King’s Son

One Song
I carry the twins to the school.
Hukal and my family follow.
The crowd of children moves aside as we pass, and refuses to look me in the eye.

Niyta catches up to me, and leads us to a large empty room, where the whole school eats together.
She sits us in the center of the room.

The sisters and children take seats throughout the room, but leave a large space around us.

“Why are the children afraid of me, Niyta?”

“Don’t you know?”

“The eyes?”

“They wonder what you are, Yagrin.”
“They have heard that there are no men with Bizra eyes, yet here you stand before them.”
“But that’s only a small part of it.”

“What else?”

“The dance.”
“The children danced like they’ve never danced before.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“They followed your every step, and did things they don’t know how to do.”
“They think you took control of them.”
“Are they right?”

I rise, offended at the accusation.
“Niyta, I would never do that.”

Everyone stares.

“Sit down, Yagrin,” she says.
I sit reluctantly.
When I calm down, I rise again and explain loudly so most of the children and sisters can hear.

“The sun is bright with many kinds of energy that reach us here on Siksa.”
“You see its light with your eyes.”
“You feel its warmth with your skin.”
“It sends us other kinds of energy which you don’t notice at all, but this energy still affects you.”

“Energy masters carry more than the familiar five senses.”
“We see patterns of energy, and use them to heal, to create, to fly.”
“There are endless patterns, some so hidden or complex that even the sisters can’t see them.”

“I have a rare sense that helps me understand patterns that other masters can’t see.”
“I hear these patterns, like songs that only reach my ears.”
“Every living creature and every object has a song.”
“The sun has a beautiful song about change that influences us all.”
“We just don’t know it.”

“The song is strongest at first light, when we dance.”
“And when we dance, according to the old ways, we become even more sensitive to the song.”
“I let this song echo within me, become stronger, and come to you.”
“I had no idea what would happen, but I knew that I should do it.”

“Do you remember how we felt when we danced?”
“We weren’t separate anymore.”
“We had one heart.”
“It wasn’t my heart, or my dance.”
“It belonged to all of us.”
“We found that place, together, and forgot ourselves.”
“The song made us one.”
“That’s all.”

“How did a song about change bring you together?”

“It’s easy to get stuck in who I am, especially when I distance myself from others.”
“We come together, at first, all different, to remind ourselves of the endless possibility in the world.”
“Then, we focus on the truth that we are all alike in our need to reach beyond ourselves.”
“The dance celebrates that common light within us, and helps us draw strength and support from each other.”
“The dance is only the beginning of the day.”
“Then you must look for a unique way to grow, that resonates with who you are, and who you can be.”

“The sun’s song is always here.”
“I just made it stronger.”
“It was that song of change that helped me heal the twins, breaking them out of the unchanging prison that held them.”

“You scared us,” says one of the children.

“I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t know what would happen, so I couldn’t warn you.”

I turn away from the children and sit down.

“Why have you given yourself those eyes?” asks Niyta quietly.
“What’s the point?”

“I did nothing.”
“They come from my mother, the first Jiku with Bizra eyes.”
“The gold and green were buried deep within me, waiting for a time to show themselves.”
“Dilasa was the same way.”
“Once, she had ordinary eyes, until she had a vision about channeling the sun’s energy.”
“Then her eyes emerged.”

“Why do you lie to me, Yagrin?”
“There were Bizra eyes long before your mother was born, one hundred years ago.
Besides, her eyes were ordinary.”
“I saw pictures of your parents in the cubes.”

“They raised me, Niyta, but they were not my true parents.”

“Who is this girl with you, Yagrin, and where does she come from?”
“She told us that she’s your daughter.”
“It’s easy to believe her words since she looks just like you, except that you never spoke of her when you told us of your family!”

“I’ll tell you the truth, but I ask you not to share this with anyone else, including the other sisters.”

“I’ll keep your secrets,” says Niyta.

