Nada dreamt that she was flying over fields of wild grain. Behind her the full moon shone and ahead she could see the white bow of night rainbow, rare and timid cousin of the Yulunggul, the first rainbow serpent. Nada flew towards the quiet snake, and the longer she flew, the higher she went, until all detail was blurred into a white green mass. She flew higher still, until the green merged with browns and blues and the mountains became ridges on multicolored scales. Then, she flew so high that all the land lay beneath her and she saw that it lay in the shape of a great serpent tied into itself. As she watched it shifted its coils revealing the white of its underbelly and the color of its scales grew pale.
The head of the serpent began to push its way out of the trap of its twisted body. It opened its eyes, which burned like the white mountain that Nada had touched.
"Who are you," Nada said, "that I might honor you with a name?"
The serpent spoke in a voice like the flood of rivers and the call of falling stars, "I am shape. I dreamed myself and am. I twist myself for comfort and bind myself tighter still."
Nada shivered in the cold sweetness of its breath and said, "Why don't you dream yourself new."
The serpent sighed the wind and said, "I did, I am. You are the child of my dream and you bind me with your words. All the children of my dreams bind me, and you bind me tightest yet."
Nada circled the serpent's head in silence, for she did not want to bind the serpent further. Her flight was as long as a thousand seasons in a heartbeat. When she had done, she flew once more over the grasses, that now lay in the dark of the moon. She came to the rocks where her people lived and she awoke.
Tired from her sleep, Nada crawled from the cave and made a meal of lizards bones left in the feeding place. She felt a shadow cross her skin, and she heard Julu say, "If you have rested enough, perhaps we could begin our journey, for the sun is setting, and we await your 'special' knowledge of the way to go."
Nada held her anger in her belly and said nothing to Julu, but merely walked to the place leave taking. Jayula was not there, that none might see her weep, though Guwara had come to laugh at Nada and the others. Nada turned to the group and began to speak, "The cold comes from the south, we must then fly north." She could hear Julu mutter, "What inspired wisdom!" but she continued to speak, "The plains of our people stretch on for several moons. It will be necessary to fly not only through the lands of the Djuguld, who are our cousins and will give us news, but though the lands of Ngalyod, and when we come among them, we must ask them for news of the way."
"The ancestor spirits will strike us dead with white fire if we speak to any of the Djuguld, for it is the law that we may not mix." said Julu.
"I am not speaking of mixing, I merely wish to ask how much game they have. Upon one of my journeys, I ventured into the territory of the Djuguld, and after many nights flight, I came to a series of mountains thick with trees. I upheld our laws and spoke with none of that people, though I longed to know how far these mountains went, and if there was food in them. Now, if we must cross them, we must learn what the Djuguld know."
"We will cross nothing if we speak to the Djuguld. There are reasons for our laws, but if you must be reminded then I will speak them." said Julu, "In the beginning times, Reidju, our mother the sun flew close to the earth. First she came to the place of the banyan trees and hatched our ancestor Yulunggul, who was made of fire light and water, made to mix in Reidju's womb.
Yulunggul hatched seven eggs, who are the people: Wanambis, Nagalyod, Djuguld, Galya, Billa, Yinganan, and Nawindjin. Yulunggul told Wanambis, and Nagalyod that they were to be as siblings and not to mate, for their children would be weak, for their spirits did not compliment. So, too she told Djuguld to Billa, and Yinganan to Nawindjin. Where spirits and ancestors match matings prove good. Children born between Wanambis, Billa, Nawindjin, or Galya are strong. So, too matings are good between Djuguld, Nagalyod, and Yinganan. Yet to each child there was another child, an opposite to which that child could not speak or deal, for the spirits that lived within them were hurtful to one another. As Wanambis to Djuguld, Nagalyod to Galya, and Billa to Yinganan, so each is hateful to the others. As, long as silence is observed, then the ancestor spirits do not notice, but with speech comes hearing, and with hearing death."
