[Insert subtle time-skip]
The suns slipped by almost unnoticed to Amon, until he suddenly realized he’d been in Namai for a sennight. Then two. Then… he simply lost count, as time itself wasn’t an important measurement when the mind is bathed in active restfulness.
There was something about this place that erased everything outside of it. The years spent tangled within the conspiracy of the Crystal Tower, and all the dark anguish it brought, became something distant, like someone else’s life. At least, for a short time.
As suns passed, Amon became less a guest and more a part of the whole. Here, each person had a role. Every role was equally important as the other. Ambition to rise above others, to shove a fellow man downward, only acted as a hindrance to the community. Respect was earned when one functioned in harmony with others.
This… took some effort and realignment for Amon to grasp. His mind had once been fixed ceaselessly analyzing how he could excel and do away with anyone who could challenge his position… to the point it became an obsession. But here, that way of thought was unheard of.
Here, people knew that to lift each other up, to strengthen the individual in their role, was to lift everyone up. And as his guest status faded, Amon was also asked to contribute in return for the hospitality provided. Though, with his particular skillset, or lack thereof, finding a role was not an easy thing for him.
Over time, Zuri introduced him to various people in the village, whom he slowly began to know by name. Thankfully, the population of the area was small, which allowed him to acclimate and become comfortable with others on a face-to-face basis.
Zuri’s social experiment, whereby Amon was challenged to refrain from the use of objects to hide his own face, had largely been successful. It wasn’t always easy, and at first, he often had to keep his exposure measured. But very soon, he saw that not a single person in the village regarded his appearance as terrible or distasteful.
Amon began to chide himself anytime he felt the impulse to hide behind the brim of his hat… which had become less often. He’d always known it was a silly fear. But now, he could actually see how ridiculous it was.
As the Elezen met with people, he absorbed as much information from them as he could. Even the strange wolf-like Lupin had knowledge and stories to tell. In search of a functional job that fit his skillset, he learned a little bit about everything he could.
There was even a day he tried his hand at working in the rice paddy. This was hot, wet and dirty work, with much bending, and mucking about in muddy fields. Of course, this was also a day when his limbs wanted to rebel, and his body chose to refuse to work the way his mind ordered.
In short time, Amon was forced to give up on the job – not that he’d choose to do it on a daily basis – though it was hard for him to explain to the others exactly why. He silently cursed his broken, cloned body. For all the time and effort he’d put into training it, it still failed him more often than not.
Late that afternoon, one of the village elders approached Amon. The Elezen wasn’t formally familiar with the man, though he knew him by the name Fukudo.
“I saw you in the field today,” the old man didn’t beat around the bush.
“Indeed,” Amon responded, not certain where this was leading. Would they tell him it was time to leave because he’d failed so badly at procuring their staple crop?
“Tell me… you did not stop for lack of willingness,” Fukudo said simply, as if he didn’t need to be assured of anything. “Rather, your body appears to ail you.”
The Elezen tried to hide his surprise behind a sip of tea. He’d not spoken about this to anyone, and hoped that they’d pass off his trouble with chopsticks to him being an uncoordinated outsider. “What do you mean?”
“I have seen this many times before,” the old man told him. “Shinobi or samurai who go off to battle. Return with scars of war that cause them difficulty in day-to-day life.”
“Well, mine is nothing so dire as that,” Amon murmured, downplaying the situation.
No. He’d only died during an invasion of the Tower and somehow managed to transplant what passed as his soul into a body of his own creation. Nothing about that could go wrong.
“Dire or not, ‘tis a complication for you.”
There was logic in that. So the Elezen agreed, “Some days are better than others.”
The man must have sensed his hesitance to discuss this, because he explained, “I did not come to speak in terms of something shameful. But rather, to inform you that we have seen similar in our warriors, and we have approaches to assist in healing this.”
Amon blinked over at him, musing. Then he opened up the topic a bit more. “Part of why I took up archery and musical practice is to help train and strengthen my motor skills. And yet, even moons of light manual work have only slightly improve this broken body.”
“Ah, but you see, this is part of the problem.”
“Your mind is divided from your body enough to consider it nothing but a broken tool.”
This was accurate, though Amon could not tell this to Fukudo. The body was a clone. Clones are nothing but tools. Created objects. And this one was malfunctioning.
But seeing that he wasn’t getting improvement through his own methods, the Elezen decided it wouldn’t hurt to hear the old man out. “What do you suggest?”
“I maintain knowledge in methods of rejuvenation and unity of the body and the mind – svadhyaya. Perhaps I can show you a different approach to finding the peace you need to heal,” Fukudo offered with open sincerity.
Amon wanted to laugh and tell the man that it would take a lot more than an optimistic method with a fancy name to fix what was wrong with him. And yet, this was a different sort of knowledge offered, something he knew nothing about. Could it really hurt to try?
“You would offer this to me? Why?” He couldn’t help but respond with doubt. It was too ingrained in him not to wonder what the catch was.
“Because in strengthening your hands, it improves us all,” Fukudo stated what should have been very obvious to the Elezen already.
“Aye, of course.” Amon pushed the sigh out of his voice. Their generosity was almost concerning. One day it would be their downfall… if it hadn’t already played a part in it already.
“Shall I leave you to make up your mind?”
“No. I apologize.” He intercepted quickly, accepting the proposition. “I am honored by your offer, and most humbly place myself before you as a student.”
Fukudo smiled, genuine pleasure written within his aged features. “I suspected as much. We meet with the rising sun, so get your rest tonight.”
Amon bowed to the older man as he took his leave, a poor imitation of the polite motion those in Namai used. This was a curious path to find himself on. One that he was almost… almost… excited to see unfold.
The Elezen tried to tell himself not to get his hopes up too much. But something about the Yanxian air caused him to be more optimistic than normal.