In the frenzied fight, you exhaust every last trick; every bit of luck and knowhow yet it is not enough. You feel a cold numbness in your knees – your heart fights but your body lags behind. You claw to the very end and the figure stops, holding the killing blow.
“Still you persist…and not once asking for mercy or quarter. A fool would pursue and ask for mercy or try to talk his way out so I am left to believe you a child – impressionable, immature, but teachable. The third gate is that Harmony is a choice and not found through passive contemplation but action. Action, not as the Huojin believe, muddying things by jabbing their impatient paws everywhere passion and fear lead. No, the Jing-Xi decides precisely when and where to act…two forces together – Chaos and Choice to bring Harmony.”
He ignites a small lamp and sets a pot of kettle, larger than the one Shing Sing had; this was meant for two. As he sets, taking a deep breath, he reaches into the fold of his garment to produce a soulstone.
“If you wish to continue…take this stone and make a choice – death or life. Both lead to the same path: Harmony. Your next step will be your last as who you are or your first as a Jing-Xi.
- Choose to use the Soulstone…
The figure strikes you with a killing blow. There is a moment of panic and confusion as you feel yourself dying but pulled back into your body revived, renewed, and alive.
As you recover, he sits meditating. “I believe you have some herbs to prepare…” he whispers, his tone softer, more civilized.
You prepare the lotus as shown and he plucks a few of the Lantern blossoms, carefully removing the poisonous outer leaves from the base and dropping them into the teapot. He nods for you to do the same with the lotus.
The combination is a wonderfully floral and spicy aroma. He carefully pours two cups and hands yours first. Raising his own cup, he nods, “Harmony is a choice between two forces. Overcoming cowardice, surpassing sacrifice, and making a choice – together.” You drink together and feel differently from the first tea – as if you were your old self only more clear minded.