|She sat on the edge of a silver wing, which was cool to the touch.
It was so shiny, she could see her reflection in it, like sitting on the
surface of a clean pool. The stars above her were very bright. Then a hole
of blue fire opened in the sky and a silver creature, of the People, but
not, flew down from the hole. He was wrestling with another creature, made
from flesh covered with red fur. The fury creature threw the silver Wanambis
to the ground and it ceased to glow with blue fire. Then a creature of
blue fire came from the hole. It fought with the fur covered creature and
killed it. The fire creature threw the dead creature at the wing, which
dimpled like water to accept the body, but when Nada looked, she saw only
a blue snake, its belly facing the sky, crawling away from her.
It was so hot that ice was formed on her wings. But the pain felt distant from her body. She felt, though she could not see, great long shapes pulling her through the hole. She came out of the hole and she saw the creatures, great serpents with rainbows for eyes. She knew that she was in the land of Reidju. Their wings were as large as her body and they carried her easily on their backs. Sometimes they flew on the wind, with great strokes of their wings, that sounded like the laughter of the world. Other times they swam on the surface of the water, gliding smoothly through the waves.
They did not speak so that Nada could understand their words. Their voices were deep as the salt lake, and round as the pearl. They carried Nada to a sandy shore and left booming quiet songs. Nada remembered no more.
She woke to the sound of high voices and the feel of scales on her skin. She opened her eyes in the face of the smallest Person she had ever seen. It was the size of a child, no more than her tail in length, yet the way it and the others, for the air swarmed with red creatures, touched each other she knew that they were not children.
"Her eyes are open. She must be alive."
"But sometimes things have open eyes, but they're still dead."
"But they don't open their eyes, they just lay there and are dead."
"Well, she's just laying there."
I'm not dead." laughed Nada. The creatures swarmed away from her and then swarmed back again. "I should be dead. Why didn't I die?"
"They brought you here."
"Who?" said Nada.
"The Great Ones."
"The Old Ones."
"The Blue Ones."
"They brought you from the water. They're from the water."
"But you're not like them."
"You look like us."
"But not really."
"No, no I don't. Who are you?" said Nada.
"We are the People."
"The Red Ones."
My dream. I thought it was real. I thought I was dead." said Nada.
"Well, you're not. Your talking. Dead things don't talk.
"Sometimes they do when the wind blows through them."
"Only when they're bones."
"So, who are you?"
"I am Nada of the Wa...Reidju." said Nada.
"I can breathe in clear water a little, if I don't move around a great deal, but I cannot breathe the salt water. It hurts to swim in it. I wanted to cross to the other side of the salt lake." said Nada.
"That's stupid. Why didn't you just use the rocks."
"What rocks?" said Nada.
"The big ones."
"The small ones."
"The brown and green ones."
"The ones that go between the lands."
Nada shifted in the sands, the sun was growing hot, but she did not want to move. "There are rocks between the lands."
"Of course, lots of them. Pretty big ones too."
"We travel between the lands all the time."
"But not right now."
"Right now we're going to give you food."
Before Nada could speak the writhing mob of red bodies swirled away and back again, pelting her with fruit. "I can't eat this."
"Why not, it's food."
"Not for me it isn't. I eat meat."
"I don't know, nasty things eat meat."
"Things that like to eat us."
"You wouldn't like to eat us would you."
"Though, the Big Ones eat meat, but it's fish meat."
"Fish would be good." said Nada. They swirled away and returned a few at a time to drop shells, star fish, sea weed on her head. Nada ate the shell meat and shells and buried the rest. After she had eaten, Nada fell asleep. She could hear them talking and flying around her, but she could not keep her eyes open.
She rested with the Mari for nine days, regaining her strength. She felt free of the fire that had driven her up the coast, away from her people. She began to miss them. On the eighth day, Nada lay sleeping under a shady tree. The sun was beginning to set, and soon it would be time to hunt for fish. The Mari lay sleeping all around her body. Niepanow, one of the Mari, was sleeping on Nada's back. His skin was softer than those of her people and Nada enjoyed looking at the redness of Mari skin.
Because he was looking at Niepanow, she almost did not see the thing creeping out of the trees. Nada licked her teeth, she could not scent its meat in the air, but she knew it was there waiting. She shivered the skin of her back to get rid of Niepanow and wondered how she was going to avoid squashing the Mari around her. Niepanow whirled off her back and back to fly around the clearing. "Why did you do that? I was sleeping."
