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agnus dei

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Bathed in the blood of the dead and the dying, little one, isn’t it freeing? Isn’t it radiant, little one, the blood staining your hooves, radiant, radiant, radiant? Isn’t it a wonderful feeling, violence on your hands and tongue and teeth and isn’t it beautiful, this masterpiece of malevolence and massacre? There is a singing, a cacophony of fear and pride and delight. Don’t you delight in it, little one, this slaughter?

Don’t you?

Something writhes in the lowest depths of the Nether, in the coldest blazes of Hell. Something dark and sinister rears her head for the first time, bitterness and fear and anger on her tongue. She scores her claws like Cain casts the first stone, and there is blood. And it is divine, and holy, and everything to her.

Something twists and screams and howls for more, she is not satisfied by these first droplets. Something scours the land and uproots the peace, setting the world ablaze with her lust for blood.

She is the ugliest parts of survival. She is a horrid, wretched, necessary thing, the daughter of the hunt and the essence of the rule of beasts. She is queen of her ruined homeland, stalks every last nook and cranny with a thirst for blood that is unrivaled by any living thing. She is fury and horror and a sick sort of beauty, a macabre majesticness that is unparalleled by anything in these worlds. She is divine, she is unholy in her holiness.

Caedis tastes blood, and it is never enough.

Phil doesn’t think the voices are anything serious, at first.

It starts just a few months after he’s taken Wilbur in. Wilbur is picking up Common quickly, speaking more and more around the house. Techno begins speaking less. Then, he begins speaking about the voices.

He thinks, privately to himself, that Techno is just doing what kids do: imagining things. Creating stories for themselves, playing games. Techno tells him about the voices, and it’s a bit macabre, but it’s his kid. He’s known in several circles as the Angel of Death. It’s only fitting those he considers his children have imaginations to rival the bloody past of their father figure. So when Technoblade tells him about the voices that demand blood, Phil simply suggests they ought to ask for something more attainable.

It doesn’t quite satisfy him, but Techno returns to his room with a snort of laughter, and that is the end of it.

The voices become a recurring thing, from there. He keeps coming to Phil complaining about them, telling him it’s too loud, that he can’t focus. Phil tries to help--he really does. He doesn’t know how, exactly, but he tries to help quiet the noise in Techno’s mind. He stays with him while he studies, lets Techno rest nearby while he’s working. His presence seems to help, seems to soothe him. It seems to soothe both his boys, and more often than not Phil ends up curled up on a couch with both Techno and Wilbur asleep or sitting beside him while he works. He doesn’t mind it--they don’t ask for much, truth be told, and he quite enjoys the company.

And yet, Techno keeps complaining.

Phil doesn’t like to use that word. Complaining. Because it isn’t really complaining--it’s not annoying, not in the slightest. It’s just worrying, and Techno is anxious in his soft-spoken little way.

He wants to ease that anxiety, soothe that fear, but nothing he says seems to help.

They end up in Phil’s room, one night. Techno lays beside him, Phil carding careful fingers through his hair, combing through the tangles. Techno can’t sleep, and so Phil stays up with him, holding him close and trying to get him to fall asleep. It works, more often than not--and there’s plenty of room. Wilbur is fast asleep on the bed beside them, not wanting to be left out, though he rarely stays up with them for long. Phil will make him move later, once Techno finally falls asleep.

“The voices are pissed again,” Techno whines. Whines is also not a good word, but it is the closest thing Phil can think of.

Phil hums, softly. Tucks a loose strand of hair behind Techno’s pointed ears. “Well, the voices should know that it’s almost eleven, and they aren’t gettin’ anything right now.”

Technoblade buries his face in Phil’s chest. “They don’t care about the time.”

“They’re going to have to deal with it,” Phil says, still combing through his hair. “We can’t do anything for them if you’re runnin’ on no sleep, anyways.”

Techno is quiet for a few moments, then nods. “They say that’s fair.”

Phil chuckles a bit. “Glad we got that settled, then. You should try and get some sleep.”

He feels Technoblade yawn, and brings a hand up to card through his hair again. Eventually, Techno will fall asleep, buried in Phil’s arms. Phil will carry him to bed, though it tends to be a struggle these days, then retrieve Wilbur. He’ll tuck them both in, and they will sleep through the night.

Tomorrow, they will do it all again.

Technoblade is a force to be reckoned with, in battle.

There is a reason he is called the Blade, and it is not a mere nickname from his youth.

