THE KNIFE FELT RIGHT in the bald man’s hand. It was part of him now, an extension of himself formed in twelve inches of cold steel. He found serenity as he knelt, naked and wet from the shower, caressing the blade, running his fingers over every surface, exploring each nook and cranny, stroking it in the way a parent would their newborn child.

The power of the thing seemed to vibrate from somewhere deep within and so he clutched it tighter. He bent, brushing his lips across the steel with a gentle touch, and for one brief moment, felt freedom. A sigh escaped him and he allowed himself a small smile.

He took out a whetstone and sharpened the knife for the third time that morning. He ran the blade along the stone’s surface, losing himself in the repetition. After a time he tested the blade on his thumb. He drew blood with the smallest touch. It was perfect.

He ran his bloodied thumb along this freshly shaven scalp, knowing that the runes tattooed there on his head were glowing. He could feel heat from the power of the runes as they fed upon that which flowed through his veins. His life giving life to the magic.

The runes were everywhere but the bald man’s face, the palms of his hands, and the pads of his feet. The process had been agonizing, but the magic he controlled now made it all worth the pain. But it wasn’t enough. One could always gain more power. The knife would help the bald man do just that.


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