I tell her about my trip to Sinesu, and what I discovered about my true parents.
I tell her about meeting Sindar when I was with Dilasa, and how we were all conceived.

She’s quiet when I finish.

“Say something, Niyta.”

“It’s unbelievable, Yagrin.”
“Traveling to Sinesu.”
“Four boys and a girl, caught up in a destiny, over a hundred thousand years.”

“Do you believe it?” she asks Shazira and my children.

“Every word,” answers Berek.
Shazira and Tzina agree.

“Is it any stranger than the way that you and the sisters lived as old ones for a thousand years?” asks Tzina.

“I guess not,” answers Niyta, “but I’m used to that.”

Food is brought out for the morning meal.

“Enough of old memories, Yagrin,” says Niyta.
“Today is here before us.”
“We eat and bless together.”

Joining the School
After the meal, many of the children visit with Hukal and the twins.
The children are still shy around me, but at least they glance at me when they think I’m looking the other way.

Niyta brings a ten-year-old boy to speak with me.
“Siwul wants to be a healer when he gets older,” she tells me.

“You really used the sun to heal them?” he asks.

“Yes, Siwul.”
“Learn everything you can about healing, but don’t be afraid to go past it, and search for your own ways.”
“Who knows what else is waiting to be discovered?”

Siwul smiles and turns away.
Niyta guides us out of the building, for a short walk.

“How soon will you leave Siksa?” she asks.

“In a few days, at most.”

“There are three Bizra eye children in the guild lands who will die soon,” says Niyta.
“There are more children under five who could still get the madness while you’re gone.”
“Will you leave them all to die, now that you can cure them?”

“I’ll heal the sick ones before I go, but you don’t need me for the others.”
“There are eighteen Mind Weavers, outside of my family, who can help you.”
“They’ll build shields for the healthy children, to keep the madness away.”

“Do you really think it will work?” asks Shazira.

“I’m sure of it,” I tell her.

“It feels so right,” says Tzina, “but I wonder why the ancient Mind Weavers never thought of it?”

“I wish I could ask Makish about it,” says Niyta, “but she’s far away.”

Is she ever coming back?” asks Shazira.

“I don’t think so,” I answer, “but who can say what will happen after the war?”

“We’ll do what you say, Yagrin,” says Niyta.
“I’ll ask the sisters to spread the word to the Mind Weavers, and everyone else who has Bizra eyes.”
“We’ll remind them that the madness never comes to Bizra eye children before three and a half years old.”
“The parents must call a Mind Weaver to build a wintzal before that, at each child’s third birthday.”

“Thank you.”

“Tell me, Niyta,” asks Shazira, “How have the sisters adapted to life outside the cave?”

“We knew we would have to return, but after a thousand year, coming back was a great shock, even though Yagrin and Chiwan helped us.”
“Most of us have chosen to stay together in small groups, and teach.”
“The Bizra want us to do this, but it’s difficult sometimes to see how this will bring peace to the world.”

“A few sisters have abandoned us, and gone alone among the Jiku, trying to live a more normal life.”
“The pull of everyday life is strong.”

“You need more teachers at this school,” says Shazira.
“Why not call other sisters to join you here?”

“We do need more help, but the sisters have found other places,” answers Niyta.

“I want to join you here, and help with the children,” says Shazira.
“Yagrin will be gone for a long time, and the watchtower will have other guardians.”

“We would love to have you here,” says Niyta.

“What about Tzina and me?” asks Dilasa, nervously.

“All of you are welcome,” adds Niyta.

“You’ll stay here with me, at the school,” says Shazira.
“You can help with the other children, if you want.”

“What about Berek?” asks Tzina.
“I won’t go years without seeing him.”

“He can’t abandon his own parents,” answers Shazira.
“If they allow it, he can visit with us as often as he likes.”
“He can come here in the ship, or else use the transporter platforms.”

“No one uses the platforms to travel to Tshuan,” says Berek.

