Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
          Hall of Seasons  







Derry's Wedding



Chapter  19

The Soul of Power

Despite the early hour and the high altitude of Caer Dinan, the sun was already hot in the orchard when Derry sent Geoff on his way. Derry himself was still not too calm after the events of the previous day. Dacia had taken him off guard in both her sudden sweep movement and her acceptance of a proposal he had never meant to make--at least not blurted out in the armory yard in front of numerous witnesses!

He had avoided the hall the previous night by taking a watch on the walls to give himself time and room to think, but he was fairly certain Lady Vivienne would have heard of the incident.

And then there was Lord Michael's expected return later that day. Derry had known Lord Michael virtually all his life, and he was relatively sure the new developments weren't going to be immediately pleasing to the Earl of Drumaere, if only because Lord Michael had given his word to the Council regarding Dacia's marriage. God, what a mess! No wonder he had tossed and turned all night. If he had managed to hide his turmoil from Geoffrey -- which he rather doubted -- he didn't even try to conceal it from San Te. He bowed to the small man who came now to stand before him.

The quiet voice was still commanding.

"Clear your mind, Sing Hi."

Derry relaxed into his posture, hands fisted at his hips, knees bent slightly, back straight. His first attempt to clear his mind failed as he started down his speculative path once more. He shook his head once to clear away the thoughts and after taking several deep breaths was rewarded at last by a measure of the serenity he sought.

"Keep your eyes closed, Sing Hi, and show me Shi Na Ro."

Bringing his feet together, Derry bowed, knowing that he was already lined up facing the East. His first few movements were tentative as he adjusted to moving with his eyes closed, but as he stepped into each individual movement, his postures flowed together, and his mind cleared of everything except the feel of the rhythm of his movements. Almost before he realized it, he was bowing to the East once more, finished with the form.

His hands returning to his sides once more, he relaxed in a standing position and waited for San Te to instruct him further. The next voice he heard was in his mind, but he recognized it as San Te's.

::Now show me Ge Ki Sai,:: the voice said gently. He bowed once more to the East, saying, "Kata, Ge Ki Sai" as San Te had taught him to do to help him fix the pattern in his mind. From the first leap into Stooping Crane, Derry felt different. Charged with energy, he felt a warmth flowing through his body as he progressed through each movement in the form. He began to perceive a subtle, almost inaudible humming in his body, as if he were vibrating with power or energy. Ending the form with a loud "Ki-yasah!!" Derry felt almost bursting with power. His spirit was calm and stilled, but his heart felt flushed with newfound energy. He took a deep breath, slowing his heart rate, bowing to the East and repeating, "Kata, Ge Ki Sai" to formally close the form.

He stood silent and still, awaiting further instructions. After a few moments they came into his head.

::Sit down, Sing Hi. Cross your legs in the form of the lotus flower, placing your hands palm up on your knees.::

Normally Derry would have found the position uncomfortable, but it had been a long time since he had tried it, and he found that now after all of the intense training he had undergone, he could sit comfortably in the position.

::Concentrate on my voice inside your mind, and clear your conscience of outside sounds and thoughts. When you have done so, speak to me without using your mouth. Do not concentrate on how to do this; do not think of why; just do.::

Derry thought that as recently as just several weeks ago he would have protested that this was impossible, but he had come to trust the strange little man so much that he cleared his mind of all thought except one, which he 'sent' to San Te. :: I am ready, Master, :: Derry sent.

He felt the warm whisper of a touch in his mind that reminded him of amusement and laughter. 

:: That is good, Sing Hi, very good. Now, we will move onto the next lesson. ::

Derry felt a hand on his shoulder and saw that San Te was looking down at him with a smile so beautiful it made his heart ache.

"Stand up, Sing Hi," the man said softly. Derry relaxed his position and slid his legs under him, still calm, still centered. He assumed his attention stance as San Te moved in front of him. He noticed that the man was not carrying the staff he always had.

"Now is not the time for questions. Simply know that all will be explained to you in time. For now, I ask that you simply do as I ask. Again, do not ask how; just do." San Te turned slowly, giving Derry time to pull his feet together and bow with him to the East.

San Te then did an unexpected thing and stepped into line with Derry. He assumed a spread-legged, bent kneed stance and nodded his head for Derry to do the same.

"It is time to teach you the movements of Power. In you is the gift of Sen Chi - or the Soul of Power. You are one of those who can manipulate the energy that is within you, as well as that which surrounds you. We will utilize that which is without to begin with and move on to internal workings later. For now, hold out your right hand in a backfist. As you do this, you will gather energy that is around your hand and concentrate it inside your fist. It will look something like this."

San Te smiled slightly as he spoke. He stepped out with his right leg and extended his right hand slowly out in front of him clenched into a fist, knuckles facing away. As he did this, his hand began to glow ever more brightly, so that when his arm was fully extended, the glow surrounding his hand made it slightly painful to look at. San Te turned his head to look back at an open-mouthed Derry.

"Now, Sing Hi, it is your turn. Do not ask how; simply do. You have done this by cupping energy in your hand; the principle is the same." Derry composed himself, shutting his open mouth and concentrating on the words of his Master. As he slowly stepped forward and held out his right hand, he could almost feel the energy surrounding his hand as a physical thing, and he concentrated on bringing it inside his fist. He realized that he was succeeding as his fist began to glow, slowly becoming brighter. He could feel the energy like a second pulse. San Te smiled brilliantly, moving his left leg forward and extending a left-handed backfist, again drawing external energy to him and making his fist glow. Derry smiled in wonder and followed his teacher's example.

