WH40K Fiction: On Mount Kan'ji (complete)

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WH40K Fiction: On Mount Kan'ji (complete)

Post#1 » Nov 19 2014 09:48


VIOLATING MY OWN RULE HERE ABOUT EMBEDDING THE STORY IN DISCUSSION THREAD Apparently almost no one reads them unless they are. So after the link is the first part of the story. :-? FYI There are footnotes that didn't make it into the embedded story.

UPDATE: 12/04/2015 Version 2.0 Here is the link: http://docdro.id/ngp5

Sunrise On the Mountain

Eoroal looked up from polishing the mont'nanal–small war blade, and paused to contemplate his last sunrise on the mountain. Sitting still in the pre-dawn darkness he could already smell the pungent fragrance of the desert flowers: orange sage, purple thyme, and the red cactus blossoms. Even before the first photon of morning light had touched their petals the flowers were opening. Eoroal had worked all night by the light of a small oil lamp hanging from the ceiling and now that work was now almost done. He took the knife in one hand, and in one smooth continuous motion, wiped along the edge with an ultra-fine grit stone. Now he washed the blade with water, drying its' mirror-like surface with gentle dabs of a white silken cloth. Next he took a tiny cloth satchel of talc and lightly tapped it across one side of the one side of the blade and then the other. The last step was to take a yet another silken cloth, a blue one this time, and again wipe down the blade. Finally he slid the blade it to its' plain wooden sheath; which it went in with a small 'click'. Eoroal contemplated his actions of the previous night and wondered if his friends would understand why he did what he had done. Would they ever know just what he had intended? Would they ever know just what he had meant by it? And would they ever be able to forgive him? Eoroal–Ghillie or The Little Squire, now placed the mont'nanal next to the one already lying by his side.

It was time to begin his morning meditations. Eoroal placed the cover on the oil lamp to extinguish its' flame, and slid open the rough wooden door with its' coarse paper screen. Next he sat down upon the straw mat at the entrance of his tiny cell. The cell faced east, so as to align its' occupant to the correct direction and energy for meditation and contemplation. And so properly aligned, Eoroal now took out his prayer rope and began the recitation of the Five Sutras of the Tau'va–The Greater Good. As he sat reciting his prayers, Dal'yth's setting moon filled the desert landscape with the last of its’ silver light; while the rising star of Dal'yth Prime turned the jagged outline of the distant horizon a deep red. Above this dragon teeth of black mountains, the sky above was turning from red to purple, then to blue, and then finally to black. Eoroal closed his eyes and letting go of all his thoughts and desires, allowed the prayer to guide his meditation. Half a dec later he opened his eyes, and keeping his body and mind focused, let his spirit to return to the present moment.

Eoroal removed the cover and then relit the oil lamp. Now reaching down he took a small sprig of tiny white flowers from the stone water jar which he kept by the door. And picking up one of the polished knives, he tied the sprig of flowers to its' wooden sheath. ‘Silver-white for T'au,’ he thought to himself. Then he returned it to its' place; and he picked up the other polished knife. This time taking a sprig of fire-red cactus flowers from the same stone jar, he tied them to the knife's wooden sheath. ‘Red for Vior'la,’ he said, the words coming soundlessly from his lips. Eoroal returned the knife to its place alongside the first. Now he placed the talc satchels, silk cloths, and polishing stones in their carrying case, and tying them up, placed them in his bag. Eoroal now looked around his small rock cell for the last time; it having been his home for more than a tau'cyr. Assured that that he had swept and tidied it sufficiently, he then he blew out the small oil lamp for the last and final time. Looking out from the now darkened cell, he sighed his good-bye and stepped outside.

In front of his cell, lying together in a drunken stupor, where his two closest friends: Temu'jin–Forged of Iron and Li'xiu–Wild Pine. In the near darkness of early morning, he could see red coals of the still smouldering brazier, and the steel cook bowl empty and overturned. Several empty stoneware bottles and drinking bowls were strewn about the entrance. His two snoring friends were also strewn about, each of them having somehow lost the blankets Eoroal had so diligently and carefully covered them with the night before. Li'xiu was on her back asleep on top of her blanket; while Temu'jin laid face first on stone, having kicked his off entirely.

“Hard to believe isn’t it, that any of us have just become high ranking members of the Tau fire caste?” said Eoroal softly to no one in particular. The sun was now on the verge of cresting the broken mountain tops, turning the eastern sky a turquoise colour. The upturned hemisphere of the sky then changed colours from the turquoise blue in the east, then then fading into a deep sapphire blue in the west. The western sky was still blazing with white stars though, but it was also filling with clouds; which promised rain and another burst of desert flowers.

Eoroal now dressed himself for the journey, putting on this half-coat over his knee pants and tunic. He looked down on two sleeping companions and said softly, “Here are my final gifts to you Li'xiu'saznai and Temu'jin'saznai.” Kneeling down between friends he placed one blade besides each of them. The white flowered blade next to Li'xiu; and the red flowered blade next to Temu'jin. Satisfied that everything was as is it should be, he stepped out from beneath the reed awning of his cell. Then shouldering his bag and water bottle, he picked up his walking staff and turned to hike down the long, long trail from Mount Kan'ji. “T'eh, I'd better be off then, before they wake up and find out just what I've done to them!”

“And just what did you do to them Eoroal'kan–Mr. Ghille?” came a voice shrouded in the dark shadow of a tall red cactus.

The voice was unmistakeable for it was none other than that of Acaya Qan'tel–Master Puretide. Even in the dimness of the early morning light, Eoroal could make out the unimaginable shape of the once formidable fire caste commander. Acaya Qan'tel was a thin stick whose skin had been sunburnt to a dark blue-grey. He stood perched upon one withered and bony leg; while the hoof of the other leg rested upon the knee of the first. Qan'tel's racked frame was completely naked, except for the large mass of long silver white hair that covered his head and face. He had neither shaved his head or beard since becoming an upt'aun'la–mountain hermit for the Tau'va. Worse yet, he had neither bathed, nor otherwise cleaned any part of his body since that time. Dabs of different coloured paint covered his body, one colour for each of the castes: red, yellow, blue, green, and white. Qan'tel’s only belongings were a long gnarled wooden staff, and a small bag and bottle combination that hung across one shoulder. And although he was a revered figure among the fire caste, in terms of the normative tau cultural experience, Acaya Qan'tel was a demon, a barbarian, and an outcast who lived beyond the pale.

This did not phase Eoroal, a.k.a. Shas'El'Dal'yth'Lynu in the least, as he had spent the greater part of the last tau'cyr atop the Mount Kan'ji under Acaya Qan'tel's tutelage. Otherwise the smell alone of his teacher's body would have bowled him over. Eoroal stopped, shifted his weight, and looking at his teacher and said, “I-I have done something that you would not consider...well, not consider c-c-correct behaviour!”

Eoroal bit his lower lips, rolled his shoulders, and looked back at his fellow students asleep under the cell awning. “Namsai–Teacher, I meant to... t'oh please forgive my impertinence!” He dropped to his knees and bowed so as to touch his forehead to the ground.

“Eoroal'kan, what was not correct behaviour…xhmm? By the way...t'oh, would you please get off the ground. I can't talk to you if your face is in the dirt,” The old firewarrior's voice was weak and gravely, but still powerful in its authority.

“Yes, Namsai,” said Eoroal getting back onto his hooves.

Qan'tel moved slowly from where he stood under the cactus, and proceeded past Eoroal, to the where two other drunken students lay snoring. Getting down onto his haunches, Acaya Qan'tel looked closely at the two sleeping students. “What exactly have you done to their hair? What did you do to them Eoroal'kan? ” he said pointing at the two sleeping students.

Eoroal dropped down onto his knees next to his master. “Namsai I…xhmm…well I…t'eh this is harder than I thought…well, I've tied their queues together,” he said letting out a great sigh of relief.

You tied their queues together?” The countenance on Acaya Qan'tel’s face was as curious as his question. “I take it this isn't some kind of academy prank is it?” Eoroal nodded his head 'no'. “Nor is it some kind of Trial-By-Fire hazing ritual either, am I correct?” Eoroal again nodded his head 'no'. “Xhmm…xhmm…well, then it must be a…lesson of some sort?” queried Qan'tel softly.

“YES! Yes y-y-you c-c-could, say that. T'ah…xhmm...that's w-w-what I intended anyway at least Namsai,” said Eoroal looking up at his teacher.

Qan'tel meanwhile was tracing one long strand of red hair that came from the top of Li'xiu's head, and followed its' path along the ground, to where it was joined to a strand of Temu'jin's black hair. Then at the top of his head, another separate strand of black hair left to join another red strand of hair from Li'xiu's head. “Looks more like you braided their queues together? But why did first split each of their queues into two different pieces?”

“Namsai, technically speaking, I spliced their hair together. Xhmm…yes…well that would be the correct terminology. To say that I spliced their hair together. You see it was required by the 'decision ritual' to first split each of their queues into two separate strands of hair. That is, before beginning the actual splicing process namsai. However, I wasn't just simply braiding the strands together was I? That is to say one from Li'xiu's queue, with one from Temu'jin's?” Eoroal regained his confidence as spoke about the process of 'splicing hair'; becoming quite animated while explained the procedure.

“Rather I was splicing the strands together; and that required that each of the strands had to be first braided. So after I had gotten each of their queues split into two large strands, I then had to separate each individual strand into four smaller strands, which I then braided all the way to the top of their heads…” Qan'tel listened as he held up one of the spliced pieces hair and counted the number of strands. “...which, makes for a total of sixteen strands in total. T'oh, and it was at this point that I began the actual splicing process.” As Eoroal described the splicing process, he demonstrated by making motions with his hands to simulate the splitting, weaving, and crimping of the hair.

“First I took the right-side strand from Temu'jin, and then the left-side strand from Li'xiu. Then I took one of the four smaller strands of Temu'jin's braid; which I had previously marked with separate coloured bands, and then…and then spliced it with the appropriate coloured strand from Li'xiu's braid. It would be like...take the small 'red' strand from Temu'jin's braid, and weave it together with the small 'red' strand from the Li'xiu braid. Then the small 'blue', 'green', 'white', and so forth. I used a single sharpened quick stick as a splicing tool, weaving each individual strand 'over-under-over' its' corresponding coloured strand. Then I repeated the process…”

Acaya Qan'tel turned and gave Eoroal a hard look at from beneath his shaggy silver hair.

“T'ahhh…so to finish quickly…I repeated the process for splicing the other coloured strands, until I had completely spliced the first two large strands together. Then I crimped the two ends of the splice with the small metal bands from the used food bags, which I had saved for this purpose. Next I trimmed the excess hair from around the crimp, and then repeated the process for the other two large strands of hair. That's it namsai, that's what I did.”

“Must of taken you most of the night to do this... xhmm? But then again, you did have the full desert moon to work by.” Qan'tel's eyes burned with curiosity as he stared at the intertwined hair. “Come again about why you had to first split the queues?”

“It's part of the ritual to split the hair into two strands. It allows each of the participants a freer use of...a freer use of…their knives,” Eoroal looked straight ahead his face as serious as a death mask.

Acaya Qan'tel looked at Eoroal from the corner of his eye, and then carefully reached over the sleeping Li'xiu to pick up the mont'nanal with the white flowers. Lifting up the knife, he drew it from its plain wood sheath; but then lifted it higher, so as to catch the light of the morning sun. Examining the blade closely he said, “Did you polish these blades yourself and if you did, how long did it take you?”

“Yes I polished both of them myself. It took me the better part of the two days to do both of them…as I am not an earth caste sword smith,” Eoroal sighed heavily as he answered, his eyes still fixed forward. “But I did the final polish just within the last hour, for both of the knives.” Eoroal paused and pointing to the knife in Qan'tel's hand added, “They were originally meant to be going away gifts for Li'xiu and Temu'jin, namsai. The knives I mean.”

“Xhmm...two days to polish the war knives. Most of the night to split, braid, and splice the hair…But then you probably had plenty of practice...used your own hair I suppose...Then there there was the end of the fast celebration; which you obviously had planned for...what with the cooking pot and drinking bowls. And I count…one…two…three… four empty bottles of local red rice wine...xhmm.” Qan'tel re-sheathed the blade and then returned it to its’ place next to Li'xiu. But then he picked up an empty bottle and smelled its’ uncorked mouth. He sniffed it two or three times before dropping it to the ground, “I smell a hint of genju berries in the wine...and so you used dried genju berries?...Had to collect those yourself probably...not in season...so you did your collecting, what would that have been…this past fall I suppose?”

Eoroal made a motion as if to speak. “Don't say anything I'm not done yet...genju berries when dried, crushed, and brewed in tea are a great analgesic. I use them myself for my back pain. But when dried genju berries are crushed and used with alcohol, especially red rice wine, they increase the sedative effects of the alcohol…which explains why you had time to splice their hair together. All-in-all this took quite a bit of planning and organization…definitely a Kauyon–Patient Hunter operation. Am I right Eoroal'kan?”

“Yes, namsai…I mean yes, acaya.”

Just then Li'xiu stirred and rolled her naked blue body next to Temu'jin's, mostly naked blue body, and while still asleep, somehow managed to push and wiggle herself up under his sleeping frame. Temu'jin mumbled something and then rolled over onto his side. Li'xiu then reached over and pulled his arm around her like a comforter. The two snored in unison.

T'oh I see...,” said Qan'tel looking over at Eoroal. He then reached over and took Li'xiu's blanket and quietly draped it over the sleep pair. Turning back to Eoroal he said, “Let's you and I go and sit on top of the rocks behind your cell, they should just be staring to warm up now. Though we may have to scare off a few tchulia lizards and golden viper or two, but I'm sure by now you're on a given name basis with all the poisonous fauna around here?”

“Ha-ha-ha namsai that I am, that I am. Indeed I know each and every one of them personally!” For the first time since meeting his teacher that morning, Shas'El'Lynu or Eoroal felt like himself.

The two walked up the slope above his cell to where the largest rocks where; and of course they found them already occupied. Eoroal had to first remove a sluggish golden viper he called, Xutkal'jun–Miss Little Fang. Then he had to remove a not so sluggish, O'la'kan–Mr Big, the tchulia lizard. Acaya Qan'tel was quite impressed that his student was in fact, on a given name basis with all the poisonous local fauna. Now teacher and student sat down and faced east and the warmth of the morning sun. Both teacher and student took the opportunity to mediate while absorbing the life giving light of the Dal'yth star. They sat and listened to the gentle sound of the south wind beginning to blow across the valley. It was Eoroal who first to break the silence.

“I don't know what the ancient name for this tribal ritual is, only what the scholars call it today. It's certainly not any contemporary custom of our own Dal'yth fire caste. Apparently this particular ritual was just one of a larger set of rituals that were integral to the ancient nomadic way of life. In any case, today this kind of ritual is called a kiv'rai't'xa or decision ritual.” Then Eoroal took in a deep breath and letting it out slowly and said, “This kind ritual would have been performed when the conflict between two individuals became so severe, that it upset the family, tribe, or clan. Whether the conflict was between two friends or two relatives; if their conflict threatened the harmony of the tribe, then this ritual would be performed. However, only after the two participants absolutely refused to be reconciled, and if…now this is the important part, if both of them refused to then leave the tribe! Well then at that point the two would be forced to participate in the decision ritual.”

Eoroal stopped and Acya Qan'tel wagged his head to indicate he was listening, so continuing he said, “The two people in question were seized and bound and then brought together. In other words they were involuntary participants in the ritual. First their queues were split into two strands, and then braided together…something like what I did to Temu'jin and Li'xiu. They would then be untied and each given a knife or an axe by an elder or shaman of the tribe. Each of them would then be offered the following three choices: reconciliation; antagonism; or violence.

If they chose reconciliation, then each would take one strand of the braided hair, and cut it just below where the two queues were intertwined. The remaining short strand of hair was then braided back together with their own queue. So that each participant now carried with them, a portion of their former rival's hair. This was a sign of their newly formed bond between themselves and the rest of the tribe. It would be much like the ta'lissera scar is for us today.

If they chose antagonism, that is to say they still refused to be reconciled; then each of them would cut off their queues. Each participant would then take one of the strand hair and throw it into a fire. The burning of the hair symbolizing their absolute separation from one another and from the tribe. As you know, to be without a queue or scalp lock meant the individual was now an outcast, being forever dead to the tribe. Both participants were then exiled, being sent literally away in opposite directions. Finally they were to never to speak with, or interact with, one another; or with any other member of the tribe, for the rest of their lives.

The third choice was violence...” Eoroal swallowed hard and was silent for a moment. “The two would be left alone to decide the outcome, and if one was unfortunate enough to win…well then, he or she was forced to wear the loser’s queue as a belt. Not as a trophy mind you, but as a mark of shame. It was as if to say: 'See this man or women refused to be reconciled and then murdered their kinsmen!' Sometimes the queue of the vanquished rival still had its' severed head. The conqueror being forced to wear the stinking skull as a further punishment. The conqueror might be temporarily shunned, or could even still be exiled. There you have it namsai…that's the jest of the ritual.”

Acaya Qan'tel was breathing so softly that he seemed made of stone, but then opening his eyes he said, “What peculiar customs and traditions our people have? I never heard of this one at all; but then again there are so many strange and various customs among all of the castes past and present. So many that I’ve never ever heard of before.” Qan'tel leaned sideways to get close to his student and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, “Did you know that among the earth caste, women often swap husbands?”

Eoroal glanced side-to-side, blinked twice, and then thought to himself, ‘Did he hear anything I just said?’ Eoroal looked at his teacher and nodded his head 'no'.

“Well, it's like this. A fellow gets up in the morning and before he leaves for the factory, office, or laboratory, the wife hands him a packet with a change of clothes and the habitation address of the woman he's supposed to stay with that night. No words are exchanged, because he's supposed to act just like everything is normal. Then he gets to work, where's finds another fellow with his own packet of clothes and the habitation address of his wife. AWK-WARD! Now an earth caste husband is supposed to have the right to refuse, but the fact is, he had better just go along with the whole arrangement. If for nothing else, than for the sake of marital harmony and also not to get a hoof to the back of the head!” Qan'tel's eyes were wide and he spoke animatedly, his fingers twitching and poking the air as he spoke.

“Yes, there are many peculiar customs…” replied Eoroal wagging his head. “Acaya shall I unwind their hair or just cut off the parts that we're woven together?”

“Why would you do that? It took you hours of work to…xhmm, you know…to splice their hair together like that? By the way where did you learn to splice knots?” said Qan'tel as he swatted at a large yellow sand-fly that was attempting to land in his beard.

“T'ahhh...at the academy? Yes, I suppose that's where I learned it? T'eh, didn't they teach Basic Patherfinder Skills, when you were at the Academy? Stuff like knot tying, rock climbing, repelling down cliffs and underwater demolition? You know all those fun things that made you want to be a firewarrior in the first place?” Eoroal scratched the back of his head, as he watched his teacher's ongoing engagement with the sand-fly.

“T'OH YES! I really loved all that stuff: knot tying, practising hand-to-hoof combat, learning to camouflage yourself and your mates, the confidence courses with all those rope ladders that you had to climb, and doing land navigation—at night. Boy was that a hoot! T'oh, t'oh, t'oh, and I especially liked it when we got to learn how infiltrate an enemy position. The best part was when they taught us how to sneak up and cut a sentry's throat from behind! T'eh those were the days weren't they Eoroal'kan? Heyaaah, damn sand-fly!”

“Namsai? You do know those things bite don't you know?” said Eoroal as he leaned backwards to avoid the attack of the now enraged sand-fly.

“T'eh? YAOW, THE LITTLE *BAD WORD DELETED* JUST BIT ME! Nasty little bugger…T'oh, look now it's dying. Serves you right, t'eh? You just couldn't stand the taste of my dried-tight old blue skin could you? That's what you get for skewing the flesh of a Sword Saint of Dal'yth!”

The two firewarriors watched as the large sand fly, buzzed, twisted, and spun around, as it tried to get off the ground. But just as it managed to finally get airborne again by kicking off with all of its' eight legs; a long neon-green tongue snapped the fly right out of the air. O'la'kan–Mr Big had returned to get himself breakfast With a loud hiss and spray of noxious spittle in their direction, the big red and green tchulia lizard then scurried off as fast as his six legs could carry him.

“As I was saying earlier namsai. Do you want me to undo their hair? Cut it off maybe?” asked Eoroal.

Acaya Qan'tel wiped the poisonous venom from his legs and arms, ignoring the tiny bluish blisters that immediately appeared where the drops of spit had landed on his body. Bending over to examine his legs and hooves, his mass of dirty silver hair shook as he swung his head from one side to the other.

“No, I don't want you to do anything...yet. I still don't know what you intended by doing this decision ritual as you call it. What made you do it Eoroal'kan? T'oh, you didn't get any spittle on you, did you?” asked Qan'tel looking up.

“No, you seem to have gotten the brunt of his attack. O'la'kan knows better than to try that with me.” Eoroal handed his teacher a medi-wipe from his medical kit. “It's a long story namsai. You do know that I've known Temu'jin and Li'xiu, since I was first at the academy on Vior'la? I will try to be brief though and not tell you every tiny grim detail. But to put it simply…I just wanted them to stop!”

“Stop what?”

“EVERYTHING! Stop the sniping, the bickering, the fighting, and the lovemaking. Their fighting is so much worse when they share a bed; because that's when it becomes down right physical and brutal! I wanted them to stop the constant and endless competition with one another, to stop their obsessing over one another, to stop ignoring each one another, when one of them finally get the other one's attention…I wanted it all to stop!” Eoroal face was stern when he began to speak, but by time he got to the end, his face was in hands and he was crying. Acaya Qan'tel didn't say anything, but reached out and put a hand on the younger tau's shoulder. They sat this way for several raik'or.

“Maybe Younger Brother was just upset that Older Brother and Older Sister were fighting all the time, t'eh? Played a trick on them to show them how much he was upset? Maybe that's your reason why Eoroal'kan?”

“Perhaps namsai, perhaps…”

“Eoroal'kan, just what was your desired outcome for this ritual?”

Eoroal stopped sobbing and turning around to face his teacher, looked him hard in the eye. “Namsai, please believe me when I say I want them to be reconciled. Really that's what I want the most, but if they can't do that; then what I want is for them to do is finally go ahead and get it over with! To go ahead and…” Eoroal stood up and balling up his fists he said, “…FINALLY KILL EACH OTHER!” His face flushed a deep blue as he spoke his words through gritted teeth plates.

Daly'th's early morning sun bathed the top of Mount Kan'ji in heat and light. Various birds now made their morning whistles and calls, several Ur'hui'la–Quick wings, shot in and out of the tumble-thistles, and leapt on to rocks or cactuses, announcing by their trilling calls; that this particular terrain feature was theirs, and theirs alone. A new day had come to the mountain.

Acaya'Qan'tel did not look surprised at Eoroal's answer, but simply shook his head to acknowledge the statement. Eoroal sat down again, his face grim as he faced the morning sun. Master and student now both kept quiet, but it was Qan'tel who broke the silence this time.

“Xhmm, are you hungry Eoroal'kan?”

“T'eh, namsai?”

“Are you hungry?”

“A little, but drinking all that alcohol and eating so much meat after that long fast, it was hard on both of my stomachs.”

“Xhmm, well I'm famished I don't suppose you have any food on you?”

“Let's see what I have in my shoulder bag...red rice balls...a little dried fruit...T'ah, I have fresh cactus bits, seasoned with blue garlic!”

“Here,” said Qan'tel.

“Xhmm?” replied Eoroal as he stopped scrounging around in his bag to look up at the bright pink and white metallic rectangle that Qan'tel was offering him.

“What... smack...do ya... crunch...think it is?... smack, crunch…” said Qan'tel munching down on a similar, but unwrapped rectangle.

“This a protein energy nutritional supplement bar? Where did you get them namsai?”

“The same place you got...smack...the wine. By the way you can just...crunch...say, 'Is that a proenutsup bar?' You don't have to say the whole title…crunch. T'oh, and take it slow will you? Don't down it all at once! You've been fasting and your system is going to have a hard time with so much concentrated protein.”

“Wh-what…I mean…h-h-how were you able to get proenutsup bars out here?” asked Eoroal unwrapping and then taking a small bite of his protein energy nutritional supplement bar. “Wait, weren’t you fasting like the rest of us? Xhmm, this is good!”

“No, why do I have to fast? After all I'm the one living in the desert on top of a mountain? You lot came to me for enlightenment; but I never said anything about fasting myself! When any of you decide... crunch...to go sit on top of mountain...smack...then you can decide if you want to fast or not. But until then... stuff it!” Qan'tel finished his proenutsup bar and said, “T'ahhh that was a direct hit with a fusion blaster! By the way if you don't want all of your proenutsup bar, throw the rest of it my way will you?” said Qan'tel crumbling up the wrapper and stuffing into his bag.

“I believe I'll finish...xhmm...this one namsai.”

