In a large, deep, hollow in the lee of the western slope the forest grudgingly gives ground to a lake with a surface like dark glass, ringed on all sides and loomed over above by ancient sprawling trees. Figs and banyans and more besides stretch branches overhead, daring no more trespass than the occasional twig or leaf or fruit dropped to join the litter on the lake’s shore or to disturb briefly its glassy surface. The lake is just large enough to earn the name, but no larger, and the same could be said of the island at its center – the only place in the clearing free of fallen leaves, and the only place in the whole forest where one can stand directly, unobstructedly, beneath the sky.

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