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 life has been running.
I feel like slowing the world down, if only for a few minutes.
I fly low over the water.
The sea is full of boats today, as they dance with pleasure in the waves and wind.
The blowing sails fill my way with color, as I pass across the water and through the harbor.
An image bursts into my mind, of a time just before the energy wars – a memory from my recent journey into the past, as a twin of the council hall.
The harbor was deeper and larger then, full of great metal ships, covered with intricate, colorful designs.
These were flying ships that carried people and goods between the many lands.
The Jiku loved the sea before they developed flight, and later spaceflight.
They honored that old love by landing many of their flying craft in harbors.
The ships manipulate gravity, making it easy to float while they rest.
Another image comes to me, from the days after Botzar released his destruction upon the world.
The area around the harbor is nearly empty of people.
Those who are spared walk among the rubble, unable to believe what their eyes see.
The surface of the water is empty and quiet.
The wrecks of the flying ships cover the bottom of the harbor.
Many of the broken ships are still visible from the air, although few masters dare to fly.
The destruction has humbled everyone.
My mind returns to today.
Most of the broken ships were taken from the harbor long ago, but not all of them.
Something pulls at me, and I fly down quickly toward the water.
I expand my shield to hold more air, and I enter the water.
I move down through the water until I reach the small wreck that calls me.
The metal of the old ship is untouched by rust or decay, even after endless years in the sea.
Its rest here is peaceful, undisturbed by visitors.
I find my way to a sealed inner chamber.
There’s no electrical power to open the watertight doors, so I flow the doors away.
I see a table with a doll upon it, and feel the emotion that was given to this doll, so long ago.
Strong emotions leave an energy mark on objects, that can be felt for years, but why is this old emotion strong enough to pull me out of the sky today?
I take the doll into my shield, and dry it off.
It stays with me as I leave the wreck and rise out of the water.
I glide to the docks, and look at my prize.
The doll looks like a young girl with vivid features, especially the fire eyes!
There were never many children with eyes like this.
The doll was custom made for its owner.
I have time before the council meeting, so I find a quiet place, out of sight, and turn myself into a twin of the doll.
I spread my healing body upon the original doll, and its past pours into my awareness.
I move back through its history, until I find a little girl with fire eyes who left the doll behind.
“Be quiet!” says an adult woman with ordinary eyes, as she pulls the girl from her sleeping room in the ship.
The woman puts flying bands on herself and the girl.
The ship floats peacefully in the dark harbor, as they glide away, toward the open sea.
I move back in time and see a woman with fire eyes give the doll to the girl.
The little girl clutches the doll tightly, like she has found a treasure.
“Her name is Shazira,” says the woman.
“My ina made her for me.”
“Take good care of her.”
“She was my best friend.”
I search farther back to get a glimpse of the man who shaped the doll for his daughter.
He has kind, ordinary eyes.
An image of a woman with fire eyes is displayed on a nearby table.
A memorial to his dead bondmate.
I’ve seen enough.
I let go of the doll’s shape that I’ve borrowed, and retake my own.
The doll finds a temporary home in the knapsack that I carry, as I walk toward council hall.
When I arrive outside the council hall, Chiwan, Niyta, Makish, and three other sisters are already there.
Balshown arrives a few minutes later.
I’m surprised that he doesn’t speak or offer greetings when he sees me.
“What’s wrong, Balshown?”
I see that he’s struggling with anger, as he prepares a response.
“I haven’t seen or heard from you in days,” he says.
“Have you forgotten the urgent warning from within the closed city?”
“An ancient enemy threatens Siksa.”
“We have to find a way into the city to get help.”
“I had to free the sisters, Balshown,” I answer.
“The cave was collapsing around them.”
“Did you need to attend a party, and dance for the king?” he asks, sarcastically.
I have no answer.
My actions seemed right at the time, but now they seems foolish.
“I’m sorry, Balshown, that I didn’t message you about the delay, but I have so much to tell you about what’s happened.”
“I don’t want to hear about the king’s party, Yagrin!”
“That’s not what I want to tell you about,” I answer, irritated.
He puts his hand up to silence me.
He needs time to let go of his anger, before he can listen to me.
There’s an awkward silence for a minute, while his anger softens.
“What’s this on your belt?” he asks in a slightly calmer voice, as he touches the crystal that surrounds the disk.
“I’ve never seen energy like this, except near the closed city.”
“It’s the spinning sword,” I answer quietly.
He’s speechless for a few seconds.
“You’re as arrogant and irresponsible as the old Yagrin,” he says at last, in a loud voice, his anger returning in full force.
“What’s happened to you?” he asks.
“You carry this horror in plain sight, you forget the danger that threatens us all, and you go dancing?!”
He tries to flow the disk into air, but nothing happens.