Sharp edges rend flesh and cut through bone like paper, brute strength behind the swing of his sword. There is the sing-song rhythm of violence in every step, every swing, a macabre dance where he is the focus. He is not a man to be challenged, and the creatures of this world can feel it. There is something off-putting about Technoblade, something dangerous in his gait.

Even his family sees it. Wilbur watches Techno carve through a particularly thick tree branch with ease, and his stomach twists a bit at the thought of that being flesh, instead.

“How did you get so good at fighting, anyways?” Wilbur asks, leaning back against the tree trunk.

Techno shrugs. “Trained a lot.”

“Bullshit,” Wilbur sticks his tongue out. “Phil’s told me all about how he first found you.”

Technoblade nods, looking rather smug. “Bet you couldn’t do that.”

“I--well, you, okay,” Wilbur sputters. “Whatever. I’m better at, uh,” he flounders for a moment, “writing.”

Techno shrugs. “Yeah, that’s fair. You can also actually talk to people, so.”

Wilbur laughs, at that. “Touché.”

Blood, the voices murmur, and Techno turns back to the tree.

“Phil,” Techno says, seventeen years old, “I can’t sleep.”

Phil turns towards the doorway, where Techno is standing, rubbing his eyes and looking far more worn out than any seventeen year old should. He looks bone-tired, dragged out to the end of the line. Phil sighs, softly, clicks his tongue sympathetically.

“Voices again?” He asks, and Techno nods, settling beside him.

Phil hums, carding his hands through Techno’s shoulder-length hair. “I’m sorry, mate. I’ll only be another minute in here, how about you go wait for me, and we can knock some sense into them together, yeah?”

Techno hesitates a few beats longer than usual, but slowly nods. “Okay.”

He slides off of the chair next to him, padding back towards his own room. Phil watches him for a few moments, brow furrowing slightly. Once he’s rounded the corner, he turns back to his desk, frowning even further. There isn’t much he can do, but god does he wish there was something better.

In the other room, Technoblade stands in the doorway of his shared bedroom. Wilbur is sitting in his own bed, reading. Technoblade stares at him, eyes wide, and the voices murmur.


It’s a rustling in the back of his mind. An uneasy cacophony of terror and cruelty, louder and louder as the seconds tick by. Technoblade is aware of his own heartbeat, in this moment, pounding louder and louder as his gaze shifts down to clawed hands. His jaw hurts, his teeth hurt, everything aches in this moment, aches for the anger and the violence that comes with it. Technoblade is shaking, he notices, trembling in the doorway of a room that cannot contain him.

The voices want blood.

He will not hurt Wilbur. There is still another option, here.

He hears the crashing of glass, feels dozens of burning, stinging cuts showering his arms and hands, hears a sound halfway between a squawk and a shriek, hears rushed footsteps and Phil’s panicked voice, hears blood and more and caedis and blood and chosen and blood and MORE--

“Techno!” Hands around his wrists, pulling his hands away from his face, pulling him to Phil’s chest, arms wrapping around his shoulders.

Techno begins to breathe again. He hadn’t even realized he’d stopped.

“It’s okay,” Phil says, sounding more afraid than Techno’s ever heard him. “You’re okay.”

He tries as hard as he can to believe it.

Agnus dei, chosen child of god, do you know what it feels like to bleed?

Do you?

How many times has he been harmed, in this life? Not a single death, he has not had one, and he has the scars to prove it. Slashes, cuts, messy holes torn open in his flesh, healed only by magic, in some instances. So much of his blood has been shed on this earth and the hells below it. He has walked into violence and come out burning, bleeding, defying death at every corner.

There is a little altar, at the edge of Technoblade’s property. It’s the old family farm, he’s carved out a space for himself in this little getaway home Phil constructed when Techno was seventeen years old.

It was after the incident. Where he’d sliced his own hands, his own neck open with a broken mirror. Satisfied the cravings of the voices with his own, red and warm and slippery. He can still taste the iron on his tongue. His hands still carry the scars.

He stacks stones, builds his little altar to his god, the god he does not want and never asked for. They pile up, one over the other, weathered and worn beneath his fingers. He likes this farm--he hates to taint it with the riled rust of violence, though his god’s favor does help the harvest. He does not enjoy the sacrifice, but it’s necessary.

Technoblade tries not to think of his friends’ shouting. Phil’s fearful cries.

His hands shake as he places the final stone, and he leans against the altar. He just needs to activate it, now, but he does not feel like pouring his blood into the stone right now, so it will have to wait.

There is an angry, restless murmur in the back of his mind.

“Shut up,” he snaps at nothing. “I’ll do it in the morning.”

