This story picks up an ongoing thread around the woman known as the Great Master. You can find her earlier stories on the following link, although this story stands alone.
Her last assailant slid off her sword, hitting the ground with a thump. Blood dripped off the blade as the woman known to some as the Great Master breathed hard. She surveyed her four other attackers. All lay motionless.
She wiped away the blood splattered across her face–mostly theirs. She touched a slice on her left shoulder. Winced. She’d bandage it and need a couple of days for it to heal along with some other bruises she could feel on her body. The Hardforge Mountains had lived up to their reputation.
The area was a death-trap for multiple reasons. Trails were badly maintained. Rockslides, fallen trees, and avalanches during winter blocked or wiped out trails. Water sources were infrequent. Food was hard to find. At least four or five bands of thieves and mercenaries roved the area.
She’d managed all of that for weeks. She left the road at times to avoid places where the terrain could pin her into a difficult position. She camped well out of sight from the road at night and never lit fires despite the intense cold mountain air.
But this band of Ignorati had caught her in a narrow ravine. She’d had no other choice.
She wiped down her sword–Vérité–and re-sheathed it. She placed a hand on her heart and prayed for the people around her. Then she picked up her pack and resumed her journey to Chanter–the Village that Sings.
After a couple days, she reached her goal. Massive gray rock walls encircled the town, and imposing iron doors blocked the main entrance. Two guards leaned against the walls on either side of the entrance. One yawned. Another adjusted himself. They caught sight of her and stretched lazily. One stood up to perform the only function he ever really performed.
“Halt. State your business,” he said in a bored tone of voice.
“The village,” she replied.
“Yes, but is there someone you know here?” the guard responded.
The guard frowned thick dark eyebrows.
“You came here without knowing anyone? Where is the rest of your band? Are you a trader?”
“Not a trader. Just curious. I’m the only one in my band.”
“Did something happen to them?” The guard’s face shifted to worry.
“No. I traveled alone.”
The guards looked at teach other.
“You traveled alone through the Hardforge?”
She smiled. “May I pass. I am very tired.”
The guards took a step back. One knocked on the door to tell the inside guards to open the doors.
As the gates opened, she asked, “Where is a good place to find food?”
“The south market should open soon,” the other guard replied while the first guard stared at her in shock.
“Wonderful. Thank you.”
She walked into Chanter. Immediately, she was struck by the breadth of color that filled the village–a stark contrast to the gray walls and the gray, mostly barren mountains that surrounded this narrow valley. Chanter was known as a source for many minerals used in creating dyes, and the townsfolk clearly enjoyed the benefits of their craft. Tapestries, banners, blown glass, and the people’s clothing exploded with oranges, yellows, reds, greens, blues, purples, and other hues.
She smiled broadly.
She took a breath and then she heard what she’d come to hear: singing.
At first only a few voices, then more joined in. No words, only notes. The vocalizations flowed into her head. The sounds filled her heart. The singing swelled as she got closer to the south market. There, she found people singing amidst their daily activities trading goods, attending to children, minding animals, and doing errands. Adults, the elderly, teenagers, and children also sang. The children played and sang often quite badly, but different adults would pause to help a child find the pitch or to teach them to add new harmonies to the song.
The Great Master joined in, singing what she wanted from a vendor who sang back what they’d like in return. She sang and sang and sang until hunger demanded her attention. Then she settled on a small patch of grass to eat and listen to the beautiful singing.
As the swell of sound subsided, she heard something else. A different note. Another tone separate from the joyful sounds. She listened closer.
It was sobbing.
She moved towards the sound and found a small, thin man weeping at the center of the south market. He sat on a small stool and held his face in one hand.
She knelt down by him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
His narrow eyes squinted at her, but then they relaxed. He melted into her embrace, sobbing deeply. Then the sorrow ebbed. He caught his breath.
“Thank you, friend.”
“You’re welcome, friend,” she replied. “Why have you been crying?”
He sighed heavily.
“I have been a bad person.”
She watched him with a steady, but gentle gaze.
“I was an assassin.”
Her gaze did not waver.
He continued. “I was really good at it. I made lots of money. I had prestige in my order. Then I was commissioned to kill a child…a little boy.” He began to cry again. “I saw his eyes when I entered the room. They cut through me. Something…happened. It’s like a I died.”
