A rush of heat washed over Sheridan.
“It was just a dream . . .”
“A dream that’s called you for years,” Kunchen interrupted.“And now, as the earth stands looking over the precipice, you have but one more chance to believe.”
“Believe?” Sheridan was incredulous.
“Faith is a luxury I can no longer afford!”
“Then why do you put so much faith in your fears?”
Getting in Kunchen’s face, Sheridan lowered his voice, the thrust of his crooked finger driving home his words.
“I’m looking for answers, not for a call to war!”
“This is your answer.” Kunchen’s gentle eyes burned into Sheridan.
A distant moaning caught Sheridan’s ear.
He listened intently as a woeful melody drifted in from beyond the city.
“Do you hear that?”
A wide-eyed Sheridan peered into the depths of unending night that besieged the city on every side.
“What is it you hear?”
With the rumble of thunder, a sudden wind ushered in a pitch-dark cloud that boiled like a witches’ caldron. Possessed with the tormented music of the earth’s very soul, the tempest churned with a discordant composition of melodies and disparate counter-melodies.
Sheridan shouted into the wind: “There’s music coming from everywhere.” Kunchen welcomed the storm.
“It’s what we had hoped for. You are more than a Shambhala Warrior—
you are the Tertön Shey pön, the Song Master of Lost Songs.”
Sheridan faced the thrashing onslaught, straining to find the music’s source.
“The Song Master?” Sheridan asked, spinning on his heels, his anxious eyes flitting from side to side.
“The discoverer of the ancient songs of the awakening.
You must join with this song, casting the tenets of your heart upon the winds of its melody.”
Sheridan backed away, stumbling as he withdrew.
“You dont’ know what you are asking,” He raged at Kunchen.
“I can’t sing . . . I lost my voice.”
His head dropped, his voice weakened.
“Like everything else . . . its gone!”
Drawn to his unspoken pain, the music grew louder, assaulting Sheridan with a mounting wind.
“Do it,” Kunchen shouted. “Release your burdens into the air!”
A mantle of anger descended upon Sheridan, twisting his face and gnarling his flesh. His entire body began to coil up like a brutal cage-fighter entering the ring. Raising his face to the raven sky, Sheridan clenched his fists with the bound-up fury of primal man. The anguish caught in his throat, choking him.
Then, taking a great breath, Sheridan inhaled the advancing storm. Filling up his lungs, Sheridan felt his very being connect with the melody.
Awash in Mount Kailash’s breath, his stiffened vocal chords became revived, their brittle crust falling away. The words came slowly, pouring from his mouth in a fountain of disbelief, his doubts joining with the music of the wounded soul of earth. A flash of lightning traversed the rooftops, the refrain reverberating throughout the city ruins.