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Author Topic: Child of Spring: Chapter 12  (Read 2779 times)
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« on: 29 May 2013, 06:29:04 »

EDIT: Done! :)



CHILD OF SPRING

This is the story of Winter and the Way of Wind and Water. He is one of the Gifted, those rare individuals born with natural magical ability. He has lived the life of a Krean monk since he entered the monastery at age six, but his heart is in Nybelmarasa, the last place in the world where the magic of the Ancient Krean still lives. In a year he will leave White Mountain, a place which has been home for seventeen years, and make the long journey to the Academy. Here he will learn the ways of magic from the mages of Nybelmarasa as they have been passed from the legendary emperor Dearan Asaen himself. Or so he hopes. It is said that our gifts define us, make us who we are. What would you do if you lost yours and how far would you go to get it back?



CHAPTER SUMMARIES

Chapter 1: The Songs of Wind
In which we meet Winter. Into the peace of the mountain, a new song has come on the Wind.

Chapter 2: Meditating on the Breath
On his way to the monastery, Winter runs into a friend. Why is Orange out of breath and what is he searching for?

Chapter 3: Song of the Family
In which Winter remembers. The two monks discuss the change that looms over White Mountain.

Chapter 4: War and Peace
Winter and Orange disagree about the coming war. Winter is troubled by the change that has come over his friend.

Chapter 5: The Virtues of a Balanced Diet
War is coming to the Port of Nor, and on the Mountain, Winter is locked in a battle of his own, trying to get twelve novice monks ranging from six to ten years of age through the morning practice. But first he must reason with Ker, who has a penchant for (mis)-quoting Master Kao and is very fond of daisies, as a source of nourishment.

Chapter 6: Swimming Dragon
In which we discover the connection between Swimming Dragon and Stormblade complexion. Swimming Dragon, Sinking in Prayer Position, Stand Like a Tree: Three more exercises and Winter can hand the novice monks over to Master Coldstream - and Winter has a secret weapon in a curious looking clay jar to make sure the children pay attention...

Chapter 7: Tamarind
In which we meet Pebble, novice monk and potential high priest, from whom we learn that Tamarind will regrettably not be joining Swimming Dragon practice, on account of his back.

Chapter 8: Practice is its own reward
In which Winter and the boys practice Swimming Dragon, finally. An hour later disaster strikes.

Chapter 9: Ebb and Flow
Winter deals with the brownie poo induced consequences of a loss of mindfulness.

Chapter 10: Stand Like a Tree
The last exercise of the morning practice and Master Coldstream can take over from Winter. But Ker seems to have misinterpreted the instructions.

Chapter 11: Nettle
Nettle confronts Winter after Ker fell down a tree during the morning practice. Winter is summoned before the masters.

Chapter 12: Acorn and Riverstone
Nettle and Winter appear before the masters of the monastery.
« Last Edit: 16 August 2013, 16:15:28 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #1 on: 29 May 2013, 06:29:53 »

CHAPTER 12
Acorn and Riverstone

The wind blew into the mountain, a nervous, restless wind with the smell of storm on its breath, and there was change and uneasiness in the air. We found Master Kao sitting, cross-legged and spine upright as always. There is an imperturbability to his posture that is at odds with his small frame. The lack of tension in his body is so evident that it takes on a presence of its own and becomes something palpable - a quality to the air around him, a presence of calm. Torrent says he sits like a mountain.

Master Kao smiled when he saw us. Then a cloud seemed to come over his eyes and his face set in sadness and he was silent. We waited.

"Winter, Nettle," he said, "You must always remember that a seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an invisible orchard. Yet nothing will come of it should that seed fall upon rock."

A flight of sparrows dropped into the dust, scrabbled for bits of food and then flew off like a gray scarf twisting in the light. Moments later they were gone. So was the world-sadness that had come over Master Kao. I thought, not for the first time, that there was kinship between the masters of White Mountain and the vast sky. They host emotions the way the sky hosts birds flying through it, allowing them to pass through without obstruction, without grasping or aversion. Arising and dissolving back into the skymind. The source of Flow. Of flowmancy.

"Come," he said. "I have a gift for you."

He extended his arms towards us, his hands were wrapped into fists and each hid something in the centre. "Pick one." I laid a hand on his left fist just as Nettle reached for the other.