Nada stretched a wing, "But how are we to find the way then."
"Ngaii, who is of the Nawindjin, though he may neither mate, nor act as sibling to the Djuguld, may speak to them, and he shall speak for us." said Julu, as he picked at his teeth.
"Far simpler than your outrage or your tale would have been to suggest that Ngaii speak in the first place, but what is said is already done. Ngaii would you be willing to speak in our stead to the Djuguld."
Ngaii, ducked his head down near the sand, for he thought that Nada's skin was like golden grain in the moonlight, and he hoped that she would look with favor upon him when her time came to mate, "Yes, I would be willing to ask the Djuguld, whatever questions you deem fit."
Nada ignored Julu's snort, and nodded to Ngaii, "My thanks. But the night grows shorter and it is time to fly. If you are already to leave this place, let us go."
In silence the group took flight from the rocks, the sound of Guwara's laughter following them, and after one circle they began to fly to the North.
The night passed and as the sun grew warm they came to rest in shade of a watering place. The days passed as they traveled North from the lands of the Wanambis to the lands of the Galya. They found some small herds of game, but the meat was lean and the Reidju were hungry as they flew. At first, they flew quickly, for the get of Marindi were excited to be on such a journey. But though they had strength and speed in flight, after the lean years, their endurance was not great. Nada had to hold back from flying too fast. Her wings were strong from constant flight over the years. She picked her path along the edge of the Kalgoorie Desert. She had often crossed into it, and knew that water was too scarce for so large a party.
Each morning the Reidju journeyed until the sun reached its height and the day grew hot. Then they rested through the afternoon, as the Windijindi spirits brought dry winds to blow the sand. The adults hunted at night for what game they could find to sustain them on their journey. The only large kill they made was that of six borhain they scared from the brush as they flew.
On the seventh day they came to the place where the Galya of Djual lived. The nests were quiet as they circled the rocks. Nada did not see many of the Galya that she had met on her earlier visits.
As they landed, they were greeted by Djauan, who led the Galya.
"Where is everyone." said Huroo. "There were a lot more people at the Corrombee last Ubar Long Day."
"The last heavy rains took their due. Many died of the cough, others are too weak to fly and bring meat. So, why do so many of the Wanambis fly to the place of the Galya? This is not a time for festivals."
"We have not come to feast." said Julu.
"That is good for we have no feast to give you."
"We, are no longer Wanambis, but Reidju of the Wanambis. We have left our home and go to seek a new place, where the rains do not bring death, and there is food to give our young." said Julu.
"It is a wise thing you do. The land which rejects you should be rejected. Would that I could help you with food and directions, but there is little to eat. This day Nyung has killed two Eran and Djangauu has killed a dingo. You are welcome to share in the meat and half the bones are yours to eat. As to the way, what word I have heard is all of famine and death."
The Reidju were quiet for a time, before Julu mumbled, "We thank you for your generosity."
"Would that we could dance in the sky as is wanted by your visit."
"For hospitality, let us give you something in exchange. Stories as we eat, so that our stomachs will be fooled by the slowness of our feasting." said Julu.
"A kind offer and we accept. Who shall begin."
Wura, who knew the tales rose to her feet and leaned back on her tail. And this the story she told.
Wura stopped speaking and the Galya yelled at the honorable mentioning of their ancestor. For in the home of the Wanambis, it was Wanambis who stayed with Yulunggul. Wura sat down to a leg of the Eran, in honor of her being the first story speaker. Julu then spoke and this is the tale he told.
Nada laughed to hear this story, for Wura told that story so that the mother and child were vomited and became fish. So, before anyone could speak Nada began her own story.
The people laughed to hear Nada's story, but not Julu. It did not matter. They told many stories more, and there was much laughter over the few bones that there was to eat.
The Reidju of Wanambis stayed with the Galya for three days, hunting and eating meat and bones for strength in flight. The Galya told them what they knew of the way North, yet it seemed that Nada had been furthest of all.
