Zeke knew the history. Ji came from royalty on Brandonia. At a very early age royal sages hailed Ji as the next golden child, one with unnatural superior ability and as such was raised as the blessed one. Ji fulfilled all expectations and then exceeded them. Where there had been war, Ji brought peace; where darkness, light; where anger and hurt, love and mercy.

At the tender age of four hundred and thirty, Ji astounded everyone again. He laid down his reign. The golden age brought forth by the golden child had come to an end at a time of his choosing. He was stepping down at the height of his influence. Of course, many said Ji had accomplished everything that could have been done. There really was nothing left to do on Brandonia.

Within days of resigning, Ji was gone. Those closest to him speculated, but no one knew where he had gone, why he left, or what he was up to. More than a hundred years later the Hynerians knew. Grateful did not begin to explain their view of his gifts, and main jewel of which was Zing Tao.

And now, Zeke was about to meet Ji Qong in person. The walk from his abode to Ji’s chambers made time stand still. Not more than eighty paces, Zeke felt the weight of each step as if gravity had suddenly multiplied by a factor of ten. So much for the serenity garden. All traces of elevated serenton levels had evaporated. Zeke was on his own.

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