Calling


Kìlashà snapped awake from the Dream, heart pounding as the images played through his mind. Another death, this one slower and harsher—bloodier than the last. Each vision came with the same face, not always present but always a part of the slaughter. The golden blond hair that had marked a long-dead prince framed a far crueler face, etched as though from a stone gone mad with bloodlust. A face he knew and yet could barely recall.

With a shudder, he pushed back the hides that served him as bed coverings and rose, the cold stone of his home a solid comfort against his visions. The sparse decor of a table, a rough bench, and a discarded wooden rack for drying hid beneath the evening’s cloud-darkened skies. But Kìlashà had no need of light to see these surroundings. He strode across the space, a flash of warning from his power warning him in time to sidestep the pile of wood his clanmother had left by his door after he’d fallen asleep. The darkened camp beyond his doorway still held a few flickers of campfires, twinkling up from the base of the cliff as he peered over the edge of his own narrow path. Sentries waiting for the next shift. No one dared sleep without guards while war raged in distant lands.

“Good eve, Kìlashà.” His clanmother’s voice sang like water tumbling over rocks, her bluish skin shimmering in the darkness. “I thought you retired for your rest.”

“Dreams.”

He couldn’t bring himself to explain further, but she would understand. As the kin he’d known as a babe could not. His clanmother stepped closer, her skin too bright for comfort though her colors shifted to mimic the rustling waves of a restless sea. Her worry showing through in her skin.

“The seeker’s power will yield to your will in time,” she said. “All our people struggle to master their talents, and yours are more demanding than most.”

Kìlashà shrugged. “I do not fear—” She would know the lie. No reason to mislead the one who had cared for him when no other would. “Such fears are not what takes my rest from me. I feel a duty to see my visions answered.”

She laughed, the sound somehow deeper and more grating than her usual voice. A glance showed her skin had changed again, lightening to a sky blue as she shook her head in amusement. Not understanding what he’d said, no doubt. She always believed their powers nothing more than a tool when he could feel the deeper pull behind the information gleaned.

“Lasha, my child.” She laid a hand on his shoulder, gesturing to their sacred prayer house. “The Ancient Spirits grant you skill and allow you to glimpse Their wisdom. They do not make requests. There is nothing to answer.”

“You have not seen the moments in my Dreams,” he insisted. “They do not come to the others of our clan. Why to me, if I am of the clans? There is a need for my actions among the western lands.”

“No, Kìlashà.” Her hand clenched on his shoulder, though she kept her voice calm. “Those creatures have earned nothing from you and shall have none of my child.”

“You cannot be the one to decide.” He spoke the words with a conviction beyond his own knowledge, certain as he did that he could only cause her pain. But deception served no purpose here. “I am marked by the Ancient Spirits. We must follow Their will, not our own.”

“Their will brought you to me.”

But not for this purpose. He couldn’t explain how he knew what the Ancient Spirits intended, but the confidence rang in his very being. His clanmother sought to protect him from the very destiny she had insisted was his. But no value came from disabusing her of such beliefs at this time.

“Of course, clanmother.”

Kìlashà stepped away from her, examining the patterns of the fires below. Two fires by the western edge, where barely a fortnight past they had only maintained one. Another skirmish close to the borders of clan lands? Or had the council simply added guards to ease some of the restless tension suffered by the younger members of the clans. Hunting restrictions and travel limitations. Every week a new caution and smaller area to range and learn and train. Not as it had been when Kìlashà was still a child. Before the northern humans had rebelled over a murder more than a decade old and sworn vengeance for a crime they didn’t understand.

With a sharp twist of his vision, Kìlashà’s power flared to life and dragged him into a full fledged vision. An alternate moment of time similar to the flashes that had permeated his childhood, but this one stronger. He could barely hear his clanmother’s shout of alarm as he lost himself the the new moment before him.

Kìlashà lay back on the branch, watching the empty woods beneath him in casual disinterest. The spirits called him here, but They had not bothered to reveal their purpose. He’d learned by now to trust in Their will and so he waited, one leg dangling beneath him as though he were a child playing. A rustle of branches echoed through the forest sounds, cutting the bird songs short and sending the foraging rabbit ducking into a nearby thicket. Kìlashà examined the ground below for signs of the intruder, finally noting the branches of a bush the swayed ever so slightly against the breeze.

