Winter: 16 years at the Monastery, Spring, five seconds after first flight
Quiet. Stillness. Calm. Sunar hung suspended in the water for an eternal moment, bubbles flowing around him. The exultation of his flight still sang in his bones, but his ki had settled into a satisfied calm. The contrast within him matched the contrast around him: The water sat, calm, flowing ever so slightly as water does, but the bubbles he had brought with him in his dive cascaded hastily toward the surface.
The quiet of the pool, so different after the rush of the wind and the roar of his extended Family’s ki song. His contemplations took only a brief moment, and then a rhythmic sound began to penetrate even to where he floated. The sound of feet, all in unison, pounding on the pool’s deck, flesh driving into concrete. His smile broadened, they had decided that the time had come. He agreed, and he was ready.
It only took a few powerful strokes for him to breach the surface of the pool, and as his head appeared, a relatively, quiet chant joined the staccato stamping. They had begun the Rite. His smile threatened to split his face in two, but that would not do for this occasion. He schooled his features and swam to the pool’s edge.
Everyone moved to the side and let him out of the water, but not a one of them dropped the beat. The pounding washed over him with physical force as a path opened between him and Master Ikthan, who stood flanked by his parents. He heard four splashes behind him, and paused until his friends, and sister, joined him on deck. They flanked him, two on either side, forming an impromptu honor guard and together, they advanced. As they passed, people began to clap in counterpoint to the rhythm of their feet. Stomp, clap, stomp, clap… By the time he reached the master and his parents, a wall of noise crashed in from every side.
He felt a tingle start between his shoulder blades. It radiated from there until it covered his body; a thousand points of light on his skin. He let the exhilaration wash over his skin, but kept it there. His core remained calm, a rock-solid core of quiet nestled beneath his breast.
So easy, now, to keep the emotions from being seen. I feel them as deeply as ever, but now the struggle to keep calm, to ride the emotions rather than fight them, is as easy as breathing
As he neared, Master Ikthan raised a hand. The sound intensified, then the Master closed his fist, and silence fell.
When Ikthan spoke, his words, though no louder than normal speech, carried through the stillness to the edges of the crowd, “Young Sunar, a boy, and an apprentice. No longer. As each of us carries our name, and makes our name our own, so each of us walks our own path, and makes that path our own. That is why, unlike so many of our other tests, there is no prescribed Test of Naming. The test is as unique as the monk’s path, and belongs to him as much as his name.”
“You have lived your life with us, grown, triumphed, failed, learned, played, and enriched us. We have called you Sunar Duskhope, for you came at the dusk of the day, and at the dusk of your parent’s hope for children of their own.
“Now, however, you have outgrown that name, the one which named you as part of your parents, and it is time to for you to choose a name of your own. On this, the dawn of the day, and the dawn of your ability to fly, it is time for you to choose. This name is yours, belongs to you, and you shall choose it.”
Sunar bowed to Master Ikthan. He had spent hours in meditation, and even more hours daydreaming, of how he would handle this moment, of what name he would take. He’d discarded hundreds of ideas over the years, and had a few he planned to choose from when the time came, depending on which seemed right. Now, the moment upon him, he choose one he had never considered, but which he knew was right in more ways than he had ever thought.
He took his father’s hand and bowed over it, “Father, I am no longer a child of dusk, who brought an end to pain. Yet, I am and will always be your son, who -I hope- will always bring flight to your heart.” He then took his mother’s hand, “Mother, I am no longer a child of hope, who came to add to your family. Yet, I am and will always be your son, and -I hope- this will be the dawn of a whole new aspect of love for us both.”
He straightened, and turned to the human who led the temple, who had been his friend, teacher, and disciplinarian for so long. He raised his voice slightly, just enough to be heard by all, “As this is the Dawn of the day, the Dawn of my flight, and the Dawn of the rest of my new life, I take the name Dawnsflight!”
A moment of silence met his words. Master Ikthan looked to his father, who nodded, and his mother, who did the same. A formality, but an important one. He then spoke, “Behold, a new Adept and brother to our temple has arisen. He has passed his self-set test, and shared his joy with us. Come now, my friends and fellows, and give your blessings to Sunar Dawnsflight!”
His mother’s voice rang out behind him, proud and pure. Father joined the ki song, then his sister, his friends, and, one by one, every member of the temple. Finally he joined as well, then the Master’s voice added to the song. It faded quickly, and everyone began to gather towards him.
He moved among them; his friends, his family, his mates in this mountain-top home. A hand clasp here, a tap on the shoulder there, a smile, a word of encouragement or advice. Everyone, even the rivals he knew did not care for him, had something positive for him. It took hours, it took moments, he could hardly tell. Finally, the party began to break up, and everyone headed to the dinning halls for breakfast. Sunar joined them, a spring in his step so strong he had to fight the urge to check and make sure his feet had stayed on the ground.