The rain surrounds me as I fly, but doesn’t touch me.
I reach Balshown before first light, and we dance the greeting together.
“The guild will waste my morning,” he says, as he prepares breakfast.
“Come back for a few hours in the late afternoon.”
“What do they want with you?”
He turns and looks in my eyes.
Balshown hides little from me.
“They want to hear about your training.”
“What will you say?”
“I’ll tell them what they expect to hear, that I’ve been following their orders.”
“They told me to teach you little, sabotage your efforts, and tell you that it’s hopeless.”
“Why don’t you follow their orders?”
“I hate being told what to do,” he tells me, with a mischievous smile.
Then his face turns serious.
“I take my own measure of someone, and ignore the opinions of fools.”
“If you were still like the old Yagrin, I might have listened to them, but you’re different.”
“Quiet, strong, patient.”
“You have your faults like all of us, but you learn what I teach you amazingly fast.”
“Other knowledge finds you on its own, and the Bizra have a strange interest in you.”
“Do you believe me, master, that I’ve crossed the possibility sea?”
“I do,” he says.
“It’s the only way to explain what I’ve seen in you.”
“The guild is blind and worried.”
“They’ve heard reports of your healing and your power, yet they refuse to believe that you belong here.”
“There has never been a known traveler within the guild, let alone one who guards the Watchtower!”
“Most Jiku, including the guild, believe that travelers are unholy creatures, body thieves and murderers.”
“They’re not completely wrong.”
“There are travelers who steal bodies.”
“Even if the guild believes the vision, what does it mean?”
“The vision about you is unclear.”
“Brother of destroyers.”
“They fear you, and maybe they’re right.”
“What should I do?”
“Focus on the training.”
“I’ll tell them that you have talent and work hard, but you will never be ready in time.”
“Is it true?”
“Time is short, Yagrin, but I believe that it’s possible for you to be ready.”
I leave Balshown, and fly.
When my spirit is troubled, the fast movement sets me free.
I fly to a mountain top, and find a clear place where I can run to the edge.
I let the running fill me.
Then I leap off the cliff, catch the energy web, and fly fast and wild.
I fly with no goal, and no destination.
Then I reach out to the energy web, and speak to it.
“Old friend, play with me today.”
“Take me where I need to go.”
Often, I fly far over the ocean, but not today.
My heart leads me far inland.
I recognize the circle of six tall hills, surrounding the seventh shorter hill, the center of Tshuan hill country.
The Tshuan don’t like outsiders, and the seven hills are sacred land to them, that holds spirits and secrets.
I find a place to land beyond the seven hills, and rest.
I finger the black necklace I wear, hidden within my shirt, another mystery that haunts me.
On this world, black stone is extremely rare.
Jiku believe that the stone is a curse.
Most know of black rock only through stories of the monstrous Krale and their bodies of black stone.
It’s more than a story to me.
My necklace has a chain of black metal, and carries a piece of black obsidian.
Obsidian is a sharp volcanic glass, born in fire.
My piece is carved in the shape of a double arrow, a teaching stone, given to me twenty five years ago on Earth.
Travelers move as energy.
It’s impossible for them to carry anything solid.
Everyone knows that.
Still, the stone followed me to this world.
The healers found it under my robe when I almost died at the last moon.
Shazira took it from them, and gave it back when I recovered.
“Sight of the black stone,” she said, “will bring you fear and hatred.”
“If you must wear it, keep it hidden.”
So, I still hide it beneath my clothes.
Balshown told me that in Tshuan black stone brings honor.
When I healed the child of the Tshuan woman, she gave me a pouch with a rare nut.
There was also a fragment of black rock in that pouch.
There are small bits of the black rock, here in Tshuan country,and they are highly prized.
The Tshuan call them Kralestone.
I rise high above the hills, and let myself feel the wild energy that lies within me.
Beyond all form, even beyond the energy web itself.
My skin tingles, and a field of blue sparks rises and falls around me in the shape of an egg.
This field of sparks surrounds me every day as I fly.
The faster I fly, the more sparks.
I fly in circles and loops above the many hills.
Faster and faster.
When my speed becomes too fast for my thoughts to watch over me, I abandon thought, and let my energy mind control my flight.
Unburdened by thought, that mind moves faster than my body can ever move.
I only learned to harness the energy mind a few days ago.
I open my energy sight until the world is all energy.
Then I reach energy hands into the green sphere of energy at the heart of the energy body.
My heart is filled with a simple intention.
“Protect us, as we fly.”
