And then I remembered something: "The khrinnoai laid scent-warning through all the open waters of Arraia ..." the Mother-Queen had told me. "Earth-moving, water-changing, wave-coming, sea-disrupting, danger-warning, time-short, sunrise-next. River-length, place-bad, water-danger, wave-rising, manland-reach," she had said. "Meaning, in short, that the earth was moving, disrupting the sea and changing the water, and that a wave would reach Arraia the next morning, reaching into the cities of man, and that the rivers were bad places because the wave would rise up them. All of which was understood by those who were meant to understand, and by some who weren't meant to."
And everything came rushing back to me. I sat bolt upright. "Are they arriving yet?"
"No, but every race has suffered casualties already," he said. "The coastal hives couldn't clear out quickly enough, and several of them were utterly decimated. It was just a moment ago, Elinna. The dolphins have already brought three calves to us, one mortally wounded, the other two on the edge of a knife. The first of the refugees have radioed in, they're headed to us from Merith Point, and they say the road's a disaster."
"Are the khrinnoai still causing problems?"
"Unfortunately," he said. "They've become increasingly agitated and violent. The whole of Sanillien is flooded, so they can get around in there. There's nowhere more than a few feet above sealevel in that whole city. Ryan tells me that something has majorly shifted in the planet's crust. You don't even want to know what Tuillineh is like. It's a disaster. A whole city was sucked out to sea. No one has ever seen anything like it. Anyway, Marie says they've been confused out of their territory, come all the way across the river and down the coastal marshes, and are wandering around in a towering rage."
"I'd hate to be there," I said.
"They've got most people on the upper floors-of what buildings are still standing-but Sanillien is a low, unprotected place, along with the land around and to the south of it. It'll stay flooded for a while. We might have to drain it, and then we'd have stranded khrinnoai, and they can be even worse. They cover up fear with more and more violence. Quite a lot like some people I know."
"Yeah, really," I said. "Come on, I have to get dressed. Let's start making food while we can. Hey Dano, do you think the iannoai would mind if we rang them back?"
"We sort of have to, now," he said from the other side of the bathroom door, behind which I was trying to do three things at once.
"Maybe we can get the Mother-Queen to talk to some of the surviving coastal hives and have them go into the city and broadcast on khrinnoai brainwave frequencies something that'll get them to go where they're supposed to go."
"Easier said than done, even for an iannoa," he said.
A few minutes later I came out of the bathroom. "Why?" I asked.
"Why what?" he said. He was cooking, gathering together food and supplies, in a sort of calm madness of movement.
"Why can't iannoai influence khrinnoai?"
"Because open air is where they belong. They don't maneuver well close to any surface. And once even the tip of a wing gets wet, an iannoa's down until it dries well. Think of their wings like butterflies' wings."
"There's more, isn't there?" I asked.
"Khrinnoai are nocturnal," he said. "If we sent iannoai in there, I wouldn't feel good about it-khrinnoai won't attack them knowingly, but they're the only ones they won't attack. If someone slips up-they're already stressed as it is. I don't want to imagine what a flooded Sanillien would be like then."
"Would they get confused?"
"Who knows? They're all out of sorts. They're nearly a hundred miles from where they're supposed to be. That entire coast was flooded."
"You know what this means," I said. I'd heard of it before. I'd never seen it. I'd never wanted to.
"People will come through all the ruined, empty buildings," Danoaih said, "catch them and kill them or send them away, where they'll be kept in boxes ... Imagine if goddamn off-continent bastards get over here. They sell iannoai on the black market. Did you know that?"
"Dano," I said, looking at him.
"I'm sorry, Elinna; you have no idea how tempted I am to go out there."
It was infectious. He and Marie had shown me the beauty of Arraia-and of all its inhabitants-and I had instantly fallen in love with it all. I knew in my bones that I was tied to this land, body and soul. I could leave and deny it all my life, but I would forever be drawn back. But I didn't want to leave, or to deny Arraia. And his attitude, his very outlook, was infectious too.
"I do know," I said.
"Elinna," he said quietly, seriously, "it's not just Arraia that's suffering. And not just Tuillineh either; that whole continent's a mess."
"What do you mean?"
"Earthquakes have utterly devastated much of Iluia and a good piece of western Tuillineh. Storms have ravaged the entire eastern seaboard of Omirran and the Maraeliren Isles. Sierene and Eidrine have gone to war. Aeyllien has insisted upon staying neutral, as usual, and they've blocked themselves off completely. The eastern parts of Tuillineh and Iluia are at war, and they've used nuclear bombs ..."
I wouldn't, couldn't, register what he was saying. Seven months ago, when I left the island of Greater Maraelir to come here, I knew something was wrong. The storms were already unusually intense, but they'd called it a bad storm season. I'd paid no mind to it. I'd known there was war brewing in the East, but not that it would go through-after all, there was always war brewing in the East. Countries over there had been threatening one another for longer than anyone had been alive.
"Elinna, you're not listening."
I jerked out of my reverie. "What?"
"We're next. The war is headed here."
"We can't handle it," I said. "We're not a major power-we've always talked about peace-the last time we were at war was in the 1980's or so, a whole century ago-"
"We hold our own," he said, "because we are Arraians and we have survived some of the worst conditions on the planet, alongside some of the most dangerous creatures imaginable, faced with some of the most ruthless people in history. We will survive."
"We can hide; we can go to the Spire of Aluri and get assistance from Tllyneh Zhriani-but how can we fight? There aren't enough of us left."
"I know we'll make it." And I could see the faith he had-a belief that there was something greater than him, and it had given him a great power, and he could trust that ability completely and was glad to have it. I had seen Danoaih working yesterday, deep into the night, erecting shelters for the refugees from Sanillien. He was tireless, with inexhaustible energy and endurance like I had never seen.
"Dano," I said gently, "there are twenty million or so people in the country. There are maybe a few hundred thousand of us, almost definitely less."
He drew back. "There weren't many more of us then, either," he said.
"But it was different. The land was different. Power responded more readily-"
"We can bring that back, Elinna."
"How?" I said. "Can you invoke the anoa these days? Can anyone?"
"Maybe," he said. "Maybe. But perhaps that is not the best elemental to invoke. It is too violent to control. That's what I've been trying to say for decades, in my way."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You could," he said quietly. He was looking at me oddly.
"You know one of the only ways to quickly boost power?" I asked. "I'm not connected to any Arraian reservoirs."
"I know," he said.
I just shook my head. "I don't know what to say."
"It's your choice," he said. "It will always be your choice."
I looked away. What could someone do quickly that would release a lot of life-giving influence that could then be directed?
Well, it wasn't that I didn't like Dano. It was that I was afraid of my own genetics, unsure of what I was made of. I was made of some of the most powerful, uncontrollably elemental things on the planet.
Danoaih's radio crackled. "Inbound," someone said, "a big line of them."
"I should go do what I do best," he said.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Make food!" he said, and he went off laughing into the strange, bright day.