Balshown and Makish are quiet as we prepare for our journey to the city.
Like me, they are full of their own thoughts.
We are outsiders, powerful energy masters full of a hunger to shape the future.
Our hunger and strength set us apart from other Jiku, even the guilds, and bind us together.
Sometimes they treat me as a friend, and sometimes they treat me as a child.
Each of them is possessive and protective of me, and wary of the other.
My thoughts are broken by the urgency of the moment.
Now is a good time to fly.
Energy weavers harness the forces that stream through the web.
They conquer gravity and glide through the sky.
The web grows brighter at midday, when the strength of the great web is amplified by the sunlight.
At dawn, the sun shouts its arrival to the web, like a great ship scattering waves across the sea.
Now, directly overhead, we feel the sun’s power in the web as a strong, deep vibration.
Six of us travel today toward the city, as the sun watches over us.
Makish carries Shazira and Tzina in an energy net, while I carry Berek.
Balshown flies alone.
Berek, Tzina, and Shazira are skilled at flow, but none of them can weave energy, and glide on the web.
I don’t know if they lack the talent, or only the training.
It’s uncommon to find someone who masters flow and weaving, as I do.
The heart moves in opposite ways to learn these two skills.
Flow is powered by will.
To change an object, the master of flow uses will to weaken the forces that hold the energy pattern together.
Then, she builds a new pattern, and pushes it into the heart of the old one.
The old pattern shatters, as the new one takes its place.
Weaving is about connection and surrender.
Weavers connect and resonate with the great web.
With that connection, comes the ability to share in the web’s strength.
All living things are linked to the web, but weavers build a deeper, faster, stronger connection.
They let their energy pour out into the web like a flood, and accept the vast energies pouring through them.
The power of the web fills them, shadowed by danger.
It’s easy to lose yourself, and let go of life.
The strong will of a flow master cannot overcome gravity, but gravity is no challenge for the power of the web.
Shazira and Tzina fly by taking the shape of birds or other flying creatures, but they can’t match the speed of gliding on the web.
When a weaver surrenders himself to the web, and the web embraces him, he flies faster than any bird.
After the probe’s appearance, it’s more urgent than ever, that we reach the city quickly.
I’m caught up in the urgency, today, but not blind to the beauty that surrounds us.
The wind is warm, the sky almost clear of clouds, and the air is haunted by the scent of Wilka, a sweet flower.
It grows near the sea, and at this time of year, it blooms.
The flowers stay bright and fragrant on the plant, even after the seeds form.
When the seeds are ripe, the petals of the flowers become sails that catch the wind and fly high and far, carrying the seeds.
The beauty around me is soon challenged, as a distant feeling rises up in me.
I feel unbalanced, unsettled, and restless, as though the world is sick, and calls me to save it, but how will I heal what I don’t understand?
I release my listener to touch the web’s balance.
There’s a strange energy, that colors the web today.
It floats on the web like an intruder.
I struggle for a few moments to find the source of the energy.
When it comes into focus, the answer is obvious.
The energy waits for us, streaming from the city, and gets stronger and stronger, as we approach.
Is it calling us, or threatening us?
What will we find at the city?
As we approach the walls of the city, the web starts to reject us, and we find it harder to fly.
Two hundred feet away, Balshown lands, suddenly out of breath.
Makish follows soon afterwards, and, one hundred feet away, I land.
Shazira smiles as her feet touch the smooth stone that surrounds the city.
She loves flying on her own, but she hates being carried.
Unfortunately, her happiness is short-lived.
The city emits an energy that repels visitors.
It makes us feel weak and nauseous, and even the children are quiet.
Still I feel the call, stronger than ever, demanding that I find a way in.
No one outside the city knows how to enter.
Legend says that the city itself will reveal the way in, to the ones destined to enter.
The walls cannot be broken by flow or weaving.
To break or change a thing, you must be able to see its true energy pattern, but these walls have a shield that hides the patterns.
The inhibitors and weapons in Tshuan also have a shield.
I’ve used the grandmother pattern to unlock the Tshuan shields, but the pattern is useless against the shield of the walls.
“What about taking a pure energy form, Yagrin?” asks Makish.
She knows that I can let go of my physical body, and live in a pure energy form.
Solid matter is less than a mist, in the presence of the energy body, but these walls are different.
“I’ve tried it,” I answer with a sigh, “but I still can’t get in.”
