Chronicles of Juha-ri, Chapter 3

ASSURANCE IS MADE TO CHILDREN OF THE BEYOND, whom the Riddle'thar knew to be coiled in flesh, that in the presence of the holy and triumphant soul will the path to dreaming be known.

Juha-ri of White Sand smelled his death on the desert wind and told the eldest of his acolytes, the once-youth who sought to learn the Dance of Shadows, that his time had come. The eldest, who by the dutiful teachings of his master and the savagery of time had grown wretched and wise, went to the banks of the Darkarn River to fashion a litter of reeds.

The eldest bore the Sage of White Sand up the steps of the Dancing Moon Temple, and as he did so the brothers and sisters of our order followed. They burned moonlight in their censers. Fume and chanting wreathed the stone and sand and bodies. When the eldest had borne him to the mountaintop, to the vault where Anequina Sharp-Tongue had danced the last Dance of Shadows, the chanting stopped. The smoke of moonlight poured from our censers and the room was shrouded in silent gloam.

Juha-ri, who was made lame through his long years of devotion, stood and tottered before the eldest on unsteady paws. He asked if the eldest recalled what brought him to the Dancing Shadow Temple all those years before. And the eldest nodded, for he had studied the sutras and knew that years were as brief as a single flap of a fletcherfly's wings in winter.

And returning the eldest's nod with his own, Juha-ri stood perfectly still. In the soul of the Sage of White Sand the eldest saw movement, chaotic and beautiful. It echoed through the lattice, swelling with reverberation off the fumes of moonlight and the great and small vertices. As the fuming moonlight burned his lungs, the eldest saw the Dance of Shadows was no demand nor supplication. It was an existence, nearly close to perfection. The lattice mirrored and perfected the form, and in doing so was changed, for a time.

And as it started, so did the Dance of Shadows end. Juha-ri collapsed, his soul gone to the Sand Behind the Stars. The eldest heeded the lesson well.

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