The Book of Eight Sages
A Terrible Discovery
I understand further why the Nu Sing do not speak of the events within the Door Pavilion. That which occurs before the opening of the Door may cause hard feelings and even feuds between neighbors and tribes. That which occurs after the opening of the Door defies description. I truly remember little of what occurred amongst the Great Ones, but I do remember feelings of great serenity and oneness with all. I am certain that I did catch the eye of one of the spirits to enter the Pavilion, and that I had naught to fear from it, for it determined that I had a destiny to fulfill beyond the Pavilion. The Nu Sing believe that they dance, eat, sing and mate with the Great Ones, and I cannot nay say them. Even still these many years later I have dreams and memory flashes of such, though whether true memories or the stuff of imagination I cannot determine. All I know for certain is that I awoke to the sun shining through the Door of Sacred Balasagun.
As I rose, the first thing I noticed was that the outfit given to me by Jutuil was missing. In fact, all my clothes were missing, as were the clothes of the woman I was lying next to. My stirring woke her, and she casually sat up, pressed her cheek to mine, and left. I had no knowledge of who she was. I rose carefully, trying not to awaken those others about me still sleeping. I began a search for both my clothes and Jutuil, pleasantly recalling how the night previous, most of our clothes had been removed by the other. I recalled leaving the riding coat by one of the food tables, and there I found it with Jutuil’s overcoat. I slipped it on, and retrieving Jutuil’s, continued my search. I noted the shamans were already amongst us, inspecting those still sleeping and pouring drinks for those awake. Occasionally, they would carry a sleeping celebrant to the light of the Door, where others still sleeping had been carefully set. I was baffled by this when a shaman approached me with a bowl and wineskin. He filled the bowl from the wineskin and told me to drink all of it. It turned out not to be wine but a strong herbal tea, the primary flavor being ginger root, and quite invigorating. As I returned the bowl, I asked about those being carried to the Door. He told me, “They are those taken by the Great Ones.” Unsure just what that meant, I thanked him and continued my search.
Eventually I found most of my clothes, the sash remained missing, and most of Jutuil’s clothes. I was growing concerned, for by then most of the other celebrants had awakened and were collecting their own clothes, yet I had not seen Jutuil anywhere. Surely she would not have left the Pavilion unclothed. Having avoided it for as long as I could, I realized there was but one place left I had not looked. With some apprehension I approached the Door and gazed upon those so carefully placed there by the shamans. By this time there were only a little more than twenty. ‘Not many out of the hundreds or thousands who were within,’ I thought, ‘Certainly Jutuil would not be there.’ However, looking upon those taken, my stomach lurched and my worst fears were realized. Jutuil lay there amongst the Taken.