I ended up with an acorn, and as far as I could tell it was not a special acorn. I stared at it for a while, probed it with my mind, turned it over in my hand, but could not discern anything unique to its flow pattern. Sometimes an acorn is just an acorn. Nettle found a round river stone, its surface smoothed and slightly polished by centuries of running water. Like most river stones, there was a simple elegance to it, but beyond that it had no feature which stood out. Nothing to distinguish it from any other pebble. Both pebble and acorn were roughly the same size.

We looked at one another, then at Master Kao, and then back at our hands.

"What do you see?" asked Master Kao.

Nettle stared so hard at the river stone that, if pebbles could cry, I think it would have. She looked at it as though by sheer force of will she meant to extract whatever secret lay ensconced within the heart of the stone.

"An acorn and a pebble," I said. Nettle rolled her eyes. She clearly expected something more esoteric.

"And you, Nettle?"

"Far be it for me to contradict the words and wisdom of the prodigy." The prayer beads resurfaced. "Yes. An acorn and a pebble. That is what I see too."

"I am glad we are in agreement," Master Kao said. Aunt Winn looked like she was about to get up, say "Well then. A lot has happened yesterday that we need to discuss. Please excuse us," and gently but firmly escort us out. Nettle must have sensed this too for she interjected before Aunt Winn could speak.

"Yes, but what does it mean, master?"

"Perhaps we should ask instead: What does it mean to you?" Master Kao sat and gazed at us calmly. "Look deeply."

And so we did. Of course, it suited me to go away and contemplate. To wait. The longer, the better. I wondered whether in the vastness of the cosmos there was a world in which Nettle would be content to forget, to let go, or simply be pleasant once every two hundred years. I doubted it.

***

But Nettle would not be thwarted. After an hour she prodded me back in. There was a glint in her eyes and her jaw was set. I believe very strongly that she thinks with her jaw. Once she sinks her teeth into something, she chews and chews and chews until the matter takes a shape more satisfying to her ironclad theology.

Master Kao took the acorn and the pebble and held them out to us.

"What do you see?" he asked again.

"Potential," said Nettle, eagerly, smugly, with the confidence of a landslide. Her tone brooked no argument. "This acorn has a forest in its heart. In time it may grow into a mighty oak, which will produce more acorns just like this one, and each of those acorns may in turn grow a tree of its own. This single acorn, small and insignificant as it may be, has the potential to cover the entire world with a forest."

She paused to let her words sink in. I must admit she does have her moments of brilliance. "The stone on the other hand can never grow more stones of its kind. That is the difference between them: Potential." She took a mouthful of air, as a man might just before he plunges into the sea, and continued triumphantly. "For instance, Winter has the potential to practice diligently and be a good monk. Instead, he wastes this potential by loitering around and keeping dubious company. Like this stone, nothing will become of him. If he keeps walking the same path. But like this acorn, he has the potential to change, to grow, to become more than he is."

With her mouth pursed and her arms crossed, a sweet and nasty smile flickered across her lips. When she spoke again, she spoke softly, almost whispering, and a squint-eyed smirk seeped through.

"It was apt that he ended up with the acorn, to remind him of this." It was apt that you ended up with the stone, I thought.

I looked at Master Kao. Our eyes met and he smiled. Goodwill and warmth radiated from his face.

"And what do you see, Winter?"

"Perception." I spoke quietly, not as a man delivering a speech, but as one conversing with friends, addressing not a multitude but the individuals of which it is comprised. I spoke my mind. I spoke my truth. And I did so gently. "The acorn is a world apart from the pebble, similar though they may look. But to someone not aware of this difference, of potential, it is just another stone to be flung down the mountain."

When a mountain stream flows out of a spring beside the road, and a thirsty traveller comes along and drinks deeply, the traveller is welcome. But the mountain stream is not waiting with the intention of refreshing thirsty travellers; it is just bubbling forth, and the travellers are always welcome to help themselves. So in exactly that sense I offered my ideas.

Nettle chides me for being selfish because I do not make it my life's purpose to help others, as she has made hers. She thinks I am a bad monk because I do not dedicate every waking moment, every breath, every thought, to alleviating the suffering of others, to the practice of compassion, and the pursuit of peace. But where there is effort, there is no flow. All force is tension against the stream. And a person who seeks peace is obviously in turmoil.

