A Call for Help
The tower is quiet without Shazira.
She sits most of the day at her parent’s house, holding Tzina’s hand, and wonders where hope has gone.
Tzina slips toward death, already empty, her spirit gone.
Shazira’s parents are silent around me.
They disliked the old Yagrin, and they like me even less.
No time now to change that.
Many healers have already come, but I call for more.
“Why, Yagrin?” asks Shazira.
“What can any healer do?”
“They can prolong Tzina’s life,” I tell her.
“Her spirit is already dead!” shouts Shazira.
“Who cares about the body?”
Chiwan enters the room, as quietly as air, but everyone feels his presence and turns.
The healers move away from Tzina, making room for the master.
He hasn’t been seen in public for years.
He’s not here for Tzina, for even he can’t help her.
Chiwan comes to comfort Shazira and me.
He takes our hands and brings them together.
Shazira and I look at each other and hug, crying together.
“Master,” I ask Chiwan, “can the Bizra help her?”
“There are stories that speak of the Bizra curing a child of the madness,” he answers.
“That was long ago, and the child stayed among the Bizra for the rest of his life.”
Chiwan hugs each of us, and then flies away.
The days move slowly, as we sit with Tzina, and when night comes, I sleep in the Watchtower.
The tower doesn’t need us until next moonwatch, but a guardian must be there each night.
Berek visits Tzina for a few minutes each day, but he can’t bear her empty gaze for long.
The guild sends a few masters to act as guards around the house to keep out unwanted visitors.
We let them stay, but there are few visitors, and we already have too much quiet.
One afternoon, the quiet is broken.
Someone is arguing with the guards to be let in.
I walk out, and find an angry group.
Keela is here with her father, the Tshuan king, and some of his soldiers.
No Tshuan king has visited our lands in generations.
The masters stand between the king and the house.
“Let him pass,” I tell the masters.
“His soldiers carry weapons,” say the guards.
“The soldiers must remain outside.”
“According to Tshuan law, we can’t leave the king unprotected,” says the captain of the soldiers, raising a weapon.
“This is not Tshuan!” says one of the masters.
“The king is not welcome here.”
“The king and his daughter have come to visit the sick,” I tell the masters.
“They are my guests, and distant relatives.”
“Commander,” I suggest, “tell your soldiers that I’ll protect you and the princess myself while you’re in the house.”
“How can he protect you, Commander?” asks the captain.
“He doesn’t even carry weapons.”
“He’s more powerful than all of us, you fool,” says the king sharply.
“He has royal blood, and his words are not like your words.”
“If he says that he’ll protect us, that’s enough.”
We enter the house, while the soldiers remain outside.
The king greets Shazira and her parents.
Then he and Keela sit with Tzina for a few minutes.
There’s little to say.
“A great tragedy,” he says quietly.
I walk them to the door, when they’re ready to leave.
“Don’t give up,” he whispers to me.
“Who knows what surprises tomorrow will bring?”
The healers renew Tzina’s body each day, but still she grows weaker.
“Shazira,” I suggest, “let me take her to the Bizra.”
“There’s a chance that they can help her!”
“Take her?” she shouts.
“So she can die, where no one cares about her?”
“You want her to die there without me?”
“Come with me, then,” I say.
“Have you forgotten that the Krale live among the Bizra?” she asks.
“We’ll all die there!”
“Better Tzina dies here quietly, as our son did.”
“I won’t let that happen!” I tell her.
I sit quietly, and extend my mind to see if I can touch Tzina’s thoughts.
I hunt for thoughts deep within her.
This is dangerous.
If her mind is twisted, I don’t know what the connection will do to me.
I don’t care.
There’s a wildness within me that makes me push forward.
When I first make contact, I see a strange landscape, and hover over the surface of a broken world.
Is this place distant and real, or just a part of her mind?
There’s an immense, rocky surface as far as I can see, with deep holes everywhere.
Each hole extends to the center of the planet.
I fly above the surface.
Hours pass, with little change, except that in the distance the light fades.
Finally, I come to a sea of emptiness, where there is no rock at all, just darkness.
I shine light to fill up the darkness, and continue on.
Finally, I come to a small island, solid rock that floats in the middle of the emptiness.
A large black dome that covers most of the island, covered with specks of gold.
At the top of the dome is a chimney.
I try to enter, but the way is blocked.