Wawalag, who had no get, Nyung, whose wings were great, and Guleru, who had not yet reached his full years, decided to join the Reidju, for it was fitting for Galya to marry Wanambis.
When Nada and her people left the Galya, they flew North towards the Mountains of the Bragu, where the Djuguld dwell. Though the Djuguld were said to be people of water love, there was no water in this place. It was dry and dead. The Wandijina spirits had sucked the land dry of water in order to soak the Galya a mere seven days journey away. Ngaii could find no Djuguld with whom to speak and the land was empty of them. He told the Reidju of the empty nests and dried out lakes. It was a silent land. There were not even Kukaburra in the morning to wake Reidju for her daily flight in the sky.
The Reidju could not long stay in this place, for there was little water upon which to live and without water it grew harder to fly. As they flew further, the land grew twisted and black, as if burned by a hundred mating flights.
Nada said, "We must fly into and over this land until we come to a place where there is something to eat. In my past journeys, I have flown along side these mountains for over a moon and I know that they stretch beyond our reach." Julu argued with her, but it was a half hearted attempt, for he was tired. Though the bonds between the group grew as they traveled North, the petty disputes caused by fatigue were constant and Julu was often needed to recite the law.
The Reidju were often tired and it was difficult to fly, for the bones of the animals they ate were small and weak. There was hardly enough material to feed the fires in their bellies. Garhain, whose wing had been broken, was often left to lag behind with Marindi's get, while the others flew in search of game during the days journey. Julu pronounced their luck good, when on the third day Huroo found a nest of brown grass snakes in their resting place, but the Reidju were unable to work up any joy. Numada complained bitterly over the lack of food, until Nada threatened to eat Numada's share if she would not be quiet.
Finally they passed these mountains and came to a great green river. They rested beside it for three days and ate the animals that came to drink the water of the river. Julu named this river, Djan, for the clearness of the water.
Yet though the river was pleasant and the meat good, there were many trees by the river and stretching beyond it. There were no rocks to nest in and the water was shallow. So, they flew on over the trees, which grew thick. They were often forced to fly over a day's time before finding a meadow or a clearing where they could rest. The trees were too thick to hunt, as was their way. The borhain hid beneath the trees, and though the Reidju could taste their sent upon the wind, the Reidju could not reach their meat. The Reidju ate what birds they could scare from the trees and they were all weary of travel. Nada and Julu ceased to argue. They had not the strength to do more than fly.
Yet they continued to fly, following Nada, who had the gift of discovering clearings. She led them on a scent, though they did not know that was all she led them by. She could smell salt on the wind and it was the salt she followed.
The scent grew strong enough for the others to smell and it gave them strength. When the moon had grown from thin to fat, they could finally see the great lake of blue ahead of them. The air was thick and lush. It was hot, but not as the Reidju liked the heat. It was thick with water and it was hard to breathe. But the air from the great lake was cool and they sailed into it's embrace.
They came to the shore of the lake and rested on white sand.
"How far do you think it goes, Nada?" said Huroo.
"I do not know." said Nada.
"It is the great salt lake that Yulunggul came from when he came to our land. If we cross it, we will cross into the other world." said Julu.
"The land on the other side of the water is like our land. Yulunggul came from the salt of his mother's body and the salt of the egg. More importantly I do not think the land up the coast is any different."
"Do you think it will be any hotter. I don't think I can stand much more of this heat." said Numada. She rustled the air with her wings, but the sun still beat down on them through the wet air.
"We can't go on until my children recover from the forest. Look at them, they have no flesh. To fly any further would be to eat their own bones." said Marindi, and in truth her get and all the Reidju's skin was taunt and their eyes glittered strange.
Then they turned to the sound of Huroo vomiting. They clustered around him, to his shame, when he had done, he said, "It was the water. I was so thirsty that I drank it. But it is not good water. It tasted sharp. It made me sick."
"How will we live if we cannot have water." said Numada. The Reidju began to speak excitedly.