Already, he hears the hiss and growl of monsters in the woods surrounding him, and he begins the trek back to his house. It’s odd--it isn’t quite home, even though it was home, for quite some time. Techno knows every inch of this farmhouse, knows the grounds like the back of his hand. He could walk this house backwards with his eyes closed, and knows where all the perfect hiding spots are, still.

The problem is, it’s empty. There is a bedroom with three beds in it. Tonight, Techno takes the room with one, instead.

Tonight, his dreams are plagued by blood.

While he admits he didn’t think his life on the farm would last long, he has to say--he’s surprised at the speed in which Wilbur and Tommy required his aid. It hasn’t even been a full year since they had their little revolution, and now they’ve been kicked out of the very country they created.

Techno has always thought governments were bullshit. This only solidifies his opinion further.

Anything that mistreats his family is shit in his book.

And so he joins his pseudo-siblings in their revolution, helping them carve out a new home in stone, far beneath the surface. He lights up the ravine, crafting lanterns, planting a farm--it’s a hard job, getting potatoes to grow underground, but a little extra sacrifice to a certain god and the potatoes are doing just fine. The spiders were going to be bothering them anyways.

It’s fun, at first. It just feels like the three of them fooling around, most of the time. There’s a levity that comes with the three of them reuniting, and Tommy’s enthusiasm and optimism is contagious. Techno follows him around, helps him with whatever needs doing, and begins to prepare for revolution.

But then Wilbur starts to get weird.

“I know you’re not really on our side,” he says one day, flippant as he waves a hand vaguely in the air. “Whoever’s got the most power, right? You’re against anyone who’s in your way. I get it.”

Techno pauses in the sharpening of his blade, peering up at Wilbur past his glasses with a sick sort of curiosity, considering his words for a moment. His brow furrows with confusion, and he sets his whetstone aside.

“Where did you get that idea?” He tilts his head.

Wilbur scoffs. “It’s just common sense, Techno. You don’t like governments, we’re fighting against a government. If we weren’t fighting against a government, you wouldn’t care."

There are a few beats of silence as Techno considers that scenario. “... I mean, it depends on what else you’re fighting.”

He laughs, at that, sounding unsettlingly close to unstable, feathers poking out from under the collar of his shirt as he ruffles and rubs them anxiously. He looks properly disheveled. “As long as there’s fighting, right? Good ol’ Blade, doesn’t care who he’s up against as long as there’s a fight involved, yeah?”

Technoblade furrows his brow. He wants to say a lot of things right now. He wants to tell Wilbur all about his moral code, how he’s trying to be more than the violence that has defined so much of his life. How every day he fights the urge to slaughter anything that looks at him wrong. How he tries to better himself, in spite of his god.

“Within reason,” he says instead, and Wilbur just laughs again.

“Sure,” he says, and that’s that.

Take him out.

There is a drumming in the back of his mind, a rustling murmur and the steady beat of his heartbeat, almost reminiscent of music. A familiar rhythm that Technoblade leans into, embraces the melody of malevolence. Old, bloody violence, the kind that is accompanied by the pounding of hooves and the snarls of piglins, by shouts and battle cries and the thumping of spears and tridents as their blunt ends strike the ground, keeping time. Violence is an old form of keeping time, and the only one known to the bloody blazes of the Nether that Technoblade is born from.

Caedis, something whispers in his ear when he is just seven years old.

There is a drumming, blood rushing in his ears as his heart pounds. Take him out, Schlatt says, and it is bond with the pack or die here on this stage. It is follow the herd or be slaughtered by the hound that stalks the sheep.

Take him out, a bloody god croons in his ear with the voice of a dictator, and Technoblade has no choice but to fire.

He tries to make it as painless as possible.

Tubbo loses a life, and Technoblade never dies.

It’s a massacre.

It’s a melody.

It’s a mess.

Tommy is furious--rightfully so, Techno supposes, but the loss they took was a tactical one. Tubbo made a sacrifice there on that stage, and so did Technoblade, in a sense. It was the only way out. There was no choice but to follow the herd, or else the lot of them would go down. By doing what he did, Techno has made Schlatt overconfident, has strengthened the beliefs of those who stand against him. He has accepted that he will be hated for it already. He can live with that.

Tommy, however, cannot. And Wilbur is no help, egging the both of them on, taunting Tommy for his inability to save Tubbo’s life today.

