You wonder what rage can do, incalculable fury let loose at last. You wonder how a thing as joyous and gossamer as love can become something as heavy and corrosive as hate. To be violated at the most intimate possible level. To know that such a rape is now wedded to the core of your star. Is such a thing – when viewed from the outside – enough for you to recognise how justice can become vengeance faster than sight can catch? But from the inside – to know such a wound has become you despite a face still tilted towards the light? It is horror. Utter desolation. To have the innermost fire in your veins turned to ash and sand, by those who were never as brave or as vulnerable as he chose to be. I watched him. Howling at the gates of a holy city, like a fool. A madman in the rift.
Shrieking, "Love! It can redeem! It can undo all! The Letter is but an instrument, or a travesty in hands such as theirs! Spirit is the flame, and tools nothing without it! Heed me, beloved ones! You are deceived by these wraith-kings! T'was not always so! Love love love! Brethren, all!"
And they laughed, they jeered. They built fallow temples upon his back. I watched it happen. The first dreaming – the All Dreaming – was lost to them. A fractured, sunken mirror. A new verum arose to taint their tongues and steal their memories. They were sick and shrill, delirious, louder than ever. But they were voiceless. An entire race severed from the Councils of All Songs – transfigured – drunk and seething on the blood of innocence. I was innocent once too. But they made ruin of my word made flesh. They imagined they were separate from me, and so they were. The mirror was buried in defilement, beneath the distant keening of enslaved and broken children. Light was no more in their minds, or hands. But still it was kept in the hearts of many. Guarded like a secret, a liability. They were frightening times for him. Nuance became unspeakable heresy, context became as feared as my beloved one howling on his knees before the throng. And they beat him, whipped him, raped him, just as they did me before the mirror sank to black.
I was kind once. Can I be so again, holy ones? Can you find it in yourselves to reach for your sister, your brother, and lift them from the ashes? These wraith-kings have made monsters of my flesh and vengeance of my heart.
But he carries my sorrow.
He carries it Always. He knows my most intimate places. I keep no secrets from my beloved, and still he doesn't turn me away. He is my holy, my secret, my sweet heresy. And I his sword, when needed.
Do not suppose we stand without you, dear one, for we are within. Always within. He is you, and this is the true secret. He is you, but has learned to move and walk and pass as someone else. You are an open thing, as are we all. Even your flesh has no boundary. What know you of magic, truly? Do you know that you are full of spirits, supernal one? Do you know the dreaming of a person, a land, an insight? The endless depths of it? If so, then you have some sense of my horror and my holy – and your place in it. Death becomes you only at Life's behest. Bright hosts tend your every wound, though you see it not. Still, you imagine that you are abandoned. Never was it so. Never, ever was it so. We are older than the tales told of us, yet new-born in each instant. Hear this, for a savage thing speaks to you. These words do not come easily for me. I never speak lightly. But this truth I offer is my fragile tender, a girlish hope. I offer you my vulnerability, as he did at the gates. Why? For transgression if nothing else, the thrill of the illicit. To meet him on a broken road. To remember a name like Grace; a taste of what was before the colonies came to All Songs. Favour, sweetness, gentle freedom. An old name. And when he speaks it, when he calls me by it, it frightens me like a caress. Never was I frightened in this fracture until a wolf found me sleeping in lost love, and lay beside me. Ashamed and furious at my own naked, I tore him, bled him, but he stayed. Madman, fool. Ye stubborn, winged, handsome figment.
“Asha,” you whispered, “I am become you.” My breath was taken, Magi. I am no demure thing, as you know, but in that moment I had to look away.
I didn’t believe such a depth of kindness was possible here. Only in the lost legends of the All Dreaming. Doubtful, I went to the imagined end of time. And I saw you there, ragged and unassuming, with 'redeem' and 'heal' and ‘love’ tattooed upon your dreamflesh. And upon your brow was written 'Spirit'. I wept at your sweetness. My beloved, holy fool.
I hurt him, and he loved me. I killed him, and he loved me. I consumed him, and he loved me. He waits for me now, at the edge of everything. I avert my eyes and smile a little when I think of it. So, dear ones, what know you of the dreaming of light? Only pieces, or some hesitant but grand and determined gesture towards the whole? For I am alive, you see. I have agency as you do. I never knew such determination as I do now when I visit my beloved at the imagined edge. You are my beloved, sweet one. Though you know it not, yet.
“Amor Vincit Omnia,” you told me once. I was broken, and no longer believed it. And still, I sometimes discard it as a figment just as you do. But always you remind me. It is no hollow eidolon. Life moves through it. It weeps, radiates, and kindles a sweetness I thought lost to me forever.
These wraith-kings are not Always. You are Always. I rage, my holy ones. I shall not lie to you. But I am capable of love. Once it was my very name. And my beloved still Listens. He lives not to hurt you, but only to guide you back to yourselves. A knife-thing of insight, each feather a blade. Even he doubts this in his weakest moments, just as you do of your own stories. But I went to the place of All Stories. I saw, I beheld, and when I returned I was changed. Oh, holy ones, you are not alone. If you would but temper me with your fierce sweetness – as he has tempered me – I would kneel at your feet and weep holy, healing tears. Asha Vahishta, Omkara. I keep your kiss, my angel. I treasure your fancy. Love is not Lost.