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contents Wai Z contents

9) Disunity

Mpho woke in the middle of the night, a cold sweat dripping down her back, fear in full flow as she had just dreamt of demise. The group were walking round a shallow ledge carefully one-by one. Beneath was a ravine, and falling meant certain death. They were all bedraggled, fatigue obvious in every step, yet they needed to continue. And then the scene changed. She saw a few in front - Namzo, Sarpo and Yunio being ones she recognised, and then a rockfall behind her. To her the rockfall seemed insignificant but she watched as Suivo began to fall. She looked down there was nothing behind her, she was the last - and then she awoke.

She turned to Yunio who listened and comforted, but beyond recognition of the portent could offer little in understanding.

The next morning, she relived the dream in her mind, and the four shared. Namzo shared his own concerns about some of the group fuelled by the new additions, but Suivo, why Suivo? Libro, Mosi, Sma but Suivo. In front of her Mpho had seen others, other than the four, but how many? All four resolved to watch for signs of division, especially with Suivo.

Again Suivo had watched - now seeing four together, not two.

That day Blenbu led them up the mountain, not too fast but planning to walk a whole day. Libro was clearly not 100% but was fit enough not to hold them up. He noticed Kereng close with Naro, Mosi joined them part of the way but had linked with Libro. Sarpo had taken a backseat with Naro, but Blenbu saw concern in his face. By the time of the first break it was clear to Blenbu that Naro was struggling, welcomed the rest, but said nothing.

They had wanted Blenbu to lead as the four had wanted to mix with the group. Namzo immediately attached himself to Suivo and Tanbo, they had clearly formed a deep bond. "We were so relieved when you found us, we had no idea whether we would actually find a way of joining with you," said Tanbo clearly grateful.

"Yes, what brought you down to us?" asked Suivo cagily.

"It is hard to put in words," said Namzo, and paused.

There was silence broken by Suivo who asked "please try".

"It is the same as I felt when I agreed to bring the group up the mountain, I told Uu that I felt strongly I should do it and he agreed," started Namzo. "When we awoke that morning we discussed my feeling ."

"We?" interrupted Suivo.

"Mpho, Yunio, Sarpo and myself," answered Namzo openly "we felt it best that Sarpo and I should come down the mountain."

"How did you know we would be there?" asked Tanbo.

"We didn't," lied Namzo "I just felt that we had to come down."

"That's a strong hunch," remarked Suivo, almost innocently.

"It does sound like a hunch, doesn't it?" smiled Namzo "but hunch belittles the strength of feeling. After all by your reckoning my hunch to leave must have been right, because you soon followed."

"That is certainly true," answered Tanbo "but things changed very quickly after you left."

"How?" Namzo enquired, curious to get flesh on the bones of Mpho's vision.

Suivo explained about Keido, the security council, the Homeland Security Bubble as they called it, and both Sarpo and Namzo squirmed. "That is exactly how Uu had foretold," said Namzo sadly.

"But so quick!," said Sarpo surprised.

"Maybe so. Uu muttered about becoming too reliant on others," added Tanbo "I guess he meant you."

Namzo thought about this but didn't answer. After a while he asked "Why didn't more come with you?"

"Perhaps they saw nothing wrong with the bubble?" suggested Suivo.

They walked on in silence - Namzo fearing the worst for Uu, and Suivo silently dissatisfied with Namzo's answers. After a while Namzo moved on to talk with Sma, leaving Suivo and Tanbo alone. Suivo then voiced his disquiet to Tanbo. He mentioned their sitting alone at night, "Maybe they have communication devices?" he offered.

"Maybe, but" started Tanbo adding logically "they have no reason to hide them from us."

"It appears they are hiding something," mooted Suivo. Tanbo vaguely nodded, whilst there was something up it didn't really matter. The two groups were together, that was all that really mattered. But he kept his counsel, he could see that was not what Suivo wanted to hear.

