My steps echo as I walk through the empty Watchtower.
The visitors are all gone for Meesa, the day of joy.
Everyone gathers with family or close friends to celebrate the wonder of life, and the joy it brings.
Everyone, but me.
One guardian must always remain with the tower.
Shazira eats the holiday meals with her parents.
She has seen one child die, and the feelings of loss still race through her.
I have no memory of it, but I can sense her feelings through our bond.
She keeps watch over Tzina, remembering the death watch of our son.
Shazira won’t let herself hope, even though she’s seen the Bizra message.
I believe the message.
We will find a way to save Tzina.
There are losses that pull at my heart, and challenges that threaten us all.
Even with Tzina hovering over death, I still feel the day’s joy.
This world is so full of wonders, and I’m blessed with a family that fills my heart with light.
I look through the windows at the night, in love with the quiet.
The cool air greets me as I walk onto the wooden deck.
The sky is clear and bright, lit up by the Watchtower.
Something disturbs the calm.
The Watchtower is not alive, yet I feel that it wants something from me.
My listening body seems to hesitate as I send it out to touch the Watchtower, but soon I feel the energy, stone, and metal.
The Watchtower is filled with light, pouring out like a strong breath.
I check again that the splinters of Kralestone are all gone.
The tower is undamaged, but something is still missing.
My listener offers an answer.
Go beyond the tower.
Touch the stone deep in the mountain, and hold the light that captures the sky, far above us.
I free the listener to widen its reach and include the mountain and the glowing sky.
The balance is better, but still, incomplete.
“What else?” I ask the listener.
Without the guardians, there is no tower.
We are a key part of the balance.
I send the listener to touch Shazira, resting at her parents’ home.
The listener reaches out one more time, to cover me, and bind Shazira and me to the tower.
The orchestra is complete, and I hear a song that begins as a whisper.
Then, a great voice sings of a new day in a dying world.
War covers us all.
The lonely, the crowd, the shining face on the mountain.
The great drown in their pride and die.
Life covered by death, in waves, old and new.
Make a new day as the world dies.
Rise together above the waters, a mountain with a heart of possibility.
Choose when there is no choice, and go, when all the paths are broken, before time runs out.
This is an old song, a song that the Watchtower has always sung, but until today, there was no one ready to hear it!
Hiding from Darkness
Tomorrow, we go to the land of the Bizra, and search for a new day.
Shazira, Tzina, Berek, and Balshown are all prepared to go.
One of the faces in the Bizra message is missing.
How do I call Ehraval and bring him here?
Is he more than a shadow from my old world?
I’ve seen him in this world, but only in a vision.
I was unconscious then, and trapped in the isolation dome in the middle of the ocean, unaware that I’d become an old one,
He told me of a gift he gave me long ago, a spark of darkness to awaken me from the sleep of life.
Ehraval took the form of an old one, and told m that my necklace is connected to that spark.
I finger the black stone and remember moments of searching in my old life.
Then I open my energy eyes to find the pattern of the necklace.
I grasp the energy pattern with energy hands, and hold it high above the Watchtower.
I rise with my physical body high above the tower, letting the Watchtower’s stream of light pass through me.
Then I bathe the pattern in each of my seven energy wells.
Something dark approaches me at the edge of my awareness.
A black, eighth well, whose shape constantly changes.
Does it hide from me, or am I afraid to face it?
The darkness is an endless light that overwhelms us.
Chaos, dangerous and empty, or an opening to a path of possibility.
It waits for us to give up our order, knowledge, safety, expectation, and step inside.
I can’t tell whether the black well hides within my energy body, or surrounds it.
I reach where I cannot see, but only feel, and open the blackness to reveal blinding light.
Then I bathe the pattern in this well.
The black Obsidian stone glows, and a small rainbow dances around its edge.
I’ve met Ehraval on Earth, but that is not his world.
I find the words I need, to call Ehraval from wherever he walks:
“Stone and black, born of fire and light, sparks and darkness, walk with me.”
Ehraval comes in the shape of a young boy, and darkness pours out of his black eyes, like a fountain.
We walk into the healing room.
He touches the smooth walls, and smells the sweet red flowers on the walls.
“A beautiful home, Yagrin, and a beautiful life,” he says, “but it can’t last.”
“Many strings of possibility are converging here.”
“Every life is threatened.”
“You’re sure of this?”
“Visions are never certain, but some events are sharper than others.”
“This world will see great change, and be shadowed by death.”
