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It is given to few people to be there when mountains begin to rise.

And to fewer people, patience to watch the mountains as they grow, presenting their great heights to the sky.

Fewer people still are there at the end, when the mountains are fully risen.

It takes a kind of courage, and a true spirit of endurance, to venture into mountain country.

And to be the first to venture there, to watch the mountains as they form, not knowing how they will grow, how high they will soar, it is the gift of independence, and a kind of courage, too, will single these people out.

Later, perhaps, many will say: Oh, yes, we were there, at the beginning. We knew. We always knew…

Please enjoy:

•DUSTLESS-FIN1

Dustless | Volume 1 || Amazon US / Amazon UK


Re-post | Original post December 2014

They live alone, in a watchtower by a road with no travellers.
Zysoshin, the young son, asks his father the purpose of the road:
what is the road for?

…‘The road, Doda’ he urged.

‘You know most of what the road is for already’ said Shinsota, with a surprising directness.

Zyso realised this meant that the time was nearly up.

Shinsota continued: ‘Who does the road belong to?’

‘You, Doda,’ said Zyso, in a sloppy, half-comic voice.

At this, Shinsota roused himself, and gently began disentangling his son from his embrace. Ah, thought Zyso, in a moment he will be gone.
‘Who does the road belong to?’ asked his father, patiently but deliberately.

This time, Zyso answered quickly and clearly.

‘The emperor.’

‘And who is the emperor?’

‘He is the guardian of the law.’

‘And what is the law?’

‘The law is the Way.’

‘And what is the Way?’

‘The Way is…’ Zyso faltered in the catechism a moment. ‘I forget, Father: what is the Way?’

Shinsota frowned briefly, and completed unwrangling his son from his neck and beard.

‘The Way is All, Zyso. And where and how do we keep the Way? In the Book of the law. And who guards the law? The emperor. The emperor, the law, the Book and the Way – this is our life, this is all. So’ – putting Zyso away from him, so the boy was standing – ‘the road is for our life, and our life is for the road. Time for bed.’

The last words came out clipped definitively.

‘But Father – I don’t understand,’ said Zyso.

‘It will take your life to understand, little Zy, So of Shin,’ his father replied as he stood up with a final, flitting, reminding glance at the gathering darkness. ‘Don’t be in such a hurry.’

Zyso tried, but couldn’t quite let go: ‘But I don’t understand, Father. What is the emperor?’

‘He’s the guardian of the law. Come now, bed – you promised.’

‘I’m going, Father, I promise, but – what is the emperor?’

Shinsota, with his clever, strong hands, quickly rotated his son through 180°, and began propelling him firmly towards the bed.
‘You wouldn’t understand, Zyso. Later, when you’re grown up.’

‘Alright, Father. I defer myself.’ Zyso thought he’d better throw a deference in, almost conversationally – but followed it up with a last, despairingly casual question as the small wooden ladder to the upper bunk touched his fingers: ‘But the emperor – what is he like? Is he like the sky? Like the clouds? What, Doda?’

‘Undress,’ murmured his father, ‘make prostrations and go to bed.’

‘I will, Father.’

Zyso, conceding defeat, began undoing his robe. He waited for his father’s rough, quick kiss, the hands upon his head and the blurred grating of the whiskers against his skin. But, for a moment, the kiss didn’t come.

Oh, thought Zyso. This is a pause. I thought it was the end.

It was quite a long pause – a four-button pause. Zyso also kicked off his right slipper as he worked on the small neat buttons and the button-holes.

Then the pause ended, and something like a new world began for Zyso.

‘The emperor is a man,’ said his father.

Still undressing rapidly, kicking off the left slipper, Zyso half-turned to Shinsota.

‘What is a man, Father?’

Shinsota laughed out loud – a short, half-joyous sound that ended suddenly.

‘A man? Why, I am a man, Zyso.’

‘And the Wizard Brix’ Zyso responded: ‘He is a man. And Captain Bustle…’

Uxo: they are just characters in stories, Zysoshin. They are not real. But the emperor is real. The emperor is a man like me. Only… Higher.’

Zyso wriggled out of his trousers, and stepped away from them, the soft leather making little broken leg shapes on the floor.

Then he paused for a moment, as the thought became too much to ignore, and too great to defer in any way.

‘Do you mean, Father, that there is more than one man?’

‘Too late, now, little So of Shin’ his father murmured. Here, the kiss came, a scuttle of whiskers around the softness of the lips, just touching Zyso’s forehead.