Niepanow's noise awoke the other Mari. They darted into the sky, out over the sea. Niepanow continued to circle the trees. His voice was so high that it was difficult for Nada to understand him. She did know that he was hovering very close to the creature. "Get away from there Niepanow." said Nada. "There's something there." And the creature leapt from the brush. It broke Niepanow's skull with its teeth. Nada was still, as it began to eat, but her belly was full of fire. She reared up in the air with her wings and slashed out at the black thing with her long tail. The sharp ridges of her tail bit into the creatures hide, knocking it down. She pinned the creature to the earth with her weight, slashing at its sides with her claws, while her wings gave her balance. It tried to rip her belly with its talons, but Nada cut at its throat with her fangs and it was soon dead. She dragged its corpse a little bit away from Niepanow and began to eat. She was very hungry and it had been a long time since she had eaten properly.
The other Mari hovered around her as she ate, "You killed it."
"That was quick."
Nada stopped eating, "I am sorry, I should have protected him."
The flighty Mari were did not seem excited. "It was his own fault for not paying attention.""We will give his body to the sea."
"That is no proper death ceremony. Let me burn it." said Nada.
"What is this burning."
"We fly because we have wings."
Nada decided to leave the next day. The Mari talked about crossing the water, because the water was coming, but they talked a great deal and made little sense. On the ninth day, they disappeared. Nada decided to follow the stone path across the water without waiting for them to return. She was troubled by differences between herself and the Mari. They were such a funny people, it was easy to laugh at them. But they had not mentioned Niepanow's name since the day of his death, and always sang of the sea.
It took her six days traveling to reach the mainland. She had to fly by twilight, as the sun on the water hurt her eyes. Yet she did not wish to travel in complete darkness, lest she miss the islands.
When she reached the shore, she turned South in a much better frame of mind than when she had flown North. On the Fifth day she saw another of the people flying towards her, it was Huroo.
"Where have you been. We have been so worried. Ngaii has been eating his tail and even Julu said some nice things about you when Numada said you probably had gone off and gotten yourself killed."
"It is good to see you too Huroo." said Nada and she listened to Huroo chatter almost nonstop for the next two days.
On the Eighth morning they circled in on the river bank, where the Reidju were living. Huroo yelled the news as they descended and soon as they were on the sand, the Reidju were clustering around Nada.
Julu stood back from the crowd. "I see you are still alive."
"Yes." said Nada, "though I would not have been had not the rainbow-serpents, surely our ancestor spirits took me up from the depths of the water and brought me to a safe place. There I became well and learned the way to pass across the water."
Again the Reidju began to speak excitedly. So, like the Mari, that Nada nipped herself on the side, for they were so unlike in their likeness. When it was quiet she told them of the path across the water and the Mari, who lived on the pathway.
Ngaii urged Nada to wait and rest before beginning again, but she said that they had wasted too much time already and should be gone before winter came.
"You have not noticed Path-Finder." said Julu.
"Noticed what?" said Nada.
"The days stand still, growing neither longer, nor shorter. We seem to have crossed into another world without noticing."
Nada shrugged, and on the next day the Reidju began their journey anew.
The sky was clear the first two days of their journey across the islands. On the third day, the wind grew fierce and dark clouds gathered in the sky, obscuring the sun. The clouds rushed towards the Reidju like a group of the People on a mourning flight, tossing fire into the sky with great sighs. It began to rain so that the water hurt the skin of the Reidju. They took shelter on one of the island mountains.
The mud was slippery on the hillside and they attempted to shelter under some red rocks. The rain would not stop, it poured for days. They knocked down some trees and leaned them against the rocks, which kept off some of the water. The Reidju could barely hunt. Little Jala of Marindi's get began to cough first phlegm and then blood. Marindi curled around her, to dry her with the warmth of her body, but Jala grew hot and began to scream of bugs crawling on her flesh. Her scales her worn and dim from lying on the dirt so long. When she died, it took Julu and Marindi a long time to burn her body. The Reidju had to knock down more trees to cover Jala from the rain, so that the water would not douse her flame and keep her from returning to Reidju's love.
"Will it ever stop raining?" said Numada. "We're all going to die."
"We're not going to die. But we can't stay here. We have no shelter and little food." said Nada.
"The wind is too strong. It will rip us apart." said Aylupa.
"Only if you fight it." said Nada. "Let the wind carry you. Use it to push you on your journey."