“What will happen to my children?”
“They will fly with you to war, but after that, who knows?”
“There are many paths to the future.”
“Some take this world and crush it.”
“How do we change the future?”
“You don’t change it, you choose it, but there’s no clear path, Yagrin.”
“No simple way to save your people from the many streams of destruction that move toward your world.”
“Krale, civil war, ancient enemies, new enemies.”
“Set them all aside, and you are as dangerous as any of them.”
“I’m responsible for the death you see?”
“It’s only one possibility.”
“Is there any hope?”
“Today is still here, Yagrin, and tomorrow is only a dream.”
“What do I do?”
“Stop asking the question to others.”
I understand too well what he means.
I need to find my own answers, but how?
I rise above the deck, and spread my listener on the web.
Today, the great web brings me no comfort.
Instead, a strong vibration fills me, from a place deeper than the web.
I’ve felt this once before, when I needed help, to fight the Wikza.
I touch the wild storm of energy that the web floats upon.
There is no order here, only possibility and strength.
I am a cloud of energy, without plans and expectations, drifting in the storm, wherever it takes me.
In that world, I find rest.
A few minutes later, I drop to the deck, my spirit refreshed.
“Feel better?” asks Ehraval.
“I’m calm now, even though I have no idea what to do or where to go to save this world.”
“What will you do?” he asks.
“The paths we know can’t save us.”
“It’s time to look beyond what we know, until we discover or make new paths.”
“We met thirty years ago on Earth, at the beginning of a path that led you here, to Siksa.”
“Now, you’re ready for another beginning.”
“Will you help me, Ehraval?”
Ehraval walks out onto the deck, and looks over the railing at the sea.
“Many will help you, Yagrin,” he says quietly, “but first, you need the lessons that only I can teach you.”
“Can it wait a few days?” I ask him.
“We need to leave tomorrow to save Tzina.”
“You called me, Yagrin, because the vision shows me with you on the journey.”
“Yes,” I answer.
“I want to go there to save Tzina, and the Bizra want us there to destroy the Krale.”
At the mention of the word Krale, Ehraval’s dark eyes fade to ordinary child’s eyes, but only for a moment.
“Strange,” he says, “that the vision should show me there.”
“I’ll be no help to you in either of your goals, but I’ll come, for my own reasons.”
“My time in this world is limited.”
“The lessons can’t wait until you return.”
“We only have a few hours, Ehraval.”
“That’s all we need.”
“How do we begin?”
“Discover what the first lesson is.”
My first instinct is to ask him, but I push away that thought, and feel my way to an answer.
I extend my energy body, and feel the energy that runs between us.
My eyes turn black like his for a moment, and I look at him, and the energy in the space that connects us.
“I see endless black skies,” I tell him, “filled with thousands of lightning strikes.”
“The lightning is drawn to me, like a river that falls over a cliff, and becomes a waterfall.
“The lightning aches to leave the black skies, but it chooses to pass through me, and gives me its strength.”
“Good,” he says.
“What does it mean?” I ask, thoroughly confused.
“We hide from most of the possibility that lives within us, and justify the small lives we’ve made, by seeing danger everywhere.”
“Your greatest power hides in the places where you and everyone else find danger.”
“I’ll teach you how to absorb the black lightning of the Krale.”
“Learn well, and your family comes home safely.”
We sit on the floor, on embroidered cushions, facing each other.
“Remember Yagrin, what it was like, late at night, when you were young?”
“I was afraid of the darkness.”
“I imagined that invisible, dangerous creatures were waiting in the shadows.”
“Are you still afraid?”
“There are rare moments when I fear the darkness and what’s hidden in it, but most of the time I love its mystery, and welcome its deep silence.”
“There are endless stories,” says Ehraval, “about dangerous, evil forces that rise up out of the night and darkness.”
“We say that we’re afraid of darkness, but really, we’re afraid of all that’s hidden, mysterious, and unpredictable in the world.”
“What color is darkness?” he asks me.
“A black space seems empty,” he says.
“Yet something within us will not accept the idea of complete emptiness.”
“In our weakness, we answer that feeling by filling the space with danger.”
“Your spirit knows that nothing is empty, nothing is trivial.”
“Deep within, we feel that the world is extraordinary, and want to cast off the masks that hide a richer world.”
“Darkness hides what we can’t see, or refuse to see.”
“Darkness is a doorway to the infinite.”
“Are we afraid of endless possibility?”
