[Continuity note: this serves as a continuation of an earlier post; it is, if you will, a separate story in the same "universe"]

Maybe I'm just Cassandra fleeting
Twentieth century Icon bleeding
Willing to risk Salvation
to escape from isolation
— Dream Theater, Voices

The Maiden was born into a modest family. She was not blessed with exceptional physical beauty, but nurtured by loving parents and family, her true beauty quickly began to show: an incredibly inner purity. The Maiden matured in a relatively sheltered environment; and yet, even had her family wished it, isolating her from the world would have been impossible. Thus, many expected the shine of her purity to be dulled and smudged by the corruption of reality, but this was not to be. Far from being dulled, her inner light grew in luminance, the external forces of destruction merely serving to polish her outer diamond-like facets, allowing the light to shine brighter than ever before.

Like all children, her mind was at first filled with the lies of childhood, her mind kept safely within a stained-glass prison of innocence. The simple lies were soon discarded like clothing out-grown, and yet the biggest lies of all she embraced with a frightening passion. Those trapped within the lies saw nothing strange in this, of course, but those who had long since discarded the lies for one reason or another found her dedication and passion either naïvely amusing, or alarmingly misguided. Few suspected the truth, however.

Such was her passion and dedication that out of lies and illusion she formed truth: that self-same stained-glass prison became a Temple of Light manifest in her purity, and those who glimpsed this temple were filled with awe and amazement. How could such purity survive, beset on all sides by corruption and evil? How could such innocence survive? For she truly did not realise that her unshakable truth was mere fantasy for others.

Time passed, and those who watched from the shadows continued to marvel and wonder. Would her purity continue to shine yet brighter? Could her innocence truly be impervious to worldly assaults? Naturally, she was still susceptible to the fragility of youth, but those around her could easily shield her from the mundane dangers that threaten all those not yet fully grown.

It was not to be, however. Her light had shone so brightly that few had been able to see behind it the keen intensity of her mind, a mind blessed with great intelligence. With this mind driving her inexorably along the only path she could see, it was inevitable that her path would lead her beyond the sandbox of familiar childhood, and there her innocence would run dry. And so it came to pass that the Maiden ate of the Tree, and was cursed with the horror of awareness; for the first time, she truly perceived the nightmare swirling about her Temple, and understood that those around her dealt in lies and illusion; only when illuminated by that inner light could these things manifest as truth.

For a time, she retreated under the shock and grief of this sudden awareness. Those around her mistook this for a sign of immaturity, as few could discern the truth of her situation, and this only served to reinforce her loneliness and bleakness. Yet, even this new curse could not destroy her; the light still sustained her, and as time passed on yet again, her wounds healed, and developed new strength to survive the nightmare.

The Maiden emerged from her Temple to once again confront the world: but this time, she moved with purpose: the determination of one who is not merely following the path, but who knows where the path will end. This time she would take her light to others, so that they might join her in the Temple, and find their worthless illusions manifest as truth.

The Maiden was now no more; but The Goddess now went forth into the world.

[to be continued]