One day, a mysterious invite to a server showed up on her home page, an invite to server called "Daoist Discord" from a user by the name of "Transcendent Tourmaline Trapmaster".
Hailey ran. Every feeling found context in motion. Affectionate touches that might have been surprising or confusing were simply additional delights with the through-line of movement thrumming through her soul. She arced gracefully through the air, tossing a wink at Romana mid-twirl, and smoothly grabbed onto an overhanging bar with both hands, momentum wrenching her body up into a swing that carried her higher, over the edge of a taller building's roof ahead.
She danced around her, appearing at each side, in flickering frames of motion of flips and twirls as she bounded alongside her.
Hailey bounded back and forth between the walls of two buildings, high over a tight alley, mixing twists and corkscrews in as she leapt — partly showing off to her mentor, partly stealing more opportunities to watch her in motion, and partly just delighting in the flourishes. Heavens, Romana was just so beautiful. In motion like this, it was easy to just let the feelings rush through her with the air, and that's what she felt — she was definitely attracted to her mentor. Hailey was so looking forward to when her eyes could keep up with those dancing flickers properly.
Overhanging the end of the alley was another sturdy bar, just before a short crosswise alley and a squat building ahead with an antenna mast standing tall atop it. Hailey leapt, grabbed, and flung herself across the gap, concrete rooftop soaring past far below her, somersaulting to orient herself properly, and then caught the shaft of the mast with a firm grip, whipping herself 'round nearly to an about-face, arcing down at a little patch of green just visible through a gap, just opposite one of the buildings they'd been bounding between.
As she passed through the gap, she soared into a clearing between the buildings, with one lower roof covered in a small park. Small and medium trees stood there, green and vibrant, along with some flowering shrubs and benches, surrounding a grassy clearing in the middle.
Hailey arced down at the grass, diving into a roll and popping upright with a hop and a mid-air twist back to face Romana, gesturing around with a smile. The view to the west was completely unobstructed, and the sun was just starting to dip closer to the horizon. Strings of fairy lights were laced through some of the trees, and a few hooded solar lights were spiked into the turf at various points.
"Welcome to the mystery rooftop garden, my favorite place in Toronto."
She smiled widely as she took in the array of lights and trees spread out all across building, the whole place came together into something... oddly comfy, for how airy it was. Very Wood and Air, at a glance, and pretty well-done for something without spirit plants or any explicit geomancy.
"It's always lovely to see these little hidden groves. It's... odd how rooted they can be without being really moored to the earth, how much they can grow without those restraints and bindings. This place really is beautiful..."
She hummed quietly as she walked over to a bench, glancing around.
"I do wonder what this is here for - It's pretty expansive for a rooftop garden."
Hailey nodded and smiled, following to the bench and sitting down.
"It is! I've never seen anyone else up here before, not as long as I've lived in Toronto, and I haven't found any door to get down into the building below, nor a ladder."
"Interesting... I'd think that there'd be at least some sort of emergency exit."
She hums quietly as she sits down besides her.
She stretched her arms out, leaning back and relaxing contentedly.
"I don't know what it is, but something about this place always feels so right. The air always felt clearer up here — even fresher than some of the tallest buildings in town."
She nods, a little.
"It feels like a remote place, really - more like what I'd expect inside a freshness formation or remote glade then... here."
"A freshness formation? Does that do air quality or something like that?"
She swings her legs out as she idly strokes her hand.
"There's a lot of pretty standard features for that sort of thing - preservation, air quality, water quality, cleanliness, even sometimes things like soil quality and light quality. They're pretty basic to alter in a space, most of the time, though there's any number of extra complications if you want to just be able to throw down a circle of ink around a place and turn it into a clean room."
Hailey let a pleasant shiver thrill through herself at Romana's gentle touch, smiling broadly.
"Interesting! It sounds like a very still sort of practice, and not my personal thing, but I can see the value."
She hummed softly, pondering the mystery of her favorite rooftop, kicking her legs gently.
She smiled softly.
"There's more dynamic options, later on - formations carved from spiritual energy is something I've heard some Spirit Venerables can do, and it's possible to do things with ink control techniques or manipulating metal and earth to form things, and weird kinda spatial tricks besides like what's in here, and I'm sure a bunch of other things to make it fast and easy, if you look."
She taps her finger against her chest.
"But I see what you mean."
There's a faint sense of her breath falling into a pattern as she breathes with her, and a bit of extra strength trickling into her body, if she looks.
Hailey raised an eyebrow at the touch, then closed her eyes and focused on the sensation and rhythm of her breath, and her body and energy. She stilled her legs and attended to the motion of her lungs, her breath, and her energy.
She smiles gently as her thumb glides across her palm.
"I suppose I'm skipping ahead a little but..."
She hums lyrically beside her, her breath still following the pattern.
"Breathing is a pretty fundamental part of cultivation and meditation. There's so many little ways that your rhythm flows from your breath, and it's something physical that you can control pretty manually to let everything else fall into place as you experience the world. Feel the way your heartbeat changes, the little extra trickle of energy running into you, and the little way that things clear because of the freshness in the air. This is a pretty good spot for it, so you won't nesscarily be able to get these results everywhere, but it can be a guide for you in memory, still."
Hailey nodded, smiling, and let the smooth flow of the air in and hour of her lungs. Her heart beat steadily in her chest, clear and strong. The air was fresh and sweet. Her energy flowed smoothly, song of the run still humming softly, gentle trickle of energy flowing in. The experience of the moment slowly etched brighter and clearer in her mind.
"There we go."
She squeezed her hand gently yet firmly.
"I'd like it if we could go on a little walk around here and talk to you a bit about the way that it blends into things in situations beyond just sitting down and focusing all your attention on it."
Hailey stood up with a smile and a nod, taking her time to maintain her smooth breathing as she did. She kept hold of Romana's hand, and looked toward a gap between the trees that started a natural-looking path.
"How about this way?"
She lost the rhythm for a moment, but picked it back up.
She rises and walks hand in hand, a little tingle spreading through her hand that calms the slight fluctuation that runs through her as her breath hitches.
"There's a lot of different ways to think about walking meditation. The first one, and probably what you thought of when I mentioned the idea, is more or less the same sort of thing as sitting meditation, where you have the extra focus beyond just your breath of the cadence of your steps, having the two cycling together, gradually pulling together into a more harmonious state as you watch the world around you go by."
Hailey nodded softly, considering her stride more fully, then drawing back to her breath, gradually discovering a rhythm between the two as she walked, the gentle motion steadying her enough that in some ways the breathing was even easier to maintain than sitting. The gentle nudges from her mentor certainly didn't hurt, though. She looked around at the well-kept trees and bushes along the path, smiling.
She smiled back, and let the silence fill the air for a while.
She nodded, satisfied, after a short while.
"It can also be useful to think of it as something a bit more then that, though. That each breath and step you take is something more substantial, part of your practice and path, guided by your instincts of how to fight and how to move, and of course..."
She squeezes her hand gently.
"How to calm your thoughts, and stay in the moment. It takes a while before it becomes natural, but it's worth taking the time to make the way you move natively bleed together with how you step when you need the precision, just to get it down automatically and keep your form in place for when you need it."
What a thought! Every step and breath was part of the road forward, part of her growth and refinement. She stepped just a bit lighter and smoother, and smiled warmly at Romana, nodding.
"It's a traditional part of this sort of art especially, so you should take a moment to feel what your technique has, there, both in the fist technique and the meditation sub-section."