Lyrianne of the Song, Part 2
Hymns of Family, Part 2
Lyrianne picked at the scab above her temple, a reminder of the breakdown at the House of Flowers several days prior. "Be strong, Lyrianne." She whispered encouragements, carefully making her way back to the temple where her mother now resided. Last thing she needed was another breakdown. Mourning was tough enough without an audience. "Be strong for Mama." The large entryway was packed with petitioners, seeking the truths of the Goddesses for their own spiritual and personal journeys as part of their celebration of the Festival of Flowers. She spotted the kindly caretaker from before, this time sorting the petitioners amongst the three shrines throughout the temple based upon the Goddess best adept at hearing their request. She looked away in embarrassment, remembering how he had pried her away from Goddess Xira's shrine and tended to her head, but he had already noticed Lyrianne and was shuffling to her side. "How's your head feeling, Miss?" Lyrianne's head throbbed a little at the memory and she unconsciously reached towards the scab again. He grabbed her hand, gentle but firm, with an understanding smile. "Best not to pick at that, Miss. Wounds were meant to heal, after all. Even Goddess Xira would concede that nothing was truly meant to last forever, especially not pain." "I'll be fine." Lyrianne used her other hand to pull his away. "Really. I'll be strong, for Mama." "And for yourself, Miss." He smiled at her, and yet not for her. "I understand. I, too, have watched the Goddesses claim my most beloved." He motioned towards the shrine to Goddess Patheia, its musical drips of falling water marking the seconds as they somehow shifted carefully positioned rocks, tracking the steady march of time. There were many prophets in padded chairs hearing the pleas of the pilgrims but her eyes were drawn to one in particular, an elderly woman, her long white hair carefully braided and interwoven with Sagewood blossoms. The wrinkles on her face marked her as one of the oldest prophets within the temple, and the petitioners at her feet were sitting with rapt attention. "She's my wife," he explained to Lyrianne's questioning glances. "Or, was, back when she remembered herself. But she will always be my everything." Lyrianne felt the tears coming again, and searched the caretaker's face for answers. "I can't tell you how to work through this." His voice was mournful, tinted with his own memories. "We must all find our own path. Mine was to work here. She will never recognize what we once were, but I promised at our wedding that I would love her to my last breath..." His voice faded briefly before continuing, resolute. "And this is all I can do for her now. But it is enough." "I'm sorry..." Lyrianne began hesitantly, but the caretaker cut her off. "I'm made my peace with the Goddesses' decisions. She has helped a great many people in her decades here, and I am blessed with the ability to continue helping her." Lyrianne nodded, unsure. Her chest was heavy with the glimpse of her own future with her mother, and yet somehow the burden felt lighter all the same. She was not alone. "Thank you." "I need to get back to my duties." He motioned to the ever-growing line of petitioners, now grumbling at the length of his distraction. "Go. See to your mother. You will be glad of these moments." Lyrianne mumbled her thanks again before weaving her way through the petitioners. She could feel their eyes glaring with jealousy at her sanctioned journey to the front of the line, although most faded to understanding and even pity as she made her way towards the private visiting rooms at the back of the temple. She was new prophet family, and there was sorrow with the change. Her brother greeted her at the doorway with concern. "How are you? How's your head?" "I'm fine, A'drol." She brushed away his concern but accepted the hug, burying her mourning in his strong arms, just for a moment, with the embrace. She pulled back and the moment was gone. "How's your wife?" "She is... understanding." A'drol glanced briefly at their mother, her green eyes staring fixedly out the window, her scaled green hands clasped tightly in her lap, before continuing. "I mean... Tianna doesn't understand, not exactly..." He shook his head, confused at his own wording. "She says I should feel blessed that the Goddesses have chosen Mama. That she will be a connection to the Three Songs for the rest of her life, and I should be proud of all the people who will walk in the songs because of her..." "But she won't be our Mama anymore." A'drol nodded. "Exactly. And she doesn't understand that..." He paused, then continued hastily. "Don't get the wrong idea! She's very supportive, and told me to do whatever I need to do. I know she'd love my help more with the kids right now, especially with a newborn in the house, but she told me to do whatever I need to come to terms with this. And I really am grateful for her giving me the space I need to figure this out. It's just..." His eyes glistened with unresolved tears, looking gratefully at Lyrianne. "It's really nice to talk about this to someone who truly understands." The ensuing silence draped over the room, settling into the corners and enveloping the occupants in awkward mutual discomfort. "...Do you remember how she used to sing when she cooked?" Lyrianne asked tentatively. A'drol broke into a huge grin. "Who could forget that? You could hear it three blocks away." "And it was usually off-key," Lyrianne continued, stifling a laugh. "'To make the bread rise faster,'" A'drol imitated Mama, hands on his hips. "'As if anyone could fail to rise with all that racket!'" Lyrianne impersonated their bleary eyed father, rising from his customary pre-dinner nap as a result of the noise. "You know, I always wondered if that was more for Papa's benefit than the bread." "Of course it was!" A'drol's grin widened. "Have you ever tried to wake Papa from one of those naps? Mama's singing is about the only thing that works." "They really are quite the pair." Lyrianne grinned back. "Mama with her singing, and Papa always burning the soup to discourage her from asking him to cook. I'm not sure he knows how to not burn it anymore..." Lyrianne's voice faded as she noticed her brother's sorrowful expression. She followed his gaze to their mother, now turned towards them and listening intently. "Mama...?" "My children." It was her mother's voice, and her mother's face, but it did not feel like her mother. "How kind of you to visit today." "What do you want?" A'drol stepped in front of Lyrianne defensively, hends unconsciously clenched at his side. "I want to speak to my children," their mother continued. "A'drol, I am so proud of you. What a fine husband and father you have become." A'drol relaxed his fists but remained standing, unsure. "I am only living the way you and father taught me." "You have learned well," their mother nodded at him. "I could not be more proud." She turned her head to Lyrianne. "And you, Lyrianne, what a beautiful child of empathy." "I... What?" "You have the strength of the sagewood within you, daughter. You are rooted in your family but you bend without breaking. You are stronger than you know." "But I don't want to have to be strong!" Lyrianne protested. "I just want thing to go back to the way they were before!" "Change is inevitable, my child." Her mother's face smiled at her. "But remember. Change is not something that happens to you. Change can also be something you cause for others." "What are you talking about? What is going on? Why are you--" "Lyrica?" Mama recoiled, confused, at Lyrianne's shouted questions. "Where am I? Why are you yelling at me?" She looked small, fragile, her green eyes darting around the room before finding A'drol. "A'drol...?" He rushed to her side, looking up at Lyrica as he passed. "Probably best if you go for now. I'll calm her down. We'll talk about this later. Promise?" Lyrianne nodded before stumbling out of the room, her head full of questions. What just happened? Who was that? And what did it all mean?