"Silence." said Julu. "The legends tell us what to do. They speak of the salt lake, which is not a womb or an egg, but a lake greater than we have seen, that crosses beyond experience. The legends also tell of the rivers that the first ones made on their travels from the great salt lake. They dug many such rivers which flow from the salt lake. We have but to fly up the coast and we will find water to drink given to us by our ancestors."
Gradually, the Reidju were made calm by Julu's words. And when the wind had cooled them, they again rose in its embrace. They flew North, over the white sand. It was not long into the day that they found a river stretching out to the salt water. They flew above it until the water became pure and they drank from it, naming it Winggul for the purity of the waters.
"We have drunk of the water. But where are we going? The rest of the world is trees or water. We cannot cross the water to the next world. We cannot live in the trees. Had I known that you would lead me to such a place, I would never have come." said Numada.
"Well, we wouldn't have missed you." said Huroo. "Nada and Julu have done very well to lead us here. We are not back in the rain dying of cough. We have water and we can eat the animals and fish who live in the river."
"I would rather be in the land of my mother's than starving by some heat infested river. Where are the nests to raise our children? Where are the herds for us to hunt? We cannot live on a few fish and stray animals."
"Well, you can just go home then." said Huroo.
"Quiet, both of you." said Julu.
"Julu is right, shut your mouths, I cannot think with your bickering." said Nada. She stretched in the sand. "We are all tired from our journeying. We should rest here awhile. And while you rest, I will journey up the coast or out across the water to see if there is a way across the salt lake."
"We cannot cross the lake." said Julu.
"We cannot stay here. This is not the kind of place where our people could live. Surely, Yulunggul would not begrudge us passage through his country. And after all we carry Reidju's name, we are her children. Her country, if her country lies across the sea, would be a paradise to us."
"I would settle for a good pile of rocks and some decent warmth." said Marindi licking the hide of her youngest hatchling.
"I would settle for some food." said Jana.
"But don't you need to gain strength as much as the rest of us, Nada." said Ngaii.
Nada stared at the water rather than look into Ngaii's bright eyes. "Not really. The distance you have flown is the kind of journey I have been making all my life. I was ready for this, though I did not know that this is what I was preparing for."
"But of course Nada does not need to rest." Julu rolled his eyes, "She is not like us, she knows the sky paths by magic and is never tired."
"No, I am tired. But as far as we have come the wanderlust is in my blood. It burns me as mating fire burns away the clouds. I cannot rest. If I must leave you all here to live on this river, I must. I have to know what is on the other side of the salt lake."
"Since we cannot stop you, I will wish you well, Reidju's anger will be on your head." said Julu, then moving closer he said, "But rest a while. The wounds on your belly were but new healed when we began this journey, and the scars are still pale on the pearl of your belly. I have seen you hold your wing with tenderness. There is no crime in resting awhile. We will send out groups to find the way."
Nada said nothing to Julu or to anyone for the rest of the day. The next morning she had gone.
She flew up the coast, chewing on shells and their meat for strength in flight. The sand of the shore blinded her eyes, unlike the sand of the Wanambis, yellow as her skin. The jungle by the shore sucked up the light. She could not rest in the daytime, the sand was too hot, too bright, and the trees were too dark and strange.
Another fire burned inside Nada. It was her first season. She was now truly an adult. But she had no time for eggs and hatchlings. There was the journey, the finding and the seeking. She knew if she had stayed, she would have flown her mating flight. She would not have been able to resist the call of the males. The fire had made their scent strong and even Julu's smell had become sweet.
So, she flew North, away from her people and what was in her heart. Each day she rested less, flying farther. On the seventh day the coast began to pull away from the North, and when she realized that it was pulling her to the west, she veered North out over the cool water. She let the winds carry her for two days without stopping her flight. Yet, she was so tired that her wings skimmed the water. With each watery caress, she drew away from the water's surface, but soon she again embraced the water. As the sun set on the second day, she fell into the water's embrace and began to dream.