“What about transforming yourself into a twin of the wall?” asks Berek.
“I can’t copy it,” I answer, “without seeing the energy patterns.”
There are other suggestions, but none that will help us get inside the walls.
“Why are we here, ina?” asks Tzina, finally, struggling with the nauseau.
“How do you expect to get inside?”
The quiet surounds us.
I have no answer.
Balshown starts walking.
“Come,” he says.
I know where he’s going.
He’s leading us to the murals.
We stop at one of the murals, larger, brighter, and more detailed than the others.
“How old is this one?” asks Berek, as he runs his hand along the smooth wall.
We see the mural, but can’t feel it.
“It was shaped into the wall after the war,” answers Balshown.
Tzina and Berek stare at the mural.
“Does it have a name?” asks Berek.
“It’s called the opening to the fountain,” says Balshown.
“I believe that this mural is the key to getting into the city.”
“It’s you, ina,” says Berek.
The mural shows a long beach, touched by waves, and covered in a strange light.
There are dozens of Feldin, in a circle around a Kishla, its mouth open in song.
The great bird has the usual bright colors of its species, except for two glowing, black, knife-shaped marks on its feathers.
I am the bird in the mural, singing to the Feldin, at the edge of the land of the Bizra.
The Feldin are small, glowing, seal-like creatures that I met by the ocean.
I was a Kishla, then, with black, knife-shaped feathers.
The Feldin surrounded me with their light, and touched my face, until it glowed as they do.
The murals are over a thousand years old, and full of the Feldin, but this one captures the moment that I met them.
Why is our meeting important?
what does it have to do with the city?
Was it left here for me to find it?
I look with energy eyes at the wall in front of me.
The patterns are still hidden behind a sea of chaos, but floating just above the wall is a ring of twelve energy patterns — the twelve mothers.
I spread my listening body upon the ring.
My mind fills with the image of a ring that becomes a spinning wheel, with a central sphere connected to the rim with twelve spokes.
I shape the grandmother energy pattern, and surround it with a thin sphere of dark blue energy.
Then I connect the sphere to the twelve mothers to form a wheel, and set it spinning, faster and faster.
Finally, I cast my listener over the wheel.
The world moves, and I see a huge chamber, with a ceiling fifty feet high.
The room is empty except for a three-dimensional glowing model of the city.
The model is full of endless buildings and machines, but no Jiku.
I feel the energy rush through the model city and spin through its walls.
I still can’t read the shielded patterns, but I see the mural on the wall, and it covers a glowing opening.
Far below the model, there is a small, strange box.
The patterns and streams of energy around the box are breathtaking.
When my awareness enters the box, I find a ring of energy that pulses with great power.
Inside the ring is an opening, a gateway to a world of pure energy.
My vision touches the edge of that world, and finds its focus.
I feel a distant presence of living creatures of pure energy.
This is the artifact.
The model hints at what’s there, but it will not bring me to that world.
I pull my awareness back from the model.
I can barely stand, as I find my body again.
I use healing energy to restore my strength.
I feel better, but still weak.
The wall drains us, to drive us away.
We must get inside the city, and hear the warning.
Then, I must reach the world of energy within the artifact.
“Where were you, Yagrin?” asks Balshown.
“I saw a complete model of the city,” I answer, “and I touched the energy of the artifact, and a world that lies beyond it.”
“Did you find a way for us to enter?” asks Shazira.
“There’s an opening behind the mural,” I tell her, “but I don’t know how to use it.”
We spread out, and look at the other murals of the Feldin on the city walls.
They seem fairly ordinary, but is there a clue that we’ve overlooked?
The Feldin are swimming, playing, and digging for food.
“Any ideas,” I ask, turning to the others, “why the Feldin are so important?”
“No,” says Berek, “but I noticed something odd about one mural.”
“It shows one Feldin who has no glow.”
Berek leads us to the mural.
“This mural is the darkness,” I tell Balshown.
“Remember the words, Balshown?”
Light up the darkness, and meet the opening.
“Yagrin,” says Shazira.
“Can you still glow, as you did after the Feldin touched you?”
“I don’t know,” I answer.
“I haven’t tried.”
Then, I imagine my face glowing.
“It’s working,” says Balshown.
I turn back to the darkness mural, and it looks blurry to me, as though it were moving.
