A wave of shivers ran up and down the young man’s spine. He felt great agitation. And even some strange awe. He went hot and cold all over. He felt a cold sweat break out on his back. His breathing seized up. Saosh made an enormous effort to inhale. And at that moment he realized that he was in love with that woman. He was stuck on her! He’d never felt anything like that before. Like many other men, he used to treat women with delicate irony. With sarcasm. Even satirically. He didn’t take them seriously. For him they were weak creatures, unworthy of respect. Now all was different. He was just bewitched, enchanted by the energy, power and beauty that were coming from that wonderful woman. Astonished and crushed! He’d never seen such fortitude and fascination of magical beauty. Almost unaware of what he was doing, he replied, “I will be waiting for you. Come!”
With this the vision of the beautiful woman started fading. It was growing dim by the minute until it completely vanished into nothing. “Where are you?” asked the fascinated young man silently. The answer was silence and void. But despite that, an incredibly strong emotional state remained in the heart of the young shaman. As an echo of that great and deep feeling of touching something miraculous and beautiful. Something possessing great energy, power, beauty and enchanting feminine magic.
In the meantime, the mischievous vagrant wind, having finished amusing itself with escapades, blew away the shaggy wisps of the bearded clouds and calmed down. The sky was clear again. The sun smiled gently at the mountains. Feeling a bit tired, it was setting, going away into its night abode and tinting the snowy peaks with wonderful colors. The soft tinges of pink merged into purple, and then crimson. In these rays, everything sounded completely different and had an absolutely different meaning. A great feeling of deepness and penetration into an unfathomable mystery. “Wow!” a half-thought, half-state flashed through Saosh Yant’s mind. “I’ve never thought that the mountains are so beautiful! They are just gorgeous. I’ve come here for so many years, it seemed that I know everything here, but now it’s like I see this beauty for the first time in my life! Why haven’t I seen it before?”
Kudai Kam finished his drumming. The last abrupt beat ceased and vanished into the high sky. There was very subtle, ringing silence. The Great Shaman made low bows to the four corners of the earth, to all the Gods. Then he put down his drum, sat by the fire and started feeding the fire, which was already starving and eagerly fell upon the dry logs. Saosh Yant also began to wake out of trance little by little. At first he didn’t understand where he was. But soon he came to his senses and looked around.
“Phew! I’m back here again?” breathed the young man, sitting down beside the shaman.
“So, you’ve seen the Ayami, haven’t you?” asked the old man.
“Yes, she said she’d come to me in a dream.”
“Very good. She accepted you,” the kam smiled with approval and patted the apprentice on the shoulder.
“She is so beautiful!” said Saosh shyly and blushed.
“Of course! And how can she not be? You’re lucky. The Ayami of this place is a woman.”
“Why, they can be different?”
“Yeah. They can…”
“What gender can the Ayami be?” asked Saosh Yant with great curiosity. “Are they all women? Or not?”
“They can be of feminine of masculine gender. Even neuter sometimes.”
“Ah, yes, I heard something like that from my grandfather in my childhood, but I thought it was just fairy-tale stuff. So, it is not, after all?”
“No. it’s all for real. Such Ayami appear in a shape of a woman before men, and in a shape of a man before women.”
Saosh Yant was silent for a while, pondering over what he’d heard, but then a doubt crept in the young man’s soul.
“Tell me, Kudai Kam, is the Ayami of this place really a woman? It wasn’t my imagination? Ah?!”
“I see you have a mash on her!” he burst into infectious laughter. “She surely hooked you on! Ah?!”
Kam gave the young man a nudge.
For answer Saosh Yant merely hushed up, embarrassed, blushed and lowered his head.
“Don’t you worry. She’s a woman. And she appeared before you what she really is.”
“Why don’t you say something?”
“You know… I feel kind of awkward… Well… So… I mean… You see…”
“You’re in love?.. Ha-ha-ha!”
The Great Shaman roared with ringing and infectious laughter, like a thirteen-year-old boy. And his apprentice wished the ground would swallow him up. He was ready to die of shame in order not to display his feelings.
“But how did you…”
“Don’t worry, I know everything about you. You’re in love with her. I saw it when I was drumming.”
“But it shouldn’t be that way! I’ve never fallen in love with anyone. I’ve always thought it the appanage of the weak. Is it even possible to fall in love with an Ayami?”
“It’s possible! Even necessary.”
“Because it’s useful.”
“It’s useful. When you fall in love with something greater and mightier than you are, something that largely excels you, you yourself rise to higher levels. You become stronger and more powerful.”
“But I shouldn’t fall in love. I’m not a girl!”
“You’re right. Partly. You shouldn’t fall in love with somebody who is weaker, worse and lower than you. Or with a person who is equal in power and spirit. But you easily afford it with a person who is greater than you. All the more so with an Ayami. She will teach you a lot of things.”
“Of course. She will share her wisdom, power and knowledge with you. whether you’re a man or woman – that’s not so important. It’s mere prejudice!”
“Oh, all right then,” the young man gave a sigh of relief. “I still can’t come to myself.”
“Let’s go!” Kam grinned with approval. “It’s time to leave.”