Lao sits before a large, unrolled parchment. It cascades down into his lap and onto the floor. In his hand he holds a brush. Simple. Wooden. It has been dabbed in enough ink that it runs to the tip in a bulb and threatens to fall. But Lao dabs with precision. It will not fall. His hand does not tremble. His eyes stay down. Ears up. He’s waiting. A booming voice will come from the stone chute above him. He doesn’t know when and that is why he waits. Lao is very patient.
His mind, though trained in meditative emptiness, flutters. The ink is black. The parchment is a sunburnt yellow. All manner of shapes and figures could fill this singular parchment. Lao imagines these things. A bird nabbing a worm. Two children laying in tall grass. The sky. Though he imagines them, he has never seen them before. He imagines the sky as the biggest parchment, and all of everything is just ink drawn on it by someone much larger than he.
Lao chuckles to himself when he imagines a giant version of himself drawing on the sky. He thinks that it would look similar to regular-him drawing on the parchment before him. He wonders if there is a tiny-him inside the parchment, waiting to draw on a tiny-parchment. This makes him shiver.
The room around him is stone and sand. Stacks of rolled parchments, as long as Lao is tall, cramp him in and make the air smell of an old book. Lao has never smelled an old book. Nor a new book. Nor a flower, or a wet dog. He has only smelt himself in various stages of discomfort, and he has smelt the years as they exist in all things around him, and are always aging and dying. He wishes he had not smelt death, but her frequent visits break even the deepest of meditation.
(the last time death came, she came on the back of a giant that had blackened skin of ash, and bones that made home for all manner of vermin which poked their heads out and gnarled spit. She had her bag of games and she offered to play with each of the monks, going one-by-one down the halls, knocking on the steel doors with her pudgy knuckles. The ones who wished not to play closed their eyes and put their heads in the left corner of the room, imagining that no two walls ever met, and that with enough will one could fall away between them. Those who answered the knock got to choose their game. Those who wanted to play but did not answer the door had a game put upon them. Lao had his head in the corner and listened to the knocks in his hall. He fell asleep there and had violent nightmares that he had to be shaken from. He confessed them to a cleric from an upper floor and was met with punishment.)
Lao could not remember the nightmares as images, only as pain in his soul. So he focused on the brush.
(got stuck on something so I had to write)