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Chapter 7


          They broke through the cloud tops at dawn. Ki was awestunned as Coel, the hallowed Goddess of Light, burst into being before her fledgling company. Warm and pink, the rey embodiment of life, of fertility, of hope, Suol rose swiftly from cirrocumulus on the distant horizon, one with the nascent tribe, blessing their arrival. Ki began to spin in ecstasy as she rose higher into the great vault of light. She had not previously beheld either Coel or the boundless firmament above the clouds with her own eyes, though she had heard endless accounts, only half believed, passed down by older members of her birth tribe. Now Ki rode Coel's fiery, dancing beams. She was careful not to stare into the perfect circle of incredible brilliance – according to legend only the overly proud did so, and they risked being struck blind by their insolence, and rendered useless to their tribe.
          The great wash of air that had catapulted the six reys out the side of the towering thunderhead was dying now, but Ki still rose in a rapturous arc as the males swept in. Yu was the first to reach Ki. As his left wing tip touched her right, both wings folded up together, and the two reys joined, madly cartwheeling now as one. Sacred Coel swirled round them as Yu passed his life into Ki. Clutching each other ever more tightly, they spiraled upward, to the apex of this ultimate passage, sharing it as a single being. At last Yu broke away, only to be replaced by a second male. Below, the other two females joined again and again with the free males in a mating frenzy. The young tribe wheeled wildly downward, through the gathering light. As Suol climbed into the morning sky, the reys sank exhausted into the upper cloud deck. Strong winds blew them rapidly away from the broad area of upwelling storms, toward settled descending air and a new life.
          The seeds of a more viable tribe had been sown. Each female now carried dozens of fertilized eggs. These would develop one at a time; only when an infant was weaned, would the next embryo in line begin to grow. As long as the cycles were regular and the manna was plentiful, the young tribe would multiply and flourish.
          Rather than surrender to sleep, Ki listened to the wind wailing through her wings. The thin air strummed and whistled as it spilled out of the billowed surfaces and played through a minor tear acquired only yesterroh in a dizzying updraft. An ethereal melody formed in her mind. She slipped close to Yu, and whispered. "Hear what the gale has offered me, to mark this passage." She softly chanted to Yu, who looked back in wonder.
          "As Father storm lifted us through the summits, I heard a similar vision!" He crooned a harmonic variation of her theme back to Ki.
          Ki radiated happiness. "This is truly the birth passage of our new tribe. Let us count cycles starting with this as number one."
          Yu cooed back in agreement, and the couple tenderly sang each other to sleep.
          Far future generations would tell legends of the primal passage of the great tribe Ki-Yu. Where the tribe came from, no one would remember. Some would say it sprang straight from the womb of Maddee.