… because Easter seems the right time to contemplate rebirth.
Cobalt holds Rose close, trickling energy into her depleted form. The ambient has dimmed since her return and a mist has formed. Even the eternal, roiling river of light seems muted, its sprays of colour less brilliant than before.
Rose stirs. That this was a rough one, Cobalt has no doubt. He wishes Saffron were here.
<It’s all right, Rose. You’re safe.>
<Yes. I’m here.>
<It was horrible, this one. I don’t know how much more…>
<Easy,> he tells her. He’s never seen her return so spent.
<It’s worse every time, Cobalt. There are so many of them, so few of us.>
So true. With an effort he mutes the wave of helplessness, preventing it from spilling back into her. He’s seen it: more empties are being born as the population explodes. Still just a fraction, but the damage and contagion they cause, their pure, unalloyed evil…
<I don’t want to go back. I can’t.>
He turns to the river. It seems brilliant again, the mist lessened. Beyond, in scattered clusters, are others of their kind.
<If only we didn’t remember,> she says. <It’s all back to front! When we go into the field, that’s when we should remember. Remember home, each other. But to return and have it all come crashing back…>
Her energy is faltering again. He reaches out, teasing light from the river and knitting it into her being.
<It’s our nature, Rose.> He says it with all the gentleness he has. Then, <Once, I saw you there, the only time we ever met up. The street market. Lisbon, in the rain. Do you remember it?>
Comes silent assent.
<Of course, we didn’t know. But I was an old man, and even in that form I felt… something. An energy, a kinship, a pull.>
<Intimations,> she says. <The old—some of them—begin to feel it. Just barely. But some part of them knows.>
<Yes. Some part. Even incarnate, we can sense family.>
She is brighter now, comforted, but still unstable. He hopes she will have time.
<But they don’t act on it, Cobalt! For all their faiths and philosophies and their vaunted free will—they don’t act! Their minds always fight us. It’s all we can do to keep them from completely succumbing.>
She grows agitated again, and he works to smooth her energies, make her fully whole.
A pinprick of fire floats near, grows to a shimmering ovoid. Cobalt feels the pressure, yields to it, offering no resistance to the sudden burst of light and warmth.
Rose feels it too. <Saffron!>
Saffron joins them, completing them. Cobalt savors the moment as they merge into that perfect whole. Rose is healed, intact, herself again.
No words are needed. The time is both fleeting and forever until the call, as it must, comes again to each.
<Light,> is the last thought he has as he is drawn once more into the field.
* * *