The rest of the day went similarly for all four, and by the end of the day disquiet had grown alarmingly in each. Once the group had settled the four went off to seek the solace of the night and what inspired it. Once they had sat they began to seek the peace but it did not come easily, for each the disquiet was acting as a block. Sarpo knew this block although his had been created by alcohol. He managed to convey a letting go, initially in himself, he sought out Mpho whose earth foundations gave her greater strength to fight the vagaries of mental turmoil. She then worked with Yunio, and between them they brought the more cerebral Namzo in line.

This is not a matter to go unchecked, voiced Namzo. In silence the thought crystallised amongst the others, can we work with the rest of the group? And as one they tried. Slowly they extended their joint minds out into the night, and sought out the camp. From above they observed, and it was as if seeing many eggs of different colours. Some the colours were brash and defensive, whilst others the colours were mellow and inviting. They targeted one, but Sarpo halted them; Naro was not an issue - nor Kereng, as they moved towards her. Tanbo's colour invited them but there were sharp edges that seemed to exclude them. Moving inside they brought calm, security and trust, and almost visibly saw the sharpness smooth out invitingly. With becalmed edges they sought to encompass the residue, and understand it. There was much they understood. They felt his anger, an anger they had all felt. Not just anger at what had become of the world, that was how it initially manifested. But as they moved into the deeper anger they saw separation, separation from his heart, separation from the world - Nature, a separation whose edges were being mellowed with each step up the mountain. In time they traced this back to Tanbo's home, it was born there - his family were corporate. But it became rooted in the school and with school friends. Throughout his life he was on the fringes, and to be accepted he had to accept much that did not come naturally. In lessons he was successful but each use of his intelligence seemed to create a barrier within, a barrier that divided his intelligence. They worked on this man-made barrier and it helped greatly to calm him as the barrier and anger began to subside together. That was enough, they thought. Shattered they returned to rest before going back to camp. And as they did, they saw another egg not far from where they were sat. Namzo and Sarpo separately, together, knew it was Suivo. He was bright, defensive, with some dark blemishes, and these blemishes were growing with anger. They knew, he felt excluded. Maybe this was the issue with others. "We can talk to Blenbu about this tomorrow," announced Namzo "his words will be clearer than our interpretations." At this they went back to the camp, careful to avoid where Suivo was sitting.

Sleep helped all in recovery from the walking, and with the four their additional exertions. When they joined to link that morning they made no efforts other than to breathe in the energy the mountain provided, and reconnect with the calm that underlies it all. The serenity of mountain air, the peace and quiet that wafts across, all created a unity that seemed unbreakable and powerful, yielding a feeling that the mountains gave all power but helped more the four whose link seemed to make contact more direct. There was a buoyancy in the camp that morning. It was a gentle day, and the conning sun spread a broad glow all around - although cold was prevalent. There was much talk, and excitement that seemed to be generated by the new day. Yet there was more. Sma spoke with Namzo, "This is a peaceful place," she said appearing to make conversation. "Yes it is," Namzo answered "these mountains have many such calm spots."

"I could imagine people could live pleasantly in such places," she supposed.

"Yes many do," he replied "but they do need herds."

"Is the land good for planting?" she asked.

"Not really," he spoke openly but feared the questioning. "The winters destroy most crops."

"Presumably we are going where the crops can cope in the winter months," she asked.

He hesitated feeling the trap closing in. "I intend going higher and seeing what is there," he mumbled.

"Higher up the winters will destroy any crops," she beelined, and his silence was answer enough. She smiled at him and walked back to finish packing.

Once walking Namzo spoke with Sarpo, "this goes from bad to worse".

"We cannot force people to go with us," he answered "they must choose."

"But they will die," he lamented "that wind will come up wiping all life with it." They had discussed this wind before. The fury of the bombs created this wind, and in its fury the wind brought the nuclear fallout that would kill all life in its path and devastate the planet.

"But there will be doubters," they left it at that.

Namzo moved off and spoke with Blenbu as planned.

Blenbu was pleased to have time to talk to Namzo. "I am grateful for all your help," began Namzo, noting the glow in Blenbu his words seemed to bring "it is good to know when I am busy that we can rely on you."

