by D. Chaudron
CN: Blood/Gore (lightly depicted), Dysphoria
An elf runs her tongue along one arm, tasting the past off my skin, and smiles.
She—Sebille—does not see me again until our ship has sunk, destroyed by creatures that sing for the blood trapped in our veins. We wash up on distant shores, and a jigsaw of limbs surround my gasping body. I sit and honor each the way that elves are taught to do, devouring flesh until the life hidden inside becomes my own.
First, I'm a boy who nearly made it here, only for a void-touched shark to cut hope's thread with its teeth. Then a magister who wept her last in the beauty of the ocean, and now sits low in my chest, choked down in ritual.
I wish that any of these body-memories were called they; that here in this fluid space— water, blood, magic—that I could be myself while carrying so many other people inside me.
But the guards at the sand-circled fort call out he when they see me and force me back. A woman—steel and bleach, impassive as the weapon she is named after—watches as another rips out her own tongue, proclaiming loyalty while weeping in red. She dies there, unjust, and the Hammer walks away, flanked by soulless guards. Dark scales cover the coil of her corpse; the lizardfolk are supposed to be cremated.
I have no fire, so I beg forgiveness and honor her flesh, so that the horrors wrought on her existence will never be forgotten. I am the only piece of her that yet lives—her, made fractal, embedded beneath my skin.
The truth lingers. I can't fuse other names and bodies and memories together to make the self I want, but instinct says to try anyway.
Sebille and I seek freedom together, and what we find is a tree of dying deities. I cut loose the one all elves share; Tir-Cendelius, long-necked and narrow, a body like mine, but the rest is not the same.
My god takes a bite out of me, swallows it whole. While bleeding, aching, I wonder if that flesh makes him more of a man—or me less of one. I pray for the latter.
He promises that I can be a god too, that divinity is close at hand. Enough power to change the face of the world, to change everything. ◒