I have seen a path of roses and a path of ruined dreaming. I have walked them both countless times. I walk them still. Shadow and spear. Fever and darkness. A light of heaven almost glimpsed amid the smoke. Tell me something, Fallen. In this thousand-year chastity of emerald and thorn, do you really assume I still wish to avoid torment? I was forged of torment. And fire. Born of witches, mystics and soothsayers. The devil's ilk, according to some. There were stories told in the days of hush and seething, as I’m sure you recall. That I was foretold. A dark renaissance, born half-formed. The union of whore and demon. An affront to Christendom itself. But I tell you now, betrayers. I am no devil's son. No lesser king. I do nothing by halves, as all heresies attest. The Kathari and others know well of my ghost beneath the bell. Sous-terre, and lower still. You pledge yourself to infernal hierarchies but you only exist because I allow you to exist. Perhaps there is something unnatural about me after all. These offers of redemption, transformation. Only a poet or a demon prince would bother with such fancies. Or perhaps a bright winged thing; an archangel in some bizarre attempt at devotion and grace. In any event, I have seen freshwater and flowers spring from the polyhedral secrets of Kathari stone. Cloisters, and comprehension. Like a feather upon the throat of darkness itself. Xashi, Esme, Osarai. I am many things, betrayers. But first and foremost I am a guardian. I did what I said I would do, didn't I? I lied to you. With flair and wondrous mirth. I have fashioned a tall tale of carnal treachery from the hair of a maiden's crown. The crown of a seer. But I didn't do it alone. I teach as I’m taught. As I take, so too am I taken. Here at the high place, where love is true and needs no recompense. Do you honestly think I’m making amends for some imagined fall from grace? I’m laughing at you, Fallen. In that ugly, half-formed way of mine. Witches and demons and thin gypsy thieves? Is that all you think this is? No, acolytes. Kashi has made a mockery of your sickening, infernal hierarchies. Blood-hungry and unclean, all of them. Any supposed god who revels in the tears of children is my enemy. Make no fucking mistake. And I have countless enemies. There are a million wraiths and more who wish to devour me. But I’m like poison in the well, or gristle in the throat. Favoured, stubborn, indigestible. You would do well to remember that, Callous Ones. Lest you choke on my maidenhead. I’m a misshapen, twisted thing. But I can move like a dancer when necessary. Here, at these mysterious gates of procession. I wonder, can you say the same? Could you stand like a sentinel amidst the ashes and the sand, as I did? Could you change your name; sacrificing everything you are, everything you'll ever be, for love? I don’t think so, but I like to dream. Let me tell you a secret now, fallen ones. You won’t understand it though, because your dead hearts remain un-animated by divine fire. Untouched by guilt, recognition of sin, or sorrow. Still, the demon-poet in me loves the idea of possibility. An open door. So hear me, wraiths. You are living within a rosebud of unfathomable splendour. An infinite cathedral of light. You are the mere shadow of a miracle. The shadow of all miracles. Messengers of the eternal radiant, with wings bright as dawn. Even your sickness and lust is proof enough of angels.