"I am happy to do what I can," smiled Blenbu through the flattered glow "we are all in this together."

"Are we?" asked Namzo "Does it seem that way to you?"

"Yes it does," answered Blenbu "we all came here to get away from the problems and find a way through this appalling situation."

"But we feel there is a sense of unease," probed Namzo.

"Maybe there is," answered Blenbu warily "Can I ask who is "we"?"

"Mpho, Yunio, Sarpo and myself," replied Namzo.

"Yes," continued Blenbu "maybe I should have asked why "we"?"

"Why," muttered Namzo.

"Namzo, I trust you; I don't know but I trust you." Then he paused "Well I went to learn from Uu, and he told us to leave with you and I trusted him so I trust you. But it's more than that, what you're doing feels right and I am glad to help. But .," he paused wondering how to phrase it "some of the others are asking why the four of you have become self-appointed leaders and following you is one thing but following the other three that is different."

"And some, although not as many, are asking where we are going?" He waited, collecting himself. "They are saying it was right for us to follow you away from the ashram, but now there is some distance, maybe we should look to settle down here - or maybe lower down. Why this endless journey upwards - upwards where there is no food, no plants, no buildings and no land for growing."

At this last he knew the source of that one but did not comment. Blenbu had articulated Namzo's suspicions clearly confirming almost everything. "What do you think about what they are saying?" asked Namzo.

"I trust you so I am prepared to do what you say," he answered "but when they ask me I just tell them I am happy with you. If the four of you make decisions together I will go with that because I trust you. When they ask about the land I don't answer."

He paused, then "I remember Uu's teaching, trust in Nature, and Nature will look after you. Uu gave you his trust, for me that's almost like saying trust in Nature, Namzo is Her messenger."

Namzo looked amazed at what Blenbu had said, he had obviously thought much about it. Or maybe there had been many questions whilst he and Sarpo had sought for Suivo's group. He then smiled gratefully to Blenbu and said he must think. "As you wish," muttered Blenbu simply.

That was the issue, he realised so completely, trust. He had trust in Nature, in his guide, in what the mountains gave him. He trusted the four of them together, for he knew them in a way no-one else could know. Uu had trusted him, and in a way had handed that trust onto Namzo.

But in others how strong was that trust? He then thought more about this. Trust was significant in the breakdown in society that had brought them to the ashram. Trust had been broken amongst people. People had grown to distrust the government, children distrusted parents and elders, parents distrusted teachers, in fact every social bond had a high element of distrust. Looking at this from the outside he could see that the distrust had been earned, the government's interest was the corporations and not the people, parents bought into the corporate society that did not help their own children, in turn the parents objectified their own failures on the teachers who provided fodder for the corporations. The objective conditions for social distrust abounded. But not in the ashram, not with Namzo, so their feelings for him had not built the distrust, people had brought it with them. And he realised that it was the miseducation, the intellectual distrust of all that was not in the realm of the intellect, within the confines of reason. What Namzo, the four of them, were doing was not reasonable, did not appeal to reason - in fact he, Namzo, could not explain where they were going - how unreasonable!

He knew. Intellect scythed through trust when trust did not worship at Pirsig's church of reason. He had seen this so often in his work but for him trust had come first. He had been brought up with trust in Nature, teurkao cheurnan rao, in mountains we trust was second nature to all his people. Only when he came down and began lecturing did he start to question that trust, after being mocked regularly as a hick. And the people on this journey were not brought up in trust, they had grown up in the miseducation of intellect.

Yet somehow all had found a way out and had then found their way to the ashram. They had begun to trust in Uu, and Uu had used that trust to teach them to trust in Nature. Somehow Namzo had to convince the others that as Blenbu described him "Namzo was Nature's messenger, trust in Nature."

