Twisted Paths

H Dinsey

Kanya’s birth name had been buried long ago, a hundred revisions of them between then and now.
Kanya was a ghost with a dozen names clinging to pale skin that they could recite from memory, shifting their face, the set of her shoulders, the way he carried himself. Albara had been a dancer, Cath a bored noble woman, Seban a priest on pilgrimage. Kanya could shed their skin and become new at any given moment. She had been Johir, Paolin, Hardin. They had been hunters, soldiers, brothers. He was always dangerous.
Bell’s parents had been heroes; the kind of people that went down in legend and their stories ended with ‘happy ever after’. After years of growing up in their house, he knew that was a lie, and that people didn’t care for the truth beyond their own entertainment. He lay in bed one night after a wine goblet had been thrown, tears shed, voices raised, and swore he’d never be like them.
Bell had ambitions of tailoring and a quiet life. His parents held summer dances and introduced him to the daughters of the court. He demanded his autonomy and they negotiated until even his name was a compromise. He had no plans to be a hero; no desire to be remembered. The bracelets on his wrists were an ever present reminder that that life was not his to have. But the world kept having other ideas.