A moment later, he’s thrown back by a powerful energy blast.
He gets up, shocked, but unhurt, and glares at me.
“I didn’t do it, Balshown,” I tell him, wondering who did.
“I did it,” says Makish, moving between us, like a mother protecting her child.
“That blast wasn’t meant to hurt you, or you would be dead.”
“You know nothing about the last few days,” she adds.
“Give Yagrin a chance to explain.”
Balshown shakes his head.
“It may be too late already to stop our enemies.”
“Sometimes Yagrin, there are only moments to act upon a warning.”
“You’ve wasted days,” he says, and rushes into the council hall, ahead of us.
Words and Images
Today, we start planning how to fight, maybe start another war, against unknown enemies.
The Bizra want to end or prevent the war.
They told the old ones to teach about war and healing.
How will that prevent a war against distant enemies?
Botzar received the same advice to prevent the energy war, and he ignored it.
We’re such fools.
What if we don’t understand the Bizra messages?
They communicate with images, not words.
The image speakers among the masters translate the message into words.
These are Jiku words, based on a partial understanding of the message.
The speakers don’t think like the Bizra.
No one can do that with only a Jiku mind.
The Bizra place their own thoughts and feelings within a message, and shape its true meaning.
Only another Bizra can find that meaning, and understand it.
I became Bizra once, and the Bizra dream mind has become part of my fire body.
I can call upon that mind to translate the whole message into words and feelings.
“Wait here for a few minutes,” I tell Niyta and the others with me, as I catch Niyta’s eyes.
I lower the wintzal, and reach for Niyta’s mind.
Her mind sphere blocks my way, but she feels the pressure of my contact, recognizes me, and opens her mind to me.
“The council is waiting for us.”
“Show me the image, Niyta, that the old ones showed you.”
“The one that told you how to stop the war.”
“A waste of time, Yagrin.”
“We’ve reviewed the image endlessly, and even the image speakers agree that there’s no hidden meaning there.”
“The sisters must teach others about the horrors of the energy war, and show them the ways of healing and peace.”
“Nothing about the Bizra is clear to the Jiku, Niyta,” I tell her.
“You have never been Bizra, and dreamed with them.”
“If there’s a hidden meaning, only I can find it.”
I focus on what it feels like to dream with the Bizra, to touch that part of me.
Then, I find the Bizra dream that floats in Niyta’s mind.
My mind connects with the image, and the meaning that surrounds it.
At first, the dream is quiet.
I see the sisters teaching about the energy war, sharing images that they remember of those times.
They demonstrate ways of healing to the healing guild, and they speak to children, presumably of peace.
The school room shakes, the sisters cover their students with a shield, and dive beneath the waves, just before the air is filled with fire.
The sisters comfort the children, deep in the ocean, then sit quietly in circles, surrounding the symbol for peace, a rain of light.
I feel the calm that comes when I connect to the balance of the web or the sea.
Then, I am the ocean that surrounds the sisters and the children, protecting them.
A voice speaks within me, but it’s only my mind translating the Bizra dream into words.
At first, the words are the same ones that I heard from Niyta:
Teach the children about the horrors of the energy war, and teach the masters the ways of healing and peace.
The old ones must not fight.
Embrace the water, deep beneath the sea, and protect the children from war.
Then the voice continues, with new words that make no sense at all:
Together, you will become the peace.
The family will spin the peace into creation and destruction, life and death.
I let my words reach Niyta’s mind.
“Do you think it means the family of the sword?” she asks.
“Is our fate bound to the sword?”
“I don’t know yet, Niyta, but the images remind me of another ancient Bizra dream.”
“The Bizra warned Botzar of the destruction, and he asked them how to prevent it.”
“They showed him an image of teaching about war and peace, with children sitting in the forest around the symbol of peace.”
“I carry that dream image within me, but I only looked at it through Botzar’s eyes!”
I touch the feeling of Bizra mind, and find the images that were given to Botzar, and hear the words:
Teach the children about the horrors of the Fiklow war, and teach the masters the ways of healing and peace.
The masters must not fight.
Embrace the new life of the forest, and the children will see no war.
A great calm covers me, a gift from the forest.
I feel each tree, and then, I am the forest, surrounding the children, and singing with them.
The song’s words echo within me:
We are the peace, the destruction, and the hope.
“One more dream to touch, Niyta, before we speak to the council.”
“Show me the message that the Bizra gave you for me, about the family of the sword.”
The image speakers translated it to these words:
The king will live again, and see the heart of the sword.
His brother found peace for him in the world of the seven towers.
The family will balance the sword, but their eyes will see peace, destruction and hope.
I connect to the image.
A man, a woman, two girls and a boy form a circle.
Their faces are indistinct, but the woman and girls have fire eyes.