"I agree with Nada, let us go on." said Ngaii.
Julu leaned back on his tail. "You would agree. But I say we should go also. The Windijindi spirits are capricious but not cruel. In the stories, when Bandu was caught in a great storm in Arnhem land, he played with the Windijindi spirits and they let him live. I say we seek other shelter. It is not fitting that the children of Reidju die in a land where she does not show her face."
"I have lost one child waiting. I too will go." said Marindi.
So, it was decided and when the wind quieted a bit, the Reidju lifted themselves into it. The wind shoved them about, and the rain bit at their skin, but they did not fight the wind, dancing the mating dance with it. Nada tried not to enjoy the pull of the wind. Its power surrounded her body, pulled her to new places. The Reidju sought shelter when the could, but continued on each day. On the thirteenth day of their journey, the wind grew greater than fierce. The sky was full of fire, and the wind pushed them away from the land path they had been following. To fight the wind was to torn to pieces, so the Reidju let the Windijindi spirits carry them out over the water. The night came, and there was no light to guide them on their journey, only the push of the wind. When the sun came to light the gray sky, the Reidju were exhausted. Nada did not see Garhain, whose wing had been broken. She knew that he had fallen from the sky into the waiting sea. She struggled to lift herself higher into the sky.
The wind carried the Reidju in among the Rainbow serpents. One skimmed so close to Nada that should could feel its breath on her scales. She saw an eye of sea fire. Then without words, for the wind would have carried any away, as one group the Rainbow serpents held their great wings into their bodies and dived into the tossing sea. Within a few moments the Reidju were carried over the land, leaving the rain behind them.
The land was flat, and full of forest. The Reidju found a clearing and they piled on top of one another. They rested in the sunlight until they could breath.
"The Rainbow serpents have blessed our journey, surely we will find a new home." said Marindi, as she nuzzled her get.
"Yes, but they dived into the water before we came to land, so I believe we have a long way to go." said Julu.
"Garhain is not here. Perhaps they went to carry him to their mother Reidju." said Jana.
"When we come to a place to live, we must fully honor those who have passed to Reidju. Let us call this place Nyag, for here the rainbow serpents live. Let us also burn a pyre to Garhain." said Julu.
"For now we need to move to higher ground. That storm will be coming over the land soon." said Nada. "We can mourn and honor Garhain, when we are safe."
"I cannot move." said Numada.
"Then you can stay and watch the rain come." said Huroo.
Numada snorted and the Reidju lifted themselves into the sky. By sunset, they had come to some low hills. They found a large opening in the hill, with vines hanging down over its mouth. They crawled into the cave and in the morning they woke to see a misty rain falling on the hills.
"So, now what. We have still not found a place to live, though we have certainly come far from where we came." said Jana.
"We were not meant for rain." said Numada.
"We could follow the coast." said Wura, who smiled at Numada.
"That would mean turning back." said Marindi, she cuddled her children closer.
"I say we go west." said Nada.
"That is a good direction." said Ngaii, he looked over Julu's back at Nada. His voice was hopeful.
"Why not north?" said Numada.
"The wind is not pushing us that way." said Nada.
"Nada has led us well, we still live. I say west." said Huroo, he flickered his eyes at Numada.
"Little Jala and Garhain no longer fly with us. We have been led into the land of the dead." said Numada.
"If you wish to find the sky path, then you may do so." said Nada. "I did not ask to lead the way."
"And I did not ask you." said Numada. "I can find a direction at random just as well as you can."
"Reidju sets in the west. We carry her name." said Julu. "We should follow her. Let us not be distracted among ourselves."
"I do not need your help Julu." said Nada. "If Numada thinks she can lead the way, fine."
"I do not wish to lead the way. They would not follow me. My scales do not glow gold as yours do. I am not as young. But I am not blind like the others."
"Numada, I do not need your approval, but I could do without your complaints."
"That is enough Nada." said Julu. He swished his tail into the dirt.
"I am done. It is time to hunt. I am hungry for food and bones." said Nada as she went out into the rain to hunt.
They stayed in the cave for three days. They cleared a space in the wet and built a mound of wood. They dried the wood with their breath and then set it to flame. They sang the song of Reidju
Fire Walking, Fire Flying, Fire in the belly, Fire in the sky, The beginning, the end, Round as Reidju.
When the fourth morning came, they began to fly west. Some days it rained, while on others the sun shown, but Nada knew in her bones which direction to follow. She could feel the sun behind her eyes, and she followed it.
