There's a purple mottled bruise on the man's bare hip, a dark spill of wine under pale skin like a libation soaked up. The air is clear and sharp outside, but the shed is like an apothecary, thick with the scent of broken pine needles, putrid rich soil and the bell-clear sound of dripping water or a pouring glass in his ear until he rubs it away, just another phantom.
He's sure he left the door open, just a step away, but he's soaked in a mist that creeps into his head and blinds his eyes. The beam of setting sun through a rotted hole in the wall is like a welcome knife, piercing him with some focus. Looking at the stranger's marked skin makes him feel dizzy and sick if that's what wine is, a creeping flood underneath this foreigner's skin.
He's watching him now.
"What can I do for you, my lord," he whispers and Pentheus can already feel it spreading. Whispering, always like paper birds always trailing him wherever he goes.
"What can you do for me?" he repeats and the stranger bares his teeth like a pleasant weapon. Every bit of him is sure to be deadly, from the dusty soles of his soft feet to his red blush, nothing at all like a girl's. He'll destroy his kingdom, here in a shed, shackled.
"Perhaps I will do something for you, Pentheus."