Pavis back

Evening silence

Clay day, Movement week, Fire season

When Egil arrives at Yodi's quarters that evening, he finds Dori already there.

"Much to learn have you," the duck is saying. Quite how he avoids the usual Duck lithp while retaining his vagarities of grammar is a mystery no-one's ever had the nerve to enquire about."Delegate you must, and trust the younglings to act for you. Hard it is, but must be done, or they will learn not, and you will sleep not. So, want you to use the Silence of Separation? No, want you that the Silence be used for you, and this youngling, use it he will."

"He's got the interest, and the time, and he's closer to Hu to start with," Dori agrees. "He already knows one of the Silences, too. All right, I'm convinced."

"Egil, we want you to not just learn more about Hu's Silence, we want you to learn one specific one. If you can do that, you're in my Ten not just because no-one else seems to want you, but because I've got a definite job for you that no-one else can do. Fair enough?"

Egil nods "Seems fair enough to me, and not just because I no longer have a home, but Hu of the Nine Silences is where I want to take my faith. Which Silence will I learn? Also does learning it stop me from learning the others, will it stop me going deeper into this god?"

He pauses for a moment before he asks, "Can I know what this job is before I decide I want it? I don't want to seem rude or ungrateful but it might be sneak into Illig's tent and get The Sword. I'll admit its unlikely but that's probably a job I'd pass on." His smile is somewhat rueful.

"If you think I'd even consider asking you to do a job I wouldn't do myself..." Dori stops as she realises he's joking."That sounds almost as if you're learning caution. Good. No, the job would simply be to use the Silence of Separation when I ask you to. I've had about enough of random Orlanthi listening in on our conversations, and trying to compete with a Wind Lord in control of the wind won't get me very far. You'd end up sitting in on a lot of conversations that you wouldn't normally hear. The highest risk I can see is that some of them would mean your being oath-bound not to repeat them - to stay silent, in fact. And it's theoretically possible that some of our enemies would be more likely to kill you for what you knew. On the whole, I'd guess that it would take your further into the ways of Silence if anything, but I'm no expert." She looks to Yodi for confirmation, and he nods.

"Good, this will be, to make use of new talents. To learn and not to use, wasteful is."

Egil nods "An oath like that is one I can take and if I know someone might be coming to get me I can be ready all the time. I might need a pet rubble runner to watch out while I'm asleep though. OK, I'd like to know this silence of separation and maybe help you and the legion if I can."

"I'll leave you to it, then." Dori heads back to work, and Yodi eyes her enigmatically. "More than a rubble runner, that one needs."

"Now. Silences you wish to learn, and first, learn the First Silence you must. The Silence of the Mind. 'Only in silence the word, only in dark the light,only in dying life': so said the prophet Ursula. To hear, silent must you be. To think, silent must your mind be. No thoughts of future, no thoughts of past, no thoughts of dinner.

"To think of nothing, hard is. To think of one thing only, hard enough. This you learn, first. Sit, sit, comfortable, so you think not of aching knees."

He drops to the ground, legs splayed in what is presumably a comfortable position for a duck, and motions Egil to a stool.

"Close eyes. Relax - I not bite, no need for rubble-runner guard here. Relax, you have ever done this without ale? Sit. Head up, back straight, not slumping like enlo. About feet, think. Tense, are they? Relax. Now legs - think, relax. And the rest of you. Think, find tension, relax."

He waits, presumably watching, as Egil does this, surprising himself at the little discomforts and awkwardnesses in something as simple as sitting still.

"Now, you think of one thing only. Think of your breath. Slow it not, speed it not, think of it, only. Count the heartbeats for in-breath, count the heart-beats for out-breath. If wander does your mind, pull it back."

This proves surprisingly difficult. Counting to four, and doing so again, soon becomes automatic, and thoughts of almost anything else, such as comparative duck breathing anatomy, rapidly intrude. After what seems an age, Yodi lets him stop. "Not bad, for young human. This you will practice, every morning. If cannot at dawn practice, then later in the day, but practice you will - said there were rules, did I."

At Egil's simple nod of acceptance, Yodi continues. "The Silence of Separation, easier is. Already know you the Death of Sound - the Silence of the Grave. This, you not kill Sound, separate it you do. Sound in here from Sound out there. But to kill Sound, you kill a point with your sword, and closer to that, the more dead the sound. To separate, must a boundary make. So, a small ritual we do to draw boundary, and mark it so know where it is do we."

He pulls a bunch of small reed stakes from a pouch, fastened together with string. "Watch, now, with eyes and with real sight." He uses the stakes to mark out a circle around himself and Egil, but well within the boundaries of the walls: then calls on the Death in his sword, and cuts the air just inside the string circle.
"You still hear me, yes? Go outside the circle, feel the change as you cross, and listen."

Egil watches Yodi intently before he stands and steps out of the circle. The change is apparent immediately, something sounds different but is difficult to pin it down at first. Then after careful thought and standing still and listening he realises he can no longer hear the duck. He can't hear the rustle of his clothes or the faint clink of his sword belt and dagger, even the sound of his breath is absent. Egil steps back into the circle. "I couldn't hear any of the sounds that you made inside this circle, not even the ones you don't make on purpose but just happen by being. Also it seems to me that sounds from the other side of the circle don't pass across so well and they seemed at best to be very dull."

The duck makes a strange snorting noise (perfectly audible). "Imperfect, the Separation is. Imperfect, are all but Hu himself. If Separated Perfectly, with sword of perfect sharpness, then sounds outside not dull would be: Separation only of Inside from Outside, not of Outside from Inside. Imperfect, too, because to keep the Separation, concentrate on it must I. Let it weaken do I, rejoins Inside does Outside, and Outside, Inside."

He does as he describes, and the sounds from outside the circle become clear again: the crisp "ching!" of sword on sword as training continues.

Yodi hands Egil the stakes and string. "Now, do you Separate Inside from Outside. Make your own markers, you will, but for now, these you can use."

Several attempts later, Egil has got the hang of the separation required well enough to do it reliably, and is fairly sure that he could keep it up for an hour or so if he had to. Yodi retrieves his markers.

" A thing for you to think on. Where else seen have you markers, and a boundary, and separation of an area guarded from an area not guarded? Who learnt it, who taught it?"
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