My heart fell, and the demon lowered its blade, so that her body dropped to the floor. I looked again and saw that she was human, her long red tresses shining in the moonlight, her face calm and sad as I had found her, her skin pale as white paper, crimson spilled and cooling on the floor beneath the slashes on her wrists.
I ran forward, but the floor, black and slick and marble, slid away beneath me so that I came no nearer. The void demon laughed, a rasping, gravel, broken roaring sound.
“We destroyed you. We are destroying you. We will always be destroying everything you are. We have found them. We come. Your Swarm will not save you. There is nothing anyone can do.”
I swallowed and blinked and found that they had gone. But when I opened my eyes my lover remained, her form exalted again, golden and lithe and moving on the ground. She stood nimbly, holding a hand to her stomach as though it ached. But as I ran to her, her wings and arms unfolded and she put out another hand to stop me.
“Three winds brought the Profusion down,” she said, each word a harmony of songs I will never be able to repeat.
“Black,” I said, quoting the Temple text in turn, “and white.”
“And gold,” she finished, lowering her hand. “You need not fear them, or only them.”
“They hurt you,” I said, and she winced. I did not go any closer.
“They will have tried to stop me coming to you. That was always never going to happen.”
I laughed, wincing at the pain in my own chest. “Did I die?” I asked, remembering. “Did I die back there? I was the one impaled. There was no sewing it.”
Now she laughed in turn, and I wanted to remember the sound forever. “Always you are so concerned for this, when it cannot matter yet.”
“Doesn’t matter?” I asked. “How can dying not matter? What happened to me in that greatship?”
“You will find that you have died only when you needed to.”