There were strange animals in this land. Unlike the creatures that the Reidju knew. Maban was injured killing a great orange and black creature with claws as sharp as Maban's. It was only with Ayulpa's help that Mabda was not the creature's meal. They came to hunt in pairs, to do all things together, all but Nada, who still though she wandered, had the wanderlust. Yet the new creatures did not threaten her and her body was lean from the journey.
As the jungle gave way to forest, the air grew cooler. The air was also marked with the scent of the People, yet none of the Reidju could see what had made the scent.
Nada scouted alone, for long hours in the sky. One day, the rains came again as she was flying. The Windijindi spirits fought each other and gnashed at each other. They threw lightening at unseen bodies and rent the sky with rain like blood, warm on Nada's scales. Nada circled around a vine covered hill and settled in a small clearing on the side of hill. She huddled into the hill for protection. The vines gave way to the pressure of her body and she crawled into the opening. The cave smelled of the People and mildew.
The walls gave off a cool blue light, quite different from the soft green light falling through the cave opening.
Nada heard a noise and bared her teeth, remembering the orange and black creature Mabda and Aylupa killed. "What is it. Speak, you smell of the People, but I cannot see you. I would not hurt kin."
A shadow moved on the wall and took on shape apart from the wall. Nada could barely hear the creature's low voice, "I saw you fly. Have the Peri brought you to take me away. Are you a rakhoshi?"
Nada's eyes adjusted to the soft light and she saw one of the People, but not for it had no wings. It was somewhat smaller than she, and its scales were a brownish blue, rather like the walls of the cave. From it's head there were two black horns which spiraled like twisting grass. "Who are you?" said Nada.
"Not a rakhoshi then, or you'd have already eaten me. A pakhiraj then, lost in the storm. I am Pashaboti of Champaka's sway and this is my cave. Though Champaka does not visit me, he prefers Gojmati. Her horns are dark as the rain clouds, and her voice is the cry of the peacock, and her eyes flash with dark sky fire - I can not compare to her. My eyes do not flash with sky fire. I don't even walk with the grace of the red sharee. But I am better off than you, your scales are the color of the winter sun. What are you?"
"I appear quite normal among my own people. I am Nada of the Reidju, she who is the sun in the sky, our grandmother. It is fitting that I resemble the winter sun, though I hope at least for a summer sky."
"The summer rain brings life to the land, from which the people come. What would the sun bring."
"You can fly in it."
Pashaboti settled herself down onto the floor of the cave, "I cannot fly, Nada of the Sun. What does the sun bring, loneliness, the storm has brought me a companion. Who is your mate, where are your people, why are you here?
"My people are not far from here. We are journeying from our land, which has grown cold and hard, to seek a new place in which to live."
"Come, then, let me offer you some food, the rain will keep your Reidju away for awhile." Pashaboti turned back on herself and muttered. She turned back to Nada with a lump of meat in one claw. "Will this do, with you teeth so sharp."
Nada nodded and tore into the meat for she was sore hungry. Her eyes grew heavy, and she was soon asleep, when she awoke she was in a large cavern, which glowed with the blue light. The ceiling disappeared into a hazy blue and had no end. There were several openings into darkness on the walls of the cave. The blue light made the walls crawl with many faces. Nada felt the walls crushing in around her and the faces seemed to leer at her trembling.
Pashaboti lay curled up on a pile of rushes, she was staring at Nada. "You are awake."
Nada shook herself, "Where am I."
"You slept, I brought you to my home. It has been so long since I had a visitor."
"What makes the walls glow blue." asked Nada, her high voice echoed off the walls."
"It is a fungus I grow to light my home. It is quite delicious." said Pashaboti. She nipped at the wall, and she pulled a white lump away from the wall. She smiled softly at Nada.
"Take me back to the surface." said Nada.
"You're not frightened of the earth are you, sky child? It's what we come from, what we return to when we are done."
"I feel as if the dirt were trying to eat me."
"It is." Pashaboti's breath was quick, "What is it like to fly."
"It is a fire in the belly. It is light. It is the joy flame you burn on the first fly about, and the emptiness you feel when you leave the people." Nada shifted in the close quarters.
"That does not sound comfortable, but very exciting. Why have you come to my cave?" Pashaboti's eyes gleamed black in the light.
"It was raining." Nada stretched her back, wet dirt fell onto her neck. "Could you show me the way out."
