“My hero,” she whispers and they come. She holds out her hands, raises her pure sweet voice, draws her fingers across her loom, and they trail towards her, as the earth itself gravitates towards her father the Sun. The song is the same every time - how I need you, rescue me, come to me; I am helpless and I need you. They are all the same; they all come in the end. In rain and sun and wind and fire, they follow her voice through the forest, into her hearth. The song is the same every time: I am a woman and I need you. I am a woman and you must help me. When they come, their eyes wide and their jaws open, she smiles invitingly, places her lips to their cheeks as their skin turns to fur. She strokes a hand across the beast’s head, and thinks: your natural state.
for the boy standing in the dust of gaugamela, an empire open to him. for the splendour of babylon, for the journey east, for the search for the outer ocean. for the slow spiralling creep of madness, for the death grip of divinity, for the men trampled in the dust as he chased illusive glory. for the death of his heart, and the death of the boy. for the long journey home, for the boy who died alone and disillusioned; for the man who gained the whole world and lost his soul.
i. PAX DEORUM - enya; the oracle at siwah (instrumental) ii. TO LET MYSELF GO - ane brun; greater than achilles, herakles, dionysus there’s no use telling me / there’s no use taking a step back / a step back for me iii. BOAT SONG - woodkid; the journey east can we keep our bearing straight / or will we be blown off course / are we instruments of fate? / do we really have a choice? iv. IF I HAD A HEART - fever ray; the quest for the outer ocean this will never end / cause i want more / more, give me more / give me more v. FALSE KING - two steps from hell; the death of darius iii (instrumental) vi. THE HUMBLING RIVER - puscifer; the mutiny at the river hyphasis angel, angel, what have i done / i’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire / i’ve conquered country, crown, and throne / why can’t i cross this river? vii. DANCE TO ANOTHER TUNE - first aid kit; alexander stopped here there’s nothing new under the sun / all that will happen has already begun viii. DANIEL IN THE DEN - bastille; philotas, cleitus, callisthenes felled in the night / by the ones you think you love / they will come for you ix. SURFACE OF THE SUN - coordinated chaos; the death of hephaestion amyntoros (instrumental) x. APRES MOI - regina spektor; ‘to the strongest’ i must go on standing / i’m not my own, it’s not my choice / apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood xi. GONE - ioanna gika; the king is dead, long live the king(s). what brings us together is what pulls us apart / gone our brother, gone our heart
their father makes his deals in the front pews of the old, crumbling church on the little street corner barely two blocks from the family mansion. he is sixteen when his father hits it big - when the last old man dies and his dad takes over, he is home for the summer from that remote new england boarding school, and his sister is fourteen. she is already beautiful, eyes already sly. cesare, she has taken to asking when strange men with cigars in hand file into their father’s office, and the door closes. they say daddy had three men killed in the harbour. they say we’re shipping drugs from south america. they say - he is twenty before he kills a man for his father’s business. loud mouthed, drunk, perpetually drugged up with eyes that look where they shouldn’t; juan had been threatening to go to the police. in and of itself, it wasn’t a big deal; all the men in the city are in cesare’s back pocket, but when he sent a sample to the feds, well - the men at the harbour, the men in the streets, the cops buying coffee at the cafe opposite the station; they all start to whisper. he lets them, he likes the slight taint of their apprehension in the air; like the promise of blood. they call him il principe, says in hushed tones that there is nothing a man cannot do, when he has murdered his own brother. this is what no one knows: lucrezia, waiting at the kitchen aisle when he brought the body back. lucrezia pouring hydrochloric acid into the bathtub. lucrezia, lips red and smiling slightly and still spotless afterwards, and the only trace of what had happened is the red stain on the lapel of her plain shirt, from where juan’s blood still coated his fingers. well, that’s done. she had said afterwards, she wears white to church the next day, hands clasped quietly beneath her chin, the light behind her throwing her profile into hazy gold. ave lucrezia, he thinks.
I prayed to God, and I said - give me one more breath, and I’ll give it right back. Let me have another after that, and I’ll give it back again. From now on, every breath You give me, I’ll use it to serve You, to live for You, for Your work. And He listened.
On his wrists: gold from the Nubian mines. The battered sword hanging from his hip, a dozen knives hidden on his person. Only a smidgen of black lining his eyes marks his status. His eyes are dark, and watchful; constantly in motion, scouting the corners of her chambers, noting the way her fingers linger on her glass bottles of scent, lingering on the shadows where attackers may lurk. His hair curls close to his nape, and that is something she likes as well. It adds something almost boyish to the man that kings and princes fear, adds something almost sweet to the general that lesser men whisper of in hushed voices around campfires—“god’s right hand, the queen’s wrath.” She likes this special kind of softness; it’s the same contrast between the blood on her sword and the samite of her gowns, between the softness of her breasts and the golden plate of her ceremonial armour on top.