9arper8@ ?Are 9arpers so disli!ed here that you lay in /ait to ta!e them by surpriseH -r is it that they are so hi'hly 4alued you see! to catch them before they can escapeH@ <abon a/!/ardly stooped do/n to retrie4e his lute8 .Part Four — ( False -ote ha!ter .
?5 /as half asleep /hen 5 heard your son' and mistoo! you8@ Bet/een his 'irth and the /ei'ht of his pac!* <abon had trouble risin' up8 9a/! Descendin' leant him a hand8 ?Many than!s*@ <abon said as he 'ained his le's8 ?5 am still in the dar! as to /hy you d/ell in trees li!e a mon!ey* rather than on the 'round li!e a normal human8@ ?5t is my habit*@ 9a/! replied humbly8 9e bo/ed to <abon* displayin' his hunchbac!8 ?5 ha4e more 'race in the trees than on the 'round8@ ?5 see8@ <abon noted and dismissed the deformity8 9e eFamined his lute8 ?Blast* 5 bro!e a strin'8@ ?Those strin's are not of 'ut*@ 9a/! obser4ed8 ?5 ha4e ne4er seen their li!e8@ 5n truth* he had only e4er seen one other lute* that bein' &hantien$s8 ?They are my in4ention8 5 dra/ and spin them out of brass8 They last lon'er than cat 'ut* and are less temperamental8 And they ha4e a louder sound and a bri'hter tone8@ ?You ma!e them of brassH@ 9a/! eFamined the end of the bro!en strin'8 ?That is Euite a tric!8@ ?5t is a tric! 5 thou'ht /ould ma!e my fortune in 9i'h Brid'e8 Little did 5 understand the interBpolitics of the artisans in that city8@ 9e stripped the bro!en strin' from the instrument* /ound it up and sto/ed it in a poc!et8 ?(ortunately* 5 carry a supply of strin's8 The hi'h strin's especially are susceptible to brea!a'e8@ =ith a si'h* he shifted the pac! on his shoulders8 ?Tell me* is it much farther to your 4illa'eH 5 should li!e to doff this pac! soon8 5t is !illin' my bac!8@ ?5t is maybe a mile farther8 But 5 should not arri4e at ni'ht if 5 /ere you8@ ֨ <abon fro/ned at him a Euestion8 郐◌ ?The people are fearful of stran'ers8 The constables and the >mperor$s <uard are Euic! to apprehend anyone tra4elin' at ni'ht8 You /ould not rest /ell in the Ma'istrate$s dun'eons8 6or /ould you /ant to chance his Dud'ment8@ <abon found prudence in this ad4ice8 ?So 5 'uess it$s to be another ni'ht spent on the open road8 5 /ish 5 had met you before enterin' this /oods8@ ?You don$t li!e the /oodsH@ ?All of these 'narled trees and shado/s8 There are too many places for beasts and foul spirits to lur!8@ <abon loo!ed about apprehensi4ely8 ?That is /hy 5 /as playin' my lute8 6othin' !eeps e4il at bay li!e a nice rousin' drin!in' son'8@ ?There is no e4il in these /oods8 There is nothin' here but sEuirrels* foF and an occasional hart8@ ?You are too naL4e8@ <abon shru''ed his shoulder under the strap of his pac!* settin' it to rattle and clan' a'ain8 ?-h* 5 do need to shuc! this pac!8@ ?5 !no/ of a stone hollo/ close by /here you can spend the ni'ht8@ ?Lead on and you /ill be performin' a 'reat ser4ice for me and my bac!8@ 9a/! Descendin' led him to a dip in the 'round* a dry stream bed /orn by the draina'e of summer storms and sprin' melt8 9ere they turned off the road* tra4elin' alon' the open stream bed8 ?Do you al/ays tra4el on foot* /ith that hea4y pac!H@ <abon si'hed before launchin' into his tale of /oe8 ?Alas* 5 ha4e been 'reatly reduced8 This >mpire has become a land of 4ultures that /ill pic! the meat from my bones /hen there is nothin' else left8@ .
9a/! helped him o4er a fallen lo'8 ?You say this campsite is not farH@ <abon stru''led o4er the dead lo'8 ?Cust around that bend8@ ?-nce 5 had a /a'on* dra/n by horse8 Those /ere the days8 5 /ould set up shop at each to/n and do a prosperous business8 The >mperor$s taF assessors too! all of my money and most of my 'oods /ith their le4ies8 Then they too! my /a'on* sayin' it /ould be used in the /ar /ith #atai — thou'h 5 ha4e no idea /hat 'ood a tin!er$s /a'on /ould do in a battle8 They left me /ith only my horse8 Thie4es relie4ed me of that animal* and almost too! my life as /ill8 So no/ 5 tra4el as you see me* /ith /hat little 5 can carry8@ 9is little appeared to 9a/! to be a 'reat deal8 They passed around a bend* and there /as a roc! face eFtendin' se4eral feet abo4e the 'round* undercut to form a shallo/ o4erhan'8 ?9ere /e are*@ 9a/! announced8 ?This is itH@ <abon found the cut less than appealin'8 ?The shelf /ill !eep the /ind off8@ 9a/! assessed the shelter$s merits8 ?And it is dry enou'h this time of year8@ ?Barrin' a flash flood*@ <abon added8 <i4in' the site a second loo!* he said* ?Ah /ell* 5 ha4e slept in /orse8 6o doubt a 'ood fire /ill ma!e a difference8@ ?5$d not chance a fire so close to the road8 The constables are sure to see it8@ At this* <abon had to complain8 ?5 /as so loo!in' for/ard to a hot meal and a comfortable bed at an inn8@ ?This time of ni'ht the inn ser4es nau'ht but cold lefto4ers8 As for the beds* 5 ֨ /a'er you$ll find fe/er bedbu's out here8@ 郐◌ ?That$s the siGe of it thenH@ <abon adDusted his eFpectations8 ?Then it$s stale biscuits and salted beef8@ The tin!er mo4ed to shuc! his pac!8 ?&an you help me /ith thisH@ 9a/! Descendin' /as a stron' youn' man8 All the same* he /as surprised by the /ei'ht of <abon$s pac!8 5t /ei'hed more than one hundred pounds8 <abon must be hidin' some muscle under all that fat8 The pac! landed /ith a thud that shoo! the 'round underfoot8 ?=hat ha4e you 'ot in there* roc!sH@ ?&opper* bronGe* brass* iron and tin* sheet metal and /ire8 And fe/ other essentials of my trade8@ Puttin' his hands on his hips* <abon leaned bac!* causin' 4ertebra to crac! all the /ay up his spine8 9e shru''ed his shoulders and t/isted ri'ht and left8 ?Much better*@ he announced /hen he /as done stretchin'8 ?6o/* as /e can ha4e no fire*@ he paused to see if 9a/! /ould relent* then he /ent on* ?let$s 'et ri'ht do/n to 4ictuals8@ -penin' the pac!* he dre/ out cloth ba's that held dried beef and biscuits so old they /ould crac! an un/ary tooth8 9e offered both to 9a/!* /ho too! a piece of dried beef to be polite* but did not dare test his Da/ on a biscuit8 ?=e ha4e no ale* but at least /e ha4e a s!in of /ine8@ <abon dre/ a full /ines!in from a side poc!et of the pac!8 9e popped it open and directed a stream into his mouth8 9a/! accepted the s!in /hen it /as offered8 The /ine /as /atered and had ta!en on the taste of /et leather* but it /as potable8 .
As he ate* <abon dre/ bundles of /ire* sheet metal and other supplies out of his pac!* until he found the reel of brass /ire for /hich he /as loo!in'8 ?9ere$s /hat 5 need8@ 9e measured a len'th of /ire by eye* cut it /ith a pair of tin snips and returned the reel to his pac!8 =ith a small pair of pliers* he fashioned a loop at one end of the /ire8 This fit o4er a post on the base of the lute8 9e passed the /ire o4er the brid'e* up the nec!* o4er the nut* and throu'h a small hole in the tunin' pe'8 5t too! se4eral t/ists of the tunin' pe' to /ind the ne/ strin' securely into place8 Then <abon set about tunin' the lute8 9a/! Descendin' /atched the entire operation closely* as he che/ed on dried beef* supplemented /ith sips of /atered /ine /hen offered8 Some day* /hen he /as a fullBfled'ed 9arper* he /ould ha4e his o/n lute* and he /ould ha4e <abon ma!e a set of brass strin's for it8 They san' /ith loud* pure tones* li!e a set of bells8 The sound of them /as festi4e and Doyous8 5t made 9a/! /ant to play alon'8 (or the first time since the eFecution of the Meechums* he /anted to play music8 5t did not e4en occur to him that music so close to the road /ould attract attention /orse than a campfire8 Perhaps it /as the /ine8 <abon played halfBheartedly as he ate* stoppin' often to ta!e a bite of beef or biscuit* or a drin! of /ine8 9e played a fe/ scales* but mostly he strummed chords8 -nce his appetite /as sated* he sat bac! on his cape* leanin' his bac! a'ainst the roc! face and be'an to strum a li4ely rhythm* /hile fin'erin' a merry chord pro'ression8 &learin' his throat* he san' a lusty ballad about a ta4ern /ench /ho /as /ooed by a merchant* a Ma'istrate and a farmer$s son8 ֨ suited to drin!in' son's8 After the second 郐◌ <abon had a fine baritone 4oice* /ell 4erse* 9a/! Doined him on the chorus* sin'in' harmony in his clear tenor8 She too! trin!ets from the merchant* hey8 She too! fa4ors from the Dud'e* ho8 But the farmer she too! to bed* yes* The farmer she too! to bed* hieJ <abon finished the son' /ith a belly lau'h and a lon' drin! of the /ine8 9e passed the s!in to 9a/!8 ?5t is fast disappearin'*@ 9a/! noted8 ?Better it /ere put to 'ood use lubricatin' our pipes*@ <abon ans/ered in 'ood spirits8 ?Besides* tomorro/ there /ill be ale in plenty8 And 5$4e no doubt this s!in /ill be full a'ain /hen 5 lea4e your fair to/n8@ ?6o doubt*@ 9a/! a'reed8 ?So lon' as you don$t sin' that son' /here the Ma'istrate can hear it8@ ?5$m no fool8@ <abon too! the s!in bac! and applied it once more to his mouth8 Some Duice of the 'rape tric!led do/n his chin8 9e /iped it on the bac! of a leather slee4e8 ?You$4e a fine 4oice8@ 9e passed the s!in bac! to 9a/!8 ?And 5$4e noticed /ith /hat attention you /atch me strum the lute8 Do you playH@ ?5 held a lute once* and had a Euic! lesson on it8@ 9a/! paused to drin!8 9e thou'ht of his ne'lected flute8 ?5 ha4e /ooden flute8 5 /ish Nt/ere /ith me no/8@ .
?The flute you sayJ@ <abon sat aside his lute and rolled his 'irth up from his seat8 <ainin' momentum* he stood a/!/ardly8 ?5$4e 'ot Dust the thin' for you8@ 9e stepped o4er to his pac! and rumma'ed inside it8 ?6o one !no/s /hat /onders lay hidden in my ma'ic pac!8@ =ith a drun!en flourish* he dre/ out a shiny metal flute* nearly the match for &hantien$s8 5t /as t/ice the instrument of 9a/!$s /ooden flute8 9a/! nearly dropped the /ine s!in at the si'ht of it8 ?That is beautiful8@ ?5t is made all of sil4er8@ <abon /a4ed it throu'h the air li!e a ma'ic /and8 ?5 had it from a farmer in lieu of payment8 5t /as a mess /hen 5 'ot it8 5 had to ta!e it all apart and polish it8 Se4eral of the 4al4e caps /ere bent8 And 5 had to refashion this le4er here*@ he pointed out8 ?5 can ma!e a note on it — if you call it that8 But 5$4e ne4er ta!en the time to really master it8@ 9e /a4ed the flute at 9a/!8 ?=ould you care to 'i4e it a tryH@ ?=ould 5H@ 9a/! laid aside the /ine s!in and /iped his hands on his 4est8 <abon handed him the /ind instrument8 5t /as t/ice the len'th of his /ooden flute8 =hat /ith the 4al4es and le4ers* it too! him a moment to fi'ure out ho/ to hold it and fin'er it* but he cau'ht on Euic!ly8 =hile he familiariGed himself /ith the instrument* <abon drained the /ine s!in8 The tin!er retrie4ed his lute8 ?Thin! you can play a tuneH@ 9a/! nodded8 ?>4er heard N5 am o4er (ond of Drin!in'$H@ ?Play it8@ 5t /as a spirited air heard in inns and ta4erns throu'hout the >mpire8 ֨the melody8 9e found this flute had a depth 郐◌ <abon started off* and 9a/! too! up of tone and a ran'e far surpassin' the /ooden instrument to /hich he /as accustomed8 9e /ould e4en 'o so far as to say that /hile it /as not so ornate as &hantien$s flute* in 4oice it /as the superior instrument8 They played throu'h the air se4eral times before <abon left off8 ?You play that flute li!e you /ere born to it8@ ?5t is a beautiful instrument8@ 9a/! played a Euic! flourish8 ?9o/ lon' ha4e you been studyin' the fluteH@ ?SiF is itH@ 9a/! thou'ht about it8 So much had happened recently8 5t seemed li!e a'es a'o that he sat in this /oods /ith &hantien8 ?6o* lon'er than that8 -4er t/o months8@ ?T/o monthsH@ ?A little o4er that*@ 9a/! allo/ed8 ?But 5 ha4en$t played at all in the last couple /ee!s8@ ?My boy* /hat are you doin' in this bac!/aterH =ith your talent* you should be in 9i'h Brid'e8@ ?So 5$4e been told8@ ?9o/ did you e4er learn to playH@ ?5t /as the 9arper 5 mentioned8 9e tau'ht me one e4enin'* /hen he /as passin' throu'h8 9e 'a4e me a /ooden flute* and offered to ta!e me as his apprentice8@ ?Apprentice to a 9arperJ 5 /ould ha4e 'i4en my eye teeth for such a chance /hen 5 /as your a'e8 =hat are you still doin' hereH@ .
?5 /anted my family$s blessin'8 5$m afraid they don$t appro4e of 9arpers8 The Ma'istrate set e4eryone a'ainst him8@ ?(amily be damnedJ Listen to me* my lad* 5$4e been around enou'h* 5 !no/8 -pportunities such as this don$t come often8 You$4e 'ot to 'rab them and han' on* and blast anyone /ho tries to hold you bac!8@ ?That 5 !no/ no/8 But a family$s disappro4al can be a lead /ei'ht to dra' you do/n8@ ?-nly if you let it8 Any family that see!s to th/art their children$s dreams is no family to be beholden to8 Ta!e it from <abon =inters* it$s better to be on your o/n /ith no tidin's but the clothes on your bac! than bo/ to a family that cherishes you so little8@ ?But it is much easier to reach for your 'oals if you ha4e the blessin' of your family8 5f they are a'ainst you* then you ha4e to choose bet/een them and yourself8@ ?5t sounds li!e they ha4e already made that choice for you8@ 9a/! Descendin' reflected silently on ho/ much his family needed him* e4en thou'h they did not realiGe it8 <abon /or!ed on eFtractin' the last bit of /ine from the s!in8 Tossin' it aside* he pic!ed up his lute8 ?>nou'h tal!8 Let$s ha4e some happier music8@ 9e played a /ellB!no/n Di' titled N5 =on$t &ome 9ome$8 9a/! pic!ed it up on the flute* eFplorin' it throu'h the upper and the lo/er re'isters8 (rom there they played throu'h a number of Di's and reels8 They passed from one to another /ithout pause* stoppin' only to chan'e the time from a Di' to a reel* and bac! a'ain8 9a/! Descendin' left off thin!in' about Path$s >nd* his family* the eFecution of ֨ 郐◌ the Meechums* or &hantien$s return8 9e lost himself in the music* 'i4in' himself o4er to the freedom* Doy and eFhilaration8 5t /as so nice to play after denyin' himself the pleasure8 9e realiGed that he had blamed himself and his flute for the Meechums$ fate8 But there /as no fault /ith him* nor /ith the music8 And this sil4er flute had capabilities so far beyond his /ooden flute* the horiGon seemed to be endless8 At last* <abon laid aside his lute and sat bac! to smo!e his pipe8 9e listened as 9a/! Descendin' played /ith the melody of the /oods* the stream bed and the roc! face8 The music 9a/! played dre/ such intimacy /ith the surroundin's that <abon Euite for'ot his fear of the dar!ened forest8 9e /as so enchanted by 9a/!$s 'ift that he decided to help the lad reach for his destiny8 9a/! finished playin'8 9e held the flute in his hands and loo!ed at it /ith appreciation* then he offered it bac! to <abon8 ?6o*@ <abon declined the offer8 ?That flute has ta!en up space in my pac! lon' enou'h8 5t has found its master* and it /ould not be proper for me to ta!e it bac!8@ ?5 could ne4er pay you for such an instrument8@ ?=ho said anythin' about paymentH That flute /as ne4er really mine8 5t /as only hitchin' a ride /ith me /hile it searched for you8@ ?Than! you8@ 9a/! could not belie4e he /ould recei4e such a precious 'ift from a 4irtual stran'er8 ?Don$t than! me8 Cust play that flute for all you$re /orth8 Stop hidin' your talent from others8 De4ote yourself to the flute and it /ill ta!e to 9i'h Brid'e* /here you /ill earn your 9arper$s cloa!8@ ?Than! you*@ 9a/! repeated any/ay8 ?5 don$t !no/ ho/ 5 /ill e4er repay you8@ .
it is a blessin'* as any fool /ith ears can tell you8@ 9a/! could not ar'ue8 ?You play /ith me in the 4illa'e tomorro/*@ <abon asserted8 ?You 'i4e it your all* play your heart out* and you /ill /in the accolades of your nei'hbors8 Do this* and you /ill earn your family$s blessin'8@ ֨ 郐◌ ?You thin! soH@ ?Play for them as you played toni'ht* and they /on$t be able to deny you8@ 9a/! dared hope8 ?And 5 shall ta!e you to 9i'h Brid'e and introduce you to the 9arper$s 9all8 5 do ha4e connections there* for all that the local luthiers and strin' ma!ers reDected my brass strin's8@ ?And if you did that*@ 9a/! /aFed hopeful* ?5 /ill champion your brass strin's until you are 'ranted the position Master Strin' Ma!er for the 9all8@ ?Much than!s8@ <abon chuc!led /ith a /a' of his chins8 ?But first thin's first8 =e$ll both need to 'et up early* as 5 /ant to serenade the 4illa'e at the crac! of da/n8 =here should /e meetH@ ?:i'ht here* 5 fancy8 5 mean to bed do/n here for the ni'ht8 5 do so often enou'h that none /ill miss me8@ ?And most /elcome your company /ill be8@ <abon laid aside his pipe and retrie4ed his lute8 ?Let$s seal this deal /ith one more tune before /e retire8 Do you !no/ NThe Maid She =ent aBMil!in'$H@ 9a/! nodded as he fin'ered the flute8 ?Play on8@ .?=ell* there is one small fa4or*@ <abon 4entured8 ?5$4e found the best /ay to dra/ business in a ne/ to/n is to /ander the streets playin' the lute and sin'in' my praises8 5f you accompanied me in your 4illa'e* 5 /ould dra/ no end of customers* and ne4er ha4e to strain my 4oice8@ 9a/! hesitated8 ?5t /ould be the perfect /ay to demonstrate your talent to your family8@ 9a/! shoo! his head8 ?=ith the Ma'istrate comin' do/n so stron'ly a'ainst the 9arper* e4eryone is afraid of music8 9e stopped Dust short of eEuatin' music /ith /itchcraft8@ 9e thou'ht a'ain of ho/ his flute cost the Meechums to their li4es8 ?That is ridiculous8@ <abon fumed8 ?>4eryone li!es a 'ood son'8 Loo!* /hen the men in Path$s >nd enDoy an e4enin' in the ta4ern* don$t they sin' drin!in' son'sH@ ?Yes* butM8@ ?And /hen they$re reapin' in the fall* don$t they /or! to the rhythm of a son'H@ ?Yes8@ ?And /hen the ladies are busy /ith their /ashin'* don$t they sin'H And at ni'ht* don$t they sin' lullabies to put their /ee ones to sleepH@ ?That is different8@ ?6ot at all8 Music eases the /orld$s burdens8 That is its only ma'ic8 Music is not dar! ma'ic.
&VIII. %erenade at Path0s +nd The neFt mornin'* as they paused at the ed'e of the /oods Dust outside of to/n* 9a/! Descendin' felt a little apprehensi4e8 9e assumed it /as only performance Ditters and /ondered if &hantien had e4er felt them8 The 9arper /as a seasoned pro* a born performer /ho had been at it for so lon' he probably ne4er had a ner4ous moment8 9a/! too! a couple of deep breaths* allo/in' all the tension to lea4e his body as he eFhaled8 Yet* thou'h he stro4e not to ac!no/led'e it* that /hisper of apprehension remained8 <abon stood beside him* lute in hand and pac! on his bac!8 ?This is Path$s >ndH@ he as!ed* as thou'h doubtin' the Dumble of ho4els* dirt a4enues* assorted small buildin's and footpaths Eualified as a 4illa'e8 Throu'h his friend$s senses* 9a/! smelled the scent of ra/ se/a'e to /hich he /as normally so accustomed that he ne4er 'a4e it a thou'ht8 To/nspeople /andered about* attendin' to their early business8 They could hear the to/n crier in the distance* finishin' his mornin' round8 -ff to their left /as the mill* hardly more than a foundation* yet easily the lar'est buildin' in the to/n8 Already the mill dominated the 4illa'e and the li4es of the 4illa'ers8 To/nsfol! /ere ma!in' their /ay to/ards it* to continue the construction8 (e/er /ere headin' into the fields to tend their crops8 At one time* most of the 4illa'ers /ould head for the fields on risin' as this /as /here they made their li4elihood* 'ro/in' barley and /heat* and 4e'etables for their o/n tables8 6o/* /ith the edicts of the >mperor and the Ma'istrate* most of the men /ere occupied in buildin' the mill8 The /omen tended the crops* /hile some formerly producti4e fields /ent fallo/8 Their o/n 郐 field had 'one to /eed* 9a/! !ne/* as his ◌ ֨ mother refused to tend it* preferrin' to focus on her preser4es8 Thou'h he could not see him* he /as sure his father /as headin' for the mill8 9is apprehension 're/ a bit as he thou'ht that he should be headin' to the mill as /ell8 ?This is it*@ he affirmed8 ?=ell* let$s 'i4e these hayheads somethin' to tal! about8@ <abon be'an strummin' his lute* strollin' do/n the road into to/n8 &hasin' a/ay his anFiety* 9a/! Descendin' !ept a pace /ith him8 9e dre/ up his flute and be'an to play* follo/in' the chord chan'es and meter <abon established8 Soon <abon started to sin'8 5$m a tin!er here to trade8 =ellBcrafted implements 5 ha4e made8 Brin' me your dama'ed !ettles and pots* 5$m the man to repair the lot8 #ettlesJ S!illetsJ PotsJ Tin!er in the to/nJ These last t/o lines* he called out in a loud* clear 4oice8 As he did so* he shru''ed his shoulders intentionally to set his /ears to clan'in'8 5 am a tin!er of 'reat s!ill8 5$4e many a !ettle for you to fill8 .
