The world dreams itself and the sun rises to create a new day.
The sun and the water play upon the back of the rainbow serpent our sister, in whose dream we dwell.
Each day the sun rose over the Djibija Plains and each day was the same as before or so it seemed to Nada as she shed her skin with the passing of each winter. She watched the warm dawn winds rush to bring new days that were just like the ones that had gone before them and Nada wished something would change. She often flew until her wings ached with fire to see if she could find something different, but the plains stretched on, flat as the world. Sometimes she could stay away as long as it took for the moon to grow fat, but she would grow tired of silence and return to the comfort of her people, who dwelt in the rocks above the lake of the Wanambis. For a time she would hunt and play the games of her people with her hatchmates, but always the wind would call and the fires in her hearts would long for something different. She often thought that she should fly across the plains and join a new people, that their blood might be enriched, but she loved her hatchmates and her friends and told herself that the females of the Wanambis line always remained with their people.
She thought so much of change that she did not notice when the world began to dream itself anew. The Wandijina spirits walked the land and each year brought more rain and cold, which froze the soil. The warm dawn winds grew fierce and no longer played with the grass of the Djibija Plains. Each year fewer of the hatchlings crept from their shells and fewer survived the years to adulthood.
And yet, Nada continued to seek change elsewhere.
One day she flew towards the south to see what she could find. On the sixth day of her journey, she came to a strange white mountain that when she touched its surface, her skin burned like fire and then grew numb. Nada became frightened that she would not be able to feel her wings and fly home.
Nada jumped into the air and more quickly than she could see, a small white blur flew past her belly tearing it open with its talons. Nada focused on it and saw that it was one of her people, yet not of her people, white like the mountain and small.
"Why do you attack me like meat," she said, "I would not hurt a child."
The little white one hovered in the air before her, "I am no child, but a man grown, and I will fight with you for this land. Though you are larger than any dragon I have ever seen, I am faster. You stand out like fire on the ice and are easy to see yellow dragon. I will kill you and your blood will burn all of the ice of this place unless you leave my land now."
Nada spread her wings to catch the updraft and began to circle the strange little person, "I do not understand you. Why should you wish to live alone? There is enough land to share with all. Do you not long for the sound of other voices?" Nada tilted her wings so she could face this small strange dragon. "I am Nada of the Wanambis. What is your name and who are your people?"
"You speak like an idiot." said the white dragon, "There is only enough land for me. I Tam of no people, for there are no people, only families who raise their children on what little food there is. Now with the growing ice, I claim this land for my mate, who lies nearby willing to kill you if you come near our child. Now leave or I will kill you and eat your soft heart and feed your yellow flesh to my son and wife that its fire might keep them warm this winter."
"Tam, I don't want to hurt you."
"Then you will die." Tam rushed at Nada's wing, his fore claws extended, seeking to rend the tissue of her skin.
Nada danced away on the wind, for her people often played tag in the sky, but this was different. Dragons who fought others of their kind were driven from the company of the people and soon died of loneliness. Tam fought to be alone, to own the earth, to hurt. Nada had never met such a creature. It was difficult to stay ahead of Tam, for he was very fast and his claws often shredded her skin. Nada tried to fly away and Tam snapped at her wing with his teeth. Nada felt the skin of her right wing tear and knew she would have to fight or she would be unable to fly.
Nada said, "I am sorry Tam." and struck him with her tail, strong from much flying. The horn ridges of her tail dug into his white flesh, drawing blood. As he reeled off to the side, Nada began to fly home. Her blood dripped from her body onto the ice. However, she did not stop to rest until she could no longer hear sounds of Tam's victory cries.
It was the sound of mourning wails which greeted her when she returned to the hatching place of her people. Her brother, Huroo, flew up to meet her. "Nada," he said, "You havtacome." He flew to her other side, "Where have you been?" He flew under her, "This is the longest you have ever stayed away. Everyone has been asking for you." As always when talking to Huroo, it was difficult for Nada get in a word edgewise.
However, as they landed in the place of meeting Nada managed to ask, "What is going on? Why is everyone crying?"
"Can't you see the hatching place." he said, "Numada's eggs are rotted. And then Jayula said that we have had only three hatchlings born in ten star cycles. And then Jeridu said that it has been since the fattening of the moon that any of the people has caught any large game, and before that it was scarce. And I am very hungry. And I heard someone say that the land is dying and that the world is going to end! Do you think think the world is going to end. I think the world is ending. I think..."
