Chapter 10 - Gifted
The dojo was as large as the temple and was similar in style but for the addition of a back storage room. Remy made her way to the back room. It held various equipment - old practice swords made of wood, quarter staffs, and different targets for practicing kicks, punches and blocks. Rojin had told her that this temple once had a great following but it had been a decades since it had been open for students to practice. Remy always wanted to ask him more about it - but he would just wave it off - saying that the time had come and gone and was not be dwelled on for now was a time of peace and the need for warriors long gone. Remy even dared to probe for answers from Hisao all she got was, “the old man speaks true.”
The storage room, in addition to the martial supplies, held but one ornate chest. Remy fell into her routine at the sight of it. She looked forward to this part of her day most of all. She opened the lid to the chest and pulled out one of three books that lay inside. Next to the books sat the knife she brought with her on the day she arrived - she took that as well. She gathered up her book, her knife, and grabbed a short wooden sword from one of the racks. Without forgetting the eggs, Remy headed out the back door of the store room and into the trees beyond the homestead.
Remy walked through the woods. Her feet on autopilot taking her to her favourite spot. Here, most of all Remy felt like herself. Her mind could roll over the problems she faced and she could review her journey so far. She had learned the language of her new world at an exceedingly fast pace. Where it took years to become proficient in one language by taking university courses, Remy had become fluent in the language of her current world in a matter of a few weeks. She couldn’t give credit to herself - she knew very well how much she information she was capable of retaining in day - medical school had pushed her too her limits more times than she’d like to admit. But, here, in this place - she never felt like she reached her limit even though she spent hours learning a new concept. Even the next morning, she would expect some sort of mental fatigue - there was none - she could pick up right where she left off.
She toyed with the idea of it being tied to the accelerated healing. That in this world recovery time was shortened. Remy was curious as to why this occurred. Before she was even able to ask Rojin about - he presented her with a possible answer. He called it the Qi of Faith.
He explained it to her on the same night that he showed her the chest in the back room of the dojo.
“It is the energy of our world. The blood that brings life. The nectar for our souls. The Qi can be accessed through service to the Gods. With prayers a farmer can sow a bountiful crop. With dedication a warrior can wield the power in his sword. With meditation one can bring clarity of mind and healing of the body. The Qi of Faith is every where and bestows upon us a great many things.”
Rojin talked calmly, standing next to the ornate chest. For the first time Remy noticed the lines that aged his face, creasing around his eyes and along his cheeks.
“Remy, my dear, these are the memoirs of old,” said Rojin. He leaned over the open chest and retrieved one of the large ancient books. The cover was worn so that any traces of a title was lost. The spine held a geometric symbol - a symbol that Remy could innately translate. The symbol read ‘2’.
“Every temple has a memoir left to its caretaker by the Eiraf,” said Rojin, “the Eiraf were the first holy men. These men were said to have directly spoken to the Gods that govern us. They were given the language of the Gods and tasked with documenting the desires of the deities within these books. Across our land only ten Eirafs ever existed. The last Eiraf past on over one thousand years ago.”
Remy listened in awe. Her eyes locked on the book held in Rojin’s hand.
“In our world individuals are sometimes gifted with strange abilities or talents. The Gods work in mysterious ways assigning peculiar tasks to the most unlikely people. You say you are not from our world and yet here you are. I cannot begin to imagine what the road ahead of you has in store. You have something that has not been seen for over a thousand years. A gift that allows direct access to the words of the Gods - the secrets behind the divine Qi. It is something that many will seek. That many will covet.”
Rojin extended the book to Remy. She reached for it. The pages thick and old, the cover made of solid cured leather. The weight felt tremendous in her hands.
“I cannot ignore what you’ve shown me, my girl,” said Rojin, his voice steady and sure, “take these books. Use them as if they are your own. Don’t refuse - for you are the only one to know what they truly read. For us mere followers of the faith have only teachings past down from the generation before. Whether you choose to enlighten us with its teachings is up to you. The Gods have decided that. You are the one with this gift and thus you are the one to choose how to use it.”
Remy shifted the weight of the book under her arm. It was the third and largest book of the series. It was also the volume that discussed the applications of the Qi of Faith. And today - Remy planned on discovering exactly what it meant. She could hear the small creek that was just over the next hill. There she could spread out along the water. The trees still grew tall providing lots of shade and the sound of the moving creek added to the peaceful atmosphere. It was Remy’s ideal place to study.
Studying language was easy. Remy could practice it constantly and repetition lead to a quick mastery. These texts proved far more difficult. The writing, though she could innately interpret the symbols, actually translating the text into sensible terms was frustrating. The words were not separated by any punctuations and the symbols were not separated by distinguishable spaces. It was like reading Morse Code. Remy had to figure out were one word ended and the other began. Once she deciphered the words she had to construct the sentences. More often than not, the sentence was poetic in nature. The meaning ambiguous and open ended.
She sat down on her favourite rock. It was flat and wide allowing for lots of room to spread out and work. Remy set down her supplies - the basket of full of eggs, the ancient knife clad in leather, the wooden short sword, and volume 3 of the Memoirs of Orodoki. She opened the book and tugged out one of her notebooks from home. She had stored it within the pages of the large book using it as a bookmark and to take notes of the text that she translates.
