A Guided Walking Tour of Guerdon (8)

You spring from one slanting rooftop to the next, catching your smoke-light frame on the gutter’s edge and flinging yourself onwards again, fearlessly. Your new form is prodigiously strong, and why wouldn’t it be? In the rendering vats, the clever acids of the alchemists dissolved muscle and bone and sinew and skin and organ and oh, everything into a rich slurry, and they mixed it with wax and then poured you into a mould. 

You’re wonderfully unvariegated now, entirely composed of wax that flexes like muscle, but is strong as bone, and heals instantly when cut. Much better. Much better than you were.

Not that you remember what you were, or who you were. Not really. Oh, it’s in here somewhere, it’s in here forever. You remember thrashing around as you melted in the vat, and one Alchemist fished you out with a long pole, and you thought ‘hurrah! I’m half-dissolved, but they’re rescuing me! I’m saved!’. But it was only to inject the etching fluid. Very important. In through the softened skull, or the eyehole, and whoosh! The brain evaporates, and the thoughts are etched on the inside of the candle-cavity. 

There’s a living wick threaded where your spinal cord used to be, and the flame burns inside what used to be your head. The flame flickers across the memory-grooves etched on the roof of your wax skull, and that’s what you are now. 

How glorious it is! How delightful to dance wildly over the rooftops of this city! How perfect to be reborn in the moulds, again and again! To leave the flesh behind. Oh, the flesh is weak and messy, and parts like gauze when you stab it. Not that you stab people much. Only when they deserve it. Only when they break the law. You’re a good candle. A night-light, so that good people can look out their windows and know they’re being watched over

You run from rooftop to rooftop, leaping above the alleyways. Leering down at people on the streets. Are they behaving? Are they good citizens? Ears alert for the whistles of the City Watch. Whistle for a candle, and you’ll come running. 

As night falls, you climb higher. Springing lightly up the hillsides, candle-quick. Rising like smoke. Guerdon spreads out below you, the dark streets pouring down the hills like inky streams to pool in the blackness of the harbour, the shadowy tangle of the Wash. An inverse sky, the starless smog canopy overhead unbroken gloom, but the city has its own fallen stars. Alchemical lamps and harsh bright aether-lights and oil-lamps…

And you, and your siblings from the vats. You look out across Guerdon now, and you see a hundred other candle-flames burning on church-spires and towers and rooftops, flickering in the sea-breeze.

Your city, now. 

Your Guerdon. 

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