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Chulu walked along the path he had been following for days. He was tired--his feet were sore from walking and walking and he'd abandoned his shoes a few days ago, the forest floor cool and right beneath his soles.
It wasn't so much a path as a feeling that he was traveling the right way, and though the trees and bushes closed in around him from all directions, as long as he followed the path that felt right, they seemed to part in front of him, to let him through.
He was on his way to the temple of the followers of the Path of Iro.
He didn't have a map or directions to follow, he just ... he just knew. His feet found their own way. Each step had been more sure since he'd taken off his shoes, too.
The sun shone through the leaves, dappling the ground, casting living shadows on the simple white tunic he wore. He carried nothing with him, feeling in his heart that he was expected to arrive at the temple with all his baggage left behind. And surely enough, when he grew hungry he found berries and tubers. When he was thirsty, it did not take long before a stream or pond crossed his path.
Chulu continued on for several more days, his tiredness leaving him as each evening found him curled upon a moss-covered rock or in the lee of a low-branched tree, sleeping soundly.
A part of him wondered if he would walk forever, following the path in his heart until his days were over. He was less distressed by the thought than he had imagined he would be.
When he arrived at the temple, it was without warning, so sudden it was most startling.
The temple sprawled in a clearing at the base of a mountain, thebuildings low and simply decorated in nine different colors. A large field bordered it on the right, several men working in it, tilling and picking, filling large woven baskets.
Chulu continued on, going straight to the clean, simple ivory building. This was the right one. He was sure. How he was sure, he did not know, but his instincts had been correct as to which path to travel to find the temple, so he continued to trust them.
There was a small gong on the door and Chulu picked up the clangor that hung from it, hitting the gong timidly. It made a soft noise that seemed to expand in the air, growing slowly louder.
The slender round in the door slowly opened, a young, pale man in a homespun tunic standing in it smiling, nodding. "Welcome to the Ivory Shard, traveler."
Posted November 7, 2010
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