Phoenix kin.

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2 thoughts on “Phoenix kin.

  1. Lorac stood in the Chamber of Sacred Fire in the Great City of Om – not in audience but bound to the pyre. She wore the marks of the pariah, and all saw these marks for these marks were every mark that befell her. Every cut and every bruise remained on her long after they might have gone from any other. She did not scar because she did not heal, and blood dripped from every place that she left a smear of red wherever she went and the people abhorred those places. When misfortune fell upon those who went where she had been, the blame fell quickly upon her; and when misfortune fell upon those in the other places, the blame found her anyway. Such was the hate that burned in the people of Om. Some showed pity, but that pity grew from the gladness that they were not she such that their compassion was also tainted by hate.

    In the days that followed it would be said that Lorac was hounded by bandits, and so it can be said that Om was a city of bandits. With sticks and torches they chased her through the market where the merchants and tradesmen would not shelter her for she could not pay, they chased her through the academy where the learned postulated that perhaps she had brought this on herself for collecting so many wounds and becoming what she was, they chased her through the alleys where the poor and homeless directed the mob that the mob would not look too closely at them. She did not run to the guards for she knew which and how many of the wounds she bore came from their hands and how little they cared for the wounds that did not. Instead she fled to the temple of the Church of Eternal Life and barred herself within the holy chamber. The men and women of the church stood between the mob and their seat and bade them not to destroy the holy structure, but they were swayed when the mob promised the construction of a bigger and grander palace of worship upon the ashes of this one if only they might exact their rage upon Lorac.

    They broke through to the Chamber of Sacred Fire and they tied Lorac inside the cage of gold that held the flame. Those that touched her and were stained with her puss and blood were washed and cleansed in the Water of Life by the priests and so many were they and so much was the blood that the pool that collected the water was clogged and stopped and some say that the waters stopped flowing. When they were done they left the chamber and set fire to it. They did not wish to cleanse Lorac as they did to themselves with the Water of Life, but to purge her from this Earth in flames.

    She looked to the four walls of the chamber that represented the four aspects of the Sacred Fire. She looked first to Hope and prayed that she might be cured and counted again among the people of Om, but the wall burned. She looked to Strength and found that her flesh held none and would find none. She looked then to Valor and took from it what she could before fire consumed it too. Last she looked to the wall of Justice and she felt a hatred that was only silenced by fear as the fires licked at the golden cage. She cried and begged the people of Om to release her, but the flames only grew and its tongues only advanced. Then the pyre caught light.

    The fire fled across her body like hot ivy, blooming with sparks in the places where her skin bubbled and exploded. Her eyes darted to the walls again and could not tell one from another, as they all burned and charred. Pain erupted across the whole of her. She breathed the hot air, and then the smoke, and then the flames, and her shrieks melted into a gurgle. She writhed in the golden cage until only her spirit could scream, and then she surrendered.

    She felt the fire burn through her and at once she no longer felt the bruises, or the cuts, or the dripping of blood that cursed her. The fire stopped burning at the edges of the chamber, but drew in towards the cage. Fire had melted the gold and all that remained was glowing iron and Lorac’s charred body that yet drew breath even as the flames licked. At once, Lorac accepted the fire, and the fire accepted her.

    She inhaled in the flames and her blood turned to molten gold, and she exhaled pain. Ash fell from her flesh and from the ash rose a body of shimmering, polished iron. The molten cage cleaved to her hand as a sword of orange heat that sparked and hissed as it cut the air. The remaining flames leapt from the charred wood of the temple that turned cold as even the embers joined with Lorac in wings of radiant fire. Her wings wrapped about her like a cloak and she looked heavenward to an assembly of saints and spirits who gathered to watch the rebirth of another of their number.

    They watched, as did the people of Om, as Lorac emerged from the temple reborn, and wondered if she would become an Angel of Vengeance – or Mercy.

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