Dark Pathways

Fear of Travelers
The day of the tests is here.
Shazira and I dance the greeting early, finishing by first light.

“I need to feel the sky,” I tell her.
“Then, we’ll spend the morning together.”

I rise high in the sky, close my physical eyes, and open all of myself to the world of energy.
I see the energy web sparkle all around me, as the sun’s light grows stronger and stronger, and I hear the ebb and flow of the web as it greets the sun.
The web dances its own greeting to the new day.

The Watchtower is quiet when I return, the new day’s visitors still hours away.
I listen to my footsteps as I walk, and the soft, calm music all around me, refreshing the mind and body.
The music is always there, day and night, too soft to hear, unless you put your strength into listening.

Shazira and I eat breakfast without speaking.
I let my bondsense have free reign, and her feelings fill me.
She does the same.

Soon the food is gone, and the blessing done.
We look at each other, then bow our heads until they touch.

We hold on tightly to this gift that the bondsense gives us, the deep experience of what the other one feels.
It blurs the boundaries of body and spirit which pretend to be so clear.
If the council breaks our bond, we will lose the bondsense, and her feelings will return to something distant, that lives outside me.

Shazira and I don’t speak about the tests, or what will happen to our family afterwards.
We don’t speak at all.
We let our minds and hearts be clear and open, until the outside world disappears, and the two of us become our own world.

Part of me is ready to accept whatever happens to us, but another part is ready to go to war with the entire council.
The anger rises within me, and I imagine bringing the king of Tshuan and his armies to help me.
Then, I let go of that foolishness, and the anger speeds up and flies out of my body.

Breakfast is long over when we let our ordinary senses take hold again.
We walk quickly and quietly out of the cafe into the central section of the Watchtower.
Strange, but there are a few people still sleeping in the white room as we pass through it.

I try not to draw attention to myself, but I no longer hide from anyone.
I’ve grown defiant.
Those who are awake nod their heads, then turn away quickly.
They know that I’m a traveler, and the Jiku are terrified of travelers.
“Disaster follows the travelers” is an old saying here.

I notice a satisfied smile from one visitor as I pass.
Lately, the visitors I meet show me great respect because of my friendship with Balshown.
But there’s little warmth in their greetings.
This woman’s smile carries no friendship or good wishes.
She knows about the test, and is sure I will fail, and be sent away.

The Black Room
The white and violet rooms are two large half circles.

The only direct path between them leads through the Black Circle, a round room, ten feet wide that sits at the center of the Watchtower.
Its walls are a dull, rough stone, the same brown stone of the mountain under the Watchtower.
The room has no flowers, and no windows.
Still, the crystal roof covers it, as it covers the rest of the tower, so the room is filled with light.

Shazira and Tzina have never entered the room.
No one they know has ever seen it except me.

The Jiku fear it, and they think the room is cursed, with monsters lurking within it.
I’ve found nothing in it.
The room is desolate, but it pulls at my heart, and I pass through it whenever I find an excuse.

The Living Darkness
Shazira turns away, as I enter the black room.
I stop and stare at the column that fills the center of the room.
Not stone, not solid, but light and darkness, in the shape of a column.
It’s forbidden to enter the column, but I let my hand move along the edge, thick, rough, and cold to the touch.

At midday, when the room is fully lit from the roof above, a column of darkness rises untouched through the room’s bright light.
The darkness only disappears when it touches the crystal roof.
At night, the black column is gone, replaced with a column of white light that feels warm and smooth.
The light rises up, through the center of the Watchtower, through the crystal, filling the sky, and protecting the city from the Krale.

Black is a rare and powerful color here on Siksa, not bad or unlucky.
The Krale are black and full of power, and black objects cannot be touched by the power of flow.

The masters of the flow guild, like Shazira, wear a black robe.
They wear black as a sign of humility.
It shows that their power to flow is not absolute.

Every time I pass through the black room, I try to open my energy sight, to see within the black column.
My energy eyes never open, until today.
I can’t see clearly,but I feel something moving within the column, distant and unclear.

Shazira is waiting when I exit the Black Room.
She frowns at me, like I’m a bad child.

“What have I done, Shazira?”

She shakes her head in frustration, so her long hair flies in all directions.

“What’s that mean?” I ask.

“The black column scares all of us, Yagrin.”
“No one alive wants to go anywhere near it, or learn anything about it.”

“It scares me that you like to go near it.
“It scares me, even when you ask about it.”

“Is the column evil?” I ask.

“No!” she says, like she’s talking to a fool.
“How could it be evil?”
“The light that fills the sky and protects us shines through the column.”

“Everyone else senses that we don’t belong there, and keeps away.”
“If you stayed away from the room, the Jiku might forget that you’re a traveler, and the guild and the council might overlook it.”
She turns away for a moment as tears form in her eyes.
She wipes them away and continues.
“It’s the same with the black stone that you carry around your neck.”

The stone came with me when I first woke on Siksa.
The old Yagrin never owned such a necklace.

“There’s nothing wrong with wearing it,” she says, “but it doesn’t belong here.”

“What about me, Shazira?” I ask, irritated.
“Do I belong here?”
“Will you be happy when they send me away?”

She sobs and embraces me.
“How can you be so cruel?” she asks, and buries her head in my shoulder.
“I know you belong here, even if no one else thinks that you do!”

Traveling Home -- 2: ApprenticePrevious StoryNext Story
  1. Master and Apprentice
  2. Play and Practice
  3. Patterns of Life and Death I
  4. Patterns of Life and Death II
  5. Blue Lightning, Black Stones
  6. The Necklace and the Wizard
  7. Fears and Legends
  8. Traveling Alone
  9. Dark Pathways
  10. A Quiet Storm
  11. Broken Dreams

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