“Eoroa'lkan I saw the the special delivery drone drop off your package two days ago. But did you really need four bottles of wine? Drinking that much wine will have them sleeping till mid-rotaa!” asked Qan'tel pointing down the hillside toward the cell.”

“I had only two bottles of wine namsai! Temu'jin brought a bottle of eighteen tau'cyr old Vior'lan single-malt vi’ky’husa. Li'xiu surprised us with a bottle of a fifteen tau'cyr old Tau'n kryn’t’car; which came from her father's estate no less! It seems her father has become quite the vintner in his retirement,” said Eoroal finishing his proenutsup bar. “It appears you just picked up the wrong bottle to smell!”

“Vi’ky’husa and kryn’t’car! In that case they'll be asleep for four or five rotaa at least!” Qan'tel skewed his face one way and then then the other. Then he stroked his beard, looked sideways at Eoroal and asked, “Don't suppose there would be any of that a...single-malt vi’ky’husa left do you?”

“Any left? Not when those two are drinking! You'd have better luck milking a kweegee-beest, than finding a drop in any of those bottles!” Eoroal laughed as he leaned his head in the direction of his cell. Then getting close to Qan'tel he said, “Since I was making sure to keep sober…I only got a single shot of each them myself. T'ah, what a damn shame too. You would have loved both of them namsai!”

“Now, let me guess…you probably filled your drinking bowl with water or mostly water? And you kept pouring wine to keep their bowls filled; so that neither of them noticed you weren't getting drunk, t'eh?” Qan'tel squinted at Eoroal while grinning from beneath his beard.

“Something like that, well actually the two of them are so competitive, that once I brought out the wine; they hardly noticed if I was drinking at all. They were so focused on each other, that most of the time I don't think they even knew I was there!”

Qan'tel turned and looking serious asked, “Eoroal'kan, did you really mean for them to kill one each other? Or was there something else you intended by getting them intoxicated? What is the weapon you're concealing, t'eh? 'Is there a jade dagger hidden under your cloak?'”

Eoroal let go of the smile slide off his face, and scratching the side of cheek, looked back at his teacher. When he replied it was in a quiet, steady tone. “You guessed right there is something else. Something else I intended. I was wondering…hoping actually, that I might be wrong. I thought maybe that they'd finally chucked it all out the airlock door! So I had to be sure that they were still going at it. You know…that they were still obsessed with each other; enough so as to be a danger to themselves and others,” said Eoroal looking earnestly at his teacher.

“However as much as I want them to stop their never ending competition, they never will. But they won't kill each other either! Well, then again I shouldn't speak for Li'xiu; she just might go ahead and gut Temu'jin anyway? Temu'jin however, is much too much the gentlemen to slit the throat of a former lover. He'll be a gentlemen to the end, and will probably go ahead and let himself be gutted. You know just to, 'go ahead just give her what she wants'.”

“Xhmm, since their hair is now spliced together and you've left them the sharpened mont'nanal. I can therefore safely assume that you weren't wrong after all, and that they failed the test?”

“Yes namsai.”

Acaya Qan'tel now wrapped up his legs to take up the correct sitting posture for meditation, “But Eororal'kan since you were intending to leave early this morning, did you also fail the test?”

“Yes, namsai,” said Eoroal his face turning a pale grey.

“Go on you may continue.”

“I failed. We all failed.”

Eoroal shifted and rolled his shoulders, as he watched his teacher close his eyes and begin his rhythmic meditative breathing. The student paused for contemplation of the moment, as the far western horizon began to fill with clouds, and the smell of rain was carried by the gentle southern breeze. Nocturnal animals like the vi'maral–pygmy red deer, began to move off to find shade; while others like the doe'guxtal–yellow hedgehog, also sought the coolness of the large rocks and thick tumble-thistles to avoid heat of the coming day.

“At the Academy Temu'jin and Li'xiu were a tau'cyr ahead of me and so naturally I looked up to the both of them,” said Eoroal breaking the silence. “As matter of fact we all did, any of us who were junior to the two of them, I mean. That made them Saznai–Mentor/Senior and me the Xohnai, the Junior or Protégé. Temu'jin'saznai and Li'xiu'saznai were always looking out for me Eoroal'xohnai. Each of them took time out of their own studies to help me with mine. They were both that way with their protégée. I think...no, I know, that each of them had special relationships with all their xohnai, and my relationship just happened to be one of them.
For instance it was Temu'jin who really taught me how to play t'xa–tau chess. I knew of course the rudimentary aspects of the game; but playing him at t'xa, and having him coach me for competitions, is how I truly learned to play the game. Which is why I have in my cell the t'xa board I made from the old cactus stump, and why Temu'jin has the other t'xa board I made.

Li'xiu was my teacher for the r'nan'riika–art of the long sword. She wasn't the chief instructor of course, but only a senior student.” Eoroal sighed and looked down the hill toward his cell. “And she was absolutely, positively, the most brutal teacher I ever had! She could make you feel ashamed for even daring to show up to class, and it was worse when you didn't get the lessons right. Yet, she loved all her students, and outside of the training hall she was always gentle and supportive. Li'xiu worked tirelessly with myself and others as we practised our art.”

“And the two of them were supportive even in the littlest things. I remember once during a r'nan'ike bout being hit with a split cane sword so hard, that my mask flew off and my head was cut open. There was this big hullabaloo and everyone was rushing about to see if I was alright. Well, there was Li'xiu cradling me in her arms, sopping up all the blood with a big bandage…” Eoroal began to laugh.

“Excuse me namsai, it seems funny now; but as a kid I thought I was dying. Ha-ha-ha! Anyway, there is Li'xiu comforting me while holding the bandage to my forehead; while telling me, ha-ha-ha, that the other kid wasn't trying to kill me. That in fact that she really fancied me. Ha-ha-ha! Like that's a real conciliation to a ten tau'cyr old boy, telling him that the girl who just sliced his head open, is in love with him. I think I said, ‘Saznai I don't care if likes me! She tried to kill me!'” Eoroal stopped to laugh out loud and nod his head.

“She did fancy you, didn't she? The other student I mean?” asked Qan'tel opening his eyes.

“T'oh that she did! Fancied me quite a bit actually.”

“What was her name again…Xux'yi wasn't it?”

“Yes Xux'yi–Blue Flower (Blood Flower). In fact, in our senior tau'cyr, she asked me to be her consort for Honuxla'o–First Night. Quite a big deal that was too! The presentation with us all in our antique dress uniforms, with all those brass fixings, silk cords and such. She was from Sac'ea, so her cadet uniform was a brilliant fiery orange; which went surprisingly well with the dark purple of my Dal'yth cadet uniform. I remember her hair was all done up with curls, bangles, and orange ribbons. Her hair was so lovely with all those ribbons, it's a shame that we have to shave our heads. T'oh, and the food and wine were incredible! And then there was the dancing…and…the three rotaa alone…with her…in The Bower…” He voice trailed off until he finally stopped talking.

“You married Xux'yi right?”

“T'eh, what's that namsai? T'oh, yes, yes I did…well she married me is more like it. I had to stop running sometime, so of course she eventually caught me!”

“Two, or was it three children?”

“Three, two girls and a boy.”

“Not hard to guess, but your boy's name is Temu'jin and one of the girls is named Li'xiu? Correct?”

“Yes, you guessed correct namsai; but my other daughter is named for my wife's best friend Bork'erri–Snow Mane.” Eoroal suddenly turned and bowing to Acaya Qan'tel said, “I apologize namsai, I was reminiscing and wandered off topic.”

Eoroal now stood up and pointing down the trail said, “Before I wandered off topic, here is what I was trying to say… Namsai you see that cell southwards down the trail is Temu'jin's cell. And now if you look to your left, higher up on the cliff side to the north is Li'xiu's cell. And it's the same distance from my cell to each one of theirs, taking approximately the same amount of time to walk to either of them.”

Qan'tel opened his eyes and looked at Eoroal who was pointing along the hillside to his left. “That's intentional. All the cells are equidistant from each of the adjacent cells on the trail.”

“T'oh? W-w-well, I-I-I d-didn't know that…my, my, my point being that I arrived before either of them. So I had got my cell first, however when Temu'jin arrived he chose that one,” said Eoroal pointing down the hill to the right.

“And when Li'xiu arrived she chose that one,” he said pointing up the hill to the left. “And you see that's puts me in the middle again! Here again we still have the two mentors looking out for their protégée; that is to say the two senior students are still looking out for the junior student, who is me.” Eoroal pointed with his little finger at himself. “And just like the way the two of them are still seeking to outdo one another, for accolades and recognition. Here I am, still seeking their approval, still seeking their guidance, and trying to keep...to keep them…to keep from tearing each other apart. I-I-I apologize namsai. I’m getting emotional again.” Eoroal stopped, and dropping his head, once more began to sob.

Acaya Qan'tel waited a raik'or and then stood up, and with all the power and authority a former Shas'O yelled, “Tch, tch, tch, crying like a child of divorced parents! Upset are you that 'mum and dad' won't be sleeping in the same bed are we?” Acaya Qan'tel's voice grew stronger and louder as he spoke. “I agree you have failed! You have failed not just your ta'lissera–covenantbrother and sister, but yourself as well. Now Shas'El'Lynu, focus your ni–life energy on your centre point; bring mind back to the present; and accept your destiny. As Sha'El you are not allowed the indulgence of breaking down. This cannot ever happen while you are in command. Whether you are at the front, or at headquarters in the rear. You cannot ever be seen being emotional. And you know this already!” Qan'tel's his eyes now blazed with blue fire.

Then standing on one leg with his arms out stretched he shouted, “The three of you have all failed. All of you have kept some part of yourselves in adolescenc, but now Shas'El'Lynu, tell me how your brother and sister have failed. And then tell me how you have failed them!”

Eoroal straightened his back and sat down on his knees in the traditional manner. He turned first to his teacher and bowing low enough to touch his forehead to the rock said, “Please forgive me Acaya Qan'tel. Please forgive my emotional outbursts and my loss of control.”

Now turning in the direction where his sleeping companions lay, he bowed low again saying, “My anda’talissera Temu'jin and my anda’talissera Li'xiu, please forgive my transgressions and failure to...”

“Admonish and correct,” said Qan'tel dropping slowly down into a seating position opposite his student.

“Admonish and correct both of you my ta'lissera brother and sister. And for failing to be your equal and brother to both of you.” Eoroal's face showed no emotion as he turned back around to his teacher.

The Daly'th sun now bore down upon the rock on which they sat, so that Eoroal paused and had to cover his head with the hood of his half-coat. However there was some small relief from the tall red cactuses that cast long wide shadows over where student and teacher both sat. Perched atop one red cactus was a xux'alag'anuk'la–blue hawk; it sat there as still as death itself. Then the raptor spread wide its' dusty blue wings, and with a single thrust, lifted off to soar down the mountain towards the valley.

“When I arrived at the Mont'yr Upper Academy: Sidorqu'auxa'retha–Righteous Strength Academy, Temu'jin was already one of the top five students of his class. He was tall with broad shoulders, and when you combined those dark sapphire eyes of his, with his sable black hair, and his rough Vior'lan looks; he was uncompromisingly handsome. Temu'jin moved with the smoothness of wrestler and had the grace of a dancer; carrying himself at all times like an ancient T'au equestrian. He was an academic high achiever, athletically gifted, and known for his supremacy at t'xa. But most of all he known for his unwavering self-confidence. And the girls at the academy all adored him, whether they were from Vior'la or from off world. Now that I think about it, a third to a half of the students at Righteous Strength Academy were from off world: Sa'cea, D'yanoi, Bork'an, Dal'yth, Fal'shia, Vash'ya and T'au. Anyway Temu'jin would just give a girl one of his signature half-smiles, and a mere word or two in his Viorlan brogue, and she would melt like ice dropped on hot steel. He was definitely the lead stallion at the academy, that’s for sure.”

“As I mentioned his greatest skill was at t'xa, where he played at three levels above his peer group. Temu'jin was known for his mastery of the technique Kauyon–Patient Hunter. So deeply did he understand his opponents that he seemed to know what moves they were going to make, before they did themselves! It was as if he were able to see inside of their heads. Sometimes before a match, Temu'jin would describe to a friend what strategy an opponent would most likely take. Then he would describe what moves the opponent would be; and then how many turns it would take himself to defeat his opponent. Temu'jin was rarely ever wrong, and with such a reputation he earned the academy name of Esav'oh–Foresight.”

“Now that's how things were up until the arrival at the academy of this extraordinary girl from T'au. This young cadet had eyes like orange flame, and she went by the name Li'xiu–Wild Pine Tree. What a strange and wonderful young woman she was too? It's not like there weren’t any red haired females with orange eyes around either, still Li'xiu was extraordinary. Her looks just seemed to reach out and seize you by the throat! First off Li'xiu was tall for female from Tau'n and her complexion was a deeper blue than most. But when you add that ‘Y’ forehead bone of hers, to her flame red hair and those piercing orange eyes…well she seemed downright exotic. But also there was the way she moved, Li'xiu had this powerful yet graceful stride, which always seemed packed full of energy. Like she was an athlete at the' starting block; or a yolwas–tiger poised to strike its’ prey. I remember a senior student referring to it as her yolwas’a’yebegeli, her tiger stride. Then there was the manner of her behaviour. In public she was quiet, unassuming, and ever differential to others; but in private, she was talkative, opinionated, and a force to be reckoned with.”

“Eoroal'kan, I know this already, or did you forget I was a professor at Righteous Strength Academy?”

“T'oh, a momentary slip namsai, my apologies!” Eoroal once again bowed to his teacher.

“As I said earlier Li'xiu was a student of the traditional martial arts; and her speciality was the r'nan'riika–art of the long sword, but she also excelled at the sport version of the art, r'nan'ike. Her signature technique was the Mont'ka–The Killing Blow. She knew exactly when and where to strike, and when she did, it all over. It seemed her competition bouts never lasted the full regulation five raik'or…xhmm, seems they never lasted more than two or three raik'or at the most? Anyway it was like they were over before they even began, and if you blinked twice, well you’d miss the whole thing for sure. I can recall seeing her win a bout in a mere thirty raik'an after the Aun'Ui dropped the fan. It was like: ‘Begin’ and then it was ‘Wham’, and ‘Point for Shas'Saal Li'xiu!’…‘Begin’ and again ‘Wham’ and ‘Point, for Shas'Saal Li'xiu!’...‘Begin’ and once more, ‘Wham’, and ‘Final point and match to Shas'Saal Li'xiu!’ It got so that only half of the girls, and none of boys would step into the combat circle with her. Of course it didn’t help that she had knocked unconscious three of her opponents and injured several others.”

“So whether it was in the heat of a r'nan'ike tournament, or on the athletic field playing vel'u–tau rugby, or in the class room in an academic contest. Li'xiu knew when and where to strike, and once she decided to strike, she struck hard. So aggressive was Li'xiu that the local Vior'lan girls, for a little while anyway, gave her an honorary membership in the Vior'lan sept. In a very short order she had climbed to the top of her class in academics, military science, athletics, but especially at vel'you r'nan'ike. In almost every endeavour at the academy she dominated. Then the unthinkable happened! Just as Li'xiu had done everywhere else at the academy, she now stormed the t'xa tournaments. Li'xiu entry into the academy’s competitive t'xa circuit took Temu'jin completely off guard. In only a couple of weeks Temu'jin's standings at t'xa quickly plummeted from third place to 45th in the ratings.”

**END OF PART IA: Sunrise on the Mountain**
Last edited by TauMan on Feb 06 2018 10:25, edited 17 times in total.
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Re: WH40K Fiction: ON MOUNT KAN'JI: Sunrise on the Mountain

Post#2 » Dec 08 2014 11:32

Here is the next part of ON MOUNT KAN'JI: Part IB

Sunrise on the Mountain (Continued)

“What was it that made Temu'jin lose in concentration? Was it her strange orange eyes? Was it her ‘tiger stride’ when she walked into a room? Was it her unrelenting pursuit of victory in the classroom, or on the athletic field? Whatever it was it seemed to knock Temu'jin right off his hooves, and it wasn’t just at t'xa either. He began to drop in everything: academics, sports, drill and ceremony, rifle marksmanship…everything. Temu'jin was completely bowled over.”

“I remember this one day watching the boy’s team for his class loose at vel'you the girl’s team led by Li'xiu. That day Li'xiu literally bowled him over with an illegal hit, slamming into him and knocking the ball right out of his hands. Which I may add the Aun'La line referee never saw! Temu'jin then had the further indignity of having his face planted into the turf. I can still see the look on his face as he sat there on the ground, his face smeared with purple with grass stains. He looked in my direction, then he took off his helmet and he just nodded his head ‘NO!’ I thought for that at any moment that he was going to cry, but of course he didn’t.”

“Now Temu'jin was a keen competitor and that very moment while he was sitting on the ground; he decided the situation had gone on long enough. Temu'jin threw himself head long into everything: military science, academics, and sports; but especially at t'xa. I can still see him doing his early morning physically fitness routine; which we junior boys would sometime join him in, just for encouragement. And didn’t he seem like a hero from bygone days to us in the junior grades! Then there were the late night study sessions, extra practice session at the rifle range, and the endless rounds of t'xa played before classes, between classes, and after classes. And soon enough he was again one of the top five students of his class. Oddly enough though, he stayed away from t'ka competitions for some time; taking full advantage of his absence from the competition to study Li'xiu's playing style. When Temu'jin finally did return to the competitive t'xa circuit, he knocked Li'xiu right off top of the standings and regained his primacy as the t'xa tournament leader.”

“It was an intense and exhausting game the day when he finally defeated Li'xiu at t'xa. I can't ever remember him ever being so focused. Li'xiu matched him with her own stoic concentration and all absorbing intensity. There were several elderly t'xa players attending the match, and as the game dragged on for a three decs, more elderly t'xa player kept arriving. I clearly remember hearing a couple of old time players saying it was like watching a Grandmasters Tournament. Wow what a game that was! I think later Temu'jin said it was the longest game he ever played, and from the games I've seen him play, I'd have to agree. I can still see him and Li'xiu standing before the t'xa committee, and both of them being congratulated by several of the elderly players. Yes, what day that was!” Eoroal paused to take a drink of water from his bottle and feel the breeze cool his face.

“Anyhow, now he on top again, but t'ah, then didn’t he go off and surprised us all. Out of nowhere, he decides he to compete at r'nan'ike! Never his strong suit, still he had learned something of the sport from watching Li'xiu compete. He told me later that it was that day of the ve'lu game, when he was sitting on the turf with the red-purple grass in his mouth; that he decided he had to beat Li'xiu at her strongest endeavour. So he went and secretly practised with a master from one of the local martial art studios in the area. Once he did join the r'nan'ike competitions, it was only a only a matter of a couple of rotexi–weeks before he was right behind Li'xiu in the standings. What a day that was when he finally beat her in a competition!”

Eoroal stopped and looked back over his shoulder and far off to the west rain began to fall, which was revealed by the line of small pink dust clouds rising up off the desert floor. Nearer to Mount Kanji gentle gusts of wind preceded the coming rain, and far to the east the tops of the mountains burned a brilliant orange-red in the heat of the morning sun.

“The competition dome was packed with every student, senior student, professor and staff member there, as well as many of the local people from the surrounding area,” said Eoroal speaking excitedly. “The two stepped onto the combat circle wearing their sport armour. They turned and bowed to the Aun'Vre referee, bowed to Aun'La judges, and then to each other. Then they put on their masks and entered the circle. Temu'jin stood with sword held aloft like an ancient warrior; but contrary to her usual aggressive style, Li'xiu waited with her sword held at the guard. She stood there with all the calm and serenity of a mon'tau sword master. When they made to strike, it was not the primary, or secondary, or even tertiary attacks that scored, but the counter-attacks into the attacks. Temu'jin and Li'xiu both had scored two points, when Temu'jin invited an attack by dropping down into an earth caste wrestling stance. You may not know this, but Temu'jin had spent many a day wrestling with the earth caste boys of his village and so knew every move of their art.”

“Li'xiu had never the un-orthodox move, so she never saw it as the ‘invitation’ that it actually was, but rather, she saw it as a lapse on Temu'jin’s part. So not hesitating to strike, Li'xiu launched an attack. When she moved forward to the attack, he side stepped, dropped to his knees, and came up under her attack, striking her in the abdomen with his blade. He struck just at the moment, she brought down her blade for the mont'ka strike. The result was that Temu'jin’s attack struck with all of her forward momentum and his combined. She was knocked completely off her hooves and tumbled end-over-end, flying entirely out of the combat circle. Which of course gave him the match point. Though I don't think he even heard the Aun'Vre award him the victory?” Eoroal looked genuinely puzzled as he said this.

“You see Li'xiu lay on the floor with the wind knocked out of her, and the whole crowd went, 'HEYAAH!' But before anyone could move Temu'jin was rushing headlong out the circle, forgetting to removing his mask, or to even bow to the Aun'Vre referee! When he got to her, he flung off his mask, and knelt down to take her by the hand. I remember all of this because I was on the first responder team, so I was right next to her with the stretcher drone. The crowd went wild with their hoof stomping and shouting as he helped her to her hooves. Temu'jin then helped her removed her mask and asked her if she was alright. Then Li'xiu did something I have never seen her do before, or since in public. She giggled, put her hand to her mouth, and blushed the deepest shade of blue. And at that moment you could hear the enter competition dome give out one long hushed, ‘TEEEYAH!’ And that was the first time any of us knew they were in love. The crowd went just as crazy with more shouting and hoof stomping. ”

“Yes, I remember that bout Eoroal'kan…”

“I did it again didn't I? Forgot you were there too. Why didn't you stop my recollection then?”

“I just like hearing you tell a story I think? Go ahead and finish,” replied Qan'tel smiling.

But just then Qan'tel made a sign for Eoroal to pause his story; and then from the brush came the loud sounds of grunting, high pitched squeals. Teacher and student both could hear the grunting and snuffling sounds the xagh'li–wild boar as they were moving deeper into the waist high chaparral. The animals couldn't be seen, but their loud thrashing and crashing about the brush, and their noisy grunting gave away their presence. Then there came the high pitched squeals of a baby xagh'li lost somewhere in the purple chaparral. There followed louder sounds of crashing and thrashing as the mother xagh'li searched desperately for her lost piglet. The tau men listened intensely as there came a loud squealing and grunting, as the mother and her other offspring found the lost piglet. The mother ly'xagh now led her reunited family noisily away through the underbrush. Qan'tel and Eoroal were quite until long after the grunting and squealing faded off into the waving purple chaparral.

“Everybody’s alright then? T'ah, were did I leave off?” said Eoroal looking at the chaparral. “Well this was of course Temu'jin's and Li'xiu's time of Ol'erue–Bright Rivalry. None of us knew it at the time, but the two of them were old friends. Apparently they had first met as very small children, when Temu'jin's mother was travelling to Tau'n to visit her old cadre sister, Li'xiu's mother. I guess they got reacquainted the first day Li'xiu arrived on campus. Temu'jin related to me once that he looked up and saw those piercing orange eyes of hers from across the academy’s reception area; and even though it had been seven tau'cyr since he last seen her, he was sure he knew who she was. So walking up to her he asks, 'Is that you Shas'onei–Flame Eyes?' Li'xiu of course remembered him and responded with 'Is that you Kinuit'bojuxu–Bucket head?'”

“Li’xiu didn't call him that, did she?” asked Qan'tel giving Eoroal a questioning look.

“They were both…very young namsai,” said Eoroal laughing. “Apparently he like to put a child's pail on his head and pretend it was a helmet, but she didn't know the word for helmet so she called him 'bucket head' instead.”

“In any case by the time any of us found this out, they were already very much ‘hooves in the air’ in love! The two of them had gone as far as making a First Night commitment to one another, as well as a commitment of sav'ta'lissera–marriage engagement. However, when the rest of the academy found all this out…well there was an uproar!” Eoroal stopped and got a silly grin on his face.

“Actually only the Vior'lan girls at the academy were in an uproar. They didn't like to hear that Temu'jin, one of the top Vior'lan boys at the academy, was already spoken for, and by some foreign girl at that!” The grin disappeared from Eoroal's face and then he said, “But that was soon rectified by the two ill-fated lovers themselves, when their bright rivalry eventually became a Da'erue–Dark Rivalry.”

Eoroal paused to drink some water before resuming. “Well their Ol'erue lasted more than a tau'cyr which was such a joyful time for all of us at Righteousness Strength. Seeing the two of them together made me feel I was part of something momentous. I don't know why, but I do remember feeling like that. When I would see the two of them together it was like I was in presence of the Empress and her Consort. I remember the thrill if I'd ever see the two of then strolling down the promenade, or sitting together at the mess hall, or attending a vel'you. Whatever the occasion, it was more exciting if Li'xiu and Temu'jin were there together. The energy around the two of them made everything feel like it was something unexpected and extraordinary!”

