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Ochriese kneels with her palms up, tickling and dusted golden from the falling pollen of the Nightshade flowers that twist around the trees of this sacred place on bronzed vines.

“Attend Ochriese! Your mind wanders,” snaps Lumina.

Ochriese breathes deeply, trying to lower herself into the Q’Lain, the plane that exists between the real and the possible.  She has tried several times to find this place to no avail. Ochriese is unused to failure and with the Night of Flames looming close, Lumina has taken it upon herself to guide Ochriese.

“Cleanse your mind of all that you know, all that you are. Open yourself and ride on the endless of ocean of what once was, what is and can be. Repeat.”

What once was, what is and can be.

She forces her mind away from her assassin’s training, from the nearly fatal journey across the vast ice plains and the betrayal that separated her from her mother, Relenna. Instead she imagines her mother attending her medicinal plants in the atrium of their home in Ranquin. She watches Relenna’s long tapered fingers caress the seedlings and feels tears spring to her eyes as they lean towards her, drinking in her love and care as if she is more precious than the sun. Ochriese too leans in. Then a sapling of a boy enters the room, he is dark, lean and fair like Ochriese’s mother.  Relenna reaches for him and kisses his brow with a mother’s touch.

“Tell me of her again mother. Tell me of Ochriese, my sister lost.”

But Ochriese had no brother, and certainly not one nearly as old as she.

What once was, what is and can be.

Ochriese sobs and the harshness of the sound brings her out of the ecstasy. She now understands the exquisite price of pain paid for the sight gained on the Night of Flames and wonders if such a thing is gift or curse.


Inspired by Trifecta’s word of the week: