First Sting

  Weapons Shazira sits next to me as the ship returns to Siksa. We’re quiet, and our spirits rest, together. Dilasa sits on the other side of Shazira, and looks troubled. She turns toward me, and I sense her mind touch, and her fear. “How do we stop the Spiral, ina?” “Don’t you need a plan?” I have no plan, and no words to answer her yet. I gently squeeze Dilasa’s small hand, touch it to my cheek, and look at her. Shazira feels Dilasa’s fear, and looks at my calm eyes. Then she takes Dilasa’s hand, and mine, and presses them to her heart. When she lets go, we are all calm, and I know what to say. “I have ideas, little one, not a plan, but don’t worry.” “The way is waiting for us.” “It just seems out of reach.” “Help me let go and listen, and the…

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Beast

  Orphans Wisten and I walk together, while Makish and the others move among the crowd. On Siksa, we no longer celebrate Sindar’s day, but here, on Sinesu, it’s the happiest day of the year. The town square is filled with every type of food and entertainment. We wander from place to place, enjoying the dance, song, and storytelling. The clothing and the buildings surround us with a rich sea of color, too bright for everyday life. On Sindar’s day, no one would dare dress their buildings in white, black, or grey. The Jiku wear new jewelry and clothing, and abandon last year’s colors and decorations. Everything must be clean, clear, and fresh for the celebration. “Each year,” says Wisten, “the celebration has a different theme, and the whole year carries its name.” “This is the year of peace, and today, every building and every Jiku must wear its mark.”…

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