Mu Yangling, Skydancer

 
Art by:  G-host Lee

Art by: G-host Lee

 

It would seem there’s a lesson in all this suffering. First she lost Li Shan, the wanderer that found and raised her. Her mentor, guardian, and best friend. Then, pulled to Ravnica by Bolas, she saw witnessed true horror as thousands died. Gideon too, died in that awful war, a beacon of goodness and hope snuffed out.

The words of her master rang in her ears as she watched Gideon’s final moments, “Once you learn to release yourself from the material, you’ll know true freedom.” She wonders if true freedom is what she wants. She’s glimpsed it, letting go, becoming one with the sky. Has felt the bonds of the earth fall away. Felt the clouds as her limbs, the air her skin, the water her mind. Being infinite, stretched between all planes, is as terrifying as it is exciting.

Mu calls a thin stream of air and directs it at her tea. She cups the porcelain. Warmth flows up her arms, along the back of her neck, down her spine. She draws a deep breath, the scent of tea and honey fills her nose. She’s conflicted. She wants to let go, feel more than just this here. And yet she worries. What if she can’t come back? What if she leaves this form, this body, for good? What then?

Thinking of Li Shan, she wonders, Is that what you did? She held him, he was there, in her arms, then he was gone. Where did you go? Before realizing what she’s done the bird song sounds somehow both more full and less loud at the same time. Not separate from the rest of the sounds—the kitchen, the other patrons, food being eaten, the murmur of conversation—but as part of the whole.

She feels herself expand beyond the inn. Slow at first. The air is warm outside. Then all at once she’s as much sitting on a bench holding a cup of tea as she is a part of the sky, the clouds, and the heavens beyond. A bird swoops past her—through her. From this perspective she wonders what there was to worry about. Why is it so easy to see how to let go after the fact? Before, it seems impossible; after, the easiest thing in the world.

This time she sees something new. Something so compelling, that by the time she’s able to realize what she’s back at the inn, lifting the tea to her lips. The islands, all those land masses surrounded by water. There are secrets there. Infinite answers to all things lie waiting. Maybe what happened to Li Shan is there too.