"It was destiny, that drove you to my cave. I had prayed for a dark lover to steal into my home, and the storm sent the light of day to me." Pashaboti smiled at Nada. "Look at my art." Pashaboti nodded at one wall of her cave. It was covered with the stone replicas of animals. Nada moved toward them. They were perfect in every detail. One of the birds had a broken wing, Nada could tell by the angle of its body. "What are these."
"Oh, I make them. In fact let me show you my latest creation." Pashaboti walked over to one of the apertures, she muttered under her breath, and the opening was lit with blue light. Nada peered into the cavern. Two people of Pashaboti's race lay curled around each other like mated snakes.
Nada peered at the faint cracks in the males horns. "They are beautiful. I can almost see them breathe."
"Almost. It is Champaka and Gojmati." Pashaboti circled the curling lovers. "It comforts me to have them here. But now that you're here I think I will get rid of them. They are in the way and you're a far more interesting study."
Nada swallowed, "I will not be staying."
Pashaboti leaned close to Nada, Nada could feel Pashaboti's breath on her scales, "But you must stay. I have been so lonely for a companion."
"I was not designed to live in a cave. I must rejoin my people." Nada backed towards the tunnel.
"I was not asking you. I did not ask you to come into my cave, but you came. I could have turned you to stone. You would have made an excellent guardian for my door, but your skin burns so and your eyes so fierce." Pashaboti's tongue flickered towards Nada's wing. Nada jumped back. She could hear her heart beating fast. "You are such a child. You have never had a mate have you."
"I just want to fly." said Nada.
"I'm sure you do." Pashaboti moved back a step. "It will not be so bad. I will feed you well, and tell you many stories." Pashaboti cocked her head at Nada. "Do you not find my shape pleasing. Champaka found me pleasing when I came to him as Gojamati. For that matter Gojmati found me pleasing when I came to her as Champaka." Pashaboti's shape shimmered in the dim light. Her skin turned a golden yellow and her horns fell away. She grew large like Nada. It was odd to see one of the people without wings. And then Pashaboti looked odder still when she became rather obviously a he.
Nada could hear her heart hammering in her chest. This was like something
in a story of the Dreaming. It was one thing to know that long ago Yulunggul
the first rainbow serpent had changed gender and shape at will. But to
see one of the people actually do it made Nada sick to her stomatch.
She slowed to a walk, after what seemed days of running. When it grew to small to walk on her legs, she used her pinions for support. The walls grew dim, and Nada had trouble seeing. She knew she had not acted wise, for now she was lost beneath the earth. She closed her eyes and felt for the pull of the earth and the sun. They were there behind her eyes. She followed the path they showed her. Her back hurt, and her pinions ached under the unaccustomed strain. Her heart was heavy, she had never attacked one of their own people before.
After many turns Nada found herself at the edge of some water. The light was all gone now. Nada slipped into the water, letting it move around her, cleaning her. She followed the light behind her eyes. When she emerged from the water she was in a vast cavern.
Here the air was fresh and though Nada could see no exit. She heard a soft scuttling noise. "Whose there?" she said, prepared to fight if she had been followed.
The scuttling stopped. "You are not Pashaboti." said a voice like grinding rocks.
"No, I am not. Tell me where am I and how can I get to the surface."
Footsteps came closer and she felt many hands touching her body. "There is only one way to the surface, that is through Pashaboti's cavern. Did she make you too, or are you one of the ones that she killed when she came to this place."
"I am Nada of Reidju. Djauala was my mother and I was hatched far from here. Did she make you? Are there many of you here?"
"There are many and she made us for her pleasure, to serve her, so that she need not take on a shape with hands. We live down here awaiting her summons. We carried you into her cave. Why are you here."
"She said she wished to keep me here and I struck her and ran."
The hands pulled back. Another voice said, "And you are not dead yet!"
"I may have killed her." said Nada.
"No, she is not dead, " said the first voice. "we would feel it if she were. But you are as good as dead. Now she will kill you."
"There are many of us, together we could kill her." said Nada. "I will not die like prey. I am Reidju's child."
"She cannot be killed, but whoever's child you are. She has the power of shapes and she can make things that live. She has the power of change."
"I will burn her with my fire."
"That will not work. She will lose her body and be unharmed."
"Surely there is some way to harm her."
