The world feels broken today, as I wake, but what does it mean?
Usually, I love greeting the sun, but now I have to push my way through it.
I eat almost nothing for breakfast.
“Are you sick, Yagrin?” asks Shazira.
“You barely eat, and your smile is gone.”
I scan my body with the listener, searching for sickness or injury, but my life energy burns strong.
The answer is somewhere outside of me.
“I’m not sick,” I tell her, “but I have to find out what’s wrong.”
I sit in the healing room, and spread my listener on the web, searching for the imbalance that pulls at me.
The calm of the web settles over me, and my energy bodies brighten.
The listener can’t touch the whole web, only an area of a few miles, and within that distance, it finds no answers.
Still, I hear a whisper deep inside, that someone bound to me is dying.
Shazira and the children are safe in the tower.
Who else could it be?
I let go of the web, and search for another way to touch the health of my friends.
I look at my fire body with energy eyes, and my heart well brightens as I focus on it.
The seven wells within us are filled with strength, and the heart well is the strongest of all, and the source of balance.
I pour the image of Chiwan’s energy body into the well,and let the listener spin around that energy image.
I can’t see Chiwan, but the listener helps me sense where he is, and feel his balance.
I fill the well with energy images of the Tshuan royal family, Keela and her father.
They are all safe and whole.
My heart speeds up as I think of Balshown.
I imagine his energy body, and spin the listener again.
Nausea assaults me.
Balshown is in trouble, on Dusal, an island seventy miles away.
My attention returns to the room, and I see Shazira waiting for me.
“I have to go to Dusal,” I tell her.
“Balshown is seriously hurt.”
“Yagrin,” says Shazira, “several healers were called to Dusal yesterday to treat a strange injury.”
“The guild says that a master lies dying from a battle with Krale.”
I run out of the Dreaming Room onto the deck, leap over the railing, arms wide, and rise quickly along the energy web.
Bursts of energy pass through me like flashes of lightning, and my hands glow as I fly.
There are no storms today.
The ocean far below is unusually calm, and the skies strangely empty of birds.
Soon Dusal appears, a large island with a single town.
A dozen weavers guard the airspace around the island.
On the ground, another twenty masters guard the town.
The central square is guarded, and I see the occasional flash of a travel platform.
Three of the weavers approach, and block my way.
They look at the three bands on my robe, and the mark of the Watchtower.
Then they scan me with energy eyes.
“Welcome brother Yagrin,” says the eldest.
“This is a guarded area, by order of the council.”
“What’s your business here?”
“Is it true that Master Balshown was hurt in a battle with Krale?”
“I’ve come to help.”
“If you’ve come as a healer, there are already too many here.”
“Still, you can help us.”
“We need weavers and flow masters to help guard the island.”
I pretend to agree, to get past them without fighting, but I won’t stand around as Balshown dies.
“I’d like to guard the building he’s in.”
“It’s the large building to the north of the town square.”
I find the building easily.
Then I land and walk up the stairs to the entrance.
My footsteps echo through the square.
The town is unusually quiet.
Many have fled, or hide indoors.
Another weaver guards the building entrance, and the masters have erected energy barriers around the building.
I can’t force my way in.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “but no one else is permitted to enter.”
“It’s dangerous to be near the master.”
“I’m not allowed to speak of it.”
“Is master Balshown conscious?”
“Yes, but he’s in great pain.”
“Tell him that Yagrin is here.”
The weaver sends an apprentice to tell Balshown.
The apprentice returns and whispers to the master.
“There’s a message for you,” says the master.
“The healers have been trying to help him all night, and they’ve done nothing.”
“He’s sent everyone out of the room, so he can die alone.”
“There’s a package at the guild office for you, to be given to you after his death.”
“He’s as stubborn as ever,” I say aloud.
I dissolve my outer bodies, leaving only my fire.
The energy barriers cannot keep me out in this form.
I find the room he’s in.
Several healers are outside his door, still searching for a way to help, and there’s a weaver guarding the door.
He barely has time to see my fire body, before I pass through the door, and face Balshown.
I never thought of Balshown as old, until now.
He’s covered in blankets below his neck, and looks like he can barely lift his head from the pillow.
I reshape my Jiku body, and clear my throat.
“I told you that I must be alone,” he says, without looking up.
“I have nothing left to say.”
The weaver who was guarding the door enters.
“Forgive me, master Balshown,” he says.
“I couldn’t stop him.”
“What happened?” I ask Balshown.
“Yagrin?” says Balshown, raising his head weakly, before it falls back to the pillow.
“Yesterday I was visiting this island to see some recently discovered ancient ruins.”
“There were a dozen children playing, not far from the site.”
“There are large metal steps that descend into the ground, and into a great cave.”
“When the cave was first found, it it was completely filled with large chunks of a strong crystal.”
“When a master uses energy to transform one object into another, the transformation is rarely perfect.”
“Often, there are fragments of the original energy pattern which tells us what the original substance was.”
“I examined the stones, and saw that they were not natural, but transformed from air.”
“I moved the stones away, gliding them along the energy web to an empty field, for later study.”
“An inner tunnel was exposed, and I felt something rising from deep in the earth long before I saw it.”