“Li'xiu brought out the best in Temu'jin, who was far more aggressive in everything he did when he was with her. Temuj'jin was more competitive and took more risks when he was with Li'xiu. He was especially more daring at t'xa and sports. Of course he did the same for Li'xiu, when she was training, she was as hard as ever on herself and her students, but she was kinder and more giving of herself than before. She was a far better instructor than she had been before. During her time with Temu'jin there was a love and enthusiasm to whatever she did, and you always knew how much she cared about you. So that was the way things were with the Empress and Emperor of the Righteousness Strength Academy.” Eoroal half-chuckled to himself. “Until things went bad that is…You remember that time don't you namsai?”

“T'oh, do I ever! They were such a lovely couple together, but I seem to remember it rubbed quite a few of the Tau'n boys the wrong way, as much as it did the Vior'lan girls?”

“Xhmm that it did!” answered Eoroal smiling.

“But not as much as some adults from Tau'n,” said Qan'Tel.

“T'eh?” asked Eoroal looking back at his teacher.

“Never mind El'Lynu, please continue.”

Eoroal looked down at the rock and his face became serious. There was now sadness in his voice when he spoke, “Xhmm, what you must understand is that Li'xiu never truly understood Temu'jin, and for that matter he never really understood her either! Temu'jin had that certain Viorlan way about him, that sense of chivalry and gallantry that is so much of the Viorlan fire caste. It was what Temu'jin called the Vior'lan Way of the Equestrian. For instance he was always magnanimous in victory, and would have the most gentle and kind words of for any defeated opponent. And if he lost, then he was gracious and joyful in defeat. He would artfully and nonchalantly laugh off a loss at t'xa, or at sport, or even at an academic trial. Not that Temu'jin didn't take a losing seriously, he very much did; but it was that, Way of the Equestrian again.”

“He told me more than once that, ‘A Bentu'cea'la–a gentlemen, never gloats over his defeated foe. He must always be gracious in victory and likewise humble in defeat. Remember to respect your foe, for you never know, but tomorrow you maybe allies? Who knows, but tomorrow you may find yourselves anda'ta'lissera–battle brothers!'

“I can remember on more than one occasion, seeing Temu'jin coach, train, or tutor another student, who was in some way or another his rival. Whether it be at academics, sport, or military science, Temu'jin never seemed to care about the cost to his own achievement, but rather he would prefer to see a rival achieve success. He truly took joy in the achievements of others. 'Be ready to sacrifice oneself for others', was another one of his maxims and he really took that to heart. Temu'jin would also take the blame and the consequences for another’s failure or misdeeds. Once when some of us junior students had an unauthorized vel'you, and banged ourselves up quite a bit; which all by itself was a cause for penalties to be assessed. Temu'jin, without us asking him to do so, went ahead and said he had authorized the game and took full responsibility for the outcome. Temu'jin went so far as to cut his forehead and muss up his uniform, just to convince the other upper classmen that he had been playing too. He then led the cleaning details and study groups for us miscreants. None of us ever forgot that, not one of us. Then there was of course Temu'jin's defence of Shas'saal Tutu…”

“T'ah, there was the time Temu'jin stood before the academy review board to defend his fellow student Shas'Saal'Tutu–Salmon. I remember that because I myself was on the review board,” said Qan'tel thoughtfully. “You know that's when Temu'jin truly got noticed by the academy? We wondered why he would put himself out for such fellow like Saal'Tutu, who was so obviously lacking in academic skills, or motivation for that matter. Taking on the role of tutor and mentor to Tutu, so as to help him graduate. Even though Tutu's failure would have meant Temu'jin's expulsion as well Tutu's? We couldn't believe anyone would be that foolhardy!” Qan'tel nodded his shaggy silver head in disbelief.

“But Temu'jin did it, didn't he? And Tutu ended up graduating with honours and in large part because of Temu'jin's efforts!” said Eoroal letting out a joyful sigh. Eoroal's voice was now strong and his spirit seemed to lift as he spoke.

“What an expression of the Tau'va is the Vior'lan Way of the Equestrian. Since that time, I have tried, as best as I could, to hue as close to it as possible to its precepts. Especially that precept which state one must value others before one's self, and to be always sensitive to the feelings of others. And what I think what is most noble of all, is the concept that one has to be ready at all times, if necessary, to suffer the humiliation and degradation in order to protect the pride, dignity, and honour of others. To follow the Way of the Equestrian, is to be ready to even lay down one’s own life for another. To give one's last full measure of devotion in the service to Tau'va–The Greater Good. Yes the Way of the Equestrian is to be the very embodiment of the Tau'va: self-sacrifice, honour, nobility of spirit, and above all the willingness to serve. What noble sentiments! I say again, what an expression of the Tau'va!”

Eoroal stopped to look up at the sky as the first clouds began to pass over the two tau men. A cloud's shadow shaded them momentarily, but then was gone. Far away in the east the blazing orange mountains now seemed in some way closer to them. While the western skyline somehow now seemed farther away. Insects were buzzing and hoping about the brush, suddenly becoming active in anticipation of the rain. Eoroal picked up a handful of pebbles and dropped them one-by-one into his lap.

“Li'xiu could never comprehend any of that. In fact she hated the way he was gracious to a defeated opponent, but she especially didn't like his apparent nonchalance attitude about defeat. For her to lose at anything was shameful thing; which had to be rectified by redoubling her efforts. And if after her renewed efforts she failed again; then this led to terrible self-doubts, and brutal self-criticism. Li'xiu was vicious in questioning her own self-worth, and she was forever second guessing her actions. She went as far to denigrate and belittle her own abilities, motivation, and commitment. While at the same time she physically tortured herself with endless drills, practices, trial examinations, and late night studying. Whatever it took to achieve her goals she did it, but such strenuous effort was often without a sense of balance or even joy. When she was defeated she was inconsolable, and no words of encouragement could reach her. When she was victorious she took no joy in her victory, rather she took the opportunity to critique her opponent, with not a few hard words of admonishment. Though she never did so publicly, rather took the 'defeated for' aside to berate and chastise them privately.”

“This was the T'au Way of the Warrior. And I can remember Li'xiu was ever preaching to me and her words still ring in my ears: 'Each victory is only a step to a greater goal; but even a single defeat can unravel everything one has accomplished. The individual's feelings in the matter are of no consequence, but keep to your duty and persevere in your efforts. Only the final outcome matters.'”

“All of this appalled Temu'jin of course. How could anyone treat their fellow students the way she did? He
questioned why it was that every set-back, or minor mishap, was taken as major tragedy? Why was any success
scrutinized as if it were somehow a defeat? But what he truly couldn't understand was how she could be so hard on
herself to the point of emotional self-flagellation, even when she was victorious?”

“I have only came to understand later, just what the virtue there was in The Way of the Warrior. All of this demand for stringent self-examination, for the severe questioning of one's motives, and for not accepting anything but perfection. Most of all however, for its’ over-arching focus on achieving the end goal. All of this combined together, creates in the practitioner a purity of spirit and a clarity of intention. To that end, the T'au firewarrior sets aside his or her own feelings, desires, and needs. There is of course sharpness where as it concerns the needs and feeling of others. Even a seeming indifference to the feelings of others, but at the same time, The Way of the Warrior demands the same disregard of one’s own feelings.”

“All of this is terribly effective at tearing down the ego. This abrasiveness cuts away the self, shears the flesh from bone so to speak, and breaks down any identity or attachment to one's personal achievement or accomplishment. Thus like a furnace removes the impurities from metal, so too does The Way of the Warrior, remove the stumbling block, i.e. the self, from the path of the firewarrior. It creates in one, although brutally so, the proper relationship between the self and society. It creates humility, selflessness, a correctness of behaviour; in other words, it is a firewarrior's direct expression of the Tau'va–The Greater Good.”

“So Temu'jin with all his Viro'lan gallantry and courtesy, could not stand up to Li'xiu's brutal pursuit of excellence and her absolute certainty of purpose. The two it seems were destined to fall out and become bitter rivals. But never as young cadet, could I have imagined that their rivalry would continue to this today! And yet strangely, the strength that each displayed while at the academy, has become the other's strength afterwards. Li'xiu is now the greatest proponent and advocate for Patient Hunter; while Temu'jin is the foremost proponent of The Killing Blow. Each had listened, watched, and debated with the other, and competed with the other for so long, that each one eventually became the other. In effect, each of them, have become their enemy.”

Eoroal dropped his face and nodded his head. He breathed in deeply and then lifting his head looked out across the desert. Qan'tel and Eoroal watched the huge billowing thunder clouds, soaked with rain, racing overhead and across the valley towards the mountains. There were tiny sparks of lighting flashing off to the west. “The desert has its’ own way of cutting to the quick, of burning away what is chaff, and leaving only what is essential,” he said.

Now turning back to his teacher he continued, “I haven't yet told you how their Mont'erue–Dark Rivalry began, but it was only two tau'cyr, after she arrived at the academy. There was an academic competition in mathematics between classes of Temu'jin and Li'xiu’s grade. And it was no surprise when their class won, and very handily at that. When the class was assembled in their home room, there was the usual celebratory activity: mild shouting, hoof stomping and head butting. I think that Li'xiu was leader and Temu'jin class vice-leader that semester, I believe so anyway, but in any case, just as everyone is getting excited about the victory, Li'xiu goes and throws a dampener on it.”

“Apparently, the boys of their class did not score as well as the girls, although on average they still had done better than the other classes. Li'xiu said the boys should not be celebrating since they hadn't scored as high, and that they should be in a study group that night to ‘improve their test scores’. The whole class was in an uproar, everyone wanted to celebrate the victory together and not divide up the class.”

“What would have the celebration been that evening? Green tokee fruit yoghurt and everyone getting to stay up half-and dec later than usual?” asked Qan'tel nodding his head.

“That's exactly what it would have been namsai,” said Eoroal pointing to the ground.

“Well, Temu'jin points out this fact, but to no avail. However Li'xiu then goes ahead tosses another photon grenade, by saying the class would in effect ‘be gloating’ over the other classes if they celebrated. This little spinner Temu'jin catches, and then lobs it right back into her lap, by suggesting that they 'invite' the loosing classes to their celebration. But this suggestion only gets Li'xiu angrier! She insists that the lower scoring students should instead take the extra half-dec to be studying. Another student, a girl from Au'taal, points that some of the girls in the class had scored lower than some of the boys. Temu'jin then verifies this fact, when he looks up the total class results and the individual student rankings. Then he points out that the class vice-leader, i.e. himself, had scored third place over all; while the class leader, that is Li'xiu, had scored only fifth. That's when the gnarloc *BAD WORD DELETED!* hit the engine intake! And it got pretty acrimonious, pretty quickly, with most of the class siding with Temu'jin and against Li'xiu.”

“Li'xiu then lets loose with accusations that the boys, especially Temu'jin, aren't taking their studies seriously, considering their 'lower academic performance' vis-à-vis the girl's performance. Ever the gentlemen, Temu'jin tries, but can't get her to come to some arrangement, that would allow at least some of the class to have a celebration. Li'xiu will have absolutely none of it. Now there's more of a raucous mood in the class and Temu'jin and a couple of other students, have to go and get in between Li'xiu and another girl from T'au, when the two started to square off. Each of them were calling the other a lot of ugly names, and throwing out all kind nasty insinuations about the other’s character. So, just as he and the other students are trying to keep the two girls from throwing a hoof at one another; out of nowhere Li'xiu turns around and verbally assaults Temu'jin! She starts in on him with name calling and insinuations. He of course does not respond to any of it, but then like, 'A Lighting Bolt Out of the Eternal Blue Sky', she suddenly goes and challenges him to a ‘point of honour’. Because she says he has undermined her authority as class leader. Still the gentlemen, he thinks that this maybe the way out, so he graciously accepts her challenge.”

‘Shas'Saal Li'xiu I do not agree, that am in any way challenging your authority as class leader. Be that as it may, I see too much contention here in our classroom Red-123. In my opinion we should be pulling together as a class and not be so ready to find fault with one another. However, in order to bring harmony back to our homeroom, as the class Vice-leader, I accept your challenge on behalf of all students who did not meet the ‘required score’ Class Leader. However, I if I win, we still all get our yoghurt and half-a-dec of extra time. If I lose, then I gladly lead all the students who placed lower than the top four students, with their mathematics study for the next raik'rotaa. Fair enough Class Leader?' Temu'jin says this of course with all of his Vior'lan charm, good humour, and nonchalance. But Li'xiu is having none of it and flatly refuses his proposal; because it would have in effect meant she too would have to be studying.”

‘Vice-leader Shas'Saal Temu'jin know that you must accept my conditions as previously stated.’

“Temu'jin still hoping to change the atmosphere of the classroom accepts her conditions. Strangely she request to settle the point of honour by nan'ka'tuk'ike–combat fighting sport. This caught everyone off guard as it was not her strongest sport, but it was one of his? Temu'jin paused for a moment and then said he accepts, but he request that they must fight immediately and adds very cheekily, ‘I still want to eat my yoghurt tonight!’ So it was agreed that the question of honour would be settled that evening after classes were over.”

“As you know Namsai, it was the academy's tradition, which students were allowed to settle ‘points of honour’ without supervision of professors, staff, or any of the academy's ethereals. It was decided that they used the small close combat training dome on campus. At the time it seemed the whole school as there, but in reality it was just the students from Temu'jin's and Li'xiu's homeroom class, plus a handful of students who were allowed to be present from the other grades. I was the class leader for my homeroom at the time, so I was one of the few privileged enough to attend.”

“Senior students stood in the place of the ethereal referee and judges. Winning was determined by scoring more points than your opponent in the time allotted for the match. Points were awarded by landing clear and unambiguous hits on your opponent, with either your hands, hooves, or a ke'nan–split cane sword. Or by any number of pins, take downs, or throws. Xhmm…I believe the total allotted time was fifteen raik'or but I can't remember exactly…t'ahhh!” Eoroal looked over at his teacher. “Sorry namsai why am I telling you this for, you already know how this works?”

Qan’tel smiled and shook his head once and then Eoroal bowed and resumed his story.

“T'eh, so it was pretty much like any other…any other nan'ka'tuk'ike bout, except faster and more aggressive. Temu'jin came out more forcefully than I had ever seen him, hitting and throwing a Li'xiu a couple of times hard in the first round. Both of them kicked, punched, and struck each other repeatedly. Li'xiu fought incredibly hard, kicking and throwing Temu'jin, as well as painfully pinning him several times. Well it went like this for a while until Temu'jin, ever the gentlemen, had the bad manners to up and loose!”

“And true to his Vior'lan character he gallantly and chivalrously congratulates her, ‘On your hard and well fought victory.’ This is of course is absolutely incendiary! But then as if to ‘piss in her soup’ he turns to the rest of the class and says, 'Sorry everyone all those who failed to meet the required score, you will be studying with me later…I guess we won't be getting any yoghurt tonight?' Temu'jin wasn't trying to be insulting, but Li'xiu took it that way nonetheless. So now she's livid! She fumes, she stomps around, and she is absolutely outraged! I can’t say I ever saw Li'xiu so angry, and her eyes went from their normal blazing orange to a deep violet blue. I distinctly remember Temu'jin looking totally befuddled and saying out loud, ‘Hoi, she’s mad? She’s really, really mad?’”

Eoroal paused and looked over at his teacher, “I can still see Li'xiu is standing there shaking and showing her teeth plates, and then with her mask and ke'nan still in her hands, she walks right up to his face and spits out:

'Shas'Saal Temu'jin do you ever take anything seriously? Is this all just a joke to you? Have you absolutely no sense of honour? How dare you insult me only moments after giving me satisfaction in the combat circle! I would answer the insult to my honour, my family’s honour, my caste’s honour, and my sept’s honour, but I will not from one is without honour. Shas'Saal Temu'jin you are nothing but dras'la to me!'

“Now I was there and I can tell you the whole training dome went silent as tomb when Li'xiu called him that.”

“T'ach, so that's what she called him dras'la–outcast? I heard rumours about what she had said something terrible to him, but none of the other academy staff from Vior'la would never repeat exactly what it was she said!” Qan'tel gazed skyward with a pained look on his face.

“Temu'jin let his mask and ke'nan fall to the floor, and he stared back at her with a totally blank expression. This time Li'xiu had gone too far! She had used the one expression that regardless of caste, will set any Viorlan's blood on fire. Temu'jin stood there without saying anything for what seemed like ages, but then he reached down and picked up his ke'nan and mask. He looked away from Li'xiu for a moment, and then turns back and shakes his head in the affirmative.”

“Temu'jin then he replied with his own challenge: 'Shas'Saal T'au Li'xiu…I…cannot…let stand this insult…to my caste… to my sept…to my family…and to my person. Although to thee I am unworthy, I ask of thee satisfaction in the honourable fashion of our caste.'

“I remember how strange it felt to hear him speak to Li'xiu in that formal court dialect. But the effect was to make it all seem so deadly serious. Then as they say, Temu'jin 'put the sword through her throat', and without the slightest hint of emotion in his voice says:

'Shas'Saal T'au Li'xiu, to thee I have made an exclusive commitment. I have promised to thee myself, before the time of courtship to be thine one and only consort on your First Night. And I have promised to thee a lifetime commitment by a sav't'alissera–[i]a betrothal of marriage. I have met and shared tea, with thine own honoured father Shas'O'T'au Kiru, and he hadst given his own heartfelt approval of our intention to marry. Furthermore Shas'Saal Li'xiu, I have known thee since we were both very young, and from the very first day we met as a small children, to the day when we met again at the academy, unto to-this-very-moment, I have loved thee. And know that I will love thee always and forever! But also know this Shas'Saal Tau'n Li'xiu, I now break all my commitments to thee. There will be no more exclusive commitment to thee. No First Night with thee. No marriage to thee. Between us there is nothing but wind, dust, and rocks without life. Between us Shas'Saal'Tau'n Li'xiu, there is nothing but the dry coldness of death!'[/i]”

“Li'xiu’s face turned a deadly grey, but she was silent and stood there with her own blank expression. I heard the girl from T'au, the one with whom Li'xiu had almost come to blows with earlier, began to cry. The girl turned and begged Li'xiu to ask Timu'jin for forgiveness. Everyone else there was speechless, but Li'xiu just wagged her head in the affirmative and then said, 'Let it be so Shas'Saal'Vior'la Temu'jin. Let it be so.’

“Now the whole training dome erupted in shouting and crying. One of Li'xiu and Temu'jin's classmates later told me, that at this point most of their class were crying, including himself. Such was the impact of both Li'xiu’s insult and Temu'jin’s response. Temu'jin then quietly asked for another nan'ka'tuk'ike bout, but this time with fal'nan–wooden swords and with no time limit or points awarded. Victory would go to was the one still standing. Li'xiu agreed to this without hesitation, and then went further by saying she would fight without a mask, wearing only her cloth half-helmet. ‘So as to give thee a greater chance of regaining thine honour from one so unworthy as myself, ’ she said. Temu'jin agreed and added he would forego his mask and cloth helmet as well.” Eoroal's face blanched and he let a small groan before continuing.

“Xhmm…so it was a duel then?” said Qan'tel.

“T'ah, yes it was. Worse thing was that we were all so afraid, some even whispered that we should go get an instructor, or at least an ethereal, but I don't know if anyone ever did. I myself was too paralysed with fear to do anything to stop that fight. In any case no one else did either, and the student judges brought out several wooden fal'nan. Li'xiu and Temu'jin each selected three to use for the duel.” Eoroal's face turned a dark grey and he looked frightened and he took a couple of deep breaths before going any further.

“After all my years of combat, I still get cold chills when I think of that fight. I have never have been so scared of anything, or been made sick by anything, then by what I experienced that night! As I recall they fought for over a dec, and no matter how many times either one of them was hit, kicked, thrown, or struck with fal'nan; neither one of them would yield, give in, or surrender to the other. Temu'jin early on had her pinned to the floor his feet and spurs, but Li'xiu would not yield. He soon afterwards slammed her head first into the clay, an earth caste wrestling move, that we all thought would have knocked her out, but she somehow still staggered to her feet. She just wouldn't give in. Li'xiu for her part kicked, punched, and struck Temu'jin repeatedly with her wooden sword. Temu'jin threw her at least four or five times in total, and head butted her at least twice. Li'xiu in turn kicked him in the both of his knee caps, the groin, and in head.”

“Each of them broke two swords, and both of them were bleeding from their head, face, and the extremities. There was no surrender, no quarter asked for or given, and no mercy shown by either of them. Finally she threw him to the ground and quickly had him in an arm and shoulder lock, holding on to his left arm with both a hand and a leg spur. At this point we knew that if he didn't yield, she was going to dislocate his shoulder. Li'xiu demanded Temu'jin surrender to her, but Temu'jin’s only reply was to scream 'NO!' So Li'xiu, twisted his arm and dropped to one knee, and there was this loud, wet popping 'crunch' sound, and Temu'jin let out this horrifying guttural cry. Li'xiu had both dislocated his shoulder blade and broken his arm. Everyone began screaming and shouting for the fight to stop. Li'xiu calmly let go of his arm and stood up, and it flopped to the ground like a thing made of silicon. She turned her back on him and stepped away saying, 'I have won Shas'Saal Vior'la Temu'jin, whether you yield or not!'

“At this point it was total insanity in the training dome, with everyone running forward run past the safety line. Some even ran straight into the ring. I was one of those that got in close and then I saw the thing, the thing that I hope I never see again for the rest of my life!” Eoroal paused closed his eyes and nodded his head slowly.

“Both of them...each of their eyes…I mean...both Temu'jin and Li'xiu…their eyes had gone completely a deep indigo blue! Both of them were so deep into their anger and rage, that they were lost in the midst of the Tenxer'suam–the Sapphire Flame!”

“The shocked student referee stood there frozen, unable to do anything, but then Temujin rose from the ground like some war-demon from an ancient myth. He sprung up right up onto both of his hooves, and came at Li'xiu from behind shouting this terrifying loud war cry. Li'xiu though exhausted and injured, spun to counter his attack, but Temu'jin's struck her within this incredible blow that shattered both her fal'nan and wrist in one go. I can still see the moment of impact, as if it were stopped in time. First the wooden sword exploded, and then her wrist snapping and wrapping back on to itself in an unnatural angle. Temu'jin then spun completely around on his hooves, bringing down the mont'ka–killing blow to the left side of her head. There was…this…this awful, awful sound which I will not forget unto my dying days. A kind of a 'cracking thump' sound along with the simultaneous sound of splitting wood. Li'xiu went straight down, hitting the clay ground with another sickening ‘thump’. We all thought that if her skull hadn’t been crushed, then surely her neck had been snapped. Li'xiu lay in a heap and not moving, or even seeming to breathe, as Temu'jin sank to the floor in agony. The image and of him down on his knees, clutching his broken shoulder and screaming in pain, will forever be burnt into my memory. I remember at that point screaming that we needed to get an ethereal. I looked around to find the referee and saw the poor fellow abandoning his post. Was he running out to get help or was just running to get away, I don't know? Later on someone told me there were sirens and emergency beacons going off; while a message of some kind was being broadcast telling everyone: 'To stay put, as help is on the way'. I don't remember any of it.”

Eoroal stopped his story and wiped the sweat from his face, but he shivered like he was naked in the middle of a mid-winter's eve.

“You know namsai, it still makes me sick to both my stomachs when I think of that fight. Li'xiu was in the same kind of trance as Temu'jin was, and though she wasn’t dead, she lay on the ground as if she were. Temu'jin then dropped completely to the ground as if he were dead, though we could tell he was still conscious…If you can call that kind of altered state he was in being conscious? Submerged as they both were into the 'Sapphire Flame'. Never thought I'd ever see such a thing! In any case, no one dared get close to Temu'jin, as he still seemed capable of lashing out somehow.” Eoroal stopped and motioned to his teacher to help him, “Namsai, may we move to the shady side of my cell, the star of Dal'yth is rising in the sky and it's getting hot?”

Acaya Qan'tel put an arm under Eoroal and helped him stand up, but noticed that Eoroal was shivering. “Are you alright Eoroal'kan? Why don't you drink some water?” asked Qan'tel offering him his bottle.

“H-h-how is it t-t-that with T-t-temu'jin and L-L-Li'xiu everything always s-s-seems to be epic and mythic? Around b-b-both of t-t-them the legendary seems to s-s-somehow become real?!” said Eoroal his teeth plates chattering as sweat poured off his body.

“Xhmm, didn't think that kind of thing was real, t'eh? The tenxer'suam?”

“W-w-ell, n-no I knew it was real. I-I-I j-just think it d-d-didn’t to happen in our day and age; w-w-what with the Tau'va, the ethereals and such. It's like s-s-something that you'd read about in ancient history, or might find in some heroic tale, but it's not something that you expect to see in everyday life,” said Eoroal taking a drink of water.

