Visions of Play

 
Story
Music fills an open plaza near one of the river bridges, and bright spheres of colored ice dance in the air, fifty feet above the bridge.
It’s warm in the city, but Mayla spins cool breezes around us to mirror the ice above.

There are crystal tables in the plaza arranged in a small circle, set with food and drink.
We sit and watch and listen, and eat.

I sit on one side of the circle, and the others sit opposite me.
Dilasa sits on Shazira’s lap.
Tzina sits next to her, holding her hand, thrilled to have a little sister.
Balshown and Mayla sit near Shazira.
Berek sits farthest away, unsure how to feel about Dilasa, and her hold on Tzina and me.

The crushing homesickness is gone, and I’ve found my balance again.
A longing for my family still remains, as a gentle ache, reminding me of what’s most important in my life.

Where is Makish?” asks Shazira, pulling me from my thoughts.

“She stayed behind to teach the Jiku, and she’s not coming back.”
“Makish is an important part of our story, Shazira.”
“She’s with an old friend from her youth.”

“Tell the story, ina,” says Dilasa.

I take a long drink.
“You know most of it, little one.”
“You’ve seen my memories, and you were there on Sinesu.”

“I know,” she answers.
“I can’t wait to hear the parts about me!”

We all laugh, and I tell the story.
I could share my memories of the events, and the story would be over in a few moments, but it deserves more.
The story needs to be told slowly.
Still, I begin with a gift of a few memories, so my listeners can feel and see what the places and people of the story are like.

It takes hours to tell it all, and I stop sometimes to take a drink, and pass healing energy into my throat to renew my voice.
Dilasa interrupts to remind me of details that I’ve left out, or to tell what she was feeling at the time.
“Who is telling this story?” I tease her.

We are,” she answers.

When I finish, they’re all quiet for a few seconds.
Eventually, Balshown speaks.

“How will you fight the Spiral, Yagrin?”

“Show them the necklace, Dilasa.”

She pulls the necklace out of her clothing.
It’s a strange crystal that holds a piece of Kralestone.

“Sindar left this necklace for her when she was first born.”
“He told us that this necklace gives Dilasa a special connection to the stars.”
“In Dilasa’s vision she pulls energy from the sun, and uses it to drive away the Spiral.”
“That’s how we’ll fight it, if we need to, but I’m not sure that fighting is the answer.”
“First, I want to try again to communicate.”

“You leave in two weeks?” asks Shazira.

“Yes.”
“Jiku and Fiklow are dying, and if the killing isn’t stopped there, it may spread across the possibility sea.”

 
Dreaming Together
The night comes soon, and I put Dilasa and Tzina to sleep.
Tzina hugs Dilasa tightly.
She loves being the big sister.
“Don’t worry, Ina,” says Tzina, “we’ll sleep in the same bed.”
“She won’t be alone for a second.”

I kiss them both.

“My dreams scare me,” says Dilasa softly, taking my hand.

“If you need me or Shazira,” I tell her, “we’re in the next room.”

When sleep claims me, I’m happy and safe among those I love.
Tonight I feel the world catch me, and hold me in its arms as I sleep.

The fog of sleep clears.
Where did the city go?
Dilasa and I are floating in space, as I enter a lucid dream.
Every sight and sound is sharp, and I feel completely alert.

“Why are you here in my dream, ina?” she asks.

I laugh.
“Maybe it’s my dream,” I suggest, “and you’re visiting me.”

My laugh fades when I feel Dilasa’s presence looking through her eyes, and I hear the words of her mind touch:

We’re awake in the dream together, ina.

This is really her, not a dream.

The open space around us disappears, as a large cube covers us, with walls of clear, nearly invisible crystal.
The floor is soft and warm, and full of cracks.
A dark blue circle waits in the center of the floor, like the entry point to a Dream Hunter’s vision.
Beyond the cube, the universe shrinks, revealing thousands of galaxies, most of them spirals.
The crystal walls turn opaque, and display images and sounds of the consuming storm, the Hikweh, attacking world after world.

