Gifts of War

 
Dream Hunter
Dilasa sleeps in a green guesthouse near Wisten’s home.
The bed and the room are round, and the house is full of windows.

A gentle breeze blows through Dilasa’s long, black hair, and across the dark red sheets.
She sleeps for hours after the fire that took her guardians.
I can do nothing for her while she sleeps, but still, I watch over her, through the open doorway to the next room.

Her body is healed, but her dreams are troubled, and her energy is strange.

“Rest, Yagrin,” says Wisten quietly.
“There’s a bed right here.”
“We’ll let you know when she wakes.”

“Does she have any relatives, Wisten?”

“She has distant cousins on another world, old and childless.”
“They can’t take care of her, but don’t worry.”

“She will be adopted, and find a home with some family on Sinesu.”

“Who will be with her today?” I ask.
“She has no one to share her pain, as she struggles with her aunt’s death.”

“What is she to you, Yagrin?”
“Let me bring counselors here.”
“They can help her with her aunt’s death, and they will still be here tomorrow.”
“You’ll be gone.”

“She’s only six years old!”
“She needs someone to love her and cry with her, not counsel her.”

“I appreciate your concern, Yagrin, but she’s not your child.”
“She must do this without you.”
“How will it help her to depend on you, when you will never see her again?”

“Wisten’s right,” says Makish, standing nearby.
“It’s better if we leave Sinesu before she wakes up.”

“I can’t leave her, Makish.”

“You can’t leave her?” asks Makish.
“We have to fight the Spiral, and then you have to go home to your own family.”
“You can’t stay here.”

“I can stay with her today, and be with her when she wakes up.”

“I feel sorry for the girl, too,” says Makish, “but if we don’t find a way to stop the Spiral, she’ll die.”
“You have to make that your priority.”

I turn to look at the small, sleeping girl.
She‘s the key to defeating the Spiral, and she’ll save us all!”

“How can that be?” asks Makish.

“After the fire,” I tell them, “the Hikweh returned.”
“Dilasa’s eyes lit up, and called out to the sun.”
“The Hikweh vanished in a flood of light, and the Spiral with it.”

“Impossible, Yagrin,” says Makish.
“I was near you, and I never saw Dilasa wake up.”

“There was no Hikweh, and no miraculous blast of sunlight, Yagrin,” says Wisten.
“No one but you saw it.”

“Do you think that I imagined it all?!” I ask them.

“We don’t know what to think, Yagrin,” says Makish, frustrated, “but you have to get your head clear.”
“If we can’t depend on you, we’re lost.”

Why didn’t anyone see what happened?

“Dilasa saw what I saw,” I say defiantly.
“She’ll tell you when she wakes up.”

“We’ll see,” says Wisten.

I glare at her.
“Why else would the Spiral leave Sinesu?” I ask angrily.

“Yagrin,” says Makish, “are you sure that the Spiral’s gone?”

“Yes.”
“I scanned a flock of Heelu after the blast, and there was no trace of the Diwan.”

“Try it again,” suggests Wisten.

I leave the room, annoyed, and fly to a nearby flock of Heelu.
I feel the Diwan’s presence.

Well?” asks Makish when I return.

“The Diwan is still here,” I admit quietly.

“Maybe you were just tired?” suggests Wisten, without enthusiasm.

“I know what I saw Dilasa do!”

“What did I do, Yagrin?” asks Dilasa from the next room in a sleepy voice, as she sits up.
“Are you mad at me?

I walk to her, and kiss her on the head.
Never, little one.”

Her eyes are still closed.
“Open your eyes,” I tell her.

“I’m so scared, Yagrin.”

“What do you remember, Dilasa?” I ask, as I pick her up.

“I came back from the shelter, and I wanted to go in the house, to get my necklace.”
“It’s from my mother, and I always wear it.”
“I left it off, today, because it was a little broken.”

“The house and fields were burning, and I could see my Aunt and Uncle in the fire.”
“I was crying, and breathing hard.”

“The fire didn’t touch me, but the smoke covered me.”
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I fell asleep.”

“What happened when you woke up?”

“I just woke up now, Yagrin.”

