Engrossed in Etanai's words, and the picture of an unfamiliar society, which unfolded in his mind as he listened, Carl had been detached from his surroundings. He had viewed an unfolding panorama in interior vision, which was vaster in scope than even described by the Elder's words.
As Etanai's quiet reply to his last question settled on him, it seemed another piece of the puzzle had slid into place. The Elder had now turned, and was looking out across the pool. A slow smile began to ease the solemnity which had lingered as he spoke of the Gitas and the troubling news they brought. Carl followed his gaze. The pool and courtyard were full of activity. Much of the playful mood of his first view of these people was in evidence.
Close to the roadway, a group had gathered which seemed especially animated. This was obviously the source of his friend's amusement. Through brief breaks in the scattered group, Carl could see the shining vehicle which the young man had tried to show him yesterday. He could also see, tall as a pillar among the russet heads, the dark hair, and flowing blue over-robe of the Gita, Andrah. Although somewhat sedate, and with almost military bearing, he seemed relaxed and companionable amid the attention. Now and then, Carl caught a glimpse of the bronzed face adorned with a flashing smile. At his side, was the youth who had yesterday led Carl toward the treasured vehicle.
"Eleri is about to give Andrah a tour in the 'visca'. " - Etanai explained. A glasslike dome slid away atop the vehicle, revealing four seats. Soon, they were occupied with Andrah and Eleri in front, and two other youths seated in the rear. The dome slid down over them, and at once the vehicle rose and moved, skimming along about three feet above ground. There was no sound other than a slight humming as it whirred away, across the roadway and off across the rolling countryside.
Carl's interest was naturally aroused. It was so obvious that this was a remarkably maneuverable vehicle; able to hover, travel at great speed, or amble along, always at a controlled height above the terrain, whether it be solid rock, sand, or brush. Also, as he soon saw, capable of rising to greater height, as Eleri demonstrated for his passengers.
Faithful to ease Carl's curiosity where he could, Etanai offered a short explanation. "The vehicle is called a 'visca', which would mean something like 'air-boat' in your language. Part of the principle is similar to craft called 'hover craft' in your world. I say 'part of the principle' as, although the basic idea is the same, the particulars are quite different. The power which propels, and the intricacies which provide the hovering function, are greatly different. They involve principles which have not yet been discovered by your science."
Here the Elder paused thoughtfully. At last, with a more serious tone, he continued. "Kar-al - there are some matters I can speak of only in general terms. One is the visca, and another is the pillars. I cannot explain the materials, mode of construction, or the power that energizes them. I sense great interest in you, regarding these matters. Please understand, these matters involve factors not yet discovered in your world. In time they will be discovered, but not until all inclination for destructive use has been eliminated by greater evolvement of wisdom in use of power. It is against all laws of our society to place knowledge which is subject to dangerous abuse into hands which might harm themselves, or others, through mis-use."
"As your attunement in Amrishi progresses, you will come to understand many things yourself, but this will be naturally commensurate with character stability. In such natural unfoldment there is safety in increased knowledge. We have no 'secret orders' in our native realm. In attunement in Amrishi, any knowledge is accessible to all. Awareness varies only according to degree of attunement. Individual dedication governs progress in attunement. Awareness will naturally increase as this increases. It is such a 'key' as cannot be 'faked', nor falsely manufactured. And - it cannot be gained by 'force'."
"Despite this Truth, there has at times been suffering among my people, because selfish forces tried to wrest from them what they cannot give, even should they wish. I ask you to please understand this , my friend, and know that I am not trying to be mysterious, nor sound superior. I know within that you are a man of honor. For this reason, we have stepped onto the bridge of conversing, but I cannot place you on the other side. You must go there, step by step, for yourself. I also know enough of your character to know that this is as you would want it."
With these words, Etanai grew silent, and leaned back in the divan. Carl studied his face for a moment. Again, a trace of gravity had come over the Elder as he spoke. As Carl studied him now, he noted eyes fixed into the distance. A wistful air of sorrow drifting across the classic features. A poignant sadness fell like a fine mist upon Carl also. He was saddened to think that these friendly, compassionate people were also intruded upon by grasping fingers of greed for power. He would have liked to think such threats did not exist in their world. He felt within his heart a welling up of loyalty, which spread throughout his being. In that moment, he knew that he was brother in Spirit to Etanai.
As he looked out upon the scene before him, all seemed so untroubled and natural. The gathered crowd had dispersed after the visca departed. Some were now at tables under the portico. Some lounged, or strolled about the pool. Others splashed happily in the clear waters. There were only sounds of pleasant companionship, and the soft tinkling of the fountain, floating in the clear, cool air. It troubled Carl to think that this almost pristine innocence was not without a threat, which was serious enough to bring a somber shade into the eyes of the gentle Etanai. He thought to himself -It seems there must always be a need for the 'warrior spirit' ...
As if to ease the mood of sadness his last words had precipitated, Etanai smiled reassuringly to Carl, and resumed his earlier relaxed posture. In a changed tone, he soothed the pondering man at his side. "Kar-al - I will tell you something of my people, then you will better understand our way of life. We have a name in 'Amrishi' for our 'band of travelers'. It explains our function, in a way. The word is "Ulathai". I might interpret it to you as "Time-Medics" ! " Etanai laughed a soft throaty chuckle, and his eyes were twinkling. "You see - I can use your current language also !"
Carl had been a bit surprised by the current idiom, as most of Etanai's expression was in language undiluted by eral idiom. He smiled in appreciation of the casual fellowship the Elder offered to ease the somber thoughts. The consideration underlying this simple gesture was characteristic of Etanai's nature, and Carl recognized it as such.
