Sleep and I are old friends.
On other nights, I fall asleep easily, and little disturbs my sleep.
Tonight, sleep comes and goes.
I wake often, waiting for morning, and the start of my training.
I feel dull and clumsy when morning finally comes, and I begin the greeting of the light.
Soon, I find the rhythm.
After, I eat a quick breakfast with Shazira and Tzina.
We are all quiet, thinking of what will happen to our family if the training is not enough, and I fail my tests.
“Should I fly to Balshown’s house with you?” asks Shazira, breaking the silence.
She’s always so confident.
It’s strange to hear the hesitation in her voice.
I squeeze her hand.
“I know the way.”
She wants to believe in me, but she knows that the guild is setting me up to fail.
“Why do we play their game?” asks Shazira, angrily.
“We know how it will end!”
“We don’t know what the end will be,” I answer, rising to my feet.
“Remember the Dream Hunter’s explanation of the vision?”
“The joining awakens a great power.”
“The guild created this test so that even someone with Yagrin’s power would fail.”
“They forced me into an intense training, but who knows what this training will awaken?”
“They may have pushed me to become something that they can’t understand or control.”
It’s still early in the morning, when I fly to meet Balshown.
For all my talk, I’m still nervous as I catch sight of his house.
Balshown lives alone.
He stands in his garden, watering his plants, looking up quietly and calmly as I approach.
The old Yagrin would laugh at me and my fear.
He would be arrogant, even defiant when he met Balshown.
The master is about two hundred fifty years old, yet he walks with power and grace.
His long white hair lies in a thick, single braid, reaching halfway down his back.
His age is common enough for people of this world.
Shazira told me that the Jiku often live three centuries, strong and healthy.
The master cooks and cleans and does all that is necessary to keep order in his small house.
Some say that he has never loved anyone, and is too nasty to tolerate any servants or workers.
They say that he has killed apprentices for showing him disrespect.
I dismiss this as the idle fear of a powerful man.
The house is small, but a beautiful combination of stone and glass.
It rests on a high hill on the mainland overlooking the harbor.
I land gently outside the gardens.
The house is surrounded on all sides by gardens.
Stone walkways pass through the gardens, and lead to the house.
I walk along the stones, enjoying the beautiful flowers.
The flowers are all unfamiliar, except for tall plants that remind me of sunflowers.
As I pass by the sunflowers, I hear a high, sweet sound.
I turn, and notice that the plants are leaning toward me, except for one dying plant with a cracked stem.
I touch the plants gently as I would pet an animal.
The sweet sound grows louder.
I bend down and place both hands around the broken stem.
My hands get warm, and I feel something move through me.
When I remove my hands, the stem is whole again, and the plant stands tall.
Balshown looks at me quietly for a minute.
“The plants seem to like you,” he says finally, with surprise in his voice.
“We have four weeks to complete your training,” he says.
“That’s not enough time.”
Over the next week, I spend most of each day with Balshown.
We never enter his house.
He brings food for a short mid-day meal, but it’s simple and silent.
The lightning and rain never approach us when we are busy with the exercises.
He doesn’t speak about this, and I don’t ask.
He talks to me when he needs to give me instruction, or tell me that we are finished for the day.
There is no other conversation.
The hours are filled with basic energy weaving drills.
I attack the exercises with complete dedication, and I never question the master.
Still, I complete the week with mixed results.
I feel clumsy when carrying living creatures, and I can barely move on the energy web while underwater.
The master thinks the results are adequate for the first week.
Shazira warned me that the master never liked “me” before.
He is quiet, but he treats me gently and fairly.
When we complete the first week, he brings me into his house for the first time.
He pours both of us a drink, then points to a chair.
We sit and drink.
He looks at me for a few minutes in silence.
It seems like forever.
“They told me that Yagrin was taken by a traveler.”
“I didn’t believe it.”
“I thought it was an elaborate trick to get attention.”
“Yagrin always craved attention.”
“It must be true.”
“The real Yagrin would never listen to an old man like me and not complain, or show kindness to a flower.”
Somehow I feel insulted and complimented at the same time.
“Master,” I say at last.
“Yes?” he says, a little irritated, expecting me to protest in some way.
“I am Yagrin.”
“There is no one else.”
