39

And then, respite; an eminence of quietude overtakes.

Her energy collects itself, piece by piece, certain that she isn’t put together the same.

The fire surrounds, remaining. She breathes for an indefinite while. Soon she feels a current of expectation underlying the calm, and reaches out halfway to meet it.

She feels herself transforming. Gently, so as not to alarm. The transformation is a means of understanding.

She opens into the fire. Combustion becomes a means of existence, the world exploding in consumptive and radiant energy signatures connecting corners of the universe. As she grasps the torrential motions that form this structure, she feels herself approached by the people who live here. Their contact to her is like flame rushing up against a glass window. An invisible pane mutes the force into a warm touch, fingertips against fingertips.

The contact is cordially scrutinizing; unimpressed. She is in their house because they brought her here. This is their self communication. She is reminded of the Huntress’ Aria, again feels herself hearing it for the first time. She nods, acknowledging the initial contact. An emissary furls forward from the fire, and she looks it in the eyes. A wave of recognition putting her to mind of her dragon teacher, though she’d never seen dragons like this before. The tendrils of fire fold back on themselves, the emissary receding, and she returns to the familiar shape of humanity.

Another change commences, now unspooling into connected strands of idea. This form feels closer to her own. The strands of idea like connected pieces of knowledge about herself, a braid of lightning awareness.

The connection sucks her through into a room of sorts, completely herself and surrounded by people. They turn to her, strongly curious. She is stunned; they’re human. She skims her mental file of human peoples of the Imperium, and these are not any of those. Their likenesses flow via portals fueled by constant babble. An unheard language in laughs and whispers, from irrelevance to secret truths. All faces are unclear, and there are more voices than could possibly come from those around her. They are convivial, and critical.

39

One steps forward and lifts a staff, the top of it a shifting, spinning polyhedron. Looking into it, she is pulled again through those thought channels into the between.

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