The Book of Eight Sages
Within the Door Pavilion
It is at this point that I have ambivalence towards continuing, for the Nu Sing hold the activities within the Door Pavilion sacred and not to be revealed. Only those within the Pavilion are to know what occurs within the Pavilion, and even then, each within truly knows only what occurs with themselves. On the other hand, my Empress charged me to collect and record all knowledge I can acquire, and I suspect she would not be dissuaded by the sensitivities of northern barbarians. In consequence, I have decided to limit my narrative to that of which most Nu Sing are already aware.
Once the Pavilion was sealed, both walls and roof, oil lanterns were lit about the interior giving the Pavilion a warm feeling. The shamans then brought out a large cauldron and called all to come and partake. They began dispensing a dark, bitter drink to all in the tent. After drinking some, I noticed an aura around everyone. Jutuil informed me that it was the same drink Namdan partook of during the Sun Dance. After the drink, the drum beat increased and the dancing more sensual. Jutuil pulled me out into the open area of the Pavilion to dance. As we danced, I looked into her eyes and found myself saying “You’re sad,” and knew right away it was true.
“Yes,” she replied.
“After tonight, I shall not be able to be with you again. When next we meet I shall be married.”
“So Oghutay has found you a husband?”
She made a small smile, “No, but we shall not meet for many months. In that time he shall surely find a prospect to which I cannot say no for the good of the clan.” I tried to say more, but she put a finger to my lips and said, “Let us speak no more of this. We shall have tonight.” Though we spent much of the night together, spending the entire night was not to be. As the night progressed, the drumbeat became faster and more intense. The Door Ceremony proved to be barbaric in its own way. As the drums beat louder and faster, and the dance more exuberant, bodies were pressed together more often. With the excessive exuberance came a deterioration of modesty, propriety and social norms. Soon all restraints were banished and we became like animals. Concerning Jutuil and myself, at first the press of the crowd forced us closer together, but then pushed us apart. The dance seemed to act as flowing water with many currents, forcing us to move about the Pavilion as we danced and pressed together. This brought Jutuil and myself back together again many times, only to again move us apart. Between times, however, we never lacked for company nor companionship, nor did we ever feel jealousy while separated as all that occurred felt natural and appropriate. At some point during the evening, I realized that I had acquired the ability to speak in their tongue. Throughout my stay, I had picked up a few words in the Nu Sing tongue, and could even speak and understand a few phrases. However, within the Pavilion I found myself capable of understanding all that was said to me, and capable of replying in kind fluently. As the drumming reached a fevered pitch, I somehow knew that the time was near for the opening of the Door of Sacred Balasagun. I sought out Jutuil, who I found was likewise seeking me.
We held each other closely when the drumming stopped. Four shamans approached the white hides covering the Door and pulled it open. Behind was a searingly bright white light like that of a clear, noonday sun. So bright was it that I shaded my eyes lest I be blinded. Shadowy forms, mostly standing upright like men were in the light approaching the Door. We were surprised, however, by the first to step out, for it was an albino huranntor, nearly as bright white as the light in the Door and larger even than Subatay. She had, for I knew immediately that it was a she, tusks of jade and eyes of the same color. “T’is Almatay, Spirit of the Earth,” Jutuil whispered in my ear. As the beast cleared the doorway, in a single step she changed into the most beautiful woman my eyes had ever beheld. She wore a pure white dress tied at the waist with an ivy vine. Her hair was long as the tall grass of the steppes and yellowed as in the autumn, and on her brow she wore a wreath of the yew tree. Behind her stepped through many others, most of half beast, half human natures and of all sizes from over twice a man’s height to only a few inches tall. Many flew through the Door on bird or butterfly wings. All, from the smallest to the mightiest carried themselves in great dignity, inspiring much awe. The Great Ones had arrived.