Makish and Wisten look at each other.

“Nothing happened before you woke up?”

“A dream.”
“That’s why I won’t open my eyes.”

“Tell us about it.”

“It’s scary.”

“Please, Dilasa.”
“Tell us.”

“I was in at the edge of a strange room, with no doors.”
“The floor was warm, and soft like water, but I could stand on it.”
“There were so many cracks, I couldn’t count them, and each little piece of the floor had a picture in it.”

“In the middle of the floor was a dark blue circle that was glowing.”
“I walked toward it, and stepped into the circle.”

“Then, you were with me, and a Hikweh was coming toward us.”
“You wanted to fly away, but I wouldn’t let you!”
“I wanted to hurt the Hikweh.”

“My eyes were hot, and I saw a big flash that covered the whole world.”
“The Hikweh went away, and my eyes became golden, like Tzina’s eyes!”

She pauses.

“Open your eyes, Dilasa.”

“It scares me, Yagrin,” she says, her eyes still closed.

“The Hikweh in your dream?”

“Not that.”
“The dream gives me a strange feeling, but you’ll think I’m lying.”

“Tell me, Dilasa.”

“I feel like it’s going to come true,” she says, tears spilling form her closed eyes.
She takes a deep breath, and opens her beautiful Bizra eyes of green and gold.

 
Daughter
Wisten takes a step back, as she sees the sudden change, but Makish steps forward.

I hold Dilasa tightly, and flow a mirror into my hand, and let her see her eyes.

“I’m so scared, Yagrin!” says Dilasa.
“What’s it mean?”

“It’s a gift, little one.”
“They are the most beautiful eyes in the world.”

“You were right.”
“Tzina will like you.”

“Come here, Makish.”

Makish comes near, so Dilasa can see her eyes.

“You have the same eyes!” says Dilasa.
“Do you know Shazira?”

“You told her about Shazira’s eyes?” Makish asks me.

“No,” I answer, “Dilasa sees into my mind, even with the wintzal in place!”

“Can you see my thoughts?” asks Makish.

“No,” says Dilasa, shyly.
“Only Yagrin, and maybe Botzar.”

Makish is quiet for a moment, as she wonders what that means.
“Don’t be afraid of me,” says Makish to Dilasa.”
“I’m part of Yagrin’s family.”
“I’m Shazira’s aunt.”

“You can’t be,” says Dilasa.
“You’re too young.”

Makish laughs.
“I’m older than I look.”
“Yagrin made me young again.”

“How old are you?”

“A thousand years old.”

“Don’t tell me stories.”
“I’m little, but I’m not stupid.”

“It’s true, Dilasa,” I tell her with a serious face.

She looks confused.

“The world is full of wonders,” I tell her, “more than you can imagine.”

“Dilasa,” says Makish, “your dream was very special, and Yagrin saw some of it while you were dreaming.”

She turns to me.
“You did?”

“Yes, but I thought it was real.”

She laughs.
“Why is my dream special?” she asks.

“You’re a Dream Hunter,” says Makish, someone who sees dreams of the future.”
“There’s never been one so young, and never one with Bizra eyes!”

“A Dream Hunter?” asks Wisten.
“Are you sure?”

“Remember the cracked water with thousands of images?” asks Makish.
“That’s a typical image that Dream Hunters see as they look for their vision.”
“Normally, it only comes after training, but she’s a natural Dream Hunter.”

Dilasa’s face turns dark.
“I don’t want to be strange,” she says, and begins to cry.
“No one will like me.”
“Where can I go?”

“You can come with me,” I tell her.

“Don’t tease me,” she says, afraid to believe it.
“You’ll just leave me on one of the big worlds.”

“Yagrin,” says Wisten, “she’s a child.”
“You can’t take her with you in the middle of a war!”

“I know it doesn’t make any sense,” I tell them, “but she must come with me.”
“Dilasa belongs in my house, as one of my own children.”
“Late at night, I see Shazira holding her in the Watchtower, talking about the past day.”
“Then, in the bright sun, I see Dilasa and Tzina laughing, as they glide together along the web.”

“Would you like that Dilasa?” I ask her.

