A mansion of fire crackled against an azure sun and the people who lived there were dark and crispy, their day had just begun. Panting and limping, the glass behind their eyes already misty, they set about their work at once. Staggering between each room, their lungs rattled in the hot air and their teeth were bared sharp behind cracked lips. Their hair was stringy and knotted, and stuck down the long of their backs – with skin as cracked as the salt planes that stretched for hundreds of miles around them. No one was around to smell the stench.
Years later a knight of glass walked along the salt plain, and heard the pop and sting of the mansion of fire. He heard the screams from within it, the screams of a deep pain. The knight empathised. Afterall, he had been forged in an eternal flame, and hot stuck together in an ancient shop. He set about to liberate them, as he had liberated himself just the same thousands of years ago. He knocked and he knocked but no answer came. The door rattled at its hinges, but he could not break the door, for the fierce yellow flames that poured over it were imbued with a strange power.
He sat cross legged by the door and cleared his mind. Glittering beneath a clear sky, he slowly heated up. Twelve years passed by and he burned red hot, it would be five more before he began to melt. After fifty years his legs had melted and pooled beneath the bottom of the door. The mansion, the sun and the salt flats marshalled through time and reduced the knight to a puddle. With the help of a kind southern wind, the knight was washed under the door one drop at a time. Inside the mansion he saw the decaying creatures, the ones he had gone to save. He saw the sadness of their eyes and their sallow sunken features – Practically dead but with no graves.
From his vantage point he could not understand their task. The tools he saw were foreign and they all went about their jobs alone and disconnected. He saw no captor, master, mistress or King. So who were these people and why did they suffer so? And who kept them here, and under what authority? He opened his mouth to ask and found he had no mouth, for he was a puddle. He cursed his foolishness, everyone knew only rivers could be liquid and have mouths to speak. He tried to calm himself down and summon the will to gather himself together. The knight had a tremendous will – Afterall he had sat for sixty seven years. Slowly, so slowly he began to build the connections back up. It was a difficult process, made harder by the wails of the abandoned souls.
Eons passed by and the knight had lost his strength, he had nothing left to give. He had done well and was no longer a puddle but he resembled nothing of his former self. He was far from a knight. A shiny pile of assorted body parts, hideously deformed. He called out, bent double and immobile,
“You there, poor creatures, who did this to you?”
“Who did that to you?” they responded in unison without breaking the rhythm of work.
Unsettled the knight continued, “I can be reforged, do not fear for me”
“Have we not been reforged?” they all laughed.
“Let me help you” the knight pleaded,
“We shall reforge ourselves just as soon as you do” they retorted.
The knight tried to continue speaking but they no longer responded. So he tried again, and for years and years he tried. Eventually he would adjust to the temperature of the room, and to the wails, and to the vile appearance of the poor creatures. No one knows quite when it happened, but after so long the knight began to forget things. The knight forgot that the shrieks and cries were meant to be cries for help, and that their grimaces revealed a deep pain. He even forgot he ought to save them, that he was a knight. He forgot where his heart was in the big pile he had made of himself. He forgot he was deformed.
The heat had become comforting and their screams had turned to song. It wasn’t long before he joined them in their wails. Together they sang away eternity.