PART 1,2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910,11,1213141516
"Does Sri Khatvanga cause all that misery?" Chamba asked of Drelhu.
The monkey-man laughed. "NO," he said. "He is not an especially good person, but he is not so powerful as to cause all misery and pain!"
"But then what is the connection? It seems that wherever Sri Khatvanga is, there is pain and suffering."
"Ah, Dorje Chamba, you are almost right," said the monkeyman, scratching behind his ear.
"But it is connected another way..."
"That the black magician follows suffering!"
Chamba frowned. "He also causes it!"
"Yes, yes," nodded the grimacing mask, "but only if he cannot find some. 11
"But why? What does he need it for? Who needs suffering?"
"No one, not even Sri Khatvanga."
"But you said..."
"Yes, yes," nodded Drelhu. "But what he wants are the edges of energy."
"Edges ... ?"
Drelhu pursed his lips and shrugged. "For want of a better term, it is better to be inaccurate or silent."
"All events have edges of energy..." continued Drelhu, grinning from ear to ear. "But some are harder to catch, to use. Intense moments are the easiest to see and catch."
"But there are other intense moments besides suffering..."
"Yes," nodded the monkey-man, shifting from foot to foot. "But some have gross edges and others subtle edges."
"Does that mean," Chamba hesitated to ask, looking at the blue framed by the window, "that suffering is more useful?"
"NO, NO," Drelhu shook his head vigorously. "It is
the easiest to see... Even a fool can see suffering. Those with subtle edges are actually more intense, more..."
" ... valuable to catch?" finished Dorje Chamba.
"Yes, " nodded Drelhu.
"But that means ... Sri Khatvanga is a very poor magician."
"Indeed so." The mask pursed its lips and continued. "And in his way, foolish."
"His method backfires and destroys the practitioner if he is careless."
"But the lama says that he cannot be destroyed."
"Yes, true. But not true. There are consequences, a price, for everything. What I meant was that such a constant method will cause changes in a person."
"You mean, a kind person can become an evil one?" suggested Chamba.
"Amongst other things..." And Drelhu looked at his fingernails, which struck Chamba as odd. "One must be careful with the use of E. 0. E."
"E. 0. E"
Drelhu looked at him grinning. "Edges of Energy!"
"E. 0. E.!" laughed Dorje Chamba. "You sound like an American government agency!"
Drelhu sniffed, wrinkled his forehead, and made bubble noises with his lips, then said, "I thought it would make you fell at home."
"You're just a M. M. C.!"
"Monkey-Man Clown!" he explained.
They both laughed. "HA! HA! Hahahah!"
Meba sat in the cave waiting.
It began to snow lightly, but she still waited.
When there was a thin layer coating the ground, she left the shelter of the cave and carefully paced out steps in the snow. She went to the left and then to the right. She made sharp turns and doubled back upon her trail of footprints until they made a large pointed star-pattern which was identical to the pattern on the amulet. Then, with a nimble leap, she jumped to the center without causing any further marks in the snow.
"AUM ... TUT-TE..." she began to chant, tossing colored scarves to the various points of the star. Blue went to this one, green to that one-and so forth and so on.
Then quickly disrobing, she sat in a cross-legged full lotus position and changed her recitation.
The snow began to fall about her nude body. But none collected upon her. It all melted when it touched her skin.
In the moss-covered forest, Dorje Chamba found the tree. It was encased in a thick blanket of moss caused by the weeks of rain. He circled it, stepping carefully upon the wet rocks. The tree hummed at him.
"Know I'm here?" he smiled, putting out his hand.
The tree hummed louder and its upper wet branches shook, dropping an artificial rainfall.
"Careful!" said Chamba. "This won't hurt ... very much!"
His bare hand almost touched the tree. The tree shook hysterically, sending water falling in streams upon his hand. They struck, sizzled, and gave off steam.
