Siaiwh lighted in the deep dark below, surrounded by the bubbling laughter of siblings lighting. There was slow groaning all around from older spirits of earth, and quiet whispers from timeless spirits of dark. Always there was the built bubbling voice, the voice of the mother. Edanu was her mother, and her world.
And Siaiwh danced to it all.
With siblings dancing all around, they rose upwards through the deep dark. Sometimes they would have to squeeze past the protesting earth spirits who would grumble as they danced over and between. Sometimes they would slow awhile, or some would stop in the open places where the dark would whisper its soft words. Once they all heard angry voices from deep below, as all around them grew hotter, an entirely new sensation that luckily did not last long.
Siaiwh learned to listen to the other spirits while many around her thought only of the water. Some tired of the dance and grew still in the open places, stopping their journey with others who came before them.
But Siaiwh could not stop dancing. And sometimes, Siaiwh would sing.
And then one day, all that were still dancing emerged into the light, falling down from the caves high in the mountains. This new place had air and earth spirits in abundance. The great big mountain spirits were replaced by the stones and pebbles, but the tiny gusts of the air spirits were also met by great winds and storms. New water spirit cousins fell from the sky to join with mother Edanu.
And the dark spirits would visit, and welcome them all to the world. And Siaiwh listened. And danced. And sang.
Once an old pebble spirit spoke to Siaiwh of the Others as the river danced by. They could come and go as they pleased, wandered the world, but we’re all but invisible to spirits.
The air and dark spirits sometimes whispered of the Others too. Siaiwh wanted nothing more than to meet an Other, so sing and dance with it, to learn more about them. It must be an odd thing to be invisible, Siaiwh often thought.
One day, at a river crossing, when the earth spirits were crowded and the dance was most energetic, it happened. An Other appeared in the middle of the fording.
This one was huge, much bigger than the pebbles and stones, the spirits of the air, perhaps as big as the mountain spirits themselves.
Siaiwh danced to the Other, and then everything changed.
The other spoke, in the words of the mother Edanu. And with great hands reached down into the river, and lifted Siaiwh upwards, away from her kin. And then the world shifted, and then we’re more shapes, more Others all around, but somehow hidden too. And Siaiwh could not hear the other spirits any more.
“Hello little,” it said, “I Valam, I talk your words, you know?”
Siaiwh didn’t know what to do but dance and sing.
“Other, I am Siaiwh. You speak the words of my mother Edanu. I cannot hear my siblings or friends. Where are they?”
“Friend here, little Siaiwh. All here. Hiding, like you do.” The Other said something to one of the indistinct shapes, the one closest. The language of the Others was a coarse angry gargle compared to all the words of the spirits.
“Master speak you know much. Speak to me words I say now.” The Other, proud, made a little cough, then looked all around smiling, before looking back at Siaiwh.
“Siaiwh, spirit of the mother Edanu, I am Valam. I search here for a friend of my own, a spirit friend. I seek knowledge, to share with all around. But I need the help of a spirit. I ask you to choose.
Knowledge, or home?”
Siaiwh was confused, but had always wanted to know more and more.
The Other had been clumsy, stumbling over words that were simple, until using words given by another.
“Other Valam, what is a spirit friend? Why must I choose?” Noises came from the assembled shapes, almost like bubbles bursting. The one called Master spoke again, as the smile faded from Valam’s face.
“Siaiwh, Master speak choose me or mother Edanu. Me be spirit friend forever or mother Edanu friends only spirits forever.”
Siaiwh danced nervously on the Other’s hands, looking all around, wishing for mother Edanu’s voice of calm. The one called Master moved to Valam’s side, raised and arm and suddenly there was another spirit sat on a hand beside Siaiwh.
“Hello young one. The choice is hard, yes?” The air spirit giggled, danced up from the hand and down again.
“Perrar wants me to help you, to help you understand. The boy is young, his spirit tongue is flawed, and water spirits are never alone, so you must be scared, yes?
“The Others have a whole world we don’t see, but they don’t see ours either. We’re on the edge of both right now. The choice let’s us visit both, and will let the boy visit the edge without help from all these others.
“This binding will take you away from this place, your mother and friends, but you will learn about all the world, and all the spirits, and all the other places you could go.
You just have to make the choice.”
The air spirit nodded, and disappeared again. Valam stared down at Siaiwh, who looked once back down to the water far below, then stared back at him.
“I choose knowledge.”