She hesitates, not sure whether to laugh or cry.
Then she jumps into my arms.

“How can you go with him?” asks Wisten.
“You barely know him!”

“I look in his head, and see what he sees,” she answers, and I feel that they’re waiting for me.”

“Yagrin,” says Wisten, “at least leave her here until after you fight the Spiral.”

“No.”
“Her vision is the key to conquering the Spiral.”
“I’m sure of it.”

 
Shadow of a Woman
Dilasa sits alone with me in the guesthouse after we return from the death ritual for her guardians.
We’re leaving in a few hours.

Sometimes she cries, and other times, she just looks mad.

After a couple of hours, Wisten enters the room.
“Would you like food, Dilasa?”

“Not hungry,” she says.

“Eat something!”

“Later.”

Wisten leaves.

Dilasa gets up, and looks at me.

“My necklace!” she says.
“It’s still in the house.”
“We have to get it.”
“Please!”

I’ll find it,” I tell her, “but you stay here.”
“Seeing the house will fill you with tears.”

“I don’t want to be afraid, forever,” she says, “so I have to see the farm before I go.”
“Then, I want to forget this world and its monsters, go far away, and never come back.”

I don’t like the idea, but she’s so sure of herself.
I hold Dilasa, and we fly to the blackened earth of the farm.

She starts crying again as soon as she sees the house.
The air is clear, but the ground and house still hold the smell of smoke.

“This is a bad idea, Dilasa.”
“I should have come alone.”

The tears subside.
“It’s ok,” she says, but the house is such a mess.”
“We’ll never find the necklace.”

“Picture it in your mind,” I tell her.
“I can find it, if I know what it looks like.”

I touch her mind, and see her memory of the necklace.
It has a weak clasp that broke, but the chain is made of an exceptionally hard silver metal.
A multi-colored crystal circle hangs from the chain, and the crystal holds a round, black stone, marked with Sindar’s symbol.

That stone is rare on Siksa, and unseen on Sinesu.
On Siksa they call it Kralestone.
On Earth, we call it obsidian, black glass, born in a volcano.

Sindar's Necklace

“Where did your mother get that necklace, Dilasa?”

“Someone left it by my cradle, with a note that said: a gift for the child.”
“My mother said it was a strange gift for a baby, but the binders said it was safe.”

“The rest of the necklace is so strong.”
“It’s funny that it came with a weak clasp.”

I look with energy eyes through the rubble, until I find the necklace.
Then I flow away the rubble that covers it, and clean away the dirt, and I replace the weak, broken clasp with a stronger one.

I glide the necklace to me, and I feel a pleasant tingle in my hand.
There’s a genetic key here!

Dilasa reaches out to touch the necklace as I hold it in my hand.
The feeling gets more intense, and spreads from my hand to cover my whole body.

“Do you feel anything when you touch the necklace, Dilasa?”

“It makes me feel good.”
“I told my mother, but she didn’t believe me.”
She didn’t feel anything.”

“It makes me feel good, too,” I tell her, as I put it around her neck.

“You fixed it for me!”

We walk together around the burnt farm, holding hands.

She takes me to a nearby place in the forest.
There’s a swing there that her uncle made for her.

I watch her as she swings back and forth for ten minutes.
I spread my healing body wide, onto the web, and onto her, and we share the feeling of peace, as she moves.

I feel a presence behind me, and turn to see Botzar walking toward us.

“You’ve found the necklace and the girl, my brother.”
“What a treasure you’ve found, and now, she has golden eyes!”

A strange comment, and he’s calmer, and looks younger than the Botzar I’m used to.
He even moves differently, and Botzar has never called me brother.

I look at his energy.
Whoever it is, it’s not Botzar.

“Sindar?!”

“Who else, Yagrin?” he asks, and offers me the greeting of palms.
I join his greeting, but then I stand there speechless.

“You’re so quiet, Yagrin, not how I remember you.”

“Have we met?” I ask him.

He looks at me strangely.

“What’s happened to you, Yagrin?”

“I don’t remember our meeting.”

“Do you remember the memory I gave you of the four brothers and the Dream Hunter’s vision?”

“I have the memory,” I tell him, “but I got it from Botzar.”