In truth, it infuriates Techno. Wilbur is being needlessly cruel and instigating things that ought to be left behind them. They have a revolution to run, there’s no time for infighting, and yet Wilbur is giddy as he taunts the two of them, whispers in Tommy’s ear with a sick sort of delight at his fury. Tommy’s jaw clenches, and Techno does not want to know what Wilbur is saying, judging by the grim set of his jaw and the manic look about his eyes.

The next thing he knows, he and Tommy are facing each other in the pit.

Wilbur is still crowing above them, taunting and grinning wide in a way that properly unsettles the both of them.

“Kill him,” Wilbur insists, and it isn’t clear who it’s meant for. “Aren’t you angry, Tommy? Get him. Do it.”

Tommy does not hesitate. Techno does his best to go easy, but Tommy goes down within a minute, as expected. The victory doesn’t feel good.

Blood staining his knuckles, Techno aches for softer things, softer times.

It stays in the pit. He wipes blood from his nose, and makes his way to bed.

Tommy doesn’t speak to him for days.

They may not be comfortable with each other anymore, but Techno still has Tommy’s back. Even more so as Wilbur becomes less and less reliable, and more and more dangerous. Techno doesn’t want to call him unstable, but it’s the best word he can find that accurately describes Wilbur’s current mental decline.

Techno doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to let Wilbur fall deeper down this hole, but his destructive tendencies align with Techno’s own goals, and as long as he isn’t hurting himself or Tommy… well, a little bit of destruction and minor acts of terrorism can be cathartic! Techno would know.

He just needs a little violence in his life to spice it up. Techno’s sure Wilbur will come back to his senses once he’s gotten his fill--he’s had these moments before, dramatic and flashy breakdowns that he’s over by the end of the week. It’ll be fine, Techno tells himself.

That does not stop him from protecting Tommy, when need be.

Wilbur has never been one to use violence to keep people in line. His preferred weapon is words, and he knows damn well how to use them. He croons and crows like a bird, his voice sweeter than honey and his words dripping with venom. Half the time, he doesn’t even notice when Wilbur is using his powers, it’s so subtle. In fact, he doesn’t notice until three days in, when Wilbur gets careless.

He tells Tommy to shut up, in that sing-song way of his. The silence that falls is surprising--Tommy is not one to shy away from shouting back at either of them when told off. But now, he silently fumes, glaring at Wilbur.

It’s only then that Technoblade realizes what is going on.

His sword scrapes the stone floor as he stands, and both brothers look towards him. Techno scowls at Wilbur. “Don’t do that.”

Wilbur just snorts, looking like the cat that got the canary. “What’re you gonna do about it?”

Technoblade crosses the room in seconds, sword held to Wilbur’s throat.

“Use your powers on him one more time and I’ll make sure you can’t use them again until you lose another life,” he snarls, and the three of them know that he is deadly serious.

Wilbur lifts his hands in surrender, leaning back, and the spark of genuine fear in his eyes gives Technoblade a sick sort of pleasure. He lowers the sword, and Wilbur clears his throat as Techno steps away, glancing guiltily at Tommy.

“It’s not fucking cool,” Tommy mutters, angrily, storming up the stairs.

Wilbur retreats to his own little alcove, and Techno is left standing in the middle of the ravine, alone. He gazes down at his sword, wonders what would have happened had he plunged it through Wilbur’s throat. Had he torn a messy gash right from his chin to his collarbone, watched the blood and viscera fall forward and out to the floor. Had he stained that ratty old coat with his blood, let it coat his hands, let him bleed out on the floor of this ravine, let him die in exile and disgrace.

How many old tragedies will they tell through their stories before this war is done?

Technoblade breathes in, then out again. Pushes the thought of senseless murder from his mind--he does not want to slaughter the ones he loves, no matter what his god mutters and whispers to him. And if she takes advantage of his rage one more time, he will make it all the more difficult for her to get her fill.

He buries his face in his hands, and tries not to think of blood and burning.

It is another tragedy, playing out in all its glory.

Let me tell you the story of a man named Theseus.

Wilbur bleeds out and dies in that room, speared through by Philza, and Technoblade cannot tell what he is feeling in this moment, staring out at the country he is about to bring to ruin. It’s all numb beneath the fury and the fire, the restless, excited pull of his god telling him to just do it already. Blood already stains his sword, but it is not enough, it is never enough, and Technoblade wants more, needs more, craves the scent of it, longs to feel it on his hands.

It’s hard to say how much of that is her, and how much is him.

He makes eye contact with Phil across the crater Wilbur has left in his wake. Phil is crying, Phil looks devastated, but he does not try to stop him the way Techno knows he tried to stop Wilbur.

