Passage to Nyika

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Chapter 3

Yetu brings me to a table near a fire with a bubbling pot swaying above it. Yetu and I sit across from each other at the small square table. I feel nervous, almost uncomfortable at not being able to read her mind and finding out what I can do to make her more comfortable.

“For some reason yours was the only face I could come up with from my classes who was a Nyikain” I timidly offer.
A soft giggle escapes her lips as she tells me “This is because I am the only Nyikain who has gone to your class. Many of the other Nyikains don’t believe that communicating with beasts is good. None of our Nzwa can talk to the beasts like your kind can. Many feel that it is you training the beasts to do tricks. They figured it would be good if at least on of us learned how to tell the beasts to do what we need them to do.”
“You believe that the animals have just learned tricks! But animals are just as intelligent as we are. Just as your people, though not from the same country, are just as intelligent as we are, the animals though not of our species, are just as smart”
“That may be how your people view the animals, but most of the Nyikains here still think the animals are just dumb.”
I suddenly feel absolutely relieved that Olwyn is not with me. If she were, Yetu would be having her face and hair rearranged right now. She must have kept these thoughts to herself while in my class.
“But” Yetu continues “I have seen the animals and they are changing my thoughts about this. They are showing me that they have emotions and understand that they are them. I am not sure if I am making myself clear.”
“I understand what you are saying” I reassure her.

Kindly smiles are exchanged as we take a couple moments silence. I finally gain the courage to change the subject.
“I have been helping the horses with the harvest this year. Often while helping them images of Nyika come to the surface and I can’t help but look. This has made me very curious about you country. I have some questions . . .”
“Are you able to search inside people’s mind” she interrupts me.
“Yes, I am not only a beastspeaker but also a coercer” I answer confused
“Well then, would you like me to just open my mind and let you see my country?” Yetu offers.
“WHAT! Are you sure I would not be intruding?”
“It is fine”

Before I have a chance of saying anything further, I feel her shield dissolve. I get into a comfortable sitting position and I form a probe to enter her mind. I am shocked at how ORGANISED her mind is! Usually you have to wade around in a person’s mind to find the information you want. But with Yetu, her mind was like a chest of draws with each draw labelled what memory it was. Even though she is letting me in her mind she has some draws that are locked to me. I don’t know how she has done that but I understand her wanting to do that.

I am guided to the draw of memories I asked to look at.. I see Yetu of about a year ago comforting her crying mother. Her father says “It’s for his own good. Carson is Nzwa and must go to the blacklands. We must be protected from their demons, even if he is our own son” As Yetu was growing up she saw a great number of her friends banished to the blacklands because of their talents. Some of the Nzwa are good some bad, but all treated indiscriminately as demon possessed beings. All Nzwa are banished to the blacklands. But eventually the bodies are not found so often. The Nzwa are escaping the blacklands to somewhere else.

So Yetu decides to go with her brother Carson over the blacklands to try and find where the other Nzwa are going. No one has accused or even thought Yetu was Nzwa. But she goes none the less. Before leaving Yetu and Carson thickly wrap their feet in clean cloth. Thick blankets and all the food they are allowed to bring is packed for them. As they traverse the great seemingly endless void of blackness and death, Carson is over protective of Yetu. He gives Yetu the majority of the room on the blankets when they sleep, often meaning he is lying on the poisoned ground. If there is any climbing he insists on Yetu using him for balance, meaning t hat he stumbles and falls far more. Yetu can see Carson getting very unwell but he still insists on her using him. As Carson and Yetu reach the red queen’s land, Carson is clearly suffering from advanced effects of the rotting sickness. He goes to the healing halls but does not last too long.

I pull my probe out of Yetu and as I do so I realize that my face is wet with tears. I re-lived her tragedy, and felt her sorrow, but since this was not her first time on that journey, Yetu appeared outwardly unaffected. But living through her memories I learn several things. The most important is that it is possible to traverse from this beautiful land I call my home, to Nyyika. A plan starts forming in my mind.

I tenderly thank Yetu for sharing her experiences with me. I had never felt such strong feelings of empathy before, or even felt such sadness as most people and animals in this land have never gone through such trials and tribulations! This thought urges on my plan and I leave Yetu’s house, even all of New Nyika in a planning trance all the way back to my school house. As I approach my school house I feel Olwyn’s mind apologetically reaching out to mine, but due to my heavy thinking she finds it hard to wrap her around mine.

When she starts to see my plan she thoroughly objects. “NO! You must not go over the blacklands to Nyika. I don’t care what you think. What can one boy do in a land like that?” She tells me digging her tiny claws into my skin.
“But Olwyn I must go! You have seen the torture the humans of Nyika have put animals through! I can help them in that, by showing them how intelligent the animals are. I can teach them the finger language and show them that the talented are not evil people! What’s more is that I must leave tonight! That way there is no way that I can be stopped”

I start carefully choosing what I can bring with me to survive, but will not overly load me down. As I am packing Olwyn scampers away – I can’t quite make out what she plans to do but it has something to do with talking to the horses. No matter, I have to continue packing, and hopefully Olwyn will come with me or I will feel some what lost going to the new country. Before I get very far in packing, there is a knock at the door.
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