The tight metal bands that bound her arms pierced her delicate skin, inflicting pain. While she still had enough strength, she held her arms up, trying not to put the weight of her body on them. After a while she felt the tingling and aching of tired muscles. She could no longer resist the force of gravity. It caused the sharp metal to pinch her wrists, which longed to slip out of the steel trap that was hurting them.
She thought about the child, which made her heart beat faster. She didn’t want him to face an end like that. He hadn’t yet had the chance to know the world and already was supposed to bid it farewell. A wave of tremendous anger swept over her, so strong that her throat involuntarily shuddered and let loose a fierce growl.
She struggled with her fettered arms, but the metal chains would not give way. She knew she would not be able to break them and yet she kept trying, inflicting more pain, which she felt corresponding to the suffering in her heart… She felt the blue blood beginning to trickle from her open and deepening wounds. It slowly flowed across her raised hands, arms and neck, soaking the white fabric of her T-shirt. She watched as the blue stain grew, acquiring the shape she knew so well. She closed her eyelids, letting her tired eyes rest, opened them again to check whether she might have made a mistake, and confirmed with amazement that the blood had painted her T-shirt with angelic wings, right over the place her heart was… She closed her eyes again. She calmed her mind and purified her soul, concealing all her thoughts, fears and cares in its deepest recesses. Her pain, fear and dread. She then opened her tormented heart and waited for a glimmer…of hope…for a scintilla of it. She knew. She felt that her time was coming, and when she realised that and believed that to be the one and only irrefutable truth, she received the first sign affirming that she was not mistaken. Her birthmark, the little tattoo not made by human hands, changed temperature.
At first, it was just a feeling of warmth. Gradually, it turned into a stinging sensation, and then after a few minutes, into a burning fire. She had the illusion of someone holding an incandescent coal to her skin. Seconds later, she perceived that one of the pockets in her trousers, precisely the one in which she was keeping two golden necklaces with pendants in the shape of angels, began to glow. The unearthly light had its source in the precious stones decorating their wings and was a sign of their awakening. ‘My time…has come,’ she whispered and shut her eyelids, preparing herself for what was about to take place. Fire. She felt it in her feet first. It scorched her and made her feel like screaming. She knew, though, that she could not do so. It would alarm them. She must be quiet. She must endure. She must find the strength in herself…
She was burning. No longer only her feet, but her entire legs, hands, torso and head were consumed by unseen tongues of flame. The only place remaining beyond their reach was her heart. She was burning at the stake, which was supposed to bring the change. The stake that was to be the beginning of a new life. She was supposed to be born again from the ashes like a phoenix, but for the ashes to appear, she must first burn to cinders within. That was the sequence of things, and she could not change it. Pain was the price she had to pay for what she was to become, and nothing was more important, nothing counted more than her presence, so crucial now and in the future, on this Earth, infected with evil.
She thought what she now was going through would be the extreme limit of her endurance, but she was wrong.
On the back of her shoulders she felt the skin that covered them breaking. She sensed that someone was cutting it centimetre by centimetre with a dull knife. She gritted her teeth even harder. The pain was so powerful that a quiet moan of despair escaped from inside her chest, and from her eye…tears flowed for the first time since she had lost him. She now thought this state would never end. She began to cry. She was finally able to do that. She began to feel somehow lighter, as if, together with the tears, she was becoming rid of the accrued layers of suffering, grieving, longing, anger, powerlessness and omnipresent pain in her heart. She looked with astonishment as the places they fell as they flowed from her face became red. That was a good sign. Tears of blood. After all, she had seen such tears before. She was unable to stop them from flowing. They flowed onto her clothing, her bare feet and the stone floor. She realised that when they directly touched her naked body, it was relieving, and where they touched her, the burning sensation ceased.
She lifted one foot, then the other, and let the tears wet her skin. After a while, she felt the fire that had been devouring her body weaken and slowly begin to dissipate. She sighed. But the relief she felt was only temporary. The fire broke out within her heart with twice as much intensity. She began to shudder. Her convulsions grew more severe until finally a power unknown to her pushed her so forcefully that her spine bent into an arc and she had the impression that in a moment she would burst, and when it seemed to her that she had passed the limits of her determination, endurance, composure and toughness, she felt the tongues of flame in her heart shrink. They retreated as suddenly as they had appeared, and with their departure, the convulsions shaking her body and the mysterious power bending her backwards also disappeared, allowing her to return upright. Again, she was standing on the cold and wet stone floor, her hands held high. But something had changed. She understood she no longer needed to burden her hands, fettered in the iron cuffs, with the weight of her body. She held them in the air with the force of will, and it no longer was a problem for her. Then she felt it. An unearthly strength, following the trajectory of the flames that had just been blazing and filling her body with all their might. And when she found the strength in her heart, a triumphant smile appeared on her lips. This strength proffered to hershot forth from inside her with an exceedingly beautiful, iridescent gleam. It didn’t hurt her eyes—quite the contrary, it calmed her mind, cheered her soul and brought joyful news. Her transformation had just now been made complete.
She closed her eyes, and nothing to do with her person, her past or her origin remained a secret to her any longer.
All sorts of questions, suppositions, riddles and mysteries had been clarified, explained, solved and revealed.
She struggled vigorously with her fettered arms and heard the metallic sound of her iron chains fall to the ground.
She was free. She had broken not only the bonds that had kept her imprisoned but also all the reproach, fear and apprehension that had been tearing away at her.
She bent her knees and knelt in a pool of her own tears. She took from her pocket the two golden chains and hung them on her neck next to the red diamond heart already there. She let down her black hair and from her back unfurled great white wings growing there.
She raised her head and lifted her right hand, which radiated a golden light, leaving an unusual gift in her palm. What had once been her property, the golden misericorde, bigger than any other, with its long blade and serpentine shaft, was now returned to its rightful owner. This was the quintessence of her transformation.
Her cornflower-coloured eyes twinkled, conveying her desperation and keenness for battle. With one nimble movement, she rose and straightened her frame. She was no longer the same lost girl. Now, she was strong with the force of her righteousness. Now, everything was in its place. Now, she was finally ready to come to a reckoning with her, the one she had already once defeated. Now, she understood who shereally was. She bowed her head, closed her eyes, and from her lips flew words like a silent prayer.
‘We become strong when we overcome our weakness. We become beautiful when we accept our flaws. We become wiser when we learn from our mistakes. We become ourselves when dormant memories wakeup to life to tell us the true story of our existence. At last, we know who we really are. We find the lost roots of our origin. We realize that the anchor that helps us to remain straight and walk firmly forward, and which we considered lost in the abyss of lies, secrets and ignorance, has always been here and has never left us. We cease asking ourselves, “Who are you,” and “Am I real.” We don’t have to do that any longer. We know. We know who we are. We know who we truly are,’ she whispered, then opened her eyes. ‘I am called Surielith and I am an Angelic Princess of Justice!’ she shouted with all her strength, her transformed voice echoing not only through the entire underground but reaching every recess of the old palace. ‘I am the strongest of all the archangels!’ she shouted again, ‘and there is now nothing that could possibly stop me…that could possibly keep justice from being done!’She glanced at the doors that led to the underground chamber; they were opening, and she saw in there…