A Brave Warrior Short Story

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There is a lake on the Tibetan plateau with a promontory connected to the shore by a narrow, low-lying bridge of rocks, negotiable only when there is a sudden lull in the wind which, otherwise, whips up waves, submerging the natural land-bridge. It takes two days of hard riding to circumvent the lake, that is how big it is. The climate is dry, cold and windy, so it takes a long time for dead bodies to decompose, even when they are not embalmed, unless they are immersed directly into the waters of the lake, where fish can feed on them.

An ancient monastery stands on the rocky promontory, sheltering an oracle in its subterranean chambers. The lamas who live there, employ the services of a Brave Warrior to control their wild serfs, who work on
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This would preserve the body without embalming. Two bejeweled swords, one with a scabbard of Chinese jade and one sheathed in gold encrusted with Burmese rubies, were placed, one on either side of his body. His eyes were left open, as a symbol to signify he could see the jeweled weapons, part of the riches promised by the lamas. Then the lamas began to pray for the Oracle to come out from behind the arched mouth of a cave leading off the underground chamber.

They prayed in earnest, in relays, for ten days to the sound of cymbals and the smell of burning incense. They anointed the Brave Warrior’s forehead with cold, brown, sandal wood paste and drew auspicious tantric symbols, with marigold petals, at his feet. At last, the flames from the oil lamps bent away from the cave mouth, indicating that someone, or something, was pushing the air out of the cave, as it approached the chamber opening. The chanting and clanging of cymbals stopped. The voice of the Oracle, old and tired, spoke from the darkness of the
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Look for him in the port city of Samudrabagh after ten years, when he is old enough to begin to appreciate the beauty of skilled workmanship. You will find him among the richest families. Sell the jade sword to him at its true cost, so that he understands it’s value and that of other, jewel encrusted weapons, which you will bring him in the future for his collection. This time round may he fulfill his desires so that he is not born again.”

The lamas waited. The Oracle did not speak again. The flames of the oil lamps burned vertically once more. The Oracle had retreated into the dark caves. They knew what to do. They must pray for the collecter of swords, at least for his
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