Fire was always warming, always welcoming. She didn’t know why or where this desire came from, but from within, from as early as she could remember, the coals and the sparks and the flickering light of chapel candles and braziers always held a fascination. Whispers and rumors told her that maybe…here her shivering mind darted and danced around the truth. She had been orphaned very young, it was said, as so many were. A town in flames.

There were dreams, on occasion, dreams of memories or something in between, where all that lay before her eyes was the flickering light, the heat…something…glimmering between shades of lace and cotton overhead, almost like a tent. The view from a cradle. Warmth. Such warmth, and the smells…

Better then the sounds, her heart of hearts whispered. 

That was all. Then emptiness. Nothingness. She would open her eyes and go about her day and the red monks would teach her the way. But there was always the memory of fire and the voices that it brought with it had grown stronger every day. The voices that had whispered power, till her mind was not her own and she had given in gladly to the madness and the fear and the stench of fel fire had filled her nostrils till she could hardly breathe with the burning of it…!

The dance again, in sparks and coals. A smile on her face as she stirred beneath blankets in the little but clean hovel. Oh there were so many different kinds of pain. Of knees bent before altars in prayer for long hours, of feet battering the broken ground, callused and bloody, of white horns and hooves and blades, and heart, broken and twisted as the mind the voices carried. And more…then the light, the bright, burning light, the power of another voice, great and terrible and bringing with it all the righteous strength and fury of a Light greater then any flame she carried within her. Such pain was not easily forgotten, the feeling of claws scraping across her mind as they grasped and twisted and struggled to remain.

Smoke, soot. Something burning, then cool hands, gentle hands, pulling the blankets close about her again. Such pain. Cauterizing, gleaming. Pain hidden in words spoken in command, in softer words whispered in prayer. This strong, great creature of Light. 

These cool hands…

The white horned woman. She knew pain, yes, but one of icy cold, of a chill that cut and burned as much as ember ever could. As much as a knife driven into the souls of the red monks. Not a creature to be feared, but a creature she walked with. She knew this thing. How could she hate such as this? They both walked in a madness, one of her own making, one twisted by the fel that had plagued her. 

She reached out, stirring in her sleep, for that coolness. No, she could not hate that. She could only take sanctuary with it. 

Author Wallaroo
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