She sat before the flames, kneeling by the coals, and watched as smoke and fire twisted through her fingertips. And smiled. This was a peat fire, so common amongst the lower classes. Banked and then stirred into life, filling the little cottage with the rich smell of smoke and earth. Cultivated flame, grown, blossoming from ashes held chill over a long night…

A little giggle, tones of madness. Fire flowers, she thought. Aunne would like that, with her odd garden and the odder blooms held in pots inside. Odd…cultivated…yes, they had done, the red monks. They had noticed her penchant for the flame, for magic, and carefully, carefully tended to it. They had… She danced the sparks on her finger tips, frowning. They had allowed the madness to bloom as well. They had watched the voices come, they must have, those holy men with their prayers and their kneeling and their holy justice. 

Burn them with a holy flame, they had said. 

And now…

She bit back the mad laughter, clutching her temples as the sparks fell back into the fire. Not anymore. Her thoughts had been happy. She had found a friend. The white woman. Aunne. Cold and chill as death. Yet there was reassurance in the bloody fear that had followed her footsteps that terrible day. And now…and now…the voices were gone, and she was safe, and protected. Safe. Safe from the voices. She could be as she was. Wanted to be.

And yet the madness was safe. It hurt, sometimes, looking at the world beyond. Having to think about real things. It was easier to forget, and let go, and be happy in the moment, with Aunne, with Miss Esre, with the odd things they did and said. She was free. Yes, freedom the Light had brought, terrifying and bright and strong. It had freed her from the voices and the fear. But now her mind was her own. Free and firey and frightening.

She ran her fingers through the hot coals, watching the sparks dance. But there was still the flame, as there ever had been. Twisted and dark and made fel by the voices in her head, but the demons that had plagued her, wounds and scars they had left still on her mind. And when that being of Light, when Zatul had free her, the spark had nearly died, quenched by the demons struggle. But now, now it grew again. Cultivated from a fresh new seed, bathed in the Light. And the new light grew, dancing around her fingertips once again as a true smile crossed her face. This flame, this spark, was…pure, beautiful. So hot it seemed clear. Perhaps this could be her comfort in madness. This new spark.

Author Wallaroo
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