Last edited by TauMan on Mar 28 2016 01:39, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: WH40K Fiction: ON MOUNT KAN'JI: Sunrise on the Mountain

Post#3 » Dec 16 2014 09:09

ON MOUNT KAN'JI, Part IIA: Mid-Morning on the Mountain


UPDATE:12/04/2015 Version 2.0 Here is the link: http://docdro.id/moz8

Mid-Morning on the Mountain

“Let's go ahead and get out of the sun, but how about we check your brethren first?” said Qan'tel moving more spryly than a tau of his age should. The two walked down the hillside and reaching Eoroal's cell looked in on the sleeping pair of students. Luckily the large boulder that was on the south side of the cell extended out past the entrance; which along with the awning, provided plenty of shade. Temu'jinn was back face down and still asleep; while Li'xiu was lying at a perpendicular angle to him. She must have rolled at least a couple of more times, since the two spliced strands of their hair were a tangled mess. Qan'tel scratched his beard and his sagging blue butt, and then pointed at the two of them lying on the porch. “The three of you weren't, weren't a…t'ah what the hell do you call it nowadays? T'oh, you know what I'm talking about? In my day we called it…mutually assured horizontal refreshment?” Qan'tel's hands flitted about in frustration.

“Do you mean were we 'sharing rations'?”

“T'oh is that's what they're calling casual sex if the field these days? Yes, that would be it then! The three of you weren't t'ah…'sharing rations' last night then were you?

“No, no namsai. Not that that Temu'jin and I both haven't shared rations with her before. Each of us has shared a bed roll or a two-person sleeping unit with Li’xiu on occasion. We are firewarriors after all, and in the field you share everything, food, ammunition, replacement parts, weapons, and of course your body. I assume it was the same way when you were a lower ranking firewarrior?”

“T'oh yes. But it goes on even at higher ranks as well! Can't tell you how surprised I was when the Shas'O'Au'taal'Shas'ten'grii asked me to 'share her rations' with her. She was the Supreme Coalition commander, and I was just one of her shas'vre bodyguards. On top of that she was an old lady, but that didn't stop her from tiring out my young butt! Wow, the women from Au'taal are...well words just can't describe them!” Qan'tel tugged his beard and clicked his teeth plates together in the tau version of ‘a wink and a nod’, but Eoroal just looked at his teacher and continued.

“T'eh, but Shas'El'Lhas'nan–Jade Knife, otherwise known as my ta'lissera sister Li’xiu, is something of an exhibitionist. At least in private she is....and this is as about as private as one gets out in the wilderness. You know she likes being the only mare among the stallions, and doesn't mind showing off body or her scars! Xhmm so much for humility, propriety, and correct behaviour, t'eh?” Eoroal looked at his ta'lissera sister, and nodded his head 'no'. “She has for several tau'cyr criticized Temu'jin for ‘flaunting his achievements.’ Not that he actually does, as other's do that for him, whether he wants them to or not…by-the-way. Still she has the nerve to go around and berate him for his ‘self-aggrandizing pride’. Temu'jin for his part just keeps...” Eoroal looked around and not finding his teacher, noticed that Qan'tel had now started to walk down the trail cell. “...wait why are you going that way?”

“Thought maybe Temu'jin might have another bottle of that Vior'lan single-malt vi’ky’husa; besides we can and talk sit in his cell which is quite cool. Which means we won’t disturb the two of them with their hangovers.”

“T'oh,” replied Eoroal following his teacher.

“So when did their Kisun'erue–Blood rivalry begin?”

“No, Acaya Qan'tel, they never went that far! The 'break up' fight was brutal for sure, but no they never were out to actually trying to kill another. Well, not while at the academy anyway.”

“You know those set of scars that Temu'jin has, the one small scar on lower left side with the matching one on his back? Do you know how he got them don’t you?” said Qan'tel looking backwards over his shoulder.

“T'ah I do indeed know when, where, and how he got them. But Li’xiu running him through with a sword was an accident namsai. Temu'jin stepped on the training pitch without announcing his presence, and then walked past Li’xiu just as she was practising ur'riika–art of quick draw, blindfolded. That was his reward for being so careless!”

“Do you seriously believe that? Do you believe Li’xiu running him completely through with a sword was an accident, xhmm?” said Qan'tel turning around so as to stick his dirty silver beard into Eoroal's face. “So did Temu'jin put you up to this? Did he ask you to tell anyone who asks you that it was an accident?”

Eoroal paused and blinked a couple of times before answering, “Yes. Yes he did 'put me up to it'. It was an…honour kind of thing…between ta'liserra brothers. Well anyway, I still have a hard time believing that was a premeditated attack. Especially, since he didn’t respond to it in any kind of a way.”

“Not respond in any kind of way? What the hell was that thing with him knocking off her helmet off during a vel'you, and then 'accidentally-on-purpose' kicking her in the head? Mind you that was in public with more than a couple of thousand people watching!”

“NO, NO, NO! THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED!” Eoroal stopped on the trail and then and stomped his left hoof. “I-SAW-THE-WHOLE-THING! I was at that game and no matter what that Aun'Ui referee with the instant replay drone said... that was an accident!” yelled Eoroal emphatically and rudely wagging a thumb in his teacher's face.

“T'oh, so what did Li’xiu do, put you up to say it was an accident as well?” asked Qan'tel pulling his beard and looking east toward the mountains. Eoroal didn't answer, but rather he clinched his mouth shut and screwed his face to one side.

“Well?” said Qan'tel turning his scraggy back around to squint fiercely at Eoroal.

“Maybe...he... sort of...unlatched her helmet with the spur of one hoof, and then... well, maybe...he tried to kick her... I mean...stove her head in...with the other hoof?” Eoroal’s face turned a deeper shade of blue, but the corners of his mouth were white-grey.

“So that was it then? Was that little story of yours another honour thing too? Only this time between a ta'lissera brother and sister?”

“Might have just been some kind of a promise between let's say...a shas'ui and a shas'la...made while they…I mean, while we were…sharing rations…kind of thing...I think, perhaps…maybe? Yes, perhaps it was a sharing rations promise…sort of a thing?”

“Perhaps? Xhmm...t'oh, we've arrived.”

Indeed they had how arrived at Temu'jin's cell. They passed through a kind of fore of tall rocks before entering the cell proper. Just inside of the rock fore were large containers of rice, clay bottles for water, and in one corner atop an old service crate was an improvised t'xa table. The table was laid with geometric lines and ready for a game, with small black obsidian stones on one side and white quartz stones on the other.

“You made this table too didn't you?” asked Qan'tel.

“Yes, I did. It's the first one I made, but I gave it to Temu'jin when he arrived. Took too a long time to collect all the obsidian and quartz, and then even longer to hand-grind them down or polish them. So long in fact, that mine is just made with different coloured pebbles.” The two moved inside the door of the cell and the coolness of the cell was quite noticeable, even this early in the morning. Qan'tel then sat down on one end of the mattress, which lay atop the stone bench that was Temu'jin's bed. At the other end Eoroal sat with his back to the stone wall facing toward the window. Qan'tel then took the blankets, rolled them up, and used them to support his back, as he leaned against the rough stone wall.

“Well, what can you tell me about the other times they tried to kill each other?” said Qan'tel relaxing.

“WHAT THERE WERE OTHERS?” said Eoroal staring wide eyed at his teacher.

“T'ah, I take it by your reaction that you didn't know about those other times?”


“Good. So let's move on then shall we?” he said taking a drink of water.

Eoroal turned and faced the window. He sat thinking for a good while before saying anything else; but then looking around at the cell and scratching his head said, “So what part did I play in this? That is by being the xohnai?” Eoroal now paused before answering his own question, “Well, I kept myself in the junior position, thus preventing myself from ever being the true friend and brother they both needed.”

“True enough. But when you plied them with wine you...”

“Th-th-that was m-my being an irresponsible adolescent namsai,” cut in Eoroal.

“T'eh? Don't ever cut me off again Eoroal'kan, I wasn't finished! Your attempting to leave was being an irresponsible adolescent, but not everything else! What was this again about you giving them doped wine? First you tell about that, and then later, maybe you can go back and finish with, 'What my part was in all of this?'” Qan'tel's voice boomed and echoed off the stone walls of the cell with a concussive force.

“I wasn't going to dope the wine not at first,” said Eoroal chastened. “As I said earlier, I thought that they might have changed, so the wine was just to lubricate the process of analysis, but...I mean they really didn't need any lubrication. The two of them were going at it before we even started eating. I hadn't even served the first hotpot, when the insinuations and recriminations began to fly.” Eoroal stopped and looking at his teacher. “Acaya this wasn't either a Kauyon or Mont'ka operation; because until the moment when then started in on each other…well, I hadn't planned anything. Although I did have everything I needed to carry out the operation you might say.”


“You see the wine wasn't doped at first…not the first bottle. I put the genju berry powder in the last bottle; and after that was gone. Then each of them brought out the bottle they had brought and it was then that Li’xiu challenged Temu'jin to a drinking contest.”

“T'oh, aright so it wasn't a Kauyon operation…” wagged Qan'tel pulling at his beard.

“No, not at all.” Eoroal's expression now became grim and he looked straight ahead as he returned to his narrative, “You see in the years that followed the academy, I allowed everything to continue on as it had been and kept myself in the junior relationship with each of them...never taking on the responsibility of a brother.

“You've said that already Eoroal.”

“T'ahhh, yes. But here's the thing by doing so, I never took the responsibility to speak up and to tell them just what damage their attitudes and actions were doing...and are still doing. I hid behind my role as xhonai and did not step in the power and energy as their brother. I was ashamed and I am still ashamed for allowing myself to wallow in my feelings and not speak the truth to either of them.” Eoroal down looked at the stone floor, closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh.

“Temu'jin was always the hardest for me to relate to, because he seems forever my saznai,” said Eoroal shaking his head 'yes'. You know Temu'jin took to calling me by just Eoro because of the grammatical ending -al, means small. I wouldn't have any of it, so he tried to call me by my Shas'La rank name, Kais’ka–Skillful Strike, but I wouldn't have any of that either.” Eoroal dropped his head on to his chest. “Damn Temu'jin and his Viorlan courtesy!”

“There was the one time though, when he was really, really drunk. He grabbed me and shoved me against the wall; got right in my face and told me in not so uncertain terms, what he thought of the situation. I remember him yelling at me, 'We're no longer at the academy so damn it, why don't you just act like the brother you are?' Then he started to cry, 'Why can't you just be the brother I need you to be. Just for once Kais, just-be-that-brother! ' He let go of me when I started to cry, but all I could do was to keep saying how sorry I was for having made him angry. So you see I couldn't do it that time either.”

Eoroal's feelings were getting the best of him again and fighting back tide of emotions he said, “No tears this time namsai. After all you know what they say: 'We're from Dal'yth, and there's no whining or crying here! '; and 'Just get with on it! Stiff lower lip and all that!'; or 'Now sit down and just have another tea and biscuit' And if you need a reminder there's always: '[i]Keep Calm and Carry On!'”

“Eoroal you can stop right there! If you start blathering on about, 'There Will Forever be a Dal'yth!', or start quoting Aun'O'Kirk'hil speeches, then I'll have to give you a hoof up the backside. Or maybe I’ll whack you with my stick,” said Qan'tel in mock anger.

“Sorry, but I really do enjoy quoting his: 'We shall defend our Dal'yth, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the drop-pod grounds, we shall fight in the agri-fields and in the streets...We shall never surrender!' Or how about, 'Never have so many, owed so much, to so few!'…YAOW!”

“I-warned-you!” said Qan'tel rapping Eoroal on the head with his staff.

Eoroal rubbed his head and looked out the door and could see that the sky now beginning to fill with clouds and said, “So it’s rain it is then, good.” He picked up where he left off.

“For some reason it always seemed different with Li’xiu. She treated me as an equal as long as we were of the same rank, whether or not I wanted her too. She's the one who gave me the name Kais’ka you know? Damn proud of that name and I am if ever I make Shas'O, that'll be the name I take. So it'll be Shas'O'Dal'yth Kais. T'ahh, I’m wandering off topic again. In any case, whereas I felt like Temu'jin's brother, but wouldn't let him treat me as such; with Li’xiu I could never think of myself as being her equal. I don't know why? Maybe it’s that memory of her pressing the bandage to my head, and that's what keeps me from being an equal and a brother to her…TEEYAH, I JUST THOUGHT OF SOMETHING!”

Eoroal stood up and seizing his head in his hands doubled over in a ball. From this almost foetal position, he spat out his words fast, as if the ideas couldn't wait long enough for proper speech, “Pardon me namsai! But you were asking me…a little while ago…about sharing rations. And that's how… that's how she did it...or tried to do it. She…I mean…when we…there was only this one time, you see…when all three of us happened to be…happened to be in the same cadre…at the same time.” Eoroal slowed down his speech, as he uncurled his body, and sat back on the stone floor. He breathed deeply to regain his composure before continuing.

“It was during the Arachen campaign and I…was just out of the academy. You're supposed to go to your own sept cadres when you finished at the academy, but Coalition command had for some reason, threw all of my class together into the same cadre. Very unusual circumstances? You know yourself just how unusual that is. In any case they threw us all together as replacements for this understrength cadre. Which, as it turned out, was where many of the Righteous Strength Academy graduates already were, which itself was unusual. Li’xiu was an acting squad leader, and was going by the caste rank name of Shas'La'Shi'ur–Victory. Temu'jin was already a full squad leader, but he hadn't been promoted yet and was going by Shas'La'Tsua'm–Middle. Well we were together like that for I’d say, about two raik'rotaa. And thinking back about it now, I can honestly say that I shared rations with Li’xiu far more than my fair share! In fact, I was even asked about it by my squad leader. He wanted to know what was going on between her and me.”

“'What do you mean?' I asked him.

'She has a standing request for you, that if there's ever an evening that you're free, and not committed to any female member of your squad, that I am to contact her and send you over. I don't mind your luck La'Eoroal, but just what's wrong with me? We're the effectively the same rank, but she never asks me to 'share rations'?' The poor guy was really flummoxed about it.”

“What a lucky fellow indeed were you Eoroal'kan!” said Qan'tel shaking his head in agreement.

Eoroal sighed heavily, “You know, she was going out of her way to have sex with me? And I think it was just get me to see her as an equal. She was trying to get me to treat her, as if she were just another firewarrior in the cadre, but I'm just now figuring it all out!”

“Now, I'd say it would be hard to just treat a woman like Li’xiu, as just another firewarrior?” answered Qan'tel sympathetically. “However, how could you not treat her as an equal? She was choosing you after all, and that must have done something to change your relationship with her? I believe at the very least, it should have changed your…self-esteem?”

“Yes, it did! M-m-my self-esteem I mean, it did change it. Wait a raik'an though, first I have to tell you something…” Eoroal started to laugh and turning around to look at Qan'tel and said, “The very first time she approached me about sex, she walks up and ask me says, 'Shas'La'Eoroal would you like to share your rations with me? '”

“And salutng her as is proper respect for an acting squad leader said something like, 'Why yes ma'am. Let's see what I have here...t'oh I have a redi-edible packet of nim'ko'nai noodles with segneka meat and vegetables. Is that adequate ma'am?' She just laughed and put her hand on my mouth and nodded her head.”

“'You misunderstand my intentions La'Eoroal. That's how you ask another firewarrior if they want to have sex.'

“Somehow though, having sex with Li’xiu didn't help me with how I treated her; strangely though, it did help me with Temu'jin. In fact that happened that very first time I was with Li’xiu. Our sleeping units were spaced out evenly just inside the defensive perimeter, and when I woke up early the next morning, I heard Temu'jin's voice right next to me. He was speaking to my Shas'Ui, who was in the sleep unit just one over from Li’xiu's and mine. He finished and turning around and seeing me comes over. Then he saw Li’xiu's long red queue sticking out the sleep unit. And at that moment I felt like I had a plasma rifle had been stuck up my arse. And I'm thinking, 'Sorry, bro I just shagged your lady last night. Would you like to kill me now? ' But Temu'jin just looked at me and gave me the biggest smile I'd ever seen him give anyone. I remember him kneeling down and touching foreheads with me and saying, 'Thank you brother Shas'La'Xutka, for taking care of my cadre sister Shas'La'Shi'ur!'”

He called me by my academy 'bragging name', but I knew he was honouring me. He was always bragging about me to someone or another. Now Li’xiu wakes up, and just turns her head around enough to look at Temu'jin and me, and then says in a perfect Vior'lan brogue, with the trilled 'r', the lilt, and everything: 'Aye, he did a t'at! Yer laddie, he were a strokin' it 'ard aw last neet!'

Eoroal bent over with laughter, but then looking up at his teacher said, “I don't know if you know this, but Li’xiu just hates the Viorlan dialect. She absolutely hates it! She can't stand the sing-song lilt, she can't stand the non-stand pronunciation, and she really, really can't stand the trilled 'r'. So it's funny when out of nowhere, she suddenly goes and does that Viorlan accent! Temu'jin is laughing so hard, that he leans forward and falls over on top of both of us. And of course we're both laughing too! But then his little sister, Shas'La'Borte–Brown wolf, who was in the same class as me, runs up to see what's going on. Now understand that she has just seen her brother drop to the ground and she's thinking, 'Was there a sniper? Was he shot?' And so now she's really very frightened and in her excitement she blurts out in that thick Viorlan brogue of hers, 'Aye Temu'jin! Ar ye a wee bit 'urt?' At this point no one can keep a straight face and half the cadre is now rolling with laughter!”

“Many are the fond memories...” said Qan'tel looking at Eoroal and smiling.

Eoroal paused his reverie and was quiet for a while. Outside the sky suddenly darkened as rain began to fall to the ground. It became so dark that Qan'tel lit Temu'jin's oil lamp. Through the door and the window they could see the storm clouds broiling and blustering eastwards across the sky. Dropping the loads of moisture onto the desert landscape for tol'kans in all directions. The smell of dry soil being made wet with rain wafted into the cell. Eoroal looked out the cell door and breathed in the wet desert air.

“Right at this moment I realize something about my relationship with both of them. I am their equal, but with Temu'jin, I wouldn't let him treat me as an equal; and with Li’xiu, I wouldn't let myself treat her as an equal.” The rain continued to fall gently for another few raik'or, but then it stopped just as suddenly as it had begun, and the light returned.

“How did it serve you, always being the protégé to Temu'jin and Li’xiu? And how did being it serve them?” asked Qan'tel. Eoroal waited a moment before answering.

“For me, being the protégé meant that I could always be the peace maker. You have to know that no matter how hostile they eventually were towards one another, they would always put their xohnai first! And didn't matter if was me or some other junior classmate. If any of us asked them for help or advice, then they would drop everything to meet our request. And mind you, it didn't matter how trivial the request was either, how minor the issue, or how involved either of them were.”

“For example there was the one time when they stopped a nasty brawl the two of them were having in secret; just because I walked in the room and asked, 'Temu'jin'saznai and Li’xiu'saznai, could one of you please assist me with my calculus problems?' They looked around saw me and immediately stopped fighting. Now mind you when I walked in Temu'jin had been vigorously slamming Li’xiu’s head into a metal storage locker; but only a few raik'an before that, she had her hooves around his neck, and had been gouging his throat with her spurs. Yet, when Eoroal'xhonai asked for their aid then, 'By the Path!' aid had to be given. I can still remember both of them holding bandages to their faces, each one apologizing to me for dripping blood on my uniform and compu tablet. So that's what I get from still being their junior, I get to see 'Mum and Dad' stop fighting for at least a little while.” Eoroal looked at his teacher and smiled weakly.

“And this is what they got. They got to have a quiet spot, or a neutral ground if you will, where they could be safe from each other. A place where the each of them could shed their public persona, and let themselves be themselves. A safe arena where the two of them could still, underneath all the jealousy, hate, and recriminations, and arguments over 'who is right' and 'who is wrong'; a place where the two of them could still love each other. And just for the briefest of moments, a place where they could allow themselves to love each one other unreservedly.” Eoroal looked out at the now brilliant landscape and noticed the rain clouds had travelled beyond the mountain top, their rain shadows showing where their life giving water was now falling.

“Not a bad role I played for the two of them after all, just not the right one...Namsai, what are you doing now?”

“I just remembered the vi’ky’husa. You'd sure like a hit of some Vior'lan vi’ky’husa wouldn't you?” said Qan'tel digging around on the tiny shelves cut into the rock face.

“P-p-please namsai! T'oh, don't touch that namsai that's…going to…”

“What was that just fell on me Eoroal'kan?”

“That was Temu'jin’s laundry namsai.”


“Here let me pick that up for you.”

Eoroal helped his teacher tidy up Temu'jin's cell. When they had put everything back, he bowed to his teacher and then motioned for him to stand still. Then Eoroal moved to the front of the cell, and placing a small wooden box in the middle of the door way and stood on it. Then he reached up to a small crevasse where the rock ceiling met the rock wall, and put almost his whole arm inside of it. He felt around the inside until his hand got a hold of something, and then withdrawing his arm, he produce a small metal flask.

“Namsai one-drink-only!” he said returning the box to its proper place.

“T'ah? Why just one drink?”

“Well because it's the only bottle he has left from Vior'la!”

“Who is he hiding it from? Not me do you suppose?”

Eoroal' looked at his teacher suspiciously as he uncorked the flask, “He probably should be shouldn't he? No, namsai he's hiding it from Li’xiu.” Qan'tel made a face, but then graciously took the first drink from the bottle.

“HIYAH! That's...damn...good...Eoroal'kan!” said Qan'tel handing the flask back to Eoroal.

“HIYAHTEE! Yes...it is...namsai!” replied Eoroal re-corking the flask. Then standing up on the box he replaced the flask in the crevasse. “Aright, so now you're wondering why he has to hide it? Well he has to hide it from Li’xiu, ever since the day we caught her doing what you were just doing. Going through his things trying to find his flask of vi’ky’husa. Don't ask me why she does things like that? I suspect she just wanted to make him mad, and then surprise him with her trophy. Just the kind of thing an adolescent girl does to a boy to get him to chase her. Just so she can then let him catch her, and take her clothes off.”

More clouds were moving fast across the turquoise sky their dark shadows in racing across the landscape in hot pursuit. The cloud's shadows were racing east down the mountain towards the yellow-ochre prairie. This meant that now the sun beat down now fiercely, heating up the air above the wet ground. The warm air now tried to push its' way into the cell; but much to its credit, the cell stubbornly remained cool. Eoroal looked out the door from his place on the floor and then back to his teacher, and then he looked up at the crevasse and where the flask was hidden.

“You know namsai, Temu'jin was never the same after that duel of theirs.” A change of mood had come over Eoroal and he leaned in close to his teacher as he spoke, “He was just never the same after that day. It was as if the dark side of Termu'jin's Viorlan character came out; he became temperamental, quick to anger, and arrogant! Most of all though he became aggressive. No more did he coach or counsel his opponents, whether at academics or at sports. Though he was still saznai to us who were his junior, if you were his competitor—now you were his enemy! After his fight with Li’xiu only victory seemed matter to Temu'jin, and his technique became entirely mont'ka! Temu'jin showed no mercy, no quarter, but instead gave only bone-crushing defeat to any who challenged him. I am sometimes still heartsick to think of what became of that handsome, chivalrous, young tau I knew before the duel. But most strange was the reaction of the young women of the academy. The more aggressive and arrogant he became, the more they liked him, and the more they desired him! I can't even begin to fathom what that was about?” Eoroal sighed and looked around the room, as a deep melancholy air now came over him. He fell silent for several raik'or. The melancholy humour did not dissipate when he resumed speaking.

“Li’xiu was different too. At first she seemed to withdraw into her studies and especially into sports. For some time she did not socialize with anyone except her class peers. Li’xiu too was still very much the mentor to us, but her heart always seemed elsewhere. Sadly the love and warmth were now gone from her coaching. Something else that changed was that Li’xiu would never best Temu'jin ever again in any field at the academy. Not at academics, sports, military science, or the martial arts? If she managed to a victory in any field, it only lasted until the next round, term, test or match, and then Temu'jin would be back on top again. I don't know if he was really that much better than her, or just what it was? But for whatever reason Li’xiu seemed always to come in second, or ranked second anyway to Temu'jin for the entire rest of her time at the academy. And I know that it ate at her, it was like a red hot blade in her gut, for the rest her time at the academy.”

“And for Li’xiu it was now all kauyon! She became the Patient Hunter, and it seemed she was all about observing and listening. Nothing escaped her keen gaze, not even the littlest detail. She could spot a flaw in an opponent or challenger a tol'kan away, and then exploit it to maximum effect. When she chose to strike, they would never see it coming. She became a veritable oshi'ran'erra–invisible daemon-ghost, like some assassin from ancient T'au! She was a terror to all who met on the athletic field, martial arts ground, or in academics. A terror to all…except Temu'jin of course.”