As they moved on to kicks, Derry felt that he had more and more control over the energy. He asked San Te, "Why gather it and do nothing with it, Master?" For a moment, San Te did not move.

The next instant he turned facing away from Derry. He jumped, spinning into the air, fists glowing like miniature suns gathered at his waist, and executed a double cross punch, his arms forming an X. Derry was knocked from his feet as the concussion of twin balls of energy hit the earth below San Te.

He spit dirt out of his mouth as San Te stood over him. "I never said we would do nothing with it, Sing Hi. But a demonstration was warranted. Come, you will learn."

San Te walked over to his tree, picking up his staff and laying it across his lap as he sat down. Derry was still examining his hands, getting used to having power at his disposal. He noticed that San Te had closed his eyes and moved over to sit in front of him. He folded his legs into the lotus flower, again marveling that he could accomplish it. San Te's eyes opened slowly, and he pulled a worn cloth from his belt pouch. As he started rubbing the staff with the cloth, Derry realized that the staff shone with an inner light that he had never seen before. His attention was brought back to San Te as he began to speak.

"The Soul of Power is an ancient gift, not much found in this part of the world. This gift allows the person who possesses it to manipulate the energy that surrounds him-or her--and focus it for certain purposes." As Derry started to comment, San Te reached out with the staff to tap Derry on the head. The speed at which this was accomplished was blurring; it made Derry wonder anew just what this man was capable of.

He sat back and closed his eyes as his Master began to speak. "Even in my land, Sen Chi is not common. When the gift is found, the child is sent to the monastery to study and to learn how to control this power. Most stay; few wish to leave after sampling the connection with the infinite."

Derry could hear the minute sounds that occurred around him: the slide of the cloth on the smooth wood, the old man's even breathing, even a cricket from the nearby well house. He relaxed even more deeply than before as San Te's lesson continued.

"In your land, there is the Church, and not much else." Derry detected a slight sarcasm coming from the man. "I will not lecture you on the workings of the Church. I will, however, ask you to suspend your beliefs for a few moments and hear what I have to say. I see that you have found your center. That is good; stay there and simply hear what I will teach."

"My brothers and I believe that the body is merely a house for the soul. You will notice that most of the exercises and forms have taught you more about your body than you had noticed before. The diet that you currently follow was designed to purify the body and cleanse you of things that your body does not need. In this way, the connection between your body and soul is that much clearer." Derry had noticed that the reduction in spiritous drinks and heavy food had sharpened both his mental and physical capabilities. That was evidenced by the relaxed lotus position in which he was now sat comfortably.

"What I will tell you now is something that must not become common knowledge. It is not a secret as you would think, but it will be easier for you if you do not try to make others believe what I am about to tell you." Derry heard San Te pause and get to his feet. A hand on his shoulder stayed him from opening his eyes or getting up. Derry knew, though, what his teacher was doing as he 'saw' him walking around Derry starting South, trailing his staff on the ground, scribing a circle about twelve feet in diameter, closing it in the East. Derry realized with a start that he was sitting in the middle of a warded circle. His eyes snapped open to find San Te sitting in the same position right in front of him. The Master continued as if he had not paused to ward the circle.

"In my land, each soul is on a continuous journey through the ages. In each lifetime, that soul learns certain lessons and carries that knowledge into it's next lifetime. This knowledge is sometimes felt as hunches or feelings until the person learns to tap that former lifetime's worth of knowledge . . . and in your case Power. Your talent is related to your soul's journey." San Te nodded.

"I am referred to as Lao Tsu in some circles. That is not a name, but a title. The soul who is Lao Tsu, or the 'One Who Searches,' is in constant search for his counterpart, or student." San Te's eyes grew hard. "My teacher found me when I was just a boy. It was after my parents were killed by the Emperor's troops. I would have been killed also if not for his intervention. He took me to the temple to care for me and discovered my gift. He was called Lao Tsu, and he named me Hing Tsu, the 'One Who is Found.' Over the next ten years, I learned from him everything he knew about the gift that we shared. His name was Chun Tsi, and he was my father, my teacher, and my friend."

San Te's grip on the staff tightened until his knuckles were white. "He was killed saving some novices in the temple when the Emperor decided that he wanted ultimate rule with no interference from the Monks of Tshin Hai. My master was the Abbot of the Temple at this time and was one of the first killed. His last words to me I will never forget."

San Te seemed oblivious to the tears coursing down his cheeks as he went on. "He ordered me out of the temple with the youngest of the novices, telling me, 'San Te, you are Abbot now; these novices are in your care. Teach them well.' As he went to what he knew would be his death, he handed over this staff, saying fiercely, 'This is the seeker staff, it is imbued with my spirit. San Te! You are now Lao Tsu! I have taught you everything I know. Use it to learn and expand our knowledge of the gift, and seek me out in my next life!' With that, he turned and ran towards the massacre." San Te stood, holding the staff in his hands, and motioned for Derry to rise as well. Derry's mind was racing with what the man had said; somehow he knew what was going to happen next. Locking eyes with Derry, San Te planted the staff in the ground and held out the end to Derry.

His voice was full of emotion as he spoke: "Master, I have found you."



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