To our immense surprise, Inifra appeared at the blood river today as we crossed it. We were shocked to see her outside the confines of the jungle. She looked fearsome. Angry. All she said was “It hunts you.” And then Dionus struck the water between us.
A monstrous thunderclap erupted around us as the shock of his descent cast us into the water. Then they fought.
The very air around us hummed with Dionus’ power. The water rose like snakes, writhing up and snapping off frozen daggers at him from all directions. He pulled the air down around him like a solid object to deflect the ice, sending his own whips against her in turn. They exchanged blows like this for agonizing moments. Inifra’s eyes raged with power. Dionus’ were lost behind his own.
She vanished into the river, reappearing elsewhere to unleash her attacks. Dionus flew above the surface, launching everything he had at her every appearance. Suddenly a whirring globe formed around him in the air, shimmering and spinning as if to capture the very light of the sun.
Then he cast it around Inifra.
Before she could react, Dionus plucked her from the water and threw her into the grasslands. Dionus arced up to follow and was upon her in an instant. She relented then. By the time we reached them she was pleading her case with an enraged, godlike Walker. Dionus stood above her, chest pumping from the exertion, fists clenched, cloak flapping around him. His eyes were glowing white.
I had never seen anything like this in my friend, the sheer power was stultifying. He was waiting for me.
Inifra said she had come to help, not to hinder us. If the Makonga was hunting us, she said, we were in need of greater help than we knew.
Why would she help us, Dionus demanded, not realizing that the rest of us were wondering the same thing about him.
She said the Lost Children needed to be confined to the Akari Grasslands, or untold damage would be done to her people. Even beyond her people, she said, the Nantese as a whole. She did not wish to fight, only to help.
I asked her to return tomorrow for our answer. As much as I want her with us, I cannot be sure I can trust her. What’s more, I need to understand Dionus and where he has been before I can feel assured that he will not attempt to strike out at her again.
We walked Inifra back to the river’s edge where she said “It hunts for murderers. That is where its hunger grows.” Then she disappeared into the water. As always I was left stunned at her departure, with more questions than answers.
We turned to Dionus. I was overjoyed to see him. My heart was made infinitely glad that he has returned to us, but why did he leave? What happened to him? Why did he return?
Dionus said that the winds had indeed been calling him. The fate of all Walkers, he affirmed, is that once they taste flight they will one day lose themselves to it. What he didn’t know, he said, was that he could surpass the calling.
He said he had taken flight the instant it became possible. Once free of the jungle of the Nanten, with blue skies stretching above him, he was overwhelmed with the desire to fly. The first few days were nothing but bliss, he said. He could conjure water from the clouds with ease, and for a while hunger never entered his mind.
But the day came when he realized he must eat, and though the thought of touching down was repulsive to him he managed to find some fruit and quickly take back to the skies. That was when he began searching for us. He said it was like a vague curiosity at first, as if we belonged to some distant memory that he wished to revisit.
But once he found us entering the golden waves he began to feel a pull that was distinct from the call of the winds. Something else in him was growing, something older.
He continued to fly, finding ways to eat without landing and even sleeping in the clouds. But every day, he said, he would check on us. He could see the gradual encroachment of the Lost Children over the bounds of the blood river. He could sense a growing danger surrounding us. As the danger grew, so too did the tension within him.
And then the Makonga was below. He knew it by presence alone, and the impulse to rejoin us became as strong to him as that for flight had once been. He watched, he waited, and then we left Senida. The fear for our lives, for that was what he now knew he felt, was growing inescapable. When Inifra had appeared at the ford, every threat she had made, every hint at her power, all of it came flooding back over him.
He landed then. He overcame the call of the winds to save our lives, and in doing so became more attuned with his Expression than he had ever been. He had been called a Master before, he said, but that had been premature. A misunderstanding of the Wind born of ignorance. Now he truly was one.
I asked him if he wouldn’t just leave us again, and he simply shook his head.
“Someday,” he said, “I will choose to resume the skies. Until then I am yours more completely than I ever could have been before.”
My friend has returned to us more powerful than he left us, and while I resent his leaving at all I am most grateful to have him back. I can barely fathom that he has returned… I had assumed him gone forever. If only Bolton were so lucky as to overcome the grave.
We will discuss Inifra’s involvement tomorrow, though I doubt we can turn her offer of help aside. If anyone knows what we are to do to rid ourselves of the Makonga, it will be her. What murderers it hunts I can only guess. In its own way I suppose that could qualify any of us. Inifra will have to tell us more.
Secretly, I hope for the chance to befriend her at last.