He knelt before her, his breath coming in sharp, shallow pants as he pressed his face to the ground, several inches from her feet. He dared not touch her feet, dared not come close enough to be able to so much as accidentally breathe upon them…his reverence was such that the mere thought of doing so made him tremble in anguish at the thought of his unworthiness. He did not speak, dared not move, but waited only for the figure before him to address him first…1

"Daniel?" came the soft, firm tone, seeming so close, so very near in a way he knew he did not deserve, was fully unworthy of experiencing. A sudden shiver swept over him at the smooth, silvery cadence of the figure's voice, and a surge of gratitude tingled throughout his body, giving him a rush of skittish adrenaline nearly equivalent to tiny wing fluttering spreading throughout him…2

"Yes, my mistress?" he choked, his voice clogged with emotion, and his breath caught… for though he had not dared to raise his eyes up to look at her, he had felt her smile at him.3

"There is no need for such formality in my presence, Daniel…you may call me Sarabi, if you would so like. It is not my name, but I believe that it will do nicely for now…"4

"Sarabi…" Daniel breathed, tears of disbelieving joy springing to his eyes. "I didn't…I have no right to…but thank you. I thank you so…"5

"No need," Sarabi cut him off gently, and though he heard her clearly enough, Daniel could not understand how her words might apply to him. As she spoke again, he kept his face firmly against the ground, letting her words enter his hearing without images to occupy them as well.6

"Daniel…Daniel, look at me, please."7

Incredulous that she would ask, that she would want such a thing from him, Daniel did so slowly, lifting only his head as he kept the rest of his body prone on the ground. Even with his head raised, however, he could not see her features, could barely make out her form. She was shrouded in a cloudy darkness that concealed all but a vague outline…but somehow this neither bothered nor confused him. She was there…and somehow that was all that mattered, that she was there, and did not send him away from his presence, as he surely deserved.8

"You came here openly, Daniel, in the light," Sarabi continued softly, and though he could not see her face, he could feel her eyes boring into his. "You came in the light, seeking what you knew not, and you have found it in me. Now you must leave here in darkness…but this is fitting and right."9

She paused, and Daniel's heart fluttered in his chest, knowing she was watching his face, knowing she was sizing him up, judging him…10

"Do you understand what I am asking of you, Daniel? Do you understand what you must do?"11

"Yes," Daniel whispered, and he spoke with eagerness and yet also hesitance, as though he feared his conclusions to be wrong. "I…I will leave…through you…"12

"Yes," Sarabi replied, and Daniel sagged in near ecstasy at the pleasure in her voice, the pleasure directed at him…13

"Yes, Daniel, you are exactly right…"14

Her voice lowered, growing softer yet, and Daniel kept his eyes fixated on the shadowy approximation of her face, anxiously awaiting her words.15

"You have found me…so tell me, Daniel…what now will you be willing to do, in order to prove your devotion?"16

Daniel's words came quickly then in an eager tangle, so anxious was he to prove his willingness to please her as he stared up into her dark form.17

"I'll do anything, Sarabi…I'll go anywhere, I'll do anything, anything…I'll do whatever you ask of me, whatever you need! I'll…I'll even leave you, if that is what you want…please, please tell me, Sarabi, please- give me a chance to show you my devotion…"18

"I do not want you to leave," Sarabi replied softly, and at those words Daniel exhaled in relief, his body shuddering with his gratitude as his throat choked, tears once more standing in his eyes.19

"You seek answers, Daniel…but what I will give you is absolution."20

He could vaguely see Sarabi moving now, her height changing, and he realized that she was kneeling before him. He could feel her looking into his eyes, the sensation that much stronger now because she was so much closer to him…21

"I want to take your every thought, your every thought, your every secret sin and darkness, everything about yourself that is unworthy and impure, Daniel…and I will bring them into myself, take them away from you. I want to make you beautiful and worthy and whole…I will take the person you are, and I will make you new…if you will only let me."22

Daniel's breath caught sharply, and he widened his eyes as he stared up at Sarabi, stunned by her proposition, as well as more than a little anguished.23

"No…no, you mustn't…you cannot do that to yourself, Sarabi! Not for me…never for-"24

"But I can," Sarabi interrupted him firmly. "And I will…you must allow me to, Daniel. You said that you would do anything for me in order to prove your reverence…and this is what I ask of you."25

Daniel's eyes lowered, and he was trembling; his voice broke, and tears equally awed and shamed spilled out upon is cheeks as he replied hoarsely.26

"I thank you, Sarabi…I am ever so grateful to you…but I am unworthy. I do not deserve this…I am so unworthy of this…"27

"Shhh," Sarabi soothed, and her smooth tone silenced his tears almost instantly, made him pause in mid sob to listen. "Soon, Daniel, this will no longer be true…"28

She leaned closer to him, her voice pitching even lower as she reached out, not quite touching.29

"Now give me your hands…"30

Daniel raised himself up, fumbling so that he was kneeling too, level now with Sarabi. As he did so he was mumbling fervently, quivering as he thanked her with feverish gratitude.31

"Thank you, Sarabi, thank you… thank you so much for this, for letting me do this, for letting me be… thank you so much, I am so-"32

As he held out shaking hands, Sarabi took them without words into her own, holding them in a strong grip. All sounds Daniel was making cut off abruptly the moment his skin came into contact with hers, as if his vocal cords had been slashed, if not cut out entirely…33

Daniel's eyes bulged, his muscles growing rigid…for as he gripped Sarabi's hands, staring into the approximation of her face, he could suddenly see her clearly, defined, though she still remained covered in darkness…he saw her, and he could not look away. As the darkness spread slowly, encompassing him now as well, he barely noticed…34

It was covering him, changing him…and as he was released, as he slumped to the ground in that cold, utter silence surrounding him, he could feel his every essence fading, as though it were draining out from him. But still, somehow Daniel did not mind. For echoing in his ears, he could still hear the silvery tone of Sarabi's voice, though she spoke not a word…35

"Your sins into me, oh my beautiful one…your sins into me."