“Make it stop, ina!” says Dilasa, as she closes her eyes, and hides behind me.

We’re surrounded with the death cries of intelligent beings who taste the great web.
So many worlds, full of wonder, crushed by the Spiral.

Soon, the cube becomes quiet and clear.

“Open your eyes, Dilasa.”
“The pictures are gone.”

She looks, and is comforted by the empty walls, but only for a few seconds.
“It’s starting again, Yagrin,” she cries, and points.

A single image appears, with a familiar face.
She walks out of the wall, and approaches us.

Dilasa touches her, to see if she’s more than an image.
“You’re here, too, Mayla?”

“Yes, I brought you here.”

“What kind of dream is this?”

“It’s a Dream School.”

“To learn how to dream?”

“No,” answers Mayla, and smiles.
“It’s a special place where a year passes during one night of sleep.”
“You’ll be awake in the school and learn the whole time, and you don’t need to eat.”

“What will we learn here?”

“There are schools to teach weaving, flow, healing, art, war — almost anything you can think of.”

“They all look like this?”

“No.”
“Most schools have buildings with many rooms for learning.”
“This one has no room, only this strange cube.”
“Can you guess what this school is for?”

Dilasa looks at the floor, split into endless fragments, and the blue circle.
“Dream Hunters?”

“Exactly!”
“I made the school look like the gateway to a vision.”

“Why did you bring us here?” I ask Mayla sharply.

“You and Dilasa need intensive training, before you return to Sinesu.”

“You discouraged me from taking the Dream Hunter training!”
“You said it was dangerous, and now you want a child to do it?!”

“It is risky for most Dream Hunters, Yagrin, and deadly for those without the gift, but you and Dilasa will tame the danger, and be safe.”

“How do you know?”

“An old vision tells of your coming here.”

Two Dream Hunters taken into the school of danger.
Black robe and golden belt, little girl with Bizra Eyes.
Two hearts in one gateway, taming the sea of visions.
Great strength, one world, one vision, together.

“No Dream Hunters have ever found a vision together!”
“Who else can this be, but you and Dilasa?”

 
A Familiar Face
“Why now, Mayla?”
“What’s so urgent that you brought us here, tonight, without our permission?”

“A message came in the middle of the night from the Kishla guardians who watch the way to the towers.”
“This is the first time they have ever contacted me!”

“What was the message?”

“Someone entered the cave, and then disappeared.”

“Is that all, Mayla?”
“Did you tell them that it was us?”

“Not you.”
“Someone else followed you, and left a message cube.”
“The guardians retrieved it, and I sent one of my assistants to get it.”

A small disk appears, and hovers in the air.
She places the cube on the disk, where it lights up.
A woman’s voice speaks.

The Spiral attacks Sinesu, a few days from now.
Two Hunters, twin suns, dream together on Siksa.
One is large, black and gold, the other a fierce child.
Only they can save Sinesu.

“A vision?” asks Dilasa.

“A new vision,” says Mayla, “and there no Dream Hunters on Siksa to dream it, except you and Yagrin.”

“Where is it from?” asks Dilasa.

“It must be a message from Sindar,” I suggest.
“There are no other Dream Hunters.”

“That’s not his voice,” says Dilasa.

“There are many ways to use another voice,” I tell her.

“Why would he do that?” asks Dilasa.

“She’s right, Yagrin,” says Mayla.
“He has no reason to hide himself from you.”

“Who did the guardians see, Mayla?”

“A Jiku woman, wearing a master’s robe.”
“They scanned her energy, and it matched her shape.”
“She was no illusion.”

Mayla displays an image of an older woman with piercing grey eyes, holding the cube.

“Is she descended from the masters who left Siksa?”

“The guardians recognize the face, as I do,” says Mayla.
“She looks like Wintu, the greatest Dream Hunter who ever lived.”

“The one who designed the murals?”

