The pain is everywhere now.   The cords are tight around my arms and my legs, the long cuts on my back from the scourge weep blood, but the pain is no longer confined to arms, or legs, or cuts.   I am pain, a fire from head to toe flaring with every beat of my heart… or the drum… and the beat is fast, too fast.    The fire is outside me too, at the edge of the clearing, wood from the ash tree, flames crackling and eager.   The fire in my body longs to be reunited with the fire outside me and if I was not bound I would rush into its heart and be devoured.   The woman I love watches, eyes fearful, brave enough not to comfort me.   I endure.

This is not my first journey on behalf of the people.  Since I found my gift in the Summer of Fevers I have journeyed often when there was need.   To find the will of the gods and the other beings who moved unseen in the woods and hills and mountains.  Unseen by most, but I could see them.     The heart drum beats faster and faster and I am sure I will burst if it does not stop.   The bonds cut into me again as I stretch and strain to free myself and…

My body remains bound, my soul flies free, into the fire, into flaming ecstasy, the world burns away and I rise with the smoke and I see… I see…

I see the ceiling of my apartment as I awake suddenly.  I’m shaking all over, my arms and legs hurt.   Light from window opposite my bed makes my eyes water, it’s too damned bright.    I stagger from the bed and drain a bottle of water, and try to recall the details… something about fire, and winter and… people?   The details fade like always, a dream on waking.   A memory of a woman’s voice.

Come home.

Then that too is gone.

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