From the Declaration by the Founding Council of Harakai, recorded this Fourth Day of the Low Earth in Ascending Yin:

Resolved, that the Valley of Harakai will be guided in all things by the Way, and all decisions will be made in accordance with the Way.

Resolved, that use of the Dust of the Way shall be always the birthright of the free people of the Valley of Harakai, legacy to all future generations from She Who Gives the Dust.

Resolved, that there will ever be Four Houses at the center of Harakai:

  • The House of Song, a place of beauty and creation: a House dedicated to the study of art, and music, and dance. It will be built on the Southern wall.
  • The House of Lore, a place of remembrance: a House to record the history of the people. It will be built on the western wall, and watch the last glimpse of the fading light of the day. Here will be recorded the history of the people; here too will be captured the best and most useful incantations of the Dust of the Way.
  • The House of Sword, a place of combat and healing: a House ready to defend the city Harakai from enemies large and small. It will be built on the Northern wall, facing and always subordinate to the House of Song.
  • The House of Flame, a place for the nourishment of our spirits: a House dedicated to the study of the Way, and at its center will ever burn the Flame of the Way. It will be built on the Eastern wall, and the light of every rising sun will shine first on a place dedicated to the Way.

Resolved, that each House will select one to serve as Master of the House, to lead the House and assure that it remains true to its charter.

Resolved, that the Valley of Harakai will ever be led by a Council of Equals, composed of no more than five members; that the Four Masters of the Houses will serve as the members of the Council of Equals; that a fifth member, to be known as the Sage of the Way, will lead the Council, to vote only if the Masters cannot reach a decision.

Resolved, that the Valley of Harakai will ever remain a place of welcome, open to any who approach, should they come with peace in their hearts, and a spirit open to the Way.

From the private journal of Katrina Laroche:

She was spectacular.

The Book of the Way says, “The Master / acts without doing anything / and teaches without saying anything.” I don’t think I’ve ever really understood that before. She said so little! Looking at the minutes, it looks like she dominated the meeting. But the minutes include almost everything she said – she changed the conversation with a tilt of her head, with a movement of her eyebrow, by catching someone’s eye and smiling. It was like watching a musician play an instrument, watching her guide them to where we needed to go.

We have a government, it seems. Four houses, a Council. And I’m to be the Master of a House. A member of the Council. There will be only five of us! I did not know she thought I was ready. I don’t know if I am ready. I will try so hard not to disappoint her.

I was surprised that she would propose a house to study war, and even more surprised that she put Braden in charge of it. I wonder what the implications of that will be. “We must be prepared for whatever may happen,” she told me. “It has not been so long since we were invaded, here in this valley. If we seek to remain prepared, we must consider all possibilities. We have had none dedicated to the study of Dust; if we are going to practice peace, we must be prepared to use weapons, if compelled.” But Braden?

She has ideas she is not sharing with me, of course, just as she did not share the true charter of the House of Lore with others. “Ever will the selfish strive to take power for themselves,” she told me. “Ever will they look to take personal advantage in crisis. It is tradition that binds a people together. It is customs that create governance, and nothing else. We must make the traditions of our council so deep and unshakeable that it can sustain itself against the attempts of the selfish, and the corrupt, who may try to distort it into something it was never meant to be. To the house of Lore will fall the duty of establishing such norms, of guarding against those who might try to advance themselves at cost to the many.” I hope I am ready for the task.

I will struggle with how much to record of what she has told me about what came before. So much good lies ahead of us, but there is so much darkness just behind us. There was so much suffering. How much more there would have been without her! But she dwells on how much more she could have done. How much of what she has confided in me about the truth, about what she did not do, of her role in it all – how much should I tell? How much should that be allowed to color her legacy?

How much should the future really know about the past?

We will need secret volumes of the History, I think. Perhaps only a few within the House need know the full truth. Perhaps not even them.

I have time. I needn’t decide today. Today I need only begin recording what happens now, what happens next. Today is the beginning of the future. What do we really need to take from the past?
It looks to have taken much from her, this victory. As she left the chamber, for the first time she reached out and took my arm. For the first time she paused for breath at the top of the stairs. For the first time, she looked not just aged, but old. She looked, I think, feeble.

“Crisis always returns,” she told me. “In times of rest all we can do is try to influence the future so we can be resilient to them.

“We must always be hopeful. We must trust in the Way. And we must trust that when each crisis comes, someone will be ready to guide us through it.”

She will always be “She Who Brings the Dust.” But to me, she will be simply “grandmother.” Never have I been more proud of her. Never have I felt more love for her. And never have I felt less worthy of her.

– Discovered and entered into the Secret Tomes by Master Hana Takeshi, Second Master of the House of Lore. Recorded on this the Moon Day of the Low Air in Descending Yin, in the fifth cycle of Sage Borivoi Rademaker, third Sage of Harakai.