005 - Fly on the wings of it
“What!?” That wrenched me out of the place he had sent me like a splash of cold water. I noticed my hands had suddenly taken a death-grip on the edges of the table. “Lay down the sword? I can’t do that.”
“Oh? You just swore you’d do anything. Second Fire come.”
My thoughts chased themselves in circles. “Lay down the sword. Are you sure I have to? And why?”
“When you first understood what being a warrior meant, did you want to be one?”
I opened my mouth not sure what would come out. It was a whispered, “No.”
“Because of that, bearing it is killing you. It kills everyone, but some faster than others. I am as sure as I can see it in your aura, which is as clear to me as your face, or clearer. Breathe, kraiyaseye. Lay down the sword you never wanted to take up in the first place, or die, those are your choices, it’s simple as that. You think, you were taught, that your own inclination, your choice, was not important, could be overridden without cost. But it can’t; do you think that choice is sacred to all Yeolis except yourself? The cost is your life. How old are you?”
“For someone whose death waits at thirty, twenty-eight is old age. There is another part of you that is just plain tired, that just wants to stop, and get away from all this shit, and death is the only honourable way. It’s all right, let the tears come, they are ones you can’t allow anywhere but here. Let them come.”
Though my body stayed lying down, my mind lost it then, and my tongue ran clean away. He did not answer any of what I said, just knelt with his hands lying gently on me while I cried and thrashed and railed at him that he was mad, that I wasn’t afraid of my death, never had been, and wouldn’t try to squirm out of it now like a coward; that it was too late to put down the cursed sword, I was a warrior to my bones whatever I had wanted as a child; that I was going to take all my blades and get out of here before he dragged me into his madness so he’d better stand aside, and so on. He let me go on. I think, on retrospect, he’d expected it. When it was mostly run out, he laid a finger on my lips and said, “Stop,” and I did.
“You say all this,” he said, “but it’s not what you want. Always it’s the mind that’s full of shit… your body and your spirit know the truth. Else you would throw me off, you would go. Instead you’re lying here still. Deny it?” I just let my tears run silent.
“I know,” he said. “It is very, very hard. I wouldn’t go so fast, if there were more time. You can bear it, even though it seems you can’t; you can.” He took hold of my manhood again, and the streak of feeling through me sent me down deeper. “Before you,” he said, “lies the possibility of a journey. If you take it, I will lead you; you will follow, or not, by choice. If you follow all the way, you will live. If you choose to follow, you have to relinquish your will, like a warrior to a commander. Will you do that?”
As I lifted my hand to take my crystal again, to swear the relinquishment, fear filled me; my tears and my sweat seemed to turn from hot to icy cold. I tried to master myself. His hands did not waver. Inside me was a silent shrieking, even as I felt the beginnings of ecstasy. “Feel the life in you,” he said. “More than anything, life wants to continue forever, so we feel it there most keenly, and so I am touching that part. Now follow the life in you, do what it wants.”
It took everything in me, to mouth the words. I relinquish my will to you, Surya Chaelaecha, in matters of my life and death. It felt like leaping off a cliff. Second Fire come if I am forsworn.
“Good. It’s all right.” There was a sinking and a release all through me; I felt the table seem to press harder against my back and limbs, and realized my body was relaxing. My mind stilled, like falling into a trance, and from then on his every word or motion or idea seemed as great as the world, and touched me bone-deep, with a kind of joy in sensitivity so keen it was almost pain. I fell deeper, beyond words spoken or unspoken, beyond concepts; there was no reality for me but Surya, his hands, his voice, my own breaths in and out like life and death, dark and light, interchanging while my body danced, climbing, to his hand.
“Tell me,” he said. “What do you want?” I didn’t know. “Speak from everything you feel. What do you want, more than anything?”
“To… to live,” I whispered, though neither the voice nor the words seemed like mine.
“Say it declaratively,” he said. “And out loud. What do you want?”
“I want to live.” It was barely more than a whisper.
“Again,” he said. “Keep saying it. Draw the intent out of the pleasure. Feel the life in you, and express its will.”
“I want to live.” It was a struggle; I felt my eyes clench shut, my cheeks tense like rock. My core was on fire with ecstasy. “I want to live.”
“When you hit the peak,” he whispered, “make your cry those words. Say it with freedom, fly on the wings of it.”
I felt the beginnings of the long joy-scream within, unstoppable with any degree of will. “I... want... to... live. I want to live. I want to live. I want to live. I want to live I want to live I want to live I want to live I want to live I WANT TO LIVE I WANT TO LIVE I WANT TO LIVE I WANT TO LIVE...”
It went on; it would not stop; even when I was long past coming, convulsing, agony and ecstasy wracking me at once, I could not stop. I screamed it over and over like a child having a tantrum except there was as much joy in it as anger; I leapt off the table and was all over the room, dancing the desire and the pain of being denied it for all my life, which he told me I was feeling in full for the first time; there was the freedom, the wings as he had said, and I flew, I flew on it as he had commanded, flew and screamed and wanted and demanded, with tears raining, and his encouragements all the way, the life-wish that I had forbidden myself for twenty-one years, until I was empty of everything but a vast white bliss all through my insides, that I had never felt before, that I could remember.
Surya helped me wash and showed me to another room, with a couch. “Sleep,” he said. “No one else is here, you are safe, and I’ll get you back to where you should be when you should be, don’t worry.” I didn’t think I would, but I was gone the moment I closed my eyes.
I slept two beads solid. When I woke, he wouldn’t let me even attempt to walk, but hired a chair to carry me back to the Marble Palace, telling me to come back in two days. The bliss still filled me. I got a notion of swords near; my invisible back-up, seeing me in this state, had quickly decided to make themselves visible. When I got to the Palace, they put me straight into bed. For all I told Kaninjer I had not been drugged, he insisted on checking me from head to foot. I cancelled all my appointments for the evening, fell asleep again, woke just long enough to eat a little and reassure my loves that for all I might be flattened, I felt better than I could describe, then slept solid again, right until dawn.