Inspiration for Jeniah. Public domain – click for source.

Jeniah had gone into the trees, and remained there, as they skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands. She was lost in her awarenesses, Aletris and Kaivelt winding together, becoming more and more a part of her being, with first one and then the other dominating.

Vaara wondered if this was a great danger, or a blessing, but she could not know enough of the variables to begin to formulate a useful equation.

Since it was quite likely that she would be seriously mind-injured if Vaara or anyone else interfered before she was done, there was little point in attempting to take her attention.

~Sima garo provides.~

It was a sleepy, half-dreaming thought, and she wasn’t sure Kaivelt meant to send it to her, or even if he knew he had thought it. But there was a certain peace in it, and Vaara knew he would not feel so if there were danger to Jeniah in this sharing with Aletris.

So she settled into wary ease…Jeniah’s presence in her mind was at once highly attuned to her surroundings, and vague with the depth of the new sharing, and the fire-traced edges of Kaivelt’s dreamings.

She could feel that things were being shared, between her sister and the planet herself- for Aletris was indeed self-aware, and, moreover, utterly certain of her ever-shifting places, in Everdeep and in the lives of her diversity of children. But she could not spare all the focus that was needed to be fully aware of these strange Otherworlders, and she couldn’t know them as she did her own children, born of her earth and sustained by her.

As she skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands, where the snow was still as it had always been, Vaara kept her focus outward, on the details Jeniah might easily miss, during her joining.

They had had no plan – there were too many Tribed, and too maddened by the poison they might have been ingesting for many sunrounds. They could not contain them all, not in the time they had to them.

But Aletris had a plan. She would use Jeniah to sense the Otherworld interlopers, and the poisoned Tribed. Then, she could direct her strength outward through the Tacivaarii Trueborn, and prevent her children from being wantonly killed.

That would be the beginning, but there was more – much, much more – in the sharing than what she could sense, beyond knowing that she, too, had her part to play in the rescue of her world.

And so, she patrolled the edges of the blasted lands, pointing her nose first to the directions from which the maddened Hunters would come, and then into the Poisoned Lands, where the dust- streaked snow thinned from the unnatural heat, and where the small sounds and scents of life abruptly ended, because none could live long in this inhospitable place.

Joined to Jeniah, and so sensing her deepening ties to the consciousness of their world, she could feel something of the depths of anguish and rage for ever life lost, every grain of earth taken by the invaders.

She had been searching for three sunlengths when she caught the scent of the approaching Hunters. There were not as many as there had been; their madness had caused them to fall upon one another, and some had not survived.

Aletris knew it too, and there was a wave of sorrow, and a deepening of rage,from the echoes of Jeniah’s mind. There would be an accounting, from the planet, for all the damage and death that had been wrought as a result of the invasion and rape.

And her part in it was to find the poisoned ones, to know just where they were, because the taint of the deep poisons made them other, and hard for the world to sense. In some fashion, the were no longer wholly of this world, because they held the poisons born of the Otherworlders’ violent attacks.

She would undertake that duty willingly – Vaara was beginning to sense that Aletris, too, had equations which governed her, and that these equations had become, with the arrival of the Otherworlders, dangerously imbalanced. Life was becoming a skewed and dangerous affair, and, if nothing was done to bring that equation back into balance, the consequences might prove deadly, not just for the poisoned ones, but for all life everywhere, and for Aletris herself.

The scent was still thready and weak in the crisp midwinter air, and unmoving, now – the poisons so long in their systems had kept the hunters from eating as they were intended, and they were grown weak and malnourished, and in need of frequent rest. They would not reach the edge of the Poisoned Lands this day; and perhaps not on the morrow –

“They will not reach them, kelaan.”

Vaara started – she had clearly been dangerously preoccupied, that she had not sensed Jeniah’s approach.

Her sister smiled, clearly reading her reaction – but this was and was not Jeniah, and, at the same bloodpulse, was and was not Aletris. There was deep power and knowing in her.

“How will they not, Jeniah? We do not have the strength to stop them, without further breaking the world.”

“I am the world, child.” Deep run of amusement and affection in the scent, as though her answer had been a private joke. “You need only find just where they are, and I will see to the rest. There are ways of breaking that are natural and helpful to me, and these I will use to protect my children, to offer them up to you for healing, and to prevent their untimely death at the hands of those who abuse me.”

“I will go ot them at once-”

Inspiration for Vaara – photo by Wikipedia – click for source.

“No.” The single syllable held echoes of Tacivaar, and Kaitiiraan, and Jeniah at her most imperial – but, beneath that, there was a deeper command, and a kinder – Aletris herself was opposing. “You need rest, child – and you are near enough to your next dosing – and this one through whom I speak cannot hold my thoughts without rest, and time to be with he who is her Chosen.”

“Then what would you have me do?”

“You will come to our shelter. The poisoned ones will not approach it, if we’re within, or nearby – they are maddened enough to believe that they can avoid our detection if they do not, and their blood boils not against us, but the Otherworlders.”

“But, if we are taking shelter, can they not elude us, sister?”

“There will be a blizzard, this night, lasting a tenday. We will alert the runners coming from Osiiraan, so that they can be prepared and sheltered. The maddened ones are not moving, they will be protected as well as they are able to be – but no one will be able to travel, and all will have suitable rest.”

“And what then?” Vaara felt the equation shifting, moving back towards balance, and harmony. But she could not see the shape of it.

“There will be time for planning, as the storm rages.” And Jeniah Changed, and leapt back into the trees, heading at once for their lair, leaving Vaara to follow, alone with her hope and her questions.