The Bizra move away from us in a great synchronized wave, like a wind moving a field of flowers.
They leave the sand behind, going deep into the meadow.
“How do we heal their nightmares?” asks Shazira.
“We can’t,” says Ehraval, behind us.
“The Bizra hearts and minds are sealed tightly within energy shields.”
We turn to see him visible again, in the form of the boy with dark eyes.
“They have powerful, sensitive hearts, full of compassion, and find find violence unthinkable.”
“They can’t imagine life among us, without their shields.”
“They’ve worn those shields since we came to Siksa.”
“This is how they tolerate our violence, and still show us compassion.”
“Are they isolated from each other?” asks Berek.
“No,” answers Ehraval.
“They push us away, because we’re violent, but they dream together.”
“When the violent energies entered them through the transformed one, those energies were trapped within the shields.”
“The nightmares,” he continues, “are born from the foreign energy that circles through the herd.”
“Can we teach them to release the energy?”
He thinks for a moment.
“They imagine that the Krale attacks will get worse without the shields.”
“The Bizra feel sick at the violence, and can’t face the possibility that it could grow worse.”
“The truth is that there’s no way for them to release the energy while the barriers still stand.”
“Then we’ve failed,” says Shazira.
“Not yet,” says Balshown, and he removes the Sphere of Itarus from his pack.
“If we can’t help them, we have no choice but to kill them.”
“What?!” say Berek, Tzina, and Shazira together.
I thought I knew Balshown, but I would never have expected him to suggest this.
“That weapon will kill us all Balshown,” I tell him, “and scorch half the planet.”
“How do you know about the sphere, Yagrin?” asks Balshown.
“I told him,” says Ehraval.
“How do you know about it?” asks Balshown.
“I was a Jiku, hundreds of years ago.”
Balshown stares at Ehraval, wishing he could see the thoughts hiding behind the child’s body.
“The sphere could lay waste to the planet,” says Balshown, “but I’ll set it to focus its power within the land of the Bizra.”
“We can’t do this,” says Shazira.
“Wipe out an extraordinary, peaceful race?”
“They don’t want to harm us.”
“No, but they’re killing us,” says Balshown.
“What do you think Berek?”
“Should we continue to let the Krale threaten us?”
“Leave him alone, Balshown,” cries Shazira.
“He’s only eleven years old.”
“This isn’t his decision!”
“Isn’t there another way?” asks Berek.
“I want to kill the Krale, not the Bizra.”
“An energy master caused the nightmares,” says Shazira, glaring at Balshown.
“Can we blame the Bizra for that?”
We’re all quiet for a few seconds.
“The Bizra don’t know how to free themselves,” I tell the others.
“They’re bound together, and nothing outside of them will help.”
“Do we follow Master Balshown’s plan?” asks Berek.
“There’s only one way to solve this without killing them.”
“I’ll become one of them, and my mind will be bound to their minds.”
Everyone is quiet.
No one seems to know what to say.
“Yagrin,” says Balshown turning toward me, “how will that help them?”
“You see what happened the last time an energy master became Bizra.”
“You’re peaceful, but there’s a great wildness within you, and a love of chaos.”
“Look at the way you love storms!”
“The Bizra nightmares will become even worse.”
“I can do this,” I tell Balshown and the others, “but not while I’m trying to protect you.”
“Everyone must leave except Ehraval.”
“The Krale can’t harm him.”
“I’m not going,” says Shazira.
“No,” says Tzina.
“I’m staying,” says Balshown.
“We started together,” says Berek, “and we’ll finish together.”
“We’ll flow back into the shape of the great birds,” says Shazira.
“That will keep us safe.”
I’m not convinced, but they won’t leave.
“When last light comes and the the Bizra sleep,” I tell them, “change back into Kishla.”
“That’s when I’ll join the dream.”
Balshown and I find water to drink, and we sit together to eat.
Everyone seems restless.
Tzina takes me aside.