I send my listener to examine the dome, looking for a point of weakness.
I find a small hole the size of a pin.
I let my physical presence in her mind disappear, so that I’m only an energy body in this place.
Still, I can’t enter through the small hole.
I could try to destroy the dome, but I don’t know what the dome represents.
I might kill Tzina if I damage it.
There’s only one way forward.
I take Tzina’s exact shape within this world, hover over the dome, and extend my listening body.
In the outer world, this would open her whole history, thoughts, and feelings.
What will it do in her inner world?
I find myself inside the dome.
It’s beautiful, filled with flowers, fruit and birds.
Tzina is sitting on moss, eating a piece of fruit.
She looks calm until she sees me.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“Why do you look like me, and how did you get here?”
“Are you the one who keeps me here?”
“Let me out!”
“You know me,” I tell her, and smile.
“Ina?” she asks.
“I took this shape to reach you.”
I wear her face as a mask, but she sees me in the smile, and hears me in the voice.
“Get me out of this place, ina!”
“I woke up here from the Dream School.”
“I remember my time there, and what I learned.”
“My mind grew twisted while I studied there.”
“Most of the time, I felt like someone else.”
“How could I treat you like a stranger?”
She cries, and we hug.
“Let’s go, ina.”
“I don’t want to stay here a moment longer.”
“It’s not that simple, Tzina.”
“We’re inside your mind, and I don’t know how to free you.”
“In the real world, you have the Bizra madness, and there’s not much time.”
“Bring other healers,” she says.
“No ordinary healers can help you.”
“I’m going to take your body to the Bizra.”
“Maybe they can help you.”
“Your mother doesn’t want me to bring you there, but I won’t listen to her any more.”
“I’ll take you there in the morning.”
“Help me, ina,” she says, “the garden seems to get a little smaller all the time.”
“I’ll be back soon, Tzina.”
“No matter what, I won’t let you die here alone.”
I give her a long hug, and kiss her.
Then I retake my own form, and break the connection with her mind.
“Yagrin, you’re awake!” says Shazira.
“What were you doing?”
“You had the same dull expression that Tzina has, and you didn’t move for an hour.”
“I was in her mind,” I answer.
“I won’t even ask how you do that,” says Shazira’s father, “but isn’t it dangerous to enter the mind of someone that’s mad?”
“It’s very dangerous,” I answer, turning to face him, “but I’ll do anything to save my little girl!”
I turn back to Shazira.
“Just like I would do anything to save you!”
Her angry expression softens.
“What’s it like in there?” asks Shazira.
“Is there any trace of her left?”
“She’s fine,” I say, “but she’s trapped in a shrinking world, and I can’t free her.”
“I was able to visit her, though.”
“I saw her, hugged her, and spoke with her.”
They look at me like I’m crazy.
They all wonder how you can hug someone within her mind.
“There’s a way to call for the Bizra in times of great need,” says Shazira.
“When you slipped away, I contacted the weavers guild, and asked them to call the Bizra.”
“Did any of the Bizra respond?”
“Yes,” she says.
“One came, and the weavers asked it to heal you and Tzina.”
“It refused, but told the weavers that you would return.”
“Then it bound a message to this weaver’s cube, for you to see.”
The weavers and the Bizra bind private messages to the crystal memcubes in a secure way.
Only a weaver can extract the message.
This message is bound, so that only I can open it.
I release the message into my mind, and feel fear at the image that surrounds me.
It’s dark out, and I carry Tzina in my arms, surrounded by hundreds or thousands of Bizra.
Outside the mass of Bizra, I see dozens of Krale struck by lightning, and turned to dust.
The lightning comes from me.
Tzina opens her eyes, and smiles at me.
“What’s the message, Yagrin?” asks Shazira.
“The Bizra want us to come to them, to heal Tzina, and they want us to destroy the Krale.”
“How can you destroy the Krale,” asks her father, “if the Bizra can’t?”
“The Krale killed you the last time!”
“I don’t know!” I yell.
“See for yourself,” I say, and put the image in their minds.
They see the part of the image that I spoke about, along with the rest.
Balshown and Berek stand near the Bizra.
Shazira appears as a double image.
One image of her lies on the ground dying, reaching toward me.
Another Shazira stands healthy and strong next to Berek.
There’s a distant image of the Watchtower, and a dark, child-like shape waits in the shadows.
