“What the fuck is going on here?”
They jumped apart, stumbling in their haste to disentangle themselves, but it was too late, and they both knew it. They had been seen.
“Nothing of any concern to you, your lordship,” Seymour muttered sourly, straightening his collar.
Lord Henry’s eyes flashed, a sort of madness flickering behind his mismatched irises. “Well,” he replied in a tone of calmness that was betrayed by his facial muscles, which were twitching with rage. “I thought I would stop by to tell you that it is time to go, but apparently I was interrupting something. So carry on. Starve to death, for all I care. But don’t expect stones to mark your graves.”
“You’re just jealous,” Seymour spat.
Henry stopped, midway through the act of turning to leave. “What, exactly, do you mean by that?”
“It must be awful,” the Aechyed sneered, “to be an object of pity, to be treated like a baby, to be known for what you really are: a weak, sniveling, attention-craving coward.”
The young lord’s face contorted into a hideous snarl, and his hand flew to the hilt of his sword. Then he thought better of it and dropped his hand to his side, clenching and unclenching it in fury. His eyes drifted from Seymour and settled upon Seoc, and his grimace transformed into a horrid, manic grin. “You know what became of your little boyfriend, fairy boy? Eh? Do you?”
Frightened, Seoc shook his head.
“Oh? Well I do. You probably figured that he’s dead, and you would be correct in that assumption. Your uncle kept an eye on him for you, but I think he’s too fond of you to tell you what really happened to him. But I’m not. Want to hear?”
“No,” Seoc moaned, readying his hands to cover his ears. “No, I dinna want ta hear.”
“Well, that’s a shame, because I’m going to tell you anyway. And,” he broke off, drawing his sword and laying it against Seoc’s neck, “you aren’t going to plug your ears.”
Seymour started forward. “Leave him alone, you bastard! He’s done nothing to harm you!”
“One move, mermaid,” Henry hissed between his teeth, the light of insanity burning in his eyes. “Just one, and I’ll take his head off. Are we clear?”
Seymour made an odd choking noise and stepped backwards, hands raised in surrender.
“Now, what was I saying? Ah, yes, I was going to tell you how your little lover died, wasn’t I, fairy boy? Remind me of his name, will you?”
“Owen,” Seoc whispered, his voice barely audible.
“Yes, that’s right,” Henry droned. “Owen. That’s right. He was eaten alive, you know. They put him in a cell with a cannibal—and one bloody cannibal it was, too. Ate his face off first, while he was still alive and screaming. You know what he did, then?”
Seoc didn’t, but he dared not move to respond for fear of the sword on his neck.
Apparently, Henry wasn’t looking for an answer. “That cannibal tore him open before he could die, while he was still conscious and terrified, choking on his own blood. But even then, he did not die. By the time he finally bled to death, his face was gone, as was most of the flesh on his shoulders and upper arms, and his insides were spilling out on the floor. And you know something interesting? The guards stood by the door the whole time, watching. Watched that cannibal eat him and disembowel him. And when the cannibal was done with him, they left his corpse there. The rats got the rest of him.”
Seoc had turned an awful shade of green, tears leaking from between his tightly-shut eyelids.
“Henry,” Seymour said softly. “Can you let him go now? Please?”
To his surprise, Henry did as asked, stepping back and sheathing his blade. “Just think about that. Think about it.”
And then he was gone, leaving them standing there, swaying slightly from shock and nausea, neither of them the least bit eager to go down to the feast.