The meditative mood flowed unbroken into sleep. It was an unusual sleep in which his awareness was more keen than it had been at any time during the past 'foggy' days. Carl was aware that he was asleep. At least the body that identified him in the world was asleep. Yet, agile and aware, his finer senses and thought fused into a mobile awareness which was alert and active. So vital and keen was his consciousness, it seemed the former had been the 'dream state', and this, the awakened state. Because of this, and the clear retention of many impressions, he was never quite sure later whether to call the experience a 'dream' or not. Whatever the label attached to it, it was an experience which remained indelibly etched in his memory throughout his life thereafter.
He was in an expansive chamber. Many people were seated in semi-circular arrangement, facing a raised platform at one end of a broad and lengthy expanse. The area was lighted with a soft, golden light, for which a scanning search could locate no evident source. Many people were already seated, and many more flowed steadily through broad doors. He had a 'guide' with him, but he did not examine this person closely, as it seemed to be someone he knew, and felt no need to identify.
Most of the people were attired in usual apparel of his familiar world. Only his guide, others who seemed to have similar duties, and a few personages seated on the platform, were attired differently. These were dressed in fashion of those he had assumed to be 'Elders'. There were differences in clothing color, and insignia,which he assumed denoted rank or function.
As his guide led him toward seating accomodations, they passed near a pillar which caught his attention to such a degree that he paused to study it. It was of considerable width, and extended floor to ceiling. It was apparently composed of the crystalline substance noted in other observations, and radiated a soft luminosity, as well as a gentle warmth. In its interior, which was obviously hollow, was an opalescent display of soft pastel hues, mingling and churning gently in a state of luminous flux. Although it radiated warmth, there was no increase of heat as he moved his hand closer. His guide pressed his own hand against it and gestured for Carl to do the same. He found it to be satiny smooth to touch, and only pleasantly warm. Carl was impressed by the beautiful creation which radiated both light and heat, yet did not accumulate or intensify the gentle warmth.
Again the guide touched Carl's arm and gestured toward other areas of the chamber. Similar pillars were spaced evenly around the outside of the seating area, a short distance inward from the enclosing wall. These were the source of the soft, pervading light, as well as the pleasant temperature. What a marvelous method of heating and light, Carl thought; to add also to the beauty of the surroundings, and the stability of the building ! Indeed, the pillars were a sturdy support, and the display of moving color was delicate and fine as a prismatic mist.
His guide led him toward a row of seats, several of which were vacant, and motioned for him to be seated. Indicative of Carl's inherently cautious nature, he selected the always preferred seat near the aisle, moving in only as far as the second seat, to allow his guide to be seated near the aisle also.
The chamber was pleasantly quiet, without any sense of being commandingly so. There was easy movement, and nodded greetings among the people. Still, a steady flow of arrivals moved through broad double-doors. Carl felt comfortable and alertly intrigued. His reporter instincts were alive and well. He decided the general appearance of the building was somewhere between temple, and university auditorium. It was obvious that a speaker was expected soon.
As he waited, he continued to study his surroundings. A large, metallic, gold-colored disc attracted his attention. It was centered to the rear of the platform they faced, and was mounted between two carved posts, similar to gongs he had seen in the Orient. He assumed it to be similar in use as well as appearance. Around the edge of the disc were designs which resembled pictographs, as well as he could tell from where he sat. Despite the gentleness of the lighting, visiblity in the hall was quite clear.
On the platform, were four seats of modest type, which were now occupied by four persons in notably different attire. Although all wore the familiar robe-like apparel, it varied in design, and each were of different color. The two seated at each end wore darker tones; one in deep saffron, one in deep, shimmering blue. As to those positioned inmost,one wore white with gold trim; the other wore pearl-grey with a silvery trim. All four wore medallion insignias resting on the chest. Carl assumed these denoted their official status, and possibly their origin.
It seemed quite likely they did vary in locale origin. Only the official in white had the general appearance of those he had encountered so far. The delegate in saffron was of slightly Oriental appearance, with eyes of benign softness. His hair was collar length, and softly fine. It was radiantly white, and actually shone against the ocher background of the platform backdrop. The person in blue was of bronze complexion, with sable hair, strong aquiline features, and eyes so penetrating that they were impressive despite his distance.
The most unusually striking in appearance was the fourth member. At least it seemed so to Carl, who had never encountered a type with which he compared. Though all were tall, this one was a good five inches or more taller than any of the others, and the command of his posture made it appear as even greater difference. He was copper-skinned, with hair of a reddish shade, which gleamed so brightly when stirred by motion, that it truly appeared flamelike. The deep-set eyes flashed with an intense gaze. Carl was amazed that the similarity in shade of skin, hair, and eyes, did not at all blur the intensity of the features. Every detail stood out in blazing clarity, compounding to an unforgettable impression of power.
While all had bearing of power and assurance, the others seemed comfortable and at ease, while the figure in grey had an air of consciously leashing his power. One could easily guess that his wrath would be frightening.
