Chapter 1 Part 1

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"I have found, from time to time, it is necessary to break a bone in order to heal it properly." ~ Ilanit Morseh (Shinnoahn healer)

Tsifi'ra and Mi'ta warmed Yetsye Shirasdatir as she jogged down a faint trail. The classes each apprentice was required to take overwhelmed her. Immediately after she finished the daily lessons, she sped away without speaking to anyone. Her favorite place drew her like water drew metcha. The little glade nestled in the small wood behind her family's d'gut opened its arms to her. Yetsye closed her eyes when she reached the center. It was here that she could open herself to the Spirit of Y'Dahnndrya, to the Creator.

Harmonic chirps signaled the presence of brightly colored chippets high in the treetops. An el'tekh screeched its freedom cry from the clouds. A quiet rustle near her head announced the shaggy mana who followed her here, its methodical munching relaxing her. Sweet scents of leelum and tseta almost overpowered the milder flowers in Yetsye's natural garden bed, but she could just pick out spicy umb'el and warm dozh'i in the riot of perfumes. A flut'ra teased Yetsye's small, freckled nose and lightly kissed her peachy lips with translucent triplet wings and fragile legs. The heart of Y'Dahnndrya thrummed beneath her as the wind tripped lightly over her, bending the long grasses who whispered respectfully in its wake. In the glade, she could be herself, immersed in the soul of Y'Dahnndrya. Yetsye heard the Creator's Voice in the wind and water and felt a pure love for life in the beasts and earth. The Holy Presence was tangible here.

Calming moments like this were precious now that Yetsye was an adult. Well, almost. There was still her Visioning to attend before it was official. Learning the basics of battle tactics, animal husbandry, and sky-dome studies stole most of her time. The excitement of being able to join her siblings in warrior training was soon dampened by the realization she was studying the basics. They were far more advanced. It comforted her, though, to know they were close by. If a problem arose, someone familiar could help.

Today had been particularly stressful. Yetsye's inability to grasp the specifics of the tactician's art irritated her teacher. It was a mark against her. Her choice to remain silent unless absolutely necessary didn't help, either. It wasn't that she couldn't speak. If she kept her message simple and short, she did well. But if she couldn't, Yetsye tended to say things which were easily misunderstood. It seemed safer to stay silent and avoid conflict, even if others thought she was being childish. Today, her silence cost an extra hand-span of study after class. It also meant she'd be called on during the next session and treated as an example.

A sudden shudder deep in the ground forced open her large eyes the color of mineral-rich earth. It was so subtle she almost missed the discordance. Though the strange movement puzzled her, she still sensed her batir's arrival.

Yuvahl Shirashoneh had seen the dawning of eighteen sun-cycles, which meant he was perfect in Yetsye's eyes. The scent of earth and metal that hovered around him betrayed his love for tending plants and tinkering with tools. A deep thinker, his motivation usually came from a sense of justice ingrained within his being. Yetsye had never witnessed Yuvahl fail at anything. She was the only one who knew all of his troubles. Because she listened, he was willing to spin tales of his life to her.

Yetsye placed her hand in Yuvahl's open palm and looked into his troubled eyes. "Are you well, Batir?"

He sighed and rose from his knee. Shaking his head, he pulled Yetsye to her feet. "We need to get home. There's news from D'Koruyi. It's not good."

Yetsye trailed after Yuvahl. No definite paths existed in their territory. The M'Neshunnayans worked hard to preserve their lands as the Creator made them. They knew direction by landmarks, the sky above, and the earth beneath their feet. All younglings learned how from the day they could walk. She expected Yuvahl to say a little more but he kept silent. The only time they heard from other clans was on trading days. Yetsye worried her bottom lip with her teeth thinking about what could have happened.

As they cleared the tree line, she spotted Ya'el waiting. Her siveh's beautifully coiffed copper hair was a shining beacon above mischievous leaf-green eyes and a dimpled smile. Her delicate form and grace deceived many foes. Ya'el's well-spring of words rarely failed her. When Yetsye needed an interpreter, her siveh was more than willing to explain. She was beautiful and sociable. The result was a long list of friends, acquaintances, and would-be life-mates. Some dawnings, Yetsye wished she was more like her siveh. Then she would recant, horrified that she doubted the Creator who formed her. There was a reason for the current existence that was Yetsye Shirasdatir. She would know it when it was time to know it and not before.

Of the three children of Shira, only two things did they share in common. The first was once a child of Shira decided on a course of action, there was no deviation from it. The other was the red-gold hair they inherited from Bayr'ach, their fatir. She was thankful for these two traits. Otherwise, she would feel like she didn't belong.

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