“Do we focus on the danger there, instead of the wonder?”
“If so, we’ll see frightening, horrible creatures in the darkness.”
“Do you deny that there is evil in the world, Ehraval?”
“You want me to pretend that it’s not there?”
“We need the courage to stand and fight, when we must, but sometimes we are blind, and see only evil.”
“We close our eyes to the wonders of the world, and who we must be to live among those wonders.”
“You must master a technique called Eating Danger.”
“It seems simple, mere words, but if you’re ready, it will lead you to a place far beyond words.”
“Close your eyes.”
“Soon, I’ll fill your mind with the words you need.”
“When you begin, speak the words to yourself, as if you speak for a great, unseen voice that surrounds you, and calls you to wake up.”
“The great voice possesses you, and fills you with power.”
“Feel yourself come awake, and sparkle with every word.”
“Practice this for an hour until you’re relaxed and open, and all energy feels like an old friend.”
“Raise your thumbs when you’re ready for the second part of the exercise.”
The hidden is infinite, uncaged, immeasurable, a dark sea waiting to break through my chains, and move through me.
There is no danger, only energy.
My eyes are black and bursting with light.
I’m flying a few feet above an endless black sea, at night, with the sky dimly lit from stars and a distant moon.
I feel the darkness of the night moving through me as I travel above the sea.
I see infinite waves of dark energy approaching me from all directions.
I ride the endless black waves, unresisting, surrounded with constantly changing colors, images, textures, bursts of light.
I am the hidden in this journey to the Krale.
I carry the energy, to give it back where it is needed.
I help the energy to move through me and nourish me.
Then I let that energy return to the energy web around me.
I know that all danger is only energy.
When anything shocks me, attacks me, or frightens me from the blackness, I find the energy hiding within the danger, and let it rise through me like a fountain, and return to the web.
The darkness gives birth to danger, again and again, and I let it all melt into energy.
The hidden sea washes over me and through me.
I raise my thumbs to let him know that I’m done.
“Now, Yagrin,” comes the quiet voice in my head, “give yourself the following questions, and let the answers find their way out of the silence!”
“What are the Krale?”
“What is most important for me to understand right now?”
“What to do I see rising up from the endless black?”
Wave after wave of black energy washes over me, and through me.
I see flashes of light and color within the blackness, and shifting imagery, too fast to follow.
I let the energy move, and it returns to the energy web.
Then, I see a large number of the black Krale rising out of the dark sea and flying toward me, with their deadly black lightning flashing.
The Krale are only energy, dancing for a moment, across the web.
My attention turns to the birth well within me, glowing brightly behind my navel, filled with orange energy.
I rub the area around the navel with energy from each of the seven wells.
Then I rub the navel with energy from the black well, and the Krale approach.
The black lightning enters me through the navel.
It rises to my solar plexus and then radiates along the front surface of my body in all directions.
Finally, it passes through my body from front to back, at virtually all points, and leaves through the back as a sort of gentle energy mist.
I describe the results to Ehraval.
“Perfect,” he says.
“Do this when they attack, and you cannot be harmed.”
“What will happen to the others who are with me when we met the Krale?” I ask.
“What will happen to you?”
“The Krale can’t harm me anymore, but your friends will die unless you protect them.”
“You must attract all the black lightning, and make it harmless.”
“How?” I ask.
“You tell me,” he answers.
I go inside myself.
Shazira flies with me in the darkness, above the dark sea.
Then the Krale approach.
I’m wearing shorts and no shirt, instead of the usual long robes that I wear.
I feel a tingling in both of my upper legs, and I remember the two energy tattoos, one on each upper leg.
These are the driga, the long knives of Jaina, the forest chief.
I reach for the tattoos as if they are real knives, and the long knives appear in my hands.
They feel good, and I feel strong.
I raise the knives above my head and cross them, forming an “X”.
The black lightning is drawn to the point where the knives touch.
The energy runs through the knives to my hands, then down my arms, and into my navel.
The energy spreads through me, and covers the surface of my body from my neck to my knees, and then radiates away in all directions like a strong mist.
The Krale disappear.
I tell Ehraval what I saw.
He smiles and a flash of black lightning comes out of his eyes and strikes me.
I process it harmlessly into a gentle mist of energy.
He points at my legs.I raise my robe, and there, visible on my legs, are the tattoos of the driga.
“This lesson is complete,” he says.
“You’re ready to face the Krale.”