I give of myself freely, but, I must own the truth, not with the purpose of giving. I give like the cup that runneth over. I suspect in Nettle's mind good deeds require acting out of a sense of duty. If you happen to do something good simply because you enjoy doing it, to her, I suspect, it does not count as virtue. How much the worse if you do good because you have nothing better to do and nowhere else to be!

"Masters, there is a matter you must hear of," said Nettle. The prayer beads slithered through her fingers as she spoke. "It concerns Winter."

"Allow me," said Master Seastone. "I think I remember. Let us see: Winter is not a good leader; he has not imposed his authority on the children. He cannot control the children. He is more like a big brother whom the children obey half-grudgingly and half-jokingly, and only because they know that ultimately he is backed by the authority of the monastery. He is much too focused on himself. He is much too focused on the children's troubles, rather than on the teaching job at hand. He gets drawn into arguments that have no place in the practice. Therefore the practice lacks the focus that it is designed to teach." He paused and scratched his head rather dramatically and said, "Aunt Winn, have I left anything out?" A mischievous smile played across his mouth.

Aunt Winn raised her eyes from her knitting and looked at him over her spectacles and shook her head, more I suppose at Master Seastone's antics than in answer to his query. Ah, how could one not love Master Seastone?

"My memory is not what it used to be, but what do the dwarves say, with repetition comes perfection," he continued. "All in all, I think I did rather well." He nodded to himself. "Right, then. Thank you, Nettle, for sharing your concerns. Winter, consider yourself properly chastised," and as an after-thought, "Three hundred Salutations before dinner to appease all the gods, moral spirits and patrons of industry you have offended."

"That is..." Nettle said. The prayer beads hissed, slowed and came to a halt. She fingered the beads now as a cat plays with a ball of string, now rubbing a bead between thumb and forefinger, now pulling at the string, now passing the rosary from one hand to the other. "Not at all why I came."

She smiled.
« Last Edit: 20 June 2013, 06:42:59 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #2 on: 20 June 2013, 06:29:53 »

Ladies and gentlemen (and trolls in rehabilitation), the chapter is ready for your perusal, and, let us pray, enjoyment. :D May I present to you, after a six month break, the next installment in the tale of Winter. (Suitable fanfare deployed, though it may take a certain feat of imagination to hear them, on account of recent budget constraints.)
« Last Edit: 20 June 2013, 21:14:56 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #3 on: 23 June 2013, 11:20:18 »

 :D  Very nice, Coren.  I really hope you continue with this.  I really like it.  Gives me, someone who has no philosophical moments at all, a chance to glimpse into that world.  I believe I could take away something from it to use in my own projects.

I do have one complaint, however.  Here we are 12 chapters in and not one mention of the Remusians yet.  When can we expect a northern hero?
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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #4 on: 30 June 2013, 06:05:40 »

Hi Coren,

Even after the long pause, I remain a fan and will follow this serial novel for as long as you continue it. So keep writing!

I like the metaphor of the mountain stream in particular.


Is it fair to say that you took a bit of inspiration from this little suggestion of mine when formulating the masters' admonishment of Winter? A small acknowledgement would be nice.  :)
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #5 on: 30 June 2013, 20:24:56 »

Guys, thank you so much for your comments and words of encouragement. Keeps me on my feet! :)

I think I borrowed the metaphor of the mountain stream from Alan Watts - sounds like something he would say. Or maybe it's Lindberg.

@Shab: A bit of inspiration? Jolly good fellow, it's almost a word for word transcription! ;)

Seriously though, your comments were very helpful in pulling this chapter together. What would be a good way to acknowledge this?

Thank you again for taking the time to read and offer your thoughts.
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #6 on: 01 July 2013, 05:28:35 »

Hi Coren,

Thanks - your post is acknowledgement enough for me.  :) This sort of thing - taking a suggestion from a commentator - happens all the time on the Dev Board, of course (my own entries have profited, too), and such contributions aren't usually mentioned specifically, because normally the evidence is in the thread for all to see. It's just that in this case, because so many threads are associated with your story, I had to spend some time searching for my old post in order to check whether my memory had deceived me or whether I had actually written a similar passage in the past.

The main thing is that you get Chapter 13 done, so I can read on!
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The greatest danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.
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