Tharn dies, the head held tight within his hands.
Age too advanced, a warrior of his stature.
Dying, he reaps a last full gasp of men. Foolhardy, vain. Enstatued by unseeing eyes of Tharn’s beloved resting in their scar-faced general’s hands.
What army can withstand the maiden's gaze, first wronged then scorned now violent, loving, dead?
All men turn stone and dust before the fierceness and the fury of Type’s eyes —
the sightless terror wrought by the veined hands that grip his mute and disembodied head, brandished aloft —
(Tharn’s are the only hands to have survived and, more, desired, those soft sibilant susurrating locks)
‘til cities fall and lesser monsters quake with fear at the mere clenching of that once-gold palm.
Ah, glory won by death in hard-fought war.
One of the many joys denied to Tharn by his dear love, his own desire always counting for naught.
The whole world speaks of it in soft hushed tones.
Seeks to spare him the rough-hewn cloak of shame he stoops to draw, jaw clenched, over himself.
Grief for his lost virility, all had first thought. Somehow it was, unspeakably, the other.
With bleeding eyes and bloodied hands the weary wounded warrior proves his kill.
Surely he will never fight again, his people mourn, the city mourns, fair women mourn for once-gold once-fair Tharn.
And was it really worth the price? The warm dark insight of a captain’s eyes for poisoned painted monstrous whore’s dead head?
Type knows what he must do and never shirks — duty to goddess, temple sisters, even parents who long since have spoken of his tragic death in loyal service as a child.
To his beloved Tharn. It is the only way he can be saved. Blood to spare blood. Type’s blood, he knows it counts for so much less. Of course it must be spilt in greater depth.
A brief hand to his swollen waist, the one piece of remorse he gifts himself before the act (so much more room for his remorse on the dark river swelling even now before his eyes, near-bursting banks, a beckoning).
Children of gods can — must — survive stranger ordeals than these.
I found a way to look into your eyes, my love, says Tharn, and matches word to deed.
Type feels the rupture of each bursting eye and gapes in awe at Tharn’s hot blood, outpoured.
Tharn smiles, and blood drips down, down over skin. Two clean red lines dye once-gold cheeks and end in pinkened, toothy triumph.
I have to hold you, my beloved, murmurs Tharn.
Type lets Tharn’s hands come rest upon his waist, the lightest touch, a careful arm’s-length space.
And then Tharn’s mouth, opening hot over his own. A warrior’s instinct for the pillage and the spoils, even in the new-birth darkness of his world.
Tingling metallic forceful wet-mouthed kiss, bringing up incipient bile in Type’s dry throat. Each coil of his long hair stands to attention.
What more could Type demand than this man gives?
Tharn’s love for him: wounds mar his open face. Type hungers to press thumbs to each new hole and deepen into aching permanence, to lick at ragged, bloodied skin, to soothe his love with poultices and plaster, to sate his hollow golden face with pain.
There is, at least, a gentleness to the finality with which Tharn takes him, in the end.
Type, a child, a temple maiden. Beautiful burnished bronze child of the goddess. At home amongst his sisters; the pride of his real home.
Type, a child, knees bleeding onto rough, ungiving floor. Child taken without mercy by an old sea dog, what else did you expect, you must have welcomed it, made overtures by your behaviour, Type. Why would the gods force what is theirs to take in ever bounteous pleasure?
Type. Shorn of the beauty of his long dark hair and cast into the mountain wilds. Beautiful broken brass-faced boy. That first attack, snakes burst from his bald head. The men are dead, their faces strangely grey, before they enter range of this new armour. His head drips blood for days before it scars. And his eyes, oh, how strong the itch and burn.
Tharn weeps. Distance between them down to just one wall. Their backs warming the same part, back-to-back, as Type speaks into softening hours of night.
Type hears Tharn’s tears, feels something tearing loose within. Cries silently to sleep that night, the soothing murmur of his snakes his only comfort.
He has not touched a warm body in years. Has not seen aught in eyes but frozen fear of nightmares taking flesh, not least his own.
You cannot look on me and keep your life, says Type to Tharn. It is not quite a lie.
I should not look on you and spare you now, thinks Type. His heart thrums wary beats his head ignores.
Oh, Gorgon! I am come to take your head, cries Tharn. Facing the rocks ahead, resplendent armoured youth. Skin warm as heavy gold, hair inkish blue, eyes deeply black.
Unknown to him, dark eyes watch this performance in the droning summer heat.
A deadly gaze softens its sting and Type relents.
The fair man lives.
Oh, warrior, whispers Type, his breath a shiver.
I fear that you have come to take my all.