Seize a cleaver
You feel for the knife block on the counter to your left, closing your fingers around a thick handle and pulling. How much can the Canny see? You jolt just slightly when the weight of the cleaver settles to the end of your arm.
In a split second, you have thrown yourself over the counter, scattering knives, and grip a corner of a heavy stove to throw yourself round it, heading for the voice. He is running, but you catch him, folding his long tunic into your pale fist, pinning the two of you down with only your weight and no scrap of strength, the cleaver stuffed in the dip between his collarbone and chin.
“See this?” you say, letting your head roll down. It is a relief to lower your guard a little, just a little, before someone you can control. “Dungeon brand, kind sir. Should have left the rat where you found the rat, na? But here we are. And, us being here, if you take my meaning, I think you’re going to help me.”
“I saved your life.” The man is middle-aged, very white-faced and creased: not shaven, but leathery and hairless as a snake egg is leathery and hairless- because it is his nature. He sounds shocked- but most people sound shocked with a meat knife working beneath the soft parts of their throat.
“I don’t hold grudges, lucky for you. But I’m alive- yes, and kicking- now, and I think both of us fancy sniffing the air together. See? Natural empathy. Get up.” You tilt the cleaver and rock on your heels just sufficiently to grant him an inch, choking back the pain: needing to be on your feet before he is, you use your own momentum, your body’s dead mass, to swing you up. You kept it from your voice, but it was truly the coin toss that took the Canny to your side that decided you for life. You’re on the bright path now, but it could have gone the other way. A path must be followed and swallowed entire.
The cleaver supervises Canny with needlepoint vigilance as he takes up another kitchen knife- a great deal smaller, thankfully, and he seems to fear you more than you warrant fearing- to saw off the tail. Impossible, that such a limb- a fifth limb, half there- could have so much blood in it, but it does, and a slow wash of red crawls down your again-naked legs to collect at your feet: a puddling skirt, many-layered. You close the stump with the point of a poker fresh from the hearthfire, then drive the yellow metal down Canny’s gullet, drawing closer first and shifting so the swipe can fall swiftly and spare your cold wrists. A flat carving knife to skim kaum from the grain of your forehead, the tail not roasting but burning like tied twigs on the fire- so thin-knitted it is almost transparent- and you throw yourself down in the twinned heats of cooling and burning dead flesh to wait.
A guard in boiled leather strides into the room, hand on the hilt of his smallsword. What do you do?
Written by ouroboros666 on 17 July 2016