“True, the Tshuan destinations are locked out for most travelers, but the king of Tshuan will make an exception for you.”
“We can arrange it.”

“Will you visit me, Berek?” asks Tzina.

“Of course.”

Dilasa looks troubled.

“I’ll visit you, too,” says Berek to Dilasa.
“You’re my only little sister.”

Dilasa smiles.

“What will the guild think of this?” asks Niyta.

“They won’t like it,” says Shazira, “but I’ll tell them that I want to monitor what the sisters are doing to see if they pose any threat to the guilds.”

“How could you say that, Shazira?” asks Niyta.

“They don’t trust you, anyway,” she answers.
“This just gives me an excuse to stay here without being expelled from the guilds.”

The sun is shadowed by something overhead, and they all look up.
A dozen Tshuan soldiers approach from the air.

When the group lands, Yagrin sees that Keela is among them.
“Master Yagrin,” she says, “forgive me for not greeting you and your family, but we have urgent need of your help.”
“My brother is dying.”

A King’s Curse
“There are many healers, here, Keela.”
“Who else should come with me?”

“The sisters have already tried to help, but still, Ilaz grows weaker.”
“It’s my brother’s mind that destroys him.”
“No healer but you will be able to help.”

“Come with me, Tzina,” I tell her.
“I need your help.”
“The rest of you can stay here and explore the school.”

“I’m also coming,” says Berek.
“Me, too,” adds Dilasa.

“Quickly,” says Keela.
“It’s not far, but I know the web is weak, and it’s harder for you to fly.”
“I have armbands if you need them.”

“We don’t need the bands,” I tell her, and rise into the air.
My children follow.
The soldiers pull ahead, and Keela flies next to me.

“His condition was stable for years,” I tell her.
“What’s happened?”

“He was always calm, master Yagrin, even though his mind seemed far away.”
“A few weeks ago, when the web was damaged, he changed.”
“Now Ilaz is at war with himself, and suffers terribly, like the Bizra eye children caught in their madness.”
“He still eats, but even with the help of the healers, his body is failing.”

“My father and I were resigned to his death, until I heard how you healed the children.”

The king is waiting when we land.
“I won’t allow it, Keela,” he says.
“I won’t put Master Yagrin at risk.

“Father, it’s Ilaz’s only chance.”

“Your brother was caught in a living death for ten years.”
“Better to let him go, then return him to that.”

“Your eyes!” says the king.

“Yes, commander, I have Bizra eyes now, but it’s not important.”
“Let me see Ilaz.”
“Tzina and I are Mind Weavers now.”
“We can enter his mind together, and protect each other, while we try to heal Ilaz.”

“Master Yagrin healed the children,” says Keela.
“Maybe he can help Ilaz.”

“I must speak to you, alone,” the king tells me.
Everyone else stays here, including the guards.”

He leads me thirty feet away from the others.
“Time is short, master Yagrin.”

“What do you mean, commander?”

“I can’t be sure, but I think that the war is almost upon us.”

“How do you know?”

“There are ancient Tshuan laws against the public practice of energy ways.”
“Healing is the only exception.”

“You allow the sisters to use their skills, along with my family and me, and a few others.”

“Yes, the king can set aside the law when he chooses.”
“There have been many exceptions in the years since we met.”

“When I first became king, there was a boy with great talent in energy ways, the son of a powerful healer.”
“From an early age, he could change one object into another.”
“As he grew older, it became more and more difficult for his mother to control him.”
“When he was sixteen, he was given an official warning to stop using his skills in public.”
“Some suggested that he go to the guild lands.”

“The boy was stubborn, and would not listen.”
“He attacked the guard who gave him the warning.”
“Other guards knocked him out, and fitted him with an inhibitor.”
“He quickly grew depressed, even suicidal, and his mother begged us to remove the inhibitor, and banish him instead.”

“I refused.”
“I thought he was too dangerous, and might take his revenge against me or my family.”
“A few weeks later, he killed himself.”