“Other things about Li’xiu changed as well. You know how she was always been obedient and diffident to those senior to her? And how she was ever so respectful of the academy's traditions and customs? Well, now she was even more so. I would not call her officious in this regard, but rather she was certainly more obsequious in her observance of propriety, etiquette, and in showing difference to her superiors. It was as if somehow she was hiding behind the mask of duty and filial piety. It was at the same time, that I became too aware of something dark lurking inside her. The lurking monster Xux'yolwas'h'tekiya–The Blue Tiger of Jealousy. Though she never talked about Tem'ujin in anyone's presence, I would hear from the academy netmatrix, i.e. the academy gossip, that she was very much obsessed with anything about Temu'jin. Just hearing his name in a conversation would often change her mood as quick a lighting! That's when the Xux'yolwas–Blue Tiger would suddenly appear out of nowhere. And boy you had better get out of her way when that feline monster was about. It was the most frightening thing about Li’xiu…seeing her change like that, I mean. No matter what she did to hide it, her Blue Tiger was always there, lurking somewhere inside of her: hungry and ready to strike. I swear that whenever she was close to me, I could almost feel its raging hear inside her.”

Eoroal looked down and picked bits of detritus from his hooves and threw the remains out the cell door as he spoke. “Temujin, on the other hand had become something of an embarrassment to his family and the academy. He was too full of himself to care about such things as propriety. Or in demonstrating the proper respect, etiquette, or even of slightest diffidence to his superiors. It was like things has got all turned upside down inside of him? To Temu'jin it was as if everyone at the academy should be showing him proper respect. For that matter all the world should be showing him respect. Though looking back on it now, I wonder if all that braggadocio was also, just a mask? Just his way of hiding, but from who or what, I just can't say? In any case, the raging beast inside him, was a thing most feared by the fire caste of Vior'la, the Va'mon'qazdan'h'mineka–The Great Black Dragon of Ambition. The very word mineka–ambition denotes something unsavoury and distasteful for the Viorlan fire caste. And now Temu'jin had become the very epitome of that word, but then again, I suppose you already know all about this?”

“Yes, the word 'ambition' is quite the insult among the fire caste of Vior'la. But as I remember, Temu'jin's attitude was not disliked by all on Vior'la. For some in their fire caste, Temu'jin's record of achievement at the Righteous Strength outweighed all his problems with humility. At least for some in the higher fire caste any ways,” replied Qan'tel scratching his scraggy beard.

“Really namsai? I mean Acaya?”

“T'oh, yes. Anything to spite the 'pride of Tau'n'; that is to say Kiru's daughter Shas'saal Li'xiu. You see, ever since the founding of Vior'la sept a rivalry has existed between Vior'la and Tau'n.”

“T'eh? Wish I had known that at the academy. Then again, what could I have done with that information as a cadet?”

“Nothing, but I can understand your empathy.”

“Acaya, I have always thought the two of them complimented each other. Temu'jin and Li'xiu, how their natures and their ways of thinking matched up well.” Eoroal got up and walked around at Temu'jin's room as he talked. His words now seeming to come straight off the top of his head, “Its' like they're two halves of one shell, or the two edges of the same sword. Xhmm, that's a better metaphor, two edges of the same sword. Well, if they were ever in a joint command together, what a marvellous command team they would make. And you know namsai, I got a taste of that. A taste of what might have been? But only once on the Arachen campaign, when my squad was alongside both Li'xiu's squad and Temu'jin's squad.

Our cadre held the line for the better part of three rotaa when it was cut off from the main force. And during that time Temu'jin and Li'xiu, the two of them in effect became a joint command. It happened right after the first engagement; my squad leader had been killed, and the assistant squad leader then simply differed to the two of them. I don't know exactly how they organized and coordinated their commands, but it was like they were in sync via a command and control drone. It was like they knew each other’s thoughts, and could somehow anticipate what tactic the other was going to use. Weirdly for those three rota, talking to one became like talking to the other. Or sometimes it felt like you were talking to both of them at the same time, that how in sync they were? It's so hard to explain accurately…that's just what it was like. No arguments, no disagreements, just one a well thought out and executed command after another. And because of that most of us survived.

Those three rotaa was some of the most terrible fighting on in that campaign. I know you were there, and so I know you know what I'm talking about. Those Arachen either would drop out of the trees on top of you, or come out of the ground beneath your hooves; but the once thing they almost never did was come straight at you. And they could use their innate ability to make entanglements to great advantage. So we would advance down a clear path, only to get ambushed, but find out your exit blocked by their tangle webs. It was Temu'jin who almost instinctively figured out how to the counter to such an ambush. He had us rush straight into the attack, but the Arachen never anticipated such a response. And so we were then able to break out every time. Here's the thing though, the first time we did it, Li'xiu just followed his command, like she knew what he was intending.

Then it was Li'xiu who figured out how to turn the tables on the Arachen. She would follow-up the break out attack with a quick feigned withdrawal; which then drew them into a counter ambush. We killed more of them that way, then anything else we did. And the first time we did that break-out, retreat, ambush tactic; Temu'jin had no idea she was going to do it. And I know this because I later asked him about it later. Then, just as we rushed them, she suddenly gives the command to fall back. So we did just that, and then Li’xiu orders Temu'jin's squad and my squad, both to form up along the trail…and Temu'jin doesn't countermand the order? So we formed a line, and as the Arachen pursued Li'xiu's squad down the path, we cut them down. What an awesome feeling that was!” Eoroal eyes shown with pride as he spoke.

“Like Empress Tomoe and Emperor Xojinu, xhmm?” said Qan'tel quietly.

“NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT WAY? But yes, that's it exactly!” shouted Eoroal. “There is something very much of Emperor Xojinu and Empress Tomoe in the two of them. How tragic that they are rivals now…” said Eoroal with pain both in voice and on his face.

“T'ahh, for what might have been?” said Qan'tel and then he and Eoroal both let out a sigh.

Now in the sky above were great white clouds running like fast ships with the wind. The white clouds were running fast in pursuit of the black-grey storm rain clouds that had already sailed over the valley to the eastern mountains. All the while their ocean the sky was now become an intense green-blue. The delicate scent of desert flowers invigorated the two tau men sitting inside the dark cell. Eoroal slumped to the floor in doorway and let the sunlight warm his face before speaking again.

“Eoroal’kan, which was when the three of you were joined in ta'lissera wasn't it?” asked Qan'tel.

“Yes, it was. All of us who survived those three rotaa wanted to be ta'lissera. We thought of ourselves at that point as brothers and sisters; but of course Coalition Command immediately went broke up the cadre right afterwards. Which is a violation of the custom and tradition, but we didn't have a choice. And it was then that Li'xiu and Temu'jin, became not just brother and sister, but brother-husband and sister-wife. Well, that's when all of us made them become brother-husband and sister-wife.” Eoroal smiled, but then made a face like gas was passing through his second stomach into his large intestine. “It wasn't their choice at all to choose marriage.”

“T'ahhh. I knew somehow that wasn't their intention; then again none of your ta'lissera ever told us in command, just why it was the two of them had a 'change of heart'. But wasn't that also when you and Temu'jin's sister, what's her name? T'ah, you just it a little while ago…t'oh I remember now Borte. Wasn't that when you and Borte also became brother-husband and sister-wife?” said Qan'tel with a wry smile on his face.

“T'eh? Y-y-you knew about Borte and me?”

“Of course everyone in the Coalition command knew the details…But does your wife know?”

“T'ah…t'eh…t'oh…not exactly, but it's not uncommon for firewarriors bonded by ta'lissera to be husband and wife, rather than just as brother and sister,” said Eoroal defensively.

“True enough, but then why haven't you told Xux'yi?” Qan'tel leaned in and gave Eoroal and evil grin. “Why is that? Because maybe it wasn't your choice either? What did Temu'jin do? Say he'd marry Li'xiu only if you married Borte?”

“T'eh, something…like…that. Actually Li'xiu and Temu'jin both insisted that I join in ta'lissera as Borte's husband. You know it was Borte's idea that the two of them should be brother-husband and sister-wife.” Eoroal suddenly slapped his forehead and the screwed up his mouth. “T'AAAACH. That was probably her idea all along that somehow her and I would end up being married too!”

“And you never saw it coming did you boy? [/i]'Just as planned'[/i]!,” cackled Qan'tel.

“T'eh, never imagined it was all just a ploy to get me to marry her,” said Eoroal vigorously nodding and grinding his teeth plates.

“Pffft! Layoff the excuses man. She was in pursuit of you as far back at the academy. Seem to remember she was hot for you to take her to First Night,” laughed Qan'tel. “I also recall visiting you in hospital after she kicked you in the head and gave you a concussion. Didn't like hearing you were going to First Night with Xux'yi.”

“Honestly, she never let tell her who I was going with. She asked, 'Are you taken?' and I answered, 'Yes', and then she kicked me in the head.” Eoroal put his hand to left side of his head. “You know, I don't mind Virolan women, I-just-don't-want-to-be-married-to-one,” said Eoroal rubbing his head as if it still hurt all these years later.

“T'ah, but you are married to a Viorlan woman. You're still as much married to Borte as much as you’re to Xux'yi, or just as married as Temu'jin and Li'xiu are,” laughed Acaya Qan'tel.

“Not changing the subject, but have you heard of that new eugenics program instituted by Aun'Va? And about those new propagation centres everyone is supposed to visit?” asked Eoroal suddenly becoming serious.

“Yes I have. What the hell will that Aun'Va think of next? Damn my generation would've never put up with this kind of thing! Letting ourselves be bred like cattle? Why you find a nice girl, settle down, and have a herd of kids…”
“Been to one already…not a bad place actually. Rather nice in fact, kind of like a resort…a resort for young virile couples to…copulate and…t'ah, continue the species. Bet you can't guess who my 'breeding partner' was?”

“Borte? No, for real?” Qan'tel turned his dirty silver mane in Eoroal's direction.

“For real. I don't how she did it? I don't know how she got around the supposedly anonymous breeding selection; but I show up and who is there waiting for me in our beautifully decorated bedroom: Shas'Vre'Vior'la Bacitai. That was her rank name now: Bacitai–Cunning.”

“Fits doesn't it,” laughed Qant'tel out loud.

“You laugh wait till you hear what she said to me, 'Aye Eoroal it'll aw be crack after ye get me knocked up. Then the rest o’ the teem is jus' fer us!'” Eoroal paused and looked at his teacher, “YOU CAN STOP LAUGHING NOW. IT'S NOT THAT FUNNY!”

“HA-HA-HA, YES IT IS!” laughed Qan'tel folding over in the middle. “Serves you right for forcing Temu'jin and Li'xiu to marry. Ha-ha-ha! Payback is a real…hoof-to-the-head, isn't it?” Qan'tel laughed for a raik'or or two at his student’s expense.

Qan'tel stood up and stepping into the fore, looked up above at the tranquil turquoise blue sky, now mostly bereft of white cloud ships. In their place were the tiny winged shapes of the shas'anuk'la–firebirds, the large desert raptors that whirled in spirals as they rode the hot desert updrafts. Eoroal looked up from where he sat on the floor and watched the graceful birds along with his teacher, who had joined him in the fore.

“You know talking about marriage. Do you know who was the first to see that don't you?” said Qan'tel.

“See what? Propagation Centres?” asked Eoroal.

“No. That thing you said earlier about Temu'jin and Li'xiu being like Emperor Xojinu and Empress Tomoe?”

“No who?”

“Why it was Li'xiu's father Shas'O'Tau'n Kiru. He could see that when Temu'jin and Li'xiu were both still at the academy. Of course I was the one who introduced Temu'jin to Kiru,” said Qan'tel smiling.

“So y-y-you really did introduce Temu'jin to Kiru? I know that he had dinner with her father, but I don't remember him mentioning your name?” asked Eoroal.

“T'oh, that's because I told him not to mention me. You see it's a fire caste custom of Tau'n that the intermediary in a marriage proposal is to be seen but not heard. I was not to draw attention away from the discussion between the young man–Temu'jin, and the girl's father–Kiru,” said Qan'tel. The fire caste master moved past Eoroal and sat in the shade by the cell door. He smiled and his hands danced about as he spoke to his student. “Kiru was quite taken with Temu'jin and it was he would truly saw his potential. Mind you that was well before any of the staff at the academy, including myself, could really see it. Kiru was amazed at sharpness of Temu'jin's mind. He couldn't get over how keen Temu'jin's perception was, or at the clarity of his thoughts. Kiru marvelled at how Temu'jin could extrapolate from one small detail of training, just what the implications would be on the battlefield. He was stunned at the way Temu'jin could see how training in this or that tactic would affect a small unit engagement. Or how the same tactic would effect a battle all the way up to a large field action. And all of this from a student who had not yet seen combat. For sure, Temu'jin wasn't right about everything, but still as Kiru would oft say to me: 'Temu'jin is right more often than not, but how does he do it?'”

“Kiru could also see, before any of us could, just how his daughter Li'xiu and Temu'jin complimented each other. Not just in terms of war techniques, but also in temperament. He saw how they were psychologically well matched they were: Hot and Cold, Fire and Ice, Bold and Cautious. Kind of like what you were saying a little while ago?” Qan'tel became excited and his arms began to wildly about as he related his experience with Shas'O'Kiru.

“Now listen to this. He was utterly dumbfounded that his daughter could find such young tau man. Especially one so brilliant and who seemed to be able to put up with her, at least enough to marry her. Not only that, but to Kiru, this young firewarrior could very well be the most promising commander of a generation. Or the past four generations for that matter. And that his daughter Li'xiu could pick him from out from all of the available young firewarriors at the academy? What perception and foresight she had! And again he was thinking much like you were thinking, 'What kind of joint command would they make? ' Again, much as you have said. He once said to me 'The two of them could be like Empress Tomoe and Emperor Xojinu of Wa. Together, the two of them could lead our people across the galaxy!’” Qan'tel stopped and took a drink form his bottle.

“You know Kiru was very keen on having grandchildren. So of course he was thinking what kind of exceptional grandchildren Li'xiu and Temu'jin would produce as well,” said Qan'tel with a faraway look in his eyes.

“Yes and very sad that he still has no grandchildren to carry on the family line,” replied Eoroal.

“Yes, and what a loss for the Empire and Kiru!” added Qan'tel. “So, did Temu'jin ever tell you about his dinner with Shas'O'Kiru, and his encounter with the traditional water caste musicians that night?”

“T'eh…you mean the thing about the black lacquered fan the water caste geisha gave him?”

“YES. So you got to see the fan did you?” Qan'tel's eyes became very wide and leaned in close to Eoroal. “So did he ever redeem the fan?”

“T'ah y-y-you mean th-that's true? The whole thing about the geisha giving him the fan as a thank you for his complimenting her performance?” said Eoroal looked puzzled “All that about her being…t'eh, being trained in the Courtesan's Art of Love?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said Qan'tel smiling wickedly.

“And all that stuff about h-h-how if he wished have a night with her, that all he had was return the fan and redeem the favour? After his right-of-passage into manhood that is,” said Eoroal incredulously.

“Yes, that's right. And I can tell you that I personally saw her give him that fan,” replied Qan'tel smugly.

“And all this time I thought he made it up. H-h-he showed us the fan…but I sure bought it at gift shop somewhere on Vior'la. Never imagined it was true?” Eoroal slumped down on to the floor and looking deeply disappointed.

“Well did he redeem the fan or not? He wasn't supposed to tell anyone, but you were his mate. So he must have told you? WELL DID HE?” said Qan'tel his dirty blue face and shock of silver hair looming over Eoroal.

“I don't know Acaya? I all know is that he doesn't have it any more. The only thing he'd ever say about it was: 'I didn't lose the geisha's fan or give it away, but all I can tell you is I no longer have it in my possession. That's all he'd ever say, 'I no longer have it in my possession.'” answered Eoroal looking dejected.

“T'ahhh. Good for him then he redeemed it after all.”

Qan'tel smiled broadly and patted Eoroal on the shoulder. Eoroal now had a faraway look in his eyes and he let out a faint sigh. Qan'tel stooped down to look him in the face and asked, “What makes you sad Eoroal, the fact that the story was true, or that you didn't get to be with a geisha trained in the Courtesan's Art of Love? Or both xhmm?”

“No, Acaya I was just thinking about my own time…with a water caste courtesan,” said Eoroal wistfully.

“WHAT? You with a courtesan? When did that this happen Eoroal?”

“Xhmm, t'oh just before I came here. Which would have been at Li'xiu's promotion party on Tau'n. She threw this wild party to celebrate her achieving the caste rank of shas'el. Her sisters were there as well and both of them had achieved new caste rank as well…to shas'ui and shas'vre as I remember. But don't ask me which one gained what rank, I can't even remember their names…wait a moment Li'shas'ka'yi–Wild Star-Flower was her name,” said Eoroal brightly.

“Li'shas'ka'yi? Was that the name of one of Li'xiu's sisters?”

“No, no, that was the name of the water caste courtesan. Although that seems to be an awful poetic name doesn't it? I wonder it that was her given name or her professional courtesan's name? I don't really know? In any case I remember her name; because she smelled like shas'ka'yi–star flowers: succulent…sweet…aromatic and sensuous. And namsi her water caste curves…t'ahhh…they weren't anything like those of any fire caste woman that I've ever been with. Soft and supple…her breasts, I mean. T'oh and her nipples were…of the softest periwinkle colour…”

“Alright, are you pulling my beard? Because if you are I putting a hoof upside your head!”

“No not at all namsai. I really have been with a courtesan. You see, although Li'xiu appears to be quiet, modest, and dutiful, and always showing herself to be the very finest example of propriety and decorum in public. In private she does everything to the extreme. In other words she cuts loose her blue tiger. And then she's downright licentious, decadent even.” said Eoroal nodding his head.

“Any way Li'xiu threw this party for the four of us. She said that we would celebrate all of our promotions… mine included. She had this lavish spread in her apartment with loads of exquisite food and drink. There were the finest ky’husas, t’cars, and other expensive liqueurs. We each were given a traditional water caste silk kai'mo'nou, Li'xiu's and her sisters were in the traditional yellow Tau'n. While mine was in a deep Dal'yth purple with a pattern of orange-red star-flowers on it. 'Purple for Dal'yth and orange for Sac'ea' said Li'xiu. She also had another matching women's kai'mo'nou for me to send to my wife.” Eoroal grew excited as he recounted his story. “Quite a bit of forethought went into her plan, she even gave me a present to give to the wife. You know, to distract any suspicion away from me.”

Qan'tel walked back into the cell and sat down on the bed staring straight ahead as Eoroal spoke.

“Well anyway she hired these four water caste geisha, three males and one female. Now the three males were for Li'xiu and her sisters and the female was for me. The male geshia were most beautiful tau men I have ever seen. And as for Li'shas'ka'yi? Well, all I can say is that she was the most incredibly beautiful tau woman one could ever imagine. Hers was an unearthly beauty, as if she had been dropped right out of the court of some bygone emperor. Her kai'mo'nou was this elaborate arrangement of with layers deep blue silk and tied off with white silk cords. It had this unbelievable pattern of birds in flight done, all done in gold and silver brocade. Teeeyah, I'm getting carried away again aren't I?” said Eoroal in an intense, but cheerful manner. Then he pausing and looked into the cell at his teacher; but seeing the strange look on Qan'tel's face quickly turned away again.

“T'oh any way…although I thought they were all geisha, which turned out to be incorrect. Later Li'shas'ka'yi told me later that in fact they were not geisha at all. I remember her telling me: 'Geisha are just entertainers, but we are Courtiers and Courtesans. And as such we are trained as both musical entertainers in the salon, and sexual entertainers in the boudoir. We give pleasure with our singing and playing of instruments, but we also give pleasure with our bodies. We are so much more than geisha.'”

I mean I didn't even know that courtesans or courtiers still existed? They seems like something from a dream…a fantasy…or like something from a lyric opera! Maybe a fanciful historical romance? Who could have imaged?” Then Eoroal laughed out loud. “T'oh, there it is again. The legendary and mythic made real with Li'xiu and Temu'jin!” Eoroal stopped and looked around to his teacher, but Qan'tel's face was turning a dark blue. His face seemed angrier than when he was admonishing Eoroal earlier for being emotional.

“YOU with a courtesan? Who am I then? I'm the 'Hero of Dal'yth and the Damocles Gulf'. Like I should have been with…you know…I-I-I've never been…WHY YOU?” Qan'tel stood up and threw his hands about as he walked around circles. Turning and pointing a little finger at Eoroal sitting in the doorway said, “AND YOU'RE MARRIED A MAN EOROAL! Why, it's not like your sharing rations in the field with a female firewarrior? Besides that she was water caste! And you do know that cross caste matings are forbidden! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!” Qan'tel stopping his blustering and he stood there looking shocked. Then he said off handily, “Why were you so lucky?”

“T'ah, I take it then that you've never been with…been with a…courtesan then?”

“No never,” said Qan'tel sitting down again.

**End of Part IIA: Mid-Morning on the Mountain**
Last edited by TauMan on Dec 05 2015 03:51, edited 6 times in total.
Viro’los gu brath!

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Post#4 » Dec 17 2014 03:49


Everyone I'm really sorry if this comment doesn't meet the requirements for content, it's just I don't really have much to say except how I love this story...

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Post#5 » Dec 17 2014 06:55

Thank you for you feedback! You and one other person are the only folks that I know of that read something I posted here. Thanks again! :P

Take a look at The Dark Night of the Tau Soul post and the story 'And He Shall Know Fear', a little less humour and a bit more in the mystery/horror vein. Again thanks! ;)
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Post#6 » Jan 27 2015 09:51


UPDATE:12/04/2015 Version 2.0 Here is the link: http://docdro.id/moz8

Mid-Morning on the Mountain (Continued)

Everything was quiet for about thirty raik'or as Qan'tel suddenly decided he had to meditate. Outside a gentle breeze was now blowing as a small day-time ka'hui'la–owl sat perching on a cactus and searched for prey. The ka'hui'la disappeared suddenly, but then re-emerged with a small golden viper now in its' beak. Eoroal hoped it wasn't 'Miss Little Fang', and he would have to check later her usual hideouts just to be sure.

Qan'tel finally finished his meditation and opened his eyes and said, “Not that it would do me any good these days…at my age I'd probably have a cardiac infarction, or cardiac arrest, or whatever it is you call it?”

“Yes, namsai. You're probably right.”

“Eoroal'kan, couldn't you have humoured this old firewarrrior just once? You didn't have to go right off and agree with me,” said Qan'tel with more than a little hurt in his voice.

“Sorry namsai.” said Eoroal getting up off the floor to bow to his teacher.

“Don't suppose we could, xhmm…have another shot of that Viorlan single-malt vi’ky’husa do you?”

“T'oh, I suppose so…Wait a raik'or. Your just trying to finagle another shot of Temu'jin's vi’ky’husa aren't you?” said Eoroal suddenly stopping and turning around to face his teacher.

“No. No. Well…maybe?” answered Qan'tel scratching his beard.

“Aright just one more…” Eoroal then turned and slid the box over in front of the door. “Can't believe I am actually doing this.” He paused and looked back to frown at his teacher. “Never should have shown you where the vi’ky’husa was in the first place.” He then stepped on to the box, but then paused once more.

“Don't do it if really don't want to,” opined Qan'tel.

“Hang on. I said I'll get if for you,” said Eoroal over his shoulder. He stood on his tippy-hooves, and put his hand into the crevasse, but then pulled it out again to shake it off. Eoroal stood looking at the crevasse and then turned to look over his shoulder at his teacher. “Never should have let you take a drink of his single-malt…I am the one who’s going to have to replace it you know?”


“Aright, aright, here goes,” said Eoroal struggling a bit with a fair amount of digging around in the crevasse.

“Sorry about yelling at you just then Eoroal'kan…T'oh what is it now?”

“HIYATE. Here it comes,” shouted Eoroal finally retrieving the bottle. He stepped down off the box and without turning around, shoved the box back in place with his right hoof. He sat down on the bed next to his teacher and opened the flask. “You're cagey old kroot you know that don't you?” he said handing his teacher the flask.
Then as Qan'tel took a hit from the flask he said, “Going on and on about 'I never been with a water caste courtesan...' All that just to get me to give another drink of Temu'jin's twelve tau'cyr single-malt. Hoi, hoi, hoi, just a small one.”

“I was taking a small one. But I guessed you weren't going to have a drink, so I was having yours as well…”

“T'oh, please what a lame excuse,” replied Eoroal snatching away the flask and recapping it. Then he slid the box over once again, stood on it, and gently put it the bottle back. “Hopefully I did it right this time. If Temu'jin had to struggle to retrieve the flask, he'd know someone for sure someone has been into it,” said Eoroal grimacing.

Eoroal once again replaced the box, but then looked out the door to stare across the desert. He could see a desert doean'search'maa–steppe hare as it scurried from one tumble-thistle bush to another, stopping to sit completely still under one bush, just the way it's instincts told it to. The next moment a shadow of a desert raptor crossed over the bush, so the hare's instincts had served it well. Eoroal turned his back to the outside world and reached down inside himself to pick up his chain of thought.

“Actually namsai, I want to get back to something I said earlier. Getting the flask down made me think of it again. When I said Li'xiu was trying to steal his vi’ky’husa that wasn't it. That's not what she was doing here at all. Li'xiu still thinks she still has ownership of Temu'jin; and so therefore, she can do whatever she wants to do with his things. Because you see namsai, they never really got a divorce,” said Eoroal looking embarrassed.

