The Knot

Talitha ran through the cargo bay singing. A simple tune, she skipped to the beat and spun around a rail and danced around the engine’s console. She passed right by a narrow alcove, in between two bays. She didn’t notice anything hanging in the shadows — only crinkled her nose absently at the foul, acidic scent.

A lump of bone and dissolving flesh hung there, that had once been … many things. A squire, a traveler, a hero, a monster, a murderer, an uncle, a terror, a friend.  A knot at the center of him was all that remained — holding out against the decay, the rot. The knot heard the song, and finally began to unwind.

But, he did not die. The shadow poison fell away, washed clean by a little girl’s song.

With the poison gone, his flesh remembered and returned. Green sparks sizzled and popped.

Izus rose from the tatters of fabric and twine.He patted his chest experimentally, and looked around for a moment.  He snapped his fingers, and a brown cloak jumped to attention. It wriggled down the hallway, the steps and across the cargo bay, and into the little alcove where the villain had lay dying. It folded itself neatly over his arm, and Izus tossed it over his shoulders, fastening the clasp without a thought.

He could still hear the girl’s song.

“Goodbye.” he said, and stepped through the world and was gone.

The Cost IX

He felt his ribs shatter, leaving his heart exposed. A breath of cool air on his beating heart.

“Ah, yes – plenty of room. Room for five.” Fairchild purred.

Blood poured out of the squire’s empty eyes and his fingers slid along the stone. His body arched backward, and there was pain.

There was so much pain.

Then he saw them.

A hound with blue eyes.

A snake with green scales.

A knight with brown armor.

A lady in white.

A crow with yellow talons.

They were gone, but they weren’t.

Fairchild slid a long green hand down his chest, and the wound closed. A jet of purple and green fire cauterized the wound, and left the flesh smooth and unbroken. The green creature cocked his head, and laid an appraising finger aside of his pursed lips. He nodded with satisfaction.

” There…we’re done! Now get up.” he stood and moved back towards the throne. “You have lots and lots of work to do.”

The man stood up. He realized that his hands were clenched in the folds of his brown cloak. The fingers slowly released, and he saw they were coated thick with blood. On the floor surrounding him was a wide pool of blood.

It’s mine. The thought seemed to echo inside the wide cavern of his mind, like a marble dropped in a basin. The last blood that I will ever shed.

“And now — the name!” Fairchild clapped his hands like a stage magician. “It has waited for you here — for so long. Hovering at the end of your road, waiting for you to wear it like a crown. The name whispered in the dark. The name promised. Oh…you don’t seem very excited…”

The creature actually managed to sound petulant. The man said nothing.

“Very well, then. You are Izus Torossian. Take your payment and go.”