Asterius, the infamous bull of Minos, was a beaten, wounded beast. The stench of burnt flesh and wet fur was nauseating, most would have recoiled at a single whiff. It was putrid nastiness and stomach churning vileness. He did not worry about the unpleasantness of his odour. His only concern was returning to Theseus before Zagreus reached the stadium. There was little concern for his health. Each agonising step of battered limb was forced by sheer willpower. Cuts were reopened and stretched to wider gaping wounds by movement. Asterius did not care how much blood trickled from him. If he bled dry it mattered not, as long as he was there to stand by Theseus's side when Zagreus arrived.
Fatigue, it eroded the flexibility of his limbs. His joints hardened and stiffened with every motion. Willpower was paramount to stop them fusing immovable. Coldness gripped him with merciless clutches causing him to waste energy shivering. All his ailments begged him to stop and rest but his heart screamed to proceed. His vision grew increasingly blurry, Elysium became a scenery of smudges. Asterius blinked several times to clear the haze from his eyes. Dizziness was the result of his clouded eyesight. Walking in a straight line proved to be an impossible feat. On his way back to Theseus he swayed and swerved like a drunkard. Every aspect of coordination started failing him. As he endeavoured to enter the stadium his hand missed the door handle numerous times.
He was nearly there! He could smell the intoxicating cologne of sweat and ambrosia in the air. The smell was embraced by his nostril and he felt uplifted by it. It reminded him of Theseus, who was fragrant with such things.
"Asterius!" Theseus cried out as he saw the ruin that was the legendary bull. Sympathy and angry filled his voice as he urgently rushed over. He ran his fingertips over Asterius s proud snout, down to pet his cheeks. "Did the hellspawn do this to you? That fiend will suffer for harming you."
Asterius did not respond, devoid of energy he was unable to. All he could do was melt into the softness of the touch and moo quietly to show his contentment at being in Theseus's care. It must have been awkward, Asterius was unsure how someone as short as Theseus managed it but somehow he was escorted over to a bed to recuperate. Asterius was relieved to rest his weary body upon plush blankets. Had Theseus found a cloud and crafted a mattress from it? At that moment he couldn't imagine anything more comfy.
"I am fine. I can fight. Zagreus will be expelled from Elysium. I will get my revenge." Asterius was defiant , stubborn to the core. Any sign of weakness was fatal and he wouldn't tolerate it. Theseus pressed a few tender kisses into the curls of his mahogany mane. "Of course you will my love. That cowardly fiend will tremble at the sight of us. Before we battle I must patch you up."
To be weak, vulnerable and needy in front of Theseus hurt more than any of his injuries. Theseus was his king, his champion, it should be him tending to Theseus and not the other way round. Theseus left his side for a moment in order to prepare some hydralite gold. Left unattended he started to wallow in self pity. It was a negative state, the glass is half empty instead of half full mentality. He lived to battle but Zagreus had utterly destroyed him. Was he really that useless?
A cool glass was pressed to his lips and Theseus encouraged him to sip. Instantly the drink performed miracles; energy rushed through him like a revitalizing autumn breeze and pain began to dull. The look of self destruction in his downcast eyes did not go unnoticed. Theseus planned to deal with that once Asterius had recovered a little.
Theseus squished his cheeks in his palms, determined eyes bored holes in Asterius's broken pride as he held intimate eye contact. Nose pressed against cold wet snout as Theseus shared the fire of his enduring confidence. "You are a magnificent warrior, absolutely formidable. Legendary heroes and warriors cower at the sight of you. In the golden armour you are unsurpassed by any fighter who battle without tricks. No one in Elysium is as powerful as you. My noble, proud mighty bull, there is no man, nor beast, dead or alive that can compare to you. I thank the fates every day that I found you in Tartarus, my friend, my partner, my love."
The sincerely and passion of Theseus moved him. His heart let out a battlecry as he sat up in a show of defiance. He had been beaten but had not perished. Zagreus would regret setting foot in Elysium. "Thank you Theseus. I let him get to me. My resolve will not be weakened again."
Theseus's teeth seemed to gleam as he smiled in pride and love. He was proud that his Asterius had risen like a phoenix from the flames to battle again. "That is what he wants! He wants to get under our skin, divide us, break us and demoralize us." He clutched his fists and pounded his chest. "I won't let him do such things to you. By my honour I will halt his dark schemes." He reached for a cloth and started to polish the armour upon Asterius's horns which reminded Theseus of golden wheat tied into cornucopias. "You do not need golden armour to shine like the sun. You shine brighter than the sun and the armour only makes you shine brighter."
Asterius had to hug him, nothing could stop him engulfing Theseus in his bulging muscular arms. He squeezed tightly, pressing him against his chest until their hearts seemed to beat as one.
"Asterius, I cannot polish your armour if you holding me so tightly." Theseus gasped a little as the air was nearly hugged out of him.
"Sorry king." Asterius loosened his overly enthusiastic grip. He continued to moo and nuzzle Theseus's face and neck as his headgear was cleaned to a flawless sheen. Theseus seemed oblivious to Asterius's yearning to simply snuggle. As Theseus moved onto the chestplates, he utilised his elbow grease, really putting his effort into spotlessness. Asterius buried his face into the olive oil treated sweep of Theseus's hair before he lapped at his cheek attempting to receive another kiss.
"You are a bundle of affection today Asterius. Please try to focus. Once we have defeated Zagreus we can celebrate by cuddling and sharing ambrosia. I will eat fruit from your chest just like you like." Theseus took a moment to admire his reflection in the armour. He neatened the hairs sent astray by Asterius insistent nuzzling. Asterius grunted, trying desperately not to sulk in front of his lover. Sulking before a battle was highly unprofessional .
"Look at you!" Theseus stood back to admire his handiwork . "Don't you look resplendent. I fancy you soon much right now." With a bold demeanour he headed towards the Macedonian . "I am going to prepare the chariot. I will see you in the stadium shortly. "
Asterius snorted, giving himself a mental slap, encouragement to pull himself together. His body had healed and now he glistened. He was motivated to fight harder than n ormal. If affection was the reward he would light until he perished. For his king, his champion, his Theseus he will give everything. Zagreus had better be prepared!