They both know that Caedis will get her way.

Do you want to be a hero, Tommy?

He thinks, bitterly, that maybe Wilbur wasn’t the worse brother in Tommy’s eyes. Wilbur went wrong, went awry. Techno, well--it was always going to end up this way. At least there was a chance, with Wilbur.

Then die like one.

He almost hopes he does.

Technoblade doesn’t know if he can do this anymore.

The little home he has carved out for himself up north, it’s peaceful. He keeps his horse, is friendly with the nearby villages, even finds an old ruin that he knows Phil would enjoy exploring. He first invites him up on that premise, actually, telling him about the old stronghold he’s found, saying it would be safer to go through it together. Phil is excited by the idea, naturally, and he promises to visit as soon as he can, busy with rebuilding L’manburg. Techno fights the urge to tell him to just let it rot. If this is what Phil wants to do with his time, Techno will not stop him. He’ll come to his senses eventually, he hopes.

“This is nice,” Phil observes, gazing up at the little house Techno has built for himself.

“Built it myself,” he says, preening, and Phil laughs, gently.

“Of course you did.”

They chat for a while, seated in Technoblade’s kitchen, Phil making the both of them coffee. It’s peaceful, this little outpost in the tundra that he has made for himself. The violence and chaos of the rest of the SMP can’t find him here. Phil is the only one that knows his location, and Techno entrusts him with the compass. Promises him the world and more, just the way Phil did to him when he was just sixteen years old, building the beginnings of an empire.

There is a little altar out back, blood staining the stone and snow. Phil does not get to see it.

He has escaped the wanton violence and bloodshed of war, and yet Caedis still finds his little home in the woods, hungry and aching for more. Technoblade ignores her murmurs, and focuses on Phil as they explore the stronghold.

It’s peaceful. It reminds him of old times. He hopes this peace will last longer than last time.

The saying as most know it is blood is thicker than water. The full saying, however, is the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, and this rings true for the little ragtag group they are beginning to call a family, out in Technoblade’s cottage. Wilbur comes home, emerges from the snow one evening, and Techno takes him in without a second thought, saves the questions for later. He’s a pale, ghostly presence around the house, disappearing from time to time to visit Tommy.

Tommy, who shows up a week later, rooting through Technoblade’s things.

Tommy is in rough shape. Bruised, half-healed cuts, there are burns and rips in his clothes. He’s bundled in Wilbur’s old coat, has one of his old beanies on, has a compass and a lodestone dangling from a chain around his neck. He’s terrified when Techno finds him, but he snaps back and hides it.

It doesn’t take Techno long to see the fear behind the front.

These boys he’s begun to see as brothers are hurting, and Techno will do his damned best to help them. The voices call for blood and he shuts them up, hellbent on protecting the ones he now knows he loves.

Family. He has never liked using that word. It implies connections, blood relations, a bond far deeper than anything he thinks he’s comfortable with. An attachment, something that can be wielded against him. It already has, they hurt and used Phil to get to him, and he knows if any of them remain near L’manburg, it will happen again. So he holds them close, keeps them safe, swears he will burn down anything that gets in their way.

“Technoblade,” Tommy says one day, when they’re out visiting the village. “Why didn’t you kick me out?”

He stares out at the horizon, frowning a bit at the idea of it. “... well I didn’t want you to freeze to death, for one thing.”

“You tried to kill me a month ago,” Tommy deadpans, and Techno can’t help the surprised laugh he lets out.

“Fair,” he says, smiling. “Nobody gets to kill you except for me.”

The conversation is derailed from there, Tommy throwing a snowball at the back of his head and starting a war that travels all the way back to the cottage, ending with a three versus one showdown as the other two try to help Tommy take him down (naturally, he lets them win).

He does not want to call them family, for fear of losing another one.

He starts to do it anyways.

Phil and Tommy are out at the village, when it first happens.

Techno is lounging by the fire, reading one of the many books from Ghostbur’s collection. His own personal library could use some variety, he figures, so he turns to other sources to get some entertainment. A lot of the books are about history, which Techno enjoys, but he’s more looking for something mindless, something he doesn’t have to think about while he reads it. He ought to make another trip to the nearby stronghold--he didn’t properly ransack the library the first time around. There are a few novels, stories tucked away in Wilbur’s collection, however, so Techno has busied himself with going through those.

Something is on his mind, today, though. “Wilbur,” he calls out to the empty house.

The ghost in question pokes his head around the corner. There’s more color to him, today. There’s been more color to him in general, lately. Technoblade isn’t sure what it means--all he knows is that it’s been that way since Dream showed his face about a week ago.

