Kiyan’s presence in the village was known by all, but noticed or not according to the needs of the persons mingled there – such being the way of a Gusari. Those that had need to see him did, and those focused on their own tasks and intend did not. Thusly, he had a chance to observe three children out of step with contentment – a problem in the making of the sort that called out to him. The three lads were destined by lineage, ability and training to be leaders of the community, such being the way of the village. Yet these three were bent on discord; pairing off in exclusion of the third on any task, or acting alone when a team effort might allow of ease and facility. They must be offered an opportunity to choose a different path – to find a better balance ‘tween will and folly – such being the challenge of all men.

Each afternoon when shadows were half-tall, while women were attending small children and men preparing for nightfall, the Gusari would embrace the gaggle of youths drawn to play and craft. This day Kiyan had each bring a number of small stones to a gathering by a Linden tree. There he showed how to mix the sap of a special bush with soot to form a permanent ink. A shaved raven quill then served to paint on each stone a symbol selected by the child of giving such that each was unique. He added dots for decoration, but also that he might know the identity of the child in secret code. Some were totems, some were objects in nature and others were of imagination, yet all touched on the spirit of the child – such being the way of divination.

The Casting Stones were hidden in a pouch formed of a gathered cloak. The youngest girl reached in and selected three Casters for those who might be ‘volunteers’ for a Sounding. By chance, it seems, these three were quickly identified as belonging to the three lads, who came forth to the cheers of the others, for they were popular if naught else. It was but a game of course, as those not yet matured by ‘right of passage’ could not participate in serious ‘soothing’ – they had not the experience of knowing and value upon which a Sounding could be based. Everyone knew that the only way to influence one’s future was to change perceptions of the past. Yet, all can learn from games as well as the hunt and chore and example and crone lesson – such is the way of children. So it began.

Each by each in turn, the Gusari performed a Sounding for the three, mixed with some juggling and simple slight-of-hand effects with the stones – always with mirth and pretended clumsiness. The lad of the moment selected nine Casters from the pouch – these to shake together and toss upon a grass mat. There they grouped in patterns and relationships of purport known only to Kiyan, though all could see the symbols on face-up stones, and giggle when the hidden ones were turned over – anticipation and guessing having their role to play. Of these the Gusari wove a story for the ‘seeker’, making no presentaments nor identifying the child linked with each Caster. And I need not bore you with particulars, but only the weaving of perceptions that fell like rain upon the lads of choosing.

Each came to know how important it was to rise above the differences that separated them from the others, and to understand the value of working together for the needs of the community. The Soundings were resplendent with phrases like, “when you are lonely you should seek the nest of an eagle,” that being the totem of one of the other boys; or “when you feel upset with another’s actions, cleans yourself in bright waters,” a waterfall being a symbol created by the other youth. Other children were involved also, none realizing that the Gusari knew the ownership of each stone and could draw upon observed attributes and reactions to enhance the ‘magic’ of the Soundings. Each child could draw from the stories that which made sense to them alone while wondering at why their friends seemed to laugh in strange places. Three Soundings, three stories – three blendings of earth and heart and mind and spirit from which the three boys might choose a different path – a chance to grow, never a command. Such is the way of the teacher.

Kiyan knew he would not pass this way again for many years, and might never know of the choices made as these three became men and leaders. For but a moment did his shadow cross theirs. That the game would have an impact on their thoughts he had no doubt. That his future was also bound by the choice to engage the three boys in the process of ‘attention and retention’ was also embraced – such being the way of knowing …

such being the way of faith.

faucon (sent by Trigor)