When Elmal moved the fire gods south, they discovered a new enemy god, Yatelo. Some said he was an evil piece of the sky, the Hungry Sun. Others claimed he was a big spirit spawned by the destruction of many smaller, kindly spirits. Yatelo pained their bellies but would never stand and fight.
Elmal cried out in righteous fury. "If I can't catch him on my spear, how can I defeat him?"
Inilla stepped from a wall of pines to tell him that some enemies cannot be fought with weapons.
Elmal asked this reedy, purposeful girl who she was.
She was his daughter by Nyalda, she explained. Her mother had planted her as a seed in the Golden City's earth temple.
"I remember planting the seed," said Nyalda, "but it failed to germinate."
Inilla shook her head. That neither parent knew she had been born was understandable, she explained, because though her roots were established in Novorah, she had sprouted up down here. While Elmal's retinue departed the crush of ice, she had already been exploring, and was ready.
Inilla pointed out a cave to Nyalda, which inside resembled the Golden City temple. Together they descended into it, and there her mother recognized her daughter. When they emerged, Inilla won over Elmal too.
"If only we could welcome you with a feast," Nyalda said. "When I send my retinue to gather food, they come back empty-handed, bemoaning the cold."
"That is why I am here," Inilla replied.
And with those words, she went into the bushes and brambles to battle Yatelo. Unlike Nyalda's older kinfolk, she knew how to employ his own methods against him. Instead of crashing through the brush, she slid through it. There she found Yatelo sleeping, his stick-like arms curled around a pile of spruce tips. She waited until his snores grew deepest, then plucked them from his dry fingers.
She took these back to the sky gods. Though they found this food strange at first, they ate it all up.
Yatelo came to her and threatened her.
Before she vanished, blending into the thorns and willows, she said, "if you attack me directly, you will make yourself into the kind of foe my father knows how to kill." Yatelo sputtered in impotent fury.
But later he crept back into Elmal's camp and filled their bellies with emptiness.
The others wanted to whoop against him and show him who was boss. Instead Inilla crept to his favorite mushroom patch, moving softly among the mossy earth. She took all the good mushrooms she found, leaving behind only the poisonous ones whose red caps were dotted in white pimples.
She brought back so many mushrooms that the gods couldn't eat them all. When they hungered again, they found the leftover mushrooms rotten and worm-ridden. Inilla heard Yatelo's laughter in her ears. He had snuck in to ruin all the extra food she had gathered.
The next time she raided his berries, she tricked him in turn. She left some on the vines, to seed again. Inilla took more than the gods could eat at once, but not so many that they could not prepare the rest by sun-drying.
When these were eaten Yatelo came again and once more afflicted the gods with hunger.
Like the flicker of dawn Inilla went out. There she found a golden bush dripping with cloudberries. Yatelo stood there with his spindly arms crossed, waiting for her to make a mistake. Inilla stood for a moment, thinking carefully. Birds came to eat the berries, but rather than shoo tall of them away, she made a deal with them. She and the birds would split the delicious fruit. Later, she knew, their elated cries would help her find the bush again, and others like it.
Yatelo wept in fury. He threw Inilla a sword and said she could take the first swing at him. She laid it down at his feet. "Neither of us will ever destroy the other," she said, "so let us get used to this instead." Her words and actions revealed Yatelo to himself, not as an enemy of the sky gods, but as part of the natural way of things.
For, you see, she was dancing with him.