by Richard Knights

 

A man named Skops poured me into his own mouth. I burnt all the way down. I took the fervour that made his pupils shrink and the whites grow, I took his single deepest want, and then I took his life. I dripped into the cast with one cold desire.

The hammer struck me and I hummed. Another pound and I whispered the name Skops had pushed to my furthest edges. I plunged into flames and when I came up for breath there was one word on my point.

Pandread.

I sang the word each time I was struck. I saw a king who darkened lives with every firm command, a king who’d twisted good words to bad intent, a king who’d spent his endless days carving power with bloody tools.

Pandread.

I plunged into cold waters and rose with a cutting smile.

The dirty hut was filled with smoke. A wise man breathed the cloying fumes and spoke prophecies of a young boy killing a hard king. It sounded loose and contrived, when I had the heart of the man filling my eyes and my every thought. My edges hummed as I considered the wise man, and the smith who held me grew more agitated. He grumbled as he slid me into my sheath, and muttered every step to the market.

I was sold for thirty gold. I was worth more and I did a terrible job of staying calm. The buyer was a man with grey hair cut short and whipcord arms. His name was Jon the Finger. He met bandits on the road who were keen to steal from the old and weak, but I helped Jon the Finger. I turned in the right place and sang the right tune and when Jon had finished, standing amid the corpses heaving breaths, I whispered a name to him. Jon shook, wishing for more company than the wide-eyed horse at his side, but I was all that was there. Me and my whispered word.

Pandread.

Jon looked at me too often, not knowing what I was. He tried to leave me beneath an oak tree but he came sprinting back a moment later, digging me from beneath the autumn leaves. He tried again another day and I watched the moon rise and fall. But Jon returned and I went with him, laughing the name with each shift and step. I smiled when I saw the market, and hummed when I was sold.

Isacarkt bought me for ten gold. I would have been offended, but that small offence was rust with what he did next. He took me to his carven home, eaten into a cliff and overlooking white waters, and walked me to his workshop. This backwater sorcerer sought to extend me, improve me, as though my edge had not already scored a dozen skins and my point pierced a beating heart.

At first I tried my best to sing and strip dear Isacarkt of all his precious skin, but then he laid lightning upon my edge. Another note joined my song. The world became clearer, sharper, like my mind was stretched taught. I mumbled the name at first, afraid of how my edges thrummed.

Isacarkt stopped. He leaned forward. I said the name again and Isacarkt frowned, slipping his pale hand around my hilt. He was breathing faster now, gripping me tight. I was ready to hunt and it was all I could do not to talk to the servants and the maids and the dozen guards between.

But instead, he threw me in the cupboard.

I did not know the darkness of a closed door, until it closed on me. I hummed, but no one heard. I screamed, but the shadows only laughed.

It galled me, when the door finally opened, that a boy should be the one to save me. He stole me away from the crusty sorcerer drunk on the idea of power without the courage to see it through. The boy ran and I ran with him, singing to his growing mind. I helped his hand when the bandits came, carving them into small pieces so that he could press north, towards the mountains and the castle.

We spent three years together. He grew taller, his shoulders wider. I helped him when he joined a warband, and swept him to the top. I made him angry. I made him impulsive. I pushed him when I should have stayed my hilt and thrust him into the bowels of Pandread’s castle too soon.

No matter.

Pandread was a darkness, but I was the fire. When the boy approached, blood sang in his ears so I added my voice to make an ugly ode to violence. A venerable melody the likes of which Pandread had never heard. We sang together, piercing Pandread’s mind as readily as the gaps he kindly left open. I was the colour of a dead man left in the sun. I was the sound of the wind as it slipped through the talons of a hawk. I spoke to Pandread with all the fits and glory of a life devoted, and pierced him through his heart.

That wizened man talked of prophecies and boys chosen to carve fate. He was wrong, that wise man. I carved fate. It was my point that pierced flesh, not the painted fool who held me. And now, with Pandread’s blood to fill desire’s void, I think I shall talk some sense into that wise man.

 

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Richard Knights is mechanical engineer who’s fallen through a few too many fantasy windows. He’s now traveling the world whilst trying to write his second fantasy novel.

 

 

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