The Great Master nodded. “What did you do?”
He shrugged and looked up imploringly to the sky. “I left. I couldn’t understand what I was doing anymore. But failure to complete the job would mean consequences…and someone else would be assigned to finished the job….”
He paused, noticing her sword and the dried blood on her clothes. He pulled back from her.
“Are you here to finish what the survivors couldn’t do?”
“No.” She took out her sword and lay it on the ground. “This is Vérité. It helps me through dark places.”
He relaxed. “Oh. Like the Hardforge.”
“Darker than that.”
His eyes widened.
Then he continued his story. “I set a trap, killed my brother and sister assassins–the only family I’d ever….” He started weeping again.
She continued to watch and be with him.
“But I know the little boy is safe,” he said at last.
She nodded. “Why are you here?”
“I thought…I thought I could find peace here.”
“You cannot find inner peace in the outer world,” the Great Master replied.
“What do I do? Join the Penitents?”
“Come with me.”
“You? Why? Who are you?”
The Great Master smiled deeply. Her dark eyes pierced the man and somehow absorbed him entirely. Deep in that gaze, recognition was achieved. His sorrow dissolved. His path was clear.
“Yes. To the ends of the Earth.” He bowed his head.
She lifted his chin. “What may I call you?”
“You may call me, Amie.” She stood up with a radiance expanding out from her figure that he now could see. “Come. We have a lot of work to do together.”
Interpretation of “The Weeping Man” Allegory
The woman known as the Great Master is a powerful character. I phrase her as “the woman known…” because such titles are often given by others, not by the individual or individuals themselves.
We find her in a very difficult part of the world, but the irony here is that she has consciously chosen to go through it. Where most people avoid difficulty much less extreme difficulty, she has chosen it because she is not afraid of it, and she knows that going through some difficulties can lead to beautiful results.
Despite her respect for the nature of the place she’s investigating–the Hardforge Mountains–she gets confronted by something. Very obviously, the thieves known as Ignorati are indicating ignorance. She gets into a difficult spot because she doesn’t know something, but the truth helps her to overcome it. Her sword’s name is a French word for truth.
However, her use of violence to protect herself is also a comment on the freedom she resides within. She can do whatever is necessary in the moment. She is unbound to any time of way of thinking and believing about life. This is because of the level of realization she embodies. The use of violence is not something 99.9999999% of humans is ready to use well or consciously. Unfortunately, people find ways to justify their use of violence and aggression. That’s how the ego is. It can justify anything.
With that hurdle overcome, she arrives at Chanter. Her abilities to handle such difficulties by hearself impresses the guards and Engagé. It’s more emphasis about who she is and the level of internal power she wields in having transcended her ego.
Then we see her deeply receiving the joy of color and sound in the place she has arrived to.
This is like when any of us have processed a lot of difficulty. There are often moments where we feel deeply joyful and at peace that feel new to us. We had not visited those “places” inside ourselves before. We may have only heard of rumors of them. When we go through a difficult time, we then discover for ourselves the existence of the thing we’d only heard other people talk about. Now it is real for us.
But like any joyful or blissful moment, it comes and goes. The next issue reveals itself. And we meet the weeping man.
The weeping man has just gone through an initial ego death. Now he is very much lost as to what to do. He doesn’t find joy in Chanter because he has so much pain inside of him and has caused so much pain to others. He doesn’t know how to atone for it all.
Here we see the Great Master’s power shown in a different way. She is not unsettled, triggered, or scared by anything he says or has done. Because of that, she can be with him entirely.
There comes a moment when he asks, “Who are you?” This question is a powerful one as my regular readers know. She answers him with a deep communion in silence much like the kuldne kull does with Ruby in The Desert and Rebirth. This wordless communication is where the real conversation happens. This is where he understands in a deep way who she is, and his response to her is to name himself Engagé.
As usual, names mean a lot in my stories. Engagé is a French word that means basically as it sounds. It translates as committed, but in this case, the stories where he and the Great Master are together are going to show something even more powerful than commitment. It’s indicating a kind of connection that isn’t actually specific to her, but I’ll share more on that in later stories.
Finally, the Great Master names herself another French word that means friend, which is actually how Engagé labelled her in his first sentence to her. In a way, she is repeating back to him what he already is willing to accept about her.
There’s more to come with her stories, so stay tuned!