He pressed his hand flatly against the tree. Smoke joined the steam as the moss burned, the wood burned. There was a slight indication of flame, but it vanished when he removed his hand.
He smiled at the charred hand-print.
"So this is the home of 'DHI', 'RA', and 'TNA'?"
The moss quickly began to cover over the mark. The tree no longer shook.
"Thank you, " said Chamba.
The tree did not answer.
Carved into the cliffside was the staircase. It was about four feet wide and went up hundreds of feet. He did not know who had made them, but he was very grateful. They were solid and not too steep. It was better than walking up a slick muddy slope. There was no slipping and little possibility of falling into the depths below. "Thank you," he called out to the unknown benefactors. "Thank you..." answered an echo. "Thank..." "Thank..."
It was a long bridge built by unknown people. It went from this side to that side.
Flying at night, it was difficult to identify where one was. "A large city, it ---is a large city. But where?"
Then directly below was a huge diamond. "Imnossible! What could it be?"
It was the Empire State Building. Dropping lower, flying over the water, directly below was only darkness. on this side were the golden lines of light which were New
York City. On that side were the turquoise lines of lights which were New Jersey.
She turned and decided. Meba landed.
The blind man made his way up the stone staircase.
His red-tipped cane carefully struck forward to locate the
He took a step.
That's how he made his way, with the sounds.
It struck the edge of the door, the mop-hand!
"How is it that the syllables work, Drelhu?"
"Do not ask silly questions when you already have the
answer!" grimaced the mask.
"But I don't" began Chamba.
"Yes you do!" snarled Drelhu. "Do not be a fool!"
Dorje Chamba became quiet for a moment. Then he smiled and looked up.
"Pardon me," he said to the monkey-man. The mask nodded.
"Thank you," continued Chamba.
The mask just smiled.
"Thank you, again," Chamba said.
"You are welcome," said Drelhu.
"CIG, NYI, SUM," said Drelhu.
"Cig, nyi, sum," repeated Chamba.
"Repeat that please, slowly," instructed Drelhu.
"Ci-i-i-g, nyi-i-i, su-u-um," said Chamba.
"Good," said the monkey-man. "Now, in combination with the mantra!"
"CIG, NYI, SUM,' intoned Chamba, "HULU, HULU, PAI-I ....
The ground began to shake and boulders were dislodged on the other side of the Chu Po.
Drelhu laughed and clapped his hands. "Stop! Not so fast! We do not wish to change..."
"...the weather?" finished Chamba.
The monkey-man became solemn.
"The weather," he said.
"Where is Geshe-la?"
"Dharma Dorje is in retreat," said the other.
"May I see him?" asked Dorje Chamba.
The broad mask shook back and forth. "I have told you. He is in retreat, meditation, prayer. He cannot be disturbed."
"I'll wait, then," Chamba answered, feeling that he had best be polite.
"You may wait a very long time," the monkey-man answered,
stroking his chin.
Chamba's new-found patience evaporated and exploded into words. "Are you playing some kind of trick on me?"
The monkey-man stared at him. "I had thought," he carefully enunciated, "you had gotten rid of your insane temper."
. But are you.... continued Chamba, ignoring the other's quiet manner.
The monkey-man stared through him.
"When anger arises, meditate on patience!"
He did not reply, feeling that he had been scolded like a child. He clenched and unclenched his teeth.
Rocks cracked above the Chu Po.
They could hear a great thunderstorm south of Cho Tabla. Those rumblings were mixed with the groaning of landslides. Drelhu's expression was full of worry and concern. He kept looking back and forth, from Chamba to the sounds and back again. Finally, he seemed to relax, after telling his friend some funny stories about his life as a monkey in the forest. Chamba laughed at them all.
The sounds from the south stopped.
"You only need one more," said the grimacing mask.
"As a minimum," answered Drelhu.
"It will make it possible for you to change solid lines to broken lines, and vice-versa."