“Yes, and the same one whose vision speaks of you training here.”

Quiet fills the Dream School.

I look at Mayla.
“Do you think it’s really her, after all this time?”

“You claim Sindar found a way to sleep outside of time, and you’ve told me of masters who sleep in Tshuan.”
“We can’t be sure who the visitor is, but it seems like she brings us a real vision.”
“She calls you Dream Hunters and speaks of the Spiral.”

“She also calls me a sun, Mayla.”
“It’s a reference to an ancient Fiklow prophecy.”
“She must be a Hunter.”
“No other Jiku would know that Dilasa and I are the suns!”

“She lives in the towers, Yagrin?” asks Dilasa.

“Probably.”

“Sindar told us to hide from the masters at the Towers, and they saw us.”

“Yes, Dilasa.”
“That’s why we can’t trust this woman.”
“What if she and the other masters know that we’ve come to Siksa?”
“The Hunter could mix her actual vision with lies, to lure us back to the towers, where they wait to capture us.”
“Who knows what they want with us?”

“What if the vision is true, Yagrin?” asks Mayla.
“Will you ignore it, and let Sinesu be destroyed?”

I’m filled with a restlessness, a need to reach for answers.
I spread my listener on the web to clear my heart and mind.
Then I call to my inner self, and fill the quiet with a single question: “How do I decide what to do?”

The web fades, and I find myself in a vision.
I’m standing on a blue half dome, facing a sea of fragments.
I breathe out, and a translucent blue wind pours out of me and covers the sea.
The fragments rise up, and form a shell around me, where each fragment is a mirror.
Each mirror is filled with a version of me, each one a little different.
My many selves speak to me from the fragments with a single, strong voice:
“Complete the Dream School training.”
“Find your own words, your own vision, your own truth.”

 
Echoes of Death
I’m sitting, slumped over, when I become aware of the school again.

“Are you all right, ina?” asks Dilasa.

“I had a vision, little one.”
“We have to stay here in the school and complete the training.”
“It’s the only way to discover what we need to do.”

I turn to Mayla.
“Where did you get those images that you showed us?”

“The city was sealed after the energy war, and Shilann and I spent our time studying the contents of the library.”
He spent his time with philosophy and art.”
“I developed more advanced computers, weaponry, power sources, and ships.”
“One of my most exciting breakthroughs was a dramatically faster star drive.”
“The technology was elegant and powerful, but seemingly useless to the Jiku.”
“It gave off so much radiation that it could never be used for a ship with life aboard.”

“Shilann gave me the idea of what to do with the star drive.
“He had an explorer’s spirit, but he was sealed within the city.”
“He never complained, but he often wondered what was beyond Siksa, a small planet in an unexplored universe.”
“Shilann wanted to reach beyond his exile into the unknown.”

“I built hundreds of small ships, equipped with the new star drive, piloted by a powerful, compact artificial intelligence.”
“We launched those probes to explore several galaxies.”
“The ships found intelligent life and language on hundreds of worlds, deciphered the languages, and gathered the writings that each world most treasured.”
“When the probes returned, they also brought us images and sounds of the races they met, many who ride the web as you do.”

“The ships also carried images of death.”
“When you went to sleep, I scanned the probe images looking for evidence of the Hikweh and the Spiral in our own universe.”
“I found evidence from many worlds.”
“The Spiral is here, in this universe.”

“How close is it?” asks Dilasa, frightened.

“Some images are from the edge of this galaxy, little one, very far from here.”
“The rest are from places even more distant.”

“Then we’re safe!”

“I don’t know,” says Mayla.
“The images are hundreds of years old.”
“The Spiral could appear at any time.”

 
Spinning the Gateway
Dilasa is so scared, she can’t catch her breath.
I hug her to calm her down.

“What do we do, ina?” she asks.

“We have to find out when it’s coming.”

I hold her for a few minutes, and she stops crying.
She steps back from me, and wipes away her tears.
“Show us what to do,” she says to Mayla, taking my hand.

