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[11] Dun fi was questioned by the Wakat Gokhan and the Elder Na-Shime till long after Se-Lim had finished his journey.

They asked about Lu Mīn’s abilities and where he got them, asked for details about the community that he and Lu Mīn had called home. They asked what Dun-fi knew of Lu Mīn’s abilities, and if anyone else seemed to have them.

Dun fi answered as best he could, hoping he was being clever and intentionally forgetting parts that were important, such as the attack that had taken place the night before. 

But soon his tiredness overcame him, and when the two inquisitors began to ask questions they had asked before, noting differences and pursuing them, Dun fi began to weep with grief and confusion. 

The Elder Na-Shime took Dun fi home with him, watchful but silent in the darkness of Se-Lim’s absence.

Though he had been a harsh interrogator, the Elder Na-Shime softened back into his former self, offering Dun fi a grand meal, freshly prepared with a large decanter of ripe Lai-se to drink. They ate in silence, the Elder Na-Shime watching closely as Dun fi’s cheeks regained their colour and his eyes became heavy with sleep. 

—The best thing for bereavement concerning lost ones is rest.—The Elder Na-Shime grasped Dun fi’s arm and led him to his room.—Smell this cloth to have a long and dreamless rest.—

Dun-fi took the cloth, and collapsed into a heap upon his place of rest, without saying another word. Neither did he again open his mouth for many passages thereafter. But he continued to train in the School of the Wakat. Few came close; Even his former friends took care not to approach the tall and grim faced Dun fi. Some even began to call him the Wu-sheng, the Silent One, for he did not even utter the battle cries. His fighting became fiercer—such that none could refuse him victory in the practices. Few dared even to challenge him, for the strength with which he struck could break bones. 

Only two kept up with his coming and going from the Wakat School: Ginse, who always stayed a healthy distance behind Dun-fi, especially when alone, and the Na-Shizu, Lim-ki, who would wait in the Nashime entrance or stand on the way between it and the Elder Na-Shime’s dwelling. If Dun fi marked either person’s presence, he did not show it. Instead, he refused to even lock eyes with anyone, except during battle practice. 

Dun fi spent his free time more and more by the Great Water. He walked along the edge, watching the hunters of Waachi until Se-Lim disappeared and, one by one, the Authorities appeared. Then he would sit down and look at the Authorities, speaking silently to them until tiredness would overcome him. On some occasions he found the energy to return to the dwelling of the Elder Na-Shime, but many times he simply fell over to sleep where he was. 

Many more passages of Se-Lim passed in this way, with no sound or even whisper of Lu Mīn to be heard from the anxious city, though many thought of him. Ku-Na-Zem, which had fluttered like a host of windgoers with the news of Lu Mīn’s Test, returned to tranquillity, however false. 

After several octagens of passages, Dun-fi returned to the dwelling of the Elder Na-Shime. He had not been there for a long while, and a powerful hunger possessed him. Before its entrance stood the Elder Na-Shime, accompanied by two Graduates of the Schools, almost as big as Dun-fi himself, and Ginse.

—This one here says he has heard the tinkling of a bell in the wild places outside of Ku-Na-Zem.—The Elder Na-Shime looked closely at Dun-fi, who turned red in the face, and pointed at Ginse. –He believes that it is the bell of Loosu Mīn.—

The Elder Na-Shime paused for a long moment, staring at Dun-fi as if through him, before speaking again. 

—You will accompany these ones to see if you too can hear the sounds, and, if possible, make contact with him.—

—And if I refuse?—Dun fi’s muscles began to twitch uncontrollably. 

—Then you will have no place in my dwelling, or in the Schools.—The Elder Na-Shime was calm, though hard, like a knife.—You have nothing to fear for your friend. He will not be killed, if he is found.—

Dun fi nodded, and without a word turned around. 

—What are we waiting for, Ginse. Where is the place you hear this bell?—

***

Se-Lim had disappeared when Dun fi, accompanied by Ginse and the two Graduates of the Schools, left behind the comforting lights of Ku-Na-Zem. They passed beyond the orchards of the Lai-se, and the quiet walled gardens that contained some softly mewing Fan-di. 

—Do you often travel so far from Ku-Na-Zem, Ginse?—Dun fi spoke with a sharp tone, his face containing a smile full of ice. 

