Emerald Feather

Eight

In time they reached the part of the river Keena recognised with a slight pang of nostalgia. They were drawing closer. She had no idea how her family would react to seeing her again, particularly Laira, and she began to wonder if seeing them again was really such a good idea. Still, now she was there, she may as well go ahead with it.

Anya was sitting on the log feeding her new baby, with Laira and her mother on either side chatting happily. The baby’s father and Keena’s other two sisters were stoking up the fire. Her father was out hunting or fishing again, and to Keena the scene was disturbingly familiar.

She took Ninyo’s hand in hers and walked confidently into the open, though she didn’t feel in the least confident.

The whole family froze, mouths wide in shock, though the man was looking more confused than anything. Laira fainted, and the man put his hand to his sword hilt. Only the baby continued to suck happily on its mother’s breast.

“Not quite the reception I was hoping for,” Ninyo murmured out the side of his mouth.

Keena cleared her throat. “Hi,” she said nervously, “Um, don’t be scared, I’ve got control over my magic, and I can’t use it anyway.”

Slowly, her mother stood and walked over to her youngest daughter, stopping a few steps from her.

“Keena?” she asked quizzically, not quite believing what she was seeing.

Keena smiled and nodded. She could feel her eyes starting to glisten.

In a move that obviously took a lot of courage, the older woman took the last few steps to her daughter and took her in her arms, tears streaming down her face.

As the two embraced, her father appeared from the river, his sword adorned with a number of fish. At the sight of his daughter and the new green-jewelled man he dropped the sword, as well as his jaw.

Ninyo had been watching on, grinning broadly. But he was suddenly confronted with the tip of a ruby-tinted sword. He stepped back and raised his hands, not knowing what to do.

“I don’t care who you are or what kind of magic you have,” the mousy-haired stranger hissed, “you don’t attack my family.”

“What?” Ninyo cried, “I haven’t done anything!” He noticed the sword tip was quivering, and the man was breathing quickly and heavily. Nevertheless, it was still a very sharp sword.

“Um, Keena, little help?”

Keena opened her red eyes and looked in Ninyo’s direction. Her eyes widened at his predicament, but before she could react, Aaka darted out of the tree he had been concealing himself in and swiped the sword from the man’s grip, dropping it on the ground a few steps away.

“What was that for?” Keena’s mother demanded.

“He’s got Green Magic,” the man answered stubbornly.

“So do you really think it’s such a good idea to attack him with a sword?”

The man didn’t say anything.

“Ranu.”

Ranu sighed and reluctantly held out his hand to Ninyo. Ninyo took it without hesitation and shook it firmly. Ranu smiled back, but it wasn’t one filled with friendship.

“Mum,” Keena said, wrapping her arm around Ninyo’s waist, “This is Ninyo. Ninyo, this is my mum, Yannika. On the log is Anya, recovering from fainting is Laira, by the fire is Maaki and Miyu and over there is my dad, Menko.”

Ninyo waved casually to the family, but didn’t get any responses.

“Don’t worry, promise I won’t use my magic on you,” he reassured them.

Menko cleared his throat and spoke nervously. “We’d prefer it if you wouldn’t use it at all.”

Ninyo shook his head. “Can’t do that; it’ll get restless and be unpredictable. I just won’t let you see it, if it makes you nervous.”

“That would be better, yes.”

It took a few days for Ninyo and Keena to win the trust of the family, and even then they were obviously nervous around the pair. Much as they tried, the Blue Magic would never accept the Green. It was even harder to win the trust of Ranu, as he hadn’t known either of them before their meeting.

A moon after they had arrived, Keena’s Green Magic was still itching to get out and have a bit of fun, but Keena wouldn’t let it.

“Could you use your magic when you were pregnant?” she asked Anya.

Anya shook her head and tickled her son’s pink belly. “Why do you ask?”

“I’m just wondering how you managed to keep it from escaping by itself.”

Anya turned to her, her eyes registering fear. “It… it never wanted to.”

“Oh.”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

“What… what does Green Magic feel like?” Anya asked anxiously.

Keena wasn’t sure she wanted to tell her; it would only make her scared, but not telling her would probably have the same result, with the added effect that she would be left wondering. “Are you sure you want to know?”

Anya swallowed and nodded.

“It’s like its got a mind of it’s own, its own personality. That’s what Ninyo meant when we first got here. If you don’t let it work its magic often enough, it gets restless and wants to release itself unpredictably. You have to give it a little bit of freedom, or it’ll turn its back on you.”

She reached out to scratch her nephew behind his ears, and Anya flinched. Keena took her hand away.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Anya sniffed, “So how do you keep it from killing now?”

Keena twitched at the word ‘killing’. “Try not to think of it as killing,” she said.

“But that’s what it is, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes, but it’s only killing when I tell it to. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s not simply killing.”

“So what is it?”

Keena shrugged. “It’s magic.”

“Yeah, but it’s nothing like mine.”

“What’s yours like?”

Anya frowned. “It’s like water, to put it simply. It does exactly what I tell it to do without arguing, it just goes with the flow, you know what I mean? Doesn’t complain if I don’t use it for moons on end. It’s just… nice,” she finished. She lifted her hand and let a drop of water form on the tip of her index finger to demonstrate what she meant. It twinkled in the sunlight before dripping to the earth.

“Don’t be so nervous, Anya, I’ve got control over it now, it’s okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“I would demonstrate, but, yeah.”

Anya looked as though she was debating something in her mind, then she very hesitantly transferred her son to Keena’s lap.

Keena smiled and kissed her older sister on her cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Miyu suddenly burst from the trees, a frantic look on her face, and collapsed on Anya’s lap, sobbing loudly.

“Miyu! Are you okay? What happened?” the older girl asked.

“I-I-I saw N-Ninyo kill a b-a boar!” Miyu stammered.

Keena suddenly felt very awkward. What was she supposed to do in a situation like this? ‘It’s just magic’ wouldn’t work here; Miyu was distraught. She uneasily put the baby on the ground and ran in the direction Miyu had come from without saying a word.

She soon found Ninyo, hunched over the boar. He looked up when he heard her. “What’s wrong?” he asked innocently.

“Miyu saw you,” Keena said simply, running up to him.

Ninyo slapped his forehead and put his other hand on his hip. “How is she?” he asked, peering sheepishly through his fingers.

“Not good.”

Ninyo dropped his hand and bit his bottom lip, fully aware of the problem. He hadn’t exactly been thrilled when he had first seen what his magic could do.

“So what can I do?”

Keena looked back in the direction of her family, thinking hard. “Anya’s trying to comfort her now, but I wouldn’t recommend going back for a while yet. I’ll stay here too.”

“Then what?”

“I know you didn’t do anything wrong, but you should probably apologise to her.”

“I figured that much, but what should I do? Comfort her or what?”

“Just keep your distance, I think.”

Ninyo nodded and took his mistress in his arms.

Nine