“The first lesson will be easy for Dilasa,” says Mayla, “and harder for you, Yagrin.”
“You have to remember to play.”

“Play?!” I ask, incredulous.

“Yes!” she answers.
“The creator plays with possibility, and every world is full of it.”
“Your life, the web, every breath can turn a thousand different ways.”
“Accept it, and fill yourself with the joy of living and discovery.”
“Let all your energy rise up within you, and reach out to meet the possibilities around you.”

“Discover the rules, break them, and make up your own.”
“This is the only way to master the Dream Hunter’s gateway.”

“All we do is play?” asks Dilasa.

“Play is the heart that gives life to a Dream Hunter, but you need action, as well as heart.
“There are skills that you must learn and practice.”
“The first step is to open the Dream Hunter’s gateway.”
“You do this,” she says, “by spinning your energy.”

“Your fire body has seven energy wells, lined up in a row, purple-white on top, and red on the bottom.”
“Imagine the seven energy wells flying away from the rest of your egg-shaped fire body, with the dark blue well at the lead.”
“The dark blue well takes the center, and the other six wells form a ring around it.”
“Shape some of the energy from your fire body into a small dark blue sphere that surrounds the dark blue well.”
“This sphere, and the energy within it powers all your visions.”

Pour the rest of your fire body onto the ring of the six wells, and watch a sparkling, multi-colored torus take shape.”
“The torus is partially transparent, and you can see the six wells within it.”
“Energy radiates back and forth, between the sphere and the torus, like spokes, and your fire body has become a wheel.”
“See it, and feel the energy there.”

“Are you with me?” she asks.

“Yes,” we answer.

“Good.”

“Now, watch the six energy wells move within the torus, around the sphere, at a steady, medium speed.”
“Each of the wells radiates its color in all directions.”
“The empty space on the floor, around the wheel is filled with sparkling bits of the six colors, floating on a dark blue sea.”
“All universes exist outside the wheel, but you can’t see them yet.”

“Let all your energy wells spin, faster and faster, and watch the empty space start to crack, and images appear on each fragment.”
“There are endless fragments, and each is a universe.”

The energy wheel seems to disappear, leaving a solid, dark blue circle on the floor, at the center of the fragments.
I see my body standing on that circle, looking out over the sea of possibility.

“The gateway is open,” says Mayla.
“Now, reverse the steps, and close it”
“Let the energy wells stop spinning.”
“Then return the fire body, and the wells within it, into its traditional shape.”

“Open and close the gateway five times.”
“Let me know when you’re done.”

“Done,” we tell her.

“Now, open your gateways again, and join your minds together.”
“Let’s see if you can combine the gateways.”

I open the gateway and reach out with a mind touch to Dilasa.
“Are you ready, little one?”

“Yes, ina.”

As our minds touch, we see each of us standing on separate gateways.
I nudge my gateway toward hers, and the two meet, and vanish.

“Mayla, the gateways just collapse when our minds come together.”

“I hoped that your gateways would spontaneously combine,” says Mayla.
“Instead, you’ll have to work at it.”

“Break the mind touch,” she says.
“I want each of you to practice opening and closing the gateway one hundred times.”

We continue until the opening and closing come quickly and easily.

“Now what?” I ask Mayla, when Dilasa and I are done.

“I don’t know,” she answers.
“If there’s a way for the two of you to enter a vision together, you’ll have to find it.”

Our minds touch.
“Let’s try one well at a time,” I suggest.

Dilasa shapes the sphere first around her dark blue energy well.
Then, I try to move my well into the sphere.
“Ow,” we both say together, when my well touches the sphere, and the sphere crumbles, leaving our two wells floating near each other.

A deep breath, and we begin again.
We move the two energy wells next to each other, and pour energy from our fire bodies around the two wells to build a single sphere.
The sphere forms for a moment, but then it drifts away like smoke.