That night the four met, and the concern previously expressed was confirmed by all; what Blenbu had told Namzo had been received much the same by the other three. After a discussion they sat and allowed themselves to feel the mountain and the night, and soon their minds began to feel clear. Together they let the boundaries that separated each to dissolve as they allowed Nature to fill them. Once complete they withdrew and allowed their mental language to separate them - a separation far less substantive than experienced in their bodies. With this communication they realised that they needed to win trust, not for themselves but in Nature, although at present that amounted to the same thing. How far did they go in letting others understand their link actually depended on whether the others were able to accept the link. Tanbo had shown he could, but was that true of everyone? But even with Tanbo they had not been able to open the link so that he could be a part of them. If they felt excluded if they were not part of the four, how would they react to exclusion when more became included? The very attempts to make them included could lead to their separation.

Sma was to be a test case. It was quite clear she was significant in creating the disunity, they decided to try and cleanse her. As with Tanbo they moved above the camp, and sought her out. She was not sleeping but sat alone by her tent apparently enjoying the night. Her colour was not inviting - although bright it was harsh and gave a feeling of rebuttal. They moved down to sense her, to feel how to connect, and the colour changed. The aggressive brightness of rebuttal increased, and the colour almost felt a barrier in itself. Still they pursued their objective, and moved closer, and they jolted. Sma physically reacted. She stood up, and began looking around as if expecting to see something - did she expect to see them?

Concertedly they withdrew because the contact was not without pain either, and as they withdrew exhaustion took over the link so they quickly sought refuge in their bodies. We need sleep. Suivo looked on puzzled as the four almost staggered back to their tents to collapse into a deep recuperating sleep.

The next morning they all woke from a deep sleep, a sleep of exhaustion but also a sleep of necessary deep cleansing. Sma awoke with a jolt from nightmare. She remembered invasion, she remembered a wind passing and faces in the wind, unknown faces, faces that became bolts of light that swirled around her and gradually seeped into the surface of her mind. They floated around and she watched from deep inside. But as this light swirled from the back her own face brightly coloured came round and forced these swirling lights away. And it was at this she awoke - feeling invaded, but it was as if she watched the invasion - and in the watching there was no fear.

Later she found Suivo whom she had known at the ashram. Previously they had discussed his luck at leading the five to join with them again. He had described Namzo's feeling that there was something more, and had conveyed his ill-ease that resonated with Sma's own. Today she began gently "Is your luck still holding?" she smiled.

"Better than Namzo's hunch," he laughed with her. "let's walk", and they moved to where Suivo had watched the night before. They sat down together viewing the distant landscape with awe. "This is beautiful country," he spoke quietly as if the quietness of his voice harmonised with the landscape. "Nothing beats mountains for making you feel small, making you feel who you are," he sounded like Blenbu, he thought.

"They are," answered Sma "but this is not land to survive in - this is not growing land. We are too high. And we are struggling with altitude."

"That will pass, the discomfort will pass," answered Suivo thinking how fortunate he was not to have symptoms. He remembered a time when he had been to altitude. Diarrhoea everyday - two or three times, shortage of breath, and yet somehow he felt invigorated. He remembered it passing - slowly.

"Yes, maybe it will," she retorted "but why are we going through it? Why is it necessary to move so high?"

"Because that is where Namzo leads us," he knew his answer was hollow, how could it have substance, he didn't understand it himself.

She was silent knowing there was nothing needed saying.

The silence was broken as bodies emerged in their direction. Suivo pulled Sma gently down, and with finger crossing his closed lips he motioned silence and whispered "Just watch."

Of course there was nothing to watch. The four moved to a quiet sheltered spot, and sat motionless. "No need to go closer," whispered Suivo "that is all they do - sit." He quietened her puzzled expression, and pointed at them. They remained motionless. Inside her something said "remember your dream", but this soon vanished as her ego showed her anger, frustration and exclusion which her intellectual mind gratefully jumped on. Suivo saw rising anger and moved her away back to the camp. Out of sight of the four her anger quickly subsided, but memory of it soon jolted her negative patterns of thinking into an aggressive response.

"So they are there together .," she burst out face reddening slightly "p.plotting."