A small sphere rises, almost invisible except for an occasional sparkle, or colorful mist.
I feel that it’s there, and I fly, faster than my conscious mind can follow.
Today when I reach this speed, I see great bolts of blue lightning.
They begin at the edge of the field of blue sparks, and reach to the hills below.
This lightning does not burn and blacken the ground where it touches.
Instead there is a great burst of color, like a brief rainbow.
After a while, I rest.
Balshown showed me a map, and told me of a series of unusual caves.
The caves pass completely through a series of twisted hills.
The Tshuan shun these caves.
Filled with ghosts of their ancestors.
I locate the area, and scout out the caves.
They are twenty feet tall from one end to the other, and surprisingly free of any obstacles.
The caves are too regular, more like man-made tunnels, than caves.
Still, diving down from the sky, and flying through these caves at high speeds will challenge my flying skill.
Even with the help of my energy mind.
Today, I feel a need to challenge myself.
I rise high in the sky and prepare to dive.
A dozen yells stop me.
There are twelve teenage boys chasing a girl through the air.
I’m a couple of hundred feet above them, so they don’t notice me yet.
A silver ball flies in front of her, and zig-zags from side to side, difficult to catch.
The ball dives into one of the caves, and the girl follows, with the boys right behind her.
These young ones have no fear of the spirits.
I enjoy watching them fly, but their flying is strange to my energy eyes.
I fly by binding my energy to the web.
They fly with their armbands, a device that creates its own energy field, and takes hold of the web.
The silver ball exits the hill on the opposite side of the cave, and rises in my direction.
I’m happy when it seems that the game will pass right by me, until I realize that the ball is flying right at me.
The Princess and the Rescue
I dart a few hundred feet to the side, too fast for any eye to follow, much faster than the Tshuans are flying.
The ball adjusts automatically, and continues to aim for me.
I fly in fast circles, but the ball still follows.
The players have stopped trying to catch the ball, and hover, watching me.
I let the blue sparks loose and watch as the blue lightning strikes the ball.
The ball stops, then races toward the ground.
The girl presses her metal armband a few times.
When nothing happens, she flies after the ball.
It’s too fast for her to catch.
I dive for the ball, and soon pass her.
I grab the ball, fifty feet above the ground, unsure of how I will hold it.
When I grasp it, it stops moving, and clings to my hand.
The ball is made of the same silver metal found in the Watchtower.
It’s covered with symbols I don’t recognize.
The thirteen players land around me.
The girl gently pulls the ball away from me, and sets it on the ground.
“How dare you,” says the tallest boy, raising his arm to strike me.
“Only the royal family can touch the king’s ball.”
The girl steps in front of the boy and gives him a sudden kick which lands him on his back.
He rises, apparently unhurt.
“Quiet, Tzeeko,” the girl says.
“He means no harm, and besides, did you see how the ball chases him?”
“He tames it without the armband!”
I look at the armband she wears.
It’s decorated with the same symbols that cover the ball.
“I’ve read stories of masters who have such power,” she says, “but my father says that no one has done this in hundreds of years.”
“I’m Keela,” she says,” and bows her head slightly toward me.
“Princess Keela,” corrects one of the boys.
She gives him an annoyed look.
I pull the black necklace out of my shirt.
They all back away from me in shock when they see the necklace, all except the girl.
“Can you believe the arrogance,” shouts one of the boys.
“He steals the necklace, then shows it to us!”
“It’s not the necklace,” says Keela.
“There’s no royal symbol on the stone.”
They come closer and verify what she says.
“In my father’s home,” she explains, “there is an ancient necklace that looks like this one.”
“The boys assumed that you stole it.”
“Princess,” says one boy, “you can’t fault us.”
“Except for the bits of Kralestone, everyone knows that the necklace is the only black rock in the world.”
She looks at my robe.
“You’re some sort of master, aren’t you?”
“Yes, an energy weaver.”
Then she notices the symbol on the collar – an embroidered image of the Watchtower.
“You’re one of the guardians!”
“Are you the traveler?”
I nod, gravely.
“We’ve heard of you.”
“Father will be thrilled to meet you, and to examine your necklace.”
“You’ll find that we have a different view of travelers in Tshuan.”
“Many of our people, including the royal family are descended from Jiku that were touched by travelers.”
Keela flies next to me, as we go to meet her father, with the others behind us.
“Master Yagrin,” she asks, “where does your necklace come from?”
“I brought the stone with me, when I traveled here from another world.”
She stops flying for a moment and faces me.
Almost in a whisper she says “legend says that our necklace came to the world in the same way.”