“Ina,” asks Dilasa, frustrated, “how do we do it?”

“I don’t know, Dilasa.”

“You do, ina.”
“I feel that you know, somewhere inside you.”

 
Inside
I know that there is a part of me so much wiser than the one who walks and talks, but I always seem to forget this.
I smile, let myself go, and imagine a large group of selves, who all look like me.
We’re laughing and playing together, engaged in a dozen different games.
“Let’s play a listening game,” I say to myself.
“What can we hear, hiding in the silence?”

I play with the words as I think them, imagining them bursting out of some hidden fountain.
I feel their sound and rhythm, and let them dance and fly through my mind.

Several of us play and chase the words through an endless, changing landscape in my mind, as we fly, full of joy.
In the center of the sky I see a shiny, gleaming, black cloud, it’s surface like a screen, covered with images.
I see spinning rivers of energy, and an image from the queen’s birth.

Our energy wells are shaped like the funnel of a tornado, spinning wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.
What if I change them into spinning rivers?

“Watch my energy well, Dilasa, and do what I do.”

I smile and stretch out my dark blue well, like I’m playing with clay or a spring.
Then, I reshape the well into a spinning river, a spiral of energy that gets narrow as it descends.

Dilasa does the same.

“How do we let these rivers play together, Dilasa?”

I watch and wait.
The two rivers wrap around each other, and form a spinning double spiral, wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom, where the two rivers finally touch.
When the bottom of the spirals touch, energy pours out from our fire bodies.
The blue sphere forms by itself, and surrounds the double spiral.

We continue the game.
I let each of my other six wells unravel, like I was pulling on a poorly woven garment.
Each well becomes a spinning, narrowing river.

“Let the rivers dance and wrestle and wander,” I tell Dilasa.
Each pair combines into a double spiral, and dances its way into a ring around the sphere.

Energy from our fire bodies streams through the six spirals, and shapes the semi-transparent, sparkling torus.
The energy wheel is complete, and the gateway forms.
The wheel becomes the blue circle, and the two of us stand together on the circle, holding hands.
A beautiful deep tone rises from the sea of fragments around us.

 
Searching
“We did it, Mayla!” says Dilasa.
“We opened the gateway, together.”

“Great,” answers Mayla, “but do it again.”

“How many times?” asks Dilasa.

“Until I tell you to stop.”
“The first time took you fifteen minutes.”
“Let’s see if you can do it in less than a second.”

We’ll need to practice for weeks to reach that goal, but I look forward to it, at first.
It’s extraordinary to work with the energy wells and open the Dream Hunter gateway, and I love spending time with Dilasa.
Our minds are clearer in the school, so it’s much easier to focus and pay attention than it would be in the outside world.
Still, with all this, and even with being playful in our practice, we can’t maintain our interest and focus for more than a few hours at a time.
We don’t get physically tired, but the repetition makes us dull.

“Can we do something else for a while?” asks Dilasa, after the first few hours of practice,

“Yes,” says Mayla, “but try and use two-thirds of your day for Dream Hunter practice, and use some of the other time to work with the listener.”
“You’ll need precise control of your healing skills for the next part of the training.”

We escape the cube, and fly together to a mountaintop, still within the simulation.

We play games with our listeners, binding their shape and size, letting them come immeasurably close to each other, without touching.
Often, we just relax on the mountain, feel the gentle wind, and sit together without words.
We love the silence, but sometimes, we speak quietly, deep within a mind touch, or fill the mountain top with talk, song, or laughter.

The weeks pass, and finally, Mayla is satisfied with our progress.
Dilasa and I open the gateway in a few seconds, with only a quick mind touch, and barely a thought.
Like always, the fragments, surround us, and go on forever, in all directions.

“Stay in the gateway,” says Mayla.
“You’re ready to look for a vision.”

“Can’t we touch any fragment and get a vision?” asks Dilasa.

“You can,” says Mayla, “but each fragment is a window into its own universe.”
“What good is a vision about a distant reality that you’ll never visit?”