There’s a strange bundle of energy resting in each heart, the same energy that Botzar used to activate the sword.
Energy pours from five hearts toward the center of the circle.
The blue platform takes shape, and the fire of the spinning sword rises straight up into space.
There is a great explosion, and I feel my fire energy racing through all of us.
In the midst of this upheaval, I’m cradled in the calm of the great web.
I hear the same words as the speakers, and more:
Your family is the sword, and the way of hope.
Together, you will become the peace, the birth and the destruction.
“Do you feel it, Yagrin? asks Niyta.
“All these dreams are connected.”
“Yes,” I admit, “but it’s hard to believe that the sword is a source of hope.”
“Why is peace bound to destruction?” asks Niyta.
“How can those two coexist?”
“I don’t know,” I answer, “but I don’t think that destruction means what we think it means.”
I break the connection, and we both raise our wintzals.
There are so many questions.
I should be focused on how to use the sword, but another part of the dream haunts me.
Who is the second girl?
Council of Fear
We stand together before the council as I introduce the sisters and describe the message of peace that the Bizra gave to the old ones.
“There was a similar message,” I tell them, “given to Botzar long ago.”
“The Bizra tried to prevent the energy war, but Botzar didn’t follow their advice.”
The council discusses it for a few minutes.
“It can’t do any harm, Yagrin,” says the council, “to let the sisters teach about the old war, and encourage people to solve their disagreements in peaceful ways, but do you really believe that this will stop a war?!”
“I agree with you,” I tell them.
“I don’t think these actions will stop a war, but I don’t know what else to do.”
“I believe that we don’t truly understand the message yet.”
“Here’s our decision,” says the council, “according to what we know today.”
“Ten of the sisters are welcome in the guild lands.”
“They may teach in any school which will welcome them, or form their own schools.”
“Only ten?” asks Niyta.
“There are three hundred of us.”
“We hoped that one hundred would remain in Tshuan, while two hundred more would find places in the guild lands.”
“Ten,” answers the council.
“You’re powerful, and unfamiliar with our ways.”
“More of you will disrupt the guilds, and frighten the people.”
“Prove that you can live with us, and we’ll welcome more sisters into our lands.”
“The sisters are dedicated to peace,” says Chiwan.
“What trouble will they cause?”
“No one doubts your judgement, Master Chiwan,” says the council, “but we must move slowly and carefully on this.”
They motion to me to stand before the council head.
“You freed the old ones,” he says sharply.
“Yes,” I admit.
“Why didn’t you visit us, first?”
“It was time for them to leave their caverns, with or without me,” I answer.
“I brought them back as Jiku, so we would be safe from the destructive power of old one eyes.”
“A sensible choice, but we are the council, and the law in the guild lands.”
“An ordinary person has little need to consult with us, but you’re a guild master.”
“If you want to remain in the guilds, you will include us in your decisions.”
The guild council began in Botzar’s time with a thirst for power, and gave birth to war.
Can they help me bring peace, while full of fear of the sisters, and still afraid of me?
At one time, they were ready to dissolve my marriage, and keep me out of the guilds.
The council clings too strongly to their familiar, comfortable world, too slow to see the future, as it races toward us.
I don’t believe they can handle the challenges that face us, but I need them, for now.
“Yes, council head,” I answer, lowering my head in pretend submission.
“May I speak about the sisters?” I add.
“I worry about leaving so many of them in the Tshuan lands.”
“The sisters might be in danger, and if war comes, we need the sisters near us to protect us.”
“When will the war come, Yagrin?” asks Balshown.
“Will it be here today or tomorrow?”
“I don’t know, Balshown.”
“You don’t know,” he says, raising his voice, “if the war will ever come!”
“Maybe all of the sisters in Tshuan will teach the army there to love peace!”
Some of the council members laugh.
No one believes that the people of Tshuan will ever trade their armies and weapons for a peaceful life.
The council speaks among themselves for a few minutes before answering me.
“Your concern is justified, Yagrin,” says the council.
“We want you to visit Tshuan weekly to speak with the sisters.”
“Let them be your eyes and ears.”
“Ask them to look for signs that the Tshuans are preparing to fight against us.”
“If there are further signs of any war, or the sisters appear to be in danger, we will consider bringing all the sisters to the guild lands.”
“Thank you council,” I reply.
“There is one more task that the Bizra discussed with the sisters.”
“The Bizra suggest that the guild masters must be protected against mental attack.”
“The skills of mental attack and defense have been lost, Yagrin,” says Lina, head of the weavers guild.
“What danger is there, and where will we find a Mind Weaver to help us?”
The council murmurs in agreement.
“There are Tshuans who can touch minds,” I tell them.
“There are many strange Tshuan weapons.”
“One way or another, they can twist our minds.”
