"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

11 December 2010

The Pilgrimage to Heaven's Needle

A warm sun glittered down on ancient buildings. The remnants of a civilization, which had stood since before time began. No one lived in or near the ruins nowadays. Sheppard's would sometimes bring their flocks to graze on the plentiful vegetation, hoping they would not be stolen by the predators, which stalked the plain. Travelers and pilgrims would occasionally camp the old shells for a night or two, at most, before leaving for their final destination. Others avoided it, believing it to be haunted by the jinn and hungry ghosts.

These remains sat a quarter of a day's travel from any sort of civilization. They were known more as a landmark along the way than anything else. A place between to stop and rest and marvel at what had stood before.

He came to the ruins seeking answers. Or perhaps it was just escape. An oracle in the city had pointed him in this direction after dispensing a bit of prophecy. The stories of jinn and hungry ghosts never bothered him. For some reason, he always felt safe when he camped in their shadows. There was more of a concern of an accidental snakebite, or being attacked by an old or sick predator than anything from beyond the veil.

Upon clambering to the tallest standing tower of the ruins, the one sometimes called Heaven's Needle, and setting up camp, he lit an incense stick and began to meditate. His gaze fixed upon the sky and distant mountains along the horizon. As the day progressed, his eyes did not flinch. Around twilight, he stopped long enough to eat a light meal, before resuming.

He meditated upon prophecy and the tales of old emperors in older empires. Tests and trials. The whispers of the gods and the motion of the stars. When he finally fell asleep, late into the night, the full coin-like moon showed ghostly through a bank of phantasm clouds. Despite having a head full of questions, his slumber was restful.

Upon returning the city, he was at peace. The oracle was nowhere to be found. That was fine. It was something he accepted about their acquaintance. He knew when it was time to have his meditations interpreted, like a warm breeze and a pleasant dream, the oracle would appear once more.

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