“How do we find our own universe?” I ask.

“It’s hard to locate a single fragment, and dangerous to seek a vision from your own reality, by itself.”
“We look for a small cluster of similar realities that includes yours, never smaller than three.”

“That’s safe?” asks Dilasa.

“Safer, but even with the right cluster, there are an infinite number of visions you could see there.”
“Touch the cluster in the wrong way, and you’ll be overwhelmed with a flood of visions that will drive you insane.”

Dilasa moves closer to me, and takes my hand.
“How do we touch it, Mayla?” she asks.

“Let’s start by finding the cluster.”
“Later, I’ll explain how to get the vision.”

“Raise your listener above you, like a sail.”
“Focus on a question about a specific person or place, and feel your need to know.”
“A wind will rise over the sea of fragments, and carry you near the right cluster.
“Hover there, and spread your listener above the fragments around you, without touching any of them.”
“A group of realities will pull at your listener, but don’t let the listener touch them, yet.”
“Those fragments will seem brighter and thicker.”

She gives us a question to hold in our thoughts and feelings, and Dilasa and I search for the fragments that will answer us.
“Each of you must find the fragments on your own, and only then, compare what you’ve found.”

An hour passes before we locate and agree on the twelve fragments for the first question.
Each time we finish, Mayla gives us another question.
Finally, after days of practice, we’re able to find the target in a few seconds.

“Now, as you remember your question, shape your listener into a spinning stream of energy, and touch the cluster together.”

We touch the first group with our listeners.

Even with a question to focus the vision, there’s still too much information.

“Touch it for only a moment and let go right away.”

We practice, but even with the briefest touch to the fragments, the flood of information is almost painful.

“It’s still too much, ina,” says Dilasa.

“She’s right Mayla,” I add.
“We can barely remember who we are within the river of information.”

“You’re holding on to the energy that carries the information,” she tells us.
“Don’t try to possess it!”
“See it rise up from the fragments like a fountain, and wash over you.”
“Watch as the energy returns to the fragments.”
“Believe and accept that you’ll remember what you need to know.”

After a few attempts, we learn to let go of the energy, and let it move freely.
“So much better,” says Dilasa, when our touch gives us a few images, without burying us.

Mayla works with us to refine our questions, but as the months pass, Dilasa and I begin to practice alone.
We challenge ourselves, asking questions that pull at our emotions, and make it hard to find a stable vision.
Our visions get stronger and clearer, but still there are many that make no sense, and don’t seem to answer our questions.

Mayla rejoins us.
“What if we don’t understand the vision?” asks Dilasa.
“What do we do?”

We decide what to do, with, or without a vision!” I tell her, smiling.
“Remember, the visions are here to guide us, not rule us.”

“Are you ready to ask the questions you came here for?” asks Mayla.

“Not yet,” I tell her.
First, we ask if the Spiral is found in many universes.
The answers we find in our visions are not comforting.

That strange being is all too common in universes with an energy web, stars and intelligent life.
In some universes, it siphons energy from living creatures, but never kills.
In a few, it arrives, but doesn’t spread, vanishing in a flash of overwhelming light.
In still other universes, the Spiral moves from world to world with a growing hunger, until it devours all intelligent life.

“It’s time to ask the one question that you’ve been training for,” says Mayla.
“Keep in mind the universe that Dilasa came from.”

Dilasa and I fill ourselves with the question, and seek the vision.

Will the Spiral attack our Sinesu in the next few days?

We find the fragments we need, and see them glow.
We look at each other, wondering what horrors we might see, and then we touch the fragments together with our spinning listeners.
The vision explodes around us.

Dilasa and I stand again on Sinesu.
Thousands of Hikweh circle around us, and then disappear.
Wisten lies dead, Sinesu destroyed
I’m dying near a pillar of light.
The Jiku live in peace on a fertile world.
The Spiral conquered.

