scale rasping

There is sea salt in his veins. It is all sorrow, and loss, and lungs too-heavy with sea foam. When distress grips his throat he speaks around bubbling crimson waves. The oceans in him ceaseless. They were not formed with mercy in mind.His waves are things of silver.

The blood of sirens flows in his veins. He is a child of the ocean. The waves were the wracking embrace of his mother, and roaring typhoon his father. A feathered thing born of sea foam.

He has lived in the waves so long, his heart has turned to pearl. He is wave-tossed, and worn. The scales of him are rasping the depths of his heart. He keeps the waves swallowed, lest his anger rip forth with the force of a tidal wave. My heart is seasick sway when I am away from the waves of his moss-green eyes.

—  To love a son of the sea

She stares at him across the cold half-dark of the the cavern. The fireteam has moved on, and captured light glows sick and sour up from the gnawed stone floor where he sits. Waiting.

Ah, the young one, the energetic one; the one filled with rage, filled with spite and vengeance. With optimism, heady and pure, straight from the Tower. And with fear. 

Oh yes, we mustn’t forget that - it is not often the hunters who push for unity. Perhaps she has already grasped what the others, blinded by ego, cannot see: doom awaits them all.

“Yes?” The mildness in his voice surprises him. He had thought that he would shout - or laugh. She is so young

“How does it work?”  Her face is a waning moon in this dark pit, and a dead part of him finds her sickeningly beautiful. Her innocence, perhaps.

“You built it with Hive secrets, did you not? Does the Darkness drive it?”

Hunger smolders from the barrel of the gun. He rests his hand upon the stock and whispers fill his ears. 

He smiles up at her. Such questions she has! Not like the others, this one. They, like him, are old and withered. Fruit long-since-fallen from the tree, rotted by memory and wisdom. But the serpents have not found her. 


“Purpose,” he begins - then clears his throat. “It is purpose, made real and whole. It is - ”

He stops to listen. Shakes his head and waves a hand in the air in front of him, considers his next words. It has always been easier with a pen in hand.

Her face changes at the gesture. Ah, yes - mad, isn’t he? But there is such a fine line between madness and revelation.

“It is an…approximation. An homage. Ontology is as sharp a sword as any other. But the key to its creation was potential, and hence approximation. I spoke a wish, and in that moment of purest, latent possibility, I -”

He realizes he is rambling and falls silent. Her eyes linger on the bones.

“It is one thing to understand hunger,” he says at last. “And quite another to direct it.”

“And what sort of hunger drives you, Wizard?”

He laughs at this, and his throat aches. There was a time he would have courted such company.

“I am not a Wizard, huntress.”


“I am only interested in knowledge,” he continues. But the gun, about which she has not asked? Well. It would strip the flesh from this universe and then gnaw upon its bones. That was, after all, the point.

Somewhere, somewhere distant, he hears the rasp of scale on rock. It sounds like laughter.

“I don’t trust you,” she says, gesturing with her own gun. “You go first.”

He stands, and this time he cannot stop the grin.

“A wise choice, sower of discord. Trust is a happy lie, but it is a lie nonetheless. So I will go first, and you will follow. Consider, as we take in the unfolding majesty of this dead place, what hunger drives you - and to what lengths you will go to feed it.”

“No hunger,” she says. “Not I. We will excise the Hive, in the name of the Light. We will destroy Crota and retake the Moon, whatever comes.”

“Whatever comes,” she says again, her voice a cold hiss.

He pauses, his back to her. She cannot see his eyes widen, cannot see the gleam of his teeth.

“If you will it,” he whispers, “Then perhaps it shall be so.”

The green smoke coalesces. The rifle is light in his hands. Eager.  Again the whisper fills his ears, the whisper that has been with him since the beginning, since he plunged his knife into the rippling flesh of the creature and pulled its bones, hot and slick, from the still-living body. Since he married death and intent with purest possibility in cheap approximation of the power he will take from this place.

Oh, yes, he is hungry indeed. And he has considered, as the young huntress has not, exactly what he will do to satiate the craving.

They make their lonely way into the dying light, and the bones sing once more.

We were promised sorrow, oh bearer mine. Let us taste of it. 


“Welcome back, Blade of the Darkmoon.” 

Gwyndolin’s voice reverberates within the small, hidden chamber before the entrance to the tomb. She herself is not visible, cloaked by the swirling wall of fog filling the doorway. Her visitors have been more frequent than usual, and the flowers left in the slim porcelain vase in the corner are still fresh. “I am relieved to see you have returned safely from your hunt, your duties fulfilled.”

She pauses, her voice, already solemn, softening to little more than a whisper. “However, I am afraid you may not be relieved just yet. There is something more I must ask of you my Blade. Will you grant me one simple request?” Listening closely, one might hear the dry rasp of scales upon marble tile, the shifting of long, sinewy shadows beyond the fog.

Small-spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula)

Also sometimes known as the “lesser spotted dogfish”, the small-spotted catshark is a species of catshark (Scyliorhinidae) which occurs on the continental shelves and the uppermost slopes along the coasts of Norway, and the British Isles south to Senegal, including the Mediterranean in part. Small-spotted catsharks are opportunistic feeders and will feed on a wide range of marine invertebrates and small fish.  S. canicula are known to use the behavior known as ‘scale rasping’ as a feeding mechanism, where the shark will anchor food items near its tail so that their rapid head and jaw movements can tear away bite-sized pieces.


Animalia-Chordata-Chondrichthyes-Elasmobranchii-Selachimorpha-Carchariniformes-Scyliorhinidae-Scyliorhinus-S. canicula

Image: Hans Hillewaert