Not entirely inept at maneuvering, he noted. But clearly this intruder had no close knowledge of these lands and his inexperience left him announcing his presence to any who had lived and loved this forest. And Kìlashà knew this intruder was male, young, and important to the Ancient Spirits. This was why They had sent him to this mome—

“Kìlashà!”

His clanmother’s sharp voice cut through the vision, dragging him back tot he current moment. Darkness closed over him and for just an instant he was blind, deaf—he couldn’t breathe. Then everything returned at once, like a wave crashing down upon him, searing his eyes with the dim light from his clanmother’s skin as her worried face floated before him.

“Lasha, what happened? Are you injured?”

He shook his head, more the clear his thoughts than to answer, and pushed away from the cliff wall where he’s fallen.

“I am well, clanmother. I was simply unprepared. My visions are not usually so forceful.”

Or so unexpected. He’d rarely had an uncalled vision sine he’d come to live among the clans, and never one so strong and clear. Not even as a child, when his visions had led him from his bed and into the safety of the clans.

“That was not a seeker’s vision, child,” his clanmother said, her voice still heavy with worry. “The Ancient Spirits grant access to knowledge. They do not drag our people into visions unasked for. Think of the danger. A seeker unprepared could get lost in such a vision.”

“But…” He looked up into her eyes, paled to a seaweed green from their usual emerald. “The Spirits have always spoken to me thus.”

She shook her head, skin paling further into a barely blue-tinted haze as she considered the import of his words. Kìlashà frowned, considering the images again. She would like what They’d said even less.

“Perhaps you misunderstood.” She sounded as desperate to convince herself as to explain to him. “Many born of the clans use their skills without knowing. In dreams and when desperate. You’ve been worried. You just said your visions have invaded your dreams again.”

He turned away, looking to the est as if he could find the forest branch where his older self had sat. Not much older. Two, maybe three years. But he’d known the lay of that land as he knew the land beneath his feet here. A home he’d built for himself.

“The Spirits have ever spoken to me thus,” Kìlashà said. “And They have given me a task to see done.”

“Lasha, you can’t follow a single vision,” his clanmother cautioned. “You know the dangers of an unconfirmed moment. Any number of factors could lead to the moment you saw.”

“But some things must be done to achieve Their ends,” he replied. Kìlashà smiled at her, his reluctance to leave tugging at the need to follow his visions. “I know your frustration, clanmother. But these are the same as the visions which led me to you. The Spirits have a design for me and it lies to the west.”

“You’re twisting the vision to suit your own ends,” she said. “Seeing a solution to your nightmares and your vision at once. Lasha, you must bring this to the council.”

Kìlashà nodded. “Yes, the council should convene. I’ll need to explain my intentions.”

He slipped past her and hurried down the path. The council should still be in session. They’d met until long past moon-set for weeks now, everyone fearing for the safety of their clan. A safety he could now provide. His clanmother’s steps on the path behind him came too fast. Not following, but hurrying to catch him before he could say his piece to the other leaders of his clan. Kìlashà paused at the bottom of the path to wait.

“What do you plan to tell them, Lasha?”

“A simple truth.” He met her eyes, his voice steady despite her frantically shifting colors. “Our people need a guardian. Someone to serve as a buffer between the clans and this human conflict. We need this guardian to be someone unable to reveal our people simply from a glimpse through the trees, lest a human wander into view. Only one among us can handle such a task.”

Kìlashà held up a hand, the mix of tan and pink a sharp contrast to his clanmother’s bluish tones. Too much shade to be born of the air, too little to be born of the earth, and none of his clanmother’s watery coloring. Human-born.

“But you’ll be alone.”

As alone as she had been before the Spirits had sent Kìlashà to her. He could read the sorrow as clearly as any of the languages he had studied under her tutelage. But it could not change the will he’d seen in the Ancient Spirit’s plan.

“I am not leaving, clanmother. Only taking the invitation to educate myself.”

And perhaps, living at the edge of the people who had birthed his body, Kìlashà might learn what the Ancient Spirits had intended by cursing his soul to live in such a frail incarnation.


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Check out more free content below, and be on the lookout for my upcoming debut epic fantasy, Wake of the Phoenix.

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Check out more free content below, and be on the lookout for my upcoming debut epic fantasy, Wake of the Phoenix.

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