Does the attack come because of me?
I can’t make sense of the contradictory images.
The outcome is uncertain, but one thing is clear.
Sinesu is in danger, and the note from the towers is true.

We continue to practice our skills while we wait for the year in the Dream School, and the long night, to end.
One day, I notice that the far ends of the simulation are starting to shimmer, and I ask Mayla about it.

“It’s almost time to wake,” she says, “and I need to tell you about the vision of the two Dream Hunters.”

“You already told us, Mayla,” I answer.
“That’s why you brought us here, and we learned to find visions together.”

“I didn’t tell you everything, Yagrin.”
“I was afraid you would refuse to train.”

“The end of the vision shows the two of you connecting two fragments in a strange way.”
“You open a tunnel between two different universes.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asks Dilasa.

“A tunnel between Sinesu and Siksa would be wonderful,” I agree.
“We could travel without passing through the possibility sea, or the Towers.”

Mayla looks at me with a serious, troubled expression.
Dilasa and I shiver and fall, as we find another vision.

A reddish gold fire passes between two universes in the possibility sea, as the Balancer watches.
Within the fire is an image of a Jiku face.
The universes are far apart, but at first, the river of fire leaves the sea untouched.
Then, the fire spreads, and engulfs nearby realities.
The balancer reaches out and destroys all the universes touched by this fire.
The image of the Jiku face crumbles to ashes, and the sea is calm again.

“Are you all right?” asks Mayla.

“We had a vision, without seeking it.”

“When visions come spontaneously to Dream Hunters,” she tells us, their bodies often collapse.
“What was the vision?”

“What haven’t you told us Mayla?” I ask her.
“Do we bring destruction to Sinesu and Siksa?”

She hesitates before answering.
“I don’t know which universes you bind together, or the worlds they hold, but those realities will be shattered.”
“A wave will rise in the possibility sea that threatens to destroy all of creation.”

“We saw the same thing, Yagrin!” says Dilasa.

“What does she mean?” asks Mayla.

“We experienced a vision like the one you were told of.”
“Fire passes from one universe to another, and then spreads partway into the possibility sea.”
“The Balancer destroys all the places damaged by the fire, and the rest of the sea is saved.”
“Every reality where Jiku live are lost!”
“You knew of this danger, Mayla, and you still brought us to train in Dream Hunting?!”

“There’s another vision, and another danger that matters more to me,” she says.
“In that one, the two of you refuse to train in Dream Hunting, and wait to return to Sinesu.”
“In that vision, the Jiku of both universes are wiped out by an unseen enemy.”
“We can’t let that happen.”

“What does it matter if Dilasa and I save the Jiku for a few days or years, and then destroy them all?”

“You’ve been warned about the tunnel, Yagrin, like Botzar was warned about the sword.”
“Just because you have the power to destroy, doesn’t mean that you’ll choose to use it!”
“You don’t need the tunnel to save the Jiku.”

The Dream School starts to fade, and I prepare to wake exhausted.
When adults use an ordinary Dream Net to enter the Dream School, it takes days for their bodies to recover.
Children recover much more quickly.

“This is a different sort of Dream Net,” says Mayla, “that doesn’t weaken the physical body.”
“You’ll awake refreshed and strong.”

I awake in a large round bed, in our room with green crystal windows.
It’s just before first light, and only a dim glow comes through the windows.
Time to greet the sun.
Shazira is already awake, and listening to birds singing just outside our window.

The song eases the dark thoughts that come back with me from the school.
Nothing has really changed since the vision of the four brothers, ages ago.
Destruction follows Dilasa and me like a shadow, as it followed my brothers.
We walk along a narrow path between disaster and wonder.


Echoes of War -- 4: Dances of WarPrevious StoryNext Story
  1. Paths of the Towers
  2. Stardust Rising
  3. Visions of Play
  4. Star Voice
  5. Star Shadow
  6. First Sting
  7. Oceans of Fire and Light
  8. Death Cry
  9. Awakening

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