Your harsh words cut deep, tiger that prowls in the night. Keeper of the keys, master of the Gates of Chaos. It’s so dark, I can’t see the path they keep talking about. Where is it? The trees ascend high, they block my view of the never-ending sky. I’m scared, I’m alone, I’m lost! In your outstretched arm, you turn the staff, and Theta’s white flame walks by you in all paths.
A sound cutting through the blackness. Eerie, foreboding, threatening. A shadow approaches, darker than even those cast by the trees. A tiger? Glittering eyes, a feral gaze, power poised to pounce and kill. Silently stalking me. Waiting for the opportune moment. I’m frozen in fear. Run, run! It’s the predator we flee, ever endlessly. A shaft of moonlight, it illuminates me, illuminates the Great Cat. There is no Moon in Dremael. What is that light? Then I hear her, the Princess of the Moon. “Little one, kikanoronah, elder one.”
The Cat speaks as well. “Phoenix.”
A fourth voice, the Ascendant of the Void. “Where have you wandered to, this far from the Citadel?” Why wait for the stars to align? I step closer to the Cat. He tenses, looking ever more fierce. Still, I reach out, trembling, and my hand can barely reach his chest, his heart.
“You may be the terror in the night, but I know you. You who knew only darkness and potentiality, you have renewed hope, comfort, and light.” The Cat does not reply, I continue. “You may be big and bad, but you first came to me as a vulnerable little kitten. My Kitty. My dearest friend, my oldest friend. Though you are more than the benign form you once had, I can see right through your monstrosity to the hidden spark within you.”
He crouches low enough for us to gaze into each other’s eyes. “I am Phoenix now, she of rainbow hue cannot be pursued.”
His jaw opens slightly, I can detect the hint of a smile, though it’s frightening on the Great Cat. “Ancestral memories of the Quedern.” I feel the Acolytes in the depths of my memory, and the Phoenixes are before me. So caught up in ecstasy and rapture and joy and happiness and gratitude and love, I climb the Cat, nestle myself in his fur as Amikanyelle and I did before, holding on to him.
“Where would you like to go, Chloentyl?” he asks.
And off into the Wonderland we go, and it looms before me. The Citadel. The shaft of moonlight … it was the Citadel! The temple-palace glows more as we approach, the chill of winter liquifies.
The Citadel … its light is now prismatic.