“Hi Technoblade,” he says, smiling. Techno manages a small, fond little smile back.

“Hey. I have a question, if you’re not busy.”

Wilbur pulls his legs up to hover in the doorway cross-legged, hands resting in his lap. “What’s up?”

“The other day,” he says, setting his book down. “You used your powers on Dream. I thought you couldn’t do that after you died.”

Wilbur blinks. Stares at Techno for a few long moments. “... I. Did I?”

Techno nods, slowly, brow furrowing. “Do you not remember?”

Wilbur stares, blankly. It turns unsettling after a handful of seconds. Technoblade shifts uncomfortably, raising his eyebrows.

“No, I… do,” Wilbur says, frowning. “I don’t like that I do.”

Techno hums, sympathetically. “What about it don’t you like?”

Wilbur shifts, gaze flicking to the left. “... I don’t--do we have to… talk about this?”

“Wilbur.” Techno leans forward. “This is important.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he murmurs, looking out the window.

“Wilbur, you can’t keep avoiding it,” Techno says, leaning into the ghost’s line of sight.

Wilbur’s gaze locks with Technoblade’s, eyes dark and lip curling, and the sight is so unusual after so long that Techno flinches, pulling back. The ghost huffs, wrinkling his nose as he next speaks.

“I said no, Technoblade,” he snaps, and Techno shifts nervously.

“Wil--” he starts, but Wilbur slams his hands into the table, pushing himself to his feet.

“Technoblade,” he snarls, voice gone low and lilting, “we’re not going to talk about this.”

It happens so quickly that Techno forgets just how powerful it is. The words echo in the back of his mind, a sing-song command that cannot be ignored. Techno cares so much about Wilbur, why would he ever go against his demands? In this moment, he would do anything for this man he considers family, and if that means they drop the issue, then so be it. It’s fine, whatever Wilbur wants, he’ll do it.

Until reason catches up with him, and his god murmurs angrily in the back of his mind. Techno shakes his head, tries to clear the charm from his thoughts.

“Don’t do that,” he says, sternly, and Wilbur rolls his eyes.

“Or what?”

Techno stares at Wilbur for a few seconds, almost stunned to silence. “What’s gotten into you?”

Wilbur laughs, a bitter sound, edging on hysterical. He is several steps closer to the man who died in Phil’s arms, that day. Techno shifts nervously, steps towards where his sword hangs on the wall. Wilbur seems to take note of this.

“You’re not going to stab me,” he taunts, “but you want to, don’t you?”

Techno grits his teeth. “I don’t want to stab you.”

“Don’t lie to yourself, Technoblade, you and I both know how Caedis treats you.”

The name of his god sets his skin crawling, and Techno materializes his trident without even thinking about it. Wilbur’s eyes light up at the sight of it, sick amusement on his face.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go ahead, Blade. Kill me dead. I’ll just come back.”

He almost does it, right then and there. He is stopped only by the realization that Wilbur’s eyes are black. Pitch black, all the way through--there is no white. It’s a solid, inky void, devoid of emotion. Devoid of Wilbur. Techno shifts back one step. Then another. The windows begin to rattle from something that is not the wind, and there is a crash as a mug falls to the floor, ceramic shattering and clattering across the wood. The house is ice-cold.

Techno reaches for his sword.

“What are you?” He breathes, gaze scouring every bit of his brother’s body. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look pleased.

“Blood,” Wilbur’s voice says, “Caedis.”

The breath catches in the back of his throat, and Technoblade readies his sword. “Leave him alone.”

“More,” Wilbur breathes, pressing one hand against his chest. Red seeps through the yellow sweater, and Technoblade tenses as ghostly blood begins to stain Wilbur’s hands, chest, runs down his legs, stains the floorboards.

As soon as it begins, it’s over, Wilbur gasping out a final “not enough” before collapsing on the floor in a pile of yellow and red and misery. Techno drops the sword, rushes to his brother’s side. Wilbur’s eyes are their usual dulled brown, expression distant and afraid.

Techno helps him get cleaned up.

Never enough, Caedis murmurs, and it is only drowned out by his fury.

Phil is just as worried as he is, when Technoblade tells him about the incident.

“I’ve never seen anything like that happen, Phil,” he murmurs, staring out the window.

“We’ve never had a ghost around this much, to be fair,” Phil says. Techno closes his eyes and suppresses a shudder.