“So when I said Li'xiu was going through Temu'jin's things, what I should have said was she was cleaning his room. That is to say she was cleaning her husband's domicile. Tidying up the place as it were, just the way any dutiful wife might.” Eoroal's face turned a deep blue for the third time that day.

“That morning Temu'jin and I had just arrived from a morning meditation at the Upt'retal–Little Mountain Shrine. And we had just walking up to his cell, when we heard someone singing. Temu'jin and me sneaked up to the opening and peeked around the corner of the stone there and looked in,” said Eoroal pointing to the fore. “From there we could see Li'xiu singing as she folded his laundry. She had swept and straightened up the whole place. Put flowers in bowl by the window over there; and had hung little basket of cactus fruit at the head of the bed here. We looked at each other and decided to beat a retreat. But it was too late and Li'xiu turned around and caught us looking in. To this day I have never seen such an expression of horror and shame on anyone's face. She turned the deepest shade of blue, dropped everything, and ran out of the cell. We bowed keeping our heads down, but when I looked up to look at Temu'jin's face, it was almost the same shade as hers. We didn't see Li'xiu for about ten rotaa, but when we did see again, she just acted like nothing had ever happened.” Eoroal looked disappointed and then said, “Hard to believe isn't it that we're all mid-ranking firewarriors; or that all of us are about to step into the upper echelons of command, t'eh?”

Eoroal sat up and looked out the door and over the desert. There he saw the heat of the Dal'yth's sun dry up the few wet places left by the rain. The pools were drying fast, even as a doean'hui'la or a doean'serch'maa took a sips from the water pooled on top of rocks or in low places. Soon all the water not soaked up by the ground, was again vapour, rising invisibly into the sky above Mount Kan'ji. Eoroal look a deep breath before beginning again.

“Not that Temu'jin doesn't have his own adolescent behaviours where it concerns Li'xiu, because in fact he does. Temu'jin has this tendency to addresses her by 'inappropriate' names in the middle of public conversations. At the academy he'd use to calls her Ynege'kir–Coyote-dog (Pervert), or a Noyea'kirsa–Princess Fox (Slut), but it turns out she secretly liked both of those names, especially the last one. So he gave up calling her those names. However there was one name that he never gave up calling her, and that was Tai'lhas–White Jade. After their falling out at the academy, he would turn around all of a sudden and call her by that name. And of all the things he ever said to her, that one, was the one that really made her mad. It was the one thing that definitely turned her eyes blue every time he said it! Now it's been a long, long time since I've heard him call her that; but then last night, not long after we uncorked the first bottle of red rice wine he says, 'So Tai'lhas, I take it you're looking forward to putting me to shame, when you take command at the end of our stay here?'”

“HEYAAHH. Eoroal'kan that's a terrible name to call anyone. Do you know who Tai'lhas was?” asked Qan'tel.

“Not really namsai? I do know that knives made of white jade were used to assassinate emperors and other high nobility, and later onI believe even…ethereals?”

“Do you really not know who Tai'lhas was then? Tai'lhas was a mont’au era assassin, who with great skill and finesse, killed all enemies of then Wa Emperor. And to commit her murders she used a set of specially made tai'lhas'xan–white jade daggers, and so hence the origins of her name. Tai'lhas killed anyone the Emperor commanded her to, be they noble or commoner. Whoever it was that was a threat to the Emperor died at her hands. However, she also assassinated members of the imperial household, especially those family members who were too close to the line of succession. Tai'lhas eventually killed off every heir to the throne, and in the end the Emperor himself. You probably know Tai'lhas by her other name, Xux'Wuanxe–The Blue Empress, or as maybe you know her better as Kisun'Wuanxe–The Blood Empress.

“T'ohhh, that Tai'lhas! No wonder Li'xiu wants to kill Tem'ujin,” said Eoroal, as his face went ashen grey, and turning to his teacher he asked, “Maybe we should have another drink namsai?”

“Well, I won't turn it down that's for sure.”

Only after the flask was retrieved, another round was drunk, and then the flask was returned; only then did both of tau men sit down on the bed again. Finally they looked at each other.

“Why would Li'xiu' take a rank name like Shas'El'Lhas'nan–Jade Dagger? A rank name that would invoke the title of an infamous assassin and vicious tyrant? A name that is so very close to the one Temu'jin uses to taut her with? It’s like she's flinging his taunt right back at him?”

“Or taking ownership of it?” offered Qan'tel.

Then Eoroal got up and stood in the door way of the Temu'jin's cell and scanned the blue-green sky. He nodded his head and said under his breath, “Lhas'nan? Lhas'nan? What snae’ta name to call oneself?” Then suddenly clinching his fists he spoke loudly to the sky, “And what about Temu'jin's rank name, xhmm? Shas'El'Ran'eoran Heart of High Courage, that is to say Braveheart. Seriously…Braveheart? What a pretentious and arrogant name! It's like he's the protagonist from some classical Seven Warring Empires opera, something like Farewell My Consort.”

Eoroal then spun around and giving his teacher a look of disgust said, “I can just see Temu'jin now standing on stage, with his face all painted up in five different colours, wearing azure silk robes and gold chrome plastic armour. Then while he waves around a prop sword as he sings: 'Lo, it is I General Wu'tang'shi. Tra-la-la-la. And be of courage for I have come to lead the defence of the 1,100 Forts! Tra-la-la-la. Lo, it is I who will lead the defence against the northern barbarians! Tra-la-la-la.'”

Eoroal nodded his head and looked back out the door to the desert, but then snickering to himself then said, “But come to I think about it, I'd be on that stage as well wouldn't I? My rank name sounds like something out of bad martial arts holovid, where all the major characters have allegorical names like Pride, Kindness, Anger, Sloth and Righteousness. So I would fit right in there with the lot as Shas'El'Lynu–The Knight of Steadfastness. Guess, I'd probably also be right up there on the stage leading the chorus in singing: 'O General Wu'tang'shi, we welcome you. La-de-da. La-de-da. O General Wu'tang'shi, we welcome you! We welcome you and your Warriors of Justice! La-de-da. La-de-da. La-de-da-da-da.' Yeah, that would be me aright El’Lynu–Knight of Steadfastness.

“Tai'Lhas became the Kisun'Wuanxe then? Xhmm…in some terrible way it all fits doesn't it? For all of Li'xiu's public humility, devotion to duty, for all her diffidence and acquiescence to the will of those in authority; she is in truth an ambitious glory seeker. Li'xiu's a seething cauldron of jealousy, envy, and wanton ambition! Underneath all that calm, serene exterior, lurks a true Xux'yolwas, always pacing and always hungry!”

Eoroal turning to Qan'tel pleaded, “Yes, yes Acaya, I know I'm repeating myself here. But if you knew Li'xiu the way I do…you would be able to see it too. Sadly, she has become consumed by Temu'jin's career.” Eoroal threw out his arms and looking desperately at his teacher.

“Because Acaya, you have to understand something about Li'xiu. She is not only chaffing from Temu'jin’s fame and success; which somehow she deems should be rightfully hers? I really don't understand how that works? But she is also indignant that…well she's indignant that Temu'jin even exists. It’s as if…it's as if he were to disappear tomorrow, then suddenly she would be recognized as the ‘Hero of the Empire’ she always was. As if Aun'Va would turn around and just hand her the hero's mantle? It's like she would be finally recognized as superior to Temu'jin.” Eoroal who had been speaking excitedly, now paused and closed his eyes.

Beneath one tumble-thistle a drowsy doean'yow'la–short-tailed steppe cat opened its' mouth to yawn, but then it rolled over onto its back and close its’ eyes. Thus the doean'yow'la missed entirely the small doean'hui'la bird, hiding under the bush only a paw's length away. Eoroal took a drink of water and after that resumed talking.

“Sadly, namsai, I have no idea what to do about Li'xiu?” said Eoroal looking tired.

“Just for the record Eoroal I do see it. I see the xux'yolwas consuming your ta'lissera sister Shasl'El'Lhas'xan,” said Qan'tel nodding his head 'no'. Then he added, “And I too am dumbfounded as to what to do about it. But please continue…”

“Temu'jin, for his part, is all show. In public he puts on a great face of the confidence, the La'r'nan'saal–Divine Hero Boy. The lad with great expectations of glory and victory, the very hope and salvation of the Empire. And though he never boosts or brags about his achievements; he also doesn’t dissuade those who polish and burnish his reputation. But as the adoration and praise is showered upon him, he becomes uncomfortable and uneasy. I have seen him at events where others lavish praise on him and at first he basks in their adoration. Then as the event goes on a dark cloud overtakes him. Temu'jin grows quiet and the smile leaves his face, and the longer the event goes on, the more sombre he becomes. Later in private he will be anxious, apprehensive, and even resentful at all the praise he has received. Temu'jin is almost ashamed of his reputation; until he becomes the veritable Tai'qazdan'–White Dragon Who Contemplates the Suffering of the World.

This is not to say he isn't looking back to see whose hooves steps are following close behind him; because he certainly is. Temu'jin is both proud and afraid of Li'xiu’s achievements. He will be overjoyed at hearing of her latest victory and yet jealous of her at the same time. He will be excited to learn, what new achievement his former lover…I mean his wife has made. But then he becomes fretful and distraught at the same time? It is as if some assassin were following close on his spurs. Wait…an assassin on his spurs?” For the third time that morning Eoroal grabbed his head in his hands.

“That's it, Lhas'xan–Jade Dagger!” said Eoroal looking at his teacher.

“Tai'Lhas–White Jade!” said Qan'tel looking at his student.

The two tau men now looked up at the crevasse in the ceiling and without saying another word, Eoroal scrambled up and retrieved the flask from its’ hiding place. Each of them then took a long hit of the Vior'lan single-malt vi’ky’husa.

T'ahhh…Namsai…last night…Lhas'xan…I mean Li'xiu, she said something that…” Eoroal stared at his teacher breathing hard. “She said something terrible. It was late and the two of them were quite drunk. The two of them lay with their heads on the table, Temu'jin was pretty much out and Li'xiu was almost gone herself. She was stroking his head and his queue and then turned and whispered to me:

You know I’m going kill him don’t you? I’m going to kill Temu'jin. He use to tell me, 'Only one can stand in the sun…and live, while the other…who stands in the shadow…must die.' That's what he used to say to me Kais. Like a plant don't you see? Just…like a plant…the one in the shadow dies. We both can’t be heroes?'

“She reached over and pulled me close to her: 'You see Kais, for me to succeed others must fail. And Temu'jin…well he just won't fail, and he won’t go and go and get himself killed…So I'll have to do it for him.’ Then she twists her hand around his queue tightly and pulls hard; all the while making like she’s cutting his throat with a knife. And she says, ‘Even if you leave Temu'jin…and run away. Even if you run to the very ends of the galaxy…to the very ends of the galaxy itself…I’ll find you and kill you. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, I'LL KILL YOU TEMJUIN. DO YOU HEAR ME? I-love-you-so-much-Temu'jin. I'll-kill-you. I-love-you…kill you…love you…kill you. I love you…so…so…much…Tem-ujin…I’ll…kill…you!’ Then her head hit the table.’”

“T'ah, so that’s when you decided on the ‘decision ritual’?” asked Qan'tel

“Yes, that was the moment I decided to act,” replied Eoroal.

Eoroal looked down now at his hooves and casually kicked at the stone lintel of the door with his right hoof. A small vi'hoi'tchulia–pink tchulia lizard scampered out from beneath the water jugs and shot past Eoroal into Temu'jin's room.

“Well at least Temu'jin won't have to worry about getting stung by a mon'mal'nemal–little black stinging scorpion with that little pink fellow in his room.”

“And they don't spit poison like the bigger red and green tchulias do,” chimed in Qan'tel.

“Namsai, I sometimes think of Temu'jin and Li'xiu as being characters out of some tragic historical romance. You know the ones' where two knights from opposing sides meet on the battlefield, but then fall in love? Neither can slay the other, even though they are sworn enemies; but neither can they stop fighting, as they are sworn to serve their feudal lords.” Eoroal turned back toward his teacher, “And then there are these stories where will be these two warriors from rival clans have previously fallen in love, but are now forced to face each other as enemies. Eventually they have to fight each other, and one of them will manage to somehow kill the other. That's what I think of Temu'jin and Li'xiu sometimes: 'Just another blood-soaked story of romantic love!'”

“You wouldn't know this, but my mother of all people loved those kinds of stories. She especially liked the ones where the two knights fight all day; only to then surreptitiously meet at night to make love. Before then separating tearfully at daybreak to resume making war. She loved those stories with their antique and romantic titles like: Red Phoenix and Blue Wolf; Firesky Meets River-Winding-Through-Gorge; and Noble Rabbit Slays Her Lover Green Tiger. But what she liked the most were those final scenes where the heroine, and for some reason it was always the heroine, is portrayed holding her dying lover in her arms. This is of course is just after she has just run him through with her sword. Then as the heroine holds his lifeless corpse, which still has the sword sticking out of its' chest she cries, 'I shall love you always Green Tiger. When I give birth to our baby boy and he is old enough to ask me how you died. I will tell him how you died valiantly fighting your most hated foe Noble Rabbit, his mother.'

“It was at this point that my mother would totally lose it and she'd start sobbing and crying. And I'd was always thinking, 'Why does she watch these holovids if they make her cry?' Then for a while there I was scared that I'd come home one day to find my mother holding my dad in her arms and him with a sword was sticking out of his chest. I remember asking my dad once if he and mum where really in love, and if so, did it mean, 'That mum has to stick you with a sword?' He laughed and told me 'No', but then he added, 'But just to be on the safe side, if do you find any swords lying about, you should probably go ahead and hide them.'

“So you can see why as kid I just couldn't stand those romance stories, even when they made them into 3-D holovid cinema. Even when there were casts of thousands recreating epic medieval battles. Now my father only really interested in the martial art scenes. He was always pointing out how this or that wasn't realistic, 'You know people can't actually fly through the air like that? It's only because they wearing gravchute packs under their costumes that they can fly like that.' And my mother would be like all, 'It's a love story, it doesn't matter if it's realistic or not. You go spoil everything Or'es'ka.'”

“Those holovids were all fake of course, except when came to the love scenes; which were quite authentic had very graphic sex in them. So when the love scenes came on, then it was time for all us kids to go to bed. But as I kid I didn't care about all that 'lovey-dovey stuff', with all the grunting, groaning, and bodily fluids spurting out everywhere. The only bodily fluid I wanted to see spurt were the geysers of blue blood, also fake, whenever somebody got stuck with a sword.” Eoroal giggling a bit looked over at his teacher and nodding his head in apology said, “Sorry, I wandered off topic again didn't I?”

“T'ach, who cares? I caught you're drift…Li'xiu and Tem'ujin are pair of 'star-crossed-warrior-lovers' fated to meet and kill each other in battle. I can just her the voice over now: 'Will Red Firebird leave her liege lord? Will Blue Tiger leave his wife Lady Willow Branch? Which one of them will slay the other? Or will they slay each other? Tune in tomorrow for another episode of 'Tragic Warrior Lovers.' T'ah, you see my mother watched them too. Very tragic indeed and of course terribly romantic.” Qan'tel then looked at Eoroal and said, “I do want to remind you however, that some of those stories aren't entirely fictional. In fact some are based on actual historical events. The entire history around the Seven Warring Empires period has at least half a dozen real life 'star-crossed-warrior-lovers' stories. All of which involved documented events and real people; but those stories are very bloody, quite terrible, and most are not at all romantic.”

“I hope…I hope I didn't give the impression that Temu'jin and Li'xiu's story was a romantic one? Because it that's not the case at all. However if they don't come to terms with whatever it is that's between them, then going forward from now on, it will be tragic!”

“Don't give it another thought Eoroal. Go ahead forget I said that. Say, let’s have another swig of that vi’ky’husa?” The two tau men then each took another drink from Temu'jin's flask.

“My dear Eoroal, you do know that it is not your responsibility to fix your friends' relationship?” said Qan'tel looking down at his student seated on the floor. “You have a responsibility to speak up about their short comings as regards to their personal conduct; as commanders in positions of authority; and even as regards to their relationship to each other. But you do know that you are not responsible for changing their lives? They must do that for themselves. You do understand this don't you?”

Eoroal shook his head 'yes'.

“So why is it so important to you Eoroal, that beyond the relationship to each other, that they reconcile? Why did you say earlier, 'as to be a danger to themselves and others'; and just now you spoke of it being 'tragic', all of which implies some other greater danger?

“Acaya Qan'tel, it is the opinion among some of our caste that Temu'jin and Li'xiu are potentially two of the greatest military minds of this generation. This is an opinion that is held by not by just a few either; and some of high rank, who have considerable combat experience. And to this opinion I must also add my own, although I think that so far neither Li'xiu nor Temu'jin have truly been tested. What each will eventually accomplish in the service of the Tau Empire has yet to be seen; since their talents and abilities have yet to be revealed. The problem is namsai…the problem is that they are both distracted by their rivalry. Their energies are more focused upon each other and with each other's careers; than with fulfilling the destiny of our people and the mission of the Tau'va. And the tragedy isn't just that these two, who were once lovers are now bitter rivals; but that their rivalry now influences others around them. Younger firewarriors are saying, 'I follow the way of Shas'El'Lhas'nan and the Patient Hunter School.'; or 'I follow Shas'El'Ran'oeran and the path of the Killing Blow School. ' This cannot be namsai. We must be united as a caste and as a people. Already there are political factions aligning themselves behind one or the other, and not just in the fire caste of Tau'n or Vior'la either. But among other castes and other sept worlds well.” Eoroal stood up and moved closer to his teacher, but then looking up at the sky again he said, “The seeds of dissent and discord are being unknowingly sown by two of my closest friends; and yet they are unaware of what they are doing, or what danger may come of it.”

“Eoroal you may count me as among those of our caste who think that Temu'jin and Li'xiu are 'two of the greatest military minds of this generation'. However if would you please add another name to that list, the name of Shas'El'Lynu.”

Eoroal was suddenly shaken from his thoughts by hearing his rank name, and looking over at his teacher nodded vehemently 'NO'.

“No? Please understand Shas'El'Lynu that I do not make this request lightly. I receive many petitions from those seeking to become acolytes on Mount Kan'ji. Now in the last two tau'cyr I given my permission to only three such petitions: Temu'jin's, Li'xiu's, and yours.” Looking Eoroal directly in the eys he said, “Shas'El'Lynu you yourself must be careful for what you do and what you say also influences others. And though you may not be aware of it, you also have a political following, like it or not.”

“Acaya Qan'tel unfortunately I am all too aware of my influence. There are those who call themselves the followers of 'Victory Through Individual Action School', or followers of 'Shas'El'Lynu'. I hear them whisper behind my back, 'Tread quietly for our teacher Acaya Lynu is coming.' What utter rubbish. But I do take heed of that fact Acaya and so now it is I who must tread lightly among my junior firewarriors. These days I say very little and only offer an opinion when I am required to do so.”

The wind heated by the sun now stirred the branches of the tumble-thistle and the long spindly spines of the purple cactus plants. The heat bore down on the ground and a wave of hot air blew across the mountain top. Only an occasional tchulia lizard or shas'anuk'la raptor was seen to move in the increasing heat of the desert morning.

“Eoroal there are forces larger than Temu'jin, Li'xiu, or yourself at work here. You alluded to others burnishing Temu'jin's reputation and that is in fact true. There are others however are also encouraging Li'xiu's jealousy and envy.” Qan'tel let the weight of his words settle on Eoroal. “I know you wonder why during the Archaen campaign that your cadre, once having become ta'lissera, was quickly be broken up? Especially after the successful demonstration of Li'xiu's and Temu'jin's 'joint command'? Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason all of you were in the same cadre, a highly unusual arrangement as you pointed out, might have just been to test such a joint command?”

“Yes I have,” said Eoroal looking closely at his teacher, “My guess is you had a hand in creating that unusual arrangement? Did you Acaya?” Eoroal's stared hard at his teacher.

“Yes, I did, as well did Shas'O'Kiru and Shas'O'Gor'dun, Temu'jin's father. As well as several others from the Righteous Strength Academy who also wanted to see the Li'xiu and Temu'jin matched together in a command. And that included Shas'O'Sha'kan'thas as much as anyone else. I know there were rumours that she hated Temu'jin, but nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately there those who did not want to see it happen, but when they couldn't stop it from happening, they did their utmost to see it fail. Ever wonder why your cadre was cut off for those three rotaa?”

Eoroal wagged his head 'yes'.

“That's because the supporting cadres on either side of your cadre were withdrawn. Now Eoroal all of us in the Coalition Command opposed the withdrawal of the other cadres, but we were over ridden.”

“No. Who would abandon firewarriors engagement? The fire caste doesn't leave a man behind. Why we don't even abandon our dead, let alone the living?” said Eoroal angrily.

“Eoroal this may come as a shock to you, but many of those who opposed Temu'jin's and Li'xiu's 'joint command' were from the ethereal caste. Not all of the Ethereal caste mind you, but enough to make a consensus among the Ethereal leadership. This allowed them to order the withdrawal of those other cadres.” Qan'tel looked lowered his head and looking deeply troubled. “Eoroal, as the ancient saying goes: 'There are too many hands disturbing the waters, so that the shaman cannot see the heavens.'”

“Eoroal there are those who wish to stir up trouble between Vior'la and Tau'n. Then there are those who do not want to see a unified fire caste. There are also those in the fire caste who are jealous at the successes of any one of the three of you, and who would derail all three of your careers. Then there are outside forces, and by that I mean, outside of our sphere of control, who do not want to see a strong Tau Empire. All of these groups have a hand in keeping Li'xiu and Temu'jin distracted, jealous, and at each other's throats.”

“You see I too hoped that Li'xiu and Temu'jin had, 'chucked it all out the airlock door' as you so vividly put it, but it appears that is not to be the case. Like you I too had hoped that their talents and abilities would allow them to see past the meddlers and peddlers, to see the strength that could be theirs if they were united. Or at least that I might be able to facilitate a 'healing' between the two of them. And again that appears to have been futile as well. However, that is why I allowed the three of you to join me here on Mount Kan'ji.”

“Now I am really feeling despondent namsai. If there are ethereals who wish antagonism between Li'xiu and Temu'jin; what hope is there for our caste, our people, our empire.”

“Be faithful to the Tau'va and someday those who lead our people astray will lose the 'mandate of heaven'. But until that time Eoroal, that though there are many who oppose the three of you, there are also many who support the three of you. And they have facilitated the three of you coming here to Mount Kan'ji. It is those same individuals and groups who now are striving for the kind of unity and strong empire that you and I both wish for. Although I must add that Aun'Va has another agenda for bringing the three of you together on Mount Kan'ji, but I shan’t speak of it at this time. For now let us both keep to the path of the Tau'va.”

“Yes Acaya.”

Far out across the desert the ground was absorbing the heat of the Dal'yth's sun. The heat waves danced and shimmered, bending the light to create ghostly reflections; as if some distant lake, were mirroring the sky at the horizon. The mirage or shas'erra–shadowsun as the tau call it, seemed to capriciously appear and disappear, much like the desert spirit for which it was named.

Eoroal got up, stretched then sat down on a bag of rice and then set eyes on the turquoise blue sky above. “Do you know namsai what the gue'la think we're doing right now, right at this very moment?” he said looking over at his teacher. “They think we are all in some great training dome. Furthermore, they think that you Acaya Qan'tel, or teachers like you, do nothing all day but run endless battle simulations for their students. It's true they do. As if any simulated battle is where the lesson is learned?” Eoroal laughed and smiled as he pointed to the sky above, “But above us is the only training dome anyone ever needed, the dome of the Eternal Blue Sky.” Then pointing down at the t'xa board said, “And here is the only battle simulation that anyone ever needed. A t'xa board with white and black stones.” He turned and got down on his haunches in front of the t'xa board and reaching over picked up two t'xa pieces, one white and one black.

“I don’t know why it took me so long to learn your teachings Acaya? Why it took so long for me to understand the lesson you were trying to convey? But, when I did get it…it came all of a sudden. Zhoom. Like a bolt of lightning from the Eternal Blue Sky. At first I understood nothing and everything was a fog, but in an instant…then I understood everything!” Eoroal looked at his teacher with eyes glinting with wonder.

“Acaya, do you know when I understood the lesson? What moment the understanding came to me?” asked Eoroal as gently threw open his arms wide. “It was when I standing there in the middle of the two of them…just after finishing the last two strands of their hair. I stood up and looked down at the two of them and then I got it! Eoroal tapped the two pieces together again and stared intensely at his teacher, “Standing in between…in the middle…in the centre between the two of them. THAT'S WHEN I GOT IT!”

“Xhmm, please proceed,” said Qan'tel wagging his head as Eoroal dropped the two stones into his hand.

Eoroal took a moment to compose himself and then quietly began his dissertation. “Here is the lesson Acaya. I this got this inkling, when I was…no, wait back up, start again.”