And 5 can e4en mend your /atch* -r fashion a codpiece for your crotch8 At this last line* he 'a4e a side /in! to 9a/!* /ho almost dropped the meter8 #ettlesJ S!illetsJ PotsJ Tin!er in the To/nJ To/nspeople /ere linin' the road to /atch them pass8 9a/! Descendin' did not !no/ if they /ere more surprised to see the tin!er or to see him* the 4illa'e hunchbac!* at his side playin' the flute8 9e felt their resistance* and he had to i'nore their disbelie4in' stares in order to continue8 After se4eral 4erses* each more humorous and more ba/dry than the one before* <abon nodded to 9a/! and told him* ?<i4e them a sho/8@ The tin!er must ha4e obser4ed ho/ they /ere starin' at 9a/! openBmouthed8 By this time they /ere 'atherin' a cro/d* many of /hom follo/ed alon' behind8 9a/! Descendin' felt their doubt and amusement8 9e brou'ht it out in melody and thre/ it bac! at them* transformin' it into deli'ht8 Loo!in' around* he sa/ smiles on their faces and pic!ed up on their appreciation8 The feelin' /as so no4el he almost faltered8 There /as e4en some applause as he brou'ht his solo to an end and <abon too! up the son' a'ain8 5 am a tin!er here to trade8 5 /ill deli'ht you /ith /hat 5$4e made8 ֨ 郐◌ 9ere 5$4e built a better mousetrap8 And here$s a 'ilded pot for your house crap8 #ettlesJ S!illetsJ PotsJ Tin!er in the to/nJ By the time they reached the to/n sEuare* they made Euite a parade8 The to/nspeople /ere lau'hin' at <abon$s 4erses8 There /as a 'reat deal of Docularity8 They came to a halt before the stables* and they finished the son' amid much applause8 )nused to the adulation* 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed out at his nei'hbors /ith a bi' smile on his face* at /hich they lau'hed all the louder8 Then he cau'ht si'ht of his mother and his 'randfather standin' in bac! of the cro/d8 They /ere cut of the same cloth. their faces /ere stern /ith disappro4al and e4en shame8 As thou'h hearin' /ith their ears* he apprehended the comments of the audience8 ?The clo/n and the fool8@ ?=e should dress him in a fool$s cap and send him to entertain the >mperor8@ 9e sa/ t/o boys hoppin' around in imitation of his deformed bac!* loo!in' Euite ridiculous8 The smile melted from his face as he realiGed the people /ere lau'hin' not /ith him* but at him8 Beside him* <abon hastened to set aside his lute and shuc! his pac!8 9e /hispered an aside to 9a/! Descendin'* thou'h the /ords barely re'istered8 ?=e dre/ a 'oodly audience8 #eep them entertained /hile 5 set up8@ 9a/! loo!ed at him /ithout comprehendin'8
?Play for them8@ <abon spelled it out8 6otin' the pain in 9a/!$s eyes* he shoo! him by the arm* see!in' to brea! his re4erie8 ?6o/ is your chance to impress them8@ 6otin' that if somethin' /asn$t done* they /ould lose their audience* <abon turned to the cro/d8 ?Your o/n 9a/! Descendin' /ill perform for you /hile 5 set up for business8 9e is a little shy* but 5$m sure that if /e all as! him for a son'* he /ill obli'e us8@ A'ain* he ur'ed* ?9a/!* play your flute8@ ?Play your fluteJ Play your fluteJ@ The to/nspeople too! up the call* all but his 'randfather and his mother8 ?&ome on* hunchbac!* playJ@ Trout S/immin'* e4er ready to taunt 9a/! Descendin'* called out* causin' se4eral people to lau'h8 9a/! raised the flute* not to 'i4e them /hat they /anted* but to shut them up8 9e ble/ a shrill note on the flute* almost as if he /as hurlin' an insult at them8 Then he found the son' of the to/n and played it for them8 >4eryone shut up and listened* startled by /hat he played8 Thou'h they had ne4er heard this son' before* it seemed familiar* e4en intimate8 -n the surface it /as a son' of 'randeur and ri'hteous li4in'* yet underneath it /as hau'hty and false8 There /as a murmur of 4oices that threatened to brea! off the performance* /hen the tune /as transformed into somethin' sad and 4ulnerable* pitiable and forlorn8 5t /as a lament* mournin' the disempo/erment and failure of them all8 And it /as a cry for freedom and release* and an ac!no/led'ement of the inDured beauty at the heart of them all8 Throu'h his flute* 9a/! assaulted them /ith the truth of /hat they had become ֨ themsel4es in refusin' to stand up for 郐◌ and /hat a terrible inDustice they had done themsel4es8 9e sho/ed them their o/n co/ardice* and their petty attempts to ma!e up for their lac! by tearin' do/n others8 9is flute condemned them for refusin' to admit the truth about themsel4es8 And still he pleaded /ith them* coaFin' them in unctuous tones to accept him for /ho he /as and reco'niGe his 'ift8 Somethin' hit him in the side of the face and bro!e off his recital8 5t /as a dirt clod* thro/n by one of the boys /ho /as apin' him Dust moments a'o8 <abon stared at him slac!BDa/ed and a'hast8 The to/nspeople /ere embarrassed* humiliated e4en8 They felt manipulated into confrontin' somethin' they /ere in no /ay ready to admit8 As the spell of the son' faded* their humiliation blossomed into an'er8 Behind the cro/d* his mother and 'randfather /ere /al!in' a/ay* /ith their bac!s to him8 The cro/d 'rumbled /ith ill humor8 Another clod of dirt hit him on the shoulder8 Then a roc! bounced off his forehead* causin' him to stumble8 Beside him* <abon /as pullin' to'ether his pac!8 ?That /as the /ron' piece to playJ@ 9e held up a s!illet to /ard off a barra'e of stones8 ?(lee for itJ@ The tin!er bolted into the stables as more roc!s came flyin'8 9a/! started to turn to/ard him* but a lar'e stone cau'ht him ri'ht on his hunch8 The pain a/o!e a fury /ithin8 9e rounded on the cro/d /ith a roar of an'er that cau'ht them short8 9a/! bounded throu'h the middle of them* !noc!in' men and /omen aside8 9e 'alloped on to the dais Dust as (ield Mouse and t/o other constables appeared in the sEuare8 =ith one tremendous leap* he 'ained the chestnut tree8 (rom there he fled o4er rooftops and /as 'one before anyone could thin! to 'i4e chase8
KKK This time he heard the clan'in' of pots and pans /ell before the tin!er came in si'ht8 <abon /as not playin' the lute or sin'in' as he tra4eled bac! throu'h the forest8 9e /as hurryin' alon'* hastenin' to lea4e the to/n of Path$s >nd behind him8 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht of lettin' him pass* but he o/ed him an apolo'y* and he needed to ma!e amends8 So once a'ain* he leapt do/n on the road as the tin!er approached8 <abon 'a4e a start* but he reco4ered much Euic!er than the first time they met on the pre4ious e4enin'8 ?5 am sorry8@ 9a/! bo/ed lo/ before him8 ?6o need8@ <abon 'lanced behind him as he spo!e8 ?5 doubt 5 /ould ha4e done much business in that to/n* in any case8@ ?They /elcomed you until 5 spoiled it8@ ?9ad you not spoiled it* 5$m sure the constables soon /ould ha4e8@ <abon 'a4e another loo! o4er his shoulder8 ?6o/* if you$ll eFcuse me* 5 mean to be out of these /oods before sundo/n8@ ?(irst 5 must return this to you8@ 9a/! held out the sil4er flute8 ?9a4in' misused it and cost you trade* 5 do not deser4e it8@ <abon /a4ed it aside8 ?5 did not 'i4e it to you8 5t /as already yours8 And no/* 5 really need to be off8@ ?May 5 /al! /ith youH@ ?&ertainly8@ 9a/! fell in beside the tin!er* /ho set a rapid pace despite his hea4y pac!8 After a moment* the tin!er said* ?5 had you /ould be lon' 'one8@ ◌ ֨ 郐thou'ht ?5 ha4e no/here to 'o8@ ?6onsense8@ At this* <abon /as irritated8 ?The /hole /orld lies before you8 9i'h Brid'e lies this /ay8@ ?Yes8@ The 9arper$s 9all had ne4er seemed so distant8 ?You do ha4e a uniEue talent*@ <abon 4ouched8 9e had to chuc!le at the memory8 ?5 ha4e ne4er heard a musician rile his audience so /ith Dust a bare melody8@ ?5 am sorry for the trouble 5 caused you8 5 /orried they cau'ht you and too! their an'er out on you8@ ?You did lea4e me in a ti'ht spot8 But ne4er mind8 5t /as not your intention8 5 can$t blame you for not ta!in' 'uff from a shallo/Bminded bunch of hayheads8@ ?=hat happenedH@ ?They had me hemmed into the stables8 But fortunately the constables 'ot them under control before they could dra' me out and stone me to death8@ ?So you escapedH@ ?6ot /ithout the cost of a 'ood set of coo!/are*@ <abon lamented8 ?That head constable has a lucrati4e Dob linin' his o/n poc!ets8@ 9a/! Descendin' re'retted the eFpense he cost the tin!er8 ?Ta!e the flute8@ he offered a'ain8 ?Melt it do/n for its sil4er8 5t /ill more than repay your loss8@ ?Destroyin' such an instrument /ould be obscene8@ <abon chuc!led a'ain8 ?6o* it /as /orth the price to see the loo!s on those furro/ plo/ers$ faces8@ 9e stopped a moment to loo! at 9a/!8 ?5 say a'ain* 'et to 9i'h Brid'e8 You ha4e a rare talent8 5f you can stir hi'her emotions as easily as you casti'ated that bunch of turnip farmers* then you /ill ma!e a 'reat 9arper8@
that his mother and 'randfather /itnessed the spectacle8 ?Then it is they /ho o/e you the apolo'y8 Any family that /ould stand by and allo/ somethin' li!e that to happen to you is no family to be beholden to8@ <abon continued on his /ay8 ?&ome to 9i'h Brid'e /ith me8 There is not one 9arper in a hundred /ith your talent8 6ay* not one in a thousand8@ 9a/! stayed /here he /as8 ?5 must 'o bac!8@ <abon turned to face him8 ?You insistH@ ?5 /ill snea! in at ni'ht8 And 5 /ill only stay lon' enou'h to say 'oodbye to my parents8 Before dayli'ht* 5 /ill be miles a/ay8@ ?You are ta!in' a 'ra4e ris!* for little return8 =hat do you hope to 'et from your parents before you lea4eH :emember* they 'a4e you up to be stoned to death8@ ?5 still hope for their blessin'* or at least their for'i4eness8 But 5 cannot lea4e this ֨ 郐◌ matter unresol4ed8@ ?That 5 understand8@ <abon 'a4e him a sharp loo!8 ?6othin' can haunt a man li!e re'ret8 You be careful snea!in' in and out of to/n8 Don$t tarry too lon' see!in' their blessin' or for'i4eness8 You are li!ely to recei4e neither8@ 9e offered 9a/! the handsha!e of a city d/eller8 This /as the second man /ith /hom 9a/! shoo! hands8 9e could only hope this partin' brou'ht <abon better luc! than the last brou'ht to :oban and his family8 ?Loo! you here*@ <abon told him8 ?5 /ill be in the to/n of Lo/rie* beyond the hills8 There 5 shall rest for a couple of days* findin' /or! to recoup my losses8 -nce you ha4e Euit your family* see! me out and to'ether /e /ill ply the road to 9i'h Brid'e8@ ?That 5 /ill8@ ?Then be careful8 And fare you /ell8@ ?<oodbye* <abon8 You are a true friend8@ <abon set off amid a clan'in' of metal8 9a/! Descendin' /atched him amble alon' before returnin' to the trees* there to a/ait the safety of ni'ht8 KKK 5t /as /ell past midni'ht /hen 9a/! Descendin' snuc! throu'h to/n to his parents$ house8 The 4illa'e /as Euiet and dar!8 >4eryone /as sleepin'8 9e /as surprised to find candles burnin' in his parents$ house8 9e eFpected to /a!e them /ith his arri4al8 Pee!in' inside* he found them seated at the !itchen table* sippin' tea8 5t /as ob4ious they /ere concerned for him8 They loo!ed so /ea! and 4ulnerable8 (or the first .?5 must 'o home and ma!e my apolo'ies8@ <abon s!idded to a halt8 ?You$4e 'ot to be !iddin'J Loo!* 5 escaped /ith a small fine8 But if you 'o bac! there* they are sure to stone you to death8@ 9a/! said nothin'8 <abon could see he /as determined8 ?5 !no/ ho/ the people in that to/n /ron'ed you8@ 9a/! opened his mouth* but the tin!er shushed him8 ?5 could see it in the /ay they treated you* and 5 heard it in the music you played for them8 They don$t deser4e you* man8 And you o/e them no apolo'ies8@ ?5 must apolo'iGe to my family8@ ?=ere they thereH@ ?Yes8@ This /as his 'reatest shame.
time in his life* he sa/ them not as parents loomin' o4er him* imposin' their /ill on him* but as re'ular people8 They /ere small and po/erless8 >4en his father* /ho /as stron' and broad of shoulder* no/ appeared /ea!8 And his mother /as no more than a fri'htened* co/erin' little child8 She /as really Euite pathetic8 9e !ne/ in this moment that e4erythin' his mother had done to him /as not done out of malice* but rather from her o/n sense of insecurity8 As he sa/ them the /ay they truly /ere* he felt compassion for them8 9e /anted* abo4e all* to reassure them8 <oin' to the side door* he entered the !itchen8 ?So* you finally sho/ your face8@ 9is mother /as an'ry8 9is father sat silently* unreadable8 >nterin' the house* 9a/! !ne/ he made a mista!e in returnin'8 9e should ha4e heeded <abon8 &losin' the door behind him* he /as a/are of his life pi4otin' around this moment to ta!e an uneFpected turn8 9e no lon'er had control of his destiny* li!e an animal cau'ht in a trap8 ?9a4e you any idea /hat shame you ha4e brou'ht do/n on this familyH@ ?5 only /anted to sho/ you ho/ /ell 5 played the flute8@ 9a/! Descendin' cast his 'aGe do/n* 'i4in' his hump eFa''erated prominence8 ?5 Dust /anted your blessin'8@ ?-ur blessin'J Your 'randmother is /orried sic! that you /ill run off and become a /anderin' minstrelH@ She said this as thou'h a minstrel$s life /as a curse8 ?5$m 'oin' to 9i'h Brid'e to become a 9arper8@ ?-h* no you$re notJ@ 9is mother contradicted him8 ?You$re not 'oin' any/here eFcept /here /e send you8 5f it /ere up to your 'randfather* /e /ould diso/n you and ֨ The salt mines /ere a death sentence — 郐◌ sell you in labor to the salt mines of Darro/8@ death by hard labor8 ?You o/e this family a 'reat deal* and you had best 'i4e up on foolish dreams and focus on payin' your /ay — and ma!in' restitution to the 4illa'e8 -ur nei'hbors don$t trust you8 They /ould rather see you s/in'in' from a limb in the 4illa'e sEuare8@ ?5 Dust /anted to sho/ e4eryoneM8@ he stammered8 ?-h* you sho/ed e4eryoneJ@ 9is mother eFploded8 ?You sho/ed them Dust /hat an eFploiti4e* per4erted frea! you areJ@ 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed to his father for defense* but #in'fisher only said* ?You ha4e hurt your mother 'reatly8@ ?=hat about meJ@ 9a/! could hold bac! no lon'er8 ?All my life she has misused me8 5f 5 am a frea!* it is because she made me so — for all the to/n to ridicule8@ ?=hatH =hatH@ &ro/ Shado/ sputtered8 ?5 used youH =hat an un'rateful boyJ@ ?Yes* you used meJ@ 9a/! could not stop himself8 ?You used me to 'et the po/er you ne4er had8@ ?That is enou'hJ@ #in'fisher could not stop himself8 &ro/ Shado/ co4ered her face as she /ept8 ?-h* my heartJ@ ?=hat are you tryin' to do to usH@ #in'fisher put an arm around his /ife as he demanded* ?<ro/ up for once and be a man8 Stop blamin' us for the mess you made of your life8@ 9a/! Descendin' could not respond8 5t /ould do no 'ood e4en if he could8 They could not see /hat he tried to tell them8 9e had not seen it clearly himself until this .
moment8 6o/ the /arped dynamic of his family sho/n plain before him8 There /as nothin' he could do here* so he turned to 'o8 The door opened behind him and three constables entered to ta!e him into custody8 9a/! /as so o4er/helmed* he made no mo4e to escape8 The &hief &onstable entered the house* follo/ed by his 'randfather8 ?5 told you he /ould be bac!*@ 5ron Ca/ /as sayin'8 ?9e couldn$t lea4e his family8@ ?You are under arrest for your ma'ical assault on the people of this 4illa'e*@ the &hief &onstable informed him8 To his men* he said* ?Search him8 (ind his flute and ta!e it a/ay so he can$t use it a'ain8@ ?(atherJ@ &ro/ Shado/ eFclaimed8 ?9o/ could youH@ ?5$m only doin' /hat is ri'ht8@ 5ron Ca/ proclaimed8 ?The boy is a menace8 5 told you he /ould be the ruin of us all8 =ell* 5$ll not stand by and let that happen8@ ?Ta!e him to the dun'eons*@ the &hief &onstable8 ?9e can /ait there until the Ma'istrate returns8@ ֨ 郐◌ .
&I&. In the Dungeons 9a/! Descendin' lan'uished in the dun'eons belo/ the Ma'istrate$s #eep for nearly a /ee!8 (or him* it /as one eFtended period of disempo/erment and isolation8 9e /as isolated from all others* isolated from the outside /orld* cut off from life e4en8 The stone of the /alls and the bars of the cell seemed to radiate oppression8 There /ere no /indo/s in his cell8 There /ere no furnishin's* other than a /aste buc!et8 9is /orld consisted of the cold stone /alls and floor* and a thin scatterin' of old hay that ser4ed a poor mattress throu'h the sleepless ni'hts8 There /as a small barred /indo/ in the iron door of his cell that let in a dismal li'ht from the torches that lit the connectin' chamber8 Seldom did he 'o to this /indo/ to loo! out on the confessor$s chamber beyond8 The confessor$s chamber /as furnished /ith a thic!* rectan'ular /ooden table and implements of torture8 9a/! Descendin' had no desire to loo! upon this room8 >4en his dar! cell /as preferable to /hat a/aited there8 The confessor did not ma!e an appearance the entire time 9a/! d/elt in this prison8 The Ma'istrate had left a fe/ days pre4ious to ma!e a tour of his Durisdiction8 There /ere no other prisoners but 9a/!8 The confessor$s ser4ices /ere not needed at this time8 But the Dailer assured 9a/! that he /ould meet the confessor Dust as soon as the Ma'istrate returned8 All too soon8 The Dailer /as a 'riGGled old man* retired from the >mperor$s <uard /ith a bum !nee8 =hen 9a/! Descendin' first came to this prison* the Dailer /as 'ruff /ith him* maintainin' that /hate4er his trans'ressions he could eFpect no mercy from the Ma'istrate8 9e had little sympathy for la/brea!ers8 To him* 9a/! /as little more than a beast* a/aitin' the >mperor$s Dustice8 ֨ 郐◌ -nce a day the Dailer brou'ht him bread and /ater8 And t/ice /hile 9a/! Descendin' /as there* the man had him pass out his /aste pail and accept a fresh one8 Aside from this* there /as little interaction bet/een them8 Throu'hout his life* 9a/! Descendin' had felt isolated and alienated from his family and his community8 5n these dun'eons* he e4en felt cut off from himself8 9is only thou'ht /as to /onder /hat he had done to be treated so8 9e /anted to cra/l into a corner and 4anish into the dar!ness and the milde/ed hay8 This /orld /as not for him8 The hunch on his bac! 're/ more pronounced8 5t /as ti'ht and hard* !eepin' him doubled o4er8 5t pained him to mo4e* and e4en to breathe8 5t /as all he could do to bear that hunch8 At times he thou'ht he /ould disappear into it completely8 At least* in that /ay* there /ould be nothin' of him left to suffer here* Dust a hard !not of t/isted tissue and bone* loc!ed a/ay in its o/n little prison* obli4ious8 A fe/ times in his desperation* he reached out to hear the music of eFistence8 -nly once did he succeed in findin' the son' of this place* an inaudible lament8 The sound of it nearly bro!e him8 9e released it* and did not reach for it a'ain8 &omplete depri4ation /as preferable to that8 And so he sat in the corner* huddled in his silence* and all but ceased to eFist8 9is a/areness /as narro/ed do/n to one dronin' note of sorro/* and that /as dimmed do/n until it approached eFtinction8 Sometimes the stillness /ould o4erta!e him* a nullity of eFistence that /as his only refu'e8 Then he /ould catch himself dra/in' in breath* and there it /ould be a'ain* the inhalin' and the eFhalin'* the ine4itability of eFistence8 .
a set of lun's to dra/ in breath and eFhale* a hunch* and one un/a4erin' note of sorro/8 Time /as 4acuous* measured only by inhalations and eFhalations* each as empty as the one before8 >ach breath led to another* and an eternity eFtended in un4aried monotony8 >ons passed* lost in thou'htless despair8 And then there came a distraction* sli'ht and fleetin'8 5t /as a buGGin'* there and 'one a'ain* /hich disturbed the a'eless sadness8 There it /as a'ain8 9a/! Descendin' /as annoyed by the sound8 =hat could be interferin' /ith his 'riefH The sound /as so full of life that it irritated him* ma!in' him an'ry8 9e /anted to stri!e out at it the neFt time it appeared8 And there it /as a'ain8 9a/! stirred8 Loo!in' for the source of the sound* he spotted a fly buGGin' around his cell8 9e /atched the fly patiently* determined to s/at it out of the air the neFt time it circled his head8 The fly /as one ephemeral but 4ital son' of eFistence* roc!etin' about the cell8 5t seemed to breathe life into this formidable prison* and as 9a/! Descendin' monitored it in its pere'rinations* he found somethin' in himself risin' up to fly /ith it8 The fly* in its minute 4itality* dre/ forth from him that /hich almost sounded alien to his o/n ears* so lon' had it been lost to him. the melody of his o/n son'8 Before he !ne/ it* 9a/! /as sin'in' /ith the fly* /heelin' throu'h the air* fillin' the confines of his cell /ith the son' of life* the son' of freedom8 The s/eetness of it brou'ht tears to his eyes8 9e cried in the realiGation that this son' could ne4er be ta!en from him* it could ne4er be lost unless he /as lost to it himself8 =ithout realiGin' it* 9a/! Descendin' be'an to /histle his son'8 The sound of it ֨ the dun'eon* /a!in' it up* brin'in' 郐◌ re4erberated throu'h his cell and throu'h illumination e4en to these subterranean depths that had ne4er seen the li'ht of the sun8 There /as 4itality here* e4en in the stone of the /alls and the metal of the door8 Drenched in the despair of countless prisoners as they /ere* they had their o/n innocence* their o/n pure melodies8 And 9a/! !ne/ that /hen he reached into this stone and metal and san' their son's* the doors /ould open and the /alls /ould crumble8 There /as no /ay they could !eep him imprisoned unless he imprisoned himself8 ?=hat is 'oin' on hereH@ 5t /as the Dailer8 ?5 /as /histlin'8@ ?You can$t do that here8@ The fello/ bristled at the thou'ht of it8 ?5t helps8 5t lifts my spirits8@ ?Lea4e off or 5$ll cease 'i4in' you /ater8 =e$ll see ho/ lon' you /histle /ith a dry mouth8@ 9a/! Descendin' reached out to find the Dailer$s son'* thin!in' this tune /ould ma!e the fello/ more amicable8 =hat he found /as a fello/ prisoner /ho !ept himself in Dail8 The man too! e4erythin' he hated about himself and proDected it onto his prisoners8 And then he Dustified his o/n imprisonment as necessary to !eep these e4il ones in their place8 9e too! out on prisoners all of the punishment he thou'ht he truly deser4ed* de'radin' them in a pitiful attempt to ele4ate himself8 Vie/in' this* 9a/! Descendin' stayed silent* !no/in' that to /histle the Dailer$s tune /ould only enra'e him all the more8 The fello/ re'arded him a moment lon'er8 ?That$s it8 5$ll ha4e no more /histlin' in these dun'eons8@ As he left the cell door* on his /ay bac! to his post* he muttered* .That /as all that /as left of him.
?=e$ll see ho/ /ell you /histle /hen you$re on the rac!8 =e$ll ta!e that !in! out of your bac!* /e /ill8 And that /ill 'i4e you somethin' to really /histle about8@ 9a/! Descendin' tried to pay his /ords no mind8 9e /as thin!in' of ho/ ad4erse some people /ere to their o/n son'8 This /as the son' of their o/n life. nothin' should be more dear to them8 Yet they could react /ith such 4ehemence /hen he played it for them8 9e thou'ht of the to/nspeople* comparin' their reaction to the Meechum family* and the reaction of Spotted (a/n /hen he played for her8 And then it came to him8 Spotted (a/n and the Meechum$s had been open to his performance8 They in4ited him in* and /elcomed him8 But the to/nspeople /ere closed to him* as /as the Dailer8 5n their resistance* his performance became an assault8 The unbidden performance of their most intimate tunes /as percei4ed as a 4iolation8 And their reaction /as ad4erse8 9a/! Descendin' had no desire to 4iolate anyone8 9e simply /anted to interact /ith them* and maybe help them a bit to come into better harmony /ith their o/n tune8 =hat /as so /ron' about thatH 5f he could help to a/a!en them to the music /ithin* they /ould see that he /as no monster8 =hy should he be so re4iled for the attemptH =hy should he be punished for thatH (or the remainder of the day* and in the days that follo/ed* 9a/! Descendin' held his silence8 9e still heard the music /ithin him* and /ithin the /orld around him8 But he doubted /hether it /as proper for him to 'i4e eFpression to this music8 ֨ 郐◌ .
The %ong o$ Freedom Three days later* 9a/! Descendin' /as lyin' in his cell /hen he heard distant hummin'8 At first he thou'ht it /as the music he played internally* the 4oice and the melody /ere so similar8 5t /as a li'ht and Doyful tune* /ith a hint of the /ild8 And it /as comin' from the chamber outside of his cell8 9a/! /anted to find out /ho /as hummin'* to /arn the hummer of the dan'er he brou'ht upon himself8 At the same time the hummin' tu''ed at his heart and his essence8 9e felt li'hter* freer8 9e felt the nearness of the /oods* the safety of the trees* the calm empo/erment of the earth8 Before he !ne/ it* he /as at the door of his cell* loo!in' out throu'h the bars8 As he rose* the notes of a harp Doined /ith the hummin' and too! o4er the tune8 The music called him* dre/ him on to the point that he almost felt in follo/in' its path he could pass throu'h the 4ery /alls of his cell8 5n the main chamber of the dun'eon* amid all of the implements of torture* draped in a cloa! of many colors* stood the 9arper &hantien* playin' his harp oneBhanded as he held it to his chest8 ?=hat are you doin' hereH@ ?Did 5 not say 5 /ould come bac! for youH@ the 9arper ans/ered /ithout a pause in his tune8 ?5 'a4e up /aitin'8@ ?The >mperor* and his minions in the pro4ince* sou'ht to bar my /ay8 But 5 am here8 Are you ready to be'in your apprenticeship in earnestH &ome8@ ?5 cannot8@ 9a/! Descendin' 'rasped Აω the solid bars8 ?You ha4e so much to learn8@ The music crescendoed* tu''in' at 9a/!8 ?(ollo/ the music8@ 9a/! Descendin' closed his eyes and hummed alon'* surrenderin' to the music8 9e no lon'er felt the door in front of him8 The music bid him to follo/8 9e too! a step for/ard* part of him eFpectin' to smac! into the door8 There /as no resistance8 9e too! another step* and another* follo/in' the music until he sensed that he stood before the 9arper8 -penin' his eyes* he found himself standin' in front of &hantien in the main chamber8 Loo!in' behind him* he sa/ the door to his cell still closed* securely bolted and loc!ed from the outside8 ?This is an illusionJ 5 am hallucinatin'J@ The 9arper smiled* ne4er missin' a beat8 ?Ah* my friend* e4erythin' is an illusion8 >4erythin' is an hallucination8@ 9e turned to face the /all8 As he did so* there /as a sli'ht chan'e in the music8 The /all opened* and throu'h it* 9a/! Descendin' sa/ li'ht and the 'reen of a forest8 ?&ome8 5t is time to lea4e this place8@ 9a/! follo/ed the 9arper out of the dun'eon* and into a ne/ /orld8 .&&.
Part Fi. In the Moment 9a/! Descendin' stepped out into a forest 'lade8 The sun o4erhead /as bri'ht8 5t /as fall at Path$s >nd /hen he left the dun'eon8 9ere it felt more li!e midsummer8 After all of the time he spent in the dun'eon* it too! him a /hile to adDust to the li'ht8 9e shaded his eyes and sEuinted at the 'round* nearly blind for all of his precautions8 &hantien stopped at his side* 'i4in' him time to adDust8 9e ceased playin' the harp* lettin' the music 'o8 But throu'hout the 'len there /as a sourceless musical /hisperin'8 9a/! Descendin' /ondered it they /ere amid some chorus of sin'ers* a symphony of musicians playin' dulca pianissimo8 9e 'aGed around* but the 'lare of the sun troubled his eyes* ma!in' them /ater8 (or a moment* he thou'ht they /ere surrounded by an assembly of small bein's8 They /ere in the 'rass* in the trees* e4en floatin' in the air8 There /as no 'lade* no forest.e — (!!renticeshi! &&I. only this audience of 'litterin' bein's8 >ach held a li'ht* a candle* a shimmerin' crystal8 =ipin' the tears from his eyes* he loo!ed a'ain and sa/ they /ere not bein's* but colorful 'limmers of li'ht* as of a myriad of reflecti4e crystals8 And as each crystal 'leamed /ith its o/n distincti4e li'ht* it 4ibrated* soundin' its o/n note in the resultin' chorus8 9e rubbed his eyes a'ain* and around him* he sa/ the 'rasses* the trees* a small Აω stream* the blue s!y8 The chorus faded to the border of silence8 Across the 'lade /as a thatched cotta'e he had not seen before8 And before him stood an old man* ancient by any standard* yet timeless in his 4itality8 &hantien bo/ed his head to the elder8 ?Maestro* he is here8@ 9e introduced 9a/!8 ?9a/! Descendin'* bo/ to Master 9arper &elestia8@ 9a/! affected a deep but a/!/ard bo/8 ?:ise8@ The Master 9arper spo!e to him in a 4oice smooth yet resonant8 ?=e suffer no formalities here8@ As 9a/! strai'htened* he studied the Master 9arper a moment8 The man /as not much taller than him8 9e had flo/in' 'ray hair and a lon'* thic! 'ray beard8 6othin' about him seemed imposin'* but 9a/! /as certain that /here4er he /ent* e4eryone /ould defer to him8 A li'ht and soothin' music flo/ed from him8 The air around him shimmered* as thou'h polariGed by his presence* 'i4in' him a 4isible aura* as thou'h the 4ery air bo/ed to him8 &elestia 'a4e him an embrace as thou'h they /ere old friends* and 9a/! felt himself open to the elder as to a most trusted and lon'Bstandin' confidant8 ?5 ha4e heard your son'*@ the elder told him8 Ta!in' his arm* he led him to t/o boulders by the side of the stream8 ?And 5 ha4e loo!ed for/ard to this meetin'8 Sit8@ 9e directed 9a/! to one boulder as he sat on the other8 ?=e ha4e a lot to tal! about8@ 9a/! loo!ed around for &hantien* but could see him no/here8 ?Don$t /orry about &hantien8 9e /ill be bac! in his o/n 'ood time8@ ?=here am 5H@ 9a/! loo!ed around* still amaGed8 ?You are at my home8 Don$t /orry* you are Euite safe here8@ .
