A sharp Blade Cuts the Flame

Kunai laughed, as he gave the orange-glowing arrowhead an intuitive flick.

Like pus from a wound, the Æbe’trax was drawing the shadows away from the sandpit. Ashlar watched in horror how the shadows were siphoned away from the corpses, only to reform in Kunai’s open hand.

‘Stealing one’s shadow… now that’s something I know you haven’t tried,’ said the leering face of the slave. He swiftly turned the glowing shard around so that it now pointed at the Gold Mask Man. ‘Works on the living too—’

Ashlar looked down his own nose. At the balls of his feet, his own shadow began to lengthen. A foreboding feeling rose at the base of his spine. Under Kunai’s dark intent, Ashlar’s shadow continued to elongate, pulling from under him like a strangely-shaped doormat.

‘—of course, seeing as you can’t die, it wouldn’t be as much fun,’ said Kunai, lowering the arrowhead and returning Ashlar’s shadow to its regular length. ‘As you can see, thought-made-flesh behaves exactly like the name dictates it. The sharper the Æbe’trax, the sharper the thought.’

Out of the dry, desert air materialized a candle. Save the means of its creation, the candle looked ordinary in every small way. Kunai gave the orange-glowing arrowhead a flick and the candle’s small wick sparked and ignited.

‘A blunt blade cuts the candle in half,’ said Kunai, drawing shapes through the air with the dull side of the arrowhead. Across the sandpit, the stick of white wax split clean off down its middle.

Kunai gripped the shard of crystalized thought, returning the cut-in-two candle to its integral shape. He now rearranged the Æbe’trax in such a way that its tapered end pointed frontward.

‘A sharp blade cuts the flame,’ he said.

Just like the candle had parted down the middle, its little white light split in two. Atop the lonely candle floated not one flame, but two. They swayed in the wind in ways most uncanny, two halves of a whole. While Ashlar watched the small, parted flame, Kunai drew an arc through the textured air.

The sandy environs were disturbed by a swirl of folded light. It looked like someone had stirred a giant spoon through the soup of reality. Behind his gilded façade, Ashlar beamed.

‘Is that—’

‘—Subexistence? Oh yes. And I didn’t need any old trinket or some bloke’s fancy tears. Until you have grasped the shape of your thoughts, until you have mastered your darker impulses, better not lose it,’ said Kunai, sneaking the Æbe’trax point into the palm of Ashlar’s hand.

‘What about your slave honour?’ Ashlar probed, his cold eyes alit. ‘Without Æbe’trax, you won’t be able to erect those mighty… trapezoidal structures.’

‘Actually, I have something more pointy in mind. Might even dare say arrow-shaped,’ grinned Kunai, his boyish face teeming with mischief. ‘Go on now, little god. The future’s a-coming, and you’re on the wrong side of time.’

Ashlar nodded and gave the tangerine shard a squeeze. Over his bandaged shoulders descended a cape. It undulated along his body like water, enveloping him in riveting shrouds of starless midnight. Dominus Ashlar drew the dark cloak over his avian front, and with his bandaged hand pressed onto his missing heart, he bade the young slave farewell.

To be continued...

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2019