To Remy the term ‘memoirs’ was an accurate description. Even though the writer of the text often wrote in prose - the prose often times read like a journal. It was an Eirafs documentation of the wishes of a God called Orodoki. From the text Remy figured it was the same God worshipped at Hisao and Rojin’s temple. She found the teachings in Volumes 1 and 2 to be synonymous with the motto on the statue in the temple, ‘be humble, for the unknown is thy master’. Remy had translated as much as she could. The teachings urged for man to be humbled by his future for the path he walks, though directed by his choices, is inevitably left up to some degree of chance. Volume one explains that man should embrace chance - to revel in it and to never fear it. While volume two discusses a ‘realm of possibilities’. Or was it probabilities? Remy couldn’t exactly figure out which one. Volume two was far more abstracted than volume one. So abstract that Remy even doubted the Eiraf understood what he was writing.
The third volume was far more concrete and by far Remy’s favourite. It was a book dedicated to Orodoki’s Qi. It was essentially a manual for how to properly access the Qi of Faith. At first Remy had believed that ‘Qi of Faith’ was a figurative term - sort of like karma on Earth. Like an intangible currency based on one’s personal belief system. The Qi of Faith was still just that - but it book talked of harnessing it as if it was something that could be collected and then used.
Remy flipped open her notebook, the pages filled with notes from memoirs volume one and two. Question marks were frequent and circles encased words with lines stretching to the margins holding various interpretations. Remy flipped through to the place that she left off. She was mid-way through the third volume and had finished the day translating a poem. The memoirs, though written like a journal, never spoke from the first person perspective - whereby the author avoids using the term ‘I’ in his descriptions. The poem at the center of the third volume was the only exception.
Her notebook sat open to her translation of the poem:
I am not the one who cries in jubilation
I am not the one who rests content or satisfied
I am not the one who strives for admiration
Nor the one who cowers in humiliation
I do not partake in distress or hardships
Nor do I seek vindications justified
I am not the one who longs for affection
Nor the one who desires ones attentions
I am not reduced by shock or fright
Nor do I tremble with disquiet
I am the one who falls between all these
The one who waits unexpectedly
It was as if Orodoki was describing himself - not the Eiraf explaining his nature. But that’s all Remy could figure - she had no clue what it meant or exactly how it related to the lessons regarding the Qi of Faith. Of all the readings thus far - this was the most peculiar and distinct. She tapped her pen against the page and tutted. Having translated it the day before, she wondered if letting it stew overnight would bring some clarity - it did not.
Remy decided to move on. She was, in fact, more interested in the pages beyond the poem for they held literal instructions on creating artifacts to ‘harness Qi’ - specifically Orodoki’s Qi. Remy turned the ancient page. She had read a bit ahead and knew that she needed an object that would act as a channel for the energy and aid in gaining access to it. For that - she had brought the wooden practice short sword.
Remy picked up the leather wrapped knife. Carefully she unfolded its makeshift sheath. Remy eyes went back to the page. The instructions were clear. She need to mark her ‘talisman’ with the spirit of Orodoki. The symbols where laid out in sequence - some were ones she had seen before like ‘revelations’ and ‘wonderment’ but others she found too difficult to read. It was almost as if they acted like an optical illusion - she could see many words in one symbol and the longer she stared the more it would change.
Remy blinked to clear her vision and went to work. She did her best with her knife to whittle the symbols into the bottom of the wooden blade of the practice sword. After a solid hour’s worth of work, Remy blew away the last of the flakes of wood. Her work was crude - definitely not an exact replica of what was written on the page but she was no expert wood worker. She put away her knife and picked up the wooden sword.
It felt the same as before. The wood didn’t tingle in her hand - nor glow with a mysterious aura. Remy didn’t really know what she was expecting - but regardless she felt a little disappointed. She had been given a gift of reading “Gods” words and a mysterious knife transported her to a strange world where people with major wounds healed within days. As soon as she discovered this “Qi” she had wondered if this was the force responsible. And if she had a chance to study it - to understand it - perhaps she could use it to get home.
Remy waved the short sword in front of her as if it were a wand. She had to admit to herself that she was jumping to conclusions faster than she usually did. Clinging to the hope of a quick fix. But, discovery took time - countless experiments of trial and error. Maybe she was just being a silly girl reading into an work of fiction - putting money into a religion that was all smoke and mirrors - or maybe there was truly something to it. It would take time and a lot of work to find out.
Remy got to her feet sword still in hand. She had never really held one before. It felt heavy and awkward against her palm. Remy took the stance she had seen Hisao take in the market - on the day he had fought the three thugs. Just like Hisao, Remy swung the sword out to block the imaginary hand her foe. She mimicked Hisao movement and dodged her foe’s punch then rounded him - twisting as she went to bring the wooden sword crashing down on the back of her ghostly foe’s neck.
Remy stood gloating over decimating her enemy - her completely non-threatening, entirely imaginary enemy. Regardless, she found she liked the feeling of the sword and what had felt awkward only moment ago now felt comfortable and familiar. Maybe she would have to get Rojin to show her a few moves when she got back - - - wait. Remy paused to listen.
Was someone clapping?
Yes. Yes there was. Remy had an audience. Hisao stood at the top of the hill, casually leaning against the side of a tree, applauding.