"Nonsense," Nada interrupted her brother, "Who said that? Julu I'll bet. He always had mud for brains." Yet, Nada shivered in the cold air.
All of her people were gathered in the place of meeting listening to Jayula, the oldest of her people. As if she had shed skin from her eyes, Nada noticed for the first time the lack of children among the people, and the gauntness of everyone's bellies. She noticed how different the air seemed from the warmth of her childhood.
Nada settled into the crowd, but Jayula saw her and called to her, "Nada come here. I must speak to you the decision of the people." Nada walked across the yellow sand, which burnt the new healed flesh on her belly. When Nada stood in front of her, Jayula said, "Nada we have decided that we must leave this place."
"But this is the place where we have always lived!" Nada could hear voices agreeing with her.
Jayula laughed, "I'm surprised, while there are some I would expect to say such things," Jayula looked at Guwara, who nipped at one of his wings, "but you Nada, you have always wanted to fly elsewhere. The world changes and we must change with it. We cannot stay in a place where food grows scarce and our children die. You have flown the farthest of all our people and know the ways north. You must show us the way north."
"I have not gone that far!" Nada tried to suppress the squeak in her voice.
Jayula picked at the place where one of her teeth was missing and Nada lowered her head to touch the sand. Jayula said, "Not far is better than not at all. You will need to leave soon, before the coming of the winter storms. "
Nada scratched her head into the sand, "I'm not ready to go."
Jayula sighed, "If you are not ready daughter of my daughter, I am sorry. Because you will have to be ready. I am too old for this journey and too large to be carried between your teeth like a child. However, I know that you have not the desire of the crowd within you. It must be Julu who leads and you who shows the way, for alone you would neglect the past and he would get lost."
Nada could hear Julu snorting in the background. She was silent for
a long time and then lifted her head and blinked her eyes, "Then I say
we leave tomorrow mother of my mother and may you never be alone." She
turned to her people. "Who goes with us?"
Then Guwara stopped his grooming and said, "There have been early winters before and they have passed and there have been years when the children did not hatch as they should. But there will be warm summers again, as there will be more children. It is foolishness to speak of leaving. But if you fools wish to leave, then we are well rid of you. And I and my get will inherit the place of our ancestors, for we are truly the people of the Wanambis. Who stands with me."
And so they moved to stand beside him. Auri, who Guwara had flown, with her get who were in their twentieth skin, and Oen, whose eyes were dim came forward. Then the rest of the get of Njida, who died of a cough earlier that year: Abla, who hatched first, Nerri, whose skin shone, and Waku, whose voice was strong. Among the others who came forward were: Mawurra, whose tail could fell the strongest of animals. Dja, whose flights were long, and her get: Ina, whose wings were small and weak, Patua, who hunted to feed his sister, and Dilagu, who ate only Borarin. Auradi, who was from the people of the Billa. Mulga, whose get had left to form a new people when Nada was in her sixth skin. Kultuwa came last, for he was old and no longer flew on the mating flights.
Nada looked at her people, split in two, and said, "All my life I have longed for the different and never noticed that it caught me in midflight. The world grows cold to us. On my last journey I came to a mountain of white fire such as I have never seen. And I was attacked by a person that claimed no people, only the land. He said that he needed all the land, because there was not enough food and he fought and wounded me, though he was far smaller than I. I believe as the world grows colder, food will become scarce. I hope you do not become like the white dragon. That he was a freak. May you never be alone Guwara."
Guwara adjusted the struts of his wings while Nada spoke and when she finished, he said, "We are not misborn children, white through the wind's joke. We are the Wanambis and are the color of the sun which is our mother. When you have done wandering, stay where you are, for we will have born too many children to have enough food for the fools who went away."
Auri shifted in the sand and said, "As you leave the place of the Wanambis," she glanced at Guwara her mate, "by what name shall we know your people when we send for you to join in our corroborrees and eat the abundance of our game."
Nada stood up and shivered the sand off of her skin, "We should travel under the name of Reidju, our mother the sun, rather than that of the earth who is only our sister and not even our hatchmate at that." Nada saw that Julu would have spoken, so she said, "I am tired and though we could easily trade insults far into the night, they are nothing but air and I would far rather sleep. We will leave in the morning when our uncle the moon and our mother the sun cross paths in the sky, if that pleases you Julu."
Julu nodded at her and Nada went to her place in the cave of the Wanambis and as soon as she curled up in her bed of dry grass, she fell asleep and began to dream.