[RP Episode] The Flames & Frost of Faith


#101

The old man listened to Halatir’s story, and interpreted the entirety of it metaphorically.

‘‘That, young one, is life telling you that to reach greater heights in life, you must practice, just as these pupils are.’’


#102

Confused but not surprised, Halatir tried again. ”You are mistaken Sairweg. I do not seek a spiritual path, but a physical one. Is there a trail into the mountains that leads from this place?”


#103

The old elf didn’t hear so well either.

‘‘Oh yes, i can imagine you will have many physical trials along your path. You may not be seeking it intentionally, but you are walking it none the less. Fate brought you to this mystical place, for a reason!’’


#104

”Thank you, ancient one. Might there be one to whom you could point me, who might know of these dangers?” Halatir asked. If he couldn’t get it directly from the sage, perhaps he’d know someone else who could.


#105

‘‘Only you yourself know of your struggle! Look within, and the answers to all your questions, you will find.’’ he replied with a smile, feeling happy someone has sought his guidance in their life once again. ‘‘You may join me in my meditation session, and i will show you how.’’


#106

”I cannot, Sairweg. Such rituals are done only by the Hithron, the Frozen Ones Who Are Gone. I cannot.” Halatir declined. While his respect for the Niirai’s years was undiminished and ingrained by years practice, he was not of a mind to sit and pretend to think while asleep for several hours.


#107

‘‘The which ones that are what now?’’ asked the monk, ‘‘Nonsense! Do not let other people stand in your way or let them belittle your efforts! Especially if they are gone.’’ he insisted.


#108

Halatir hesitated helplessly. To outright refuse would be rude and disrespectful, but on the other hand Halatir had no real idea of who this elf was. ”Where, and for how long would this meditation take place?” he asked, probing for more information. ”I must continue my journey soon.” Or did he? Snow was just snow. Mountains were just mountains. What about the heights drew him on, daring him to continue, willing him to keep going?


#109

‘‘Right after these pupils here conclude their exercise, which will be shortly. We will be meditating on multiple iconic locations around the valley, each one of them lasting about half an hour. You don’t have to join us on our little pilgrimage in its entirety of several hours if you are in a hurry. No one really has to do the entire thing.’’ he explained, getting more cheerful by the minute as he gets Halatir to think about it.


#110

Halatir’s misgivings were swept away. Spending several hours exploring the mountains was exactly what he wanted to do.

”Then by all means, lead on, Sairweg. I am not in such a hurry that I cannot join you for such a venture.” Halatir’s language was extremely flowery, though he did not know it. Tao-Shel’d teachings of Niirai had taught him the more formal words and phrases, but fewer colloquiums.


#111

In a little while, the exercise concluded, and the students bid farewell with their master. Leaving the training courtyard, they came up to the monk who has been keeping Halatir company so far, and lead them off to a nice secluded garden on a plateau overlooking the valley, not far from town. The impassible mountains surrounded the garden in three directions, and it had a wide central pond, with a small decorative wooden bridge crossing it. There are many trees and flower bushes, but the majority of the garden is finely tended to, with well maintained cobble pathways, and short cut grass.

The Niirai monk sat in front of the pond, facing away from it, while his followers arranged themselves in a half circle around him, facing his direction. They all sat in their usual cross legged position, and got comfortable.

‘‘Is this your first time, Halatir?’’ asked he monk, prompting some of the other elves close or next to him to turn their heads in curiosity of who new is joining them today.


#112

Halatir, who was attempting to mimic the other students’ cross legged position, nodded. The movement, combining with a sudden gust of wind, pushed his hood back, revealing his long white hair. It fluttered slightly in the breeze, coming to rest upon his shoulders after a moment. ”Yes, this is such. How exactly does one go about it?” he asked.


#113

‘‘The point is to relax, and empty your mind. There are many ways one can meditate, and many theologians who argue which is the ‘‘correct’’ way to do it. I say, to each their own. You can either concentrate hard on your breathing and subdue your thoughts, which can be difficult. The mind is always active, and there will always be that one stray thought, but try. Or, you could let them run their course until you have nothing to more to consider, which is also difficult, especially if you have deep regrets, worries, or grief.’’ he said as he and his followers closed their eyes, ‘‘Just relax, take slow deep breaths, concentrate, until your mind can hear nothing but the music of the universe within you.’’


#114

Halatir breathed deeply, drawing in his breath through his nostrils and releasing it through his mouth. He concentrated on maintaining the evenness, similar to a runner after a race or a warrior whose blood is surging through his veins. In, out. In, out. Breath. Gently. His eyes closed, and he resisted the temptation to yawn. That might break the sanctity of the ritual.

It went on for what seemed like hours, but what was only in reality a few minutes, while Halatir’s memories danced in front of him. He saw his father, laughing in the sun. His brother, singing about some girl he’d met. His mother and sister, smiling at him. His father, dead with blood leaking out from under him. His brother, dying in his arms. His mother and sister, screaming as the house burned and Halatir struggled in the door to save them. He flinched. The air suddenly seemed very cold.

Without warning, he saw himself in the middle of a great plain. It was covered in snow, and a frozen river ran down it on either hand. It was completely bare, swept by winds so sharp that he felt frozen, Helcelen though he was. It was utterly desolate, so silent it was deafening.

A low voice, so deep that is seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, broke the sudden stillness of Halatir’s mind.

Tul

”Where?” Halatir’s brain formed the words, but he did not speak.

Tul

”Where?”

Enni

”Who are you?”

Fäwe. Tul

He suddenly saw a huge mountain rise up out of the ground, amongst an utterly barren landscape. Rivers of solid ice hung from its lofty cliffs. A broken path ran up the side, disappearing into the distance and vanishing up into the clouds which shroud the highest height of the mountain. The voice spoke again, emanating this time from the mountain, issuing commands, orders, and guidance. Then, it ceased, leaving Halatir with only one thought in his mind. No, not a thought, a purpose. He replied to the voice.

”Aranielya an tuluva, Atar.”

Halatir blinked several times. Hs was once again in a mountain village in the Xia Empire, surrounded by strangers. He blinked again, and looked around with surprise.

It was snowing.


#115

The Niirai sat beside him sat for a little while, and then some of them began to flinch as snow began to reach them. They began opening their eyes, and looked up.

‘‘Its snowing already?’’ one of the disciples asked.
’‘It is rather early. This is odd…’’ the old monk replied.


#116

Halatir swiveled towards the elder who had convinced him to meditate in the first place. ”I must go. Your advice has been most helpful.” He stood, bowed, and left, puffs of snow swirling in his wake.

He returned quickly to the village, and began searching for the temple. Finding it, he knocked in the door, hoping to inquire after Ayro’s location.


#117

A young boy opened the door and looked up at Halatir.
’‘Yes?’’


#118

”I seek the priest called Ayro. Do you know where I might find him?” Halatir responded.


#119

‘‘He is inside. Who are you to seek him?’’ he asked, not taking a liking of the stranger before him.

Behind him, another figure motions towards the door. The figure pushes the door farther open, and a Niirai woman in a white robe with long red hair pulls the child back.

‘‘Did i not tell you not to open the door when you don’t know who it is?!’’ she scolded him, to which he replied with a sad face, ‘‘Go on, run along.’’ she said to the youngling, and off he went.

The Niirai woman faced Halatir and beckoned him to enter.
’‘Come in, come in. Sorry about that. I can take you to Ayro. He spoke of you. You are difficult to mistake.’’


#120

A thin smile graced Halatir’s lips. ”I have noticed this, yes. Thank you.” He stepped over the threshold. After his strange encounter, he could not seem to think properly, and his eyes were unfocused.