Eoral paused for a moment, his expression was focused but his words were calm and flowed freely from his lips, “First off there is only one lesson. Not multiple lessons, just one. Just one lesson.” Eoroal paused to emphasize his point. “Secondly, the lesson is applied to all paths, castes, and ways of life, work and yes, of war. That is why you have students from all of the castes on Mount Kan'ji: earth, air, water and fire. Third, the lesson is right-there-in-my-hand.” Eoroal took the two pieces from his teacher and tapped them gently together. He held each of the stones close to his face and examining each one carefully.

“Some say that there are any separate and opposing paths. This is a false dichotomy. The two, or four, or eight sides of something are really not different at all, but they are all parts or pieces of the same thing. Just as the ancients believed that all the elements are all equal and were needed to create the world: earth, air, water, fire, and celestial spirit. So we believe that all the five castes are equally important and necessary for society: Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Celestial. So too are all the virtues of the Tau'va: Altruism, Righteousness, Propriety, Knowledge, Integrity, and Steadfastness. As all of them are necessary to make up the Tau'va–Greater Good.”

“Therefore, the lesson is…All Are One.” Eoroal tapped the black and white stones together, and with a little slight-of-hand, produced one single grey stone. “The lesson is All Are One.” he repeated dropping the stone into his teacher’s hand.

“Xhmm,” said Qan'tel looking at the grey stone.

“Night cannot exist without day, or day without night. Male cannot exist without female, or female without male. There can be no life without death, or death without life. Nor can conflict exist without resolution, or peace without war. Black and white are true opposites, but no more than are male or female. Without the black ink, then all the calligrapher has is a piece of white starch paper; but without the white starch paper, the calligrapher has only a bottle of black ink, he has nothing but untapped potential.”

Eoroal was now fired up with enthusiasm and he spoke joyfully, “One of the ancient symbols of for the Tau'va is the symbol of the two water drops intertwined creating the circle of life. The two drops of water, one dark and one light, are the pairing of opposites that make up the universe, the Xi–male and Xe–female energies. Once again there is light and dark, night and day, etcetera and so forth and so forth. But most of us miss the fact that is a third piece of the symbol, the circle itself. Here is the life, or the Ni–Life Energy, that results from the pairing of opposites. The forces are at once in competition…and in conflict…colliding with one another; but it is this very conflict or collision of energies that life arises. Or to put it another way, The Circle of Life and here again it is again All Are One.”

“So, what is the conflict between Temu'jin’s school of Mont'ka, which favours close combat versus Li'xiu’s school of Kauyon, that favours long range engagement? There appears to be conflict, yes? But then again not really. Temu'jin’s Killing Blow School is in truth a compliment to Li'xiu’s Patient Hunter School. For without the Patient Hunter the Killing Blowv never arrives. One cannot strike the blow unless one knows the enemy and has been able to place him into the correct position to strike. And [i]The Patient Hunter is useless without the Killing Blow, since once the enemy is in the correct position; then it is not possible to achieve victory by merely slapping the enemy. One must in fact strike the Killing Blow.”

“Likewise my own Monat'shi–Victory Through Individual Action School may seem to be in conflict with Shas'El'Fal'shi’s Or'es'or'ka–Great Strength, Great Strike School, but in fact they are complimentary. In same manner as before, they are two sides of the same object. Two halves of the same shell. Because no success is gained through a small unit engagements, or Individual Action, unless it is a component of a larger Great Strength operation. Similarly the massing of large formations in Great Strength, Great Strike cannot achieve victory, unless within the mass of forces, the individuals or individual units act to achieve victory. Do you see Acaya? There it is again the lesson of the Tau'va…All Are One.”

Eoroal once again produced the two t'ka pieces he was hiding and placed them back on the t'xa table. Then standing up he turned and stepped outside Temu'jin's cell into the desert morning. Outside the Dal'yth star was centred in the blue-green sky and the desert bloomed with red, yellow, blue, green and white flowers. Eoroal stood silent for a moment as Qan'tel watched from the entrance of the fore. A ur'hui'la sprang out from under a red cactus dashing past Eoroal with a pink tchulia lizard in its' beak, it stopped at the entrance of Temu'jin's cell, tilted its' head to one side, and glanced over at Qan'tel.

“Good morning bird, sorry I but don't remember your name,” said Eoroal looking down at the creature. Then with a nonchalant bob of the head, the bird dashed around and past the Sword Saint of Dal'yth, and then with a flap of his wings, went up and over the top of Temu'jin's cell.

“That's Temu'jin's upstairs neighbour, just can't recall his name at the moment,” said Eoroal looking at his teacher, then smiling he returned to his revelation. “Now here is the second part of the lesson Acaya. Balance in all things.”

Eoroal's words now began to tumble out in an ecstatic rush, “Balance is the key. Where there are any two, or four, or eight, or a thousand energies, points of view, options, opinions, courses of action…THEN with balance comes the knowledge to choose which course…or opinion, or option, or point of view…to take. All are one, but the discernment to choose which course to take…that requires harmony and balance. From the outside one cannot see beyond the superficial differences. On the outside one lacks the ability to distinguish between the possible choices; but with balance and harmony, one can see the underlying truth and unity of all sides. And with this discernment the Firewarrior can choose the appropriate battle tactic that is needed at the moment. Whether to say choose Killing Blow or The Patient Hunter.” Eoroal's eye's flashed with fire. “And with this discernment allows the Architect to choose which building material to use in erecting a new structure. With this discernment the Diplomat can choose which argument is the most effective path of persuasion. The discernment allows the Astro-navigator to chart the safest course another star system. You see it applies to all castes. So if one strives for balance and harmony, then one can see beyond the conflict and beyond the surface to discover the correct path.”

Eoroal turned and looking east and then spoke as he where reciting a sutra:

All are one.
In the centre is balance
Balance in all things
Harmony reveals the choices
All are one.

As the opposite forces Xi and Xe create the Ni (the life energy)
There is no life without conflict
But there are no opposites.
Balance and Harmony creates Ni
All are one.

There is no difference in quality or essence of
The five elements,
The five virtues,
The five castes.
All are one.

Balance and harmony in all things
All are one.

Eoroal's face seemed full of light and he felt such joy as he could not remember ever experiencing, but then stopping he said, “I really botched that one up didn’t I? I mean what was I thinking?” Eoroal's hands now flailed about in confusion. “What the hell was that anyway? Last night it was all there. I mean I had it all in my head…it was…it was…r-r-ight there. But that sounded like a load of metaphysical *BAD WORD DELETED!*, a total mishmash of half-baked pretentious philosophical crap, doused with a liberal dose of pseudo religiosity.” Eoroal stopped and dropped his hands to his side. “I am so, so, very sorry namsai. I-I-I don’t know how…I don’t know how I got it all so wrong. Really, last night it…it was so very clear. I really am sorry namsai.”

Eoroal turned back to Qan'tel, but not seeing him anywhere said, “Namsai?” Eoroal looked back at Temu'jin's cell said and saw no one. “Namsai? Where did you go?” Then turning to his right, he looked up the trail to his and Li'xiu’s cell, but still he saw no one. Then becoming frightened he did a complete 360º scan of his surroundings, but still there was no one. “Namsai. NAMSAI. ACAYA QAN'TEL.”

Eoroal paused a moment to look down at his hooves and saw his teacher lying prostrate in front of him. “Namsai? T'ah…are…are you alright? Namsai?” he said bending over to look at the prone body of his teacher.

That’s when Qan'tel sat up his knees and prostrated again to Eoroal.

“No, no, you don’t do that…please, please stop namsai.”

Qan'tel then made another prostration.

“I’m embarrassed namsai…Acaya.…please stop!”

“Now it time for you to leave Mount Kan'ji,” said Qan'tel getting up from the ground.

The teacher looked at his student and putting a hand on his shoulder saying, “Shas'El'Dal'yth Lynu I can teach you nothing more. You have learned the teaching, professed your knowledge, and…” Qan'tel pointed with his chin towards Eoroal’s cell, “…and you have even given a lesson.”

With that last statement he bowed deeply to his former student. Eoroal almost forgot his manners bowing a moment too late.

“T'ah…that’s it then?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s it.”

“I really got it?”

“Didn’t I just say that? Eoroal weren’t you listening just now?”

“Yes…yes, I heard. Just…well…well thank you then Acaya for your wisdom…”

“Don’t bother with all of that. Let’s have a drink. And then let’s go check on your former class mates xhmm?” said Qan'tel offering Eoroal the Temu’jin’s flask.

“What you didn’t put it back…wait it’s empty?”

“It’s empty? Xhmm, I swore I left the last drop for you. No, I didn’t put it back because you left it on the bed. T'eh, so I decided to acquired it for later.”

“Not very much later I see,” said Eoroal turning the flask over and shaking it.

“That reminds me are you hungry? It’s a long walk down the mountain?”

“What do you have some more proenutsup bars?”

“Yes, but that’s not what I’m talking about…Li'xiu has a stash of Tau'n meals-ready-eat. Gourmet stuff that are real high end, high quality. The kind of thing you’d only get if you say you are high caste rank!” Qan'tel tugged his beard and clacked his teeth plates.

“Do you think only of food and booze?”

“No, mostly I think of sex, but at my age…well there's not much action there. T'oh let’s be off then shall we? I want to get to Li'xiu’s cell before the two of them wake up. Well, not that they're going anywhere soon thanks to you!” With that Eoroal’s former teacher strode off down the trail towards Li'xiu’s cell humming a martial tune.

“T'ah, after you…I guess?” answered Eoroal leaning his head over to one shoulder.

Last edited by TauMan on Mar 28 2016 02:06, edited 5 times in total.
Viro’los gu brath!

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Post#7 » Jan 27 2015 10:19

ON MOUNT KAN'JI PART III: Late Morning on the Mountain


UPDATE: 12/04/2015 Version 2.0 Here's the link: http://docdro.id/HdSW7Zm

Late Morning On the Mountain
Eoroal had a difficult time following the ancient firewarrior who’s long and vigorous steps meant that he had to run to keep up.

“HIYATE! Will you slow…down…and…what is that…that you're humming anyway?”

Boom...trumpah…trumpah...It's a Sacean march? Don't you know The People’s Firewarrior March?”

“Of course I know it! The wife plays all those Sacean marches for the children. Wakes them up in the morning with a march, gets them off them off to school with a march, and even puts them to bed playing a march. Came to breakfast one morning to see them all standing parade before the breakfast table. The wife’s a nutter when it comes to all of that stuff!”

“Well, then hum or sing along with me will you? I'll take the tenor line and you can take the bass, then we all join in for the drum section: Boom, boom, boom, alright?”

“Ja mein Shas'O!”

With that the two tau men made their way down the trail marching and humming: “Boom, boom, boom…trumpah…trumpah…brap-ah, brap-ah, brap-ah…boom, boom, boom!

But as they came level with Eoroal’s cell there was an unexpected encounter. Two of Qan'tel’s other students, a mid-ranking water caste woman and a lower ranking earth caste man, met them coming up the trail. The two started to hail Eoroal, but suddenly stopped when they saw their teacher. Eoroal embarrassed stopped his own 'trumpah, trumpah' and bowed to the other students. The two students with their mouths agape bowed in embarrassment. Acaya Qan'tel for his part did not stop; but rather started to march around in circles while still humming loudly. Every once in a while he would stomp the ground with his hooves to emphasise the ‘boom, boom, boom!

“Lynu'saznai we were supposed to meet with Acaya this morning. W-w-we couldn’t find him, so we came looking for him…Is he alright? ” asked the water caste woman.

Boom, boom, boom...trumpah…trumpah...brap-ah, brap-ah, brap-ah…boom, boom, boom!” hummed Qan'tel.

Eoroal looked at the students and then back to his teacher who was still marching in circles. Then suddenly Eoroal remembered Li'xiu and Temu'jin and he turned towards his cell. There Temu'jin lay on his back, but was now absolutely naked. Eoroal saw that Li'xiu had somehow wrapped Temu'jin’s loin cloth around her left hand, while still lying on top of him. He looked back at the students and saw they were also looking towards the front of his cell.

“T'ahhh they were celebrating the end of the fast…too much…too much to eat and drink, I think?”

“And what of Acaya Qan'tel?” asked the earth caste man.

“Xhmm too much sun, I think? Perhaps you could check on him tomorrow or…the following morning?”

“Yes Eoroal'saznai. We will call on him the day after tomorrow.” With that the two students bowed again, got up, and hurried back up the trail in the direction of Li'xiu’s cell. Giving out a deep sigh of relief Eoroal turned to the still marching Qan'tel.

“You know you’re not fooling anyone with that crazy old kroot routine. You’re not the aged, infirm, and demented old gnarloc, that you want everyone to believe you are. Sorry to say you do have all your memory files!”

Boom, boom, boom…trumpah…trumpah…Are you sure about that? Brap-ah, brap-ah, brap-ah…Not too sure that I’m not a crazy kroot after all? ‘Did you know that among the earth caste women often swap husbands?’Are you still sure I’m not a really a loon, a nutter, and an old gnarloc that’s lost every bit his memory?”

“T'ahhh, a right good loon? Yes that you are Acaya, but just not in the way people think you are!” Qan'tel stopped his ‘pass and review’ and looked at Eoroal.

“Pity, I was hoping for a stellar performance in the twittering loon category.”

“Why are you doing this? Is it really necessary? I mean they’re not going pull you out of retirement, that’s for sure. Besides…”

“Besides what?”

“Besides, as sure, ‘The One Path’, you didn’t try to pretend to Temu'jin, Li'xiu and I? The day after Li'xiu got here, you woke us all up at dawn for ‘a little morning stroll’; which turned out to be a twenty-five tor'kan forced march, half of which was up a mountain. And...and…the last half-tor'kan was straight up a vertical cliff. So, why bother with all the ‘I’m loony old kroot’ routine?”

“Are you finished?”

“Well, yes I suppose I am.”

Qan'tel looked over at Temu'jin and Li'xiu, but then without speaking grabbed Eoroal and hurried him up the trail. They hadn’t gone twenty tor'leks when Temu'jin gives out a loud bowel sound, ‘BRAAAP’; and Li'xiu drunkenly shouted, ‘Temu'jin you nasty dras'la!’ The two tau men stopped on the trail and looked back, but neither of the drunken students woke up. Qan'tel then motioned for them to continue on up the trail. “No, they won’t pull me out of retirement, it’s far worse than that. They want put me on a slice of silicon and shove me inside peoples’ heads.”

“Hoi, hoi, hoi! Who is going to put you on a piece of silicon? And why would anyone want to do that?” Eoroal tried to stop, but his teacher kept him moving.

“Aun'O'Va for one, and the entire Ethereal council for another, and for that matter most of the Fire caste high command. And that’s not counting all the Earth caste higher ups, who think…who think they can pull this stunt off,” said Qan'tel looking up and down the trail as if he searching for unwanted guests.

“You have my attention namsai, but couldn’t you let go of my arm and stop rushing me? If anyone wanted to listen to you, they could do it in any one of eighty different ways. And why are we running?”

“Yes, yes I know. We could be even heard from space and technically speaking, and right now all of my words and actions are being recorded anyway. Just the same way my vital signs and health data are constantly being monitored and uploaded via a satellite link every few rai'kor. But I have the drop on those dras'la hooligans! You know that friend of Temu'jin, the one who use to go by the name Elan'ro–Skull?”

“Disabled earth caste kid, who went about on a gravchair because he didn’t like his prosthetic legs. He’s quite the technological wunderkind in every field I hear. What’s his caste rank name now? Fio'El Vior'la Sabu'ro–Inventor.”

“T'oh, that’s him! He’s jimmie-jammed the whole works better than a Big Mek and a mob of Spanner Boys ever could! Sabu'ro has a dummy data feed that makes it look like I’m about to cross over the cold dark gorge to the other world at any rai'kor. But to keep them from snatching me away to hospital or to hospice care, there is just enough of an improvement in my condition every day. So it looks like I’ve got good days and bad days, but I always do just little better each day. In other words: I’m getting better all the time.”

They had arrived at Li'xiu’s cell and Qan'tel finally stopped their quick march. Bowing apologetically to Eoroal, Qan'tel then slid open the door to the cell and politely motioned for him to enter. Li'xiu's cell was cut directly into the rocky hill side, but it didn’t have either a porch or a fore. Instead her cell had a wide deep opening created by a huge rock ledge, underneath which was the cell itself. Overall Li'xiu's cell was wider than it was deep and was much more luxurious than either Temu'jin’s or Eoroal’s cell. To the left was the sleeping area with no widows, but high above the bed was a cleft with glazed skylight. The bed itself was a traditional mattress lying atop a blue straw mat. To the right was a small wooden table and bench with shelves cut into rocks for storage. Li'xiu seemed to have more boxes and bags than her fellow students.

“T'eh, you can sure tell it’s a woman’s room can’t you?” said Eoroal.

“Why because of the yellow ‘Hello Puppy’ comforter on the bed?” asked Qan'tel.

“No, it’s because it feels like a woman’s place. I felt it before I even saw the bed.”

“T'oh, that’s the residual effect of the female pheromones. Don’t you remember anything of your Tau Health and Sexuality courses at the academy?”

“Sorry, I guess that I’m just another one of those ‘lost romantics’ then namsai!”

“I wouldn’t go that far. You maybe male, but you’re not a ditz when it comes to all the silly romantic stuff. It’s not like you spend all day watching telenovelas from N'Dras or reading trashy romance e-books like some fellows do? Give yourself some credit there brother! Now where was I?”

“I think you were going tell me what's up with all with all this water caste espionage antics? Along with the thing about ‘putting you on a silicon chip’?”

“Sorry, about that I just didn’t want Temu'jin and Li'xiu to overhear,” answered Qan'tel sitting down at the small bench by the table. He then motioned for Eoroal to do the same, and leaning in close said, “Remember my telling you about Aun'Va having another agenda for sending the three of you here?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Well, there’s this plan-a-hoof to put my brain, or some part of my brain, on an advanced neurochip; and then stick the whole thing into the cybernetically enhanced brains of firewarrior commanders. Sabu'ro says they want to take my memories of tactical manoeuvres and somehow transfer them onto the chip. Sabu'ro calls them engrams, which he says are literally the neurological synapse networks for specific memories.”

“Can they do that? Is it even technically feasible? But even it is, won't that violate your rights as a sentient being? It’s unethical and well it's…it’s not the Tau'va!”

“T'AHH! When did ever following the Greater Good ever stop Aun'Va? Don’t think he and the rest of them won’t do it, because if they can figure out a way to do it they will,” said Qan'tel shaking a thumb at Eoroal.

“What’s the point of sending us to Mount Kan'ji at all then?”

“Exactly! So, what was the point of your coming to Mount Kan'ji then?”

“The point of my coming, or the point of our coming to Mount Kan'ji?”

“Yes either one? What’s the point for all three of you? And by the way why were only the three of you the only ones chosen, xhmm? Did you ask to come here or where you volunteered by higher ups? Temu'jin and Li'xiu didn’t come of their own volition, I can tell you that! And why take an entire tau'cyr out of your careers to sit on top of mountain and do what? Listen to me yammer on about the Tau'va?”

Eoroal blinked twice and looked at his teacher, then out to the desert and then back again to his teacher. “We were volunteered to come here because…they think…you’re…going to die? They didn’t want us to learn about the Tau'va. They’re just afraid they’ll lose all your combat experience…that you’ll pop off and they can’t retrieve it. So we were sent here to learn it straight from the master…”

“In case the engrams on a chip thingy doesn’t work out.”

“In case the engrams on a chip thingy doesn’t work out.”

Eoroal stared at his teacher and said, “Wait a raik'an, they could get everything they want from your lectures at the academy. Why bother with your actual memories then?”

“Who knows? Maybe, if they can harvest my memories and stick’em in people’s head; they think they can turn everyone into little ‘Shas'O'Qan'tels’?”

“HEYAAAHHH!” Eoroal made a face like he was going to be sick.

“I'd probably kill anyone whose head they stuck me into wouldn’t I? Could you see me inside of your head?” Acaya Qan'tel jumped to his hooves and pulled Eoroal on to his and then got behind him. He started manipulating Eoroal's arms a marionette shouting: ‘NO, NO, DON’T HIT HIM LIKE THAT! WHAT CAN’T YOU MAKE YOU WRIST MOVE THAT WAY? T'OH, GO AHEAD AND KICK THAT GREENSKIN DRAS'LA THEN!’ Then pretending to whisper into Eoroal's ear he said, “Or how would you like me to be inside your head t'eh? ‘Eoroal that was a stupid thing to do!’” He shifted to the other ear, “‘Well, I wouldn’t have done it like that?’ ” Shifts back to the first ear, ‘What? Didn’t you see that Meganob come up on the right? Better get a move on then!’” Shifts yet again to the second ear, “‘T'oh, he just tore your guts out with his power klaw. What are you dying now?’” Shifts back to the first ear, “‘Bad luck that! Guess, I’ll just have to wait here till the Big Mek comes along and tears me out of your skull!’” laughed Qan'tel with a maniacal look on his face.

“HEYAAHH!” moaned Eoroal.

Qan'tel spun him around and stared at him with a devilish look in his eyes. “Just wait till they put you on chip, and then stick you in one of your kids’ head? ‘Temu'jinal what the hell was that?’ Of course they could put you and your wife both on chips and then stick both of you in your kid’s head. Think of that? I can just hear you say something like, ‘What dumb arse thing to do?’, but then she’d say, ‘Don’t lizen to yer fadder, he’s a vanker!’ To which you’d reply, ‘Tell mum go to shove off! What does she know? She was a Public Safety Officer that's never fired a shot in anger?’

“That’s an appalling attempt at a Sacean accent by the way. Doesn’t sound a thing like my wife,” said Eoroal looking annoyed.

“Pffft!” said Qan'tel stopping now to begin rummaging around in Li'xiu’s boxes and bags. Then seeming to find what he was looking for, he pulled out a good size crate and snapped open the lid. As he fumbled around in the crate he said, “Now what really scares me is that friend of Temu'jin’s. What's his name again? Sabu'ro that't it! He’s the one you’ve got to watch out for. At the moment Aun'Va and the Ethereal council have him all tied up in knots, but if he has his way…T'ah, I found them!…We’ll all be androids.”


“T'oh yes. The lad has gotten half way to completing a fully functional cybernetic brain! A positronic brain is what he's calling it. And this damn 'brain' is going to make that neuro engram chip thingy, look like a promethium guzzling gue'la armoured vehicle standing next to an seek eldar grav tank! That earth caste fellah is pushing us technologically ahead eight hundred tau'cyr. But if he ever gets his way, we’ll all be walking around in completely robotic bodies; except that we'll have all the memories and emotions that we had as living beings. That is according to Saburo.”

“Just like a Ves'ron?”

“Just like a Ves'ron. Well almost, but with all of our memories and emotions, remember?”

Qan'tel now pulled three brightly coloured chromium boxes out of the crate: a chromium green box, a chromium teal box, and the finally a chromium blue one, and handed them to Eoroal. “Pick one of these as a going away dinner,” he said.

“What-are-these? T'oh, you're right. They're gourmet ready-to-eat meals! How did she get them…wait first we drink up Temu'jin’s vi’ky’husa, and by we, I mean you; and now I, and by that I mean us, are now going to eat up Li'xiu’s gourmet food?” said Eoroal looking vexed.

“Hoi, hoi, hoi, wait a raik'or! Look at the crate she hasn’t touched a single meal in all this time!” Eoroal looked at the three meal boxes, and sure enough they were matched by three empty spots in the otherwise full crate. “Besides I’m not eating anything, I've already had my proenutsup bar today.”

Eoroal scrounged around a little more in the crate and said, “Namsai, but these are all her favourite meals? There is Blue tookie fish with yellow mushroom sauce, red rice, and blue plum desert.…And this one is roasted ly'xutka–wild boar with wild black rice and blue garlic garnish, and a baked white strudel desert…T'oh and here is every child’s favourite: Nim'ko'nai noodles with segeneka meat and vegetables, and a sweet red bean pastry. These are all Li'xiu’s most favo…Temu'jin!”Eoroal looked at his teacher. “He sent her all this food. Just the kind of sweet thing a husband might do.”

“T'ah, so that also solves the mystery of the ‘Hello Puppy’ comforter,” said Qan'tel looking back at the bed. “He's probably sent her that too. I wondered why any firewarrior about to take command of a cadre would have children’s bedding,” said Qan'tel stopping to scratch his naked butt. “T'eh, but I can see by the up turned corner at the end there, that the underside is grey and black. A much more appropriate colours for an adult, but not if she were expecting say, a visit from say her loving husband?” said Qan'tel smiling. He turned back around and pointed at the gourmet meals, encouraging Eoroal to take one.

“I’ll take the nim'ko'nai noddles with segeneka meat…” replied Eoroal looking back at the table.

