The man stood before the ashes of a dead fire now as cold as the bitter chill in the air. He reached down and gathered the ash and placed it into his leather pouch. He picked up the feather of the owl laying upon the ground and braided it into his long hair. He took the necklace of wolves’ teeth which was hanging upon a low branch of the ash tree and placed it over his head so that it hung around his neck. Somehow, he knew that the night before an old woman had been there singing songs of the spirit world as she journeyed into the realm of the dead. How he knew this, he was not certain. But know it, he did. It was then when he realised he had no other human memories of his own before this moment.
* * *
Tengri began to sing:
“Silver moon bird ...”
He suddenly stopped! Even though he had entered the second mystical phase, he still stopped.
Tengri had heard a crashing sound. The sound of a quickly moving … animal? ... human? racing without heed nor care of the bushes and trees blocking its path. It came from the North and it was on a course that would intercept his present position.
The fire! Thought Tengri, it is attracted to the fire.
Tengri pulled his knife from the pouch ...
Closer it came … More loudly and quickly did the sound reach his ears.
... I am in the second state, he thought. I am more dangerous as a warrior. I can call the ghost wind ...
... but to call the wind would certainly drain me ...
... I must fight with knife or forsake the mission! Tengri rose and turned to the North ...
... a manbeast! By its sound and its feel, it is both man and animal. A demon?
Tengri relaxed as he saw a black wolf with yellow eyes carrying a silver light in its mouth,
“Kaltak!” Said Tengri in a voice betraying his anger. “Why do you interrupt?
* * *
It all started when Constantine saw an old woman entering backwards into his bed chamber. She was nude except for a feather hanging from her hair and a necklace made of some type of animal teeth hanging around her neck. After entering, she turned around. She was holding some sort of rattle and had lines of some type of grey, powdery substance intricately woven on her body. The woman let her eyes look deeply into his and he saw that they glowed eerily. Mysteriously, mystically they glowed. He was drawn into them. They became his eyes and he saw himself. He saw himself and then she saw himself. He couldn’t tell who was doing the seeing. It was so dizzyingly strange, switching back and forth so quickly that they merged into a oneness. It was if he could think and act as two separate entities and yet he knew that only one was present.
* * *
“Your tongue,” replied Tengri, “is very new and foreign to me as I have only learned it recently by virtue of a gift from the gods. But as I search for words in your tongue, your word ‘Mage’ is inappropriate. In my language I am a shaman of sorts and that word may adequately compare to your Mage except there are still major differences. However, in my own tongue, I am known as a baqca which transcends the abilities of a shaman. It is like being a shaman except that it is more than being a shaman. A translation in my language would also be deathwalker.”
“Deathwalker,” Diana pronounced the words out loud.
“I find in comparison,” continued Tengri, “that the word cannot adequately be defined in Latin. However, the phrase Master of Moonlight is adequate.”
“What does deathwalker mean?” asked Diana.
“It is one who is at home in the world of spirits. One who can freely move through that world and other worlds by riding the fibres of the net.”
“Fibres, net? What is that?”
* * *
His options were limited, either climb as he was or stay and spend the rest of his life thinking about it. He chose the former option.
He felt himself as lightness, as if he danced from fibre to fibre, and he took his first step upwards toward the heaven world of Mergen Tengere.
He felt the sharp edge cut into his foot as he rose to the first rung. He knew that he bled. But as he stood there, he recognised a contrast. There was the pain of being cut, but with that pain there appeared a sharpness of mind. For the first time, he understood the true nature of questions. He understood how to properly inquire into truth.
* * *
Tengri continued, “Fortunately, the same ointment that will protect you from dangers in the void will also protect you from the sun when we arrive.”
“Do you have any of this ointment?”
“This will be your first lesson. I will teach you to hunt the plant from which we will make that potion. I have seen some nearby.”
“Hunt plants?” Diana said with astonishment! “If you’ve already seen them, why not just go and pick them?”
Tengri just looked at her and smiled, “you have a lot to learn, Diana. Plants can be very useful to humans. They can also be harmful and even deadly ...”