(123-07-28) Water and Flame
Water Into Flame
Summary: The Red God sends a vision to one of his most devoted servants.
Date: 28/07/2016
Related: None

It is never dark in Rashiya's chamber.

She chose it for its generous hearth — and there she passes the hours of darkness, curled up in a chair drawn close to the fire, basking in the heat of her God's love… and disciplining her thoughts, and searching the flames, and opening herself to terror, hope, and understanding.

All this has a cost, which she pays stoically. She never ceases to think of the precarious position she occupies, in this new land. Supported only by a handful of the Lord's loyal servants — and by the Lord's own precious favour, which she beseeches of Him over and over again as she gazes into that tangle of cinders and ashes and twisting flames. Any lesser woman's sight would be burned away by such a night as this; Rashiya's red eyes glow like heated coals. She is bleeding already, but not enough to trouble her. She has seen so little, yet. Her questions only multiply. Her lips part; she utters a few words in the lyrical tongue of Asshai, her breath seeming to reach the flames and fan them higher still. The shadows thus cast upon the wall behind her bear no likeness to anything else in her room, or in the world beyond her door.

Strange, how flames can emulate undulating water; how the shadows of fire can seem like the depths of cold water.

It is in this water other-world that a vision takes hold. Long, pale hair, long, pale limbs, long, pale fingers that claw their way to the surface, where the waves wash over a shape gradually swimming … no, pulling … its way through the water, against mud and rock, fighting the waves that slosh back and would seek to push it into the depths from whence it came.

Clawing against slippery stone, the whole figure rises, dripping. A woman? Or a wraith? With skin so bloodless, eyes and cheeks so hollow, with lips so tinged with cold grey and a gaze seeming black as tar… she looks like a walking night-terror; but the most vivid detail, the truest complexion of a corpse, is the grisly, bleeding wound in her chest, just left of center where a heart should beat.

When her flames coalesce into that startling, bleeding figure Rashiya leans nearer, unconsciously, moment by moment, praying under her breath whilst fire dances in her eyes. The heat inside her blossoms — and with it, the pain… in proportion, always in proportion, to the desire to see and the strength spent in the seeing. "Lord, show me," she entreats; "show me…"

She might be beautiful if she did not look — by all appearances, by all logic and yet so fundamentally against it — like walking death. The narrow hole in the woman's chest seems to devour the fabric around it, a gown that could hardly be called a gown. Nothing of worth. Blood-stained, now, dark and wet and clinging to her like oil. She takes several halting steps, looking straight ahead, as if at someone; through Rashiya, until she sees nothing at all any longer. The deathlike stranger finally collapses.

The flames are not finished, however: just when it may seem as though the vision will collapse as well, the shapes twist and flicker and warp into a glimpse of another dark space. Confined and full of shadows. The pale woman is lying on her back, the blood cleaned away. The wound looks even deeper in this stark state. A blade through the heart. Little more than a body ready for a funeral.

She opens her eyes.

Slowly, with a laborious, determined fluttering of eyelids, she lives. They are not black after all, but instead, glimmer fiercely with a Valyrian violet.

Towards the hour for dawn services the men of the Fiery Hand find their priestess exhausted in her chair, insensate, her fire burning low and her red skirts glistening with her own blood. They are afraid to touch her, afraid even to approach: they confer in murmurs.

A hand trembles toward her, to shake her awake or perhaps to see if she has still a pulse… Her eyes snap open, blazing red, unnaturally luminous in the half-dark of her chamber.

“Bring me parchment and ink,” she declares, in a voice lent strength by her purpose, “and light every candle you can lay hands upon. The Lord is with us, my children,” and she smiles beatifically up at the flame-marked faces of her young servitors, “and it befits us to rejoice.”

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