“The wintzal would protect us against that.”
“Also, there are other masters asleep in the caverns of Tshuan.”
“If they awake, who knows what skills they have!”
“A good argument, Yagrin,” says Balshown calmly, “but which master will open her mind to a Mind Weaver?”
“You still need to find us a Mind Weaver.”
“Makish is a Mind Weaver,” I tell them, as she steps forward.
The council speaks together for a few minutes.
“Makish, we thank you for your offer of help, but you’re still a stranger among us.”
“No one will accept you into their minds.”
“What if there was a Mind Weaver among your guild masters?” asks Makish.
“There are a few with fire eyes among us,” says the council head, “but even if one of them has the talent, the training will take months or years.”
“The Mind Weaver’s guild is not like the others,” says Makish.
“The skill is mostly talent, and with that talent, a Mind Weaver can be trained in days or weeks.”
“I’ve already found two of your masters, a bonded pair, with the talent for Mind Weaving, and one has completed his training.”
“Who?” asks Lina.
“Yagrin, and his bondmate, Shazira.”
“They are already afraid of you and your strength,” says Lina to me.
“They will never open their minds to you!”
“Your minds are already open,” says Makish.
“You can be attacked at any time, and your deepest secrets are exposed to someone with a mind touch.”
“The wintzal would change that.”
The council discusses it for fifteen minutes.
“The fear of attack will convince many to accept your help,” says the council head.
“We’ll publicize the urgency of this danger, and your solution.”
“Each master will choose for herself.”
“Council,” says Makish, “when you plan this, be aware that a Mind Weaver can only build about five or six wintzals in a day.”
“The process is a strain on the Mind Weaver, and more than six can be dangerous.”
“We understand,” says the council.
“Thank you sisters.”
We leave the council hall.
“Yagrin,” asks Niyta, “will you listen to the council and use the sisters to spy on Tshuan?”
“I don’t trust the council, but I don’t trust the Tshuans either.”
“I want to make sure that the sisters are safe.”
“I don’t believe that you’ll consult with the council, Yagrin,” says Shazira.
I look around at those I trust, and then I speak freely.
“I’ll consult with them when I can, but they move too slowly to defend us against danger.”
“I agree,” says someone behind us.
I turn around, and see that Balshown has followed us out.
“So you’re a Mind Weaver now, Yagrin?” he asks.
“I see,” he says grudgingly, “that you have been busy the last few days.”
“Next time, message me if I’m expecting you, and you’ll be delayed.”
“You’re right, Balshown.”
Balshown and the others exchange greetings.
“Now that I’m calm, Yagrin,” he says, “tell me about the sword.”
I explain how I found it, and the legends about the family of the sword.
I tell him about the messages from the Bizra to Botzar, the sisters, and finally to me, and how they all speak of peace and destruction.
“How can the sword be used for peace, Yagrin?” he asks.
“What sort of destruction would be acceptable to the Bizra?”
“The end of war,” says Makish.
I look at her.
“Where did you get that idea, Makish?”
“When we think of destruction,” she says, “we think of violence, but we know that violence is unacceptable to the Bizra.”
“The destruction they refer to,” she says, “must return balance to the world, and use no violence.”
“How is that possible?” asks Balshown.
“I don’t know,” answers Makish, “but Yagrin needs to discover what it means.”
A council assistant comes outside to invite Chiwan and the sisters to dinner.
“I must stay with Shazira, and complete her training” says Makish, politely refusing.
The sisters and Chiwan return to the council hall.
Shazira and I will go back to the Watchtower with Makish.
“Come for dinner tonight,” I suggest to Balshown.
“We’ll make plans to travel to the closed city.”
Before we leave for the Watchtower, I open my pack, and take out the doll.
“I have a present for you, Makish.”
“You’re giving her a doll?” asks Balshown.
“It’s not just a doll,” I tell him.
“It’s almost as old as she is.”
“Where did you get that?” asks Makish, incredulous.
“I found it in an airship,” I answer, “that lies underwater, in the harbor at Kirol.”
“I moved through its past, and I saw that it once belonged to you.”
“The doll’s name is Shazira,” I tell the others.
Makish nods, handling the doll, as though it’s a dream.
“I saw the man who made it for you,” I continue.
“Yes,” she answers, quietly.
She shakes off the memory with a sad smile.
“I gave the doll to my niece.”
“She must have left it behind when she went into hiding, around the time of the war.”
She gives it back to me.
“I thought you would want it,” I tell her.
“No,” she says.
“It’s been a long time since I was a child.”
“Give it to Tzina.”
“When she has a daughter, she can give it to her.”
“I’ll hold it for you, Makish,” I tell her, putting it away.
“You’re young again, and this is a different world.”
“Someday, you will have your own daughter to give it to.”