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by Evalei
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #1727310
The 1st chapter of my nameless book.In the midst of group prayer. Honest reviews desired.
Chapter 1: Red Sky

“Your soul is the ocean. It houses wondrous beasts, devouring life as readily as it grants it. This soul of yours, it ebbs and flows, it crashes and caresses, it soars and it breathes ...”
He paused, and my stomach lurched, plummeting into the gap his voice leaves behind. I ached hungrily for more, but Master Kai Fen the Gentle Hand is a frail man. I must remember. He wilts slowly, like the cruel winter of these mountains, it creeps into all the cracks and you taste its bitter sting invading your pores long before the first snowfall. This time, his ragged chain of coughs dragged on, tearing away our movements and our voices into utter stillness. A brother beside me let his spine crumble down a pebble's width, as if it was a bough laden with the ash of Master’s dwindling fire.
The coughing halted with a stiff jolt. He let the silence settle like fallen petals for a crawling moment, for he knows that reckless haste would suggest he fears his sickness. It is not so, for the Gentle Hand sways like a branch of the Goddess tree, teased and tousled by the fickle breath of life, and should he snap free soon ... So be it, for drifting on the golden warmth of the Hasaviana River is a delightful fate he finds no reason to resist.
“Peaceful souls are the sky. It inhales the unruly vapor of emotion cast by the breath of our kind and exhales it as rain, something fruitful and cleansing.”
The eager eyes of the outer circle drifted up to the billowy sky above, the tender blue of it swept with fragile clouds, like the white petal hands of Sweet Dove smoothing over silk. Those of us within the inner circle effortlessly followed the Chuva Al-Naqa mudra; a sacred gesture that begins with covering the heart with the palm of the left hand, while the right drifts from the forehead, across the throat and sternum, and finally meeting the chest to embrace firmly its dark brother. All the while, the fingers of the light brother hand ripple and cascade like rain. A cleansing swathe of the very divine essence itself. Chuva Al-Naqa strips away the sin like rotten bark so that the taintless core can breathe and grow, and the pure roots can burrow and stretch to deliver forgiveness within and without.

I barely caught it, lingering deep within my palms, but the tension was cruel and unmistakable. Claws. In the midst of my Chuva Al-Naqa mudra, the veins inside my hands configured into claws with arched fingers and trembling sinew. Within a heartbeat I smoothed them out. An icy wraith, sickly and writhing, clings to my joints. I let my hands fold curtly behind my back, glancing side to side to scour out any witnesses. No alarmed faces, no appalled scowls. I let out a slow breath. Has all this struggle proved futile?

No! No. That cannot be true. I stand by my progress, resolutely. Only my hands ache now ... Right? The rest are simply the pangs of training. And that charming little nurse, she tells me every morning that my smile is so warm and lovely ... like the “unfolding of Spring into Summer.” My soup has not glazed over with frost the instant I blow on it in over two whole months! And just last week, I caught a glimpse of honey-scarlet smeared across the sky. Just red for now, but I am certain that before long the entire palette of colors will return to my eyes. Patience, Liante, much patience.

The sun had tossed away its gold-blazed gown in favor of a veil that glistened like molten wine. It balanced on the horizon, poised to collapse behind it. Many sets of enamored eyes would be tuned onto the sky very soon, never tiring of having their breath swept into the stars by the splash-fan of warm color the heavens painted to guide the sun into its bed. The hazy eyes of Kai Fen the Gentle Hand were no exception, no matter how many he had marvelled at. He rested his body on the highest balcony, and his bones seemed to crumble into each other the instant he allowed them to relax. A musing sweep of the school cascading below him ended on a tall figure in white, hurling coals into the stomach of the cooking pit. Liante. A dozen different fruits hissed and yelped, their weeping flesh plunged hard into the coals. A leisurely chuckle peeled from Kai Fen's mouth. Liante would never eat raw or cold fruit, insisting in that lone-piano way of his that the taste was more robust when roasted. But Kai Fen was never fooled. His gaze, quietly brewing like the fog a midnight lake exhales, continued to watch as Liante clutched the coals tight in his hands, as if he severely ached to squeeze the steam from their pores. The man's entire body bowed into his hands, clutching ever tighter, shivering with an unruly pain. A wildfire of ecstacy seared across his face, agony galloping a sliver behind, plummeting into his mouth and eyes and neck. It ended with a feverish sigh, and Liante folded onto the ground and stared at the once-fruit husks. This was not the first time the Gentle Hand observed such actions, and again resolved to press more challenge onto the young man. A vessel broke in the sky above, spilling out a lemon-violet. Kai Fen set his face to the heavens, where it would remain until the moon lulled him to sleep. Not once did Liante look to the sky before shutting his eyes. There was no reason to.
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