Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
Every day he was there, walking funny and slowly waving his arms about like he was directing the spaceships that thundered over his head as they went to and from the port.
Chan and Ling Di led a group of us up there. We hid in the bushes near the top and watched him, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. After a while, we went off to do something more interesting.
The next time I went up there, I went alone. Chan had been taken away for data theft and Ling Di was running drugs for one of the Night Clans. My friends didn’t play anymore. They still looked like me, but refused to be children. At first they mocked me. Then they shunned me, thinking I didn’t get it.
I understood too well. Big bro had done what they did. Now he lived in a carved wooden box on the windowsill, so his spirit could look into the mountains, so mama said. Papa said nothing from the box next to big bro.
I watched the man wave his hands and in the silence between ships – then in the silence I found amidst the noise – I saw patterns. That made me more determined to wait for whatever happened. We’d missed it last time. I wouldn’t this time.
It was a long morning.
“You have more patience than your friends, young man.”
He’d stopped moving and I hadn’t noticed. Like part of him still moved, while only his body paused to talk with me.
“What happens when you finish? Chan said you scare dragons. Ralio says you’re cleaning the air.”
The man laughed and moved his hands in a motion like a circle, but they never touched each other.
“The art is to never finish. That way, I can keep learning, keep being, keep respecting.”
That’s when I stood up and took the last few steps out onto the mountaintop. The rock under my bare feet was worn. I turned my head, trying to make out the pattern I saw. It was there, but it wasn’t showing itself to me.
“Five thousand years, little brother. That’s what you see there. Now, follow me, if you will. Let’s see what happens.”
I followed him for eighteen steps and something happened. He smiled, like he could see what seemed to gently explode inside my head.
“Don’t try to understand. Just move. Knowledge will come.”
Many steps later, today would have been his two hundredth birthday. I do the Swallow-Crosses-Water form he loved so much while the suns rise over this world of jade mountains and golden grasses. Returning to balance, I centre myself before turning a calm gaze toward the thicket on my left.
“You have watched me for a long while, youngling. What would you ask of me?”
A quadrupedal avian steps delicately forth, flicks a pair of wings flat, then cuts a quick bow before lifting its head and hesitantly smiling at me.
“My sire says you worship the suns. My dam says you spin wonders for those who walk unseen. The brethren say you are summoning, the sistren say you are an avatar, but they cannot yet say if you be for luck or harm.”
“You remind me of brethren until you move. Then you are the wind that disturbs my dreams. What you do is older than what you are.”
I beckon it forward.
“Five thousand summers, wind kin. That’s what you feel. Now, follow me, if you will. Let’s see what happens.”
Oh, so gentle and nice!
Fine world-building and an excellent blend of sci-fi and mysticism.