Yesterday we left off with Jade Carver accepting a commision to carve a jade tree in exchange for a spell that told the future. And so...
Over the next year, Wise One read many scrolls, searching for the best incantations for the spell. He walked the roads of all the surrounding area, listening to the tales of the storytellers and the local gossips. Dismayed, he realized that the number of disquieting things he was hearing about Jade Carver was increasing.
He sought out an old magician, older even than himself, and asked for his advice. "Exalted One, what shall I do? This man is evil. I feel his evil intent for the use of this spell."
Exalted One considered the things that Wise One told him about the jade carver. He thought about the ways the spell could be used, both good and evil. Then, he said, "Wise One, we cannot judge the heart of another man; we cannot know what his intentions are. However, we can guard against the spell being used for evil. This is what you must do…" He taught Wise One how to hedge the spell with guards; patiently, he taught him the ancient words and gestures.
Wise One went back to his hut and practiced all that Exalted One had taught him every day so that he would be ready when Jade Carver returned. Finally, the day came when the carver brought him the jade tree. Wise One marveled that the evil carver could produce something so exquisite. "You must leave now," he said to Jade Carver. "I must have complete concentration and peace to cast the spell. Return tomorrow." The carver, displeased with Wise One's command, left reluctantly.
The next day, when Jade Carver returned, he was astonished at the change in Wise One's appearance. Overnight, he had aged many years; his face had the waxy pallor of impending death and the frantic palsied movements of his hands left him unable to hold his teacup.
Wise One gestured toward the tiny jade tree, wrapped in a scarlet silk cloth. "Take it!" he commanded in a quavery voice. "Take it and leave!"
Snatching the silk-wrapped statue from the low table, Jade Carver slowly backed away. "How does the spell work, old man?"
"When you wish to see the future, remove the silk wrap, hold the tree in both hands, and you will know."
Shoving the hut door open, Jade Carver left, letting the door slam behind him. Hurrying down the path, he unwrapped the scarlet silk, letting it flutter to the ground. Grasping it with both hands, he stumbled to a halt as terrible images flashed through his mind. Gigantic blossoms of flame consumed entire villages and towns; enormous silver birds roared through the air; terrible rockets, taller than the highest hill, shot into a burning blue sky.
He dropped to his knees, fumbling blindly for the scarlet silk. The images continued to bombard him; vast firestorms blew through forests, leveling everything in their path. He found the silk, roughly bundled the tree into it, and sat back on his heels with a sigh of relief when the images stopped.
When he had regained his composure, he decided to go back and berate Wise One. On arriving at the hut, he shoved the door open without knocking, so consumed by his anger that he had no thought for the courtesies. Wise One was stretched out on his pallet in the corner, giving every appearance of peace.
That fueled Jade Carver's anger further; he rushed across the hut, seized Wise One, and shook him roughly until he realized that Wise One was already dead. Horrified, he cast Wise One's body back on the pallet and rushed from the hut, leaving the jade tree behind. Later, he told the villagers that Wise One had gone on a journey seeking enlightenment so on one went near the hut, fearing a curse if they should disturb anything.
One rainy afternoon, many years later, a young monk entered the hut, looking for shelter from the wet and cold. Seeking Wisdom was quite dismayed when he discovered Wise One's remains carelessly dumped on the pallet. Backing away, he stumbled over the scarlet silk bundle. With a wary eye on Wise One, although he was surely beyond the ability to harm him, Seeking Wisdom carried the silk bundle over to the open doorway and carefully unwrapped it enough to see what it was.
A precious object, such as this tree, should never be left in this hut, he thought. What should he do? While he waited for the rain to stop, he meditated on that. Finally, when the storm was over, he decided to go to the village elder. The tree and Wise One's remains needed to be cared for. The village elder should be the one to make the arrangements. Having settled that in his mind, he entered the village and sought out the elder. The shopkeeper told him, "The elder? He lives in the last house on the north road. Just ask for Jade Carver. He will be glad to visit with a monk."
What are Kelly and Amarinda up to? Check Kelly's blog at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ for an interview with author Jaqueline Roth and then pop over to Amarinda's blog at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ to read the latest installment of the Blogga Saga. Blessings on your day.