(Time: 15 minutes)
A is for Arka
Granted, Arka’s not a word, it’s a name, but it’s her name — not her real one, of course — but still, the one she’s taken and made hers. It’s the one that Katrine knew, still knows, her by and the one that The Flame uses when she’s not calling her Deathwatch or Snuffer or Assassin. The one that’s written on the box that holds her most precious things.
Kneeling, she reaches under her ancient cot for the pile of books she keeps beneath it. The books are not contraband in and of themselves, but their contents are. An ancient leather-bound copy of the Chandler’s Testaments. An Olde English Bible, written in a language no one uses anymore, its first page littered with the names and birth dates and death dates of an entire lineage. A few others that don’t garner much attention as long as she doesn’t wave them about.
It’s the smallest book she seeks, an old copy of a book about rabbits. She grabs it by feel alone, the thin fabric spine and pulls it toward her. Somewhere between page 10 and page 40, the pages are cut out, a tiny key shape. And inside it, a tiny skeleton key, copper and patina, the edges worn with age and use.
She fingers it, but does not take it from its hidden hole. It is not time yet. The Flame will know as soon as her fingers touch it. The Flame will scent its metallic hue on her skin. No, she must wait, and bide her time. She has years, millenniums, eons.
The refrain repeats, threatening to replace all other things she has kept in her memory for all this time. She will not forget, cannot forget.
Closing the book, she returns it to its spot beneath her cot. She stands and wipes the dirt and dust from her knees. Somewhere, far off, a bell tolls. The Flame will return and will ask things of her. She must prepare.
A, she thinks, as she makes her way down the curving steps of the tower, is for Arka. A is for Angel. A is for Avenger. A is for Away.
PS — Want to play along or figure out what’s going on? Try here!
PPS — Image from this artist.