9a/! Descendin' had so many Euestions he did not !no/ /here to be'in8 Sensin' his confusion* &elestia su''ested* ?Listen to the broo!8@ The babblin' /aters became the center of 9a/!$s attention8 9e heard the 4oice of the stream trillin'* lau'hin'* dancin'8 The 4oice of the stream /as made of the /aters lic!in' the shore* s/eepin' o4er the 'ra4el and sand of the streambed* lappin' at the air8 And /hile the /aters spo!e of e4erythin' they encountered* the focus of their discussion /as upon their mi'ration do/nstream* ine4itable* ineForable* and fully in !eepin' /ith their nature8 As he listened to the /aters* 9a/! Descendin' fell into balance /ith his o/n eFistence8 9e /as a stream of a/areness* flo/in' throu'h this physical moment8 >4erythin' else /as supposition8 ?<ood*@ &elestia pronounced8 ?You ha4e li4ed too lon' outside of the moment8 Doin' that* you place yourself at the mercy of Dud'ments and beliefs8 And all of those beliefs* all of those opinions* /ere tau'ht to you by others8 9o/e4er innocent their intentions* those beliefs only disempo/er you in this moment8 ?This moment is all that is real8 5n this moment you create your reality8 5n this moment you ha4e the po/er to do /hate4er you /ish8 Let the broo! /ash a/ay all thou'ht* all beliefs* all opinions8 Be a/are only of the sin'ular flo/ of your a/areness in this moment8 Sin' /ith the broo!* sin' /ith all else that coBeFists /ith you in this moment8 ?This is the 'oal of all true 9arpers. to li4e in and 'i4e eFpression to this eternal moment8 Bards spend years — nay lifetimes — see!in' this point8 (e/ reach it* much less retain it8 Yet this point is e4er /ith us8 5t is the moment in /hich /e li4e8 Აω thou'hts and beliefs to truly 'rasp this )nfortunately* most are too busy /ith their moment8@ &elestia pic!ed up a handful of small stones8 9e tossed one into the stream8 SplooshJ The /aters parted around the stone* s/allo/in' it8 &oncentric ripples Euic!ly bro!e up under the 'eneral current8 The /ater returned to its do/nstream focus* the stone becomin' Dust another teFture in the bed of the stream8 ?=here are you in this momentH@ ?Sittin' /ith you*@ 9a/! ans/ered* ?beside the stream8@ ?You aren$t in prisonH@ ?6o* not no/8@ &elestia tossed another stone into the stream8 ?Then let 'o of the dun'eons8 Let 'o of the past8@ 9a/! Descendin' /atched the /aters s/allo/ the stone* continuin' on their course8 ?=here /ill you be tomorro/H@ ?5 don$t !no/8@ &elestia tossed another stone into the stream8 ?Let 'o of that as /ell8@ &elestia prepared to thro/ another stone8 9e pulled bac! his arm* stone in hand* and then he stopped8 Loo!in' at 9a/! Descendin'* he as!ed* ?=hat about /hen you /ere in prison* did the stream hold its courseH@ .
9a/! thou'ht about this8 ?5 heard the Son' of Life /hile 5 /as in that cell8 At first it seemed distant8 5t /as almost painful to hear it* but 5 did8 And 5 san' it e4en thou'h it /as only in my head8@ ?And that is /hat brou'ht you here8@ &elestia seemed pleased /ith 9a/!$s ans/er8 ?>4ents are neutral8 5t is our beliefs and opinions that ma!e them positi4e or ne'ati4e8 5f /e hold on to the son' of the moment* all e4ents become merely 4ariations in the theme* lendin' color to the composition8 The stream alters its course to suit the landscape* yet it al/ays see!s the ocean8@ They contemplated the stream in silence for a /hile8 Presently* &elestia rose from his seat8 ?That is enou'h for no/8@ =hen 9a/! started to rise* &elestia motioned for him to stay seated8 ?&ontinue listenin' to the stream8 <o /here the moment ta!es you8 5f you feel li!e ta!in' a /al!* please do so8 You are in no dan'er here8 #eep your focus on the son' of the moment8@ &elestia left 9a/! by the stream* 'oin' inside the cotta'e8 9a/! Descendin' felt a need to mo4e8 9e had been so lon' sealed up in that cell* Dust bein' outside /ith no /alls and no roof o4er his head felt 'ood to him8 9e missed his forest8 6o/ he /as dra/n to /ander amon' the trees around this forest 'lade8 The forest here /as not the sturdy hard/oods of his home8 The trees here /ere predominantly aspen and birch* pine and spruce8 There /ere no trees for climbin'* but still he could lose himself in their company8 5n the forest* he heard the son's of the trees* sin'in' sin'ly and in chorus8 The son' of this forest held a much ti'hter chord than the hard/oods /here he li4ed8 The poplar san' in unison* as one tree threaded throu'hout the forest in indi4idual Აω trun!s8 They pro4ided a stron' frame/or! throu'h /hich the birch and the fir trees /o4e their distinct tones8 The firs added 4oices rich and /arm8 And the birch seemed to reach beyond this /orld entirely8 All around the 'lade* the 'round sloped 'ently up/ard8 (ollo/in' the slope* 9a/! sa/ they /ere in a 4alley surrounded by tall mountains8 9e /ondered /hy he did not see the ra''ed pea!s from the 'lade8 The only mountain ran'e he !ne/ of lay far to the north of his homeland8 9e had heard rumors of mountains far across the land of the #atai that rose so hi'h they tic!led the sun8 9e thou'ht of climbin' the mountains8 That ad4enture had best /ait for another day8 9e /as /ea! from his lon' imprisonment* and 'ro/in' hun'rier all the time8 Turnin' bac! to/ards the 'lade and the cotta'e* he thou'ht of ho/ much time had passed since &hantien brou'ht him here8 Surely* they /ould !no/ of his escape by no/8 &ould they trac! himH To be recaptured after an attempted escape /ould ma!e his situation all the /orse8 &elestia /as /aitin' for him in front of the cotta'e8 As 9a/! Descendin' approached* the elder fro/ned* thou'h the fro/n Euic!ly disappeared amon' all of the neutral lines on his face8 =hen 9a/! dre/ near* he as!ed* ?=hat is troublin' youH@ ?6o doubt they /ill be huntin' for me by ni'htfall8@ ?They /ill not find you here8@ ?Maybe8 But that does not stop me from /orryin'8@
?&ome8@ &elestia led him bac! to the stream8 There the Master 9arper chose a roc! as bi' as his fist8 9e handed it to 9a/! Descendin'8 ?This roc! is that /hich you fear8@ 9a/! loo!ed at the stone* !no/in' he did not fear it8 Then he realiGed the elder /anted him to proDect his fears into the stone8 9e sent all of his dread and anFiety into the roc!8 5t seemed to 'ro/ hea4ier in his hand8 ?6o/ thro/ it into the stream8@ 9a/! did so8 There /as a splash* and then the roc! /as s/allo/ed* the /aters continuin' on their /ay8 ?Your concerns are not a part of this moment8 They disturb the /aters only until you let them 'o8@ ?=hat if they find meH 5t /ould 'o 4ery badly* for me and for you8@ The Master 9arper tapped the boulder /here 9a/! sat earlier8 ?=hat if /e rolled this boulder into the streamH 5t /ould nearly span the streambed8 The broo! /ould be cho!ed* and do/nstream it /ould dry up8@ ?>4entually the /aters /ould find a /ay around it*@ 9a/! obser4ed8 ?Yes* they /ould alter their channel8 You can$t !eep the /aters from flo/in'8 >4en if /e built a dam and dedicated our li4es to maintainin' it* not lon' after /e /ere both 'one* the /aters /ould find a /ay to breach it8 A roc! may be more solid than /ater* but o4er time the ine4itable flo/ of /ater /ill /ear e4en the mountains do/n to sand8@ ?ButM8@ ?6o more buts8 5 ha4e indul'ed you lon' enou'h8 All of this is supposition that only interferes /ith the flo/ so lon' as you Აω hold it in your mind8 <i4e it to the stream and be done /ith it8@ &elestia turned bac! to the cotta'e8 ?6o/* come8 -ur supper is /aitin'8@
++)), ourting the Muse (or a /ee!* &elestia !ept 9a/! Descendin' focused on the present moment8 9e maintained this a/areness so constantly that it became his normal state8 =hene4er thou'hts of the past or future impeded* he learned to be a/are of them* and to drop them into the stream as soon as he assessed their si'nificance8 Thou'h 9a/! ached to play the flute* or to be'in instruction on the lute or harp* there /ere no music lessons8 &elestia had no musical instruments in his cotta'e* or any/here else that 9a/! could determine8 The cotta'e interior /as spartan8 A /ooden table and chairs* t/o stra/ cots* and a stone hearth8 &elestia rarely hummed* and 9a/! Descendin' ne4er heard him sin' or /histle8 9e /as al/ays tellin' 9a/! to feel the music in this present moment8 (eel it in the broo!* in the trees* in the 'rass* in the air* in e4erythin' and in himself in harmony /ith e4erythin'8 9a/! did feel the music8 5t filled him to burstin'* and he /as dyin' to 'i4e it eFpression8 -ther than that* &elestia spent most of his time tendin' the 'arden behind the cotta'e8 9e had a lar'e 'arden of 4e'etables and fruit* herbs and flo/ers8 -ccasionally he fished in the broo!8 9a/! Descendin' helped him in the 'arden* hauled /ater* chopped /ood and did other chores8 9e fished in the broo!* thou'h &elestia cautioned him not to fish it out8 After a /ee!* 9a/! Descendin' had to 'et out and do somethin'8 9e decided to ta!e a day hi!e up into the mountains8 9e pac!ed some bread and too! a s!in of /ater8 &elestia sa/ him off early in the mornin'* directin' him north/ard* /here the elder said the mountains /ere not impassible8 Აω 9a/! Descendin' /as Euite a/are that this 4alley /as an unusual place8 6o matter ho/ clear and bri'ht* from the forest 'lade he could ne4er see the mountains that surrounded them8 9e suspected that neither could the 'lade and the cotta'e be seen from the mountain hei'hts8 9e intended to test this suspicion8 9o/e4er in4isible the mountains /ere from the cotta'e* off in the /oods they loomed all around him8 9e thou'ht he /ould be climbin' the slopes by midmornin'8 The mountains al/ays appeared to be Dust beyond the neFt copse8 Yet once throu'h those trees* they lay beyond another stand ahead8 The sun /as hi'h o4erhead* and 9a/! /as be'innin' to thin! he /ould ne4er reach the mountains* /hen the 'entle slope of the 'round became steeper8 The hi!e became a climb. the /oodlands opened up into isolated stands8 :oc!y screes made the passa'e more difficult8 After an hour spent climbin' little more than one hundred yards* 9a/! found a trail perpendicular to the slope8 The trail tra4eled in one direction for a /hile* climbin' 'radually. then it /ould s/itchbac! to the other direction8 (ollo/in' the trail /as easier* and thou'h less direct* he made better pro'ress8 9a/! 'a4e up on reachin' the top of this rid'e8 That /ould probably ta!e another day of tra4el8 9e chose as his 'oal the base of the escarpment /here the stone mountain truly rose up from the foreBslope8 9e estimated* at his rate of tra4el* it /ould ta!e him at least an hour to reach this point8 The trees fell a/ay from the base of the escarpment* and from there he should ha4e a 'ood 4ie/ of the 4alley8 9e could rest* eat the remainder of his bread* drin! some /ater* and then head bac! do/n8 The return Dourney /ould be easier and Euic!er8 9e /as confident he /ould ma!e it bac! to the cotta'e by ni'htfall8
:eachin' the base of the escarpment* 9a/! turned to loo! bac! at the 4alley8 5t /as circular in shape* less than a mile in diameter* rin'ed all around by tall mountains8 (rom here* all he could see of the 4alley /as a canopy of trees* /hich loo!ed continuous8 Cust as he suspected* there /as no si'n of the 'lade* or the cotta'e8 9e couldn$t e4en see the stream cuttin' throu'h the trees8 Studyin' the 4alley* he heard faint music8 At first he thou'ht it /as the music that /as al/ays /ith him no/* the son' of the earth and the trees* the Son' of >Fistence8 And that /as the theme* but playin' alon'* almost too Euiet to be detected* /as a harp8 A hundred yards to his ri'ht* the slope broadened out at the base of the escarpment8 The spot /as curtained by a lar'e boulder and a fe/ scrub pine8 That /as /here the music came from8 The music stopped as he approached the spot8 Steppin' around the side of the boulder* he found his friend seated on a roc!* his bac! restin' a'ainst the escarpment* harp in his lap8 ?&hantienJ@ ?-ut for a hi!e todayH@ &hantien too! the encounter as casually as if they had crossed paths in to/n8 ?=hat are you doin' hereH@ ?5$4e been /atchin' you for the past half hour8 5 /asn$t sure if 5 should lend you a hand8@ ?=here ha4e you beenH@ This Euestion had been much on 9a/!$s mind since &hantien disappeared after ta!in' him to &elestia$s 'lade8 &hantien /a4ed a hand throu'h the air8 ?9ere and there8@ Აω 9a/! let it 'o* !no/in' he /ould recei4e no better ans/er8 ?9o/ 'o your studies /ith &elestiaH@ 9a/! fro/ned8 ?=hat studiesH 5 ha4en$t e4en seen an instrument* much less played one8 >4ery time 5 as! a Euestion* &elestia has me Euiet my mind and focus on the present moment8@ ?That is a be'innin'8 &elestia has his o/n method8 That is part of /hat ma!es him the 'reatest 9arper in all the /orlds8@ ?5 thou'ht 5 /ould study in 9i'h Brid'e8 =hy did you brin' me hereH@ ?The academy at 9i'h Brid'e couldn$t teach you half as much as &elestia can8 9e /ill teach you /hat you need to !no/8@ ?Then /hy isn$t he at 9i'h Brid'eH =hy is he out here* hidden a/ay in this isolated 4alleyH@ ?9e prefers it here8@ &hantien played his harp a bit8 9a/! Descendin' listened /ithout interruptin'8 Presently* &hantien let the harp 'o silent8 ?The 9arper$s 9all has its o/n internal politics8 And they ha4e the >mperor to contend /ith8 &elestia$s o/n brand of instruction a/a!ens people* both 9arpers and listeners8 The other Master 9arpers !eep their true recitals formal and ceremonial8 &elestia is dedicated to the true recital8 (or him* e4ery breath is a part of the true recital8 6either the emperor* nor the &ouncil of 9arpers could allo/ that8@ ?So he is eFiled8@ ?6o8 &elestia could ne4er be eFiled8 9e is beyond their po/er8@ ?Then /hy hide out hereH@ .
?5t is his /ay8 &elestia performs Euietly and softly8 9e !no/s that a true 9arper ser4es as an open instrument for the Son' of >Fistence* allo/in' it to be played clearly throu'h him8 9e does not force his /ill upon the melody unless he has a 'ood reason for doin' so* and has thou'ht throu'h all of the possible conseEuences8 And e4en then* you must act purely* from unconditional lo4e8@ 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht of all of the misfortunes and all of the sufferin' he had seen in the /orld8 9e thou'ht of his o/n people eFploited by the Ma'istrate8 9e thou'ht of the horrible deaths of the family Meechum* and ho/ he sa4ed their baby and 'a4e it to (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n8 ?But if /e ha4e the po/er* /e should help people8 5f /e don$t use our abilities to empo/er people* they /ill 'o on bein' disempo/ered8@ ?You can$t force e4eryone to open their eyes8 Then you /ould be Dust as manipulati4e as the >mperor8 You can$t ri'ht a /ron' at the same le4el /here it /as committed8 You can$t help anyone to open his eyes unless he is ready to open them8@ ?=hat of your performance in to/nH@ ?5 'a4e that performance for you8@ ?(or meH@ ?5 !ne/ you /ere there8 And 5 !ne/ you /ere ready to open your eyes8 6o one else did8 6o one else /as ready* so no one else could8@ ?You ris!ed that Dust for me8@ ?To help e4en one person open his eyes is the achie4ement of a lifetime8@ &hantien fro/ned8 ?But my moti4e /asn$t entirely so noble8 There /as pride in4ol4ed* and 5 /anted to stic! it to the Ma'istrate8@ Აω ?And so you did8@ ?Because my moti4es /ere not entirely pure* neither /as the outcome8 The price has been paid8@ 9a/! thou'ht he /as referrin' to his eFpulsion from to/n* and the fines le4ied on the to/nspeople8 9e could see ho/ &hantien$s 4isit led to the deaths of the Meechum family* and to his o/n imprisonment8 9ad he not tau'ht 9a/! to play the flute* and started him do/n the path of sensin' the music in e4erythin'* 9a/! Descendin' /ould ne4er ha4e performed at the Meechum$s camp* dra/in' un/anted attention to the family8 And he /ould ne4er ha4e performed in to/n /ith the tin!er* resultin' in his o/n imprisonment8 Yet* horrible as the fate of the Meechum family had been* it brou'ht the baby Mi!al bac! to the home of (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n* /here the infant had first been born8 The death of one family reunited another8 And 9a/! Descendin' /ould ne4er ha4e been able to rescue the baby /ithout his musical abilities8 Li!e/ise* his imprisonment led him here* to apprenticeship under Master 9arper &elestia8 Truly* &elestia /as ri'ht8 You could not d/ell upon the past or /orry about the future /ithout 'i4in' up your po/er in this moment8 5t /as better to focus on the moment* realiGin' that e4erythin' else — e4en the past — /as supposition that /ould rob you of your true po/er8 ?You can$t blame yourself*@ 9a/! told &hantien8 ?You can only li4e in the present moment as best you can8@ &hantien 'a4e him a tolerant smile8 ?Than! you for the reminder8@ .
9e sat his harp on the 'round and rose from his seat8 ?6o/ it is time to be off8 The sun is nearly touchin' the mountains to the /est8 5t /ill be dar! soon8@ ?&elestia /ill hold a late dinner for us8@ 9a/! obser4ed8 ?You 'o on ahead8 5 left Moonbeam and the rest of my thin's se4eral miles bac!8@ &hantien had already set off alon' the base of the cliff8 9e /as distracted* as e4idenced in that he left his harp behind8 ?Your harpJ@ 9a/! called out to him8 &hantien paid no mind8 ?Don$t for'et your harpJ@ =ithout so much as a pause* &hantien passed around a clump of cedar and disappeared from 4ie/8 ?&hantienJ@ 9a/! /aited for the response that did not come8 =as he 'oin' to pic! up the harp on the /ay bac!H 9a/! couldn$t ima'ine him lea4in' it behind intentionally8 5t /as his priGe possession8 =hy /ould he lea4e Moonbeam so far bac! do/n the trail in the first placeH 9a/! loo!ed at the harp* /onderin' if he should /ait here for &hantien$s return8 5n the end* 9a/! too! the harp /ith him8 9e arri4ed at the cotta'e after the sun disappeared behind the mountains8 &elestia had a !ettle of ste/ heatin' on the hearth8 The elder /as seated in a chair dra/n close to the fire* readin' one of the fe/ boo!s he o/ned8 9e did not e4en 'lance up /hen 9a/! Descendin' entered8 Yet* as al/ays* he seemed to !no/ e4erythin' about 9a/!* e4en /hat /as in his mind8 ?So* you met up /ith &hantien8@ ?9e$ll be alon' in another hour8@ 9a/! Descendin' held out the harp* as thou'h Აω to say* N/here should 5 put this8$ ?Set that at the foot of your bed8@ &elestia finished the passa'e he /as readin' and closed the boo! as 9a/! settled the harp safely out of the /ay and shuc!ed his pac!8 9a/! Descendin' dre/ a chair o4er to the fireplace and sat facin' the Master 9arper8 9e /as burnin' to as! a Euestion that he Dust couldn$t !eep to himself anymore8 ?=hat is itH@ &elestia prompted him8 ?=hen /ill you teach me the harpH@ ?Soon enou'h* it seems8@ &elestia 'lanced at the harp8 ?But you aren$t Euite ready8@ ?=hen /ill 5 beH@ ?Too many musicians learn an instrument before they court their muse8 And then their muse is fore4er tied to their instrument8 5t is better not to hold an instrument bet/een you and your muse8@ &elestia 'ot up to stir the !ettle8 ?You should eat /hile the ste/ is still /arm8@ ?5$ll /ait for &hantien8@ ?Then you /ill 'o hun'ry8@ &elestia put on his cap8 ?5 ha4e business outdoors8@ 9e left 9a/! sittin' by the hearth8 The elder /as 'one for a considerable len'th of time8 More than an hour passed /hen 9a/! 'a4e in to his hun'er and ate8 &elestia came in as he /as finishin' his meal8 9a/! Descendin' half eFpected &hantien to accompany him8 ?=hen /ill &hantien 'et hereH@ ?Do not /orry about &hantien*@ the elder told him8 ?9e has his o/n /ays8 5 do not eFpect him toni'ht8@ .
?9e said he /ould be here8@ ?Time does not count for &hantien as it does for you8 9e /ill be here /hen he is here8@ ?5 hope he$s all ri'ht8@ ?Do not /aste your present moment /orryin' about him8@ &elestia spo!e in a 4oice that said the subDect /as closed8 ?You concern does him no 'ood* and it diminishes you8@ 9a/! said no more8 9e /ashed out his bo/l and spoon8 9e spent the rest of the e4enin' sittin' by the hearth* 'aGin' into the fire* /onderin' silently /hat happened to his friend8 &hantien did not arri4e that ni'ht* nor the neFt day8 Thou'h 9a/! Descendin' /orried about him* he said nothin' to &elestia8 =hy /ould &hantien lea4e his harp and not return for itH Აω .
&&III. To arry a Tune The neFt day* as they /ere /eedin' the 'arden* &elestia as!ed* ?You are mana'in' to stay in the momentH@ ?(or the most part*@ 9a/! Descendin' ans/ered as he du' loose the lon' tap root of a persistent /eed8 ?Thou'hts come up to tu' me out of the moment* but 5$m a/are of them* and 5 let 'o of them as soon as 5 can8@ ?5t is 'ood to be a/are of them8 =hat are these thou'hts tryin' to tell youH@ ?That my 4isit here is only temporary8 The /orld 5 left /ill intrude8 And 5 am thin!in' much of &hantien8 =here is heH =hy did he lea4e his harp behindH@ ?Trust &hantien to loo! after himself8 As for the other — e4erythin' chan'es8 -nly chan'e is constant8@ ?5 'uess it is that chan'e that /orries me8 5sn$t it normal to fear the un!no/nH@ ?9uman maybe* but not necessarily normal8 (ear denotes a lac! of understandin'* and a lac! of trust8@ ?Trust in /hatH@ ?5n yourself8@ &elestia finished the ro/ on /hich he /as /or!in'8 :isin' up to dust the soil from his !nees* he studied 9a/! a moment8 ?&ome8@ 9e led 9a/! Descendin' around the cotta'e* bac! to the sittin' stones by the side of the stream8 This spot had become their classroom8 After they /ere both seated* &elestia loo!ed o4er the broo!* in4itin' 9a/! to /atch the /aters flo/8 5n time* the elder said* ?The stream is e4er in motion* yet it is e4er the stream8 =hat is the essential nature of the broo!H@ 9a/! thou'ht a moment8 ?The /aters see!in' their /ay bac! to the oceanH@ Აω ?Deeper8@ 9a/! pondered8 ?5t is the flo/ of essence throu'h this 4alleyH@ ?6ot throu'h the 4alley8@ ?Throu'h this moment of eFistence*@ 9a/! corrected himself8 ?The stream is the flo/ of essence throu'h this moment of eFistence8@ The Master 9arper studied his pupil a moment and then nodded his head8 ?You ha4e many thou'hts yet — many beliefs — /hich rob you of the true po/er of this moment8 The truth of this moment is that you are the flo/ of essence throu'h this moment of eFistence8 That is the only truth8 >4erythin' else is beliefs* accepted by con4ention8@ 6otin' the puGGled loo! he recei4ed from 9a/! Descendin'* he smiled8 ?You belie4e you are sittin' on a roc! neFt to me* beside a stream8 =e are in a 'rassy clearin' by a cotta'e* in a /ooded 4alley surrounded by mountains8@ 9a/! nodded8 All of that /as plain enou'h8 ?Yet a /ee! a'o you sat in a prison cell8 Tell me* ho/ did you 'et from there to hereH@ 9a/! Descendin' stru''led a moment8 9e could not eFplain8 ?&hantien brou'ht me here by the ma'ic of music8@ ?-h* did he no/8@ 5n the blin! of an eye* 9a/! Descendin' /as bac! in his cell8 The chan'e of scene hit him /ith a /a4e of shoc!* close on the heels of /hich came despair8 ?=hat is truly realH@ 9e heard &elestia$s 4oice* thou'h he could not see him8 .
9a/! Descendin' felt the floor /here he sat8 5t /as solid enou'h — solid and cold8 Then he /as bac! on the roc! by the stream8 The roc! /as solid* yet /armed by the sun8 ?:eality is a con4ention*@ &elestia said8 ?9o/ did you do thatH@ 9a/! loo!ed around him* /onderin' if all this /as an hallucination8 =as he still in that prison cell* out of his mindH ?All of reality is an illusion* called to us in resonance /ith our beliefs8 The only truth is that you are essence flo/in' throu'h this moment of eFistence8 =e sit beside this stream only by a'reement8 =hen &hantien brou'ht you here* you found yourself in this place throu'h your a'reement to accept the reality &hantien percei4ed — &hantien and myself8 And &hantien /as able to brin' you here from the dun'eon by lettin' 'o of the dun'eon and resonatin' /ith the essential son' of this place8@ ?Then /here am 5H@ ?You are here8 You are in the dun'eon8 =here4er your resonance /ith belief places you8 And in a uni4erse of infinite probabilities* you are both here and in the dun'eon8@ 9a/! felt his fear dra/in' him bac! into the prison cell8 ?=e are beside the stream8@ &elestia dre/ him bac!8 ?The /aters flo/ beside us in this moment8 Yet the /aters are al/ays in communication /ith the ocean8@ They /ere on the shore of an immense sea8 The bri'ht sun o4erhead reflected on the surface of the /aters8 The surf lapped 'ently on the shores8 Sea birds fle/ o4erhead8 ?And the /aters flo/ throu'h the air in 4apors8@ Აω They /ere in a thic!* moist cloud* seated on nothin' at all8 The air /as cold* and far belo/ them — too far for comfort — /as the surface of the planet8 Before 9a/! could panic* they /ere bac! on the roc!s by the stream8 ?The /aters are e4ery/here at once* and no/here8 And so are you8@ They sat in silence8 9a/! Descendin' did not !no/ /hat to say8 9e hardly !ne/ /hat had really happened to him8 ?=hen you are truly focused in this moment* you are the master of your eFistence8 And then you /ill be ready to become a Master 9arper8@ 9a/! Descendin' dared not spea!8 &elestia rose from his seat8 ?Stay here8 Let 'o of all of your beliefs* until you can eFperience this moment in its true essence8 )ntil such a time as that* there is no reason for you to do anythin' else* because e4erythin' else is only a distortion from the truth of this moment8@ So sayin'* &elestia left him sittin' on the roc! by the broo!8 9a/! Descendin' focused on this moment and tried to rid himself of all assumptions /ithin it8 9e Euic!ly realiGed that he couldn$t do this as lon' as his eyes /ere open8 =ith eyes open* the /orld /as before him* and there /as no denyin' it8 &losin' his eyes* he focused on the moment and let 'o of all sensory a/areness8 9e ima'ined a blac! nothin'ness* de4oid of all sensory input* all thou'ht* all emotion8 Yet he found that no matter ho/ he reached for this 4oid* it remained beyond his 'rasp8 9e could achie4e it for a moment8 And in that same moment he /ould lose it8 9e could not ima'ine the 4oid /ithout some thou'ht* some feelin' or sensation in4adin' it8 .
