I heard this story from the Clouded Era. It was meant to have happened in ZonHu canton, in the province of Suono, not far from where the Tasa and Isa rivers meet.

The story is like this:

One day, a romarcho* from a warlike clan was walking alone through the heat of a summer noon, when he saw a young woman, resting beneath the branches of a fire tree.

She wore the robes of the Kiyani sect. Those were days of ruin, and the ancient temple at Ijuro, near ShonSan, had recently been violated, its treasures sacked and occupants killed or sent fleeing into the countryside around.

Now, this romarcho was a lascivious fellow, and seeing the nun lying there, obviously weary and showing signs of flight and desperation, found himself drawn closer to her.

Yes, they were days of ruin. The romarcho was not an uneducated man, but the struggle and grind of the times had made lust and violence casual. He could see from her robes that she was an eight-chu* nun, wearing the Gram of the Golden Flowers of Glass Mountain. He knew, therefore, that this woman, despite her youth, was a highly illuminated person, of great purity, who should be revered for the clarity of her mind, learning and conduct. Sad to say, this circumstance only excited the romarcho more.

The nun woke up. She sensed at once what the man intended.

She gazed at him in a way that roused in him a kind of wrath, but mixed in with the wrath there was a strange joy. He didn’t need to pretend anything. He could see she understood her situation.

“You Kiyani think you are so pure!” he scoffed. “But I know differently. I know, beneath the mind, there is the body, and the body’s wants, and the body’s weaknesses, and the body’s desires.”

The nun was exhausted from her long journey, and lack of food and sleep. Still, she composed herself enough to say: “Is it the body, or the mind, knows these things?”

She drew her loose robes tighter, and tried to stand, but was too weak.

The romarcho stood over her. He was even more excited now. Her words, which seemed to offer a form of resistance, piqued him.

“Oho!” said he. “You think you are higher than me? That I am a low creature? A dirty thing? I’ll show you about the body! When I’ve finished, you will know about yourself, you will know about me, you will know everything!”

The nun realised she was close to violence and dismay. Yet, she responded calmly:

Because you do not know what you do not know, you do not know what you do know, either.

The Kiyani sect was famous for its study of the philosophy of limitations. She was quoting one of the sect’s sages.

To the romarcho, this was tantamount to a form of mockery. He winced, trying to understand what she had said, but at the same time, angry with himself for even trying to understand.

After a moment, he said:

“Well, I know what I am going to do with you!”

Then, despite her condition, he performed the first of the unspeakable acts upon her. Then, he performed a second unspeakable act.

He left her body under the tree, not even trying to hide it, or cover in any way what he had done.

Such were those days of the Clouded Era.

Shortly afterwards, only a matter of a few minutes, while he was walking on down the road, there was a sudden shower of rain. The romarcho came to a halt, and stood as the rain fell on him. His face grew hard with thought. He glanced up, blinking, into the falling rain, and wiped his face, and then looked along the road, where puddles were already forming.

He found himself troubled.

“I don’t know” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know”.

•     •     •     •     •

*romarcho. Ro means ‘war’, or ‘battle’; Mar means ‘house’, or ‘clan’; Cho means “person”, “human being” or “individual”. Romarcho thus means, literally, “war house/clan person” – a warrior. Specifically, a romarcho is a warrior in the service of a noble clan – rather than, say, a soldier in an army.

*Chu is a measure of spiritual purity, used among the spiritual class in the Land of O. There are ten major grades of chu, and each grade is represented by a particular colour, worn as a ‘gram’, an emblem on an individual’s clothing. The nun in this story had attained the eighth gram, the Gram of the Golden Flowers of Glass Mountain, and so was considered highly illuminated. Only those people to attain ninth chu (the Gram of the Black of the Last Night of Life), or tenth chu (the Gram of the White of Snow Falling on Water) would be considered to have achieved greater enlightenment.