Tu-Swift Dreams of Drums.
Tu-Swift’s lids felt heavy. As they fluttered shut, the strange markings on the hides swam before his eyes. In the distance, he could hear drumming. Drumming. Very pleasant. Very nice. Tu-Swift remembered hearing the drumming as She Who Saves Many Lives intoned a long poem for all of the people. It was a poem about animals, and people, and language. Tu-Swift, like all the Veritas, had memorized it at an early age. He knew the prose version as well. As She Who Saves Many Lives sung the ancient song, one of the braves, Stone Chipper, used sign language to portray the same story. Perhaps from working with stone, he looked like stone. The muscles of his chest, shoulders and arms writhed as he moved from position to position. It had been hard for Tu-Swift to follow as a child.
Now, in his half-dream state, Tu-Swift could slow the playing of the memory and the memory became the dream. He could see the positions that Stone Chipper used. Then, an odd thing happened (as they are wont to do in dreams). The arms of Stone Chipper became sticks. And every time that he moved them into a new position, he heard the voice of She Who Saves Many Lives saying the sounds of the animals.
The sounds. Did we steal them? Did we borrow them? How can we steal them? The snake still hisses. The owl still hoots. The bee still buzzes. And before his internal eyes, Tu-Swift saw the snake and the owl and a swarm of buzzing bees all dancing and playing together. Now, they lined up and came toward him. First, the snake flew toward his face hissing – ‘sssssss.’ Just as it reached him, it opened its mouth, sharp fangs, forked tongue, and then the snake veered off. The hoot owl hooted and stretched for Tu-Swift, talons first. The hooting sound became louder and louder: ‘ooooOOOO OOOO!’ But the owl also caromed away. Now, the swarm of bees zipped toward him buzzing all the while. Suddenly, one of the girls Tu-Swift fancied from home, Sooz, appeared before him smiling. Except now she had cat eyes. She said her name, ‘Sooz’, and nodded to him just as she had when they first met. Now, she did something odd. She waved her right arm into the crook of her left elbow making the sign for snake; then, she quickly turned her hands outward making them into the claws that signified owl and then her fingertips all moved nervously like a swarm of buzzing bees. Now, she flew away from him and as she disappeared into a bright green cloud, she said, “Remember me. Remember Sooz.”
Tu-Swift muttered in his sleep, “I will Sooz. I will.”
Shadow Walker chuckled to himself. He looked down to see the fluttering eyes of Tu-Swift who obviously walked now in the shadow world of dreams. He recalled some of the times that Many Paths and Shadow Walker had spoken of each other’s dreams. He had been dreaming of her, in fact, when something inside him told him it was time for him to keep watch and let Tu-Swift sleep.
Shadow Walker again turned his thought to the girl with the eyes like a cat. She seemed to be telling the truth even though her tale was amazing, if true. Still, she was definitely holding something back. There was something important that she had not yet told them, but he wasn’t sure what it was. Possibly, she herself had done something against the ways of the Veritas. Although…how could she help it if she were stolen as a child?
Shadow Walker now heard Tu-Swift muttering again, first about drumming, and Cat Eyes, and language. Like all dream mutterings, it made little sense. He would ask him about it upon wakening. Shadow Walker had found that dreams were easily recalled if they were remembered upon waking but seldom recalled if one began the chores of the day.
Meanwhile, quite oblivious to Shadow Walker, Tu-Swift now found himself dreaming of sitting astride a horse, a giant golden horse. He held ropes in his hands and he could control the horse via these ropes. Jaccim Nohan trotted alongside on another horse and spoke to him in Veritas. They now seemed friends, but that was not surprising in the dream world. Jaccim’s body turned into sticks of firewood, but he continued to talk…although…it wasn’t exactly talking. He was using his stick limbs to form sign language. Yet, Tu-Swift heard it as words spoken in the voice of Jaccim but the words were not ROI but Veritas. He listened to the words and kicked the giant horse firmly but not cruelly and lightly whipped the reins. The giant horse took off galloping up a hill, leapt up into the sky and Tu-Swift was flying atop his horse — sailing through the sky effortlessly though the steady drumming hooves continued even louder than before.
Now, Tu-Swift had fallen off his horse into a pit of giant snakes – squeeze snakes – who were going to squeeze him to death. Where was his horse? He tried to slide the snakes off of his arms but they wouldn’t go. They could speak his name! “Tu-Swift! Tu-Swift! Wake up!”
Tu-Swift shook his head and came awake. Shadow Walker was shaking him. “Wake up! Wake up! War drums. We must go. Now. Wake up!”
“What? Whose war drums?” Tu-Swift tried to focus but it was difficult.
Shadow Walker took Tu-Swift’s head in his hands and stared into his vacant eyes. “I don’t know. But it isn’t Veritas! Wake! We must go!”
At last, Tu-Swift returned to this world and he saw Shadow Walker quickly putting their things together for a quick journey. “What of Cat Eyes and the others?”
Shadow Walker sighed. “I think we may have to leave them here. Or at least Jaccim. He is too hurt to travel quickly.”