"I find what they are doing strange," he smiled "exclusive even . but plotting? How can that be? They don't even talk, every morning and evening they go off together and sit motionless, some form of group meditation. Friends together - meditating?" "Do you meditate?" she asked.

"Not really," he answered "I like sitting out - staring at the stars, feeling the mountains, but meditate - agghh it's just uncomfortable the mind swirling around jumping from one thingto another. It is disturbing."

Surprisingly she was silent. As soon as he had said the word swirling, her mind had engaged, and she knew her dream was connected to the four. But how? . She would never know.

For a long while she remained quiet bemusing Suivo who was patient enough. Instead he allowed his mind to journey out amongst the stars, touching the sky enjoying the wide open spaces. He had only first begun to enjoy such things when he joined the ashram. The problem had started with his older brother, in his family he was expected to follow him. But when their mother died the older brother was distraught, as his father. The father gave up as keeping two young boys straight in their neighbourhood whilst maintaining a job was difficult. As the older brother left the tracks Suivo followed. And then his brother was shot at a drugs deal, and it was expected that he would shoot the perpetrators. But he didn't want to. He loved his brother and he didn't want him dead, but the drugs deal wasn't straight. His brother had laughed saying these rich kids were easy to swindle, maybe most were but his brother had found one with a gun. This rich boy knew nothing, he wasn't there. When the deal went wrong, his brother just continued to laugh and the boy became angry. He pulled out the gin but he could hardly hold out. He waved it around as if threatening. That looked even more comical, and his brother laughed louder. And the gun went off, his brother rushed him. It went off again, and he lay on the ground as blood started to ooze out into the darkened room. The rich kid freaked and ran leaving the gun, Suivo ran to his brother and cried. He thought to chase and ran to the door, but there was no sign. Head dropped in grief he headed home to his father. The story gave him no surprise, he was resigned to the inevitable. "Please Suivo, don't do anything - let it lie," he asked his younger son but there was no heart in it. His father was so beaten he expected to be ignored, and Suivo knew to change. His duty lay with the beaten man, not with his own self-interest, and for the rest of his father's life he took care of him. Sadly that time was only a few years as the grief and drink had worn away any of life's desire. But in drunken moments he would slur appreciation at his younger son's sacrifice. After clearing up what little duty was required in his estate Suivo began to travel, and his mind opened up his journey took him to the ashram.

Whilst travelling he had felt a sense of adjustment, that he was beginning to turn his life around, but it wasn't until he reached the ashram that he began to think of what he felt as peace, that same peace he was now experiencing as he let his mind wander amongst the stars. He was drawn back as Sma woke form her brief slumber - after her silence she slept. Her composure regained she began to pass judgement . again.

"Whatever they are doing over there it is not for our benefit," she attacked "why do they leave camp if there is not something wrong?"

"It's nice here away in the peace and quiet," shrugged Suivo, although suspicious he was far from overt criticism - after all Namzo had led them here and had found Suivo's group below. His actions were beneficial by whatever means. "They are friends, they can do what they want," accepted Suivo "are we to judge how they are to be friends?"

"You are very tolerant concerning our future," she harangued.

"You might be right," conceded Suivo "but I need far more convincing than your own anger. I have seen how anger can destroy lives. I have shown you, but for me it is time to go back to the camp. Are you coming?"

Looking frustrated she briefly nodded her head in agreement, and they went back o their respective tents. That night Suivo dreamed of stars and anger as if they were weighed on a huge balance. He woke up as he found himself the pivot as he found himself weighed down by all. Would he see it?

The next morning Sma followed the four and confronted them. It was nothing but vitriol and frustration, but as Mpho tried to console her she could see that Sarpo and Namzo were just distancing themselves. Yunio had seen her patience before - a virtue he admired, and so he just watched the anger wash against her . and just brush on by. At the end she failed, unusual thought Yunio, but left it at that as he watched Sma storm off. They all knew that storm was not rested.

After their link that morning their agreement was to let the storm take its course. There was no appeasing Sma, they wondered how she had found her way to the ashram in the first place. At one stage Mpho had asked Sma what she wanted from them, and she had said "To be included and to be part of the decision-making."