Shinsota also leaned over his sleeping daughter, and kissed a loose strand of her hair.

It was beginning to get dark in the room now, and Zyso knew his father must go up.

The Goodnight came, setting all the bones of the world into the right place, allowing the stars to come, giving sleep permission to hold sway now.

‘Goodnight, Father.’

Shinsota ruffled his son’s hair affectionately.

‘Make your prostrations.’

‘I will, Father.’

Now his father was at the thick, heavy door leading from the parlour to the tower.

Again, when the end seemed to have happened, it hadn’t – it was another pause.

‘And yes, Zyso – there is more than one man. But the way things are, you may never see another. Pray for me, and for your sister. Make your prostrations.’

Shinsota said this over his shoulder, as he moved into the stairwell, and then there was the swing-to, the smooth click as the massive wooden door, hung on the hinges of the light, violet metal that doesn’t rust, shut conclusively behind him.

More than one man?, thought Zyso. Two men? The emperor, and my father?

Is that what the road is for? So that the emperor can come down it? Like in the fairystories? The emperor, who is the guardian of the law?…
But how can there be more than one man? And if there is more than one man, why did Doda say I might never see another? Maybe he is already coming. Maybe he is coming today…

Did I say it was often winter there?

Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

Dustless | Volume 1


Re-post | Original post December 2014

It is given to few people to be there when mountains begin to rise.

And to fewer people, patience to watch the mountains as they grow, presenting their great heights to the sky.

Fewer people still are there at the end, when the mountains are fully risen.

It takes a kind of courage, and a true spirit of endurance, to venture into mountain country.

And to be the first to venture there, to watch the mountains as they form, not knowing how they will grow, how high they will soar, it is the gift of independence, and a kind of courage, too, will single these people out.

Later, perhaps, many will say: Oh, yes, we were there, at the beginning. We knew. We always knew…

Please enjoy:

•DUSTLESS-FIN1

Dustless | Volume 1 || Amazon US / Amazon UK


Re-post | Original post December 2014

 

Dustless | Volume 8

It is known as the Still Building.

It is the building reached through the mind: the building of a different world.

But what happens if the world of the mind grows greater than the world outside the mind? And the ordinary life of pebbles and trees, of family, of work, grows dim and unreal? But the illuminated life of the mind grows brilliant and free?

People speak of delusion, of delirium, of madness: but have they ever truly entered the Still Building?

There is an old ZirCong saying: When the mind swallows the world in which the mind lives, that is the beginning of a new truth.

Along a remote road, to the north, in winter, travellers meet with a man who has entered the Still Building, and become lost there.

Can the travellers believe the strange tales they are told of a world reached through delusion, delirium, madness? If you remain in the world of the Building, wandering without end, will you find in there only loss and decay, the same dust that is found in the ordinary world?

Or is the Building greater than the world from which it rose? Might it be Dustless? Might you find inside you the beginning of a new truth?

•DUSTLESS-FIN8

Dustless | Volume 7

It is RoMayZine to understand: battle is endless.

Men and women struggle in the act of love, they battle: and in the act of birth, women struggle with their child: they battle. Born, a child struggles with the first blazing of the light: the battle of sight begins, and of all the senses.

Decision is battle: life is fought by decision.

Having won the first light, children battle to see and to grow. Men and women battle to keep their children safe. Death battles to take all the living prisoner, to subdue all armies of life, to grow greater the already vast armies of dust.

In a remote province of the Desolate Cantons, two exiles meet, and speak of decisions, speak of war.

One describes a duel with the King of Swords. The other describes life by the sword, in a place humanity may be cast off: the Place of No Footsteps.

To each, battle brings a kind of liberty, freedom from a world of laws, a victory for intense life.

Yet, when their battles are over, have they not drawn closer, after all, to joining the ranks of the armies of dust?

•DUSTLESS-FIN7

Dustless | Volume 6
New worlds are being born all the time. These are young worlds, and young worlds, like young children, grow.

Old worlds await them. Into the old worlds, these young worlds rise.

If worlds are made of dust alone, like people they must age and die, and their dust blow into the wind, and fall away.

Must all growing be dying? Must all the young age, and all youth only fall away?

If there was something more than dust — greater than the dust, higher than the dust — would that mean a life that could keep growing, and not die? An ageless life, forever open, never closed?

Is there a life beyond the dust?


