“There are times when it is hard for me to believe that Shaping was once such a part of the lives of my people and our world. It is feared by so many, now. In the groves–even in Laughing Waters Grove, where I grew up–they teach that we are creatures of the ground and of the green, and that our lives should spring from sun and soil, root and stem. I do not say that this is unwise, in itself–but there is more to life, and to the Great Melody, than this. I have heard the Shapers’ songs in the very deepest part of me from the time I was a small bloomling. They call to me–they call to all of us, if we will only listen. Do that which you were bloomed and born to do, they whisper. Do you dance? Then dance. Do you build? Then build. Do you write? Then write. And if you sing–then sing.
How was I not to listen?
Let me tell you something I remember–from my own memories, from when I was very small; not from the Memories of my people. Nearly twenty cycles ago, they still lit the council fires once a moon-cycle in the great clearing near the Elder Grove, and the people would gather around it. From what I have learned of the Old Tongue, it was called the nama-hai, the wishfire; and people cast tokens into the flames to signify their need.
Although I barely knew it then, my parents always feared for me. They knew I was different; knew some would see it as weakness, although they never did.
One night when the wishfire had burned low, until all the others had gone to hearth-flame and homeground, my parents had taken a small stone they brought with them, a blue stone, the color of the Great Sea, and they set it close by the red embers, that the fire might add its blessing.
When I was twelve cycles old, they gave me the stone as a Cycle Day gift. They spoke to me not of their fear, but of the strength they hoped I would find.
All love walks hand in hand with fear. But strength comes from knowing what we can become, believing in ourselves, and believing in the gifts we have been given–whether that gift is a song or a stone.
In the cycles that passed while I was alone, I lay in my beddings by the hearth-fire’s light, and held the stone, and I would swear to you I heard my parents’ heartbeats there, warm, and strong, and steady as the drum that called us to the wishfire’s blaze.”