5t /as as thou'h the 4oid itself dre/ somethin' to fill it8 =here there /as a/areness* there could not be emptiness8 >4entually* he 'a4e up this effort8 (or a /hile he drifted in the present moment* eyes still closed* /ith all of the sensations around him8 The 4oice of the broo!8 The /ind in the trees8 The birds and insects8 The sun on his side8 The /ind caressin' his s!in8 The roc! upon /hich he sat8 5t occurred to him that he /as 'oin' about this /ron'8 (ocusin' on nothin'ness limited his a/areness in this moment /hen he should be eFpandin' it8 And ima'inin' a 4oid /as itself a mental act* based on presupposition8 5t /as not at all a freein' eFperience8 9e needed to open himself up* not close himself off8 9e must free himself not of all impressions* but of all assumptions8 9e needed to eFperience this moment in its fullness* not ne'ate it8 9a/! Descendin' opened his eyes and all of his senses8 9e sa/ the broo!* and heard its lau'hin' /aters8 9e sa/ the lea4es in the trees dancin' in the breeGe* and he felt that same breeGe touchin' him8 9e smelled the breeGe* and in that smell* he breathed in the scent of the trees* the scent of the /ater* the earth* the 'rass* the scent of the 4alley and the mountains* the scent of the air and of the clouds hi'h o4erhead* and the scent of the sun$s li'ht and heat po/erin' e4erythin'8 Throu'h that scent* throu'h that breeGe* he /as connected to e4erythin' around him in this moment* this eternal moment8 =hen he loo!ed at the broo!* the trees* the clouds in the s!y* he sa/ not Dust their 4isual form* but their limitless potential folded up inside of them8 And to his eyes* their essence unfolded* infinite in its potential8 And the essence of the clouds /as the essence of the trees* the essence of the /aters* the essence of the mountains he no/ sa/ rin'in' theᲐω 4alley8 The essence of e4ery thin' /as the essence of e4erythin'8 And the essence of e4erythin' /as the essence of him8 >4erythin' in this moment /as a field of ener'y in motion* a sin'le field crossin' itself in an intricate mosaic of interference patterns8 >4erythin' /as li'ht dancin'8 >4erythin' /as a sin'le 4oice* shiftin' itself amon' harmonics to sin' in a di4ine chorus8 And it /as his pri4ile'e to share in all of this* to be a/are of all of this in this eternal moment8 All That >Fisted /as the 9arper* and he /as the pri4ile'ed audience* 'ifted /ith this miraculous performance8 9a/! Descendin' did not !no/ ho/ lon' he too! this all in8 9e only !ne/ that /hen he finally indi4idualiGed himself from this infinite* eternal moment* the s!y /as dar!* his butt /as numb* he /as hun'ry* and &elestia stood before him* a Euiet smile on his face8 ?&on'ratulations8 You are no/ ready to become a 9arper8@ .
&&IV. The Har!er Fractured As 9a/! Descendin' /as finishin' his e4enin' meal* &elestia sat &hantien$s harp do/n by his chair8 ?&hantien /anted you to ha4e his harp8@ 9a/! Descendin' stopped eatin' to reach out and run his hand alon' the smooth /ood of the harp* handBcar4ed /ith roses and briars* and dra'ons runnin' up the sides of the soundboF8 9e could not belie4e this harp /as no/ his8 Then it occurred to him8 ?=hat happened to &hantienH@ &elestia sat do/n at the table8 The loo! on his face confirmed 9a/!$s fears8 ?5s he deadH@ 9e can$t be8 5 Dust sa/ him yesterdayJ@ ?Yes and no8@ ?&ome on8 You$re either dead* or you$re ali4eJ@ ?6othin' is so simple as that8 6ot to a true 9arper8@ ?5 sa/ him yesterday8 9e /as playin' this harp8@ ?That /as him8 9e comes and 'oes8@ ?=hat do you meanH@ ?The /orld has more truths than you can understand8 Some of them appear to be in direct contradiction* but that does not ma!e them any less true8 5n fact* it stren'thens them8@ 9a/! Descendin' /aited for an eFplanation8 ?Months a'o* after he 4isited your 4illa'e and earned himself the enmity of your Ma'istrateM8@ ?9e is not my Ma'istrate8@ 9a/! corrected him8 Აω ?Maybe not8@ &elestia eyed him8 ?But he is tied to you in /ays you aren$t a/are8@ 9a/! Descendin' buc!led under his 'aGe* loo!in' do/n at his plate8 9e hated the Ma'istrate8 The thou'ht of the man left him feelin' li!e a 4ulnerable little child8 And he remembered ho/ &hantien$s true performance re4ealed the Ma'istrate — at least to 9a/! — as reptilian and inhuman8 ?The Ma'istrate /anted &hantien8 9e had him hunted do/n8 &hantien had t/o narro/ scrapes /ith troops as he hastened across your land8 The second encounter left him /ounded8 9e /as on his /ay here* to Doin me in this 4alley /here he /ould be safe8 5 told him years a'o that it /as too dan'erous to tra4el in the usual fashion8 But he insisted someone had to ma!e the rounds* shinin' a li'ht a'ainst the 'ro/in' dar!ness8@ ?=hat happenedH@ ?9is /ound became infected8 9e made camp in the foothills of these mountains8 There he treated his /ound /ith herbs8 But he fell into a fe4er8 5n his /ea!ened state* his reality fractured8 5t happens more often than you /ould thin!8 The /orld of consistency is a story /e tell oursel4es8 But that is another lesson8@ ?Did he die of his /oundH Did the soldiers find himH 9e sa4ed me* and he left his harp here Dust yesterday8@ 9a/! Descendin' stro!ed the harp* as if to reassure himself of its physical eFistence8 ?The ans/er to all of your Euestions is yes8@ ?9o/ can that beH@ ?&hantien came here by son'* in the same /ay that he brou'ht you8 But in his /ea!ened condition* he /as unable to manifest one reality o4er all others8 9e came here and /as sa4ed8 And he succumbed to his /ounds8 And he died in a final stand /ith the .
>mperor$s troops8 And he /as brou'ht bac! to the Ma'istrate$s #eep* /here he /as tortured in those 4ery dun'eons /here you /ere imprisoned8 Tortured and eFecuted8@ This made no sense to 9a/!8 ?6ot all of those thin's can be true8@ ?Yes they can and yes they are8@ ?But &hantien is no 'host8@ ?6o he is not8 9e still li4es8 But he lost his solid ties to this earthly plain8 9e is here* but he isn$t here8 9e still /al!s on this earth* thou'h he has to focus his /ill if he is to lea4e any trac!s at all8@ 9a/! Descendin' could ma!e no sense of this8 ?5n time this shall be cleared up for you8 (or no/* let us focus on the harp you ha4e so lon'ed to play8 Do you !no/ ho/ to hold itH@ Აω .
&&V. O!ening -otes 5nstead of be'innin' his harp instruction the neFt mornin'* &elestia led 9a/! Descendin' bac! to the roc!s by the broo!8 ?5mmerse yourself in this moment*@ the elder told him8 ?Be a/are of e4erythin' that shares this moment /ith you8 Allo/ your a/areness to fill this moment and claim it as your o/n8@ 9a/! Descendin' mer'ed himself /ith All That 5s in this moment8 9is a/areness eFpanded to become the reality of this moment* in all of its 4arie'ated* dynamic eFpression8 ?Do you hear the chordal tone of this momentH@ ?Yes8@ 5ndeed* this tone /as a po/erful harmonic chord underlyin' the moment* his consciousness and All That 5s8 ?9old that note*@ &elestia instructed him8 ?(reeGe this moment in your mind8@ 9a/! did so8 All That 5s seemed to hold its breath8 ?#no/ that the note you hear is the moti4e force* the 4ibrational a/areness that becomes the reality of this moment8 And !no/ the note you hear is not an indi4idual note8 5t is composed of an infinite number of infinitesimal notes* all sun' in unison* that you percei4e as a sin'le note8 ?&ontinue holdin' that one note8 That one note is the complete eFpression of this moment8 Yet that one note is surrounded by an infinite sea of other possible notes8 This polyphony eFtends in e4ery direction from the note of this moment8 5n fact* direction is meanin'less in this conteFt — or rather* direction is relati4e to the note of this moment8 ?6o/* /hile holdin' the note of this moment* stretch your a/areness to intuit the Აω closest notes around it8 Those notes in the closest proFimity to the note of this moment are the most probable notes in the Son' of >Fistence8 The more distant a note seems* the less affinity it has /ith the note of this moment* the more unli!ely its probability8 Yet any note you can distin'uish is still possible8 ?>4en the most probable notes* those immediately nei'hborin' the note of this moment* offer a tonal pallet holdin' a full ran'e of eFpression8 (rom here the flo/ of eFpression could mo4e in any direction* bearin' this moment /ith it8@ 9a/! Descendin' continued to hold the note of this moment* thou'h his hold /as becomin' tenuous8 As thou'h sensin' this* &elestia said* ?9old the note of this moment Dust a little lon'er8 You can feel the pull of the Son' of >Fistence8@ ?Yes8@ ?-f the notes nei'hborin' this moment* some ha4e a sli'htly stron'er affinity* indicatin' a preference e4en amon' the nei'hborin' notes8 This preference is due to your o/n feelin's in this moment* and your feelin's are the resonance of your a/areness — your thou'hts and beliefs — /ith this moment8 ?This is /here you are 'i4en command o4er the Son' of >Fistence8 The Master 9arper is al/ays a/are of this moment* and of his thou'hts and feelin's in resonance /ith this moment8 By choosin' /ell his thou'hts and feelin's* he conducts the orchestra of All That 5s8 ?6o/ the Son' of >Fistence has a natural tendency to/ard creati4ity and eFpansion* a preference you could say for Doy and /ellBbein'8 This is because the basic force behind a/areness is attraction* or lo4e8 5t is lo4e that transforms the -ne into All That 5s8 .
?As a 9arper* you are free to conduct /hate4er theme you /ish from the Son' of >Fistence8 But the themes of i'norance* 'reed and eFploitation are limitin' themes8 They ta!e an act of /ill to maintain8 And in the end* any 9arper /ho maintains those themes /ill be eFhausted8 5n the end* the themes thus eFpressed /ill be neutraliGed and o4erta!en by the o4erall flo/ of the Son' of >Fistence8@ ?5t sure doesn$t seem that /ay*@ 9a/! obser4ed8 ?That is because these ne'ati4e themes stand out li!e a roc! in a stream8 The only /ay they can really be maintained is throu'h the reaction of others8@ ?Then it is our Dob to clear the impediments8@ ?6o8 The impediments /ill be cleared by the Son' of >Fistence itself8 Any reaction of yours /ill only harmoniGe and reinforce the themes you don$t desire8@ ?But if ours is the po/er to conductM8@ ?&an you read the full score of the Son' of >FistenceH Do you !no/ /here the son' is 'oin'H All you !no/ is relati4e to your resonance /ith the note of this moment8 That is /here your po/er lies8 &hoose to resonate in harmony* /ith lo4e for All That 5s in Doy and creati4ity* and you are performin' in a sacred manner8@ ?5t$s ironic8 =e are 'i4en the ability to help compose the Son'8 Yet the surest path is to let it flo/ as it /ill8@ ?Yes* that is a di4ine irony8 5t ta!es all your s!ill and discipline as a 9arper to stay focused in this moment* and be a/are of your resonance /ithin it8 Most people — and most 9arpers — li4e in reaction to the moment* thus disempo/erin' themsel4es and empo/erin' those unscrupulous ones /ho eFploit the son' for their o/n a''randiGement8 ?Try to al/ays be a clear conduit for the Son' of >Fistence8 That /ill add your Აω po/er to the son' and stren'then the natural tendency to /ellBbein'8 ?6o/* are you still focused on the note of this momentH@ 9a/! Euic!ly focused8 ?Yes8@ ?&an you feel the nei'hborin' notesH@ 9a/! eFtended his focus8 5t /as li!e playin' a scale of feelin'Btones8 ?Yes8@ ?(ind the most positi4e note — the one that feels li!e eFcitement and Doy8 (ocus on that note8@ ?Done8@ 9a/! Descendin' found it too! a little effort8 ?5s it different from the last noteH@ ?Sli'htly8@ ?:epeat the process8 #eep doin' it until it becomes smooth and automatic8 &an you hear a melodyH@ 9a/! listened8 There /as a melody playin' throu'h the moment8 5t /as a melody of eFuberance* freedom* creati4e playfulness* a melody in /onder of all thin's in this moment8 &elestia could sense the ans/er to his o/n Euestion in 9a/! Descendin'8 ?6o/ you are directin' the Son' of >Fistence8@ ?5t feels /onderful8@ 9a/! /anted to dance and turn cart/heels8 9e felt li!e he could Dump into the air and fly on /in's of son'8 ?=hen you play that son' on an instrument* then you are a Master 9arper8 =hen you play it for an audience* then you are 'i4in' a true performance8@ 9a/! Descendin' 'a4e &elestia a loo! of both astonishment and 'ratitude8 >4erythin' in the last /ee! or so* since he had been /ith &elestia* fell into place8 .
?Than! you8@ =ords seemed a poor recompense8 ?You ha4e 'i4en me my freedom8@ ?6o/ your apprenticeship can truly be'in8@ 뚰ω .
&&VI. To Play the Har! 9a/! Descendin' stayed /ith &elestia for another month8 Most of that time he spent learnin' the harp8 5t /as an uphill battle for 9a/!8 9is fin'ers /ere slo/ on the strin's8 And the hump on his bac! made it difficult for him to reach of the harp$s full course8 &elestia /as e4er pushin' him on/ard8 To loosen and limber up his fin'ers* the elder 'a4e him t/o strai'ht* smooth stic!s* a Euarter inch in diameter and four inches lon'8 9e sho/ed 9a/! Descendin' ho/ to t/irl these bac! and forth in his fin'ers8 At first* 9a/!$s fin'ers /ere stiff and a/!/ard8 9e dropped the stic!s any number of times* or sent them flyin' throu'h the air8 Se4eral times he hit himself in the face8 But after a /ee! of constant practice* he could t/irl the stic!s smoothly and rapidly8 9e could e4en t/irl a stic! throu'h one hand* pass it to the neFt /ithout a brea! in rhythm* and then bac! a'ain8 This eFercise /as a tremendous help to his deFterity8 Yet his fin'ers /ere still a/!/ard on the harp8 9e 'ot to the point /here he could handle a melody /ell enou'h at half speed8 But brin'in' it up to speed /as beyond him8 And /hen he tried to add in a bass line and chords* the /hole thin' fell apart8 6e4er mind counterpoint8 =hene4er he tried to translate the Son' of >Fistence onto the harp* he /ould stumble alon' until he 'a4e up in frustration8 ?Don$t stop*@ &elestia told him8 ?Pic! it up a'ain8@ ?5f 5 had my flute* 5 could play it easily8@ ?The flute is a fine enou'h instrument8 But you must master the harp to be a Master 9arper8@ ?=hy is thatH =hy can$t the flute be )my instrumentH@ ?You can play a melody on a flute8 But you need a harp to capture the Son' of >Fistence in full* much less to direct it8@ ?But 5 ha4e done that /ith the flute8@ ?6ot to the eFtent of the harp8@ ?9o/ soH@ :ather than try to eFplain* &elestia reached for the harp8 5t /as the only time the Master 9arper e4er played the instrument /hile 9a/! /as /ith him8 9e be'an /ith a melody8 ?There is more to the Son' of >Fistence than one 4oice can e4er translate8@ So sayin'* he added a bass line* and then chords and rhythm8 The tune too! on a richness that could only be hinted by the bare melody8 The chords became other 4oices* reproducin' the theme in choral polyphony8 Various 4oices too! the lead* passin' the melody around in endless 4ariation* until it /as /holly transformed into another theme* related to the first as /as the e4enin' to the mornin'8 The eFperience /as eFEuisite8 The harp filled up the cotta'e8 =hen 9a/! closed his eyes* he could hear the entire 4alley sin'in' in the harp8 The music eFpanded to reflect the entire /orld in this moment8 And reality flourished under &elestia$s embellishments8 9a/! Descendin' had ne4er heard anythin' li!e it before8 The sacred hidden nature of reality opened up and danced in the music of the harp8 5t /as 'lorious8 =hen &elestia brou'ht the son' to a close* 9a/! /iped tears from his eyes8 ?That /as beautiful8 Don$t stop8@ &elestia had already passed the harp to him8 ?5t is for you to continue8@ .
9a/! Descendin' almost refused to ta!e the harp bac!8 9o/ he /ould lo4e to play li!e that8 But it /as Euiet beyond him8 ?5 cannot8@ ?Yes* you can8 5 ha4e seen it in you8 All you ha4e to do is belie4e in yourself8@ Somethin' in his /ords* or rather in the con4iction /ith /hich he spo!e them* reached throu'h to 9a/!8 9e could play the harp as &elestia did8 The music /as /ithin him* achin' to 'et out8 ?All you need is practice*@ &elestia told him8 And those /ords filled him /ith dedication to the tas!8 (rom that moment* he became obsessed /ith masterin' the harp8 9e played it all day and late into the ni'ht8 And the neFt mornin'* no sooner than his eyes /ere opened* then he dre/ the harp to him and be'an practicin' scales8 And so he /ent on* day after day* fillin' the cotta'e and the 'lade /ith the sound of the harp8 9e e4en played it in his dreams8 9is playin' impro4ed daily8 =ithin /ee!s* he /as playin' as /ell as &elestia8 6ot that 9a/! /as satisfied /ith his proficiency8 9e al/ays felt he fell far short of the mar!8 &onsiderin' that &elestia ne4er said anythin' to him one /ay or the other* he assumed the elder Dud'ed him /antin'8 -ne e4enin' 9a/! /as practicin' the harp after dinner* as he al/ays did8 &elestia /as /ritin' in a Dournal8 (inishin' /ith his business* the elder pushed bac! his chair and listened8 After 9a/! brou'ht his impro4isation to a close* &elestia obrser4ed* ?You are doin' 4ery /ell8 Technically* you are there8 You ha4e the s!ill to be a Master 9arper8@ This praise too! 9a/! by surprise8 9e did not belie4e he had reached that ) pinnacle yet8 ?But there is somethin' holdin' you bac!8@ &elestia studied his pupil$s hunched bac!8 ?There are some limitin' beliefs you ha4e not let 'o of yet8@ 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht he had totally rebuilt his reality in the moment8 This pronouncement came as a surprise8 ?=hat are theyH@ ?5 cannot tell you8 You ha4e to see them for yourself8@ ?9o/ can 5 see them* if you do not point them outH@ &elestia contemplated8 ?You are a/are this moment is but one in an infinite /eb of possible moments8@ ?Yes8@ ?5n one of those alternate moments* there is an alternate you /ho has freed himself of these limitations8 You are connected to this alternate you as you are connected to e4ery possible 4ariation of your past* present and future8@ 9a/! Descendin' could feel the connections threadin' throu'h infinity* outside of space and time* li!e umbilical cords8 ?Before you 'o to sleep* 4isualiGe this alternate you8 &all to him and in4ite him to communicate /ith you8 As! him to teach you his son'8@ ?5 can do this* communicatin' /ith alternate sel4esH@ 9e had thou'ht the separation bet/een them /as as real as the /orld around him8 &elestia chuc!led8 ?You are closer to your alternate sel4es than you are to me or anythin' in this /orld8 -nly your beliefs separate you8 They are you* and you are them8 -utside of this physical eFistence* your hi'her self sits at the neFus of all probability8 Yet you are the neFus in this moment* and in all probabilities8 :emember* e4erythin' your .
eyes tell you* e4erythin' your senses tell you* is an illusion* but your interpretation of it* that is reality for you in this moment8@ 9a/! Descendin' sat in thou'ht8 9e could feel the truth in /hat &elestia said* but he /as still uncertain of his abilities8 ?<i4e yourself permission* if not to belie4e* then to ima'ine8 And trust that /hate4er you can ima'ine holds its o/n truth for you in this moment8@ These /ords hit home for 9a/!8 9e could ima'ine* thou'h no one before had e4er told him to trust his ima'ination8 ?=hate4er your ima'ination brin's you is perfectly tailored to you in this moment8 Your ima'ination is the path/ay to the stars* and to your hi'her self8@ ?5 /ill do it* toni'ht8@ ?<ood8 -n /ith your practice then8 Play me a tune8@ 뜰ω .
"a.en *ing 5n his dreams that ni'ht* 9a/! Descendin' recei4ed more personal instruction in creatin' his o/n reality8 This instruction /as deli4ered by his future self* his hi'her self* and by other nonphysical entities8 Part of the lesson /as deli4ered in /ords and thou'ht forms8 But part of it /as deli4ered in feelin'Btones and in pure music8 5n the early mornin' hours* he stood before an audience of his family* to/nspeople and others* some of /hom he !ne/ /ere dead* such as the Meechum family8 9e deli4ered to them a true performance that communicated the basics of /hat he had been instructed all ni'ht8 9e 're/ frustrated because many could not absorb the lesson8 The fe/ that did lit up li!e stars in the ni'ht8 5n his frustration* he tried to force home his son'* and in doin' this the performance fell apart8 5n his dream* 9a/! Descendin' realiGed he could not push a'ainst their resistance* because then he /as performin' the son' of their resistance8 9e closed his eyes on his audience and san' the son' of his o/n heart8 9e felt this son' resonate and reflect to him throu'h the son' of another8 -penin' his eyes* he sa/ a bri'ht li'ht approach* reful'ent as an infinitely faceted crystal8 9e turned to face this di4ine luminosity as it stood neFt to him8 5n doin' so* he sensed that he had become another such li'ht* another such crystal8 The son' of their splendor reflected bac! and forth bet/een them* stren'thenin' and intensifyin' until it echoed in the >arth and in the 9ea4ens8 9a/! loo!ed out and sa/ that all of the /orld had become a brilliant 'em* sin'in' in its 'lory8 Bas!in' in the a/e of this 4ision* he a/o!e /eepin' for Doy and 'ratitude8 =hile the dream /as still fresh and the son' yet ) echoed throu'h him* he too! his harp and Euietly left the cotta'e* careful not to /a!e his mentor8 Seated on a roc! by the stream* he too! a moment to bas! in the ma'ic! of the preda/n hour8 The stars and the moon* shinin' bri'htly8 The faintest 'leam of the sun outlinin' the mountains of the horiGon8 The promise of condensin' de/ in the cool air8 A cool breeGe rustlin' the turnin' lea4es of autumn8 The babblin' of the broo!* lit spectrally by the 'lo/ of the moon8 The final promise of dreams and the under/orld ma!in' their last coda before 'i4in' birth to the day8 9a/! Descendin' too! up his harp and Euietly played the son' of his dreams* the son' of his heart* softly as an autumn morn8 The ni'ht 'a4e /ay to day as he played8 The sun pee!ed o4er the mountains* and coaFed by his performance* rose into the s!y o4er the hidden 4alley8 The birds too! up his son' and Doined him in 'reetin' the morn8 Lost yet in his lin'erin' dream* 9a/! played the day into bein'8 As he /as Dust about to end* he heard his son' echo in the approach of another8 (inishin' the performance* he loo!ed up eFpectin' to see &elestia comin' out of the cotta'e to Doin him8 But &elestia /as sleepin' in late this mornin'8 Behind him* a /oman spo!e8 ?That /as beautiful8@ 9a/! Descendin' turned to find a capti4atin' youn' /oman standin' behind him8 She /as lon'Blimbed and slender* /ith li'ht oli4e s!in8 9er 'lossy blac! hair spilled o4er her shoulders* framin' a face all artists /ould /ish to portray8 9er lips /ere full and red* her nose /ellBproportioned* her chee!bones hi'h and not too prominent8 9er eyes stood out* set at a sli'ht an'le unfamiliar to 9a/!* but Euite allurin'8 9er eyebro/s /ere thic! and dar!* and her lashes lon' and 'raceful8 9er 'reen eyes spar!led /ith life* yet they had a depth that hinted at an unfathomable* spiritual nature8 .&&VII.
She /as dressed in a yello/ billo/in' blouse* /ith blac! styliGed flo/ers embroidered all o4er it8 She had a scarlet 'irdle* and a lon'* flo/in' bro/n s!irt8 9er feet /ere clad in leather sandals8 ?9ello8@ 9a/! Descendin' spo!e shyly* a/are of ho/ illBproportioned he /as neFt to her8 ?<ood mornin'8@ 9er 4oice held no note of disdain8 ?=hen first 5 heard you playin'* 5 thou'ht it mi'ht be &hantien8 That is his harpH@ ?Yes* he 'a4e it me8@ 9a/! tried to dra/ himself do/n into the roc!* if possible8 ?5$m sorry to disappoint you8@ ?6o8@ the /oman sou'ht to correct him* and put him at ease8 ?5 realiGed it /as not him8 There is a resemblance in your styles* but you ha4e a touch more sorro/ in your playin'* and a 'reat deal more soul8 5t /as Euite enchantin'8@ ?Than! you8@ 9a/! Descendin' strai'htened his bac! some/hat8 Thou'h her loo!s and dress /ere forei'n* someho/ 9a/! felt he had !no/n this /oman all his life8 ?5$m not used to 4isitors here8@ ?5 sometimes come to this 4alley to 'ather herbs8@ The /oman flourished the bas!et /ith its handles looped o4er her ri'ht arm8 (lo/ers and leafy stems pee!ed out of the bas!et8 ?=hene4er 5 am here* 5 ma!e sure to call on &elestia8@ As thou'h hearin' his name* the elder stepped into the open door/ay of the cotta'e8 ?Ah* :a4en =in'* it is al/ays a pleasure to see you8 You are Dust in time for brea!fast8@ 9e /a4ed them both o4er to Doin him8 :a4en =in' 'a4e him a bi' hu'8 ?5 see you ha4e already met my pupil* 9a/! Descendin'8@ :a4en =in' 'a4e 9a/! a nod and 란 aω smile8 9a/! Descendin' /ondered /hy the sli'htest attention from her set his heart to flutterin'8 ?The son' of his harp led me here8 You ha4e a talented pupil8 You tau'ht him /ell8@ ?5 tau'ht him little enou'h8 The praise should be for him alone8@ ?So shall it be8@ :a4en =in' spo!e to 9a/! Descendin'8 ?The notes of your harp /ould melt e4en the coldest heart8@ 9a/! tried to hide a blush8 ?&ome in* come in8@ &elestia ushered them into the cotta'e8 ?=e are ha4in' oat ca!es this mornin'8@ ?Then 5 ha4e brou'ht you the perfect condiment8@ :a4en =in' dre/ out a Dar of 'olden honey and handed it to the elder8 The si'ht of it set his mouth to /aterin'8 ?9oney from the bees of the <loriosiJ 6othin' could be s/eeter than this ambrosia8@ 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed at :a4en =in' a'ain as they entered8 =as she one of the mysterious <loriosiH 5f so* they /ere no/here near as threatenin' as the >mperor$s criers made them out to be8 As they ate* 9a/! could not ta!e his eyes off their 'uest8 6ot only /as she /ithout doubt the most allurin' /oman he had e4er met8 She /as 4eiled in mystery that ser4ed to amplify her attraction8 And then there /as that feelin' of familiarity* as thou'h he had !no/n her all of his life8 As thou'h he had been /aitin' for her all of his life8 Somethin' about her o4ercame his a/!/ardness* usually so eFa''erated around stran'ers8 =hen she loo!ed at him /ith those po/erful eyes* those emerald eyes* he felt .
she /as loo!in' beyond his s!in to see /ho he truly /as8 )nder her 'aGe* he /as totally disarmed* and thou'h he shied from bein' thus eFposed* somethin' in her demeanor told him that she bore no Dud'ment to/ard him8 (ar from Dud'in' him harshly* she seemed to find in him a /orth that he had ne4er found in himself8 &elestia /as as!in' her if she had already fora'ed the herbs she needed in this 4alley8 ?Yes* 5 'athered the last of them as 5 heard the music of the harp8@ ?9o/ did you enter the 4alleyH@ 9a/! Descendin' had to as!8 ?Did you climb the mountains Dust to 'ather herbs hereH@ ?And to 4isit a friend* and ma!e another8@ :a4en =in' 'a4e him a smile that left him speechless8 ?The <loriosi ha4e their o/n means of tra4elin'*@ &elestia eFplained8 ?Much li!e the /ay /e use music8@ ?The herbs dre/ me here*@ :a4en =in' told him8 ?The herbs 5 needed8 But 5 can come to this cotta'e and &elestia any time 5 feel the need to 4isit8@ ?The <loriosi are in open communication /ith the /orld they inhabit*@ &elestia said8 ?=ord is you practice /itchcraft8@ 9a/! Descendin' cau'ht himself too late8 ?That is /hat they say8@ :a4en =in' /a4ed a hand to dismiss the char'es8 ?They also say /e are all thie4es* /e steal babies* and /e ca4ort /ith demons under the full moon8@ ?The <loriosi li4e by a stron' ethical code*@ &elestia told his pupil8 ?6ot e4en the most desperate <loriosi /ould do these thin's*@ :a4en =in' ) insisted8 ?These are the fears of the uninformed* fed by a'ents of the >mperor8@ ?The <loriosi are not so different from Master 9arpers*@ &elestia confirmed8 ?The Son' of >Fistence resonates deep /ithin them8 Their li4es are spent dancin' to that son'8@ ?But /hy do people fear youH And /hy does the >mperor hate you soH 9e has 'one to /ar /ith #atai because they harbor your people8@ ?The >mperor is 'reedy for po/er8 9e ta!es his po/er from the people by persuadin' them that they are po/erless8@ :a4en =in' spo!e /ithout contempt* out of compassion8 ?The #atai are not so different8 They offer us sanctuary from the >mpire* but /e are still persecuted by the #atai themsel4es8 They use us as pa/ns in their 'ames a'ainst the >mpire8 >4ery/here there is this misconception and 4yin' for po/er8@ 9a/! Descendin' could sense the truth in her /ords8 >4en in his 4illa'e* there /as a competition to assume po/er o4er others8 ?9o/ do your people o4ercome this po/erlessnessH@ ?=e !no/ the truth and honor it8 5t is /ron' to ta!e po/er from anyone or anythin' else8 6or is there any need8 =e are born /ith all the po/er /e could e4er /ant8 5t flo/s throu'h >4erythin' That 5s as a ri'ht of eFistence8@ ?But /hat about the herbs you 'atheredH You ha4e ta!en their po/erH@ ?-nly those that chose to 'i4e it*@ :a4en =in' corrected him8 ?5 san' to the herbs* and san' /ith them8 Those that /ere ready for chan'e called me to pic! them8 A <loriosi does nothin' but by the 'race of All That 5s8 That is /hy /e are called the <loriosi* because /e li4e in communion /ith the 'lory of All that 5s8@ ?5t /as once thus for all people*@ &elestia said8 .