“It was bad.” He looks up at Phil. “It hurt him, Phil, I don’t know what to…”

Phil slides into a seat at the table beside him, hand hovering over Techno’s back before finally settling, massaging circles there. Techno sighs, leans into the touch, looks more anxious than Phil’s ever seen him, he thinks. The both of them don’t know what to do--Wilbur is vulnerable to this monster in a way the rest of them are not, and Techno does not want to let it ruin him.

“I’m hurting him,” he whimpers, and Phil immediately shakes his head.

“It’s not your fault, mate.” He lifts Techno’s chin, tucks a loose strand of hair behind his ear. “It’s nobody’s fault but that bloody demon, okay?”

Techno nods, takes a shaky breath. Even if he doesn’t fully believe it, he’ll do his best to put his faith in Phil’s word. It’s better than putting his faith in gods, he figures. What do gods know of mortal struggles, anyways? This monster that taunts him, it knows nothing of love and the fear that comes with it.

He buries his face in his hands again. The voices are louder than they’ve ever been.

Caedis lets him know her fury.

Technoblade is angry.

This is not unusual. He gets angry quite often, as a matter of fact. He gets frustrated at little things, allows himself the pleasure of anger. He does not get explosive, or cruel, or violent in most instances. God knows how that would effect the others, especially Tommy, right now. With his family, his anger is exasperation and passionate ranting. Deadpan snarking and clear annoyance.

When alone, his anger is the carve of his blade through a tree.

The voices are loud, today, in his anger. Dream stopped by. Dream made it very clear his intentions with Tommy, and Techno is pissed. If the green rat bastard even breathes in the direction of his house again, Techno will not hold back. He swings his sword again. Another gash is left in the bark of the tree.

There is a rustling in the back of his skull. A low-set murmur.

Kill him.

He breathes in, staring at the tree.

He’s going to hurt your family.

Technoblade begins to tremble, and it is not from the cold.

Slit his throat.

He is seventeen years old again, in a forest that cannot contain him.

His blood will be divine.

Technoblade drives his sword all the way through the tree trunk. He rips it back out, and the tree splinters in half.

If he kills a few animals on the way home to soothe the restless muttering in the back of his mind, well, his brothers don’t have to know.

They’re loud, today.

Technoblade feels like he might vomit, he’s so overwhelmed by the noise. Every step is a headache, every thought is a struggle--it’s impossible to think past the noise in his brain that demands blood, and so Techno tries not to focus too much today, taking twice as long to complete the simplest of tasks. He’s halfway through making a cup of coffee when Tommy walks in, and his headache immediately worsens.

“What’re you making?” Tommy asks, and already, Techno is pissed.

“Coffee,” he grunts, and nothing more.

Tommy doesn’t seem to care for the silence, because next thing Techno knows, the kid is pestering him non-stop about his plans for the day, asking one hundred different questions about the tundra and the villages and the stronghold, and Technoblade is very close to shoving his spoon through Tommy’s eye about five minutes into the conversation.

It comes to a head when Tommy asks if they can spar today. It’s an innocent enough question, and honestly, Techno would definitely be down if not for the headache and whatnot.

The voices, however, jump on the idea. Blood. It would give them blood. It would satisfy Caedis’ cravings and it would shut them up for the foreseeable future. Part of Techno knows that he would be a serious danger right now to Tommy if they sparred. The other part is exhausted, and angry, and hungry, and loud.

“Sure,” he says.

It starts innocently enough, Technoblade trying to go easy on Tommy. He still can’t ignore the pounding in his skull, the roaring of the voices. The thirst for blood that hungers beneath his skin and bone. The first round goes by without a hitch. Technoblade wins.

The second round is messier. Techno is tired, and angry, and he can smell the mammalian musk of this kid he now calls a brother, and it is awfully similar to the prey he hunts down and bleeds out onto the altar back behind the cottage. Technoblade breathes in the crisp cold air, and tries to focus. He wins again.

The third round, he doesn’t hear a word of Tommy’s taunts. There is an age-old bloodlust in his bones, and he hears the drumming of hooves on netherrack and the thud of the blunt end of a spear, hears the pounding of his heart and the boom of fireworks and take him out, Technoblade. And there is red and shouting and heat and rage and the tear of netherite through flesh and a snarling sound that might be coming from him. He can’t think, can’t breathe past the blood, lunges for the nearest source of warmth and life and levity and bares his tusks.

Then, there is pain, sharp and hot and stabbing in his leg. Techno falls to his knees with a shout, and Tommy wins.

There is panic, hands curled into fists around the fur of his cloak, shaking his shoulders.