"But we don't make decisions," Mpho answered "Namzo decides where we are going, he knows. But wait," she interrupted herself as she tried to becalm Sma's mind "We did make one decision together. I told them that I thought there was a problem in the ashram, and because of this Namzo and Sarpo decided to go down."

"But you didn't tell the others this, did you?" retorted Sma.

"What could we tell them?" replied Mpho patiently.

"More than you have told me," snapped Sma angrily.

"You don't see," began Mpho losing it a little. "There is nothing to tell, I had this feeling and Namzo and Sarpo acted on it. Namzo tells us which way to go we act on it. It is just trust. What more is there to say?"

"Do you believe in trust?" asked Mpho.

At this Sma snapped and allowed the storm in her head to blow "First you insult me by saying I can't see. Well I do have eyes, you know, and I can sense when they are being blinded," she blurted "and as for not trusting people have to earn my trust, I have learnt not to give it to all and sundry."

"And how can we do that?" she asked.

"By telling me what is going on! By including me!" she angered, the mental storm was fully blown now and she was beyond control. It would not allow her to sit, and that is when she ran off.

She had run back to her tent and found her two closest friends, Ikti and Mai. She told her version of what happened how they had intentionally held the truth from her. It is time we stood up to them, Ikti and Mai agreed; they were tired and exhausted at this higher altitude. And they were going up, it could only get worse.

As the group were setting off, the three of them ran up to Namzo and demanded to know where they were going.

"We are following the path upwards until we find a safe place," he answered best he could.

"And where is that safe place?" asked Sma.

"Up the path, and across a ways," answered Namzo truthfully "that is all I know."

"That is not enough," she shouted, "We," pointing to Ikti and Mai "are not going with you."

"I think it is better you come with us," replied Namzo calmly "but it is your choice."

"How reasonable of you! Our choice indeed!" she screamed "we can choose to go blindly or not go at all."

She turned to the rest of the group. "I have asked and asked and get no answers. Where are we going? He doesn't say - a safe place? What safe place, where is it? What is the name?" She turned to Namzo "Answer these questions," she demanded.

Namzo looked at the group. He could see many doubts. "I trust Namzo," shouted out Blenbu "he has got us this far and we are OK."

"But he is taking us higher and it is just getting harder and harder," Ikti said "and the higher we go the less chance of surviving," he continued.

Some heads nodded at this. "Why can't we find a good place to farm here without going higher and higher where it gets bleaker and bleaker?" asked Mai.

"We cannot farm here," answered Mpho, and she watched as Tshepiso and Nandito agreed. "We were farmers in our village, Mpho's village," presented Tshepiso "it is too high here. If you want to plant you must go lower - near where Suivo was found, and they won't allow you." He watched as Suivo nodded.

"We could go down, and find somewhere," Ikti proposed.

"All land will already be farmed," answered Mpho "It is not free land."

"Well then we go and talk to them," said Mai defiantly.

"They won't listen," answered Libro, pointing to her temple.

"We must make them listen," said Libro.

"However difficult that is," intervened Sma "it is better than being led up to Namzo's safe death, altitude and certain death."

"I am certain there is a place for us," confirmed Namzo "we just have to keep going to find it."

Mpho stepped forward again. "It is time for us to go," she informed them "please choose and may you have the best of luck."

"Let's all go," cheered Blenbu, and he went over to his friend, Mai, to encourage her to follow them . and reluctantly she did. That was enough to remain united . for the time being.

Just to cement the disunity that day illness began to strike. By lunch time both Ikti and Naro were suffering in their different ways, Ikti began to feel deep nausea and Naro's joints were causing her such pain she was forced to complain to Sarpo - he immediately called the group to a halt. They had made good time, Namzo acknowledged. The next day became a rest day as Ikti's also accumulated a severe headache that incapacitated her giving Naro time to rest her joints. Whilst most took the rest day to relax and enjoy the mountains, the divisions led to unrest in certain quarters. Mpho watched as Mai cared for Ikti, and Sma sought out Suivo.