?And it is time for the rest of humanity to rub the sleep out of their eyes and rea/a!en to their 'lory8@ ?&hantien said the <loriosi opened their teachin's to e4eryone* and that is /hy the >mperor set out to eFterminate them8@ ?The >mperor see!s to !eep all po/er to himself8@ :a4en =in' lamented8 ?9e does not understand that all the po/er he holds is but a per4erted shado/ of the 'lory that /ould be his if he /ould open his eyes to the truth of All That 5s8@ ?=hat about meH@ 9a/! /ondered8 ?5 ha4e opened my ears to the Son' of >Fistence* and 5 ha4e felt the 'lory8 But it is fleetin'8@ ?There are some truths you ha4e yet to face*@ &elestia reiterated8 :a4en =in' told him* ?Amon' my people* /e obser4e that the process of 'ro/in' from childhood to adulthood is a process of establishin' your indi4idual identity* separate from e4erythin' else8 =hen /e are born* /e li4e fully in the moment* directly connected to All That 5s8 As /e 'ro/ up* /e se4er these connections — to our en4ironment* to our families* to our parents8 And /e adopt the beliefs handed to us by our parents and our society8 As /e approach adulthood* /e eFamine the beliefs /e blindly accepted as children* reDectin' some* alterin' others* until /e ha4e de4eloped our o/n uniEue /orld4ie/8 ?The <loriosi !no/ that our beliefs distance us from the direct eFperience of this moment8 They buffer our eFistence and limit our po/er in this moment8 And they hold us separate from All That 5s8 =e belie4e that to truly reach maturity* once the indi4idual identity is established* it must rene/ its connection to All That 5s and reclaim its po/er in this moment8@ 럐ω 9a/! Descendin' could see that* ha4in' ?My people ha4e no such teachin's8@ missed this sta'e of de4elopment* his people remained as children8 ?9o/ do you do thisH@ ?=e ha4e ceremonies to initiate a person into adulthood8 As /e are born into this /orld from our mother* so /e must be born a'ain of the earth8@ ?And ho/ do you do thisH@ 9a/! felt that perhaps this /as somethin' he needed to underta!e* to 'i4e him a fresh start on life8 ?Do you /ish to under'o the rites of the <loriosiH@ ?5 don$t !no/8@ 9a/! thou'ht about it8 ?5t doesn$t in4ol4e anythin' painfulH@ ?-nly lettin' 'o of your past8@ ?That /ould be no bi' hardship8@ ? There are 4arious /ays to do this8 Perhaps the easiest is the 4ision Euest and fast8@ ?5 can do that8@ ?=ould you li!e to do this thin'H@ &elestia as!ed8 ?Yes8@ 9a/! made up his mind8 ?5 /ould8@ ?Very 'ood8@ &elestia appro4ed8 ?=e /ill need the appro4al of my elders*@ :a4en =in' said8 ?Do you thin! that /ill be a problemH@ &elestia as!ed8 ?6o* not since the <loriosi ha4e opened their teachin's to e4eryone8 =ith you and me to 4ouch for him* 5 don$t thin! there /ill be any problem8@ 9a/! had the impression she left somethin' unsaid8 .
?9a/!8@ the Master 9arper turned to his pupil8 ?=e are payin' a 4isit to the <loriosi8@ ) .
Part %i1 — Hatching &&VIII. (mong the 'loriosi ?(ocus on :a4en =in'*@ &elestia instructed 9a/! Descendin'8 ?9ear her son'8@ They /ere seated around the table8 9a/! had &hantien$s harp — his harp no/ — in his lap8 9e sat facin' :a4en =in'* /ith his eyes closed8 &elestia /anted him to ta!e them to the <loriosi8 ?Listen /ith your heart8@ 9a/! Descendin' heard her son'* earthy yet tender* passionate yet compassionate8 9e be'an to play the harp8 :a4en =in' si'hed* touched by the intimacy8 9a/! paused to loo! at her* not /antin' to intrude8 The loo! he found in her eyes /as lo4in' and in4itin'8 9e settled into the tune8 ?<ood8@ &elestia appro4ed8 ?=ea4e into her son' a counterpoint for you and me8@ 9a/! Descendin' did so* addin' a second melody /hich complimented the son'* and then de4elopin' chords and rhythm that dre/ the three of them into a trium4irat8 ?6o/ see! in her son' our destination8@ 9a/! found a theme different from the cotta'e and the hidden 4alley8 5t too! some effort to o4ercome 'ra4ity and modulate the son' around this other theme8 As he did so* 9a/! felt somethin' shift8 9e opened his eyes to find them sittin' on the 'round* at the ed'e of a busy campsite8 렠ω 9a/! Descendin' !ne/ the <loriosi /ere nomads* and he !ne/ :a4en =in'$s tribe /as on the mo4e8 But for some reason* he eFpected to find a 4illa'e much li!e his o/n8 5nstead* they /ere sittin' outside a circle of horseBdra/n /a'ons8 -n the bed of each /a'on /as a colorful /ooden structure* complete /ith pitched roofs* /indo/s and a door on the bac!8 They /ere little houses on /heels8 >4ery one of them /as painted in bri'ht colors* 'i4in' a festi4e appearance to the encampment8 -nly one /a'on /as openBbac!ed8 5t /as par!ed se4eral feet outside of the circle8 This /a'on had an eFtra lon' yo!e for its horses8 The bac! of the /a'on /as stac!ed hi'h /ith boFes8 9a/! Descendin' could see bees buGGin' around this /a'on8 The camp /as bustlin' /ith acti4ity8 5nside the circle of /a'ons* children played a 'ame of ta'8 =omen /ere coo!in' at a lar'e* central fire8 -thers attended to chores else/here8 Se4eral men /ere busy /ith the horses* /hich /ere tethered outside of the circle8 More men /ere busy else/here about the camp8 (i4e of them /ere /or!in' on a /heel they had remo4ed from one of the /a'ons8 The children /ere first to spot the three arri4als8 ?:a4en =in'J@ Se4eral children came runnin' to 'reet them8 They stopped short of the three* loo!in' curiously at the t/o stran'e men* particularly the hunchbac! /ith the harp8 An elderly /oman trailed behind the children8 ?=ell met* Master 9arper8@ ?=ell met* >lder8@ &elestia nodded his head8 ?=elcome to our circle8@ .
?=e Doin you in reflectin' the 'lory of this moment8@ &elestia returned the formal 'reetin'8 The elderly /oman dismissed the children8 ?There /ill be time for music and dancin' after dinner8 Be off8@ The children /ent bac! to their play8 ?Do you ha4e the herbsH@ the elder as!ed :a4en =in'8 ?5 do* Mother Lau'hin' Moon8@ :a4en =in' held out the bas!et8 Lau'hin' Moon too! it from her and eFamined the contents8 ?<ood8 This /ill aid S/allo/ in (li'ht /hen she 'i4es birth8@ ?Mother* 5 ha4e brou'ht one /ith a reEuest to be initiated into the circle8@ :a4en =in' indicated 9a/!8 ?This is &elestia$s pupil* 9a/! Descendin'8@ Lau'hin' Moon paused at the si'ht of him8 9a/! Descendin' assumed she /as ta!en abac! by the hunch on his bac!8 9e turned to hide his deformity8 She reco4ered Euic!ly8 ?This is 'ood ne/s8 -ur Euest is o4er8 You /ish to rene/ your life in the full circleH@ ?Yes* 5 do8@ 9a/! nodded his head* e4er conscious of his croo!ed spine8 ?This is 4ery auspicious8@ Lau'hin' Moon studied him /ith eyes that danced8 ?This day has lon' been foretold by our people8@ 9a/! Descendin' /ondered /hat she meant8 Lau'hin' Moon too! his arm to reassure him8 ?You are both /elcome to our circle8 This land has been 'ood to us8 =e /ill feast toni'ht in your honor8 )nfortunately* you /ill not be able to participate8 6o food for you until after the 4ision Euest8@ ) As she led them into the circle of /a'ons* 9a/! Descendin' too! the opportunity to study the land8 They /ere on the /ide 'rassy crest of a hilloc!8 Around them /ere rollin' hills* /ith here and there a small 'ro4e of trees8 To the north* the lo/lands /ere o4er'ro/n /ith thic!ets8 To the south* the hills shallo/ed out* and farmland intruded8 5mmediately to the /est of the hill /here they /ere encamped /as a lar'e la!e8 Somethin' about this landscape seemed familiar8 5t resembled the area /here 9a/! Descendin' met the Meechum family8 Loo!in' far to the north* he could see the forest pee!in' o4er the hills on the horiGon8 They /ere a fe/ miles to the south* but this /as the same area8 ?9o/ lon' ha4e you been hereH@ 9a/! as!ed Lau'hin' Moon8 ?=e made camp only yesterday8 =hyH@ ?This area is 'uarded by the >mperor$s Ma'istrate8 9e deals harshly /ith trespassers8@ Lau'hin' Moon too! his measure before dismissin' his caution8 ?The road passes throu'h here8 )nsettled land for a mile abuttin' the road is commons8@ ?The Ma'istrate is no friend of the <loriosi8@ ?(e/ in the ser4ice of the >mperor are8 =e /ill only camp here until you ha4e completed your initiation* and then /e continue our pil'rima'e8@ ?5 thou'ht your people /ere see!in' asylum /ith the #atai in the south8@ ?Most are*@ Lau'hin' Moon told him8 ?But our tribe is on a special mission8@ ?&ontinue north and you /ill certainly run afoul of the Ma'istrate8@ ?>4eryone finds /hat they see! most*@ :a4en =in' spo!e up8 ?Lau'hin' Moon leads us* and she /ould not brin' us to harm8@ .
9a/! Descendin' started to protest more loudly8 &elestia as!ed* ?5s somethin' /ron'H@ ?=e are not far from my 4illa'e8 This is no safe place for the <loriosi8@ ?The <loriosi are al/ays safe* so lon' as they mo4e in time /ith All That 5s8@ Lau'hin' Moon ans/ered him in a 4oice that allo/ed no ar'ument8 ?5t is a sacred road that has borne us here to meet you8@ Some un!no/n meanin' in her /ords left 9a/! Descendin' /ithout a response8 =hile he fumbled for /ords* &elestia interceded8 ?Listen to the Son' of >Fistence8 5ts melody /ill lead you only to its 'reatest eFpression8@ ?There is a 'reat mystery at /or! here*@ Lau'hin' Moon ac!no/led'ed8 ?And /e /ould all do best to honor it8 After all* it brou'ht you here8@ So sayin'* she led them to a smaller campfire at the side of her /a'on8 Many of the /a'ons had desi'ns or emblems painted on them8 -n the side of Lau'hin' Moon$s /a'on /as the styliGed fi'ure of a man dancin' as he played the flute8 9e /as some/hat stooped o4er* and on his shoulders* Dust belo/ his nec!* he clearly had a hump8 9a/! Descendin' stood transfiFed starin' at the fi'ure8 Lau'hin' Moon paused beside him* obser4in' the amaGement /ith /hich he re'arded the fi'ure8 ?This is &hochopalli* the hunchbac!ed flute player8 9e is important to my people8@ She reached out to softly pat 9a/! Descendin' on the bac!8 ?=e honor the hunchbac! as a si'n of 'reat stored po/er8@ To &elestia* she said* ?You can camp in the shade of my /a'on /hile you are /ith us8 6o/* if you /ill eFcuse me* 5 /ill tell the others of the :ebirthin' &eremony8@ 롰ω/heel of the trailer as a bac!rest8 9a/! &elestia sat on the 'rass* usin' the Descendin' stood froGen before the ima'e* harp in hand8 :a4en =in' too! his arm and led him to a seat beside his mentor8 ?5t is a pity you did not come bearin' a flute*@ she !idded him8 ?That /ould really ha4e made an impression amon' my people8@ She did not !no/ the half of it8 9a/! Descendin' /as 4ery conscious of the flute he had cached in the tree* a fe/ miles from this camp8 )nder the influence of the ima'e of &hochopalli* the flute seemed to call to him8 ?5 must ta!e care of these herbs*@ :a4en =in' told them8 ?5 /ill be bac! soon8@ After they sat a /hile in silence* 9a/! Descendin' as!ed his mentor* ?&elestia* /hat is 'oin' on hereH@ &elestia obser4ed his student$s confusion and amaGement and too! pity on him8 ?5t is synchronicity — /hat Lau'hin' Moon calls the mystery8 5t is the reason /hy you met &hantien in the first place8 5t is the reason /hy he brou'ht you to me* and /hy 5 too! you under my /in'8 And it is /hat brou'ht you here8 Some /ould call it destiny* and they /ould be both ri'ht and /ron'8@ ?5 feel li!e somethin' hu'e but unseen is reachin' throu'h All That 5s to steer me as it /ishes8@ ?5t is your son'* and it is the son' of this /orld8 The time is approachin' for you to ta!e center sta'e and share your son' /ith the /orld8@ 9a/! Descendin' leaned for/ard and turned to loo! at the fi'ure painted on the /a'on behind him8 ?=ho is this &hochopalli8@ ?Ah* that is not my story to tell8@ This is all that &elestia /ould say8 .
&&I&. he san' it loud for all to hear8 This music /as unli!e anythin' the people had e4er eFperienced before8 9e too! /ood and shaped it to his o/n purpose* and then he played upon it a son' of his o/n desi'n8 5n the beats of this son' time /as born* and in the notes of this son' eFistence /as defined8 . The %ong o$ hocho!alli After dinner — /hich sorely tempted 9a/! Descendin'* it loo!ed so 'ood and smelled e4en better — &elestia and 9a/! too! turns playin' the harp /hile the children and many of the adults danced8 &elestia tuned the harp to play in the unusual !eys traditional to the <loriosi8 9a/! Descendin' found this tunin' to be full of odd dissonances and tensions8 As he eFplored it* he found it /as really Euite beautiful in its o/n /ay8 At one point* /hen e4eryone needed a brea! from dancin'* they ur'ed :a4en =in' to sin' a son'8 She san' a touchin' ballad about a lo4e affair8 9a/! Descendin' could not tell if this ballad /as about the moon and the sea* or a man named Mari and a /oman named Luna8 9e pic!ed up the tune and accompanied her on harp8 :a4en =in' had a /arm and tender 4oice* not /ithout a little ache of sorro/8 9er sin'in' blended /ell /ith the harp and !ept e4eryone entranced until the son'$s end8 After that there /as more dancin' until e4en the children could dance no more8 Then there /ere calls for a story8 &elestia told Lau'hin' Moon* ?9a/! /ould li!e to !no/ about &hochopalli8@ Lau'hin' Moon eyed 9a/! Descendin'8 ?5 am sure he /ould8 And it /ould be 'ood that he did hear it8 &hochopalli is a po/erful fi'ure* both a 'od and a man8 9is story is for'otten by all but the <loriosi8@ KKK Time /as* in that timeless time before ) the da/n of time* /hen all thin's displayed their po/er openly8 >4erythin' /as !no/n innately* and nothin' /as !no/n empirically8 A/areness flo/ed throu'h e4erythin'* yet nothin' /as conscious of this a/areness8 >4erythin' /as felt most intimately* and throu'h the interconnectedness of All That 5s e4erythin' happened synchronistically* in that one continuous* eternal moment8 >4erythin' is still li!e that* e4erythin' but us8 =e are the ones /ho stopped /earin' our po/er openly8 =e are the ones /ho shut our hearts by openin' our eyes8 And this is the story of ho/ that happened8 5n those days before time* there /as no lan'ua'e8 =e communicated /ith e4erythin' directly8 5n that direct communication* e4erythin' happened in communion8 9unter and hunted a'reed to the hunt* eater and eaten a'reed to the meal8 =e /ere a/are of e4erythin'* /e /ere intimately connected to e4erythin'8 Yet in our a/areness* /e /ere not a/a!e as /e are no/8 =e had not a/a!ened into this dream8 =e /ere entranced* focused yet diffused* li4in' by instinct and intuition8 =e /ere more complete* more /holly oursel4es than e4er /e ha4e been since8 Yet our potential /as unfulfilled8 5nto this dream came &hochopalli* the hunchbac!ed flute player8 9e s!ipped and pranced into our midst li!e somethin' alien* but somethin' brilliant beyond all !no/in'8 9e danced amon' us distinct* playin' the Son' of >Fistence upon his flute8 >4eryone /as fri'htened of his music* and yet enamored at the same time8 9e not only /ore his po/er openly.
This son' hurt the peoples$ ears and brou'ht tears to their eyes8 5t made their hearts ache8 They tried to co4er their ears to !eep out the sound8 Yet at the same time* they found the son' a /ondrous and beautiful thin'8 Throu'h some ma'ic! un!no/n to them* it enhanced the /orld around them* addin' to the beauty of All That 5s8 5t made them appreciate their li4es and the /orld in /hich they li4ed8 5t made them /a!e up8 =hen &hochopalli stopped playin'* the people found their 4oices8 They called out to him* ur'in' him to continue8 They loo!ed at each other in amaGement* astonished by the sound of their o/n 4oices8 >4eryone started tal!in' at once* but e4erythin' /as 'ibberish8 They did not !no/ /hat /ords /ere. they had no common lan'ua'e8 The result /as cacophony8 &hochopalli played a flourish on his flute to silence them all8 They stood Euietly loo!in' at him* and it occurred to them that they did not !no/ anythin'8 (or the first time e4er* they /ere alone8 &hochopalli !ne/ ri'ht a/ay /hat /as /ron'* and he set about to remedy the situation8 9a4in' li4ed until no/ in a timeless communion* the people !ne/ not the names of anythin'8 They /ere lost* isolated in a /orld they could not name8 They !ne/ the son' of all thin's* yet they did not !no/ ho/ to 4oice it8 At &hochopalli$s feet /as a lar'e stone8 =ith his flute* he played the Son' of Stone8 By this son'* stone /as defined and the people !ne/ the name of stone8 &hochopalli did this for e4erythin'* playin' its son'* definin' its name8 9e did this for earth* and he did this for s!y8 9e did it for /ater* for the sun* the moon and the stars8 9e 'a4e all the trees and plants* and all of the animals their names8 Lastly* he 'a4e all of the people their names8 룀ω =hen he /as done* the people could tal! to each other8 (or many days they /ere busy communicatin' in their ne/ lan'ua'e8 &hochopalli stayed /ith them* helpin' out /hen they had trouble manipulatin' in this ne/ /orld8 >4ery day he 'a4e a performance* playin' the Son' of the =orld8 At first* his audience /as capti4ated8 They be''ed him not to stop8 As time /ent on* ho/e4er* they too! his music for 'ranted8 They tal!ed as he performed* criticiGin' and analyGin' his performance* or discussin' /hate4er /as on their minds8 -ne day* &hochopalli stopped playin' and chastised his audience8 9e informed them of ho/ impolite they /ere8 After that his audience d/indled until only a fe/ youn' children attended his concerts8 &hochopalli 'a4e up performin' for them* and no one e4en noticed8 The people became closed off to the /orld in /hich they li4ed8 They stopped sensin' the po/er in e4erythin' around them. they stopped sensin' the po/er in each other* and e4en in themsel4es8 They sa/ only the surface of thin's* and they came to belie4e that /hen they !ne/ the name for a thin'* they !ne/ the thin'8 Their li4es and their interactions /ere impo4erished* and they didn$t ha4e a clue ho/ this happened8 The people /ere more a/a!e than they had e4er been* and at the same time they /ere more i'norant8 (eelin' disempo/ered* they became disrespectful of e4eryone and e4erythin' around them8 The society in /hich they li4ed became structured around abuse8 They sou'ht to re'ain their personal po/er by ta!in' po/er o4er others8 .
)nable to 'o alon' /ith /hat /as happenin'* &hochopalli climbed to a hilltop /here all /ould hear him and played the Son' of Their 5'norance* hopin' to alert them to their failin's8 The people heard* and they did not li!e it8 They 'athered around the hill and shouted for him to stop8 =hen he continued playin'* they pelted him /ith 'arba'e and stones8 A roc! cau'ht &hochopalli in the forehead* almost !noc!in' him senseless8 &hochopalli stopped playin' and /iped the blood from his /ound8 Loo!in' out at the people /ho had turned on him* he told them* ?You are not a deser4in' audience for my music anymore8 You /ill ha4e to sound out the depths of your i'norance on your o/n8 5t is a lonely and sorro/ful path before you* and only /hen you ha4e follo/ed it to the 4ery end /ill you be able to reco'niGe /hat you once !ne/8 =hen you ha4e fully sta'nated /ithin your isolation* then you /ill be ready to hear the Son' of >Fistence a'ain8 Then you /ill hear the sound of my flute. and if you listen* it /ill lead you out of your culBdeBsac8@ So sayin'* &hochopalli 4anished* and the people ha4e been left to stumble alon' on their o/n e4er since8 &hochopalli has not been seen from that day to this8 But e4ery no/ and then* one /ho has ears open /ill hear the echo of his flute8 Those /ho hear his flute may 'ro/ up to be 9arpers or 9ealers* thou'h they ris! the displeasure of society8 5'norance has o4erta!en all* all but the <loriosi and a fe/ Master 9arpers8 More and more people are dissatisfied /ith their po/erlessness and /ith !no/in' only the name of thin's* thou'h they !no/ not the reason for their misery8 The day of &hochopalli$s return dra/s ni'h8 So it is that the <loriosi ha4e opened their teachin's to others8 And so it is that our band has been sent into the depth of i'norance to search for ) the hunchbac! flute player8 .
&&&. Vision 2uest >4eryone stared at 9a/! Descendin'8 =hen she finished her story* Lau'hin' Moon loo!ed at him !no/in'ly8 ?-ur search is o4er*@ she Dud'ed8 ?The time of the a/a!enin' is soon8@ ?5$m not &hochopalli*@ 9a/! Descendin' protested8 ?5$m Dust a hunchbac!8@ ?A hunchbac! and a 9arper8@ Lau'hin' Moon corrected him8 ?A Master 9arper8@ &elestia further accredited him8 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed from his mentor to the <loriosi elder8 ?9o/ can 5 /a!e up anyone elseH 5$m only half a/a!e myself8@ ?You are more a/a!e than you realiGe*@ &elestia said* ?and more po/erful8 =hy do you thin! &hantien offered to teach you in the first place8 And /hy do you thin! he freed you from prison and brou'ht you to me8@ &elestia /ent on* thou'h 9a/! Descendin' tried to protest8 ?9a/!* you ha4e learned more in one month than most 9arpers do in their entire li4es8 You came to me under the last full moon* and already — under this full moon — you ha4e learned e4erythin' 5 can teach you8@ ?6o8 5$m not ready8@ ?That is /hy /e are here8 All that you lac! is belief in yourself8 Tomorro/ you /ill be reborn8 And then you /ill stand on your o/n t/o feet8@ ?6o8 This is all /ron'8@ ?This is /hat you /ere born for*@ Lau'hin' Moon told him8 ?This is your purpose8@ ?6oJ@ 9a/! Descendin' had to 'et 뤐 a/ay from all of the people starin' at him8 9e ω needed to be alone8 9e fled from the campfire* the <loriosi* &elestia8 -ut of the circle of /a'ons* he shambled into the cool ni'ht air* his path lit only by the full moon8 Do/n the hillside he lumbered* until he /as standin' at the shore of the 'lassy la!e8 -n the still /aters* he sa/ reflected the round moon and the stars8 -4er the la!e fle/ a ni'ht ha/!8 =ol4es ho/led in the distance8 The ha/! landed on the branch of a /illo/ close by* sentinel of this ni'httime /orld8 5f they thou'ht him an incarnation of &hochopalli* ho/ much more insistent /ould they be if they heard him play the fluteH 9e /as no 'od8 ?5$m Dust human8@ ?So /as &hochopalli8@ The 4oice startled him8 5t /as :a4en =in'8 She stood close to him and stro!ed his arm8 ?=hate4er it is your people /ant me to do*@ 9a/! told her* ?5 can$t do it8 5$m not the one you$re loo!in' for8@ ?Yes* you are8 5 !ne/ it the moment 5 laid eyes on you8 Your music dre/ me to you8@ ?5 am a 9arper8 5 can play the true son' of a thin'8 And 5 am a hunchbac!* but 5 ha4e not the po/er to brin' my son' to e4erythin'8 5 cannot sin' the /orld into bein'8 My son' reaches only so far as sound carries8@ ?You are human* and you are di4ine8 >4erythin' that eFists is di4ine in its essence8 And you can touch that essence and ma!e it resonate /ith your son'8 That is your po/er8@ .
you al/ays ha4e8@ ?=hat of the Ma'istrate* the 4illa'ers* my familyH@ ?You thin! they imprisoned youH They are all loc!ed in their o/n cells* each /ith their o/n pri4ate sorro/s8 And they each hold their o/n !ey8 They could not bear to loo! out from their cell doors and see you soarin' free8@ 9a/! Descendin' thou'ht on this* and his heart told him the truth of it8 ?You can sho/ them the /ay to freedom* but only if you do it out of lo4e and compassion8 But first you must free yourself* and to do that you must see yourself truly8@ 9a/! Descendin' felt &hantien lea4in' him8 ?Toni'ht you /ill 'ain t/o pair of eyes8 -ne that loo!s out upon this /orld and sees it for /hat it is8 And one that loo!s into the under/orld and sees it for /hat it is8@ . it is a state of mind8 You hold the !eys to your cell.9a/! Descendin' turned to face :a4en =in'8 5n her eyes he did not see a bro!en hunchbac!8 5n her eyes* he sa/ adoration and unconditional lo4e8 9is heart opened to her as it ne4er had before8 =ithout thin!in'* he reached his arm around her and hu''ed her8 :a4en =in' returned his hu'8 She stro!ed his bac!* /ithout a4oidin' his hunch8 Then she !issed him on the chee!8 Loo!in' bac! into his eyes* she said* ?You can do this8 =e as! nothin' from you* but /hat you ha4e al/ays sou'ht to 'i4e8@ 9earin' these /ords from :a4en =in'* held in her lo4in' embrace* 9a/! Descendin' could almost belie4e them8 :a4en =in' 'a4e him another !iss* this time on the lips8 She stro!ed his chee!* and then she stepped a/ay8 ?You need to be alone8 5 /ill lea4e you* but !no/ that from this moment on* you /ill fore4er be in my heart8@ ?And you in mine8@ 9a/! Descendin' had to respond8 :a4en =in' smiled at him8 And then she left him8 The ha/! still perched in the tree o4erhead8 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed out at the still /aters* blac! as the ni'ht* blac! as a ra4en$s /in'* reflectin' the moon and stars8 9e felt li!e the la!e /as a mirror* reflectin' to him the under/orld8 All he had to do to cross o4er into spirit /as to di4e into the la!e8 ?=hy meH@ he as!ed the spirit /orld8 ?9o/ did 5 /ind up hereH@ ?5 !ne/ /ho you /ere /hen first 5 laid eyes on you8@ &hantien stood neFt to him8 ?>4en thou'h you didn$t !no/ it yourself8@ ) ?&hantien8@ 9e 'reeted the spirit of the 9arper8 ?You set me on the path that led me to prison8@ ?And 5 brou'ht you to &elestia8 5 !ne/ he could release the 9arper inside you8@ ?But 5 am still trapped* and no/ these people /ould ha4e me ta!e up the mantle of a 'od8@ &hantien loo!ed closely at 9a/! Descendin'8 9a/! felt the spirit loo! into his soul8 ?The trap has been opened and disarmed*@ the spirit told him8 ?To be free* all you need do is trust yourself to step out of it8@ ?5 am still a prisoner8@ ?-nly in your o/n mind8 (reedom and imprisonment is not a physical circumstance.
