No, I thought. I don’t want to lose my cantus. I don’t want relive that feeling of helplessness I had before I graduated from Harmony School. But we weren’t in a position to disobey.
“Now, I will seal you cantus inside these emblems,” Rijin announced. “Make your emblems stand.”
I uprighted the figure in front of me. Suddenly, tears were spilling out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
“Shun Aonuma! Maria Akizuki! Satoru Asahina! Mamoru Itou! Saki Watanabe!” Rijin’s voice echoed through the surrounding trees, “Your cantus have been sealed here!”
A multitude of needles, like crimson wasps, flew from his hand and impaled the figures through the head, torso and limbs.
“May your mind heal…let your desires be burned away…and the ashes return to the vast, wild earth…” Rijin chanted in a low voice as the emblems burned up in a burst of flames.
That was all fake. It was nothing more than a simple hypnotic suggestion. It shouldn’t have rendered me unable to use my cantus. It only worked before because I was still young, and hadn’t made my cantus my own. Now, my cantus belongs wholly to me. No one can take it away.
I desperately tried to convince myself of that. But Rijin wasn’t finished with the sealing ritual yet.
“Remember, you gave up your cantus in front of Buddha at the Temple of Purity. Through Buddha’s compassion, you received a pure mantra from Head Priest Mushin, summoned a new spirit, and were granted your cantus once again.” Rijin’s voice took on an ominous note, “But you, who have strayed from the Buddha’s path, your spirits have fled, and your mantras vanished. Take this to heart. You will never remember your mantra again.”
He was using a hook embedded in our subconscious, like during the initiation ceremony. In order to give a new suggestion, all he had to do was call up that hook, then control our minds in any way he liked.
At the time though, it worked like magic. The mantra that we usually had engraved in our hearts disappeared without a trace.
I looked around at my friends, trying to find a ray of hope, but everyone bore the same expression. Satoru was shaking his head, face twisted like he was about to cry.
“Now then, let’s go.” Rijin gave us a contemptuous look. “Don’t drag your feet. We must reach the temple by sundown.”