"No, she keeps her life hidden in a beryl nut, which none can find. The only way to kill her is to crush it, but you will not find it. Beg her forgiveness, she will only hurt you a little."
"I cannot, I will die fighting if I must, but I will find the beryl nut.."
"We will take you back to her cave, if you wish, but we cannot help you any further. To speak with you is to risk her anger. She can unmake what she has made."
She followed the creature's footsteps back through the water and the tunnels, until they came to the edge of the cavern of Pashaboti. She caught a glimpse of stone limbs and a gray lump of head, before the creature slipped back into the shadows.
Nada crept into the cave, there was no sign of Pashaboti. She searched among all the stone figures and in all the bits of the room. With little fires she looked in the passage ways, but she could not see the beryl nut. There were tunnels aplenty, but she felt dizzy when she looked at them.
Then one of the statues began to move. Or maybe it was the light. No it was a serpent. The serpent uncoiled from where it was laying on Gojamati or was it Champaka. Nada couldn't remember.
"I am Nada of Reidju."
"I know." said the serpent. It coiled up one of the stone dragons horns. "Aren't you going to ask me about the stone?"
"What stone?""Perhaps, you'd like to know about the way ahead, Nada of Reidju ne' Wanambis." The serpent stretched on its stony perch and spread its hood. It had a strange pattern, like eyes. "You get three."
"Three what?" Nada was tired and confused and her head hurt.
"Two now, questions. What do you want to know. You need to know alot. But you can deal with most of it. You already have." The serpent began to wind back down around itself. "Better stick to the stone."
"And there was one. The beryl stone. The nut she/he/it/the Peri Pashaboti keeps its soul in." The serpent dropped to the ground and began to slide into a hole in the wall.
"Wait. Where is it? Where is the beryl stone?"
The serpents voice drifted back, "Look above your head. I would hurry."
There was a sound of footsteps. Nada filled her air sacks with fire and lifted up off the floor towards the ceiling. She went up high. She saw a strange hairy creature walk into the room, it was confusion to look upon it. It was covered with lights and colors and limbs. Nada felt ill. She looked at the ceiling's edge, there was a tiny hole. With one pinion she reached into the hole and pulled from it a small stone. She could not be sure if it was the beryl nut. She did not want to test it at random.
She lowered herself behind Pashaboti. "This is your last chance to set me free."
The creature turned and transformed itself into the person that Nada had seen before. "You hurt me. I am going to have to hurt you now. I will not kill you though, for you warm my interest. Do not struggle. You will only injure yourself more."
"I will not let you keep me here." said Nada, "Allow me to leave now, or we must fight."
"Then we shall fight. I will be gentle." Pashaboti rippled into the orange and black creature that Maban had fought. Nada placed the stone in her mouth and began to chew. It would not break. She slashed a claw at the creature. It sprang at her, rending her belly. She dared not open her mouth. They rolled on the floor, Nada pressed the creature back. Its teeth grazed her neck.
The stone broke and the creature gave a cry and disappeared.
Nada decided to leave quickly. She did not like this place. She closed her eyes and chose the tunnel that she felt was right. After a short while, she stood in the entry cave. The sun was still up and the rain still fell. She flew back to her camp. She told no one of Pashaboti, she felt dirty. When Ngaii fussed over her absence and her wounds, she snapped angry words at him, which took much speech to soothe. She sometimes dreamed of dark eyes in the days that came after.
The Reidju journeyed Westward, and the land grew thick with water. The smell was of growing things emerging from the bodies of the dead. It repelled Nada and the others. It was difficult for them to stand coming close to the earth and the still water. It rained everyday, and the wind carried them forward. The slept in the trees, unable to find land. Numada was not the only one who grumbled, though no one could deny that game was plentiful by the waters.
On the third night, they came to rest on a small island in a river. The grass shivered with life. No sooner had they settled into the grass, when twenty or so creatures swarmed out of the trees. They were small as Marindi's get, yet they were not awkward. They were gray green, but Nada noticed their mouths full of teeth, as they set to attack the party. Five of them fell on Wadju, who had been sleeping a little apart from the rest. Nada batted one off of Wadju, but she could see it was too late. They were too quick for the Reidju to fight. They flitted among the Reidju, biting and slashing. "Get into the air above the trees. We can not fight on the ground." Marindi flushed her young into the sky and then hovered beneath them. The others soon followed. Several of the creatures chased the Reidju above the trees, but here the Reidju could move. Mabda flapped his wings, and a creature was knocked sideways by the air current and was struck to the earth by Maban's tail. Nada ripped the head of one from its body with her claws. The creatures retreated to the earth. The Reidju began to fly west.