Etanai extended his arms in a sweeping gesture toward the broad courtyard, the pool, the winding roadway, and the building complex. "We don't always set up such a complete and elaborate - 'out-picturing' - or rather - let us call it 'Encampment' ! Our reason for it now, is to accommodate meetings between various levels, which includes Ulathai, Gitas, as well as others. There is an especially large gathering of Gitas, as their realm is the one most seriously effected now by these accumulating problems. The various areas under their custodianship are represented by official emissaries, as are the other levels also. Our meetings will be of longer duration than usually require an inter-mingling 'stage' area. This is due to the extent of pressing problems, for which we must determine some course of remedy."
"When our discussions have produced agreement as to an immediate course of action , we will disperse and return - individually - or in groups - according to our appointments - to our current posts. Many will return to that time-space frame from which you have come. However, I do not refer to explicit locale, but to 'density-dimension' level. There is much work to be done in that area now."
Etanai paused a moment, smiling at Carl quietly. Then resumed. "Yes - in answer to your thoughts - many of us work there, but there is little to distinguish us from native inhabitants, We always adopt the general characteristics of the area in which we need to work. At least, to whatever extent such do not oppose our principles of operation. It is a rule of our functioning that we are not to intrude, but to merge. The only differences would be inner ones, what you might call standards of value and conduct."
"We are neither a defensive, nor a coercive, people. We achieve our aims by harmonizing our minds with 'Amrishi' - which is the harmonious and effortless unfolding of life, when it is healthy. As one cannot force the unfolding of a rose, but can only tend and care for it, that it may unfold what it is destined to become by its inherent nature, so it is with all creatures. Our healing is only to harmonize where there are disruptive aberrations which interfere with the inherent "seed of Spirit" unfolding. Will is a good and natural factor in this unfolding, but where it encounters the pain of stifling , or distorting, aberrations, it sometimes reacts in a manner which compounds the problem."
"To harmonize these discords, smooth out the wrinkles of tangled congestion which block the flow of Amrishi, and to restore a healthy and joyous unfolding , is our function. You might say it is a matter of healing Time's wounds, and clearing scars."
"It is only in the 'Time-Space' frame that these tangles occur, because it is only there that segmented consciousness exists as a conditional state. Yet, this segmented consciousness is a compassionate provision. As individualized being comes to awareness of itself and other participants in Being, it is well to have limited factors to deal with, until strength, harmony, and stability, are developed at each level. For this reason, unfoldment is by stages."
"One should beware of telling an 'acorn' it is an Oak already ! Its species is indeed the Oak, and it contains that which is necessary to fulfill its destiny - but only in 'potential' ! Its unfoldment comes about through stages, and in a limited environment. This simile is not adequate to fully express the potentials of humanity, but it is sufficient to indicate the value of Time-Space consciousness as a conditional limitation beneficial for earlier stages of development. In this sense, it is the duty of Ulathai to 'tend-the-field' - so to speak."
As Etanai was apeaking, Carl was again receiving much more than the spoken words. They reached him electrified with a deep transfusion of the ideas the Elder intended to convey. What simple, and beautiful logic it all revealed ! Yet, had he tried to convey it to someone without the transference of awareness, how inadequate his words would have been. It might have sounded like a fantasy - or, to some, like complicated intellectual theory. But there was no question in Carl's mind. He saw the marvelous simplicity and order. He felt only strong affirmation of actuality
Etanai remained silent, as if allowing his listener time for reflection. Finally, he resumed his discourse in the quiet, sure voice, so befitting his subject. "As I have said, we are neither a defensive nor coercive people. We perceive that what is gained by force, must be maintained by force, so that the result is only two forms of a prison state. There are others, who are commissioned to act with more extreme measures when emergency conditions threaten to a degree that it is necessary. Such measures are only continued until enough harmony has been restored for less extreme aids to be implemented. This is never done to interfere with the unfoldment, but to 'insure' it."
At this point, the image of the flame-haired Official appeared before Carl's inner vision. With the appearance, came a great sense of power. Carl recalled thinking, as he had viewed this impressive being on the platform, that his wrath would be frightening. Now, he again felt that awe-inspiring sense of majestic power.
Etanai's voice was calming. "Kashira is a 'power being'. It is more difficult for him to decrease his vibratory rate than for others of us. He is of the 'Samai', and their realm is one of great vibratory intensity. They most always work through intermediaries of realms which I cannot describe to you. You know them only indirectly, through conditions such as wind, weather, and other - what you call 'natural phenomena'."
The image before Carl's inner vision seemed to soften into a less fierce countenance. There was a feeling of a sort of benevolent intensity. Remembrance of references to Archangels, and other such Heavenly Powers, which he had heard in his youth, returned in his mind, and a strange flowing of awe engulfed him.
Although the courtyard scene appeared the same, Carl sensed a 'passing' across it. It was something subtle, reminding him of the rush of great wings. He felt sure that the gentle, companionable Ulathai were not without protection , should it be needed. This relieved him. In his mind he made a quick salute to the Official Kashira.
Immediately Etanai spoke - "Even the rose has its sword." - he said, and withdrew into contemplative silence. It was a strange, palpable silence, which seemed to throb with a soundless beating of wings. Was this only in Carl's imagination, and the long-ago associations of a child when hearing of Heavenly Powers ? He decided he did not think so. Something was in the air. His senses were electrified.
There was no breeze, yet the trees bent gently along the roadway.