And /ith these /ords echoin' throu'h his mind* 9a/! Descendin' found himself alone on the la!e shore8 9e loo!ed on the surface of the la!e* and there he sa/ his life* alon' /ith those /hose li4es /ere inter/o4en /ith his8 (rom the hill behind him* there came a chorus of Euiet hummin'* /hich ser4ed to help focus his attention on /hat he /as sho/n8 9a/! Descendin' loo!ed up at the s!y8 The moon /as lar'e and round* /arm 'old in color8 The dar! s!y /as studded /ith brilliant stars8 A 4oice spo!e8 ?-f stardust are you made8@ A 'litterin' dust fell li!e rain8 5t hun' in the air li!e a fo'8 5t condensed into all of the physical obDects around him* includin' his o/n body8 :aisin' his hand to loo! at it* his 4ision ma'nified until he could see that his hand /as made of infinite motes of dust* each radiatin' li'ht li!e a microscopic sun8 By their ener'y these motes /ere 'eometrically arran'ed into a lattice8 Throu'h this lattice coursed ener'y and li'ht8 Throu'h this lattice* in chorus* all of these motes san' to'ether8 This son'* this ener'y* this li'ht proDected out from his form* so that 9a/! Descendin' could not say /here his body ended and the en4ironment be'an8 The motes themsel4es mi'rated into and out of his body8 All the /orld /as a dancin' traffic of stardust* in /hich his body and all physical obDects /ere only a con'ress of motes 'athered in their transience to share a theme8 9a/! Descendin' sa/* or rather heard* that it /as by their music that the motes /ere directed on their /ay8 They /ere dra/n by harmony* repulsed by dissonance8 There /as a music that flo/ed throu'h e4erythin', the Son' of >Fistence8 =hile his body /as a /a4e in this ocean of motes* his conscious mind* his ω 률 identity* rode this /a4e8 9is bein' /as the seed that 'a4e this /a4e its impetus* yet his bein' /as distinct from this /a4e8 9e sounded the note to /hich the motes built their chorus8 The core of his bein' /as more than a chorus of motes8 9e had an eFistence else/here* infinite and eternal8 Dra/n by his son'* the ha/! sent its spirit do/n from the limb /here its body remained8 The spirit of the ha/! perched on his ri'ht shoulder and married its 4oice to his* 'rantin' him the 4ision of its si'ht8 9a/! Descendin' sa/ for miles and miles8 9e sa/ the forests and the fields* the mountains and the oceans8 9e sa/ all the /ay to distant #atai and beyond8 9e sa/ deer* el! and moose* he sa/ 'eese* Days and starlin's* he sa/ rabbits* raccoons and mice* he sa/ foF* cats and /ol4es8 9e sa/ e4erythin' that inhabited this planet* and he sa/ ho/ /ell connected they all /ere8 >4erythin' had its place in this /orld* /hich it occupied Euite ri'htly8 And e4erythin' /as connected8 =hile eternal in the moment* e4erythin' flo/ed throu'h the Son' of >Fistence8 Soil* air* /ater and sunli'ht became 'rasses and plants* plants became mice* mice became foF* foF became soil* air* /ater* ant and fly8 And all of these thin's /ere one thin'8 -nly /here man li4ed /as this sacred cycle disrupted8 Man sou'ht to !eep himself apart from e4erythin' else and hoard his po/er8 And in doin' so* Man became /ea! and po/erless8 To offset this failure* man sou'ht po/er by dominatin' and eFploitin' e4erythin' around him8 5n his i'norance of his connection to All That 5s and the identity of the one in all* man became abusi4e8
9a/! Descendin' !ne/ that to become the 'od he belie4ed himself to be* man must open his eyes* he must apolo'iGe for his abuse and for'i4e himself8 -nly then /ould man be empo/ered /ith the ability to perform miracles8 Abo4e him* ha/! sounded its 4oice loudly* and fle/ off into the ni'ht s!y8 Yet 9a/! Descendin' !ne/ he /ould e4er ha4e the 4ision of ha/!* perched on his ri'ht shoulder8 9e 'aGed do/n into the dar! /aters* lost in introspection8 9e sa/ his current circumstances* the freedom and fulfillment held in the promise of becomin' a Master 9arper8 And he sa/ the circumstances that !ept him from fulfillin' this promise8 9e sa/ the dun'eon* the char'es a'ainst him and the Ma'istrate8 This /as the fate he had escaped from* ho/e4er temporary that escape mi'ht be8 The dun'eon still a/aited him8 Safe as he mi'ht be in &elestia$s 4alley* he could not li4e there fore4er* safe outside of life8 At some point he /ould ha4e to lea4e this sanctuary and return to the /orld8 6o matter /here he /ent* no matter /here he hid* he !ne/ that e4entually the >mperor$s Dustice system /ould find him and he /ould be bac! in the dun'eon* a/aitin' torture and death8 This fate sent out deep roots that eFtended all the /ay bac! throu'h his life8 9e /as al/ays the outsider* al/ays the reDect* al/ays the scape'oat8 That /as his role in the 4illa'e* and /hen he sou'ht to step out of that role* the 4illa'e rose up a'ainst him8 9is hunchbac! /as his mantle* proclaimin' him a 4ictim of life8 The Ma'istrate had proclaimed his sentence lon' before* assaultin' him in the /oods and eFcisin' a part of his personal po/er8 The 4illa'e held him indebted for the remainder of his po/er* as did his mother and his 'randfather8 9e /as ban!rupt* trapped in an empty and /orthless life8 And at his first attempt to reach for somethin' more* his impo4erished life /as held ) of scum that floated on the surface of the in forfeit8 There /as his life* a /orthless film la!e8 5t /as a residue best cleared a/ay to re4eal the breadth and beauty of the la!e8 The 'lassy /aters had a depth to them8 The moon and stars reflected on the surface seemed to shine on an unfathomable /orld /ithin8 (rom the in!y depths somethin' bec!oned8 Loo!in' close* 9a/! Descendin' sa/ that it /as a ra4en* callin' him into the dar!ness8 The ra4en fle/ throu'h the /aters and 9a/! Descendin' fle/ /ith it* into the /orld beneath the surface8 9e found himself in a protoplasmic /orld that preeFisted physical form8 This /as the realm of spirits* the realm of dreams8 9ere /ere the foundations of physical reality* the frame/or! of the physical /orld* fluid outside of space and time* the impetus for all eFistence8 All probabilities for e4ery possible moment rippled out throu'h these ethers* communicatin' throu'h their interference patterns8 9ere all moments of time* all points of space eFisted simultaneously in one eternal moment* one infinite space8 9ere there /as no matter* only li'ht* only ener'y* only a/areness8 Li'ht /as essence* ener'y /as action* and a/areness /as the impetus to eFpression* the source of all eFistence8 5n the depths of the la!e* 9a/! Descendin' sa/ himself reflected8 9e /as pure li'ht* pure ener'y* pure a/areness8 The scum on the surface /as not him* it /as the distorted limitations he had accepted un!no/in'ly8 These /ere the false beliefs beEueathed to him by the i'norance of society* the /ellBmeanin' i'norance of his community* his parents and his 'randparents8 -n top of this /ere the intentional bloc!s placed by the Ma'istrate* the >mperor and all of those other predators /ho claimed for themsel4es his li'ht* his ener'y* his a/areness* his po/er8
6o/ 9a/! sa/ echoin' throu'h e4ery cell and atom of his bein' the reflection of this li'ht* this ener'y* this a/areness8 9e sa/ it ma'nified into a /hite hot li'ht* hotter than the fiery heart of the hottest sun8 (rom all of his reflecti4e cells and atoms* this li'ht /as concentrated into a po/erful beam* con4er'in' and directed upon the detritus of accepted limitations* accepted lies8 5n a flash of infinite ener'y* this detritus /as incinerated into /hite ash8 The ash miFed /ith the blac! /aters* neutraliGed and dispersed8 -ut from the depths of the la!e fle/ ra4en* to perch on his left shoulder8 9a/! on his ri'ht shoulder re4ealed to him all of the /a!eaday /orld* and ra4en on his left shoulder re4ealed to him all of the under/orld8 And /ith them both* he fle/ freely o4er all* directed by the pure intent of his heart8 >4ery/here he /ent* e4ery/here he loo!ed* he sa/ the same li'ht reflected in an infinite 4ariety of tones8 And each tone called a sympathetic tone from him8 :isin' /ithin him /as such a tide of a/areness and creati4e ener'y* he felt impelled to eFpress it someho/8 At the same time* he yearned for the refu'e of free eFistence* eFpressed in mindless play and deli'ht8 Before him blossomed a ne/ landscape* into /hich he descended8 5t /as a field* or rather a 'arden* crisscrossed by numerous streams* and dotted /ith small ponds8 The 'arden /as prolific /ith a profusion of colors. flo/ers rioted in passionate 'lee8 The 'arden /as bro!en into layers* shel4es steppin' up o4er solid roc!8 Small /aterfalls spilled from the steps* cheerin' /ith the lau'hter of /ater see!in' its lo/est le4el8 9ere and there stood a lar'e /illo/* an oa!* a baobob* a banyan* a bodhi* a red/ood8 >lse/here cherry and apple eFtended their flo/erin' bo/s o4er the 'arden8 ω 5n the 'arden played deer and el!*린 lynF* hare* foF and raccoon8 -4erhead fle/ pheasants and do4es* and hi'h abo4e circled ha/!s8 5n the streams s/am trout* and in the ponds /ere sunfish and perch8 -n the surface of the ponds floated lilypads and lotus8 6o/ and then a turtle surfaced8 &olorful fro's sat amon' the lilypads and chirruped8 The 'ardens /ere a slice of perfection brou'ht to earth8 9a/! Descendin' /as ineForably dra/n to this landscape8 Throu'h the eyes of ha/! and the eyes of ra4en* he !ne/ that he had created this sanctuary* as the eFpression of the boundless creati4e ener'y floatin' throu'h him8 9e found sanctuary in each blossom and blade of 'rass* in the bees* the butterflies and the hummin'birds flyin' from blossom to blossom* in the trees s/ayin' in a breeGe and the flo/in' /aters of the stream8 >4erythin' that eFisted in this 'arden flo/ed /ith the Son' of >Fistence* and 9a/! Descendin' flo/ed throu'h all8 This 'arden had its o/n eFistence independent of him* thou'h he created it8 Thou'h he created it Dust no/* this 'arden eFisted al/ays in space and time8 5t could not be found on any map* but it eFisted all the same8 6o road or trail /ould brin' 4isitors8 6o interlopers or eFplorers /ould e4er in4ade this land8 This 'arden could only be entered by intent* only by those /ho !ne/ its son' or his8 6o/ he !ne/ the ori'in of that ma'ical 4alley /here &elestia d/elt8 That 4alley /as his sanctuary and his temple8 &elestia brou'ht it into bein' /ith his o4erflo/in' creati4ity8 And 9a/! Descendin' brou'ht this 'arden into bein' in the same /ay8 9e !ne/ it /ould eFist fore4er as a refu'e for him* an oasis* an harbor8 9e could come to this ma'ic! place /hene4er he /ished* simply by sin'in' its tune8 And in his repose here* he /ould be healed* nourished and rested8
Lon' he lin'ered in this 'arden* luFuriatin' as the flo/ers and the 'rass* the trees and the /aters* the fish and the animals8 9e drifted thou'htless and formless* a sin'le cloud in the blue summer s!y8 9e fell to the earth as a 'entle rain* soa!ed up by the 'round* ta!en in by roots and eFpressed in all of the 4erdant plant life* performin' its biolo'ical alchemy /ith sunli'ht* /ater and earth8 Throu'hout the 'arden* he san' in eFuberant Doy and 'race8 ) .
had been standin' there all ni'ht8 6o/ he a/o!e as from some deepest dream8 6e4er had sleep refreshed him so much8 9e /as a ne/ person8 9is /indo/ onto the /orld /as /iped clean8 9is consciousness hummed /ith 4ital ener'y8 9e felt his po/er a/a!en8 The /orld /as silent8 The hummin' that sent him upon his Dourney had lon' a'o stopped8 >4en the mornin' birds held bac! their son'8 9a/! Descendin' !ne/ he /as alone8 9e /as the babe left hidden by the la!e shore* his family ta!en by the Ma'istrate$s men to be publicly tortured and put to death8 >4erythin' around him /as sanctified8 The la!e* the earth* the plants and the trees* the birds and insects* all /ere sacred8 9e felt blessed and stran'ely at peace — possibly for the first time in his life8 >4ery action* e4ery interaction /as a step in a celestial ballet8 Subconsciously he felt /hat /as to come* and he mo4ed into it as into a sacred hymn* sin'in' the proper counterpoint to balance reality in this moment8 9e too! the harp he !ne/ /as at his /hen he a/a!ened* Dust /here it should ω 먀side be8 Turnin' a/ay from the la!e* he climbed the hill* !no/in' that no one /ould a/ait him atop it8 The hilltop /as 4acant8 All that remained of the encampment /as trampled 'rass* ashes from campfires* scattered horse dun' and some rut mar!s from the /a'on /heels8 6o one remained* not e4en &elestia8 There /as supposed to be a reception for him this mornin'* and a namin' ceremony to ac!no/led'e his ne/ birth8 ?A ne/ name you shall ha4e8@ 9a/! Descendin' s/un' around at the sound of the 4oice8 5t /as Lau'hin' Moon* standin' se4eral feet a/ay8 9a/! too! a step to/ard her* stoppin' /hen he realiGed she /as an apparition8 The transparent elder raised her arm to salute him* palm out8 ?You are no/ :eflection on Deep =aters8 <uard this name /ell8 5t holds 'reat po/er* as you do8@ The ima'e faded8 9e /ondered /here Lau'hin' Moon and the others /ere8 :a4en =in' had said they a/aited him8 ?5 do not ha4e to ans/er that for you*@ Lau'hin' Moon /hispered8 ?Trust your depths.&&&I. "eborn After some timeless respite* he heard someone callin' to him8 9er 4oice /as full of ur'ency and concern8 A ra4en descended into the 'arden8 5t spread its /in's o4er him and disturbed the 'arden /ith its raucous ca/s8 ?&ome home* my reborn belo4ed8 =e a/ait you8@ 5t /as :a4en =in'8 And from his heart* 9a/! Descendin' !ne/ he must har!en to her 4oice8 The ha/! and the ra4en spread their /in's and fle/ bac! /ith him to the shore of the la!e8 5t /as the hour of da/n /hen 9a/! Descendin' opened his eyes8 9e stood by the shore. they /ill al/ays tell you true8 Act from your depths and you need ne4er doubt8@ She /as 'one8 :eflection on Deep =aters loo!ed deep /ithin* and he felt an unspo!en ur'e* mo4in' him truly8 &arryin' the harp* he left the hilltop* headin' for the /oods8 The mornin' breeGe stirred the lea4es. the 4oice of the forest called him on8 9e did not feel li!e himself any more8 5n truth* he felt more li!e himself than he e4er had8 This /as the real him* the him he had not been allo/ed to be in this life until .
no/8 9e /al!ed throu'h the forest* ta!in' sure and steady steps — /al!ed instead of climbin' throu'h the trees* /al!ed li!e a man8 The /oods /ere different to him8 9is memories of it /ere still there* but distant as from another lifetime8 9e san' /ith the forest no/ as he /al!ed throu'h it* and it honored him in his passa'e8 The forest reco'niGed him8 5t !ne/ he had been the one called 9a/! Descendin'* /ho too! harbor in its branches8 5t confirmed he had metamorphosed into :eflection on Deep =aters8 And by this ne/ name it met him /ith the deeper !no/led'e of its eFistence8 9e passed throu'h the forest and found himself on the 4er'e of the 4illa'e8 The to/n seemed different8 The huts /ere assembled as e4er* but somethin' had chan'ed8 =here he passed throu'h the forest /ith the forest* mo4in' /ith the 'ro/th of tree and brush* the flo/ of /ind and passa'e of animals* in harmony /ith its son'* here he felt e4erythin' /as at cross purposes8 >4erythin' here* the buildin's* the lanes and the people* /as in disharmony* mo4in' in dissonance a'ainst its o/n son'8 9is breath /as constricted* his mo4ement constrained8 9e held the harp closer to his chest and focused on his son'* his intent* cuttin' his /ay throu'h the impedin' chaos8 Around him* to/nspeople /ere 'atherin' alon' the a4enue* puttin' aside /hate4er they doin' to line the /ay8 At first he thou'ht they /ere linin' up to 'reet him* but none of them loo!ed at him8 They could not see him at all8 Most of them /ere directin' their attention bac! do/n the lane in the direction from /hich he came* yet ne4er noticin' his passa'e8 &onstables dotted the road* !eepin' the order8 9is parents stood /ith their nei'hbors* Dust ahead of him8 Deep =aters stopped* hesitant before the confrontation8 ) nearest to him* his o/n cousin (all =ind* At that moment* the constable standin' seemed to notice him for the first time8 ?You there* 9arper8 Loo! you for troubleH Your !ind are not /elcome in Path$s >nd8@ ?(all =ind* /hen did you Doin the constabularyH@ The constable too! a closer loo! at the 9arper8 ?9o/ do you !no/ meH@ ?5 should !no/ my o/n cousin8@ (all =ind$s bro/ furro/ed8 ?You are no cousin of mine8@ ?5 am 9a/! Descendin'8@ ?=ere that you /ere8 5 could turn you in* collect the re/ard* and the penalties on the 4illa'e /ould be lifted8@ ?=hat penaltiesH Do you not !no/ meH@ ?5f /e do not turn o4er 9a/! Descendin' /ithin another t/o days* all children belo/ the a'e of t/el4e must be deli4ered to the Ma'istrate8@ (all =ind approached the 9arper as he spo!e* eyin' him up and do/n8 9e settled on the man$s face* studyin' it closely8 ?You do resemble 9a/! Descendin'* but he has not your posture8 9a/! Descendin' is bent o4er /ith a hunchbac!8@ (or the first time* :eflection in Deep =aters realiGed he no/ stood strai'hter8 9e loo!ed do/n on his cousin* he /ho had ne4er loo!ed do/n upon anyone8 ?5t /ill 'o badly on you to e4en mention my cousin8 To pretend to be him /ould be foolish in eFtreme8 =hat is your real nameH@ ?5 am called :eflection in Deep =aters8@ .
?Deep =aters8@ (all =ind stepped closer* interposin' his authority8 ?=hy did you pretend to be my cousinH@ Before Deep =aters could ans/er* another constable approached on horsebac!8 5t /as (ield Mouse* /ho carried a /hip he snapped at them8 The /hip crac!ed inches from Deep =aters$ face8 ?-ut of the /ay*@ he commanded8 ?(all =ind* /hat are you doin'H You are supposed to !eep these people bac!8@ ?This 9arper claims to be 9a/! Descendin'8@ (ield Mouse loo!ed Deep =aters in the eyes8 :eco'nition passed bet/een them8 (ield Mouse hopped do/n from his horse8 ?You and 5 need to ha4e a tal!8@ To (all =ind* he said* ?#eep order /hile the Ma'istrate passes by8@ 9e too! Deep =aters by the arm* placin' him under custody8 Leadin' his horse by the reins* he directed Deep =aters bet/een t/o ho4els* /here there /ere no onloo!ers8 9e conducted his detainee to the neFt lane o4er8 There they stopped and (ield Mouse loo!ed him closely in the face8 ?You ha4e chan'ed a 'ood deal8@ ?5 am not the only one8@ Deep =aters referred to the to/n8 ?You /ere Dust a re'ular constable /hen 5 /as ta!en to the dun'eon8 =hat$s 'oin' on hereH@ ?5t$s the Ma'istrate8 9e used your escape as an eFcuse to ti'hten his hold on the 4illa'e8 9e says someone here helped you8@ ?That is not true8@ ?And he says you are dan'erous8 9e says you are plottin' to o4erthro/ the 멐ω >mperor8@ ?That is ridiculousJ@ (ield Mouse re'arded him8 ?=hat is 'oin' onH You escaped little more than a month a'o* and no/ here you are* posin' as a 9arper8 Your bac! is strai'ht8 You stand taller than 58@ ?5 had an a/a!enin'8 5 /as trained by a Master 9arper* and no/ 5 am a 9arper8@ ?5n one month8 That$s a tric!8@ 6othin' Deep =aters could say /ould pro4e his claim8 9e listened for the inner music8 There it /as* the melody of their li4es in this moment8 Loo!in' his friend in the eye* he isolated (ield Mouse$s son' and proDected it to him8 (ield Mouse cau'ht his breath 9is eyes /idened* thou'h they /ere loc!ed on Deep =aters8 9e felt more ali4e than he had in a lon' /hile* and he felt released from the circumstances that held him trapped8 =hen Deep =aters finally let the melody 'o* (ield Mouse almost re'retted it8 9e came a/ay feelin' replenished and re4italiGed8 ?5 am a Master 9arper no/8@ (ield Mouse nodded8 ?5 ha4e come bac! to proclaim myself8 And 5 am see!in' friends /ho disappeared last ni'ht8@ ?9a/!* you shouldn$t be here8 5f the Ma'istrate finds you* it /ill mean your death8 Most of the people here belie4e you betrayed us8@ ?=hat happened to this to/nH@ .
5nstead of ans/erin'* (ield Mouse led him throu'h the nei'hborhood to his hut8 5nside* Spotted (a/n /as tendin' the baby in the crib8 She /as tryin' to 'et him to drin! from a bottle8 She /as clearly distrau'ht8 =hen the men entered* she turned to face them* standin' protecti4ely before the crib8 (ield Mouse /ent to his /ife$s side and !nelt to loo! at their son8 ?9o/ is heH@ ?The same8 9e still /on$t eat8@ Spotted (a/n continued to stare at Deep =aters suspiciously8 ?9e has come to help*@ (ield Mouse told her8 ) .
as he follo/ed it* he had to be careful not to lose himself in the current8 5t too! a determined effort to ride on the surface /ithout bein' suc!ed in and o4ercome8 9e held himself apart* and in short order the stream carried him throu'h the 4illa'e* up the main thorou'hfare lined /ith 4illa'ers* throu'h the con4oy of 'uards and directly to the Ma'istrate as he entered the to/n8 The Ma'istrate shone li!e a sun as the stream fed into him throu'h his heart and solar pleFus8 Yet he /as a hollo/ sun of corruption and cruelty8 The stream fed into the cold* empty heart of him* to be di'ested and reflected in his inhuman 'lare8 As Deep =aters touched the Ma'istrate* he felt his hun'er* his isolation* and his alienatin' i'norance8 This /as the authority of the Ma'istrate* his corrupted i'norance* beEueathed to him by the >mperor8 (or his ser4ice to the >mperor* he had 'i4en up on the true po/er of his connection to All That 5s* i'norin' that connection to dra/ false po/er from his subDects8 This i'norance /as an infection the Ma'istrate then spread to all /ho !nelt in obeisance to him* and throu'h him to the >mperor8 . Trouble in the Town ?5s he a doctorH 9e loo!s more li!e a 9arper8@ Spotted (a/n used the /ord /ith contempt8 ?Don$t you reco'niGeM8@ ?My name is Deep =aters*@ 9a/! Descendin' interDected8 ?9o/ lon' has Mi!M the baby been sic!H@ 9e crossed o4er to loo! at the child8 ?9e be'an feelin' poorly /ithin a fe/ days afterM@ (ield Mouse paused to correct himself* ?the hunchbac! escaped8@ ?5t /as the hunchbac!*@ Spotted (a/n said8 ?9e ensorcelled them all8@ ?All of the youn'er children in the 4illa'e are sic!*@ (ield Mouse eFplained8 ?Many blame it on 9a/! Descendin'8 They too! ill on the day the Ma'istrate 'a4e us his ultimatum8@ ?And no one sa/ the connectionH@ (ield Mouse loo!ed sheepish8 9is /ife /as about to ma!e an obDection8 Deep =aters did not allo/ her the opportunity8 ?5 feel this child$s life force slippin' a/ay8 5 can sound out the problem* and maybe 5 can heal it8@ Spotted (a/n started to obDect* but (ield Mouse placed a hand on her shoulder8 ?Please do8 =e$d be e4er so 'rateful8@ Deep =aters !nelt by the crib and be'an to hum a 'entle lullaby8 Slo/ly* carefully* he sou'ht out the baby$s son' and introduced it into the melody8 The baby responded* but its response /as /ea!8 5t /as as thou'h the infant$s son' /as suc!ed a/ay from it before it could e4en be'in to 'i4e it 4oice8 Deep =aters sa/ the child$s essence floatin' around it* 4ery faint8 몠ω 9e felt the ener'y brou'ht by his son' di4erted* siphoned throu'h a cord alon' /ith the child$s essence — a cord that dre/ it out of the hut8 As it left the home* Deep =aters felt lesser cords from Spotted (a/n and (ield Mouse combine /ith it8 5n his son'* he follo/ed the cord out of the hut and throu'h the 4illa'e8 5t Doined /ith cords from all of the other children* tributaries that to'ether formed a stream of po/er8 Lesser lines fed into it from all of the 4illa'ers* dra/n in by the po/er of the flo/ and their attachment to the children8 Deep =aters felt himself pulled by this stream.&&&II.
/ill you follo/ my instructions e4en if they defy your duty to the Ma'istrateH@ (ield Mouse re'arded him a moment8 ?Does my son$s life depend on itH@ ?Your son and the entire 4illa'e8@ ?Then yes8@ ?&ome /ith me and do eFactly as 5 say8@ ) /all* near the door/ay8 ?My lady* 5 must Deep =aters placed his harp by the store my harp here for the time8 5 /ill sa4e your son8@ Spotted (a/n still doubted him* but she /as desperate8 ?&ome*@ Deep =aters bid (ield Mouse as he left the ho4el8 Spotted (a/n cau'ht her husband$s arm before he left8 She /hispered to him* ?<o /ith him8 But at the first si'n that he betrays us* !ill him8@ (ield Mouse nodded ac!no/led'ement and hurried after Deep =aters8 .Deep =aters felt himself sic!en at the touch of this disease8 9e felt the old scar of the /ound /here the Ma'istrate raped him of part of his po/er* so lon' a'o8 9e felt the hunch on his bac! start to rear itself* becomin' pronounced a'ain8 5n this moment* Deep =aters !ne/ the Ma'istrate$s dar! purpose* and he !ne/ /ho and /hat a/aited the Ma'istrate$s parade at the to/n sEuare8 By eFercise of /ill* he pulled himself free of the stream* free of the Ma'istrate8 9is a/areness snapped bac! to his body in the hut* and the recoil nearly bo/led him o4er8 9e stopped the son' in mid chorus and reached out to (ield Mouse to hold himself steady8 The parents /atched him in be/ilderment* sensin' somethin' /as /ron'8 ?My baby*@ Spotted (a/n 'asped as she !nelt o4er the crib* see!in' to aid and succor her child /ithout !no/in' ho/8 ?=hat is itH@ (ield Mouse stared into Deep =aters$ face in an effort to read there /hat had passed8 Deep =aters breathed and 'rounded himself before ans/erin'8 ?=e ha4e not a moment to lose8@ ?&an you sa4e our babyH@ (ield Mouse implored8 ?Yes* 5 can8 But 5 need to !no/.