The morning found them away from the swamps and into a low range of hills. "What were those creatures?" asked Marindi as she licked the cuts her youngest side.
"I have never heard of any creature like them." said Julu.
"Yes, you have. They were Djuguld." said Nada. She curled up into her tail.
"You speak nonsense." said Numada. "The Djuguld are gone and certainly never looked like that."
"No, I speak the only sense. We have met people of sea, and jungle, and now swamp. We were attacked by those who dwell in the place which we are not to enter, those to whom we are never to speak. They tried to kill us."
"You are trying to distract us from the fact that we went west and Wadju is dead. Another funeral pyre for Nada."
"It was not Nada's fault. It was mine." said Julu. "We should have posted guards. But we were lax. Have too long been the mightiest creatures in our land. We no longer in our land. We must be careful. I bear Wadju's death on myself."
"Let us not speak of fault." said Marindi. "Let us mourn Wadju, and move on. If we do not keep on, we will never find where we are going." Marindi hugged her get to her sides.
"As, you say Marindi. Let us rest, with guards and continue on the morrow." said Nada. They attempted to rest, but many the Reidju were too exited do more than lie in the grass. They built a small pyre for Wadju, but they did not sing and on the next day they began to fly once more.
The mountains grew higher, but the rains came less, and were more gentle. Once more Nada caught the scent of salt and once more the Reidju came to the sea, but this time it was thin strip of salty water and the Reidju could see land on the other side. The Reidju landed on the shore and looked across the water.
"I say we go across the water." said Nada.
"What about the west." said Numada. "That is South, the way we came from."
"It is the way to go. I can smell it." said Nada.
"Smell what." said Numada. She arched her pinions into her back.
"The grass. It is waiting for us."
"Do you really think so?" said Huroo.
"Yes." said Nada.
"I don't know. There is no reason to change direction." said Julu.
"Think of it as crawling back into the egg, Julu. We have reached the other world."
"Several times over I should think. I am too tired to argue. Let us cross the water. If in three days the land does not become as it we need it, then we go west."
"South it is then, agreed." said Nada. The Reidju nodded their agreement. They flew into the air with a renewed purpose, confident that Nada would lead them to their new home. Had she not led them to a land where the days again grew long.
They crossed the water and came to a new set of mountains. These mountains were low, and full of lakes. It was not even nightfall, by the time the land gave way to rippling fields of grass. The Reidju nested in the grass. Huroo swirled in circles and Marindi's get chased each other as if they had not flown all day.
The next morning the Reidju split up into parties to find a suitable place to live. The land was full of game, though strange in shape and size and no day passed that several new animals were brought back to eat. On the third day, Nada found a low plateau covered with rock piles. The rocks formed a series of natural shelters. There was a small clear area in the center and at the foot of the plateau was a lake of clear blue. Nada watched the fish swim in the lake. She dived into the water and let the dirt wash from her. She lay still and let the water enter her. Then she crawled from the lake and returned to her people.
That night the Reidju rested in their new home. They pushed the rocks into higher shapes and burned mud between them with their breath to hold these shapes. They performed the Ur ritual singing and sweeping the earth with their tails. They named their home KaReidju, for it was the Reidju's home, and that was the name they took for themselves. At night they flew the mourning flight, for those who had gone. They brought grass from the plain to lie upon. It was soon a home. They saw no other people in this new land.
On the seventh day, they rested and held a corrombee among themselves. It was a good life in this new land. There was more game, and what animals lived there were varied. Nada again had no role. She no longer led the way, she had never spoken the law. The plains beckoned to her, and the fire burned in her belly. She felt ashamed to still long for the other. When any spoke to her of her flights or asked her advice, she spoke sharp and quick with them.
So, she flew away in the night, not for long. She returned, but she left again. Each leaving was a little longer. The Reidju knew better than to keep her. After a time it was years between returning. Ngaii flew Aylupa. Julu grew old and wise. And Nada was always full of stories. She had returned to their homeland and found nothing. Only bones lay in the land of their people. She met shy people in the lands to the west, who lived by night. She met many creatures, by the sea. The world grew and was strange in her presence. She was viewed as quite strange and solitary, herself. After a time she did not return, but the Reidju remembered her and as they spread across the land, they sang of her name and her wanderings.