I open my energy eyes and try to look at the energy of the wall.
“The energy patterns of the wall are still chaos,” I tell everyone, “but I see the mural as a painting of bright energy that rests on the chaotic energy of the wall.”
“I can see through those shapes to the rooms behind it.”
“It must be the glow,” I add.
I imagine the glow as a kind of energy spotlight, and I focus the light on the single Feldin image that has no glow.
I see a kind of energy movie.
An energy image of the one Feldin swims across the wall, from its mural, until it reaches the opening to the fountain, about twenty feet away.
Then the energy image returns to its place and stops moving.
I tell the others what I see.
“Do it,” says Shazira.
“What?” I ask.
“Take the shape of the Feldin,” she says, “and imitate its movement along the wall.”
I flow into the shape of the Feldin.
What a wonderful creature!
It has powerful energy eyes, and can glide easily along the web.
I see the energy of things so much brighter and clearer than ever before.
Even when I try to close my energy eyes, the edge of the physical bodies of my friends glow and burn with the energy that’s there.
No wonder the Feldin glow, even in the physical world!
Look at how the energy world glows before them!
Now, the images of the mural are visible to me as energy images that won’t stay in their place, but move playfully along the wall.
I’m distracted for a few moments by the sight.
Then, I glide along the energy web from mural to mural, from darkness to opening, with a swimming motion.
As I move, the wall between the murals gets more transparent, and the inner room sharper.
I stop and turn toward my family.
“We saw through the wall,” says Shazira.
“Repeat the movement several times.”
“Maybe that will open the wall.”
I try it, but it’s the same every time.
“Not enough,” I tell her, as I change back.
“All of us,” suggests Berek, as he gets undressed, and changes into the Feldin form.
We leave our clothes by the wall, and I transform myself and the others.
The world explodes with light, as we all shine, and light up the energy world around us.
Shazira wiggles herself along the ground until she reaches me.
Her glow, and the glow of the others fills me with waves of pleasure, and clouds my thoughts.
It’s difficult to think when I’m near my family, and feeling their glow.
The Feldin seemed intelligent, but how do they communicate?
Do they shape messages using the glow?
We’ve taken their form, and their natural ability to glide on the web, but the others don’t realize it.
I build mind links, at the surface of our minds, with me at the center, so we can hear each other’s thoughts.
Then I tell them what I’ve done.
“Follow me,” I add.
“Your bodies can glide on the web.”
Tzina and the others take a few minutes to experiment with the natural strength within them.
“It’s wonderful, ina,” she says, as she finds the rhythm.
They follow my lead, and the six of us complete the swimming movement together, between the two murals.
The wall turns fully transparent while we swim, but remains in its place.
“We’re close to the answer,” says Balshown.
“I know it.”
I lead the others to hover in the air, between the two murals.
Then I scan the world around us, looking for a clue about what to do next.
The wheel of patterns still spins by the opening mural.
I shape a second wheel, by the mural of darkness, and start it spinning.
Our glow fills the space between the two murals as a bright cloud.
The wheels pull at the cloud, until it forms a stream of energy that circles between the two wheels, and around us.
The wall remains solid, but turns transparent, covered by the glow.
“Balshown and Makish stay here,” I tell them.
“The rest of you, follow me, as we swim again, along the web.”
“No,” says Tzina.
“Swimming is for water!”
“Can swimming match this?”
She glides gracefully along the web in a complex movement, using the Feldin body’s natural instincts, and then returns to hover in the air.
“You’re right,” I answer, and glide powerfully, quickly, from one mural to the other, in a circle around Balshown and Makish, letting my energy and my glow, mix with the web.
The others follow me, and I feel the wall start to weaken.
The energy image of the dark Feldin fills with the glow, and the wall opens.
A strong wind rises up and pushes us through the opening.
At the last moment, I pull our clothes and packs in with us, and we land hard on the floor.
I change us back into our Jiku shapes, and we get dressed.
The light in the room is as bright as daylight.
It streams into the room through a crystal ceiling that reminds me of the Watchtower.
Even with all that light, and my energy sight, the world seems dark, without Feldin eyes.
I glance around the room.
The furniture looks like nothing I’ve ever seen, but I feel strangely at home here.
This is a room meant for comfort, a place to meet, relax, and talk.
“Sit,” says a voice that surrounds us.