The (wakening ?=here are /e 'oin'H@ (ield Mouse as!ed as he follo/ed Deep =aters to the ed'e of the 4illa'e8 Deep =aters stopped under the shade of the trees on the 4er'e of the forest8 ?=ait here8 5 /ill be bac! shortly8@ 9e could feel (ield Mouse$s curiosity8 9e disappeared throu'h the brush before (ield Mouse could as! anythin' else8 (ield Mouse /aited uncertainly8 9e should ha4e apprehended this 9arper and brou'ht him before the Ma'istrate /ith his tale of bein' that selfBsame hunchbac!8 But to do so felt someho/ /ron'* li!e much of his reEuired duties since Doinin' the constabulary8 And he !ne/ Dar! =aters /ould return8 As the minutes passed* his doubts 're/8 The 9arper could be deep in the forest by no/* safe from apprehension8 Cust as (ield Mouse thou'ht of callin' out the 'uard* he heard a flute /hisperin' thou'h the forest8 5t /as the saddest* most forlorn music e4er he had heard8 The son' spo!e to him of loss* shame and un/orthiness8 5t /as the son' of spirit 4ictimiGed* that spo!e of scars* disfi'urement and disempo/erment8 The son' stabbed at his heart most painfully8 9e co4ered his ears* yet still he could hear its dolorous mourn8 Cust /hen he could ta!e no more* the melody cho!ed off* follo/ed by a broodin' silence8 (ield Mouse /iped the tears from his eyes and composed himself as he heard the 9arper approachin'8 The brush parted and there stood the /arped hunchbac!* 9a/! Descendin'8 (ield Mouse /as at a loss8 ?Do you /ant to free the children and brin' this to an endH@ 9a/! said8 ?Ta!e me 뫰ω to the Ma'istrate8@ ?5t /ill be your death8@ ?6ot if 5 can help it8@ 9a/! Descendin' held out his hands8 ?&ome8 5f you /ant to sa4e your son* this is the only /ay8@ Thin!in' of his child* (ield Mouse reluctantly dre/ out a pair of manacles8 9e stepped o4er to 9a/! Descendin'* intendin' to clasp them around his /rists8 ?&an you put them on /ithout loc!in' themH@ (ield Mouse hesitated8 ?=hat are you 'oin' to doH@ ?5$m 'oin' to free the children and the 4illa'e8@ 9a/! Descendin' bared his /rists8 ?&ome no/8 5 /on$t harm anyone8 5 am unarmed but for the truth8@ (ield Mouse put the manacles about his /rists* sealin' them loosely8 9e stepped bac! and fro/ned8 ?5 don$t !no/ about this8@ ?You aren$t leadin' me to my death*@ 9a/! Descendin' assured him8 ?This should ha4e been done lon' a'o* for the 'ood of all8@ (ield Mouse mounted up8 ?5f this is /hat you /ant8 Stay in front of me* but !eep close8 5 /ill protect you until 5 turn you o4er to the Ma'istrate8@ -ne last time* he hesitated8 ?5 hope you !no/ /hat you$re doin'8@ As they set out* 9a/! Descendin' /hispered to himself8 ?So do 58@ 9e /as ta!in' an enormous ris!8 5n the forest he had played the son' of /ho he had been* cloa!in' himself in deformity* 4ictimiGation and disempo/erment8 Yet this shado/ /as still too /ell !no/n to him* ha4in' only dismissed it the pre4ious ni'ht8 Already he felt the /ei'ht of the 4illa'e as they 4ie/ed him* oppressin' him throu'h the .&&&III.
only &elestia /as absent8 Around the <loriosi* 9a/! Descendin' sa/ a 'olden 'lo/* disclosed to his eyes alone8 Cust as he and his escort approached the sEuare* the Ma'istrate /as pronouncin' Dud'ment8 ?Thou'h none /ill confess* the >mperor has 'i4en clear instructions on the fate of treasonous <loriosi8 They are to be beheaded* and their bodies are to be hun' on poles alon' the road* left there for the sca4en'ers8@ Amon' the <loriosi a fe/ of the children cried out8 A murmur arose from the to/nspeople at 9a/! Descendin'$s approach8 They turned a/ay from the dais to face him8 Se4eral cried out in condemnation8 ?=ho approachesH@ The Ma'istrate demanded8 The &hief &onstable spo!e8 ?You honor* this is the captain of my constabulary8 5t loo!s li!e he bears a prisoner8@ ?Let them approach8@ The Ma'istrate commanded8 The 4illa'ers stood bac!* and (ield Mouse herded his shamblin' char'e o4er to the side of the dais8 The 'uards there parted to allo/ access8 -ne too! the reins of his horse as (ield Mouse dismounted8 Leadin' 9a/! Descendin' by the elbo/* (ield Mouse stepped up on the dais to present him8 ?=ho do you ha4e hereH@ the Ma'istrate enEuired8 .burden upon his bac!8 This /ould only 'ro/ /orse as they became a/are of his presence8 And then there /as the subDu'atin' 'lare of the Ma'istrate8 9a/! /as not so sure he could thro/ off this cloa! and resume his presence as :eflection on Deep =aters8 5t /as a chance he had to ta!e8 9e had to confront the Ma'istrate and the 4illa'ers if this /as to be effecti4e8 ?Stand aside*@ (ield Mouse commanded8 They encountered stra''lers* hurryin' to the 4illa'e sEuare8 The 4illa'ers stepped to the side of the lane to let them pass8 As they cau'ht si'ht of 9a/! Descendin'* they /ere filled /ith hatred and dis'ust8 They shouted at him8 ?MonsterJ@ ?(iendJ@ ?=hat ha4e you done to our childrenH@ A 'roup of youths pelted him /ith roc!s until (ield Mouse pulled ahead on his horse and dispersed them8 5t became increasin'ly difficult for 9a/! to shamble alon'8 -ne of the roc!s opened a /ound on his chee!8 Blood tric!led do/n his chin8 As they approached the sEuare* the 4illa'ers formed a 'auntlet8 There /ere no more roc!s* but the 4illa'ers hurled foul epithets at him8 Many spat upon him as he lumbered past8 9a/! retreated deep /ithin* clin'in' to the truth of /ho he really /as8 ?Ma!e /ayJ Let us throu'hJ@ (ield Mouse cleared a path8 As the to/nsfol! cleared the /ay* 9a/! Descendin' cau'ht si'ht of the dais8 There stood the Ma'istrate* the 4ery emblem of authority in flo/in' robes of purple and red8 Behind him stood the Mayor and the &hief &onstable8 -ff to the side stood the eFecutioner* his face hidden by a blac! hood8 The >mperor$s <uard /ere lined in front of the dais* facin' the 4illa'ers8 And in front of them stood the entire tribe of <loriosi* ) bound and 'a''ed8 Lau'hin' Moon /as in the middle of the tribe8 She held herself /ith di'nity8 At her side /as :a4en =in'* poised /ith honor8 All of the <lorioi /ere present* do/n to the youn'est child.
?5 ha4e the escaped prisoner* 9a/! Descendin'8@ ?#ill himJ@ 5rate 4illa'ers cried out8 Loo!in' o4er the sEuare* 9a/! sa/ his parents and 'randparents standin' silently8 Their faces /ere ti'ht and merciless8 -nly in his father* #in'fisher* did he see any si'n of sympathy8 ?SilenceJ@ the Ma'istrate commanded8 To (ield Mouse* he said* ?:eport8@ ?This is 9a/! Descendin'*@ (ield Mouse informed him* ?the hunchbac! /ho escaped from your dun'eon8 5 apprehended him as he /as snea!in' into to/n8@ The Ma'istrate re'arded 9a/! /hile the report /as 'i4en8 As their eyes met* the Ma'istrate reco'niGed him as the lad he assaulted se4eral years before8 A ti'ht smile played o4er his face8 9is attention turned to the deformed rid'e ridin' on 9a/!$s shoulders8 9a/! felt the Ma'istrate brush aside all of his defenses to once a'ain siphon a/ay his po/er8 9e /as thro/n bac! to his boyhood* /hen the Ma'istrate — then a stran'er to him — attac!ed and raped him in the /oods8 The /ounded child /ithin him /anted to sha!e off the manacles and flee the 4illa'e* but the adult and the 9arper bid him to stand up to this confrontation8 9e re'arded the Ma'istrate* and he sa/ a bein' more /arped and deformed than e4er he had been8 Shut off to his o/n heart and his o/n po/er* the Ma'istrate /as a /ea! addict* feedin' throu'h i'norance and delusion upon the po/er of others8 There /as somethin' inhuman about him8 9a/! Descendin' recalled &hantien$s true performance here on this dais* and ho/ the 9arper re4ealed the Ma'istrate to be less than human* almost reptilian in nature8 And* at this recollection* 9a/! /as emboldened to rise up and stri!e do/n the 뭀ω he heard &hantien$s 4oice and felt the pathetic parasite before him8 5n this moment* 9arper$s presence beside him8 ?Bide your time*@ the 9arper$s spirit counseled8 ?Do not stri!e blindly8 -pen your eyes and loo!8@ And /ith that counsel* &hantien focused on openin' the Euarters8 9e called to the four directions* to Mother >arth and (ather Sun8 -nly 9a/! Descendin' /as a/are of these preparations8 9e follo/ed alon' /ith the ceremony* reiteratin' the /ords in his mind8 =hen &hantien called on the linea'e of 9arpers* 9a/! felt a line open* from him to &hantien* and to all of the 9arpers before them* bac! to that first primordial minstrel* bac! in the da/n of time8 &elestia /as there /ith them* in spirit8 ?5t is time8@ 9e brou'ht his o/n a/areness to the tas! at hand8 ?The a/a!enin' be'ins8@ 5t /as as if a fo' /as lifted* and 9a/! Descendin' sa/ clearly the dynamics of this scene8 All assembled here re4ol4ed around the Ma'istrate8 >4eryone in this sEuare /as enthralled to him8 9a/! Descendin' sa/ cords runnin' from e4eryone present to the Ma'istrate* includin' himself8 Throu'h these cords he dre/ out their po/er8 And as he fed on their po/er* so he had po/er o4er them8 To the Mayor* the &hief &onstable* (ield Mouse and all of the constables and >mperor$s <uards* there ran secondary lines from the Ma'istrate8 Throu'h these lines he doled out po/er8 And throu'h these lines he held control o4er them8 They /ere his puppets8 .
9a/! Descendin' !ne/ that before he could do anythin' else* he had to cut the lines controllin' the 'uards and constables8 -ther/ise* he /ould be physically brou'ht do/n before he could so much as raise a hand8 The Ma'istrate sensed the resistance of 9a/! Descendin'$s /ill8 Before he could do anythin'* ho/e4er* he /as distracted by the 4illa'ers8 ?SorcererJ@ ?#ill himJ@ ?#ill the sorcererJ@ The cro/d threatened to erupt and o4erta!e them all8 A roc! landed on the dais* nearly beanin' a 'uardsman as it fle/ past8 The cro/d sur'ed for/ard8 ?9oldJ@ The Ma'istrate thre/ up both of his arms8 At the same time he dre/ on the cords connectin' him to the 4illa'ers8 The sudden dra/ of po/er left them breathless* /ea! in the !nees and sic! in the pit of their stomachs8 &hantien si'naled 9a/!8 ?(ollo/ my lead8@ The spirit 9arper /o4e an ethereal melody that cut off the lines the Ma'istrate ran bac! to the 'uards8 The 'uards and constables* e4en the Mayor and the &hief &onstable* /ere left in a fo'* feelin' tired and depleted* unable to thin! clearly or ta!e action8 Standin' close to 9a/!* (ield Mouse /obbled on his feet8 The Ma'istrate almost tumbled to his !nees8 Ta!in' him by surprise* the se4ered connections /ere more than he could handle8 9e /as usin' the lines connectin' him to his men to help diffuse the ener'y he dre/ from the to/nspeople to settle them do/n8 &ut off from that release* he o4erloaded himself /ith incomin' ener'y8 5t /as all he could do at the moment to !eep his head abo4e /ater8 ) ?6o/J@ &hantien told 9a/! Descendin'8 :eleasin' himself from the shac!les* 9a/! dre/ the flute he had tuc!ed into his clothes8 9e played the Son' of >Fistence* specifically his son'8 9e poured his /hole essence into the music8 5t /as as thou'h e4eryone /ho heard suddenly had their senses /ashed clean8 The 4eil lifted and they sa/ the life$s ener'y bein' robbed from them and channeled into the Ma'istrate8 The Ma'istrate 'lo/ed unnaturally* paralyGed for the moment by the influF of ener'y8 9e could no lon'er hide8 9is true form /as re4ealed to them8 >4eryone /ho loo!ed at him sa/ a man /ho had traded a/ay his humanity8 9e /as no lon'er human* transformed into an alien reptilian creature8 9e /as a parasite* a leech that had preyed upon them far too lon'* lea4in' them disempo/ered* themsel4es less than human8 The feel of him* drin!in' their essence* /as repulsi4e8 5n reaction* e4eryone pulled free of him8 The recoil nearly stran'led him8 The Ma'istrate /as tryin' to marshal all of the po/er he had absorbed so that he could use it in an all out assault to reestablish his dominion8 The brea!in' of cords came as a second uneFpected blo/8 -n top of his marshallin' effort* the recoil resulted in an implosion as this o4erload of po/er plun'ed into and throu'h the 4ery heart of him8 9e started to scream* but the scream /as cut short as his body lost physical cohesion8 5n chain reaction* the 4ery atoms of his body e4aporated into the ener'y of /hich they /ere composed8 The Ma'istrate$s consciousness /as pulled in/ard by this /hirlpool of collapsin' ener'y8 9is essence /as dra/n into a minute blac! hole at the center of him and disappeared from this uni4erse8 .
This blac! hole* unstable as it /as* collapsed into itself and /as transformed into a /hite hole* pourin' ener'y out into the uni4erse8 5t /as as thou'h the Ma'istrate /as replaced by a small but brilliant /hite star* that poured out its ener'y into the 4illa'e sEuare and then 4anished8 The force of the Ma'istrate$s implosion and eFplosion toppled e4eryone off of their feet* e4eryone eFcept 9a/! Descendin'* /ho held his place by the po/er of his music8 Around him e4eryone remained !neelin'* not to him* but in re4erence for the Son' of >Fistence8 The po/er that /as stolen from him /as returned* as /as the po/er ta!en from e4eryone else8 Before their eyes* the fluteBplayin' hunchbac! /as transformed8 9e /as 9a/! Descendin' no more8 6o/ he /as :eflection on Deep =aters* Master 9arper8 -4er him to/ered the archetypal hunchbac!ed flute player* dancin' on the dais as he performed /ith Deep =aters the Son' of >Fistence8 &hantien /as s/ept up into this archetype* his consciousness eFpanded throu'h archetypal a/areness8 &elestia and the ancestral 9arpers /ere 'one* or rather they /ere transformed into the 'od of music and human a/areness8 ?&hochopalli8@ Lau'hin' Moon identified him8 All of the <loriosi bo/ed their heads to the di4ine archetype8 The 4illa'ers follo/ed suit8 Yet the music compelled them to loo! up a'ain8 At the center of the archetypal dancer* they sa/ a li'ht of essence* a li'ht that /as also a compass and a mirror8 This li'ht* this compass and this mirror /ere reflected /ithin Deep =aters as he stood performin' at the feet of the archetype8 And from Deep =aters it /as reflected to (ield Mouse and the others on the dais* ω dais* and to all the 4illa'ers8 5t /as a li'ht to the line of 'uards and the <loriosi before뮐 the of a/a!enin'* a mirror of recollection and a compass of reco'nition8 5t /as a remembrance* a rea/a!enin' to that /hich they truly /ere8 5t /as the release of all i'norance* a reali'nment /ith their source of bein'* a reBempo/erment /ith the essence of their o/n di4inity8 5t /as the release of all restrictions and all resistance* a reunification of their o/n blessed nature in the boundless li'ht of unconditional lo4e8 This lo4e flo/ed to e4eryone * and flo/ed throu'h e4eryone* o4ercomin' all8 Amon' the 4illa'ers* &ro/ Shado/ /ept at the release and lo4in' acceptance8 Beside her* #in'fisher reached out and hu''ed her8 She hu''ed him bac! as she /ept into his shoulder8 6eFt to her* 5ron Ca/ released his firm 'rip on life* his ri'idity melted a/ay8 6ear the dais* :a4en =in' loo!ed up at the man she lo4ed* she /ho had al/ays seen him clearly8 >lse/here in the 4illa'e* Spotted (a/n /o!e from an eFhausted nap to find herself transformed8 5n the crib beside her* her son cooed contentedly8 Throu'hout the 4illa'e* all of the youn' children /ere released from their malady* more truly themsel4es than they e4er had been8 The transformation and the a/a!enin' rolled throu'h the 4illa'e on a /a4e of lo4e8 5t /as lo4e* a sharin' and an identifyin'8 As each person a/o!e to /ho he or she truly /as* she and he also a/o!e to all others* and to the true nature of e4erythin' that eFisted8 >4erythin' is connected8 >4erythin' is8 All moments are one moment* >4ery point is one point8 All ener'y is one ener'y8 All of the uni4erse is contained /ithin e4ery atom of the uni4erse8 5n the eruption of that first atom of matter* all matter /as born8 5n .
the first 'limmer of a/areness* all a/areness /as birthed8 5n the first breath of eFistence* all eFistence too! breath8 And in the act of eFistin'* as all of them no/ recalled* they /ere on the leadin' ed'e* the front /a4e of the uni4erse eFperiencin' itself8 And throu'h them !no/in' itself recursi4ely8 The a/a!enin' /as seeded at Path$s >nd* in the reflection of Deep =aters8 And from here it spread throu'hout the re'ion* throu'hout the empire* throu'hout the /orld* throu'hout the uni4erse8 The >mperor and his officials* the elite and their mana'ers* all /ere po/erless to stop it8 They could either Doin in the a/a!enin' or resist it8 5n the latter case* they met the same fate as the Ma'istrate8 5n the face of true a/a!enin'* any resistance and any concept of limitation /as s/ept a/ay8 As &hochopalli$s son' /as at last released /ithin the /orld* the archetype 4anished into pure ener'y ridin' the /a4e of a/a!enin'8 &hantien /as at its crest8 -n the dais* the 9arper lo/ered his flute* thou'h the Son' of >Fistence continued to play — as it al/ays had — throu'h e4ery instance of eFistence8 -nly no/ it /as heard by e4ery moment of a/areness8 5t only e4er had been humans /ho did not hear it8 Yet* as there is only one instance of eFistence* one moment of a/areness* no/ all ears /ere open8 And no/* in this instance /hich /as e4ery instance of eFistence* sin's its son'8 And in all moments in the moment of a/areness* by a/areness this son' is heard8 ) .
Part %e. ( -ew (ge All of us are 4ictims8 All of us are heroes8 Some of us are monsters8 6one of us are 4ictims8 6one of us are heroes8 And the monsters are ne4er /hat they appear to be8 All of these are only roles /e assi'n oursel4es in our i'norance8 And /hen /e can see clearly* there is no need for role playin'8 There is no need for 4ictims* no need for heroes* no need for monsters8 =e free oursel4es from this necessity /hen all is for'i4en8 KKK The archetypal humpbac! flute player /as 'one8 5t had faded — or rather /as absorbed into All That >Fists8 6one /ere clear about the transformation8 The music continued* re4erberatin' throu'h all that eFisted8 And /ith the archetype* :eflection on Deep =aters 4anished as /ell8 6one could say for certain /hat his fate /as8 Standin' ri'ht behind him on the dais* (ield Mouse /as not a/are of his passin' until he came bac! to his o/n — no/ eFtended — senses8 Li!e e4eryone else* he loo!ed around for Deep =aters and found him no/here8 -r rather* he found him e4ery/here* as e4ery/here he loo!ed* he sa/ the essence of All That >Fists8 And in this essence /as his reflection8 (rom all that eFisted* there still /hispered the Son' of >Fistence* /hich 're/ louder if (ield Mouse focused upon it8 Yet of the 9arper there /as no trace8 6o trace but 믠ω the lau'hter and lo4e that echoed throu'h all thin's8 -nce the e4ents of this mornin' san! in* e4eryone 'a4e than!s to the one — so mistreated and so misunderstood — /ho had rea/a!ened them to the 'reater reality of their true po/er and essence8 >ach one eulo'iGed him in their thou'hts* rememberin' both the hunchbac! and the 9arper* offerin' their most heartfelt than!s in his memory8 KKK So be'an a ne/ a'e of a/a!enin'8 All reclaimed their po/er* /ith a ne/ appreciation of the essence /ithin all thin's8 5t /as the da/n of a ne/ a'e of ma'ic! and miracles* as all limitations crumbled before their reborn a/areness8 The entire nature of society* and life itself* /as restructured8 Throu'hout the land* the <loriosi settled in* opened their doors and became the teachers they truly /ere8 >4ery/here that 9arpers tra4eled* they /ere honored for their sacred art8 They 'a4e only true performances* celebratin' the Son' of >Fistence* ma'nifyin' the brilliance and beauty that /as the essence of all8 >4ery/here* the hunchbac! flute player* &hochopalli* /as re4ered8 9is lau'hin' music and playful dance lay at the heart of all thin's8 Statues of him /ere erected in tribute and in celebration8 5n the 4illa'e of Path$s >nd* a statue of the hunchbac!ed flute player /as erected in the to/n sEuare8 Visitors too! it for a tribute to &hochopalli* and that it /as8 But e4en 'enerations later* if as!ed* the 4illa'ers could tell of the lo/ly hunchbac! /ho li4ed amon' them* and /ho — at the hei'ht of his persecution — deli4ered unto them* and unto all of the /orld* the 'reatest 'ift that e4er one person could 'i4e8 They reco'niGed .en — The %ong &&&IV.
Lau'hin' Moon and :a4en =in'8 And the t/o of them offered no eFplanation. they simply smiled and listened8 The 4isit /as ne4er spo!en of a'ain by any of them8 The <loriosi settled in the 4illa'e* transformin' it into a center for hi'her learnin'8 5n time* it /ould be as /idely reco'niGed as the 9arper$s 9all at 9i'h Brid'e8 Students /ould come from far and near to study the ne/ arts that /ere born that day of a/a!enin'8 Lau'hin' Moon /as the head of the school* e4entually passin' her duties on to :a4en =in'8 .him as the most brilliant 9arper the /orld had e4er !no/n* and the 'ift he 'a4e /as reco'nition* a/a!enin' and — most of all — unconditional lo4e8 6o one /as certain /hat happened to that 9arper after he beEueathed his 'ift8 Some thou'ht he /as transformed into &hochopalli* and too! his place in the heart of all thin's8 Some s/ore that in his final moments* the Ma'istrate 'rabbed hold of him and dre/ him into the implosion* to share in his fate8 Some refused to speculate* sayin' only that he 4anished* ne4er to be seen a'ain8 Yet* that /as not entirely true8 KKK =hen (ield Mouse returned home that day* he found his /ife and infant son both Euite animated8 The baby /as healed and healthy — as /ere all of the children8 Spotted (a/n /as e4ery bit as a/a!ened as her husband8 =hen he told her of Deep =aters$ sacrifice and passin'* she hushed him /ith a smile and pointed at the /all /here the 9arper had left his harp8 The instrument /as 'one8 (ield Mouse loo!ed to her for eFplanation* e4en as the !no/led'e /as con4eyed to him8 Deep =aters appeared at their home8 9e 'a4e the baby a !iss* hu''ed Spotted (a/n* and then too! his harp and 4anished8 9e said not a /ord durin' his 4isit8 9e did not ha4e to8 ?Then he is not dead*@ (ield Mouse deduced8 ?6o8@ 9is /ife amended8 ?But he has left this /orld8 5 do not thin! /e /ill see him a'ain8@ ) (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n spo!e of this to only t/o people.
3n$inished #usiness -ne other 4illa'er recei4ed a 4isit from Deep =aters8 5t happened o4er a year after that day8 &ro/ Shado/ could not for'i4e herself for /hat she had done to her son8 She 'rie4ed deeply for her loss and /as 4ery harsh on herself8 She stopped ta!in' care of herself or her home8 She ate little and spo!e e4en less8 9er father — li!e many others /ho /ere too far 'one in i'norance — passed a/ay a fe/ months after the transformation8 Many thou'ht &ro/ Shado/ /ould follo/ him to the 'ra4e8 =ithin a year* she had become a /ithered hus! of her former self8 #in'fisher tried to sha!e her out of her 'rief but failed8 She closed off her heart to him and to all else8 Yet he ne4er 'a4e up on her8 9e too! care of her as best as she /ould allo/8 5n truth* he /as out of the house Euite a bit no/8 9e had become some/hat of a bard in his o/n ri'ht* comin' into his o/n as the 4illa'e historian8 9e spo!e at the <loriosi school* and often tra4eled to other to/ns* /here he shared the tale of his son and the a/a!enin'8 >4ery time he returned home from a Dourney* he dreaded /hat he /ould find in his house8 9e /ould pause outside the door* sensin' /hat /as on the other side8 Assured his /ife /as still ali4e* still sealed off from e4eryone and e4erythin' in her an'uish* he /ould ta!e a deep breath and then enter8 -ne day* ho/e4er* as he stood on the doorstep reachin' into the house /ith his senses* he /as surprised to disco4er the place /as full of li'ht* life and lo4e8 Before he could react* &ro/ Shado/ thre/ open the door and rushed into his arms8 She /as utterly transformed8 After a 'reat deal of hu''in' and 배 !issin'* durin' /hich she eFpressed se4eral ω times ho/ sorry she /as that she had been so cut off from him and e4erythin' else* &ro/ Shado/ told him /hat happened8 At the hei'ht of her despair* Deep =aters came to her8 She thou'ht him an hallucination until she /as assured of his physical presence by a hu'8 ?5 am so sorry*@ she told him8 ?Don$t be8 There is nothin' to be for'i4en8@ ?But 5 abused you8 And 5 stood by as you /ere arrested8@ ?All of that is o4er /ith8 =e /ere all abused* e4ery one of us8 Blame and Dud'ment only perpetuates the abuse8 =hat /e need is for'i4eness and healin'8@ 9e stood bac! and 'aGed at her* and in his eyes she sa/ only lo4e8 ?5 for'i4e you* Mother8 6o/ for'i4e yourself8@ She cried freely in release8 Deep =aters !issed her on the forehead8 ?You are no lon'er &ro/ Shado/8 6o/ you are Mournin' Do4e8@ Thereafter* Mournin' Do4e !ne/ no limit to the depth of lo4e her heart contained8 She /as a lo4in' /ife to #in'fisher* and one of the most nurturin' people in the 4illa'e8 She de4oted her free time to carin' for infants and youn' children* and she /as /ellBlo4ed by all8 She told none but her husband of Deep =aters$ 4isit8 And he ne4er repeated it to anyone* eFcept on his death bed — some years after Mournin' Do4e$s passin' — /hen he told the story to :a4en =in'8 And she already !ne/8 .&&&V.
