George and Padma meet the Uposatha priests.

 

Excerpt:

Padma recognised the elephant as an Uposatha male from the Gathering. He had been very vocal about fighting the humans. Temporin oozed down the side of his cheeks, he was obviously still in musth. Padma assessed the motley rabble of rogues to be of various clans, ages, positions, and all in a similar hormonal condition. She wondered whether bulls experienced sympathetic musth. Of that she was unsure, but she knew they had walked into a dangerous and unpredictable situation.

“Welcome Magnificent One. Welcome to our shrine,” bellowed the Uposatha bull, “We hoped you would come. We have been proclaiming your name to all in paradise since hearing the news of your tremendous success.”

Stepping to the side, he pointed with his trunk.

“Standing before you is the object of our worthy veneration, Tree. It is the first tree. We believe the first seed, from which our idol grew, was carried here on the first wind. Its roots spread out to all paradise. All knowledge begins with Tree and all knowledge shall return. In our hearts, we are grieved by the suffering of our precious Tree, as we are of our beloved paradise. Tree shows us the sign of Kandula. It implores us to fight, Great One. Now you have acquired the Jewel…”

Painting by Francesca Lindsay-White @ Franklestitch

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