Chapter 8: Elijah's News

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After passing the ritual and officially becoming a contributing member of Katafigo, Koda had moved out of the children's dorms and into one of the dozens of tiny huts that sprawled over the hill-side of the lighthouse. From the top of the hill, they seemed like squat little things. They had wide, low roofs and round walls made of long wooden branches. Their design was modest in its brilliance. They had been built by Talented builders, after all, though that had been before Koda was born. 

The huts were nestled into the hill-side, protecting them from strong winds. And though the area was vulnerable to flooding, each hut had been built on wide, low stilts that held it away from the potentially muddy earth below. In addition to this, Koda knew that the huts had a mechanical pump set up somewhere in the back. She'd never actually seen it in use before, but it comforted her to know everything had already been thought of.

They were beautiful, too. What details hadn't been made of wood or natural materials were painted rich, creamy shades of white-blue and slate grey, which matched the lighthouse perfectly. Surrounded by the purple flowers, it was a postcard-perfect picture. To Koda, it was simply a welcome home. 

On the inside, each hut was set up much like any apartment room. They had a bed, a desk, a small kitchen area, a bathroom. Simple necessities. Koda herself had decorated the place, putting up pictures and drawings from her friends over the years. Her favorite was a group picture with Shayna, Elijah, herself, and the rest of the program at the time. They had just gone surfing, so they were all soaking wet in their bathing suits, and every one of them was beaming. It had been a fantastic day off classes.

Once Koda had finished decorating and settling in, she'd gone straight to bed, exhausted from the day. Her front door was unlocked; a privilege of living on such a guarded island. She knew most people here by face if not by name; none of them would have any reason to abuse an unlocked door. Like when she'd been in the dorms, her bedroom door was slightly open. The con to this meant that other people could sense her if they were nearby. The pro outweighed this. If anybody approached, with good intent or bad, Koda would sense them long before they reached the bedroom itself. 

If she hadn't been so deeply asleep, she would have felt Elijah the moment he came inside. She didn't even stir until Elijah was leaning on the edge of the bed, calling her name in a hushed whisper. "Koda!" he said, and reached to shake her shoulder, light but urgent. "Koda, wake up."

Koda did not like waking up. She was a bear in the mornings, and her first expression was a glare. "What?" she said, bluntly, her voice thick with sleep.

"You have to wake up, it's important," Elijah urged, poking at her shoulder still.

"Get off me, what? I'm awake, okay?" Koda turned over and face-planted her pillow.

Elijah took a deep breath, and Koda heard for the first time the note of fear in his voice. "There's another dreamrunner and he stole somebody's dream and now there's a hole in the aspis."

Koda sat up, trying to parse the meaning from that. She put her face in her hands. She needed a coffee desperately. "Messing with dreams," she yawned, "doesn't cause holes in the aspis. It's the barrier between waking and the aether-realm. It's as big as the sky. It's not just going to fall apart. Go back to sleep, okay?"

What she really meant was, let me go back to sleep, but Elijah didn't listen anyway. "I'm telling you, there's a hole. I felt it. I still feel it, and I'm awake. Like tingling through my whole head, like even my heart hurts."

"Why are you getting me, anyway? I'm no dreamrunner. Mmh. How about I talk with the elders about it tomorrow?"

Elijah caught her twisting like she might flop down again, and grabbed her shoulders. He shook them hard. "I already told them. And everybody's meeting in the great hall. And you're coming. Get up!"

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