Chapter 1: The Amulets

It’s 11 o’clock at night and 24 year-old Yuramay has been up in bed since 9, staring up at the ceiling of the room. His brother Dechen, 14 years-old, is lying next to him sound asleep with his favourite wooden-carved toy wrapped around his arms. The room is dark, dimly lit by the moonlight. The night is silent and the skies are clear, but Yuramay’s mind is clouded with worries.

Hailstorm. He thinks to himself, recalling that afternoon he heard the rumors about the storm that might just hit their little Himalayan village.

“They say the hail will be as big as grapefruit — big enough to destroy crops and houses!”

“I suggest you stay in… might get hurt.”

“Worried? Of course! True or not, you have to be prepared. I think the farmers will be affected the most, you know? They got their crops and everything, and a hailstorm that bad could flat out destroy their hard work and they’d lose everything. Builders have to be careful too. Actually, everyone should be careful, you could lose a lot.”

He turns from looking at the ceiling over to Dechen. Brushing his hair away from his face, careful not to wake him, Yuramay lets out a heavy sigh. Protecting Dechen has been his sole responsibility ever since they were abandoned by their father years ago.

The past two hours of replaying these remarks in his head has his mind full of stress. What can I do?

Despite all the noise going on in his head, Yuramay’s eyes grow tired and slowly he drifts to sleep.

The next morning Yuramay is out working the plot of land just behind their house. Dechen is inside having his breakfast while playing with his wooden toy. Although Yuramay has yet to decide what to grow, he thought it best to work on his farming skills. As a craftsperson, Yuramay was always good with his hands. He worked especially in trade, travelling to different markets to conduct his work where he eventually grew an interest in growing his own crop. He also received fresh fruits often and nuts such as almonds from owners who he grew quite acquainted with.

Working the soil kept Yuramay busy, and focused. The problem he was bent over with last night was for a moment not a worry, but in the back of his mind he knew he had to do something to protect his little brother and the home they lived in together. He could reinforce the structure, protect the soil with mats, minimalizing the potential damage… but what else could he do?

Suddenly, it struck him.

“How could I forget?!”

Yuramay settled his gear down and ran into the house, grabbing some things and with Dechen suddenly following behind headed toward the Deer Park.

“Where are we going, Big Brother??” Dechen asked eagerly.

“We’re going to the Deer Park, Dechen,” he replied. “I suddenly remembered something when we I was out back. I don’t know why it never came to me last night!”

“What is it?”

“I heard the other villagers talk about an amulet seller selling special amulets at the Deer Park. I guess I was so worried about the hailstorm itself that I completely forgot about this. If we go get them, then maybe we can protect ourselves even better. And maybe not just ourselves, but our neighbours as well, Dechen.”

“Storm? You think it’s true?”

“Well… there have been rumors floating around that there’s going to be a hailstorm coming. A bad one. Whether it was because the spirits were mad or a dark ritualist got upset over something, I have a feeling it’s going to happen, and I just want us to be safe, you know? The amulet seller was said to possess rare and special amulets that could help us and if we go get it now, then maybe… no, most likely, we will be okay.”

“Alright! I trust you, Big Brother!” Dechen was looking forward to getting whatever it was his brother just explained, while Yuramay couldn’t mask the worry on his face, no matter how determined he seemed that the amulets would help. Will it actually work?

“There’s no use in doubting this, Yuramay.” He mumbles to himself. “Have faith.”

After the trip to the Deer Park, Yuramay and Dechen are both at home, placing the amulets along the portrait of the two by the door.

“This dog looks scary,” Dechen remarks as he hands the first amulet over to Yuramay.

“Well, this is known to be the “Male Sky Protector,” Yuramay explains. “You have this “scary” dog here with an eight-petaled lotus and these three unbroken lines in the trigram symbolizing “heaven.” The whole thing represents Khenpa, the Sky Father. It’s used to ask for his protection, that’s what the seller told us, remember?”

“Oh, right!” Dechen recalls. Dechen reaches for the second amulet and hands it over to Yuramay. “And that is the “Female Earth Protector,” right?”

“Yes, that’s right. But, the trigram here has three broken lines, symbolizing “earth.” Above this “scary” dog is a black form. This whole thing represents Khonma, the Earth Mother, and is used to ask for her protection as well.”

“Ah,” Dechen watches as Yuramay finishes up with the amulets.

“We should be set for now,” Yuramay claims. “Let’s go to bed now, it’s late.”

“Yes, sir!”

Throughout the week, Yuramay and Dechen work on enforcing the house and making preparations for the impending storm. Each night, they pray for each other and for the safety of the villagers. While everything seems secure, all that is left now is to wait for the hailstorm.

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