It happened all in a rush, the images. One moment she was sitting on the shore of the lake her family used to come to to fish in the summers, and the next, a swirling torrent of sound and color, wind and what felt like hail. Mishwe reeled.
And then there they were: the piercing eyes of Rhessi, her sister, as they had always been. Searching. Evaluating. Passing judgement. But as Mishwe wilted under their stare, she began to feel them soften... but they had not changed at all. What looked like searching was now revealed to be attention. What once was evaluation now was obviously concern. The judgement had now so clearly always been an overwhelming compassion that consumed Mishwe and sent her spiraling in on herself. How had she not seen?
The mist of the lake washed over her and swirled the image away, but left her shaken. She wanted to flee. She panicked and bolted into the hills surrounding the lake, but was brought up short by a towering figure with eagle feathers adorning her headdress and shoulders. She shone like the sun and her white fur was gleaming. The tall shu’halo carried the staff of a priest, adorned with raven’s feathers and symbols of An’she. She seemed to bask in the rays that emerged from the parting clouds. All became clear in this instant. This was the spirit that was calling her. This was the path she was meant to take. The spirit looked on her kindly and extended a hand. “Mishwe…” she intoned. “You must follow me. You must seek me out. I will show you the way… Heed the call of An’she and protect those I cannot.” As Mishwe lunged for her hand, falling to her knees, the spirit seemed to recede and fade, calling, “Seek me out…”
Mishwe bellowed as the spirit faded, and she still reached out, but she quickly regained her resolve as the light that shone from the retreating figure seemed to fill her completely. Yes, This was truth. This was illumination. Light used not to sear or to burn, but to make clear and to light a path. How could she have missed it before? An’she was gentle and kind but allowed the clear truth to be seen. An’she was light itself.
Into this reverie crashed another spirit, dark and foreboding. The image of Hama loomed over Mishwe, who still knelt. She cringed instinctively, feeling her leg burn and her spirit wilt. His power was still so strong. She felt herself being raised up against her will, as if his spirit held her by the throat. “You… are… MINE!” The spirit seemed to writhe against her body, touching her, claiming her… But not this time.
A blow to his ribs with a clenched fist.
YOU WILL NEVER…
Three more blows to the ribs in quick succession, then a spin with a cocked elbow to the smirking jaw.
TOUCH ME AGAIN!
A final uppercut and the spirit reeled with exploding pain, howling vengeance. The figure dissolved into sparkles of light, and the priest spirit’s voice sounded again in Mishwe’s mind. “A fighter. A fighter for the light. You protect your own skin at last. Will you protect the others who need you? Will you answer that call?”
A shiver ran through her. Of course. It was not enough to fight for herself. There were others in need. Rhessi had known that. But she was not the only one…
The mist swirled again and settled softly. A sound emerged from that soft mist. What was it? Mishwe could almost hear it… then it was upon her, enveloping her and cradling her with its warm glow.
A lullabye. Her mother’s voice rang out soft and clear, singing a sweet song of love. She remembered how she had felt, a calf cuddled in her mother’s warm embrace, completely safe and loved. She looked up into those warm golden eyes and felt at peace. She heard her mother’s song shift from the familiar words into a song of purpose:
Your task has been clear from the start
To fight, but with a loving heart
The light illuminates your way
To serve and praise our mighty An’she
The song was the light and it filled her, never to fade. She woke with it still ringing in her ears and her heart.
And she knew who she was.