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Author Topic: [Averri] The Tough Questions  (Read 726 times)

Pristine

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[Averri] The Tough Questions
« on: July 27, 2014, 01:52:56 AM »
The sand separated before the Dragonpony, the individual grains sliding aside as if guided by a gentle, but invisible,  force. Graceful circles and curlicues traced themselves into the sugar sand, encircling a few large stones whose cast shadows draped the ground in a shroud of cool purple. The Dragonpony's keen, patient gaze watched the proceedings; a soft smile on his lips proved everything was going smoothly, even though his heart ached. Usually the daily tending of the rock garden was one of Jintu's favorite chores to pull from the bowl; not so, today.

The days of the monks of Caskoll were filled with many such tasks that helped them center themselves and come into closer contact with their inner powers. The monks of Caskoll were some of the most accomplished magic users in Averri, with a long tradition of raising ponies who devoted their magic to doing good deeds for others. The monks would offer themselves to any task they felt they could reasonably accomplish. They had done great things that saved whole towns, and daily they helped townsponies with chores and any small emergencies. The day before yesterday,  Jintu had helped an elderly Earthpony mare retrieve her cat from a tree. His only repayment had been a heartfelt thanks, and that was payment enough.

This time, this particular chore carried more weight for him. He was not finding the solace in the work that he had hoped to. By the time the time-worn but gentle voice broke his concentration with its question, he was fighting to keep his tears from gathering and threatening to slide down his cheeks.

"What troubles you, Acolyte?"

"Nothing is the same. How can I just keep doing this? What am I accomplishing? How am I making the world better?"

"It's common to ask these questions after this sort of thing happens..."

Jintu turned his head away from the Headmaster as he offered the advice. It was exactly what he had expected and didn't want to hear. He had pushed himself to come do his chores, rather than continue to wallow in his misery in bed; had he stayed, it would have been a second day of not leaving the small cot in his quarters since receiving the letter from home informing him of his mother's death. She had finally succumbed to her wasting disease... the one he had joined the monastery in the hopes of learning or praying for a cure.

"Why would any loving Goddess subject her ponies to this? For what purpose does death exist? "

Jintu threw down the rake, the implement ponies tending the rock garden were meant to use. He stomped across his perfectly-furrowed, perfectly-spaced concentric circles completely destroying his morning's whole work. His tail lashed around behind him like a cornered, angry snake, and the glimmer of anger in his eye held that same venomous serpent's spirit.

"Why do we dig the garden every morning?" The ancient Headmaster's tone was as calm and accepting as ever. Jintu turned to look the bent and wizened Pegasuspony in the eye.

"It's just as pointless, isn't it, Headmaster?" Jintu momentarily felt the Headmaster was sympathizing with him, until he saw the look of disappointment in his eyes.

"The sand settles through the day. The vibrations of the hooffalls of every pony in the temple cause the smooth sand to roll back into the ruts and crevices, and every evening the imprint is gone," the Headmaster intoned.

Jintu opened his mouth to argue that this only supported his complaint, but the Headmaster silenced him with a look.

"There are some ponies living under this roof who find their centers when viewing this rock garden and tending to it. When they find their centers and are truly one with their ability to control magic, they can do great deeds."

"Just as the lines ripple outward from the rocks - a simulation of the ripples in water when something touches it - this garden affects ponies, who in turn affect other ponies; it takes only one day of viewing this garden to center one's self and find a good deed to do, so even when the grains have found their places and all trace of the tender's work is gone, its impact continues beyond it."

"Every pony's life matters beyond their death, and every death makes room for another life; another life that has another chance to put its imprint on the world."

With swift movements that belied his age, the Headmaster swept up the rake. He had the power to use magic to create the ripples in the sand, but he carefully began to rake the lines with the simple tool. Jintu watched him and thought back to his patient mother and the way she would grasp the porch broom with her wingclaws, whistling while she cleaned. She had started getting sick when he was very young, but it wasn't until he was in his adolescent years that the disease started to debilitate her. The local monastery-slash-hospital took her in and cared for her, and Jintu spent a lot of time there as a result.

Eventually he agreed to assist at the Head Temple. He didn't want to leave his mother's side, but since coming to the hospital, her health had stopped declining. She insisted he go, and the last five years at the Head Temple had been some of the best of his life. He had helped ponies he could no longer count the number of, and had even been chosen as a future Master. Without his mother's influence and patience, he never would have become what he was.

He sat down and quietly watched the Headmaster work.