“It was like a moving hole in the energy web.”
“It felt like death, and I knew I had to destroy it.”
“I tried to flow it into air.”
“It was protected against transformation, but I damaged it.”
“A sphere of black crystal flew out of the cave, with the shape fading in and out of existence.”
“I tried again to flow it into air, and it disappeared.”
“If you destroyed it, how did you get injured.”
“When I touched its energy to destroy it, it poisoned me somehow.”
“How can your flow work on something black, Balshown?”
He ignores the question, and a few of the healers re-enter the room.
One of them lifts up the blankets to show me Balshown’s leg.
It’s a horrible combination of stone and greyish flesh.
The healers have tried to cut it off, at Balshown’s request, but no blade can scratch it.
Even the hair on his head can’t be cut.
“Was it Krale?”
“I don’t think so, but my leg is turning into Kralestone, same as Jiku that are struck with the Krale’s black lightning.”
“I get weaker as it spreads.”
“Two or three days and my whole body will turn, but I’ll be dead in a few hours, when the stone reaches my organs.”
I want to heal him,, but my listener can’t find the way to disperse the energy poison.
Healing energy is useless, and I can’t restore his balance.
Balshown sees my attempts, and my frustration at failure.
“It’s all right, Yagrin.”
“No one can help me now, but I’m still glad that you came.”
My throat feels tight and heavy, and I’m suddenly short of breath.
I focus on the tension, planning to dissolve it, but then I stop.
There’s something else here, a gift and a message.
I look at my body with energy eyes.
The energy well in my throat is glowing, brighter than ever, and I see a spinning torus of energy around the well.
A distant voice within me speaks.
There are no words, only feelings.
There’s someone I need to become, something I must do, a connection that I must build with the world outside of me.
My hand rises to my neck, and lingers on the Adam’s apple.
I need to embrace the power and potential of my voice, and set it free.
My listener awakens and touches the torus of energy that surrounds the well.
My healing eyes find a strange place, an enclosed stone sphere, covered with a blue and violet crystal.
It’s not a cavern or cave on an asteroid or planet, but an isolated space, surrounded, not by a universe of stars, but by endless light.
I see myself there, a fire body, an egg of energy.
I radiate light, and extend my energy to the edges of the sphere.
I have no mouth, but my voice sounds: “Let all forces be gathered to heal Balshown.”
The sphere fills with a deep red energy, thicker and thicker, stronger and stronger.
My fire body fills with the energy, and then I’m back with Balshown.
There’s no longer a tightness in my throat, but a great pressure, a wave that must find release.
I throw my head back, and an immense, deep sound like thunder bursts from my throat.
As the sound fills the room, the energy rises from my throat like a fountain and washes over Balshown.
I’m barely aware of my surroundings, but I feel the room shake, as the healers bend over in pain and cover their ears.
Ten seconds later I black out.
Someone shakes me awake.
“Are you alright?” asks one of the healers, a tall apprentice with no beard.
I stand up easily.
“Fine,” I answer.
“Was anyone else hurt?
“It was incredibly loud, but no one was hurt.”
“Even our hearing was undamaged.”
“What did you do?” he asks.
I hear myself say, “throat thunder.”
The rest of the healers are clustered around Balshown.
“Come,” says Balshown loudly.
His eyes are glowing with energy, and his hair has turned from white to black.
“I feel strong,” says Balshown as he swings his healthy legs over the side of the bed and stands up.
He catches sight of himself in a small mirror and notices the black hair.
“Not bad for two hundred fifty years old, eh Yagrin?”
I nod, hesitant to speak for a moment, afraid that every word will be thunder.
Then I decide.
Test it. Make it work.
Thunder will not be timid.
“You look strong, Balshown, but then you always did.”
My words are powerful, full of a different energy, but not thunder.
I’m fully connected with my voice, letting my strength and dreams move through my voice and light the world.
The healers surround me.
“What did you do?” asks one of the masters.
“The thunder,” I tell them, “is just another way to deliver energy.”
“I used voice and sound to move energy, instead of the dance of hands.”
“If used properly, the voice has more power than the hands to move energy.”
“Do the words you say in the thunder matter?” asks a tall apprentice.
“What words?” I ask.
They all look at each other.
“When you released the thunder,” says the apprentice, “there were words.”
I am thunder, and I will heal today.
I feel a shiver go through me.
The throat well opens, and a fullness builds again in my throat.
I close my mouth, and quickly fly out of the building and into the sky.
I go far from land, and high in the sky.
I thank the creator for life and mystery, and welcome the thunder into my whole body.
Then I release it again, and hope that I don’t black out this time.
I feel awake and strong, and hear the words call out, “I am thunder.”
The sky answers with bolts of lightning that rise from the ocean and strike in a circle around me.
Three Kishla approach from the north.
When they reach me, they fly in a wide circle around me, tracing the place where the lightning came.
As they circle, they sing.
I take their form so I can understand their song.
When the birds finish, they look at me, waiting for an answer.
I sing of pain, and love, and power, and healing.
When the sky is silent again, the birds rise almost straight up, until they’re out of sight.
I return to Dusal, to the healers, to teach them to release their own thunder.