Friday, April 19, 2019

#FridayFlash - Our Lady

I'm writing this on Monday evening, my time, when the main Notre Dame fire has been extinguished but the full extent of the damage has yet to be assessed. The pain is not one I can easily describe; the destruction of beauty is one of the only true evils that exist in this world. And to watch a place of such history and power and beauty be eaten by flames...it's surreal. It still hasn't sunk in as real. Perhaps, by the time you read this, I'll have come to terms with the destruction.

***

"Don't," Sean said, laying a hand on Brenna's shoulder. She had a video queued up on her screen, but hadn't pressed play yet.

"Is it that bad?" She looked up at him for an answer, tears on his cheeks, finger on the mouse button. Those precious green eyes were so bright, so wounded.

He wanted to protect her from the pain, but his magic wasn't that strong. Sean couldn't clear away the images, couldn't prevent the tragedy, couldn't block her from the sorrow so many millions of people were experiencing right now. No empath could clack out this emotive wave, and Brenna was the most sensitive woman he knew.

"It's rough." Further words choked him, threatened to overwhelm him with grief. Even though he wanted to protect her, it was wrong to hide her from this.

Brenna pressed to play.

The thumbnail came to life. Black smoke billowed against afternoon sky. Flames licked along the spire. The roof pulsed with the hunger of the inferno.

On-lookers cried out as the spire shifted, slowly at first, struggling to stay upright, then inexorably crashed into the heart of the fire.

Brenna covered her mouth, tears falling faster, and he sensed her pain. The loss of the people that she felt as keenly, even though she watched hours later, from half a world away. "Oh, no..." She bit back a sob. While not the original spire, it was still a part of the majesty, of history.

Sean wrapped his arms around his wife, offering her solace while she skimmed the article for updates. He hadn't had the courage to look much farther than initial headlines. The loss of any sites of power was too great to endure in the world as it stood. Magic was scarce enough.

Brenna made a choked sound. Not a sob, not a laugh, but an exclamation somewhere in between. "The window-" She cried out again, pointing at a photo of the stained glass window. It still stood!

A small tremble raced through Sean. Few people understood the power and symbols, then or now; the Templars had been so exacting when it came to hiding magic in plain sight. The loss of the spire was nothing compared to the loss the rose windows would have brought the world.

Brenna rose from her chair and flung herself finally into his arms. "It hurts," she said against his neck, shaking with suppressed sobs. "Not just for us, or our kind, but for so many. Their pain runs so deep, and I can't pull away, and I wish I could do something about it. Most of them have never experienced something on this scale, let alone something that feels so much like death."

"I know, I sense it too, like the tides of the world are shifting." Sean stroked her hair, her tears running hot down his chest.

"Some are already reveling. And I don't mean just the spirits of nihilism." A thread of bitterness entered her voice.

"I know that, too." But not a lot of people study mundane history, let alone the arcane. They don't get it. Not yet anyway."

Brenna leaned back, frowning, tears drying. "What do you mean?"

Sean smiled slowly, wiping her cheeks with his thumb. "All endings lead to new beginnings. This is merely the next phase for the Black Madonna."

Brenna quirked a smile, though her eyes still glistened with grief. "You think this might finally spark the war?"

Sean kissed her, managing a feral grin. "Pun intended?" His wife nodded. "For the sake of all our kind, let's hope so."

She laid her head back on his shoulder, more relaxed and at ease. They both contemplated lives free of mortal restrictions, where the magic could be theirs again.

"You know," he said after several moments, "the Phoenix can only rise from the ashes of a great fire. That is a beautiful fire."

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