Fading Light

The world rejects us, as we hover in the sky above the city.
Lightning, thunder and rain are everywhere.
The storm tries to crush us, and take us down.

Dilasa grabs hold of me, frightened by the raw energy.
“We’re safe little one,” I tell her, “as long as we stay within my shield.”

She still holds me tightly, pretending to be an ordinary little girl.
I see past the fear, and remember the one who calls down the strength of the stars.
A few days ago, she was covered in courage, and saved me from the Spiral.… Read more

Waking the Council

Forgotten Memories
Shazira and I take back the tower at first light from Berek’s parents.
In the heart of the summer, even the night brings no relief from the heat.
Dark clouds cover us, and the air is thick with humidity.
The lightning storms will reach us soon.

We dance the greeting to the sun, and then the four of us sit together in the Dreaming Room for a private breakfast.
There are always visitors in the tower, and my words are not for them.
The three children join us, but sit at another table, ten feet away.
I … Read more

Challenging the Guilds

Mind Weavers
I find it easy to locate Jiku over twenty years old with Bizra eyes, even half a world away.
They have a unique energy.
The energy is more chaotic in children and harder to find.
Besides, it’s extremely rare to find young ones with Bizra eyes that have the mental strength to be Mind Weavers.

There are thirty-nine adults.
Dilasa flies with me, as we visit them all, in secret.
Many are tied up, restrained by their friends or family to keep them from harming themselves or others.
These women suffer from the web’s sickness more than … Read more

Caves of Dreams

Wild Child
Dilasa has a scowl on her face as we walk out of the council hall.
“They’re not wise or brave, ina,” says Dilasa, spreading her arms wide.
“Why do you follow them?”

“They’re the council, Dilasa, the leaders of the guilds, not some random group of Jiku.”
“Can’t you listen quietly for a few minutes, even when you disagree?”
“You acted like a child in there.”

“I am a child,” she answers softly.
“I’m only six years old.”

Crystal Paths

The Last Vision
I wake in the tower to the sound of Dilasa’s screams.
Shazira is up and holding her.

For a moment, half-asleep, I wonder why Dilasa is with us in the Dreaming Room.
Only the guardians sleep here.
Their children stay with relatives, or sleep in the common rooms of the tower, like any visitors.
The tower is quiet at night, with few visitors, and plenty of space.

Then I remember.
The world has changed, and those quiet nights are gone.
The madness is everywhere, brought on by the damaged web.
Guild members are protected with mind … Read more

Worlds Within Worlds

The bed is hard, and my head aches as sleep leaves me.
A groan escapes my lips.
I can’t remember who I am, or how I got here.
My heart beats quickly as fear takes hold of me.
Then I take a deep breath and clear my thoughts to push aside the fear.
I sit up slowly, and find a large room with five beds, all empty except for mine.

There’s a young girl at the far end of the room.
She offers me a drink of water, but avoids looking me in the eyes.
“Are you all … Read more

Black Fountain

Dreams of Power
The inner cave is warm and soft when my awareness returns.
I think that I’m lying in a bed until I open my eyes.
I’m resting on a spongy material that looks like crystal, but sinks down under my weight.
A thick colored mist floats over my body like a blanket.
I feel surprisingly safe, protected, like I’m in a nest, with someone watching over me.

I sit up when I think of my family, and the crystal begins to stiffen.
Where are they?
Were we attacked?

I feel their presence, but I can’t touch their … Read more

Secrets of the Game

Games of Fire and Ice
While we eat, and during the blessing that follows, Tzina’s face is troubled.
She takes me aside and whispers, “Ina, I need to speak with you alone.”

“Open your mind shield,” I tell her, “and I’ll touch your thoughts.”

“Let’s go to your circle, away from the others.”
“I need to get out of my head.”

I tell everyone that we’ll be back soon, and we glide to my circle.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, as we land.

“There’s a lot about MindTwisting that you don’t know.”

“Show me.”

“MindTwisters call the dreams that … Read more

Fast and Slow

Night is the same as day, here in the cave.
Only our inner clocks tell us that the day is gone.
Every Jiku knows whether it’s morning, evening, or night, even in a dark place, with no clues from the sun.
We always know the exact hour and minute.

Time is twisted when we enter or leave a simulation, when we transport from one part of the world to another, or when we move between worlds.
Still, a few seconds later, the inner clock finds its way.

I welcome the peace that night brings, but Dilasa doesn’t want … Read more

Slavery and Death

Little Clouds
“Continue the training, Tzina,” I tell her.
“It’s time for us to enter the network.”

“Not yet,” she answers, “but my fire twin will join you briefly for the next step.”
Tzina and Shazira go back to their nests, and I send Berek away.
I don’t want him to watch while I dissolve my body.

I flow it into water and air.
The pattern body disappears a few minutes later.
The change happens so quickly that there’s no pain, but I’m disoriented for a moment.
Then, I’m filled with sadness, a sense of loss, and the smell … Read more