Phoebe's Journey Part 4

Chapter 15: Misunderstanding

It was late when I woke up. Mehli said I walked last night again. This time, she and Toni were alerted and kept an eye on me, and I didn't leave the building. I wonder what the spirits see when they walk around our world in my body?

Mehli and I were in no hurry to get downstairs, so we stayed in and emerged for lunch. Lady Miyara was still in bed, and Sun said she wasn't feeling well. A headache, I suppose. I tried to get the spirits to heal one of them once, though she said others have tried and failed. I and I failed, too. She explained once that they started after the battle that took her eye. She sees it as a battle scar that must be endured, I think. I think that takes thing a little too far, but I also think there's a spirit behind it somewhere. Vengeful? Hateful? Just mischievous and tormenting her because it can? No telling, unless I can find the elusive spirit and ... well, I won't know unless I find it.

Anyway, Lady Miyara came down towards the end of lunch, restored to her usual self. Well, not quite her usual self, which hate inaction. Today, she was content to remain at home and merely practice at swords with Toni. Mehli communed with herself and her bow. I arranged myself comfortably and lost myself in thought with the sounds of battle in the background.

Before dinner, I told Mehli quietly that I had an appointment and left for Lord Kinto's house. My shadows were my only company.

I expected a few quiet scholars. Instead, there were about 25 people. A bizarre mixture of nobles, half-people, and non-people, as the Nipponese reckon things. No one looked at me askance, certainly.

It was more like a seminar, rather than a spiritual meeting. There was a spirited discussion, and even debating, over some scrolls. My thoughts kind of wandered a little. I didn't really understand what they were talking about.

Eventually, I put some things together. Lord Kinto found the scrolls in this garden, and he translated them. So partly, they were debating his translations. But mostly the meanings. And then I realized why I was lost. It wasn't really me that was lost: they were.

They were talking about how the world really works, and trying to figure out the hidden mechanisms that make the whole world happen. So they were really debating the spirit world, but totally missed the point.

They believe the spirit world, or the metaphysical world as they called it, was merely a reflection of their own thoughts and prejudices, and that by changing their attitudes and thought, which creates that metaphysical world that drives the real world, that those changes would also change the real world. So these outsiders in the Nipponese world think they can overthrow the existing political/religious paradigm and replace it one of rational thought.

So close, and yet so very far.

I was silent through all this, just learning what they were doing. But finally, I broke in and tried to help them understand how things really work. But they just didn't see it. They're very set in their ways. For all that they're trying to change their world, they still don't accept the truly other.

They argued with me, quoted their scrolls, and I tried to explain where they went wrong. But I might as well have been speaking in Kislev. They looked at me like I'd grown another head on my shoulders.

Lord Kinto tried to smooth things over, but mostly by trying to change my mind, not by listening and trying to understand what I said. He tried to change my mind by creating some simple fireworks. The colored sparkles falling all around us were pretty, but I didn't really see the point. As if because he could create fireworks without consulting spirits, that meant somehow that spirits didn't exist. Silly. I expected better logic from him than that. He just said it was complicated and I would understand eventually.

That left me at a total loss for words, and Lord Kinto suggested that perhaps I should try to contact the naga now.

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the spirit discloses.

Well, that was exactly what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, they weren't interested in me tonight.

I knew from the my last communion with the naga, that I would only find one if it wanted to be found. I did what I could, what I do.

He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that he gave to me within my heart is ringing.

I sat down in what felt like the right place in the garden. I drummed, chanted to myself, and cast myself across the veil into the spirit world. It took quite a while, longer than usual. The waves of total incomprehension and obstinacy disrupted the veil.

I'd stay in the garden with him, though the night around me be falling, but he bids me go; through the voice of woe, his voice to me is calling.

Once there, I looked. But mostly I just was, and knew that if the naga wanted to meet with me, it would. None did. I wonder if it discovered everything it needed to know about me last time, and therefore will never appear to me again. How sad that would be.

I came back to myself, unsuccessful but still feeling much more serene and myself again.

Everyone else seemed disappointed in my failure, thought I didn't think they expected anything really. Well, Lord Kinto hope for something, but I'm still not quite sure what he thinks I'm really doing.

I asked about the original scrolls, and Lord Kinto kept them in the garden house. I asked to see them, and he agreed, but called the meeting to a close first. He and I returned to the garden house after everyone else said their goodbyes and left.

I wondered what the spirits would tell me about them. I held them, and threw myself in their feeling. I reached back, bracing myself for the emotions of thousands of years of turmoil.


The most exciting thing these scrolls have ever been a part of was Lord Kinto finding them. I wonder what they really say, and how far off Lord Kinto's assumptions and translation are.

He said, "I really believe that you are meant to be a part of this group. I understand that the ideas spoken about here are very radical. I hope that you can keep an open mind, continue to come to the meetings, and see where it takes me."

I planned to come back anyway, but his lecture was a trifle irritating from someone who himself refused to see anything outside of his own assumptions. I merely said, "I am very willing to come to your meetings, but you must also keep an open mind."

"I'll try." He showed me out, and that was the end of a rather disappointing evening.