Feneng 2

"We found you in a rosebush," said the nun. By some secret art, she had tied her long sleeves into a complicated knot while they were walking. That explained why all the doors in this place had holds so close to the floor; the monks could slide them open with their feet. "So, we thought we would call you Takes-Refuge-In-Beauty. If you are here to be a nun, that is."

Feneng looked at the nun's robe she was wearing, the untied sash slipping out of its loops, felt her tangled hair. "I don't remember another name. Or another plan."

Finds-Comfort-In-Law did not smile. "At the dawn prayer, we watch in silence as an acolyte opens the windows of the prayer hall. Find a seat, and when it's over, meet me at the door and we'll go see the abbess." Feneng nodded. She found a seat in the rearmost row and waited. Tong. Tong. Tong. Finally, someone walked toward the front of the room. She was dressed in blue, and carried a long wand with an oil lamp hanging from the end.

The front of the prayer hall was one long bank of windows, Feneng discovered. Each was covered with a sheet of black paper, and the acolyte touched each paper with the lamp in turn. The fire slowly receded to reveal the sun hanging low over the horizon, and below it, something flat and covered with mirrors. Feneng gasped.

"It is the sea," someone whispered.

"We have been expecting you," said the abbess.


"Yes, what?" asked Feneng, irritably.

The abbess pushed forward the thing on her desk. It was a crown, a silver laurel wreath with a glass sphere twined in it. The sphere was half-full with water, it seemed. "You remember this?" Flames spun over the surface of the water as she spoke. "All the heirs of your line come here wearing this crown."

Feneng dropped her head on the desk and shut her eyes, while the crown snaked up her arm and nestled in her hair. "No."


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