White sun on white sky on white mountain peaks.
This is Above.
Above is nothing but puddles of cream against the vastness of green stone and green dust called Below.
Against that line of white and green, hill and mountain and flat plain wide, a few moments ago there shimmered a green carving of a box that fades here and there in dotted lines. Across the wide plain, there lies a sprinkling of monasteries, whose towers rise low into hills and sweep up, seemingly part of the mountains themselves.
Now, the blanched green shows edges of kick-up, of foot-shaped settlements planted in its grassy-hued finery.
But also another set of differences, reflected in the particles of green crystal dust that refuse to settle.
Therefore, the occupant of the box is being tracked by a man with blue eyes.
The monks do not know him.
But they know the box’s owner well.
For this is the student of their master the Hermit. And he has come a long way, but he will find the Hermit absent.
The green chalcedonies crunch under the feet of anyone, really, except for the student of their master.
The student is wearing a camel coat, to-day, and over that a heavy tan dust cloak that dangles an incongruous fluffy bauble from its liripiped hood, but he approaches the twin doors of the Dust Monastery on bare feet, with sand-rubbed red toes like claws dyed green by the settling of the dust. He walks across the waters of the sea.
One by two his feet they fall across the sea, his long ratio of heel to toenail flexing with the shifting waxy stones that gleam dully as though coated with milky oil.
His body sways, lopsidedly, a dying rodent hanging from a hunter’s belt, but he sways across, his arms stuck fast around his sides, enfolding.
The pursuing one is wise; he follows in the student’s steps, picking out the path against the ocean of pale green stones.
Soon, they are both on the other side of the sea…. And from the stark line of cocoa-granite trees, the hands of their branches like wet and muddy sterling where the Monastery walls melt into rock, the black bead eyes of the monks in taupe and tan observe both men.