Heirloom

This is a little rough. Where the Sevenfold Gyre is (among other things) a pretty in-depth exploration of the interior of a particular entity in the world of Rale. This is a much quicker, dirtier explanation of the same entity’s external influence. I don’t know that this will make it to the final collection in its current format, mostly because I find it too explicit. More likely that I’ll break up its “sub-episodes” and make reference to them in other pieces, but for those of you who have been reading closely, you’ll likely recognize a couple of them even now.

A storm is a wide thing, whorled, variable, separated from peace by the same dialectic line that cuts light from darkness.  But still it carries stillness at its center, like a heart sustaining it with a lifeblood of abstract potential, a reminder to the gyre that there is always yet a reverie to be broken.  Sometimes the eye of the storm is a great gulf, a tranquil window to the infinite chaos without. Sometimes it fits on the point of a knife.

The knife in question was not special.  Its handle was gnarled, rough, its iron impure, forged hurriedly and without care that it might carve pine and cut fruit and do very little else of consequence, but chance placed it in the hands of a craftsman who traded not in wood or nourishment but in smiles.  His art was not, as it were, in the evocation of grin or mirth.  It was a matter of use. A smile can open a door, turn foe to friend, instill ease, provoke horror.  For good or ill, a smile is a lie, and this craftsman was a liar, exceeded only by a legend, a face in the clouds.  For many years, he studied that Man of the Clouds, and then, when he had learned enough, he plunged his mundane blade into the sky.  Where the knife pierced, a stillness remained, and around that stillness, his self, his sins, and the violent gale of Untruth itself began to whirl.

Like a hailstone, the knife plummeted from the sky, crashed against a mountainside, tumbled deep within the earth where a fugitive happened upon it.  The fugitive, exiled, called a demon by his people, grasped the blade, recognized immediately the storm it anchored, and attempted, starving, slavering, to devour it.  And it made a storm of him. He who had been called demon became then truly demonic. He emerged from his cave and tore for an age across the land, surrounded always by a hell of grit and dust.  But even a demon cannot stomach a storm forever. His people hunted him, grudge undulled by time, even sharpened, perhaps, by the grit blown in that gyre he dared to swallow. They cornered him, imprisoned him, and at last he retched: The knife tumbled into the world yet again.

The demon’s captor collected it, gifted it to his lord who saw nothing in it, who used it to butter his bread.  But winds blow, and the world turns, and the lies and stories come round again: The lord saw not, for he did not need to see.  The storm did not transform him, for the lord was already a demon, had already crafted his murky hell, had harvested thousands, waged war on the world that spurned him, and carved his name into its writhing husk.  So when the vengeful came for him, none recognized the storm that bore them. Though it still raged, the world had somehow forgotten it.

From the corpse of the fallen lord, the knife was collected by a rebel, a taker of skulls who saw in it power–but not its power.  Instead, he saw echoes of a god of blood and glory, a reversal of the world’s descent, a road to his deity’s return.  Precisely; appropriately: He saw a lie. A lie within a storm of lies, a face of god in a cloud which was, itself, godlike.  So it was not by his intent, but the knife’s, the storm’s, that he roamed the earth, proclaiming his god’s rebirth, spreading his falsehood like rain for centuries until the right mind received it.

That mind belonged to a warrior, the greatest of his time but outcast, nonetheless, for his hideous visage.  In the way of the god of blood, the warrior slew the rebel, claiming the knife as his salvation, for unlike the rebel, the warrior would put action to his gospel.  He searched the shrinking, dried corners of the world to find the Blood God’s twice-blessed seat of power, and there he attempted ritual spoken to his dreams by the storm, attempted to soak the ground in blood, that a tree, a ladder to the heavens, might rise and grant his god descent.

He fought a great battle but was overwhelmed by those who would not acquiesce to his vision.  His body fell to the dirt, the knife with it, and it lay there for some time. In its somnolence, the knife was not hidden, and a number of curious souls gleaned its secrets as it held in stillness in the flickering cavern where it fell.  But they did not intervene. They saw the storm, they saw its eye, and in that peaceful center, they saw, shining, lifelike, the Smile that had never ceased to rain blood from the heavens. Unsettled, they, for that moment, let it lie.

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