The Dance of the Koi - Part 1 (Day 3, Khao Rom Temple)

OOC: This is a JP by Winters and Wanderingwolf

For two days, in turn, the group that had taken in wayward Lyen were spoken to one by one by the pair of head Nuns that ran the Khao Rom Temple.

Jinpa and Amoli started their morning with a prayer for their sister, Lyen, and hopefully help find her way back to the path. The temple would be best suited to help where they were failing.

Jinpa gave Lyen a reassuring smile as fresh green tea was served as the trio took a break from their morning prayers.

The Temple was quiet save for the sounds of animals and birds. Spider monkeys launched in the trees napping dates, and the colorful birds sang feeding on the seeds other monks laid down for them.

Monk Yangchen and Ziao, the head Monks, walked in with barely a sound. “Sister Lyen … please join us.” Yangchen said with a gentle motion for her to follow along with the other head monk.

Yangchen looked like any other monk save for a mane of silver hair and a ridiculously long braid that fell past her knees. In spite of her apparent age, time had been kind to Yangchen with dark olive skin and even darker eyes. She had laugh lines and the faint crease of crows feet. The only indication of her station was a wooden medallion that hung around her neck.

Yangchen and Ziao walked greeting other monks as they walked by before taking a seat by the lotus pond with a stone table.

“Please Sister Lyen, have a seat.” Ziao offered as she and Yangchen got comfortable on little seat cushions.

With a short bow, Lyen took the seat across from Yangchen. The brightly colored koi within the pond beneath them swirled slowly in effervescent rhythm; yin chasing yang. Her errant eyes rose to see Ziao’s soft yet stoic face and Yangchen’s gentle gaze.

Lyen breathed the air. It had a sacred quality as if the prayers of those who lived here were suspended in the oxygen to return to the monks and nuns of this temple in their daily breath. She felt a sense of awe mingled with a subtle sense of not belonging. It wasn’t long ago that she had called a temple-like this (but nowhere near as grand) her home. There was a liveliness to this place in the bird’s song and the monkey’s playful munching. Lyen’s eyes traced to her open palms which lay in her lap; not long ago this thumb had pressed her lies into the cortex of an Alliance officer. Before that was her relationship with Dorian--much closer to a man than a nun ought to be. And Marisol. Her cheeks flushed, worried that the elders before her could read her thoughts.

The lies she’d told. The things she’d covered up. The ‘unsavory’ business that the Veil might have perpetuated in which she was a complicit bystander. And that was only to mention the laws of the land--not the tenants of faith.

The Order of the Interverse was an inclusive order, true, but its bedrock were the spiritual principles of the pursuit of enlightenment. Lyen had been tasked by her elders in Santos to sow seeds of enlightenment in a verse full of drought. After ten years of service the head of the temple had sent her away with a stipend: she had truly changed from her youthful folly. Now it was time for her to inspire faith in others.

Had she done that? Lyen bit her lip in thought. She’d taught Dorian to pray. They’d prayed after Gill and Haddie had gone missing. They had prayed before healing their patients. Her mind recollected a conversation with her Captain as they walked down the road into New Kasmir. She’d expressed how she was worried for him; that he might find himself in the need for someone to talk to and Lyen would put herself at his disposal. The stubborn man had played it off in his coy style, and she had no idea if her proposal was taken seriously. No, she couldn’t rightly say that she’d inspired faith in many, Dorian excepted.

Lyen’s brows crinkled slightly as she tried to banish the phantoms before her mind’s eye. Smoothing her robe, the nun regarded the others at the stone table anew. It was courtesy to let those of higher station in the Order choose whether to sit in contemplative silence or to engage in conversation.

Yangchen poured a fragrant tea, lychee, and orange floating from the steaming cups as she passed one to each at the table. She took a grateful sip enjoying the modest pleasure of well-made tea. While they were not mind readers Lyen’s face spoke volumes.

“Please … try the tea and tell us what troubles you.” Yangchen urged with a smile.

There was a common bond among the Sisters of the Order that granted passage passed the stages of suspicion or distrust in another. And so, it was with trust that Lyen proceeded.

“Since I was sent from the monastery,” Ly began, carefully holding the tea cup, “I found passage on a ship that has… caused me to question some of the more strict approaches the Order calls for in pursuit of enlightenment.” The tea smelled lovely and brought her a fresh vision of shopping on Valentine with Jacy. Tea lined the walls in canisters hailing from all corners of the verse. This brew smelled bright and elegant; clearly some members of the temple took great care in procuring the blend.

Her mind stepped to the next shop in their journey on Valentine: Jacy’s ‘business’ took them both to an establishment whose trade was in fleshly desires, and Lyen had been tempted. At the woman’s behest--but no, she couldn’t blame Jacy--she had purchased her own deplorable trinket. It was funny in a sad sentiment, that in the presence of two who had devoted themselves to holiness, all manner of impurities now surfaced to her thoughts.

“I… the world is so much different than inside the walls of the temple. For ten years I learned the way of our order and it saved me. But now I hear whispers from my life before my oath, and I’m having trouble reconciling what is innocuous from what is dangerous.” Ly brought the cup to her lips to taste the fresh combination of lychee and orange.

“Accept your past without regret,” Ziao reminded Lyen. “The past is already gone, it does no good to dwell, concentrate the mind on the present moment. I agree- the temple is very sheltered which is why many choose not to leave, and maybe why you should choose to return, there will always be a place for you, a safe place.”

“It is easy to remain on the path within the walls of the temple but true devotion comes when it is tested.” Yangchen reminded. “It is not our place to judge such things, you must keep an open mind and the universe will surprise you. Things that can be innocuous can be dangerous and something that appears dangerous could be in actuality innocuous but only by opening your heart and mind will you learn to know the difference.” The monk explained with another sip of her tea. “Ten years can sound like a long time but as you are discovering Sister … there is so much more to learn and experience.”

The younger nun paused to reflect on Yangchen and Ziao’s words. The temple was a safe place, that much these last four months on the Lunar Veil hadn’t washed away. Yangchen’s response caused a raised eyebrow, “An open mind--I feel as though my mind is open so wide, I can’t see the edges any longer...”

Unexpectedly, a line from the Metta prayer rose from Lyen.

“May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.

So it is said, but I’m afraid--uncertain of what I might find in myself. Sisters, I’m not strong like you; I’ve seen things, done things, and lied all since I left the temple. Not long ago these things were my first nature,” she chewed her lip, “and I fear worse is just below the surface.” Lyen’s hand reached automatically for the wooden prayer beads at her throat. “I felt like I’d found a home on this ship, got too comfortable, started collecting possessions,” saying these things out loud
caused her to chuckle at her own pettiness, “I even pursued work that puts me in direct contact with one of my greatest fears. If it weren’t for Dorian I don’t know that I’d be strong enough alone.” The tea cooled between her white knuckles.

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