“The mother was furious.”
“She had some kind of fit, and when she woke, she told me a vision that seemed like a curse.”

A mountain will crush your wife, and take your son.
He will suffer for years, a life mixed with death.
When golden eyes are healed, his pain will grow, and death will call.
Push off death, and he will die in battle.
You will fall, and the one that kills you will be driven out.

“Sometimes our witches can touch the future, but I dismissed her words until my wife died, and Ilaz lost his mind.”

“Visions are uncertain, commander, even when spoken by those with clear sight.”

“I know,” he says, “but you just healed the twins, and Ilaz is dying.”
“If you save him, I think that he and I will see the end of the vision, and die in battle.”

“What do you want me to do, commander?”

“He’s my child, Yagrin.”
“What choice do I have?”
“Heal him if you can, but do it without putting yourself and your daughter at great risk.”

Into the Storm
Ilaz is tied down to prevent him from harming himself.
My children are already here.

“Have you scanned his mind, Tzina?”

“Only the surface, ina.”
“I’m afraid to go deeper without you.”
“Still, I can sense two personalities at war with each other.”
“I can feel their struggle, though I can’t hear their thoughts.”
“One is strong and quiet, while the other is wild and full of hate.”
“There are multiple barriers around each of them, patched together like a quilt.
“Neither self can reach the outside world.”

I listen for Ilaz’s song of change, and find two songs, circling around each other.
One is angry and wild, while the other is calmer.
“Ilaz has two songs, not one,” I tell the others.

“Song?” asks Keela.

“Everything in creation radiates a unique energy song that reveals the essence of the being or object.”

“He has two because his personality is split?”

“I didn’t expect his split mind to affect his song, but I guess that’s the explanation.”

“What will you do, master Yagrin?” asks Keela.

“Find a way to reunite the two selves.”
“If that doesn’t work, we’ll set one of them free, and imprison the other within walls that only we can open.”

“Is that even possible?” asks Berek.
“Our wintzals only create a barrier between one mind and another mind.”
“We don’t separate the mind from its own body.”

“It all depends on the way that the wall is built,” says Tzina.
“Wintzals are built and sealed from inside the mind.”
“It’s possible to build and seal a shield from outside, in a way that cuts off the mind from the body.”

“Will it hold?” asks Dilasa.

“The shield that a Mind Weaver builds is much stronger than what the selves can build on their own.”
“Our shields will hold until death, unless another Mind Weaver dissolves them.”

I hand Kralestone necklaces to Tzina, Berek, and Dilasa, and put one on.

“What’s this for?” asks Tzina, as she puts it on.

“We’ll need it when we lower our shields to enter Ilaz’s mind.”
“The weakness in the web unsettles an unshielded mind, unless the mind is protected by Kralestone or an inhibitor.”

“Dilasa and Berek, I want you to wear the necklaces, so you can lower your shields.”
“This way, you might be able to hear our mind touch.”

“Might?” asks Berek.

“If Dilasa and I go deep within his mind, our thoughts may not reach you.”

“What if you’re trapped there?” asks Berek.

“Ilaz is dying,” I tell everyone.
“If we can’t help him and we’re blocked, we’ll force our way out, even if it kills him.”

I turn to the king.
“Is that acceptable, commander?”

“Yes,” he answers quietly.

“We stay together at all times, Tzina.”
“No exceptions!”

“I understand, ina, but how can we both enter a single mind.”
“Makish said that it’s impossible for Mind Weavers.”

“You’re right.”
“I’d forgotten about that.”

I transform into a duplicate of Tzina.

“What are you doing?!” asks the king.

“When I take her exact form, it’s possible to join our minds tightly together.”

My mind sphere disappears when I transform my body, but Tzina’s is still in place.
“Lower your sphere.”

I touch her thoughts, and our minds are bound together.

I scan Ilaz.
“He’s covered with barriers.”
“How do we get in?”