We hesitate briefly, and look at each other, but Shazira grabs my robe, and pulls me down.
The others soon follow.
A three-dimensional image of Captain Shilann appears before us.
Berek stares, fascinated.
“Greetings friends, says the captain.
“I’ve waited for you for a long time.”
He laughs at his own words.
“I wish that I was really here to see this day, but what you see is only a memory of me.”
The image walks towards us and sits down in a chair facing us.
“The walls,” he says, “were designed so that they would not open for a thousand years.”
“After the waiting is over, the walls will only open with an unsual combination of skills, foretold by a Dream Hunter.”
“When we crashed on this world, none of the energy priests survived.”
“The Bizra found the talented among us, and taught them to see the great web.”
“No priests,” they told us.
“Knowledge must be taught to all who will use it wisely.”
“The artifact is different,” they said.
“Deadly and dangerous!”
“Hide it away.”
“We didn’t listen.”
“Our understanding of the energy world grew quickly.”
“We used our technology, and our energy knowledge to manipulate our bodies in many ways, and extend our life.”
“Our improved bodies lived strong for centuries.”
“We were few, and the world was large.”
“Time could have filled the world with Jiku, but we were impatient.”
“We produced children in artifical wombs, cared for by intelligent machines.”
“Our population grew rapidly, and built great cities.”
“We were content, but we always kept one eye on the sky, waiting for our enemies to return.”
“We learned to use technology to manipulate the great web.”
“Our masters learned to let their minds travel, and brought home knowledge from many worlds, collected into a great library.”
“When we opened the artifact, and harnessed its power, not far from here, one hundred Bizra appeared.”
“Disaster is coming,” they warned.
“They insisted that we build this city to hold the library and the artifact.”
“They placed the artifact in a remote part of the city, and surrounded it with a chamber, that they called the Heart Fountain.”
“The chamber is a bridge, a way for individuals to connect with the artifact.”
“It gave some of us visions, but few survived for long after entering the chamber.”
“When we first arrived on this world, I led the Jiku, but after a century, I grew tired of the politics and arrogance.”
“I abandoned the cities, and sought the peace of the forest and sea.”
“The Bizra would not let me rest in my exile.”
“They asked me to return when this city when was built, to manage the library.”
“It was peaceful here for many years.”
“Then, when I was four hundred years old, war found us, again.”
“The masters in the city left to join the war, on one side or the other.”
“Only this city was completely untouched by the war, but there were few of us here, and after the war, they left in search of their families.”
“I was alone with the machines that maintain the city.”
“Is this the end of the world?” I wondered.
“I contacted the Bizra, and asked them for help.”
“Is it too late for us to begin again?” I asked them.
Only one of them would answer me.
It’s too early to begin again, but the time will come, long after your death.
We were wrong to teach the Jiku so much about the energy world.
Your race is too young to carry that knowledge.
“The guilds crumbled after the war.”
“Ordinary Jiku hated the masters, and looked at them as enemies.”
“The masters hated themselves, and searched for a place that would accept them.”
“They asked for help in finding another world, and starting again.”
“The Bizra opened rivers of light between the stars, and the masters traveled those paths, never to return.”
“The web itself was filled with a restlessness that touched the hearts of energy masters, and drove them from our world.”
“Soon, nearly all the masters were gone, and their guilds forgotten.”
“A few Bizra came to the city with the last and the greatest of our Dream Hunters.”
“The Bizra promised that they would bring back some of the energy ways when a few centuries passed.”
“They sealed these walls to protect the city, the artifact, and the library.”
“The Dream Hunter looked into the future, and guided the making of the murals so you might find your way here.”
“When the murals were complete, she disappeared.”
“Of all the Jiku, I remained, alone, in the closed city.”
“I watched, in tears, as the Bizra scanned the knowledge in the library, and destroyed much of it.”
“The remaining knowedge waits for you.”
“When the Bizra were gone, I spent my hours speaking with the guardian, an intelligent machine that watches over the city.”
“She was my only friend in those last quiet days.”
“Someday our enemies will follow us here.”
“The guardian is programmed to send out a warning along the energy web when she detects the approach of the enemy.”
“She will greet you when the message ends.”
“Let her show you the riches of the city, and its weapons, to protect this world from the Fiklow.”
“Blessings to you, my friends.”
“May the city’s knowledge be a benefit to all creation, and bring you peace, not war.”