Winter: 16 years at the Monastery, Morning after snow ski bet.
Sunar perched atop the gazebo at the highest point of the temple, deep in his morning meditation. He kept his eyes open, his back to the valley, and faced the world outside. He could just see the sun just hit the peaks to either side of him out of the corners of his eyes, and he could sense Master Ikthan in the gazebo below him attending to his own morning renewal.
The sun crept its way down the peaks, and he felt his heart try to speed up in anticipation, as always. He concentrated to slow it down, to harness the energy coming from his core rather than letting it be wasted on anticipation, and found it more difficult than normal. A smile tickled the edges of his lips as a face appeared in his mind’s eye, the reason for his added impatience this day, and he harnessed that anticipatory energy as well.
Why wait? He relaxed further, let his eyes fall mostly closed, and altered his perception of time. The sunlight’s glacial progress from the mountain tops sped until it resembled his races the day before. As the sun kissed his brow he began to return time to its normal flow, and everything around him started to slow down.
So much energy to burn off this morning. Dueling Falcon kata it is, then. I think I have this one almost perfected, I will have to write it down soon, send it out on the net, see if there are others who would benefit. With that thought, the sun hit his feet, and he leapt into the air with wings spread wide.
He worked his wings hard, pushed straight up for several powerful strokes. His wingsails cupped the air, and let him push on it almost as though it were solid. He gained a hundred feet of altitude then moved to a less direct, but still upward, angle and allowed himself to glide a moment. He climbed for another few hundred feet, then began.
Feet forward into a modified mule kick, wings back for support. Level flight. Barrel roll with side motion, come out facing the ground, angle to vertical, Tiger-rakes-the-wind, hover, hummingbird punch, arch back, sky-facing flight; wing-over, dive, swoop, swallow-kisses-the-rose…
He ran the full course of the kata, became fully tuned to the motion and the joy of flight. Some half hour later he landed next to the gazebo, a final wing-beat feathering his contact with the earth. He felt eyes on him and turned to see Meesha.
He nodded to her slightly as he caught his breath.
She smiled and took a few steps toward him, “I hope I have not intruded, but I finished my katas early, and Master Ikthan let me know you’d be up here. Your adaptations of the moves we do on the ground are a pleasure to watch. I would like to come watch you more often, if you don’t mind?” She held her hands clasped and arms straight down in a stance which seemed almost demure, but a light shone in her eyes which spoke both of a strong desire and a dare to turn her down.
His heart leapt at the idea out of fear and excitement, “I would like that, Meesha, at least on some days.” Her eyes clouded slightly, was that hurt? Confusion? Irritation? He spoke quickly, “I still have a lot of work to do on some of these katas, and that is best done privately. Other days, such as today, I am working on ones I have almost completed, and welcome not only someone to watch, but any thoughts you might have.”
He reached out to her and offered his hand. She took it, and he felt something like electricity which seemed to fly from her hand, up his arm, and straight to his cheeks. He knew his blush had to be showing even through his dark face, and would have felt embarrassed if not for the matching blush on her cheeks.
They both smiled nervous smiles, then laughed at themselves softly. They walked over to the bench at the edge of the cliff and he folded a wing around her as they sat. They stayed there in companionable silence for some time, allowing these emotions to swirl about themselves and one another, to get their bearings in this new territory.
He finally spoke, “So, you are the first person outside Master Ikthan and my family to see the katas. Tell me what you think.”
She gave a contented sigh against his chest, and he could feel her smile, “I believe I told you already, my Sunar.” The last two words sent a jolt up and down his spine, “But, I will tell you more. Your movements are graceful as a swan and precise as a snake. The way you have brought our forms to the sky gives me wings of my own. I could name every move, every form, you used up there, and felt your mastery all the way down here.
“I understand why you want to keep your early practice private, re-mastering our forms into the air can’t be easy, but you have this nearly complete.”
A chuckle sounded from her then, a light rumble which came from deep in her chest, “You asked me what I think, though, not for praise. I could see your trouble, there at the end, with heron-stalks-the-thrush. I have some ideas on how to adapt it, if you’d like to hear?”
He ran his finger along the top of her ear, up to where it came to the almost-point which gave her away as a Silisten. He let his finger-tip play with that point for a moment before he answered, “I’m all ears, my Meesha.”
She didn’t shiver, exactly, but could tell she’d gotten the same jolt he’d experienced. She tilted her head up to look at him, gave him a smile which set his heart to racing, then laid her head back down on his chest before she answered.
They sat there until the bell for second-shift breakfast sounded, discussing katas, flight, people, places, whatever came to mind. When that bell rang they headed for the cafeteria reluctantly, hand-in-hand.