Final )essons :a4en =in' became a 4alued teacher at the school maintained by the <loriosi in Path$s >nd8 She tau'ht empathy* lucid dreamin'* outBofBbody tra4el and transportation8 Students learned more in one of her seminars than in all of their other classes combined8 Many of them noted a presence in her classroom* as thou'h her seminars /ere attended by one unseen* /ho — ho/e4er unincorporated — played a primary role in the lessons8 All students and obser4ers /ere a/are that durin' her presentations the Son' of >Fistence /as almost physically audible8 Despite the popularity and effecti4eness of her teachin'* the schedule of her seminars /as hi'hly irre'ular8 She /as often a/ay on sabbatical8 She held no re'ular office hours* and she maintained Euarters neither at the school* nor else/here in the 4illa'e8 5n fact* she spent more time a/ay from the school than at it8 She /ould 4anish at a moment$s notice* and no one could or /ould say /here she /as8 Yet she ne4er ne'lected any of her students or her duties8 =hene4er she /as truly needed* she /ould be there8 Lau'hin' Moon and other <loriosi maintained communication /ith her at all times8 Years later* /hen she too! o4er the mantle of head teacher from Lau'hin' Moon* she continued /ith her mysterious comin's and 'oin's8 Still the school ran smoothly enou'h8 She directed the academy for many years before passin' her mantle alon' to the neFt 'eneration of <loriosi8 Thereafter* she /as rarely seen at the school or in the 4illa'e8 KKK A decade after the transformation* a youn' lad named Mi!al* the son of (ield Mouse and Spotted (a/n* sho/ed an interest in music8 9e too! to han'in' out in the /oods on the ed'e of to/n* hummin' and sin'in' his o/n compositions8 -ne day he found a /ooden flute /rapped in an oil s!in and hidden in a hollo/ tree8 9e eFperimented for hours until he fi'ured out ho/ to hold the flute and ho/ to blo/ across the air hole so as to produce musical tones8 9e /as so cau'ht up in learnin' to play a scale* he did not notice the stran'er$s approach until the man spo!e to him* only feet a/ay from the fallen lo' /here he sat8 ?You ha4e talent*@ the man said8 Startled* the lad nearly dropped the flute8 ?5 am sorry8 =as 5 botherin' youH@ ?6ot at all8@ The man spo!e in a !indly 4oice8 There /as somethin' about him that seemed familiar to Mi!al* as thou'h he had !no/n him all of his life8 ?5 /as dra/n by your flute8 Musical instruments are imbued /ith a po/er that 'oes to /aste if they are not played8@ ?5 found this in a tree*@ the boy said8 5ntuition told him the flute /as connected to the stran'er8 9e offered it8 ?5s this yoursH@ ?6o8 5t is yours8 Let$s hear you play8@ ?A/* 5 can only ma!e a fe/ notes8@ ?Sho/ me8@ The boy ble/ into the instrument* producin' a fe/ falterin' notes8 ?You must hold your bac! and nec! strai'ht and dra/ up the breath from the bottom of your lun's8@ ) .&&&VI.
The stran'er instructed the boy for the neFt hour8 By the end of that time* the child could hold his notes lon' and steady8 9e /as be'innin' to impro4ise melodies8 ?=hen you play* you must open your heart to all that eFists8 9ear the music in e4erythin' around you* and allo/ it to play throu'h you8@ The boy tried to do this8 9e played some tentati4e melodies8 And then he cau'ht one theme of the Son' of >Fistence8 9e /as transported by the music as it flo/ed throu'h him and out of the flute8 The trees and bushes around him all responded* as did the birds and the insects* as this /as their son' he /as playin'8 =hen he stopped* in a/e of /hat he had done* the stran'er said* ?5t has been a lon' time since this forest has heard its son' played on that flute8@ The man seemed to be lost in re4erie8 The boy /as too polite to interrupt him8 =hen at last the man came bac! to this moment* he said* ?-nly one session /ith the flute* and already you 'i4e a true performance8 You /ill 'o far /ith your art8 But /hen you 'i4e a true performance* al/ays do so /ith full respect8 =hen you play the Son' of >Fistence* you touch the essence of thin's8 This must ne4er be done selfishly8 6e4er see! to manipulate thin's to your purpose8 Play the Son' of >Fistence only to celebrate* to clarify* and breathe ne/ 4itality into the /orld8@ They tal!ed a /hile lon'er8 The stran'er offered the lad a little more instruction8 5n the end* he said* ?5 must be on my /ay8 And 5 am sure your parents are loo!in' for you8@ ?=ill 5 see you a'ainH@ ?5 doubt it8 5 am not in this area often8@ Before he left* the boy as!ed him* ?=hat is your name8@ 벀ω ?9a/!* some ha4e called me8@ The stran'er thou'ht about it a moment8 ?Than! you* 9a/!8 You tau'ht me a lot8@ ?5t /as the least 5 could do8@ 9a/! loo!ed deep into the boy8 ?-ne day you /ill 'o to 9i'h Brid'e and become a Master 9arper8 9onor your connection to all of eFistence and you /ill 'i4e performances ne4er ri4aled by another8@ ?5 doubt 5 shall e4er be the eEual of Deep =aters8@ ?Ah* but you are8 >4eryone is the eEual of Deep =aters* each in his o/n /ay8 The po/er is /ithin you to do 'reater thin's than Deep =aters8 That is the most important lesson he had to teach us8 >4en the least of us has the po/er to be 'reat* so lon' as he remains true to himself8@ And /ith those /ords* the stran'er named 9a/! departed* ne4er to be seen a'ain by the youn' minstrel8 =hen Mi!al returned home* he played the flute for his parents8 9is mother shed a tear* so impressed /as she by her son$s performance8 (ield Mouse as!ed if he could see the flute8 The boy passed it to him8 (ield Mouse turned the instrument in his hands* loo!in' it o4er from e4ery an'le8 ?5t has been years since 5 sa/ this flute8@ ?=ho does it belon' toH@ ?A friend /ho passed a/ay many years a'o8@ 9is father handed it bac! to him8 ?9e /ould /ant you to ha4e it8@ The neFt day at school* Mi!al /as dra/n out of class by :a4en =in'8 ?5 hear you ha4e ta!en up the fluteH@ ?Did my parents tell youH@ .
?6o8 5 heard you yesterday* playin' in the /oods8 All thin's are open to you /hen you are open to all thin's8@ The child did not !no/ ho/ to respond8 :a4en =in' studied him a moment8 ?You /ill ha4e to play for me sometime8 5f the forest spea!s true* you /ill be a 9arper some day8 Master 9arper &elestia has offered to become your tutor until /e find someone to fill that position on a more re'ular basis8 =e /ill do e4erythin' /e can to see that it is so* if that is your /ish8@ ?Yes it is* Ma$am8@ Mi!al /as eFcited8 ?5 /ant to be a Master 9arper li!e Deep =aters8@ ?Then so you shall8@ :a4en =in'$s lau'h /as the purest music in itself8 ) .
a symphony still bein' composed* ne4er to be finished8 The lotus pond /as an e4er 'ro/in' reflection*볐 floatin' on the surface of the deep /aters of ω the pond8 As :a4en =in' /atched* a fresh lotus blossom opened on yet another probable infinity* addin' its 4oice to the symphony8 She felt her lo4er$s presence8 Beside her* he telepathically spo!e8 NBeautiful* is it notH 5t is a li4in' record of my eFploration of probabilities8 =ith each ne/ probability that 5 Doin in resonance* a ne/ blossom opens in this pond8$ The lo4ers hu''ed and !issed8 Their melodies /ere braided as counterpoint8 :a4en =in' stepped bac! and loo!ed into her lo4er$s eyes8 She did not tell him* but in his eyes she sa/ the reflection of e4ery /orld and e4ery probability /ith /hich he re4erberated8 9er lo4er transcended e4ery boundary* and still he continued to 'ro/8 9is eFpansion /as endless* and his 4itality /ith it8 5n order to remain at his side* she had to eFpand apace8 She under/ent most of her 'ro/th /hile they slept to'ether* re4isitin' /ith him all of the places he had seen8 6o/* as she stood before him* she stretched to match his boundless hei'ht* ha4in' to confine herself in order to function on the plain of physical reality8 >4entually* if she /ished to !eep up /ith him* she /ould ha4e to lea4e that plain of limitations entirely8 But for no/* she still had important /or! to do there* at the school and else/here8 She communicated /ith him telepathically8 N5 met /ith the boy and his parents8 The school has made arran'ements /ith 9i'h Brid'e to retain a 9arper8 =e should ha4e done that years a'o8 &elestia$s 4isits ha4e become more infreEuent of late8 =hen the boy is old enou'h* he /ill be entered into the 9arper$s 9all8$ .&&&VII. 'ardening >4ery day the 'arden 're/ more lush8 5t eFpanded to fill an entire /orld8 5ts borders /ere no/ nearly infinite8 5t* and e4erythin' /ithin it* san' in dulcet harmony* loud and 4ibrant8 6o matter ho/ immense this /orld* the moment she entered it* :a4en =in' !ne/ eFactly /here her lo4e could be found8 9er son' /as intimately tied to his* and throu'h him to this land he created8 5ncreasin'ly of late* he ran'ed a/ay from this /orld entirely* eFplorin' the infinite realms of probabilities* eFtendin' the 4itality of his son' throu'hout the endless multi4erse8 6o matter ho/ far he ran'ed* :a4en =in' could still sense him* and he her8 She did not trac! him do/n8 5nstead* she let her presence resonate throu'h the 'arden and /aited for him to Doin her8 5t ne4er too! lon'8 As her son' resonated throu'h the landscape* she strolled throu'h the heart of the 'arden8 6o matter ho/ familiar she /as /ith this spot* there /as al/ays some ne/ /onder a/aitin' her8 >ach ne/ creation in the heart of the 'arden sent out runners to blossom throu'hout the entire /orld* so that each addition here brou'ht endless 4ariation throu'hout the /orld8 Allo/in' the Son' of the <arden to lead her* :a4en =in' found herself at a lotus pond /here she had ne4er been before8 At the center of each lotus* :a4en =in' could see a miniature uni4erse8 >ach /as a perfect reflection of an alternate uni4erse* and san' the son' of its o/n eFistence* so that alto'ether the lotus pond played a multiBaural symphony of the multi4erse.
N<ood8 That /as my last direct 4isit to that /orld8 5t is painful anymore assumin' physical form8 :ather li!e sEueeGin' your feet into old shoes se4eral siGes too small8 5 don$t !no/ ho/ you do it8$ N5 do it as 5 must8$ =omen /ere e4er better at mana'in' pain than men* and e4er better at sacrifice8 9er lo4er too! her hand* ready to soar aloft8 N&ome8 5 ha4e so much to sho/ you8$ N5t can /ait8$ She dre/ him close8 She spo!e aloud* her /ords sin'in' throu'h the 'arden around them. ?And 5 lo4e you8@ 5n their lo4e they /ere united* and out of their union ne/ /orlds /ere born* ne/ probabilities /ere hatched* ne/ li4es /ere birthed and ne/ son's /ere sun'8 ) . ?5 lo4e you8@ 9e responded in !ind* his /ords sin'in' harmony to hers* sin'in' throu'h the entire /orld.
About the Author PD Allen is a no4elist* a poet* a musician and a 'eolo'ist8 9e is a /riter of hi'h Oor trueP ima'ination* metaphysical fiction* alchemy and ne/ thou'ht8 9e is also a student of enli'htenment* inchin' his /ay alon' the path as it is re4ealed to him8 &urrently* he di4ides his time bet/een Michi'an and Southern 5ndiana* li4in' /ith his lo4ely /ife* >liGabeth8 photo by >liGabeth Pfeiffer (or the latest* chec! out pdallen8/ordpress8com 봠ω .
e*itations/ Book 0ne +uantum Meditations is a li4in' /or! of literature capable of li'htin' a fire in the readerIs mind and transformin' reality8 The meditations had their 'enesis in a personal crisis and resultin' transformation8 As such* they are a record of a 4oya'e throu'h inner and outer uni4erses* and a map for others to follo/8 The simple act of readin' the meditations is sufficient to carry the reader alon' on this 4oya'e8 Alon' the /ay* the Meditations cross frontiers of physics* consciousness and the relationship bet/een the indi4idual and the uni4erse8 The Meditations brid'e Euantum physics* Taoism and hermetic alchemy* alon' /ith countless other subDects8 The first 4olume includes riddle* the Son' of >Fistence series* Sacred <ro4e* Passin' Throu'h* Abundance 5s* Landscape* )Source* >ner'y* :elati4ity* Soul Mates* &reation* -ur Son'* Mandala* Sleepin' the Dreamer Dreamed* >ternal :ound* Bell Boo! and &andle* the &reati4ity series* A Sorro/ of :a4ens* Life and 9o/ =e Li4e 5t* 6onlinear* The Sin'in' Ma!es 5t So* Thou'ht (lo/s* Picto'raphs* The Secret Po/er of :espiration* The >ssence of Ma'ic* Me Myself and 5* Steppin' Stones* Transmitter* Somethin' 5n Motion* :ide the Dra'on* S/eet 9oney in the :oc!* )ni4ersal (orm* )nder/orld* S!ein* =iGards All* The Truth in a 6ame* Breathin' Seein' Bein'* the Physics of >Fistence series* All You Are* My Lo4e and 5* the Breathin' Miracles series* :ipplin'* Prepare Yourself for a Miracle* >ternal =ell* The Merry <entleman* the Tric!ster Series* the Birthin' Le4iathan series* Spiralin' -ut* My Lo4e &omes :idin'* the (ey Tune series* the Secret of Manifestation series* the Summonsin' the >a'les series* the 5ma'ine series* the Myth series and much more8 -uantu! .e*itations 12 .5f you are interested in 6e/ Thou'ht* ta!e a loo! at +uantum Meditations8 -uantu! .
e*itations 1 뵰ω 5ncludes The )ni4erse Spea!s* 6a4i'atin' 5nfinity* >scher Stairs* A Bello/s Be* The =aters =here You S/im* The 5n4isible Man* The Anni4ersary series Ofor Eli)abethP* 6ote in a Bottle* >Fponential &ur4e* (ruit of the :a4en* The Blade of Li'ht* Loosenin' (orm* the =ho Am 5 series* Spiral -rbit* (ield of Vision* A True Miracle* The :a4enIs Tale* The Lau'hter of &haos* The =ay of Ma'ic series* 6onlinear Path* The Son' of the =ell* Scriptin'* and much more8 Also includes the essay* =hat 5s >ner'yH -uantu! .5ncludes My Lo4e &omposed* The Dance of Life* =orld Ma!in' Dreams* :esponse of the <rasshopper* 9eliocentric* The Vibration Purple* the D5A series Omeditations composed during a tour of the 'etroit *nstitute of the ArtsP* &onnectin' the Dots* the <arden of Allo/in' series* &onscious Manifestation* (ractal* A/areness (lo/s* =e Are the (rontier* =a4e (orms* Diamond* The &ycle of Life* Ta!e a Deep Breath* The (allacy of Action* =al!in' on 9ot &oals is >asy &ompared to* The 6ature of Thou'ht* Dreamers of =orlds* =ea4in' a Thou'htform* Memes* The Secret of Affirmations* The )ni4erse Spea!s* 6a4i'atin' 5nfinity* >scher Stairs* A Bello/s Be* The =aters =here You S/im* The 5n4isible Man* The Anni4ersary series Ofor Eli)abethP* and much more8 -uantu! .e*itations 1" &ontains The Son' of Your Becomin'* &ircular Attractor* Stellar Thou'htforms* )nder 5nfinity* My Vision of You* The PainterIs Palette* LetIs <et Physical* the Landscape of A/areness* The 6ature of Turbulence* the Purpose of Turbulence* the Beltane series* Mornin' (inds Me 9ere* the &rossroads series* the State of >Fistence* Attuned to the .
e*itations 1( .e*itations 1% &ontains the SchrQdin'erIs &at series* :aindrops on the Pond* The 6ature of Vibration* Synchronicity* the Border of &onsciousness series* The )nited &hoir of &onsciousness* The Son' of Atoms &ells and Stars* Duelin' Delusions* the MandelbrotIs Set series* 5nflection Points* The 6ature of Your Lattice* the Soliton series* Thou'ht :adiates* The 9ero of a Thousand (aces* Painter on a Ti'htrope* the =ell of &haos* The 6th De'ree of (reedom* the >ntropy series* The <reat <od &haos* the 5ntimacy series* <estalt Sel4es* Son' Bet/een )s* The Son' of Your Becomin'* and so much more8 -uantu! .=onder* The Distance of &reation* &haotic Brain* The Lens of &onsciousness* The =orld of Ma'ic* The Thief of -ne* 6onlinear Thou'ht and so much more8 -uantu! .e*itations 1' 푰ω 5ncludin' 5n the <enes* &oe4olution* =a!in' <aia* The &risis of >4olution* Landscape of DelinEuent Dreams* )ni4ersal Mandelbrot* The Lattice of Bein'* Systemic Shifts* This Blossomin' Moment* >ner'y is A/areness* Ry'ote* >ntan'lement* The Music Lessons series* the Pro4ince of &reati4ity* Border =al!ers* &haos is -ur Dri4er* &hildren of &haos* The Po/er of Beliefs series* (ield of >Fistence* Dream of 6ucleatin' &han'e* Do the Math* =a4e &ollapse* &reati4e )ni4erse* and much more8 -uantu! .
5ncludin' The >yes of Source* 5ndi'o Tribe* The =orld/ide =eb of >Fistence series* Thinnin' Veil series* +uantum SubDecti4ity* the Thoth series* -uroboros series* The 6aGca Plains* the &alcination of 9umanity* The Marria'e of the Sun and Moon* the 9atchin' >'o series* the BosonIs Son' series* The Birth of &onsciousness* The Sea of Potential and the )ni4ersal Mind* the 6e/ Alchemy series* 5nterference Patterns* (ourier Transformations* The &onfluence of :eality* the 5mplicate series* A/ash in the +uantum Vacuum* 6ous Sommes du Soleil* The Boundaries of Delusion* 9olo'raphic Synchronicity* and much more8 777 Experimental arrati!e A2akening Dragon3 an Sha!anic A*4enture Აω A/a!enin' Dra'on is about empo/erment* stirrin' the ma'ic! that lies at your heart* and throu'h your heart* at the heart of the uni4erse8 5t is an introspecti4e Dourney throu'h the depths of the subconscious* throu'h the essence of thou'ht and emotion* throu'h archetypes and the la/s of eFistence* and into the dynamic flo/ of ener'y and a/areness that underlies e4erythin' in the uni4erse* e4erythin' in the /a!eaday* and e4erythin' in the under/orld8 5t is a story about findin' yourself* findin' your center* and findin' the lo4e and intent that is at the heart of e4erythin'8 Based on a shamanic eFperience* this boo! contains a 4isionary Dourney to a/a!en the dra'on /ithin and brin' its po/er into the /orld* also a/a!enin' to the interconnection of all thin's8 The first portion of the boo! consists of a nonlinear son' cycle* follo/ed by an eFperimental prose narrati4e8 777 .
Pre+.uantum &editations Fiction by P' Allen Co!&lete Tales of *a 5oo&ernatural :emember tellin' spoo!y stories /hile sittin' around the campfireH Tales of da Yoopernatural combines the feel of the oral tradition /ith modern sensibilities8 5n these tales the author has created a /orld of myth and le'end* a /orld /hich loo!s a lot li!e the one /e inhabit but is Dust a bit s!e/ed /ith the occasional portal to other dimensions* appearance of mythical creatures* spirits* 'hosts and more8 The stories ran'e from the prosaically dreamli!e to the disturbin'* /ithout a lot of 'raphic bloodshed or 'ratuitous 4iolence8 5ncludes all four no4ellas and three short stories8 Blood Moon &onnie 9illman follo/s her former lo4er into madness8 5n the ancient 9uron Mountains* she encounters 'hosts* cannibalistic =eendi'o* and a mysterious 'iant /hile ) tryin' to rescue the man she cannot stop carin' about* Phil =a4erly* an anthropolo'ist lost in his obsession to pro4e his o/n demented theories8 The Buc! of Mulli'an Plains 9enry #incaid enters into a mythic hunt that /ill brin' him face to face /ith the Lord of the =ilderness8 Mean/hile* his lo4er* Lilith <ordon* fears that she /ill lose him fore4er8 The Secret Life of Trees The northern /oodlands are home to many stran'e si'hts8 Some say the 'hosts of fallen forests haunt the re'ion* /hile others say it is the 'hosts of the lumberDac!s /ho felled the ancient trees8 A fe/ spea! of enchantments e4en more mysterious than 'hosts* mar4els of the fallen /ilderness that lin'er* hauntin' /oodlands and claimin' the li4es of solitary hunters or bac!pac!ers8 &arl Landau /ill soon disco4er the truth behind these local le'ends8 The <iant #iller (i4eByearBold :ene De&laire embar!s on an ad4enture /ith fairies and a 'iantB !illin' d/arf8 Afraid of the Dar! Dra/n on by a contrastin' miFture of attraction and repulsion* /ill Andre/ >ric!son unco4er /hat secrets lie hidden in the absolute dar!ness of the haunted .
Lau'hin' >a'le Mine before they cost him his life* and that of his friendsH Coin him on his harro/in' descent into a ni'htmare /orld car4ed out of the ancient basalt of the #e/eena/ Peninsula8 -n 5ce An enchanted* ancient stur'eon see!s to communicate /ith Bruce Tor4alds* brid'in' the 'ap bet/een man and nature8 But is it already too late for Bruce to escape his social preconditionin'H This tale demonstrates that the 'reatest stru''le is not bet/een man and nature* but bet/een man and his o/n mindset8 A #iller$s Pride -ut of a mis'uided sense of loyalty* youn' -Dib/a 5ndian Stephen De&laire i'nores a call to follo/ the :ed Path8 9e Doins the army alon' /ith his friend S!ip 6eunan and is shipped to 5raE Dust in time to ta!e part in the raGin' of (alluDah8 Stephen finds himself the focus of a stru''le bet/een the Buffalo Maiden and the Beast of Babylon8 5n the fi'ht for his soul* he learns po/erful lessons about imperialism* the nature of /ar and ci4iliGation8 =ill he sur4i4e the in4asion /ith his soul and mind intact* or /ill he follo/ his friend into the dar!nessH Say >>># to da )P* eh8 #i**lesticks 할ω Blind 'iants run amo!* 4oracious =eendi'o /ho eat e4erythin' in si'ht* the horned one ridin' on a dra'onBcat* characters from -Dib/a mytholo'y come to life* a dar! shaman* the &orrupted 9orde* and a bli'ht on the =orld )nder the (lesh and the =orld of the (lesh8 =hatIs a youn' fiddler to doH SiFteen year old -Dib/a :ene De&laire is disillusioned and alienated from the modern /orld in /hich she li4es8 She /ould rather play her fiddle* inhabitin' the bac!/ood of Michi'anIs )pper Peninsula* practicin' the old /ays and learnin' to be a shaman li!e her <randma :ena8 9er older brother Stephen li4es in the forest* hidin' from the 'o4ernment and the >ater of Souls8 9er mother Cudy /orries about her children and their inability to compromise /ith the dominant ci4iliGation8 But <randma :ena !no/s ho/ important it is that the siblin's and their mother find the ri'ht path8 She has dedicated her remainin' days to helpin' all three of them open their eyes8 .
Soon the youn'er De&laires /ill find themsel4es in the =orld )nder the (lesh* loc!ed into a merciless battle to sa4e the 9eart of the =ilderness and the Land Bet/een the S!y =aters from the 9orde* the Bli'ht and a po/erful and corrupted shaman !no/n as the -'imauh8 Alon' the /ay* they /ill ha4e many ad4entures* Doined by other characters first introduced in the Tales of da Yoopernatural* as /ell as ne/ friends of myth and le'end8 They /ill find this stru''le for the =orld )nder the (lesh is also a stru''le to a/a!en the /orld from /hich they came* the =orld of the (lesh8 And it all re4ol4es around the 9eart of the =ilderness* a ma'ical fiddle* and a fiddlestic!8 Strange Attractors This 4olume contains ele4en tales from the frontier of ima'ination* stories that are* by turn* surreal* satirical* surprisin'* sub4ersi4e* slapstic!* sensual and spiritual8 And al/ays stimulatin'8 Აω6i'ht 5nto the The poet see!s the illumination and freedom found in the dar!est shado/ of the ni'ht8 Surreal* other/orldly* lyrical* and filled /ith essential intimacy and nonconformity8 =aitin' for the Li'ht More fun than a 'arba'e truc! full of Gombies* /hich it features* alon' /ith e4il clo/ns and the end of the /orld* all of /hich beset our prota'onist as he sits in a left turn lane* /aitin' for the traffic li'ht to chan'e8 =alt$s Bait and &ybercafS A short and Euir!y 4i'nette about Trance Cor'enson$s attempt to brin' the t/o horse yooper to/n of =atersmeet into the a'e of the internet8 =hat happens /hen bac!/oods Yoopers meet the /orld /ide /ebH :e4olution* of course8 The &onEuest of Bread A radical tale of a/a!enin' Gombies8 5t is a tribute to #ropot!in* told in the first person plural8 Coyride :eady for lau'hBoutBloud ad4entureH Coin &aptain =ill Po/er as he tries to sa4e Bu'to/n from peepin' toms* rabid 'uard do's* e4il professors* demonic toadies* an army of Gombies* reli'ious Gealots and dri4e by shooters8 The only Euestion is. /ho /ill protect Bu'to/n from &aptain =ill Po/erH .
Cesus (rea!s Ta!e a 'ander at 1T3As era acid casualties* and the merits of /hat is considered a 'ood boo!8 Mean and Despicable This is the definiti4e history of Cim Summers* the farmer$s 'unslin'er8 5n the 1UUAs* tension bet/een lumber businesses and homesteaders in Michi'an$s )pper Peninsula almost ri4aled the ran'e /ars further /est8 Cim Summers /as at the heart of it8 Trouble &omes to To/n The seEuel to =alt$s Bait and &ybercafS8 Mad bomber* :yan &hartier comes to =atersmeet in search of a pay phone8 :obin of the 9ood 9e steals from the rich and 'i4es to the poor8 A real tric!ster outla/* :obin is8 9ilariously de4ious8 <one <orilla A biGarre fantasy ad4enture8 The prota'onist see!s to e4ade the e4er present 9i''s Boson8 You can ne4er outrun that 'one 'orilla8 Son' of the =anderin' 9unter The seEuel to 5nto the 6i'ht8 The /anderin' hunter e4ades pursuit as he comes to understand the intimate unity underlyin' all that eFists8 =ill he be able to pass his ) disco4ery alon' before he is hunted do/n himselfH .ur*erer6s Sky — 7n*er Shattere* Skies8 Book 1 )nder shattered s!ies* fiftyBse4en ille'al immi'rants are murdered outside of the to/n of 9eater* AriGona* a dyin' to/n in a dyin' ci4iliGation8 Their deaths in a ritual sacrifice a/a!en Sheriff >lliot Pierce* (ather Albert 9ayne* pre'nant sur4i4or Maria DiaG and all of the people of 9eater to an e4il as abhorrent as /hat is happenin' in the s!y o4erhead* an e4il that is lin!ed to /hat is happenin' in the s!y* to their fate and to the fate of the entire /orld8 MurdererIs S!y is the first boo! of the speculati4e* dystopian horror trilo'y )nder Shattered S!ies8 Set in a /orld not too different from our o/n* a /orld /here humanity has passed the point of no return in its eFploitation of the planet* a /orld /here the .
ourning Sky — 7n*er Shattere* Skies8 Book This is the final boo! of the )nder Shattered S!ies trilo'y8 The s!y erupts* rainin' de4astation upon the to/n of 9eater* AriGona* and upon the entire /orld8 Albert 9ayne* Sheriff Pierce* #e4in 9o/ell* Maria DiaG and all the other characters stru''le to sur4i4e* fi'htin' a'ainst racial hatred* Gombies* the military and daemonic forces8 This climactic no4el ta!es us to ne/ dimensions of suspense* thrills and horror8 .monster threatenin' the future of life on this planet is the sociopathic inclination of its dominant species8 5s there still a chance to sa4e it allH Perhaps* but only if /e can o4ercome isolationist tendencies and achie4e a ne/ de'ree of empathy /ith the /orld in /hich /e li4e8 &an that happenH -r are /e damned to commit suicide by i'noranceH (ind out in )nder Shattered S!ies8 Dae!on Sky — 7n*er Shattere* Skies8 Book 2 The multiBthreaded plot of )nder Shattered S!ies is on the mo4e e4en as the s!y itself is on the mo4e8 5n the second boo! of the series* DVmon S!y* our many characters dra/ ineForably closer to their fate8 And /e are 'i4en our first close loo! at the e4il behind the plot to cull the population throu'h atmospheric cataclysm* as /ell as a 'limpse throu'h the eyes of Martin :oss and his henchman* Vince :i!er8 DVmon S!y ta!es the suspense* the 홐 intri'ue and the terror up another notch* ω transcendin' the plot throu'h the inter/ea4in' of characters* storyline and ima'ination* to deli4er the reader into a /hole ne/ realm of speculati4e fiction8 .
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