I wanted to close my eyes again and disappear into oblivion, but Rodan wouldn't let me. "Get up," he told me as he took my arm, and I obeyed, leaning heavily on his shoulder.
"This won't do," he said. He took a step back and reached up to remove my hand.
I panicked. "What are you doing?"
He stopped, his hand on my wrist. "You don't need me. You're strong enough to stand, and you don't need your eyes to keep your balance."
I knew he was right, and yet I felt like I was standing on thin air, on the verge of falling into the endless night. "I don't understand what's wrong with me," I managed, straining my muscles to keep upright.
"You need to concentrate, use your breathing and your brains, not your muscles."
"I don't know how," I said, beginning to sway back and forth in spite of my best efforts.
Rodan placed his hands on my shoulders. "Don't worry, I won't let you fall," he said. "Now breathe."
I breathed, my chest feeling constricted.
"Lower. When you breathe in, try to pull the air way down into your belly, let it sit there until you get an impulse to breathe out again, and then let the air go out, nice and gentle."
I did as he told me, and my vertigo began to subside.
"That's better. Now, I want you to feel where my hands are touching you, examine that feeling, and let it go. Next, feel your body from the inside. Feel your boundaries, where you are as opposed to where you aren't. Feel, don't imagine."
As he was talking I did as he told me, finding to my surprise that I could, indeed, feel my body from the inside. The sensation was subtle, but quite distinctive. At first I could only feel the part of my body that I concentrated on, having it disappear when I directed my attention elsewhere, but gradually I managed to feel my entire body at once.
"Keep breathing," he told me.
I breathed out, realising I had been holding my breath.
"Now, feel your weight, which parts of you are heavier and which lighter. Again, feel, don't visualise."
Again I did as I was told and I could feel my weight, a tactile cloud with its densest spot somewhere around my solar plexus.
The next moment the dense spot had turned into a grey metal ball, coloured flames flaring up from its surface. I began to drift towards it, my speed increasing as I got closer.
Rodan and the other man caught me before I could fall.
I heard the stranger chuckle. "That was interesting," he said.
"Don't mind that now." Rodan helped me to stand up straight again, while the other man removed his hands. "I know you're tired, but we're almost done. Now, concentrate. Feel your body from the inside, and feel your weight, just like you did before. And stay with us this time."
I complied, and it did seem somewhat easier this time.
"Good. Keep it up and stay with it. If there's anything you need to know about how you're doing, I'll tell you. Now, feel the earth under your feet. Feel its mass, and feel that it has a centre where it's at its heaviest, like you do."
I did, and I started to feel my weight sink down through the soles of my feet, down into the ground.
"That's right, stand up straight, like the top of your head is being pulled up by a string, and connect to the earth's centre."
I did as he told me, and suddenly I stopped doing it. I was there, the ground under my feet, the skies above my head, at one with myself and with the world. I was a man again.
A wave of grief, joy and everything else welled up from deep within me and pulled all the strength from my limbs, and I would have fallen if the others hadn't caught me.
"I told you to stay with it," Rodan said as he helped me to sit down on the bed.
The other man put his hand on my shoulder. "Don't worry about it. Just keep practising." He removed his hand and I heard his clothes rustle. "The old man should have taught you when he took you on as an apprentice, and I can't for the life of me understand why he didn't. That's storytellers for you, I suppose."
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