“Ina,” whispers Tzina to me, “you should be with oodah, now.”
“What about you?” I ask.
“We were just together,” she says smiling, “at least in my mind.”
Then she makes a fist and taps the center of her chest.
“I still feel your thoughts and emotions here.”
“I know about Berek,” she adds in a whisper.
I don’t know what to say.
“We’ll speak again soon, ina.”
“I know you’ll find a way back from being Bizra.”
She wants to believe her words, but she’s only pretending to believe the lie.
She hugs me tightly, until I gently pull myself away.
I take Shazira’s hand, and we walk down the beach to be alone.
We lie quietly and just hold each other.
When Shazira and I return, only a thin sliver of the sun remains.
The Bizra will begin dreaming soon, and I’ll join them.
I don’t know yet how I’ll help them, but I’m convinced that there’s a way.
When the moment comes, I’ll know.
I look at the others lost in their own thoughts.
Even Ehraval looks distracted, everyone except Shazira.
We’re still holding hands, and she’s looking at me to memorize every detail.
I sense her loneliness, as she prepares herself for my change.
Soon, the darkness settles over the meadows.
“It’s time Yagrin,” says Balshown.
Shazira steps in front of me.
“There’s no path back from this change,” says Shazira, even for you!”
“How will you return to me?” she asks, eyes full of tears.
“I don’t know,” I tell her, “but I have to go.”
I squeeze her hand, and then move back from her, and flow myself into Bizra.
I’m disoriented for a few seconds, more than with any other change.
The Bizra are so different from us.
When my head clears, I hear a beautiful song, and I think “this is Shazira.”
I see her body through these new eyes, but there are so many other senses.
I struggle to describe to myself what I see.
There are beautiful patterns all around me, and I perceive these patterns as music and song.
I extend my senses to touch a wide area around me.
I’m surrounded with a sea of rich sound, like a symphony.
When I focus on a single object or person, it’s more like a song, a song of beauty.
I look at each of my friends, and I see their thoughts above their heads as visual dreams.
I see Balshown’s thoughts of the bomb, and I feel a deep revulsion.
The energy of revulsion moves through me, and exits harmlessly as an energy mist through my back.
The Bizra look something like cats, but the legends say that they’re physically capable of speech.
They just use other means to communicate.
I concentrate, and find that I can speak.
“Balshown, guard your thoughts.”
“It’s obvious what you’re thinking about.”
The sound of my voice reminds me of the voices of the Kishla.
Balshown and the others stare at me in wonder.
No one alive has heard a Bizra speak before.
There’s a loud buzzing sound.
A dozen Krale fly through the walls of darkness toward us, and all of my friends are still in their Jiku form.
Before I can react, dark lightning flies at Shazira.
Ehraval raises a black web to protect her and the others, and the lightning disappears.
The Krale fly away, but then circle back toward us.
“Yagrin,” says Balshown, “I can’t flow them, and I can’t change my own form when they’re so close to us.”
“You’re Bizra now.”
“Maybe you can flow them.”
I reach out toward the Krale and try to change them, but nothing happens.
Do I still have my powers of flow?
I reach out to flow some sand into a white stone.
The stone rests at the edge of the waves.
If I can’t flow the Krale, then what can I do?
“They’re only dreams,” says a voice in my head.
I see the Krale as an image that I dreamed into existence.
Then I change the dream into a mist, and the Krale disappear.
“Quickly,” I say, “change back into the Kishla so you’ll be safe.”
When I see that they’re safe, I look for Ehraval.
I want him to come with me, but I can’t find him.
I walk over to my pack and touch the black stone with my right front leg.
I wonder where Ehraval has gone.
I’m sure that I can help the Bizra, but I don’t expect to find a way home.
“Wish me well,” I say to the others.
“Let the energy of this world make you strong for our sake and the sake of the Bizra.”
“Let hope come when it’s needed, even when it seems that no hope is left in the world.”