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Path of Blood

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   Festivities run through the temple in anticipation of their God’s blessing.

   Half-dressed men and women wander around laughing as they work on decorating the temple appropriately, petals scattered over the black marble floors, red and pink in direct contrast to the black stone threaded with white and tall white pillars are wreathed in morning glory and moonflower, blue crown passion flowers and trumpet vines, leaving them colourful and bright, ready for the celebration.

   At first, caught up in their preparations, the priests and priestesses of the temple don’t notice him - the man clad in gold and red who walks up the petal covered staircase leading a figure draped all in shining white. Sunkissed skin looks almost bronzed in the sunlight, but as he enters the shade of the temple the sconces light themselves unbidden and their attention is drawn to him. Without hesitation, they throw themselves at his feet. They expected many things, many blessings from their beloved God, but they did not expect his visitation for their sacrifice.

   Hands are outstretched and heads bowed low enough to touch the floor as he stands in the doorway, and no one notices the white shadow that follows him - it’s for the best. He might tear their eyes out if they saw his beloved anyway. Not that it matters, they’ll all be dead soon enough. At least by keeping their heads down they spare themselves some pain.

   Long red blades extend from his arms, laced with gold accents. They’re sharp enough to cut the petals on the floor that they’re barely touching, and Tony pays no mind as they caress the necks bared to him, severing heads from bodies cleanly and with ease. The first two go by quickly, and each one after just adds to the carpet of blood that the man behind him follows through.

   The red stains the white fabric, slowly crawling up along it with every step he takes. The blood seems to travel to him, and Tony sees no need to stop sacrificing each of the ungrateful fools that call themselves his worshipers in the pursuit of this.

   They would have left his beloved for dead in his name. They would have left the man he cherishes above all others to die, frozen on a mountain top to win his favour. They made a mistake and were fools enough to choose to celebrate it.

   Now their blood will be the payment - the price of their idiocy, but also the price of Stephen’s rebirth as it continues to flow up along the white garments in slow intricate patterns, head after head feeding into the former priest’s path to divinity. Tony refuses to allow any such threat to his beloved’s existence to come again, and as golden eyes settle on the man who kneels at the end of the rows of dead worshippers, the high priest realizes his mistake - far, far too late.

   When his mouth opens, Tony is on him, his tongue rips from his throat and at his screams, Stephen does not look up from the path of blood he walks, slowly as though possessed. The high priest’s eyes fix on the robed man and he recognizes the barely exposed facial hair of the man’s lower face. He recognizes his mistake.

   His screams sound again as Tony’s blade pierce his eyeballs, carving each one from his face before discarding them to either side, watching the figure coolly as he claws at his face in agony, his pain garbled and senseless as he speaks. Tony doesn’t need to hear words to know what the man is asking - begging - for. Forgiveness.

   He’ll never forgive this.

   Behind him, he hears the still quiet rustling of fabric as the man of his dreams continues his quiet approach, and Tony leans to speak with the high priest, his voice low but cheerful.

   “You kept him pure and innocent, by your standards. I can accept that despite the pleasures and joys you denied him. You worked him hard, by your standards. I can accept that despite the aches and pains it caused him he took pleasure in his service. You cleansed him and pampered him to present him to me, I can accept that - he’s a marvel to behold, he smelled beautiful, he looked beautiful… he’s perfect…” Tony hums softly, “but you made a mistake. I imagine by now you’ve realized that. You’re at least that smart, aren’t you?”

   The high priest wails as blood seeps down his face from his empty eyesockets and Stephen draws ever closer behind him. Time is running out for the man.

   “You left him to die, as though the death of my beloved and his eternal separation from me would bring me some kind of joy. That was a big mistake. That? I won’t forgive. The others got a clean death free of pain because all they did was follow you. You deserve worse. Far worse. So it’s lucky for you all I need is your blood…” 

   Tony smiles as he curls his fingers into the man’s hair and pulls his head back, drawing his blade across the man’s throat and taking his time to saw through his spine to sever the head entirely. Stepping out of the way, he lets the man’s body fall to the floor and his head along with it as he takes another step onto the stairs, turning around to finally face his beloved, watching the new blood finish colouring the other’s robe.

   The blades disappear from his arms as he offers a clean, unsullied hand to the man now garbed entirely in red and Stephen hesitates only long enough to kick the high priest’s head out of his way with a blood-covered foot before placing his hand in Tony’s in turn.

   “Does this sacrifice please you, my love?” Tony asks softly, bringing the man’s scarred, frostbitten hand to his lips to gently kiss each finger.

   “It is satisfactory, for now,” Stephen responds peeking out from under the blood-red cloth to observe Tony as his green eyes begin to shine with an otherworldly blue glow. The ritual is taking. Good. “But why stop here? I am not the only one who has been wronged in this world…”

   “So you would have the world burn?” Tony inquires, pulling the fledgling deity over and settling him over the altar Tony remembers first finding the beautiful creature at so many years ago. His free hand brushes the fabric back away from Stephen’s head and his head bows to brush his lips over his beloved’s offered neck.

   “I would see justice done,” Stephen sighs in pleasure, a hand threading into the brunette’s deep brown locks. “But purification by fire suits me well enough.”

   “If you so desire it, by your will it shall be done."