“Botzar?”
“He’s been dead for a thousand years.”

“No, Sindar.”
“He’s alive, and waiting for me, a few miles from here.”
“We came to Sinesu together.”
“Without him, I’d know nothing about you or the brothers.”

“Explain yourself, Yagrin.”

“Think of the Dream Hunter’s vision,” I tell him.

Four sons, colored by a fifth.

“Do you know who the fifth son is, Sindar?”

“No!” he says, impatiently.
“I never discovered what it means.”

“I understand those words,” I tell him.
“Somewhere in the possibility sea there’s another world, where a boy child was born in an ordinary way, and looks like the four brothers.”
“He became a traveler, and journeyed to Siksa.”

“You’ve met him, Yagrin?”
“Whose body did he take?”

“I am him, Sindar.”
“That’s why I’m missing some of Yagrin’s memories.”

His face turns serious, and he sends a tremendous blast of energy at me, but it has no effect.

“This energy is harmless to the body,” he tells me before I can respond, “but it drives out travelers.”
“I don’t know why your spirit is still here, but I won’t let our destiny be erased by a traveler!”

“The Dream Hunter’s vision includes me, Sindar.”
“I belong here, and I’ve become Yagrin.”

“So you’ve killed my brother’s spirit?” he asks, angrily.

“No.”
“Our spirits are merged together.”
“We’ve both died to become someone new, and I feel like I’m really alive for the first time.”
“Two will die, and one will be reborn,” I add, quoting from the Dream Hunter’s vision.

He scans my energy.
“Your fire body is strange,” he says, “not like anything I’ve ever seen.”

“This body has died again and again, as I’ve fought for my family, and my people, the Jiku.”
“My energy is Jiku, Bizra, Feldin, and Gen.”

“You even have a wintzal, Yagrin!”
“I thought all the Mind Weavers were dead.”

“One of the old ones was a Mind Weaver, and I have the skill now, and mastery of the four guilds.”

“What’s he talking about?” whispers Dilasa to me, as she jumps off the swing.
“Is it really Sindar?”
“Is he a spirit?”

Sindar reaches out his hand so Dilasa can touch it.
“You feel like a real person,” she says.

His face brightens, and he laughs.

“Let’s go find Botzar,” I say.
“He’ll want to see you.”

“No, Yagrin.”
“I will touch his life no more.”

“I’m here for you.”
“I saw in a Dream Hunter’s vision that Dilasa and you would touch the necklace together.”
“I asked my machines to watch for it, and wake me.”

“Why did you come?” I ask.

“There are things that you need to know, before I return to the long sleep, and I wanted to see the two of you, one last time.”

“You want to see me?!” asks Dilasa.

“Of course,” he says, turning to her.
“I haven’t seen you since you were born.”

You gave her the necklace?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Another vision.”
“I was shaping the necklace, and giving it to her.”
“Then, years later, I saw you finding her, and raising Dilasa as your own daughter.”
“She was wearing the necklace, still a child, standing with you in battle.”

“What does the necklace do?”

“It accelerates the growth of her natural Dream Hunter’s skills, and gives her a special connection to the power of the stars.”
“I came to tell you this vision of your daughter, and make sure that you fulfill it.”

“It’s begun,” I tell him.
“I’ve promised to bring her into my family, and I’ve let her capture my heart.”

I tell Sindar about what’s happened with Dilasa and me, since I came to Sinesu.
I speak of the Spiral, and Dilasa’s first vision.

“She will be a treasure, Yagrin, to you and your family, and will help you find your way.”

“You speak of seeing Dream Hunter visions, Sindar.”
“You’re a Dream Hunter?”

“Yes, but my visions are not like other Dream Hunters.”
“All Dream Hunters touch the future, but most Dream Hunters hold that future in words and riddles.”
“Some call the words a story, but some still call them a vision.”
“A few Dream Hunters see images.”

“All of our family have the gift to see images of the future.”
“The gift stayed hidden in Benzu and Botzar, but you may find it one day.”

“Dilasa’s vision will be greater than mine.”
“Dream Hunter gifts are often stronger in women.”

