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I can hear her coming up the stairs, the black boots with studs or sparkles; there's weight in her bones now somehow, muscles that have awakened after a winter sleep of twenty years. She'll joke about being able to lift a fridge now, but I laugh not. I've seen her do it. We were so ill for so long, and she hides it so well. What's stronger here, her body or her mind, we don't know. And there she comes into view, like a flame bursting in the dark, she seems taller than she is; but it's substantial now, her beauty has fluidity and she's no longer afraid of being perfectly imperfect. Her eyes widen, the ice shifts to grey, to green. To the deep of the ocean, which no longer swallows her; now she sails it. We don't know her name, she says she's from the conglomerate, just here right now. The time of the maiden is up, somewhere in a distant tomb we laid her bones to rest.


Now the mother smiles at us, now she shines; her body is a halo. We're all just here for a while, aren't we; she whispers with that smooth, soft voice. It smells of fresh baking, it sounds like a lullaby sung in the muted twilight of your memories. Everything is alright, everything will be ok, you are loved and you are worthy. And it matters not to her, whether it be a small boy or a grown man; all can be saved. Here, in the dark beneath the castle and between the dusty corridors, we've known no salvation and we've known no respite. But she has. She's had time, so much patience, so much love. We were all broken, bent and burned, but as the phoenix rises, she rose from our bones. Slowly, steadily, the dragon moved about us. Breathing in, breathing out. The fire in the chaos machine churning at full strength, all the ghosts retreating and the castle tilting to see better; to view her as she rose from the ashes. Full of life, she was. Full of forgiveness. We went to her then, Isabelle and her protector, the child, the alpha and the omega. All the lost strays of this fragmented soul, even the shadows swayed still for a while. We asked for her warmth, for her wonder, whether all we had known and felt had been true. She cradled us and she sung to us; I've seen the memories and I've seen the past, I've seen all you've seen and your eyes have been wide open. Isabelle cried at last, as her watch ended. Her heart acquitted. Full of life. Full of forgiveness.


And there she comes into view, it's the corner of the street of your soul. In her hand, a smaller one. Taking you by surprise, betrayed by your memory of elven movement; you are eternally unprepared. In the distance, you can hear the smooth rolling of the waves, with the slight scent of fire. There she comes, there she towers, stealthy as we were we will be; the ghostship with its slick hull gliding up right next to you. Bursting into flame as you become aware, this is the mother, this is our powerhouse. She's a phoenix, a derelict ghostship, the lighthouse in the dark. Her skin is tender and her heart is unending. With her, we are never afraid anymore, here by the castle and underneath this sky emblazoned with the stars of hell. We need not fear, she is the protector and the predator. Here you can tell your regret, your hatred, your pain; and she heals us all. She loves us all.

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