Animus Lost

Making the Ancestors Proud

When the sun was young, and the land fertile with all of the people, animals, and growing things…the [elder giants] stood with their feet carving out the rivers and valleys, while their hands placed the stars in the sky… And although the elder giants could take any form, they in their great wisdom knew that their mortal children could not do this, so they gave only a Body and a Spirit form to their chosen warriors, and only to the families that had proved most worthy of the honor. Thus, the Sacred Six Families came to be, and they swore to advance the Empire and protect the Imperial family at all costs.

With a derisive snort, Fah Shen let the scroll roll up into its case. As if the elder giants were real! Surely Grandmother My was joking when she suggested that he’d find the answer to his shifting problems in these moldy tomes. The proud young Fu left the Library and jogged to the Training Field at a smart pace. Senile or not, it didn’t do to keep Grandmother My waiting.

The Venerable Cow was waiting for him, as he’d thought, and the rest of his class of immature bulls and cows ignored his late arrival. It was one of the great Wisdoms to allow those who had fallen from grace to return with dignity, but it still felt like they were just being rude. He stood at attention as Grandmother My inspected each of them, and almost inevitably called him into the ring to transform first.

“Shen,” she bellowed, the stentorian sound of her trunk present even in her mundane Body, “you will assume the form of your Spirit, utilizing the knowledge that you have gained from the Wisdom of the elder giants.” Fah Shen sighed, and closed his eyes. He stepped into the center of the circle and clenched his fists, willing his Spirit form to overtake his Body. Instead of dreading it as he usually did, he found that something about the scroll had stuck with him. He was actually looking forward to the feel of long, powerful legs and the flexible nose of the siang.

Without any effort, he suddenly shifted into his Spirit form, and for once it felt completely natural. He held his breath for a few heartbeats, eyes still tightly shut, but the Spirit did not escape him. His quick exhalation came out as a commanding bugle. Gleefully, he opened his eyes and pranced in place as much as his massive limbs would allow. He had done it! He had finally kept the siang inside him visible for more than a few moments! From the tip of his strong trunk to his wide flapping ears, down his tree-like legs and to the end of his whippy tail, he was truly a siang, what the Northern Heathens would have called an elephant, but ten times more massive.

Grandmother My motioned for him to resume his usual Body, and he did so with ease. “Grandmother, I did it!” he yelled exuberantly, as his classmates clapped politely- and the young cows gazed at him adoringly. “But I… I didn’t even manage to summon one piece of armor.” His handsome face fell. This was a letdown after such an unexpected triumph. “I still have so much to learn.”

Wiry arms wrapped around him, and he looked down into Grandmother My’s wrinkled, ancient face. “That, Fah Shen,” she said, “is the beginning of true Wisdom. No one ever said it would be easy, but each step you take with humility and a willingness to learn makes our ancestors proud, just as you have made me proud this day.”

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Kissarai Lianetherider

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