Into an old world, a young child travels, further and further, from the edge of a great empire slowly towards the centre.

And the edge, abandoned by the centre, withers in the freezing depths of a northern winter.

Dereliction and negligence: immense distances, isolated settlements where people survive or flee, and little more.

The law has retreated, the teachings of the book become confused, His Majesty no longer shelters and protects his subjects, no great clan orders and guards the struggling villagers of the Endless Plains.

To a dying world, what can a growing child bring?

From a world of dust, may a Dustless vision rise?

•DUSTLESS-FIN6

Dustless | Volume 5
The sun is hot, and the fields are wide.
I walk, head bowed, towards my village.
The path is hard, the earth is dry.
There is dust on the road, but no horses.
I am thirsty, but the well is far away.
The plains stretch on towards the horizon,
where my way goes.
This is all there is –
and all there is, they say,
fits in a hawk’s eye.

All places, it is said among the Pure, are places of TanZo. Yet, if you are not Pure, what might you think of a place?

For a civilised person, the Endless Plains are famously empty. The air is polluted, the climate extreme – ferociously hot in summer, gnawingly cold in winter.

A civilised person, in a civilised place, may enjoy many aspects of life, but for those condemned for a time to dwell in the Endless Plains, life may well dwindle down to consist of one master wish, a single, essential aim: survival.

A RoMayZine general once looked down at the pitiful remnants of a barbarian force, taken prisoner near the BisMarian Mountains. “They have survived – but what has survived?” he said.

“A human being plots a course between the animals and the angels”, an old ZirCong philosopher once said. And in a SurGaKu amendment: “A human being is a contract between an animal and an angel”.

What might happen, should that ‘contract’ be broken? What might a human being then become?

•DUSTLESS-FIN5

Dustless | Volume 4
It is natural, when embarked upon an arduous journey, to wish for shelter, to seek dwellings. And it is also natural, when circumstances within a particular dwelling place prove too much to bear, to wish to move on, to embark upon a journey, even if that journey should prove to be an arduous one.

The land wants nothing of us, it is only the land. Rocks seek no destiny, thorn trees ask no future, but simply adhere to the natural laws of thorns and earth, winds and water.

Upon a barren road, in the north and east of the empire, three travellers face the challenge of the wintry land. Here, shelter is hard to come by. The tanzo is unyielding. This is a place where space and time have settled, where space eats up the days, and the years dine on the endless plain.

For a poor human being, there seems no escape: it is a place the body must be, and suffer.

What does it avail a traveller upon such a road, to wish and to dream and to question? Is it that, faced with the bitter cold and the hostile earth, the delicate things of dreams and wishes and questions might give some form of shelter? And that questions and dreams and wishes may be the very things to help the traveller to survive? Or do they merely lead further into delusion, back to the bones of the hands and the skull?

•DUSTLESS-FIN4

Dustless | Volume 3
The purpose of a road is to connect one thing with another, and to enable travellers to traverse the landscape with greater ease. Yet, what happens when the land seems too great for the road? and when the road seems endless, connecting the traveller to nothing? What becomes of a journey once it appears to have no destination?

Is this not TanZo? Is this not the Way?

Through remote cantons, on humble beasts, a great lord for a guide, the travellers must follow the road, and endure the land – because there is no other road, and there is no other land.

It is said, among the SurGaKu: “For us, all things, eventually, turn into stories | and only by following the story | do we ever come to know of things”.

The SurGaKu teach: “And all stories, of course, come from the past; and to the past, of course, most stories return”.

And some among the SurGaKu add: “The past is a lost place. Do not go there”.

Dustless | Volume 3

Dustless | Volume 2
At the heart of all things, there are moments; and at the heart of each moment, there is change [Dust Sutra]

It is said, among the ZirCong, that “each thing is complete | yet each thing is also incomplete | and it is us, poor human beings, who bring our incompleteness to all things | with our yearning for power or with our yearning for | the resignation of power”.

Even a world that seems entire to itself, contained within its own boundaries, may neighbour another world. Is not the world of the seen forever at the mercy of the world of the unseen? And the known world, fragile before the jaws of the world of the unknown?

Change is inscribed in the heart of the atoms. The young grow older. The innocent grow corrupt. Those who have homes, lose them. Those who have lost homes, seek them.

Although yearning is a great power, sometimes, even in a vast land, protected by the emptiness of a continent, it is not enough.

•DUSTLESS-FIN2