Sheridan arrived at the foot of the King’s Tower looking like a soldier returned from battle. Haltingly he had descended the last few stairs, gingerly easing down each step, his flagging strength sustained by the Baton of Shambhala that illuminated his way.
On his arrival he found Kunchen looking on with approval.
Sheridan fixed an angry scowl on the young monk.
“You knew about that booby trap and didn’t warn me.”
“I know many things. To warn you of them would do no good.”
Sheridan glowered at Kunchen through squinted eyes. Taking a hold of the bottom of his robe, Kunchen tore off a strip of cloth. Slipping to his knees, he wrapped Sheridan’s wounded leg, tying a tight knot to hold it securely. Then without a word he stood up to face Sheridan’s scrutiny.
Sheridan held Kunchen in his begrudging stare searching his eyes for clues to his intentions. With the act of kindness draining his angry resolve, he could find no malice in Kunchen’s kind face.
So, with a reluctant nod, Sheridan released him from the clutches of his resentful eyes. Raising the baton between them, its light bathed their faces, fusing them together in an arc of azure blue.
“The Baton of Shambhala.” Sheridan said, displaying the artifact to Kunchen while pointing out the ancient symbols engraved along its three-sided shaft. “
A supposed relic from heaven . . . covered with earthly symbols . . . ”
I just don’t get it.
He became more animated.
“Look at this. It’s most certainly Egyptian.
Why would an Egyptian symbol be . . . ”
He glanced up to find Kunchen watching him with a knowing gaze.
“What is it?” Sheridan asked.
“You have passed the test.”
“You surrendered to the will of the whirlpool,
faced your fears in the pile of bones,
and sensed the stirring of the King’s Tower.”
“In the wings of the Great Parodarsh you came face to face with your true self . . .
. . . and with tears of compassion you loosed the Baton of Shambhala.”
“You even found wisdom in the eyes of a beast of burden.”
Sheridan studied Kunchen with suspicion.
“I just did what had to be done.”
He broke away from Kunchen’s gaze.
“But there was something . . . something strange that happened up there,” Sheridan mumbled half to himself. “It was like . . . being in a dream.”
“For centuries the faithful monks of my monastery have watched and waited for this day.”
Sheridan looked up from the baton. Kunchen had his attention.
“The day that a Shambhala Warrior will rise up to destroy the forces of darkness and bring a new age of peace to the earth.”
Sheridan’s eyes narrowed.
“What do you mean?”
Kunchen lowered his gaze to the baton in Sheridan’s hands.
“Only a Shambhala Warrior,” he spoke with deliberate cadence,
“Can retrieve the Baton of Shambhala from the golden vase of the King’s Tower.”
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.”