My body is as light as the wind, as we race through the sky.
The Krale are gone, and the Bizra will soon return to these skies and the streets of our cities.

The world feels endless, rich with freedom and possibility.
Until thoughts of the future return, and weigh me down.

The prophecies of war.
The conflicting messages of good and evil, associated with the seven towers.
Freeing the old ones.
The sleepers, and the armies and ambitions of Tshuan.
Most troubling of all is the voice that calls me from within the closed city, warning … Read more

Fields of War

Barren Lands
Chiwan is not home when I arrive, but I find a message waiting for me.

“Find me, Yagrin, before you release the old ones.”

How does he know?
Did Shazira contact him?

I check the timestamp on the message, and discover that the message was recorded an hour before I left the Watchtower.

The message continues.

Cross two green hills, traveling southeast.
Fly ninety miles straight east, until you reach the barren lands.
Continue northeast for five miles across the barren lands, until you come to a waterfall that feeds a small lake.
At the bottom of

Read more

Golden Circle

First Circle
I touch the beautiful polished stone of the training circle.
Unchanged in a thousand years.

The circle is quiet.
Chiwan and I stand here alone, far below ground, in the immense cavern.
The stone circle is warm, and the air sweet.

Chiwan knows of twenty training patterns out of hundreds, or thousands.
The topics include strategy, martial arts, weapons, energy shields.

“How long is each training session, master?” I ask.

“At least two hours,” he answers, “but it continues until you end it, or your strength fails.”

“Why can’t we use use healing skills to renew the … Read more

Spinning Sword

Flying High
We fly together from the barren lands toward Tshuan.
You can see a person’s heart by watching how high they fly.

Some fly close to the ground, just high enough to clear obstacles.
They fly, but they’re afraid that if they get too far from the ground, they’ll never be able to return to their life on the ground.

Other Jiku fly higher — one, two, three thousand feet high.
They enjoy the height and the view, but flying is just a way to get to a destination.

Then there are the Jiku who fly as high … Read more

Far Away

Last Vat
Keela and Chiwan walk with me through the clearing, with the hills of Tshuan high around us.
The warm, moist climate nourishes the hills like a caring mother, and fills them with life.

Wicol, thick, and deep green, rises along the hills.
Later in the year, each plant will blossom with dozens of tiny flowers, and the hills will turn a rich purple and white.

The clearing below is covered with tall golden grass that whistles in the light wind.
A few red bushes rest, almost hidden in the grass.

I’m hunting for one of the … Read more

Walls of Light

My Bizra body is so far away.
I see it floating in the vat, but I can’t reach it.

When I was an old one, it was easy to wake up from the vat.
Not this time.

I hear Niyta calling me, and I start to feel my body.
My eyes won’t open, but the voice helps to clear the fog that fills my mind.

I feel the shock of something cold, and struggle to catch my breath.
Finally, I feel my face clearly, and open my eyes.

It takes another minute before I’m in control of the … Read more

Stone Rising

The Eighth Hill
My Jiku eyes adjust quickly to the bright sunlight.
It’s wonderful to see the sky again, and this open, endless world, but I turn my attention back to freeing the old ones.
They don’t have much time.

I scan the hills around me, looking for a place to grow another hill.

Six of the hills form a ring, a mile wide, with the seventh hill at the center of the ring.
The top of the center hill is a hundred feet shorter than the other hills, with a flat top, called the clearing.

Keela’s guards … Read more

Sword, Sheath, and Shield

Makish and I land on the deck of the Watchtower outside the healing room.
As I walk through the door, Tzina hugs me tightly.

“I missed you so much, ina,” she says.

I smile at her.
“I was only gone for a day!”

“I know,” she says, “but I was lost in my head so long, before you saved me.”
“I want to be near you and oodah.”

“How is Berek?” I ask her.

“Calmer,” she says.
“He’s getting used to the idea that you’re his father.”

“How does he like having a sister?”

“Ina, he and I … Read more

Children of War

Forever Young
Berek and I wear the same style party robes, but in different colors.
I’m not used to so much color, but it’s common in Tshuan.

This elegant pattern of cobalt blue, gold, and black caught me, the moment I first saw it.
The fabric weighs almost nothing.

Why am I here at this party?
To walk around in beautiful clothing?
To enjoy the king’s attention?

I’m here to help the sisters, and understand more about Tshuan, and what role it will play in the coming time of war.

Keela approaches me, looking troubled.
“How long until … Read more

A Wave of Flowers

Dream Stage
“The dream begins,” announces a woman’s voice.
The stadium lights dim, and we find ourselves in a large cave filled with fog.

“What is this, Keela?” I whisper.

“Illusion, Master Yagrin.”
“The stadium is still here, but you can’t see it.”

“The performers have built a stream of three-dimensional images and experiences which fill every corner of the stadium.”
“They call it the dream.”

The fog clears, and we’re in one of the vat rooms in the cave of the old ones.
Three old ones rise from the vats, and walk toward the door.
As we … Read more