“Here take the meal package out of the box and just slap the whole thing on the table. Wait two raik'or and it’ll be just like the advert says: ‘As hot as if it were right out of the pot.’TM

A little while later Eoroal sat munching his sweet red bean pastry, his back cooled by the rock face behind him. Qan'tel sat on the floor with his staff across his lap meditating. “Can’t believe that there was real red rice wine too with this meal,” said Eoroal showing his teacher the small empty wine bottle.

“See, they were gourmet meals after all. Are you ready to head out now?”

“Think I’ll wait until evening went it cools down. Then I’ll make a night time walk down to the transport station, and wait there till the next transport arrives in the morning.

“No need to wait, I’ll call for an immediate pick up from the air base. They’ll have you out of here in about a dec or two.”

“T'eh, where is there an air base? And you wouldn’t be calling an AX-4 transport on my account?”

“T'oh no, no, no! They’ll come and get you with a TX-2 skimmer. The Air caste base is just on the other side of the mountains. You never heard the aircraft taking off and landing?”

“Sometimes? I never knew if I was hearing things or not. T'oh, wait…how can you call the airbase? We told us there wasn’t any hotspots out here? And if there are, how do you connect with then?” Eoroal looked perturbed as he stood up and grabbed a broom to begin sweeping around the table.

“T'oh there’s a hotspot here alright. I had the earth caste fellas from the air base come out here and set one up. Of course I needed an antenna and modem to make a connection, but one which wouldn’t be easily recognized, and so my walking staff does that beautifully.” Acaya Qan'tel swung his staff about and showed the tip to his former student. Eoroal stopped his sweeping to look at the electronics array embedded inside the top of the staff.

Eoroal returned to sweeping, but with a great deal more vigour and annoyance. “The whole bloodfire time that we’re supposed to be out in the wilderness communing with nature and contemplating the sacred texts of the Tau'va, YOU HAD A LINK-UP! What do you need a netmatrix connection for? Were you instant messaging other masters on other mountain tops? Or do you just need to upload the latest embarrassing holopics of your students on Facecodex™? What you just couldn’t wait to read the latest tweeb from Aun'Va? Or d-d-did have you set up your own TweebTM account: #qan'tel@mtkan'ji?”

“No, but that wouldn’t be a bad idea no though would it? Actually, I am by required Dal'yth Central Command to have a netmatrix connection, as I still receive mandatory classified briefings. That fact is no one ever really retires from the fire caste. And so with that connection I not only receive my briefings, but I also get to keep up with my telenovelas from N'Dras and read the latest trashy romance e-books. What can I say? I’m romantic kind of guy!

Qan'tel scratched his beard and then said, “T'oh, just to let you know you only have about a dec until the TX-2 gets here. Just called them as I need to get you off the mountain top, so as I can get back to those two,” said Qan'tel pointing in the direction of Eoroal’s former cell.

“A never ending surprise you are Acaya.”

“Besides I have get ready to do another performance of ‘the doddering old firewarrior’ for the pilot. Don’t want them to think I’m healthier than my data feed says I am!” Qan'tel got up and began doing a small routine of stretching, as if he were about to run a foot race.

“What is the point of pretending to be infirm and feeble minded? If they're just going to put you on microchip anyway, why bother?” asked Eoroal picking up the remains of his lunch.

“If I do it right, they won’t dare think of putting me on microchip. Too much dementia and they’ll have to refrain from doing it. Well, at least I hope they won't?” said Qan'tel now settling low into the tau yoga stance of Horse Kicks Rider. “Beside…t'ahh, that feels good…I get a kick out of seeing how terrified everyone is at my performances. Some of them…xhmm…think I’m about ready to pop off. Which…xhmm…which I will someday of course…you know just pop off.… [/i]xhmm[/i]…When I do go…it’ll be…like I’ll go to sleep one night…T'AHHH XHMM…and won’t wake up.”

Acaya Qan'tel now changed stances and dropped down into Doo-daa Bird Takes a *BAD WORD DELETED!*. “T'ohh, forgot to tell you about my ‘hover chair’, you know…xhmm…the one all three of you wanted to see when…you got here. Actually it's…a decommissioned gun drone…xhmm…minus the pulse carbines and the A.I. unit. Sabu'ro fixed it up for me…xhmm…When I sit on it…I can lean ever so slightly…and it looks like I’m about to fall off! Xhmm…t'ohh…xhmm…should see their faces though?”

Qan'tel now got down onto all fours to do Tiger Regurgitates Maiden. “Quite…hilarious actually…and if I lean one way and then another…I can make the damn thing oscillate…even spin!” Qan'tel got up from his yoga stance and smiled at Eoroal. “They see me spinning and they go into an absolute panic. But the best part is they don’t hear a thing I’m saying. Ha-ha-ha and you should hear them whispering under their breaths, ‘Hoi, hoi, hoi, he’s about to fall off! TEEYAH his chair is spinning now!’

Eoroal watched his teacher pretend to spin about and mimic the effects of the oscillating grav chair, and in spite of himself he began laughing.

“Good I finally made you laugh. Didn’t want you leaving here looking so dour.” said Qan'tel laughing himself.

Ha-ha-ha…I would like to know how a tau man of your age is able to keep so fit and mentally sharp, that you have to pretend to be infirm and suffering dementia?”

“T'ah-ha! That’s brings us to the finale. That was the very last thing I wanted to share with you before you go. Put away the broom, get your things, and let’s go outside and I’ll…t'oh, you’ll see!” chuckled Acaya Qan'tel.

Once outside in front of Li'xiu’s cell, which was nicely shaded from the Dal'yth star, Acaya Qan'tel had Eoroal stand a little ways from the doorway, and then stood next to a large stone to the right. “No turning around until I say so!”

Eoroal did as he was told and stood looking eastwards towards the far mountain range. “I believe I’ll miss seeing those mountains every morning. T'eh, am I supposed to keep quiet?” There was no answer from his teacher, so he kept silent another couple of raik'or. “I’ll just stand here then,” said Eoroal. He stood there for yet a few more raik'or, but then began wondering when the TX-2 was arriving. And if whatever it was he was supposed to see, might accidentally be seen by the pilot. “Acaya Qan'tel may I turn around now? Acaya? Acaya?” But ever the disciplined firewarrior, Eoroal obediently remained facing eastward. Then looking at his feet he noticed the area around him seemed brighter, as if some light source was illuminating the shadow he was standing in. Eoroal looked around still trying to keep from looking backwards, but then out of the corner of his eye he saw his teacher.

Acaya Qan'tel stood there with his eyes closed with his arms outstretched and his palms facing up; but he was standing at almost a full tor'lek off the ground! Qan'tel's entire body shown with a brilliant white light that seemed to radiate from deep within him. Where the various caste colours were dabbed on his body, the colours were now transparent and also glowed brightly. Eoroal could stand only stare dumbfounded at the sight of his teacher. A profound feeling of peace and serenity seemed to surround Qan'tel; while a pungent floral fragrance like that of dessert flowers permeated the air. Eoroal instinctively dropped to his knees and touched his forehead to the ground.

“Please stand up Shas'El Dal'yth Kiv'rai'ka. This is the answer to your query as to why I am so fit at my age. This is outcome of following the Tau'va. When one walks in the path of the Tau'va, then he or she is in harmony with all creation. And it is then that the ni–the life energy flows through you and sustains you.”

Eoroal looked up to see his teacher settle down on the ground, and then walk over, to lift him up onto his hooves. Qan'tel still radiated light as he lifted Eoroal up, but no matter how brilliant the light was, it did not hurt Eoroal's eyes. Rather the brilliance radiance seemed to sooth and invigorate him. When Qan'tel touched his arm Eoroal noticed that he too began to glow from within. Amazed Eoroal looked at the light now radiating from his hands and then noticed that his clothes were glowing as well.

“Reach down and pick up a rock El'Kiv'rai'ka,” said his teacher. And Eoroal then bent down and picked up the nearest rock, and to his complete astonishment, it too began to glow with a white light from within.

“When we are in harmony and balance with the universe, we are illuminated and thus we become bearers of the light of the Tau'va. So through us The Greater Good illuminates all of creation!” Still holding the shinning rock, Eoroal turned to see the light began to shine forth from everything about him: the cactuses, the boulders, the bushes, the small lizards, the whirling raptors high in the sky. Everything shone with the uncreated light of the Tau'va and Eoroal began to cry.

“The Ol'cea'sin–Eldar and the Gue'la–Humans think that all power comes from the Vash'aun'an–The Between Space, the Warp. Why this is so I do not know, but both seem to have forgotten about very dimension we live in. Both have forgotten about the abundant presence of life-energy that is everywhere about us. Everything of this reality and of this world, when it is revealed to us, shines forth with the power of life El'Kiv'rai'ka!”

Qan'tel eyes now shone entirely white with light, and Eoroal could see gold and silver streams of life-energy pulse through the strands of master's hair, through his body, and to run down through the earth and out into the valley beyond. To Eoroal the light seemed to extend down deep into the very roots of the mountains, and strands of gold and silver pulsing light connecting all matter together. And what had seemed before to be inanimate was in fact alive: the rocks, the rivers, the wind, and the trees. Which in turn were connected to all of the living animals, to his teacher, and to himself by the strands of pulsing gold and silver life energy.

From within this web of light and lie came his teacher's voice: “You see there are those among our leaders, who have lost their way, and not just the Ethereals either. They have forgotten the lessons taught to us by the First Ethereals and so their ignorance blinds them. And such blindness has kept them from seeing the beauty that surrounds them. Their blindness keeps them from seeing the light that is meant for all sentient beings, not just the tau. So this is my final gift to you El'Kiv'rai'ka. Hold onto this gift as reminder that the path of the Tau'va illuminates all! Carry it with you through all the grim dark days that lay ahead. ” And with those final words, the light that radiated from both Acaya Qan'tel and Eoroal faded away. Eoroal was stunned into silence, but his teacher touched Eoroal's shoulder and said softly, “This is more than most can take and it is why I choose to show it only to a few. It is the real reason I pretend to be infirm.”

Eoroal stood in silence unable to speak and bowed to his teacher. Qantel then reached out with a hand and pulled Eoroal close so as to touch foreheads with him. Eoroal now reached out and took his teacher's arms in his, holding on to them at the elbows in the traditional sign of respect. Then letting go Acaya Qan'tel smiled and said, “Now let me show you something fun! I want to show you that hover grav-chair I was telling you about.” Eoroal looked up and saw the chair suddenly come flying over the top of Li'xiu's cell and settled down next to them.

“You mean it was close-by all along?” asked Eloroal in a quiet voice. “Should’ve known you'd do something like that.”

“Well, I have to be 'presentable' at all times. Never know when they'll surprise me with a visit from an Ethereal or other high ranking official,” said Qan'tel sitting down on the chair. “Actually I always know when they're coming, due to Sabu’ro's efficient surveillance network, but I believe in being always prepared.”

“Why it looks a lot like the hover throne of Aun'Va? Didn't you get in trouble for that?” said Eoral with a gentle laugh touching the dual handled control column. To Eoroal the hover did indeed look much like Aun'Va's except that it was of a ruddy colour and smaller.

“No trouble at all! Instead I was congratulated on having and I am quoting here, 'An appropriate hover chair for my status as a Sword Saint'. But just know that I didn't ask for it to look like this, it's Saburo's idea of a joke!” laughed Qan'tel. “Well your transport is almost here. The airbase just signalled for the confirmation of our position and to relay the TX-2's ETA. Good luck El'Kiv'rai'ka. May you carry this name until you become Shas'O'Dal'yth Kais!”

“Acaya Qan'tel, I thank you for the teaching, the lesson, and the gift. I only hope that my fellow students will come to their own understanding on the Tau'va and receive their own gift.”

“Let us hope so El'Kiv'rai'ka, let us hope so.”

The new Shas'El'Kiv'rai'ka looked to the north and saw the shape of the speeding skimmer coming over the ridge. The small vehicle seemed like a fragile insect with its’ under slung engines, exposed tandem seating, and gracefully curved slender top. The skimmer's parasol-like roof gave Eoroal the impression of the folded wings of a dragon wing insect. Overall the TX-2 gave off a jaunty air as it settled down in front of the two tau men. The female pathfinder pilot removed her helmet and hailed them, “I take it you are Shas'El Dal'yth Lynu? Are you ready to go sir?”

“Yes I am ready, but the name is now Shas'El Dal'yth Kiv'rai'ka.”

“Yes sir Shas'El Dal'yth Kiv'rai'ka. So you received a change of name while you were here, very auspicious!”

At that moment Acaya Qan'tel made a moaning sound. The new El'Kiv'rai'ka looked back and was horrified at the old firewarrior's appearance. The old tau’s skin was now an awful, sickly grey colour, with large bluish-black spots all across his arms and legs. Qan'tel's back was so grotesquely bent and twisted, that his entire body leaned far over to one side. He seemed to teeter precariously on his hover chair, but then looking up at his former student, he tugged his beard ever so gently while clicking his teeth plates. Kiv'rai'ka smiled back to his former teacher, as he tugged his chin and quietly clacked his teeth plates. The old tau man moved the chair closer and reached up slowly to touch foreheads with Eoroal. Qan'tel held their foreheads together for some time, but then finally let go. Kiv'rai'ka stepped back and bowed deeply to his teacher.

“I’m ready to go shas'la,” he said turning back to the pilot

Heyaahh…he…smells…bad!” said the pilot covering her mouth. Then from behind her hand she asked, “Is he alright? The Acaya seems terribly sick. Should we call for medical transport?”

“No, he’s like this all the time. Besides there are other students waiting for him a little ways down the trail,” replied El'Kiv'rai'ka softly. He then approached the pilot and motioned for her to resume her seat. She hesitated and started to say something, but he cut her off. “Shas'la believe me he is alright! So please take your seat.” The pilot shot glance at Qan'tel and then wagged her head ‘yes’. She climbed into the pilot’s seat, while El'Kiv'rai'ka climbed into the observer’s seat behind her.

“Well, you certainly live up to you name sir, Kiv'rai'ka–Decisive!” said the pilot as she handed him a pair of flight goggles and a comlink antenna. “That’s a caste rank name I’ve never heard anyone ever carrying before. I wanted to ask how you came to earn it, but I think I know why.”

“You still may ask shas'la, but it's a long story.” He waited for her to put on her helmet and leaned forward to tap her on the shoulder, as spoke through the intercom, “Comm check, do you read me shas'la?”

“Loud and clear sir.”

“What's you name shas'la?”

“Shas'La Wu'ken sir.”

“Shas'La Wu'ken so about my new name. Here’s the short version—it’s a bit of pun actually.”

“Pun sir?” said the pilot as the TX-2 lifted off the ground and spun around towards the north. El'Kiv'rai'ka could see the ‘infirm and feeble’ Acaya Qan'tel weakly wave at him, and then watched as his teacher's hover chair wobbled and bobbed its' way down the trail toward his former cell.

“Yes, a bit of a pun. Have you ever heard of a Kiv'rai't'xa–A Decision Ritual?”



APPENDIX I: Damocles Gulf Translation Collective

Tranlator's Note

In wake of our translations of the two most popular tau young adult series: Two Brothers Walk the Stars, and the Celestial Mountain Academy. We have decided to branch out in a new direction with the translation from adult tau literature, and so present you dear reader with our translation of the novella: On Mount Kan'ji. This is a fictionalized encounter between Shas'O'Kais and his teacher Shas'O'Qan'tel at the hermitage of Mount Kan'ji on Dal'yth prime. Dal'yth being a battle site of the infamous Damocles Gulf Crusade in 745.M41. Although the piece is set in the Tau Empire, a discerning reader should be able to detect a subtle, but decidedly pro-Enclave bias of the work. However slight the bias is, please note that a great deal of the material is factual, although it is presented here in a fictionalized form.

The translator working between two human languages is oft times faced with insurmountable problems. Often the original language cannot ever be adequately translated. Concepts are often encapsulated in single words; which have no corresponding equivalent in the second language. Just as often the beauty, subtlety, and the nuance of the original language are more often than not, ‘lost in translation’. When the original document is of a technical in nature translation is somewhat easier; but if one is attempting to translate a work of fiction, it is sometimes nigh impossible. So to translate a ‘xeno language’ like tau into standard gothic, presents at the very best an almost Herculean task! However we believe the attempt is worth the effort, especially in these trying times; so to do anything to help create peace and understanding between races in our galaxy, is very much worth the effort.

As with our previous translations, this work contains a great deal cultural, historical, anthropological and linguistic information. All of which would be common knowledge to a tau audience; but would leave a reader from the Imperium feeling utterly lost and confused. We therefore have annotated this translation with footnotes, as well as provided an appendices with a tau glossary, list of tau phrases, as well as a list of the 'Given Names' and 'Caste Rank' names of the major characters.

As with the earlier works, there are often references to tau fauna like fox or horse etcetera. Please beware that we have substituted the names of tau animals with the names of their closest terran equivalent. Often there is in fact no resemblance at all between the two creatures, except perhaps for a cultural or historical one. However, by doing so we hope to give the reader a sense of the importance that animal has in the original tau language.

Lastly to those who continually complain that we have not faithfully rendered the tau language, at least where it concerns this or any other work for that matter; and who say that we have, ‘dumbed it down to just make a credit’. To them we say: ‘You should probably just go ahead read it in the original tau language; but if you feel that strongly about it, then by all means publish your own damn translation!'

— The Damocles Gulf Translation Collective


APPENDIX II: Tau Words and Phrases

Tau Words and Phrases

An'muk'xux'ten'grii – ‘Land of the Eternal Blue Sky’
Anda or Anda'ta'lissera – Covenant Brother/Covenant Sister i.e. Battle Brother/Battle Sister
Bentu'cea'la – 'A well cultured person' i.e. Gentleman or Lady
Da'erue – Dark rivalry
Doean'hui'la – Steppe hen
Doean'search'maa – Steppe hare
Doean'yow'la – Short-tailed steppe cat
-Ike [suffix] – Sport (dō)
-Kan [suffix] – 'Mister'
Kisun'erue – Blood rivalry
Kiv'rai'ka – Decisive
Kiv'rai't'xa – Decision Ritual
Ky’husa – A strong liquor, much like whiskey, rye or gin.
-Jun [suffix] – 'Miss' or 'Miz'
Lhas'nan – Jade Dagger
Nim'ko'nai – Name of a traditional tau green noodle dish
Namsai – Teacher
Nan'ka'tuk'ike – Combat fighting sport
Mineka – Ambition
Mont'ka – Killing Blow
Mon'keged – Dark name i.e. a Courtship name
Mon'mal'nemal – Little black stinging scorpion
Mon'myr – War knife
Mont'nanal – Small war blade
Noyea'kirsa – Hedonist or Slut (Princess Fox or Lady Fox from tau mythology)
Ol'cea'sin – 'Bright Enlightened People' i.e. Craftworld Eldar
Ol'erue – Bright rivalry
Qazdan – Dragon
-Riika [suffix] – Martial art (i.e. -jitsu)
R'nan – Long Sword
R'nan'riika – Art of the long sword
R'myr – Long Knife
R'myr'riika – Art of the long knife
Sav't'alissera – A betrothal of marriage
Saznai – Mentor/Senior
Segeneka – Goat
Shasanuk'la – Firebird, a large tau raptor similar to a terran condor
T’car – An alcoholic beverage made from distilled tau wine that is meant to be sipped, i.e. a cognac like liquor
Tai'lhas – White Jade (Infamous tau assassin from the 22nd tau'cyr century)
Tai'qazdan'ta'anan'co'eberiye't'au – 'White Dragon Contemplates the Suffering of the World' (Famous ethereal saint)
Tekiya – Jealousy
Tenxer'suam – The Sapphire Flame
Ur'hui'la – Quick wing (a bird similar to an ancient terran Road Runner)
Ur'riika – Art of the quick draw (sword)
Upt'aun'la – Mountain monk i.e. Hermit or Mountain Ethereal
Vi’ky’husa – A type of single-malt ky’husa much prized on Vior’la and in the Enclaves.
Vash'aun'an – The Between Space i.e. The Warp
Velu – Tau rugby
-Xohnai [suffix] – Junior/Protégé
Yekia'ten'grii – Magenta Sky i.e. Sunset
Ynege'kir – Pervert (Coyote-dog/Jackal-dog from tau folklore)
Yolwas – Tiger
Yolwas’a’yebegeli – Tiger stride i.e. To walk with the power and charisma of a tau tiger.

Tau Phrases
HeyAHH: Not a word, but a sound; which carries a sense of disgust or revulsion, or simply ‘WTF?’
Hoi, hoi, hoi: The rough equivalent to ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa’
Nuni: ‘Thank You’
T'ah: ‘Ah’
T'eh: ‘Uh’ or ‘Eh’
T'oh: ‘Oh!’ or ‘Ah-ha!’
TEEYahh: Not a word, but a sound: with the general sense of surprise or amazement, i.e. ‘Oh my!’
Xhmm: Not a word, but a sound: something like, ‘Hmm’ or ‘Umm’
Xux'yolwas'h'tekiya: The Blue Tiger of Jealousy
Va'mon'qazdan'h'mineka: The Great Black Dragon of Ambition


APPENDIX III: Caste Rank Names and War Philosophies

Caste Rank, Honorific and Given Names
Among the fire caste of the Tau Empire there are many naming traditions. As with all castes the individual firewarrior has a Given Name, or a name usually bestowed upon them at one tau'cyr of age. This name will always be the one he or she will be known as to the family and possibly to few closest comrades. Tem'ujin, Li'xiu and Eoroal are examples of such names. An Honorific Name is a name earned by a firewarrior, and is awarded in a similar fashion to the Imperial Guard's awards and decorations. These names can be quite numerous, but rarely is an individual firewarrior ever addressed by such a name. Mont'yr and Kais are examples of such names. Lastly there are the Caste Rank Names, which are bestowed on a firewarrior when he or she achieves a particular rank level. The changing of the rank name denotes both the change in the firewarrior's status and is meant to highlight some outstanding characteristic, or quality, they may possess.

This new caste name will therefore be the proper name that the individual carries as long as they are of that rank. All other firewarriors regardless of their own rank, will address the firewarrior by this name. Only family and close friends are the exception to this rule; and may call the firewarrior by their Given Name. Please note how Acaya Qan'tel addresses El'Lynu throughout the story. Often he is shown addressing him by his Given Name: Eoroal, rather than by Rank Name. This informality is an indicator of the closeness of the student to his teacher. However, reflecting their respective positions as teacher and student, E'Lynu never addresses his teacher by his Given Name, or even his Caste Rank Name – O'Qan'tel; but rather only as Namsai–Teacher, Acaya–Master or even Acaya Qan'tel – Master Puretide.

Shas'O'Vior'la Shova: Temu'jin
Shas'Saal'Temu'jin – Forged of Iron (Given Name)
Shas'La'Tsua'm – Middle or 'Always-Where-He’s-Needed'
Shas'Ui'Alag'kial – Little Killer or Young Executioner
Shas'Vre'Vi'kinot – Red Wolf or Successful
Shas'El'Ran'eoran – Heart of High Courage or Braveheart
Shas'O'Shovah – Far-sighted, Prophetic or 'Farsight'

Shas'O'Tau'n Shaserra: Li'Xiu
Shas'Saal Li'xiu – Wild Pine Tree (Given Name)
Shas'La Shi'ur – Quick Victory
Shas'Ui Da'ka – Dark Strike or The Unseen Blow i.e. 'Assassin's Strike'
Shas'Vre Káu'yr'ejii – Hunt Mother or 'Patient Huntress'
Shas'El Lhas'xan – Jade Dagger
Shas'O Shaserra – Shadowsun (Sun-Sprite) or Mirage

Shas'O'Dal'yth Kais: Eoroal
Shas'Saal'Eoroal – Ghillie or Little Squire (Given Name)
Shas'La'Kais'ka – Skilful Strike
Shas'Ui'Forgol – War Mask
Shas'Vre'Monat'shi – Individual Acting for Victory or 'Victory Through Individual Action'
Shas'El'Lynu – Steadfastness (1)
Shas'El'Kiv'rai'ka – Decisive (2)
Shas'O'Kais – Skillful

War Philosophies or Personal Schools of War:
Ret'ka'h'mont'ka – School of Killing Blow (Shas'O'Shova)
Ret'ka'h'kauyon – School of Patient Hunter School (Shas'O'Shaserra)
Ret'ka'h'monat'shi – School of Victory Through Individual Action School (Shas'O'Kais)
Ret'ka'h'va'or'es va'ka – School of Great Strength, Great Strike School (Shas'O’Or’es’ka)

Last edited by TauMan on Mar 28 2016 02:14, edited 4 times in total.
Viro’los gu brath!

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Post#8 » Dec 05 2015 04:30


This was a overall revision to clean up grammar and readability, tau spelling, and punch-up the overall 'tauness' of the story.

One character got a major name change.
Links updated - new PDF files.
New Tau words (and a few canonical words added too!)
Streamed line for readability
Footnotes removed)

The TauMan Abides
Viro’los gu brath!

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