“We thought you all knew that we shared our Dreams with each other,” Yaltar said. “We weren’t trying to keep it a secret or anything. It all started when Eleria had that first Dream about the time when the world was just a baby. That was an awfully noisy time, wasn’t it?”
“Very noisy, yes. Are you saying that all four of you had exactly the same Dream at the same time?” Zelana asked, feeling more than a little startled.
“Not really, was it, Ashad?” Yaltar asked his brother.
“No, Eleria was doing the dreaming,” Ashad replied. “We could see it, of course, but everything was coming from her. I think that Eleria’s pink pearl might have had something to do with that. Her jewel was the very first one any of us found, so she had the first Dream. We were all just sort of tagging along behind her, watching what was happening. Later on, Yaltar found his opal, and then he had his first Dream, and we all watched that one—in the same way that we’d watched Eleria’s. Then I found my agate, and I had my Dream. Now Lillabeth’s doing the dreaming, and the rest of us are watching. We all sort of know that it’s going to happen, though. The pretty lady wants it that way, I think.”
“Pretty lady?” Zelana asked, somewhat baffled.
“We aren’t supposed to talk about her, Beloved,” Eleria said. “She loves you and your sister and brothers, but she doesn’t want us to upset you right now because you’re very busy. Anyway, your sister’s trying to keep Lillabeth’s Dream a secret, because she’s afraid that if you and your brothers know about it, you’ll take all those soldiers away from her and bring them on up here to help your big brother. Your sister’s terribly afraid right now, and she wants lots and lots of soldiers in her country to protect her from the bugs. I think she was hoping that the next Dream would tell everybody that the bugs would attack her part of the world next and that everybody would run on over into her country to fight them off. Lillabeth’s Dream didn’t say that, though, so now your sister’s trying to hide it from everybody else.”
“I think she might be worried about how many soldiers the bug-people will kill when they come north,” Ashad said. “If all those soldiers get killed up here, there won’t be any left to protect her. That’s kind of silly, isn’t it? The soldiers haven’t lost any of these wars yet, so there’ll still be plenty of them left after they win the war up here. I don’t want to make you mad at me, Zelana, but your sister’s kind of silly, isn’t she?”
“I think it’s just about time for me to go on down there and slap the silly out of her,” Zelana said.
“Can we come along and watch?” Yaltar asked eagerly.
“I don’t think that would be a very good idea,” Zelana said grimly. “I’ll need Eleria, probably, but I think you boys should stay here. We never know when one of these Dreams are going to come along, and if one of you boys starts dreaming, Dahlaine will need to know about it immediately. Come along, Eleria. Let’s go on down and teach Aracia a few things.” She reached out and picked Eleria up and went on out of Dahlaine’s cave.
“Are you going to hit your sister, Beloved?” Eleria asked eagerly.
“Behave yourself, Eleria,” Zelana scolded the little girl as she walked up the steep side of Mount Shrak toward the peak. “You know that we never hit each other.”
“You could spank her, though, couldn’t you? Spanking and hitting aren’t exactly the same thing, are they?”
Zelana laughed almost in spite of herself. “We’ll see, child,” she said. “If nothing else works, maybe I will have to spank my sister.” She reached out with her mind in search of a good strong wind that was going in the right direction. “Now, I want you to just relax and stay calm, Eleria. We’ll be a long way up in the sky, and we’ll be moving very fast. I’ll hold you tight, so you won’t be in any danger at all. It might be best if you don’t look down—at least not right at first. After a while, it won’t bother you anymore.”
“I trust you completely, Beloved,” Eleria replied, “and I think that flying might be fun after I get used to it.”
“I’ve always enjoyed it. In a certain sense, flying’s a lot like swimming—except that you don’t get wet.” Then Zelana briefly touched a strong wind blowing down out of the northwest. “That one, I think,” she said, taking Eleria in her arms. Then she reached up to grasp the wind, and she and Eleria rose smoothly up into the sky, frightening a flock of geese as they went.
“Are those birds anything at all like Meeleamee and the other pink dolphins, Beloved?” Eleria asked.
“Not really, dear. Birds aren’t very clever at all.”
“Oh, my,” Eleria said, looking down at the forest far below.
“What is it, dear one?”
“Those trees are all red and gold, Beloved. They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”
“Indeed they are, Eleria,” Zelana said. “It’s autumn now, and sometimes autumn is the most beautiful time of the year.”
“Why do some trees stay green while others change their color?”
“Certain trees need to show off, dear. I’m sure that my big brother could explain why it happens. Dahlaine loves to explain things, and he can be very tedious about it. I prefer simpler answers. The trees are sad because summer’s almost over.”
“It will come back, though, Beloved. The trees know that, don’t they?”
“I’m sure they do. Some trees stay green all year because they stay awake. The trees that change color sleep through the winter.”
“Then those bright colors are just their way of saying ‘good-night’ to each other, isn’t it?”
Zelana laughed and pulled Eleria even closer. “I love you, child,” she said.
“And I love you, Beloved. How much farther is it to your sister’s country?”
“Not too far. We were lucky enough to find a wind that knows where it’s going. Every so often I encounter a wind that wanders off in all directions when I’m in a hurry.”
“Spank it, Beloved. That would make it do what it’s supposed to do, wouldn’t it?”
“I’m not sure that I’d know how to spank a wind,” Zelana said, laughing. “We should reach Aracia’s temple in just a little while. We’ll drift on in quietly, and I’ll drop you off in Lillabeth’s room before I confront Aracia. I don’t want you to be alarmed. I’m going to shout at my sister and call her nasty names. I want her to get excited enough to start saying ridiculous things right in front of Narasan and Trenicia. I’m fairly sure that she’ll deny everything that I say. You’ll have had time enough by then to explain things to Lillabeth, and when Aracia starts screaming, you two can come into the throne-room and cut the ground right out from under my silly sister. I want Narasan and Trenicia to realize that they shouldn’t believe anything Aracia tells them.”