Tea was poured into four small glasses and the men drank it fast but in silence. After they had finished, they separated, each taking a different direction on the crossroads that passed just by the small hotel they had met. No one would ever know that those four men had been talking about very ancient things, about legends and about men that no longer existed. They were all sages, taking care of temples in different regions of the world. Each one of those temples was dedicated to a different element existing in the world. They used to be more temples but they had been destroyed in the past and only the four most important ones remained. People had forgotten all about that, but not the sages. They had taken care of their buildings in such a way that any person that passed by was impressed and had to come in.
Even if they didn’t now the whole meaning of everything, they always knew that those places were very special. No one ever tried to move them or demolish the temples to build something else. Actually, no one even thought of building anything close to any of the temples. That aura that the woods and every other natural element gave to the place was part of the reason why people adored spending time there, even if they were not especially fond of praying. Families just spent the day there checking out the hidden features of the building, which had secret drawings and things all over the place. This pleased the sages because the legend said that the temples should always be filled with people or the gods would descend to make things right in the world.
The four of them had met because they had all received a mysterious letter. There wasn’t a name on it, not a thing telling them who had written the mysterious words that revealed there was a lot more to their order that they even knew. There was some secrecy that had always surrounded their group but nothing like those letters, which spoke of a very old enemy preparing to come out into the world to bring chaos, which they had to confront whether they were ready or not. The letters seemed menacing at parts but they weren’t threats or warnings. They seemed to have been written by a especially mysterious friend, something they didn’t really appreciate as people in the dark tend to like it there.
They read the letters various times, trying to look for differences between the four that they had received but that was not possible as they were exact copies, word by word. The paper seemed to have been made by the person that had written the letters, as it was very hard and rugged in several areas. The writing did weird curves and funny loops but it was obvious it didn’t have anything to do with the writing skills of the letter’s sender. The ink was pretty regular, so that did not say anything either. But the signature, however, had something they hadn’t seen in quite a while.
The thing was, the letters didn’t have a traditional signature. Instead, there was a red seal at the bottom of each letter. According to those markings, the seals had been put on different times. Some were very well defined and others seemed to have been put in a rush. The seal was a symbol that monks had used over one thousand years in the past, when dark forces reigned all over the country and the lands of nature. The presence of that seal, made the sages think the person that had written the letters knew the past very well. No one really had access to those seals, unless they had kept them for generations. Some were in museums but none of them had been stolen. There was the possibility of all of this been a hoax but, somehow, it didn't seem like it at all.
The group of four men stayed in that small hotel for an entire week. Not surprisingly, they were the only guests of the place. The owner, a big-breasted older woman, didn’t even talked to them, as she already knew what they needed and when they needed. Breakfast, lunch, diner and teas times were always exactly at the same hour and were always served at exactly the same time. She prepared their bed exactly at nine o’clock at night and left the windows opened because they all liked to hear nature as they slept. These details had all been given to her by letter sent from an assistant of one of the sages in order for her not to interrupt any of their meetings. She liked having them around anyway.
Every meeting, they met in a small room by the veranda where the sun entered gently as well as the autumn breeze. It was often a very quiet room, even when they were all there. During long moments, the sages liked to keep silent and not say a word unless they thought it served to enhance their conversation and their deliberation about the letters. That’s, in part, why they stayed there for a whole weak. They had to go through every detail and each one of them had to give his opinion about every single matter that they proposed, every solution to the mystery. In spite of the modern world, these men had decided to live a life that wasn’t rushed and fast. They thought every single step they took in the world.
All of them had gotten to be sages exactly because of that. They were patient men that loved to be close to the gods and nature. They knew how to communicate with themselves and the people surrounding them and had always this aura of peace around them that made people like them instantly. No one could be aggressive to any of them as they calmed fast and just heard their words and opinions about any old subject that the times put on the table. They were also very smart although they were no geniuses. They actually refused to be thought of as more than men or more special that most men. They always insisted they weren’t and that they were just men on a very special mission.
Before they separated, they agreed that the letters were a pressing matter. The sages had always thought they were the only ones with any knowledge about the ancient world and now someone was presenting itself to them and telling them that he it was there. Every single one of them returned to their regions with the promise to keep investigating in order to clarify the matter as soon as possible. They even worked during their trip back, which was by road or train, and as they did some of them discovered interesting things. Two on the letters had traces of some type of dust, which happened to be rice dust, which was normally used in cosmetics. Another one of the letter had a stain of water in the back and, when properly checked, they discovered it was salt water.
They kept discovering things like that, small indications in a very big map, and they decided to reunite again some six months after their initial meeting. This time, however, they chose a small town by the sea. They stayed in another hotel with another owner that knew how to treat them, and there they reunited every single piece of the puzzle. They worked on it for days and days until one night they agreed they had found the person. They decided there was no time to waste so they would travel that same night. The trip was not very long as their destination was a bigger town by the sea, very well known for the fisheries.
There, they did a little big of investigation until they decided to act. They arrived at a grand house in the middle of the night. They didn’t knock or anything like that, instead using their special abilities to walk over the rooftops and enter the mansion that way. The place seemed deserted but suddenly the lights were turned on and a woman, young and beautiful, stepped into the garden to greet them. The men stay there, very still, as if waiting to see their host’s next move. It was a wise things to do because a battle ensued, where she used knifes and a love sword to battle against them. The neighbors didn’t hear nay of the racket because of the trees and the structure of the building but the fight was though.
Then, the woman simple stopped and revealed herself to be one of the other sages, of the temples that had been destroyed long ago. She had been hiding because her grandfather had been the former sage and he had no one else to leave the temple than to his granddaughter. She promised to do well and rebuilt the ruins he had left her and she had done so. She asked the sages to follow her and soon they found themselves to be in one of the biggest and most awe-inspiring temples they have ever stepped in. The dedication she had show, in fight and restoring the temple, won the respect of the sages who accepted her as the only sage in generations to be a woman and to live by the ocean.