The Touch of Heaven
My name is Julius Emperium. I am a diviner and a scholar, the son of a blind musician, gifted with sight beyond reality. As such, I am often overcome by what I see; I have not had a restful sleep in my entire sixteen years of life.
Often, when I feel overwhelmed by my "gift", I take a walk to my favorite tree in the hills to the north of the city of Kugnae. There, I sit, and I contemplate everything that I see. Sometimes, I write, as I am doing at the time of this writing.
However, today was different than the other days, for today, I was not alone in my sitting. When I arrived at my tree, I saw an old man sitting in its shade, dressed in ragged robes and with a single sheet of black pulp paper in his hand. I had never seen this man before, yet he appeared to have been there since the beginning of time; of course, I knew such a statement was ridiculous, but it was the first thing that came to mind.
I approached the old man and sat beside him. He made to objection to my presence, only continued staring at the paper. After a short while, he turned his head to face me and spoke in a warm, friendly voice. "You come here often," he said; it was not a question, but a statement.
I was a bit startled, but replied, "I do. But..."
"...How did I know that?" The man had finished my question without a moment's hesitation. "I am here often as well."
"I have never seen you here," I said, a little thrown off by the man's statements. He spoke, it seemed, with complete confidence, as though he knew, and I knew, that he spoke the complete truth.
"That is because I am never here when you are," the old man replied with a toothy grin. "Did you never wonder what happened to the stories you left here?"
"I assumed they blew away in the wind." As if on cue, the wind picked up, almost blowing the black pulp paper out of the old man's gnarled grasp.
"I have been keeping them, reading them. They are really quite good, Julius." I was about to interrupt him to ask how he knew my name before I realized that I had signed most of the stories. "You are a gifted writer for one so young."
"Thank you..." I said, a little flabbergasted. "If you never come here when I am here, though, why are you here now?"
"I needed to tell you," he responded, his face going serious for just a moment before lighting up cheerfully once more. "I needed to tell you how much your stories have lit up my life for the past year. Thank -you-, Julius."
I was without words as the man stood, dropping the pulp paper as he did. I picked up the paper, and when I looked back up to give it to him, he was gone without a trace. Curious, I gazed at the paper, and saw, written in white chalk:
Immediately, I recognized the symbol. Ch'ien, the Creative, the Trigram of Heaven.