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Farshoul  watched as the long white hairs on his arms became translucent. He watched as they faded away. Soon he could see through the skin and bone of his arms to the ice beneath him. The frozen water that he could see through his phantom arm seemed more real than his own body.

He watched as the others blurred in his vision, their white fur becoming indistinguishable from the snow around them. They appeared to disappear.

Then Farshoul began to move.

He was watching the changing from above. He could only just make out the white furry bodies against the ice and snow that they sat in. He could barely see himself camouflaged against the ivory mountain. He saw all of the bodies sitting still where their souls had left them to go exploring.

This was all new to Farshoul. This was the first time that he had participated in the traveling ritual; the most sacred of the ceremonies left over from the previous age. This was the first time that he had left his strong and solid body since the day on which he had been born.

Farshoul hovered around his body, taking a look at himself – at his own face – in a way that he had never done before. He looked like a stranger. He looked like someone else. His nose looked differently than he remembered from his reflection, maybe a little bigger. His peaceful eyes were closed. The white fur on his face was so shiny and so healthy looking. His young jaw was stronger and wider than he had realized. And he was surprised to see how much taller he was, even sitting, than most of the others. He had never thought of himself as big. Farshoul decided that he liked how he looked, as strange as it was to think of that face as his own.

He looked around to see if he could see the others loose from their bodies, but he could not. Perhaps they had chosen to go exploring rather than hover around. He felt a little sad that none of them had stayed to guide him, a little frightened. It was only in this state that it was allowed by his people to leave the mountains and wander the world. He worried about getting lost, about wandering too far. Perhaps he should just stay nearby this time, and be careful on his first time out. But, he also knew how they would make fun of him if he did that and the embarrassment actually scared him more than the world did.

And so Farshoul let the breeze begin to lift him and carry him far away from his body and from his home, out into the wide atmospheres of the world’s great winds.

Later, as Farshoul began to wake up in his body, he heard the others talking about their experiences during the ceremony.

Duron was an older, darker haired male. His fur was almost a silver color. He had a big smile on his face and was talking about dancing around the ceremonial area; “If any of you remember hearing a voice that told you that it was safe to come out, safe to leave your bodies, then that was me. Sulil, you were such a beautiful dancer in your soul form. I think that we all finally saw the real you, what you are when you set yourself free!”

Many of them were nodding and agreeing with Duron. Sulil, a female slightly older than Farshoul, seemed to blush a little bit. She was thrilled to hear that everyone thought that her soul form was beautiful. This had been her second traveling ritual; “Everything seemed like it was covered by stars.” Sulil said. “You all looked like stellar shapes out in space, not physical things!”

Everyone else agreed with Sulil, but Farshoul didn’t speak. He just smiled as though he agreed. This was all very confusing to him. The other world did not look like that for him, and he had not seen anyone dancing around the ceremonial area.

As the rest of them continued talking about the experience and agreeing on what they had all seen each other doing, Farshoul sat quietly. He wondered if his experience had been in his head. Had he just seen what he wanted to see?

At the end, as Farshoul began to walk away, Duron came up to him and patted him on the back; “I noticed that you didn’t talk about your experience today.”

Farshoul frowned, caught; “I’m not sure what I think about what I saw. I don’t understand it yet.”

“Sometimes the movement out of the body will not happen right away. For many of us changes will happen inside of us first. If you did not travel on your first attempt, then that is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Farshoul looked up at Duron, obviously confused and uncertain; “I’m not sure if I traveled or not. I saw myself sailing on the wind, high above us all, high above even the mountains. But I didn’t see anyone else there. I did not see you, or Sulil’s dancing, or anyone.”

Duron took Farshoul’s hand with his two hands, pointing the palm up, and looked him in the eyes; “What you saw was a good first step. You were traveling up and out of yourself, not all of the way this time, but you were on your way. You were rising. If you had really been out of your body then you would have been able to see the rest of us, but I think that you will be more successful next time. You have to just let yourself go next time, don’t fight what you feel.”

“I’ll try harder next time, Duron. Thank you.”

But Farshoul did not mean what he said. He had a hard time believing that he had not left his body. He felt like he had traveled on the clouds and spun in the whirls for weeks. He did not merely imagine the things that he had seen. Whatever he had experienced, he could not believe that it had been just in his imagination, even if he could not see any of the other souls.

He walked away from the ceremonial area and went a little way down the mountain. There was an outcrop of rock there, which was not covered in snow, where he liked to sit. A recent avalanche had exposed jagged stone which had been buried for several thousands of years. It wasn’t that there was anything particularly special about the rock which could finally be seen again, but the spot had appealed to Farshoul recently. He felt like being there was being somewhere special. He sat on a flat rock where he often sat and looked out at the vast view beneath him.

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