“Breathe, big man,” Tommy’s voice cuts through the static whispering, and he does so without thinking about it.

“Sorry,” he gasps, and Tommy shushes him.

“Nothing to be sorry for. Look at me, Techno.” Tommy leans further into his line of sight, forces him to meet his eyes. Techno nods, breathes, tries to think past the pain and the rage.

“Can you,” Tommy’s gaze flicks over him worriedly, fingers curling into the cloak. He’s shaking, Techno notices, and the desire to protect floods his mind, louder than anything else. Still, Tommy’s words ring out above it. “Can you describe your surroundings?”

Techno casts his gaze about the clearing. He recounts the snow, the trees, the grey, cloudy sky, the snow beginning to fall. He describes the altar on the edge of the property, the blood staining the snow that they’ve kicked up, the sun beginning to dip towards the horizon in the distance. The distant figures of Wilbur and Phil, coming back from the village. Tommy looks relieved, at that.

“Good,” he says, helping Techno to his feet, “okay, fuck, sorry for fuckin’ stabbing you.”

“It’s fine,” Techno breathes, “I stabbed you first.”

“You did,” Tommy muses, one hand still pressed against the cut on his side. “We should do something about that.”

“Wanna scare Phil?”

Tommy grins. “Now we’re speakin’ the same language.”

Later, the two of them find themselves seated on the bench Tommy crafted weeks ago, watching the sunset. They have since bandaged their wounds, talked to Phil about the incident, made promises to find a way to fix things moving forward. Now, there’s time for apologetic peace between the two, Tommy leaning against Techno’s shoulder as they sit in the quiet, gentle snowfall.

“You never did answer my question,” Tommy says out of the blue, “about why you let me stay.”

Techno glances over, raising his eyebrows. “Is it so hard to believe I care about you?”

Tommy lets out a bark of laughter, at that. “I mean, yeah. I thought you hated me, man, for like. Forever.”

Hate him. Had he ever really hated Tommy? Techno frowns, squints out at the horizon. He doesn’t think so, truth be told--he’s always loved Tommy, his energy and enthusiasm. He’s always liked having the kid in his corner, it honestly hurt more when Tommy was mad at him.

“I don’t think I could hate you,” he says, and Tommy grins in the way that tells Techno he’ll be getting shit for it later. “At least most of the time.”

Tommy shoulder checks him, though Techno almost doesn’t feel it, the kid’s so scrawny.

“Besides,” he says, looking away, “th’ voices wouldn’t shut up about it.”

Tommy blinks. “... the voices?”

Techno nods, feels the tips of his ears heat up with embarrassment. This is always such an awkward thing to talk about. “They like you, y’know? They like what’s important to me. And they know more about what’s going on than I do. So if they tell me to protect you, I’m going to.”

There are a few beats of silence, save for the ever-present murmuring in the back of his mind, and Techno is almost afraid he’s scared Tommy off. But when he next looks over, Tommy looks thoughtful, and a bit pleased, and an awful lot like he’s about to make fun of Techno. Tommy grins, wide and delighted, and it makes something in Techno’s chest ache, like the good kind of cry would. He manages an awkward little smile back.

“You said I’m important to you,” Tommy teases, and Techno rolls his eyes.

“I wouldn’t have lied to Dream’s face, otherwise,” he points out, and Tommy shrugs.

“Fair enough,” Tommy says.

He breathes in, then out. Blood stains the snow he steps in, these days. But there are people who know how to handle him, how to help him. How to wash away the stains he leaves in his wake.

As long as he keeps them close, he’s sure he’ll be okay.

Technoblade doesn’t remember the last time he properly played violin.

Phil encouraged him to try it, when he was sixteen. He wouldn’t say he’s the best--he was fairly mediocre, all things considered. But the music was relaxing, and he was fairly okay at it, and it wasn’t frustrating. He rather enjoyed it when he was smaller.

He stares at the violin case in the corner of his bedroom, contemplating.

He picks it up, and makes his way down to the kitchen.

Music is a way of keeping time. A rhythm is established, a beat is followed, and the music aligns with it. Dancing is a practiced art that follows this timekeeping, a far more elegant and peaceful sort of march to the rhythm of a song. Violence may be an old form of keeping time, but music is far older, and Technoblade embraces this fact as he plays a song that Wilbur once wrote for him.

It’s a haunting sound. It isn’t perfect, but there is a simple sort of beauty to it. Here, in this cabin, Technoblade keeps time, and he does not do it with violence.

The melody drifts through his home, and the voices, for once, are silent.