Carl shifted his study from the platform to the outer perimeter of the chamber. He was still intrigued with the pillars, curious to know how they were constructed, and the source of their radiance. He rummaged through his knowledge of such matters in search of possible explanations, but could find none that really fit, so abandoned speculation for the present.
Turning his attention from the pillars, he encountered another interesting study. Along the walls, were discs similar to the one on the platform, but much smaller. He counted twelve, spaced at regular intervals. These were apparently made of the same gold metallic material,which may or may not actually be gold, he wasn't sure. These too, were each suspended between two carved posts, and also had enscriptions around the edge. Two closest to him he saw clearly enough to determine that the enscriptions varied on each. He wondered what part these played in the proceedings, and what the enscriptions signified. Again, he had to be satisfied with an 'intuition' that soon he would know. Surprisingly, this did satisfy him, which was rare for Carl, who could not usually rest until his curiosity was satisfied.
Now that he had examined surroundings in general, he turned attention to the congregating people. The stream of entrants had lessened, and the huge double-doors had closed. Seats were mostly filled. Arranged, as they were, in a gradual down-slope from rear to front, and curved sideways into a semi-circle, all had full, unobstructed view of the platform.
Glancing about, he encountered several faces which nodded and smiled, and for whom he felt a familiarity, but could not identify by name. In some odd way, he felt as if he had been here before. Actually, that feeling had occurred in flashes throughout his experience. The old, mystic deja-vu feeling. He scanned the enclosing walls to ceiling, noting, about three-fourths the way up crystalline bands of soft color. He was sure this building must be one of the domed splendors he had seen shining with prismatic color as he approached across vanishing desert.
His thoughts were interrupted by a movement on the platform. The delegate in white approached the gong, bearing a golden mallet-type instrument, and was apparently about to strike it. Fluttering of movement among those seated ceased. Every face was now turned in rapt attention toward the platform.
A deep throbbing fullness of sound emanated as the gong was struck. Sound escalated in tone, flowing outward in warm, vibrant, and melodious reverberations throughout the chamber. As it leveled into a muted lingering, the smaller discs along the walls could be heard, each with a different level of tone. Some had great vibrato, some a warm hum, some, deep droning, and even a clear, chiming response. The chamber was suffused with a grand, harmonious musical chord ! This echoed in variations of tone and intensity, reminiscent of orchestral interplay. Gradually, as the variations subsided, each of the resounding units seemed to unite into one Universal Tone.
While this was happening, Carl could feel every nerve, fiber, and cell of his body reverberating. As the sounds subsided, he was aware of a deep peace , and a calm, steady sense of well-being which pervaded his whole being. It was a wholeness that left him clear-headed, and keenly alert. It seemed he had never felt really 'alive' before.
The four officials were now standing at full attention on the platform. All seated were silent and motionless. An almost palpable hush had come over the chamber. It was apparent that a speaker was about to appear.
The personage who entered the platform from an unseen area behind the gong, was of such commanding presence that there was a sense of indrawn breath throughout the hall. He was tall, of stately bearing, and crowned with silver-white hair, softly waving to the collar of an overrobe of lustrous azure. The face of softly burnished complexion, and classic, finely molded features, was at once placid and intense. Depth of the blue-grey eyes suggested maturity and seasoning in experience. No adornment, other than a glistening insignia medallion on his chest, against an inner-robe of white, was there to detract from the regal simplicity. All was a combined effect of vigor, grace, and majesty.
With easy movement, the speaker approached the podium; a crystalline semi-circle, inlaid with various metals in a sunburst design. It rose to just above the waist. As the impressive figure stood there, his strong, supple hands resting on each side of the curving station, Carl was reminded of a mighty Captain at the helm of a great ship.
The speaker gazed about the chamber in silence. His brows were dark, and so clearly defined they increased the intensity of his gaze, and lent a somber quality to his eyes. Carl felt that wells of compassion must lay in that deep gaze, and perhaps, a haunting sorrow. Yet, even as these thoughts came, a slow smile began to alter the face. As sunlight suddenly breaking through clouds, a shining benevolence lit up the countenance with warmth.
At the first sound of the resonant voice, a strange thing happened to Carl. He knew what the speaker would say, as if he had heard it many times. Silently, within himself, he was saying - "Yes ! - Yes ! - now I remember" !And yet, curiously, there his 'dream' ended. He could not register any explicit utterance; only somewhere, deep within, a knowing that he could not translate into words - even to himself.
He was returning. He knew that. The alert mobility was becoming the cottony, muffled stuff of usual sleep and dreams. Desiring intensely to bring some recollection with him, he hung onto a word, like a man grasping a life-preserver while tossing in a sea. Over and over, he repeated it - "Amrishi - Amrishi". All the way in to the stirring body atop a tower somewhere he could not name, he clung to the nebulous link with a tenacity usually reserved for more tangible wrestlings.