“His walls have their weak spots, the same as a wintzal.”
“We’ll attune ourselves to the rhythm of the walls, and when I find a weak spot, we’ll go through it.”

A few seconds later, Tzina takes us in.
When we enter a Jiku mind, what we’re really entering is the mind web.
The mind web is a unique type of energy web, with borders, paths, odd energy structures, and storms.
Current thoughts and feelings, as well as memories are all accessible as you move through the web.

Ilaz’s web is a mess.
No path continues for long, without being blocked by some kind of dark energy barrier.
The open area we’ve entered is dominated by storms, far more violent than any I’ve seen in other minds.

“There are childhood memories, ina,” she says, “but I can’t find recent memories or any trace of his current awareness.”

“I’ll fill this place with the sun’s song,” I tell her.
“It may help.”

I focus on the patterns of the sun’s song, and spread that energy around us.
The storms stop, and the walls near us dissolve.
We’ve entered deeper into his current mind, but this place is empty.

“I can’t even touch his memories here,” says Tzina.

I echo the song of the calmer personality, and spread it through this open space, hoping this will bring us to him.
The landscape changes, and we’re filled with images.

The land around us is dry, but not a desert.
Tzina and I seem to have bodies here, that both look like her.
We’re standing on a slab of stone surrounded by a ring of twelve stone pillars.
The pillars are irregularly shaped, twenty to thirty feet high, and made of ordinary stone, worn by wind and rain.
A boy, about fifteen, steps between the pillars and into the circle.

“I know you’re just another dream,” he says, “but I’m so lonely.”
“I don’t even know where I am!”

“You’re trapped inside your mind, Ilaz,” she says.
“You’ve been here for ten years, but you’ll die unless we get you out now.”

Ilaz,” he says.
“My name is Ilaz.”
“I’d almost forgotten.”

“Why would I dream two of you?”

“Because you’re not dreaming.”
“We came into your mind to get you out.”

“I didn’t know where I was, but I’ve tried to escape.”
“I tear down one wall, and he builds another.”
“I try to escape in a boat, and it sinks.”
“He’s always there, everywhere I turn, and he wants to kill me.”

“Why does he look like me, and why is he so crazy?”

“I don’t know, Ilaz,” I tell him.
“You were with your mother when she died, and your mind ran away from it.”
“You don’t have to run any more.”

“I can’t go anywhere,” he says.
“My twin will follow me.”
“What’s the point?”

“I’ll calm him down, and he’ll just disappear.”

“What if he doesn’t?”

“Then we’ll protect you,” says Tzina.
“We’ll help you escape and keep him trapped in here.”

“You’re so young and you can do that?”
“You’re energy masters from the guilds!”
“My memories are fuzzy, but I remember stories about masters and the guilds.”
“I was hoping I would meet you someday.”

I fill myself with the other song, from the other self, and he appears.
His clothing is torn, and his face is full of hate.
There are scratches covering his arms and legs.
The two songs are so different.
It’s hard to believe they come from the same person.

“I don’t care who you’ve dreamed up,” says the wild one.
“They can’t stop me from killing you.”

“Ilaz,” I tell him, “Keela and the king miss you so much.”
“Come with us.”

“I can’t let him escape,” says Ilaz.

“He’s you, Ilaz.”
“Your mother died in an accident, and you couldn’t face it.”
“You’re trying to blame yourself.”

No,” he screams.
“I remember!”
“It wasn’t an accident.”
“We were climbing down, and I was leading.”
“Then something disgusting was inside me.”
“It was alive, and crawling through my head with its own thoughts.”
“I struggled to push it away, and saw bursts of energy exploding around me.”
“I think that’s what attracted a Krale.”

“Mother was struck by a bolt of energy from the Krale.”
“I had to protect her, so I fought harder to kill the creature within me, but the outside world disappeared.”
“The parasite was trapped in here, with me, away from mother.”

“Take his hands, Ilaz,” I suggest.
“You’ll see that he’s no different than you.”
“He doesn’t want to harm you.”