But Ginse returned the smile and said nothing.

When their feet began to sink into the Soft-Earth that surrounded the darker trees of the real forest, they stopped. 

—We will not light a fire, so not to alert him of our presence.—Ginse spoke his first words with a sense of command, as the Graduates nodded and looked at Dun fi.

—And what are we meant to do?—Dun fi looked around him, peering into the darkness that covered even the Authorities, though the brighter ones managed to cast shadows through the trees. 

—Listen.—Ginse, pointed around at the branches, which twisted and turned with creaking in the soft wind. 

—There is much to hear.—Dun fi spoke after a moment, twisting around before finding a hard seat on a tree root.—but no bells.—

—It could be an Authority you heard, Ginse.—One of the Graduates looked at the shadowy figure that stood upon a tree root swaying.—Their voices are said to sound like bells.—

—Or it could have been a lost Fan-di.—the other laughed.—Perhaps we can catch it and eat well tonight.—

—Fan-di don’t venture onto the soft earth.—Dun fi answered, before he could stop himself.

They waited in silence for a long time; Dun fi crouched and alert, Ginse nervously moving back and forth, while the two Graduates drifted off to sleep. 

The darkness had somehow become deeper when they first heard the sound. Dun fi started out of his meditation, Ginse jumped up and pulled out his wakat, which shimmered in the dark. 

It was the sound of a little bell, clearly ringing as if a hand was shaking it to wake one from a deep sleep. 

—Come out, Loosu!—shouted Ginse, slicing at the air in every direction. He missed Dun fi by a short distance as he cut small tree branches. –I know tis you!—

As a response, the bell kept ringing its sharp, uninterrupted ring.  

Then a voice accompanied the bell. It was a voice Dun fi knew well, though it seemed to echo like a voice in a deep cavern. 

Look for It, 

You search in vain. 

Desire It, 

You enter its power. 

Grasp It, 

It disappears. 

Ginse intensified his slashing, calling and shouting. But Dun fi had forgotten to pay him heed.

—Gokhanse!—Dun fi began, his arms outstretched.—Tell me where I can find you.—

The bell kept ringing as the answer came back in a loud, and simultaneously distant tone. 

I am

In the Signs

Find the Signs 

Find me. 

Dun fi spoke above the tone of the bell, which made a merry sound, full of life.—Where can I begin to see them?—

To see the Signs 

First you must be able to See. 

Where the sky opens 

Near to the Authorities, 

There 

You might begin to See.

The bell abruptly stopped ringing and the disembodied voice became silent. This did not stop Ginse from thrashing and shouting, looking everywhere for the source of the voice. 

Dun fi grabbed him, lifting Ginse off of his feet to look him in the face.

—Enough.—

Ginse sneered and spat into Dun fi’s face, then screeched in pain. 

With a thud, a rock had landed on the back of his head. 

—You will learn some respect, filth!—A high voice shot from a nearby tree. A lithe shadow dropped down upon a root, picking up the shimmering wakat Ginse had dropped. 

—Or, I shall spill your blood here, and be glad of the task.—the shadow became Lim ki. 

Ginse wimpered and rubbed his head, but he espied the Wakat edge and said nothing. 

—We must leave now, Dun fi.—Lim ki’s look was full of excitement.—Leave now to find him in the place of which he speaks.—

—But he spoke of no place.—replied Dun fi, still holding Ginse, who kept wimpering and rubbing his head.

—Not true. We will find it.—Lim ki’s eyes shone in the reflection of the shimmering wakat.—Come, before they wake.—

—You shall go nowhere without me.—Ginse turned to look upon his assailant.—Or I shall make a noise to wake the Graduates.—

—You would regret that, filth.—Lim ki brought the wakat closer to Ginse. 

—no, Lim ki.—Dun fi shook his head and put Ginse back upon the ground.—we will spill no blood.—

—Then you will take me to him.—Ginse crossed his arms. 

Dun fi grabbed the few possessions he had with him. —Then let us away, before your wimpering wakes them.—he spoke, striding into the forest.

—Why are you going that way, Dun fi?—Lim ki had already begun to follow him. 

—Because the mountains are this way.—Dun fi nodded. –Where else does the Sky open near to the Authorities?—

Continue reading The Life of Lu-Min - Part 10 

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