Shazira and I look at each other, and hug for a long time.
When we separate, she takes my hand and doesn’t let go.
“What does it mean, Yagrin?'”
“There are layers to a Bizra message,” I answer.
“The image is only the beginning.”
“Everyone you see in the image must go.”
“We’re all needed, or Tzina will not be healed, and the Krale will not be destroyed.”
“Shazira is in danger.”
“Death is a possibility, but not certain.”
Shazira nods her head.
“Shazira, you’re not thinking of going?” asks her mother.
“Yagrin says we can save her.”
“I won’t let her die, whatever the risk!”
“What if it’s true that we can destroy the Krale?” I ask.
“Should we stay here, hiding in our last surviving city, living in fear?”
“We have to end this!”
“What is the dark shadow shaped like a child?” asks her father.
“Is it an old one?”
“Ehraval is an energy being, not an old one.”
“I know him from another world.”
“He will help protect Shazira.”
“Why can’t you protect her?” asks her father.
“I don’t know what we’ll find there, or what I’ll have to do to destroy the Krale, but I can’t do it alone.”
“Balshown will come if you ask him,” says Shazira, “but how will you convince Berek’s parents to let him go?”
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” I answer.
“The journey to the Bizra will take hours, and we need to arrive at night.”
“We’ll leave at last light tomorrow, from the Watchtower.”
Berek’s parents are home when I arrive.
I have no memories of being in this house.
The center of the large room has a sunken area with a garden and fountain.
We sit in the garden, and Zias hands me a drink.
I take out the memcube.
I’ve unlocked it, so any weaver can read it now.
“Welcome to our home,” she says, and she eyes the crystal.
“Will you and Bintar take over as guardians of the Watchtower for a few days?”
“Shazira and I need to go on a trip.”
“Of course, Yagrin.”
“We heard that the Bizra sent you a message.”
“What do they want?”
“It’s urgent, Zias.”
“See it yourself.”
She views the message, then describes it to her bondmate.
They look at each other, and I suddenly know what they will say.
“I’m so sorry, Yagrin, but we can’t let Berek go.”
“Have the Bizra ever lied to us, Zias?” I ask.
“Never before,” she says quietly, “but we can’t be sure that we understand the message correctly.”
“I don’t care about the message, Yagrin,” interrupts Bintar.
“Berek’s our only child!”
He stops as he realizes that Tzina is our only child.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“I know Tzina is as precious to you, as Berek is to us!”
“We all want to be free of the Krale, and we wish that we could help you heal Tzina.”
“Still, we can’t risk losing Berek!”
“We can’t save Tzina without him,” I tell them.
“What would Berek want to do?”
“Berek would do anything to help his cousin and best friend,” agrees Bintar.
“What would he do to save his sister?” I ask them.
“What are you talking about, Yagrin?”
“Tzina is his half-sister, and I’m his father.”
Zias sits down.
She looks white, and Bintar doesn’t look much better.
“Let me join thoughts with you,” I suggest, “so you can see the truth.”
“No,” says Zias.
“We can’t trust him!”
“Who knows what he’ll do to our minds.”
“If he knows the forgotten mind ways,” says Bintar, “he can do what he wants whether or not we agree.”
Finally, Zias agrees, and I show the two of them the argument between the old Yagrin and his brother.
“Will you take him away from us to live with you?” she asks.
“No,” I answer, “I would never do that to you.”
“He loves you, and barely knows me!”
“For now, he’ll know me as an uncle.”
“We’ll tell him and Tzina when he’s sixteen.
“Shazira will hear the truth as soon as we return from this trip.”
“No,” says Zias strongly, as she gets up.
“You won’t let him go to save his sister?” asks Bintar.
“I’ll let him go,” she answers, “but we won’t make him wait five years to hear that he has a living sister and father!”
“If Tzina recovers, she must be told she has a brother.”
“Zias, are you sure?” asks Bintar.
“I’m sure,” she says.
“We’ll tell Berek when everyone returns from the Bizra, but Yagrin must make us two promises.”
“Promise that you’ll bring him back safely!” she says.
“He’ll return safely,” I tell her.
“Promise me, Yagrin,” she says, “that you will tell your family about Berek when they return.”
I think of the anger I’ll have to face.
“If you agree to this, Yagrin, we’ll let him go,” she adds.
“I promise,” I tell her quietly.