“Why does the genetic lock open for both Dilasa and me?” I ask him.
“Is it tied to the genes that give us Dream Hunter potential?”

“No, Yagrin.”
“Remember the ancient Dream Hunter’s vision?”

Four sons, colored by a fifth, in the shadow of a woman.

“Dilasa is the woman in that vision, and our sister.”

 
The Sun’s Gift
It makes sense, but it’s hard to believe.

I do a genetic scan on her.
Both of her X chromosomes are identical, and an exact match to the X in me.

“I knew when it was time for you to be born, Yagrin, and I found the woman to be your mother.”

“Why did you kidnap her?” I ask, “and who was the Tshuan who you killed?”

“I didn’t kidnap her.”
“I implanted the embryo as she slept at home.”

“A Tshuan man took her.”
“He had some natural skills as a Dream Hunter, but there was no one to train him.”
“He saw a vision of the past, of Botzar destroying the world.”
“Then he saw a vision of your birth, and of you as a man.”
“He assumed that the two visions pointed to one man, and decided to save the world, by killing you before you were born.”

“I rescued your mother, and brought her home, as she still slept, but I couldn’t leave the Dream Hunter.”
“He was obsessed with killing you.”

“I tried to convince him that his two visions were unconnected, but he wouldn’t believe me.”
“You’ll have to kill me to stop me,” he said.

“I believed him, so I chose your life, and killed him, his life for yours.”

I’m quiet.

“You’re so different from Yagrin,” says Sindar.
“He was happy that I killed the Dream Hunter to save him.”
“You’re troubled by it.”

I ignore his comment.
“Botzar’s memory never mentioned a sister, Sindar.”

“I didn’t know about her, until I returned to the towers after I arranged your birth.”

“Sindar,” said one of my machines.
“When will you need the fifth embryo?”

“Then he showed me the fifth, female embryo in stasis.”
“Your father said that you will know when it’s time for her to be born.”

“There is more to the message from your father,” said the machine, “but we can’t show it to you until she is born.”

“I looked for a vision that would show me the right time and place for her to be born, and I was shocked when the vision showed me Sinesu.”
“I awoke for a few minutes each year, to review the vision, and find the exact time for her birth.”
“It’s hard to measure time in the visions, unless you are within a year or two of the events.”

“What was the message, Sindar?”

“The Dream Hunter who told of our lives, saw another vision about our family.”
“Father’s message passed that vision to us.”

The daughter rises, eyes upon eyes, twin sun.
Light upon light, stars love her, protector of her father.
Gold and not gold.
Quiet eyes, until they burn with the sun’s vision.

“The Dream Hunter explained to father that he must have a daughter.”
“He told father to suppress the golden genes that he suppressed in us, so our sister would be born healthy, with normal eyes.”

“Father found female seed within his sperm, with two X chromosomes, and he combined it with our mother’s egg.”
“The same few genes survived from our mother’s egg, that survived in us, including the gene for Bizra eyes.”
“Father suppressed it in all of us.”

“The Dream Hunter never told father what the rest of the vision means, and it makes no sense to me.”
“Perhaps one day, Yagrin, you’ll understand it.”

“Let me tell you about another vision, Sindar,” I answer.
“A Fiklow vision says that twin suns will overcome the Spiral.”
“I thought that this would be Botzar and I.”

“My name means living sun, and I called upon the strength of the sun to heal a world.”
“I must be one of the twin suns.”
“Now I realize that Dilasa is the other sun.”
“Her first vision was a vision of the sun, and her eyes burned bright with a strange energy.”
“When she told that vision, it transformed her eyes.”

“The last words are more difficult.”
“How she can protect a father who is long dead?”
“Perhaps, she will protect our father’s legacy, which is his children, and all they are destined to do.”

“Or maybe the meaning is simple.”
“She is my daughter now, and I am the father that she will protect.”


Echoes of War -- 3: Family and FirePrevious StoryNext Story
  1. Survivors
  2. Birth
  3. Choices
  4. The Lost Jiku
  5. Beast
  6. Spiral
  7. Gifts of War
  8. Visions of the Future
  9. Miracles of Childhood
  10. Childish Wisdom

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