"You mean," asked Dorje Chamba, "the moon into the sun, fire into water... ?"
"Yes, both ways."
"In either direction?"
"Yes," nodded the monkey-man. "Crossing over and crossing back!"
"One to go," smiled Chamba.
"One," said Drelhu, but he did not smile
"The path has to be walked," said Drelhu. "Do not fly...or you will be killed!"
"Yes," he replied.
"The approach in quite easy at first," the monkey-man said. "You will follow an old salt-traders' path level with the river."
"Then there is a ruined village surrounded by cascading streams. You must go up into it, not around. That is the easiest way."
"Do not be careless. many of the paths end in abrupt
falls.The streams are still undermining everything..."
"And do not speak to anyone in that village. There is no one there.
"Oh?" he asked.
"Only ghosts," frowned the monkey-man. "Remember this! Ignore them!"
"All of them," Drelhu insisted.
"Yes," repeated Chamba.
"Beyond that... ?" asked Chamba.
"Is the lake and the gateway chorten. That. will be difficult to pass through."
"Why?" asked Chamba.
"The chorten is under water. You will have to go through it under water," said Drelhu.
"That will not be impossible," he smiled.
"Do not smile!" snapped the monkey-man. "You are not invulnerable! "
"What else?" asked Chamba.
"AH," paused the mask, sniffing and frowning. "The gateway... is ... inhabited."
"What did you say? You spoke so softly...
"The gateway is inhabited!" Drelhu said loudly, popping his eyes open wide.
"Fish?" Chamba said.
"Worse than that!
The monkey-man scratched his ear and looked at, the ceiling. "You will see ... it changes for different people."
"Oh, " said Chamba, not understanding.
"Some do not return to describe what it is."
"Hmmm," said Chamba, trying not to smile, feeling very confident that he could handle the mysterious inhabitant of the underwater chorten.
"Then?" he asked.
"Then..." said Drelhu, "you must kill it ...
"Yes.Kill it ... three times..."
"Stubborn, isn't it?"
The monkey-man scowled. "You may or may not manage to pass the gateway. You may even escape, on this side ... But you must beware of your weakness created by ego!"
"If," said the grimacing mask, "you get to the higher
slopes. well, that will be self-evident."
"May I speak to anyone I meet there?" smiled Chamba.
"Yes, butbeware of them!"
"One to go," he thought. "So many edges of energy.
One to go."
"I don't believe it! HA! HA! Hahahah!
KLACK! KLACK! KLACK! KLACK-KLACK-KLACK! KLACK! KLACK,
The golden sun cracked the rocks.
The moon poured water down aroundtfi-e-m- loosening their grip on the mountainside.
The ice cracked the ornamental cornices on the tall bulidings. Loose ice fell to the heavily-used streets below. East 34th Street. West 34th Street.
There were no longer any hoof-prints in the dust of the trail. It had been a long time since any of the salttraders had passed that way. Ahead he could see the ruined village. It was up high, in a seemingly-impractical position, unless one considered ancient raids and defenses. Whatever the reason for its position, it was now desolate, walls and alleyways with nothing higher than a few feet. No rooftops remained, no completely-enclosed windowopening.
Inside and outside grew grasses and weeds. Once in a while, a giant-appearing thistle would raise its violet head amidst sharp points. As he walked through the ruins, Chamba had the impression that it had been like this since the beginning of time. He knew that could not be true, but that was the sense of the place.
Drelhu was right. He had to watch himself. The streams on either side were busy undercutting the hillock upon which the dead village stood. Streets suddenly ended in space. Luckily, he did not walk without looking where he was putting his feet. At these dead-ends, he climbed back and easily found a detour.
It was a warm sunny day with clouds to prevent the sun from becoming too intense. The brightness kept the destroyed village from becoming depressing.
Just as he reached the highest point amongst the buildings and the center of the village, he saw his first person.
He almost did not think anything about it, or remember Drelhu's words.