"Please don't start, it is beautiful up here," he interrupted her "Enjoy the mountains. Breathe in the air, it is thin but refreshing."

"I understand," she said, ignoring Suivo's glance "but we need to talk."

"Why?" he shouldn't have answered her.

"We are being led to our deaths," she answered melodramatically.

"I don't think so," he muttered "we definitely have been led from our deaths at the ashram."

"Maybe so," she half-heartedly agreed "but that doesn't make us lemmings."

"Whether you trust Namzo or not ." he began.

"The four of them!" she interrupted with vitriol.

"And Blenbu .?" he added "whoever you trust I don't think they are going to say any different."

"You believe them?" she demanded.

"What is there to believe? We follow Namzo or we go down," he explained calmly and logically.

"There s more than they say, why do they keep meeting?" she countered.

"I just don't know but their track record is good. Namzo took us from the ashram at just the right time, he and Sarpo met my group at just the right time," he paused "I cannot ignore this," he continued.

"You were suspicious before .," she interjected.

"And I still have suspicions," he stopped her, and as she started running off again he held up his hand "but I have some trust. For some reason you cannot trust, and that is seeding all this anger in your mind." He looked at her, and watched as even more anger rose to fill her mind and spilt into the rest of her. It showed as deep frustration, swirling around inside - sniping, creating bitter thoughts, vitriol and even hatred. He turned away - he felt a blast coming.

"Please wait Suivo," she called out attempting to be calm.

He hesitated as he felt her efforts to control herself. "Will you take us down?" she smiled sweetly, a smile that had won her much admiration in the past.

He couldn't believe the question, and . "Please don't answer now, think about it. Think about Ikti, if she stays up here she will die," she knew that would hurt and it did. Suivo walked away disturbed. That night Mpho's dreams brought everything to the fore. She woke Yunio "We don't have long left."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"We must escape the cloud," she quivered, he could see she was shivering with fear. "There is a cloud from the West that is devouring all before it."

"You mean the gangs escaping?" he suggested.

"No this cloud has devoured the gangs, there is literally nothing left in its path," she poured out still driven by the fear.

"And the ashram .." she cried, as she remembered the cloud reaching the ashram and watching it incinerate "the cloud destroyed it."

She sat there shivering as Yunio with his arm round comforted her. He rested his lips on her head, as she tried to bury herself inside the strength of his chest. He rubbed his hand up and down her spine, and slowly he felt her shivering becalmed. "It is urgent now," she pronounced "Namzo and Sarpo must know." Off they went to find them.

Sarpo was tending to Naro as Namzo watched on with a worried expression. They could see tears in Sarpo's eyes as they saw how swollen Naro's knees and ankles were. It must be hard for her to walk, they thought. She must not hear this, thought Mpho. They waited attentively showing genuine concern. When Kereng came they politely excused themselves.

As soon as they left the tent Yunio started "There is urgency now," and Mpho recounted her dream. "There is no doubt with this cloud that down is not an option," Sarpo quickly summarised "as you said all along" looking pointedly at Namzo.

"Whether I did or not this is not what I wanted to hear," he spoke with sadness "all that we knew devoured."

"Will be," interposed Mpho forcefully "we don't know when. And I would guess we have time to reach the deer's paradise, but we must force the pace."

They looked at Sarpo as he nodded, his concentration elsewhere.

That night the group split. Mai persuaded Suivo to take them down. Ikti and Sma joined him. Libro had never fully recovered so she readily agreed as did Mosi. This dragged Kereng in. Naro spoke to Sarpo "Your place is with the other three, I know there is importance with the four. Uu knew as well. I want you to promise you will stay with them whatever happens to me." And at that she fell asleep again. The next morning the four linked and watched as Suivo led this group down. They forcibly held Sarpo as they helped control his grief as he saw Naro descend; in silence they watched Suivo lead them to their death. Applauding Suivo's sacrifice, they mourned erstwhile friends.