She began in solo, without her knife, her first movements in slow motion while Snake drew their attention with ambigah. He also drew the room light to shine directly on her.
Her dance , nearly free form, depicted a child at play. For several long minutes she Danced in near abandon, emoting carefree happiness as she danced.
When Snake joined her it was almost a surprise. At first he joined as her shadow , mimicking her movements. Then he slowed the music, and, as if he were beginning as he usually did, he started the slow drumbeat. As he increased the tempo he added flutes and horns, the way he always did before, but still as her shadow.
Halfway through the Dance, Snake changed the melody. He formed a second shadow what was neither him nor his “nephew.” It danced counter to the melody Snake was producing. It began small, hardly noticeable, as it moved slowly toward them. But the closer it came, the more it grew until it loomed over Chalatta.
The people in the room gasped as they recognized the shadow as a menace. One even started to rise as if to protect the child.
Then Snake changed the melody again, and became her protector from the shadow. He drew his knife.
Chalatta drew hers at the same time. In tandem they fought off the shadow.
The shadow was not completely defeated.
As the Dance slowed, Chalatta ran to the kitchen while Snake danced alone. She pulled the tapestries closed, sat on one of the cushions at the low kitchen table, and wept. The shadow wasn’t defeated, she realized. The truth of the message hit home. Jem was much closer than she realized.