"Namaste!" the young woman called from behind a low wall. She was dressed in bright colors, and seemed quite cheerful. He almost answered, when he caught himself. He turned his eyes away from her and continued walking.
Her voice came after him.
"Would you like some tea?"
It sounded so pleasant it was hard to believe that there was any danger. He ignored her.
"Come to my house..." she called. He shivered at that. "There are no houses!" he thought.
"... for tea!" she called.
He did not reply and her voice fell farther back.
Then he saw the scruffy dog. It barked at him. It was a ludicrous watchdog. He passed very close to it.
"Do dogs count?" he wondered to himself. He resisted speaking to the dog, to calm its hopeless barking. It continued long after he had passed.
He was now going downhill. Ahead he could see a manmade lake. It was more like a large pond.
"Could this be what Drelhu meant?" The trail was heading directly to its edge, and he could see it continue on the other side.
He still had not left the village when he heard cries for help. They startled him, and he looked over a collapsing wall in their direction.
Nearby, dangling over the edge of a crumbling cliff, was a young boy, perhaps nine years old. His face was full of desperation as he clutched a plant with two hands. The plant was beginning to tear out its roots.
"Help! I cannot hold on much... longer!"
He took a quick step in the boy's direction, inhaling sharply, about to cry out encouragement. But he stopped suddenly, staring.
Then he turned his back, hoping he was doing the right thing, and walked away.
The cries continued, fainter and fainter, as he left the village and walked to the edge of the lake.
"... help ... me..."
He shook his head.
"Close...." he thought. "By now the plant should have torn loose and by now... close!"
He stared at the cold blue water in front of him. A wind blew across its surface, rippling, rippling. It came from the north.
He stepped into the water.
It was necessary to hold his breath. At first he thought he would have some special protection against the water. But he did not.
The lake had a sloped edge and he felt as if he were walking down it instead of sinking. The water was so clear that it was deceptively air-like. His open eyes caught bouncing light above to remind him where he was.
Immediately before him he saw the sunken chorten. It shone in the clarity and was in perfect condition, including the cresting sun and moon ornaments. Nowhere were there any water plants or growth, as if the water were too cold.But that was not the case. It was strangely warm.
Swimming towards the gateway he suddenly became aware of a presence within it. Bubbles rose from his mouth as the figure revealed itself.
"A beautiful Nepali girl," he thought, a bit surprised when she came floating out, her skirt and black hair billowing about her.
"Doesn't look menacing," he mused.
She smiled as she drew closer with her arms outstretched, welcoming him.
In the water, a sound seemed to vibrate.
But he did not know if it was his imagination and if not, what it meant.
The beautiful face and the cloud of dark hair captured his attention, causing him to become careless. It was the sudden grip of the hands on his throat which reminded him of Drelhu's warning. He gave a burst of bubbles and struggled to free himself. However, her hands were tremendously strong and he could not dislodge them.
In their thrashing struggle in the water he could see her expression changing. He was not even sure that it was a woman any more. Or that it even was human. In the turmoil of water there was a suggestion of coils, or scales ... but that was unimportant! He would drown! He had to act quickly.
But he could not free himself.
"I will drown!"
Lines of golden lights. Lines of turquoise lights. One was New York. One was New Jersey.
"I must do something fast!" thought Chamba.
Striking at the figure did nothing. Pulling at the hands did nothing.
"If I had a weapon ... even a metal..."
And he looked at the rippling face of the woman as he thought, "Dorje!
There was an unbelievable result. The face exploded into an inky cloud which spread quickly, but not before he saw the body of the woman breaking into pieces.
The hands were gone from his throat. In relief, he pushed himself to the surface, gasping and sputtering.
He was happy to be alive.
But he knew that in a moment he had to return to try to pass the underwater gateway.
"What was that?" he asked the blue sky.
It did not answer. The wind rippled the surface of the water into zig-zagging patterns.