Empty

 
The Shape of Emptiness
It’s still night when Shazira wakes, to a soft, sad sound coming from the deck outside our bedroom.

She wraps herself in a warm maroon cloak, covered with yellow flowers.
Moving silently, she slips on sandals, and goes out on the deck of the Watchtower.
The morning is still cool, especially at this height.

One of the Kishla is sitting on the deck, singing a song that tears the heart.

Shazira has never seen one this age, only a month or two old.
The young ones are never seen among us.

I wake a … Read more

Council of Fear

 
Shipwrecks
A strong breeze greets me at the railing of the deck.
The sun is high overhead, and the sky clear, as I look beyond the sea, to the high tower of the council building in Kirol.

Time to go.

I rise alone from the Watchtower, and activate my gliding shield.
The breeze on my face disappears, but the rich feeling of joy and freedom remains.
I am a brother to the wind.

The faster I fly, the more free I feel, but today I’m not going far, and I want a slow glide to Kirol.

Everything in my … Read more

Councils of War

 
Council Hall
The guild council meets in a tall white building, with a flat, radiant black roof, that shines like a dark star in the center of Kirol city.
Once, before the energy war, there were buildings like this in many lands, but this is the last of the council halls.
They were shaped by the Bizra, fifty stories high – six hundred feet long, wide, and tall.
Few of the lands had any use for such an immense building, but no one argues with the Bizra.

The council hall is mostly empty, a quiet monument to ancient times.… Read more

Maze of Time

 
Danger
I wake Shazira and the children, hours before first sun, to begin the trip home.
The building is quiet, except for a few guards who greet us as we move through the halls.

Makish and Chiwan will stay here, for now, to watch over the sisters.

The outer doorway is sealed when we reach it.
“Open it,” I tell the guard.

“Tshuan is covered with a powerful storm,” he says.
“You’ll need to delay your journey.”

“Thanks for your concern,” I tell him, “but the storm won’t stop us.”

When the doorway opens, I surround us with a … Read more

Mind Weaving

 
Surprise
The sisters and I return with Chiwan to the ballroom, and rejoin my family, the king, and a few prominent guests.

“I assume, Master Yagrin,” says the king gravely, “that Keela told you I don’t like surprises.”

Niyta steps between us, before I can respond.
“Commander, please don’t be angry with us.”
“We just wanted to thank you and your people for the wonderful welcome that you’ve given us.”

He laughs.
“I’m not angry,” he answers with a smile.
“I enjoyed your surprise completely.”

He turns to me.
“Your performance was wonderful, Master Yagrin, but you’ve set impossibly … Read more

A Wave of Flowers

 
Dream Stage
“The dream begins,” announces a woman’s voice.
The stadium lights dim, and we find ourselves in a large cave filled with fog.

“What is this, Keela?” I whisper.

“Illusion, Master Yagrin.”
“The stadium is still here, but you can’t see it.”

“The performers have built a stream of three-dimensional images and experiences which fill every corner of the stadium.”
“They call it the dream.”

The fog clears, and we’re in one of the vat rooms in the cave of the old ones.
Three old ones rise from the vats, and walk toward the door.
As we … Read more

Children of War

 
Forever Young
Berek and I wear the same style party robes, but in different colors.
I’m not used to so much color, but it’s common in Tshuan.

This elegant pattern of cobalt blue, gold, and black caught me, the moment I first saw it.
The fabric weighs almost nothing.

Why am I here at this party?
To walk around in beautiful clothing?
To enjoy the king’s attention?

No.
I’m here to help the sisters, and understand more about Tshuan, and what role it will play in the coming time of war.

Keela approaches me, looking troubled.
“How long until … Read more

Sword, Sheath, and Shield

 
Families
Makish and I land on the deck of the Watchtower outside the healing room.
As I walk through the door, Tzina hugs me tightly.

“I missed you so much, ina,” she says.

I smile at her.
“I was only gone for a day!”

“I know,” she says, “but I was lost in my head so long, before you saved me.”
“I want to be near you and oodah.”

“How is Berek?” I ask her.

“Calmer,” she says.
“He’s getting used to the idea that you’re his father.”

“How does he like having a sister?”

“Ina, he and I … Read more

Stone Rising

 
The Eighth Hill
My Jiku eyes adjust quickly to the bright sunlight.
It’s wonderful to see the sky again, and this open, endless world, but I turn my attention back to freeing the old ones.
They don’t have much time.

I scan the hills around me, looking for a place to grow another hill.

Six of the hills form a ring, a mile wide, with the seventh hill at the center of the ring.
The top of the center hill is a hundred feet shorter than the other hills, with a flat top, called the clearing.

Keela’s guards … Read more

Walls of Light

 
Rain
My Bizra body is so far away.
I see it floating in the vat, but I can’t reach it.

When I was an old one, it was easy to wake up from the vat.
Not this time.

I hear Niyta calling me, and I start to feel my body.
My eyes won’t open, but the voice helps to clear the fog that fills my mind.

I feel the shock of something cold, and struggle to catch my breath.
Finally, I feel my face clearly, and open my eyes.

It takes another minute before I’m in control of the … Read more