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split a man apart at the seams

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He was a happy child, always at his father’s side. He clung to his robes, to the arm of his throne. When his father laughed, he laughed. When he smiled, he smiled. And when he ordered the men into the dungeons, Alfonso would go with him. His mother didn’t like that. He was “too young” for all that sorrow and pain and blood. “If he’s going to follow me around like some beggar, the least we can do is teach him to be a man!” he heard his father yell at his mother once.


He grew up with the dungeons, eating some meals watching the table be filled with stuffed men. It didn’t faze him, the pear, the Judas Cradle, the Spanish Donkey. They were all just tools, tools for a higher purpose, tools that would never touch his skin. He would remain on one side, with his father, watching. The roles would never be reversed, he told himself, they just couldn’t.


That was before the Borgia pope, of course.


He would blame the Borgias later; blame them for bringing all this misfortune. They had taken Sancia, they had sent the assassin, they had allowed the French king to march into his city and take it over. Yes, his people had been dying already, but it had been his. That time had passed, though.


His father had taught him to never be optimistic, to expect the worst from your enemies. That’s why you torture and stuff them, to get rid of them. But when he was sat in front of the French king, he stupidly allowed his heart to believe for a moment that he was going to make it out of here alive. The old Alfonso would have cracked a joke about the man’s face, recommended the sulfur baths (good for the skin), something like that. He wasn’t that Alfonso anymore, though. He hadn’t been that Alfonso since his father died.


He would have laughed at the idea of taking a man down to his own dungeons, of having him pick out his own weapon of torture. But that had only been in the world where he was the one holding the device. Now the roles were reversed. He knew how the devices worked; he had seen plenty of men torn to bits before his very eyes.


When you split a man apart at the seams, you can often watch him lose a part of himself. Alfonso had already lost so much of himself, though. He would be their Judas, their finale for their table, but he would not let them see every bit of him crack.