“In some ways, there is only one of us, and in other ways, it’s like we’re both still here.”
“Humpf,” he says at last, stepping a few inches away so our faces are close together.
“If you’re both here, make sure that he stays out of sight!”
Balshown leads me outside.
“The week is done,” he says, “come again next week.”
He turns to walk away, then stops and faces me again.
“You have the talent, Yagrin,” he continues.
“There’s no question of that.”
“The web of energy brightens and sings when you walk through the room.”
“You can listen to the world of energy, as well as see it.”
“Every master has his own sound when he flies on the web.”
“The web sings even when you walk through it.”
“Is it true,” he asks, “that you traveled across the possibility sea?”
“No one believes it,” I answer, “except my bondmate and daughter.”
“I’m not asking the guild or the fools who walk the streets,” he says sharply.
“I’m asking you”
“It’s true, and Yagrin is my twin.”
“Is your world anything like this one?” he asks.
“We’re ignorant of the ways of energy.”
“Did you come here to escape a disaster on your world?”
“Some travelers find their way when there is no other choice.”
“My world and family are safe,” I answer, “and forever lost to me.”
“Master,” I ask, “do you think I’ll be able to pass the tests?”
He gets angry.
“The tests and the duties of the weavers are NOTHING.”
“Do you hear me? NOTHING.”
“The world wants you to be adept at moving and manipulating energy to follow your will.”
“The tests focus on moving energy, or binding energy together, not weaving it.”
“You’ll master the moving and binding, quickly enough. I promise you that.”
“Still, I don’t know if you’ll do it before the next moon.”
“Do you see the irony, Yagrin?” he asks, raising his voice.
“A guild of energy weavers who don’t know anything about weaving?”
He shakes his head, and lets out a long sigh, before continuing.
“Only one in a hundred master weavers has any idea of what it means to weave energy.”
“Then, only for a moment or two out of a whole lifetime.”
“He sees that his energy is the same, and yet different from the energy that surrounds him.”
“Few masters can hold that seeing, and weave their unique energy with others.”
“Master?” I interrupt.
“Let me finish, Yagrin.”
“Master, I’ve seen what you’re speaking of.”
I describe my vision of the Bizra when I entered the Yellow room, and tell him how the Bizra and I exchanged energy.
“The web looked so different then.”
“Can you see it, still?” he asks hesitantly.
I open my energy eyes.
The solidity of the world weakens and become an image projected on a paper-thin curved three-dimensional screen.
As the world becomes thin and transparent, the energy web brightens and shines through.
The web is a countless collection of points, joined in a matrix that extends to infinity.
Countless rivers of energy move across the points of the web, brightening and weakening the light at each point.
The web and its points of light are fundamentally unchanged, and the points of light seem all the same, except for their brightness.
I try to find another way of seeing.
What makes me unique?
When all that changes is stripped away, what’s left of me?
I feel that there’s another question that must be asked before my sight will open wide.
What is uniquely mine that I can give away?
Something shifts in my energy.
The trillions upon trillions of points of light are the same and yet different.
The world is again as I saw it with the Bizra.
“Master, I see it again.”
“Now look at me.”
I look at Balshown and see the egg-shaped energy body.
I feel and see the unique flavor of his energy.
Seven tiny points of energy from across his egg grow brighter.
Then they drift away from the rest of his energy body, forming a circle.
How am I able to see the matrix of trillions of points, with rivers of energy, and yet still focus on seven points?
I focus on my own energy body.
“Let me brighten,” I tell myself, and seven points within my egg grow bright.
Gently, I loosen these seven points of energy, and shape them into a circle that spins.
My circle moves toward his body, as his circle moves toward my body.
When his points touch my body they are absorbed, with their uniqueness intact.
The gift is complete.
“Yagrin,” he continues, “practice the exercises when you’re home in the evening.”
“There isn’t much time to get ready for the tests.”
“After you pass your tests for Master Weaver, we will talk about real weaving.”
“Master, a question please.”
He looks at me without responding.
“When we give each other our light, when we share our uniqueness, what does it mean?”
He shakes his head.
“It’s difficult to know, Yagrin, but I’m certain that our own worlds of possibility grow larger.”
“Then, that which was impossible a moment ago, has opened to us.”
He turns away into his house and closes the door.
I fly home, alone with my thoughts.