“It’s true,” says the calm one.
“Whatever happened was just an accident.”
“No one was trying to harm you.”

“I didn’t imagine it, but it’s been so long,” says the wild one.
“I can’t go on.”
“I just want to die, and stop the pain.”

“Let the pain go,” I tell him.
“Just take the hands of your twin, and we can go.”

He lets the hate drain from his face.
I take his hands and touch them to his twin.
There’s an electric shock, and the two of them are thrown apart.

“I knew we don’t belong together,” says the wild one, his hate returning.
“I have to kill him.”

I punch the wild one, and he falls to the ground.

“Quickly, Tzina,” I tell her, “try to see beyond these images.”
“Find all the walls in the mind web, and dissolve them.”

I turn to the calm one.
“I know you’ve also built walls to protect yourself against the wild one.”
“Let her break those walls, so we can get you out of here.”

He makes a strange gesture.
When we don’t respond, he looks puzzled for a moment.
“Of course,” he says.
“Get me out of here.”

The landscape we stand in turns transparent, and we can see the normal inner landscape of the mind web with its paths and storms.
Tzina shapes a large box of black stone around the wild one.
“He’ll be trapped in there, forever,” she says.

Tzina and I stand in the real world, at Ilaz’s bedside as he wakes up.
I return to my normal shape and rebuild my mind sphere.

“Who are you?” asks Ilaz.

“My name is Yagrin.”
“Do you remember Tzina and I came into your mind and helped you escape.”

“I remember twins,” he says.

“I took her shape, so we could enter your mind together.”
“You need to rest.”
“Your body is very weak, but you’ll get better now.”

Keela and the king hug Ilaz.
He looks uncomfortable.

“Don’t you remember me?” asks Keela.

“Keela, my memory is fuzzy.”
“You’ll have to help me remember.”

“I will!”

“Thank you!” says Keela, hugging Tzina and me.

“Thank you, Yagrin,” says the king.
“There are no words for this.”

I open myself to listen to Ilaz’s song.
There are still two.
One is unchanged, while the calm one’s song has grown stronger.
I wonder why it looks so different from the other Jiku songs that I’ve seen.
He is still incomplete in some way, part of him locked away as long as he is alive.
That must do strange things to his energy.

“Can I speak with you, ina?” asks Dilasa.

“Of course.”

We go into another room.

“I was worried about you, ina, so I connected with the mind web as the walls were breaking down.”
“Do you remember the vision I had of the pink-skinned people and the fearsome alien?”


“When I connected with the mind web, I saw another image of them.”
“It was fuzzy, but I saw a great house, one hundred feet tall.”
“A pink-skinned man lived there with his two sons.”
“He was shorter than us, but full of strength, and the leader of his race.”
“I watched as went to a nearby building, much taller than the first.
He stepped out on a balcony a thousand feet above an open plaza in a great city.”
“His image and words appeared to his people on a sparkling wall at ground level.”
“The people cheered, and then listened carefully to his words.”
“I couldn’t understand him, but he used the word Kizak, again and again.”
“Somehow I know it means stone.”

“One of the fearsome aliens was there, in a cage.”
“The leader finished speaking, and turned to walk inside, when a child started screaming in the plaza.”
“Seconds later, the boy burst into flame.”

“What does it mean, ina?” asks Dilasa.
“Why would I see something so horrible?”

“Who knows, Dilasa?”
“It’s just another vision.”

“I wish it was, ina, but I found it, hidden deep in Ilaz, in the self that we freed.”

Empire of Stone -- 2: Lost SonsNext Story
  1. King’s Son
  2. Lost Courage
  3. Far From Home
  4. Dreams of Life and Death
  5. Children of Fire
  6. Prisons of the Mind
  7. Beyond Darkness and Light
  8. Death of a Child
  9. Truth and Lies
  10. Fear of the Wild
  11. Sweet Waters

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