I reached out my hand but could not bring myself to touch the festering blisters. His howling reverberated in my mind, a lingering echo of the cry he refused to spit forth as the hot blade split his flesh. The burns, a network of angry red welts criss-crossing his porcelain skin like a bloody mask, shaped an elaborate crescent moon design down the left side of his face from temple to jaw. My own cheeks ached in sympathy, though I could never truly comprehend the agony of such an experience. I searched his black eyes for an explanation but their guarded depths betrayed nothing of his suffering; in his gaze I read only the stoic resignation of complete devotion.
Movement at the corner of my eye shook me from the disturbing sight. I turned to see his assailant standing at my side, calm and silent as a storm’s still heart. Long-healed scars stretched over his fine features in delicate white lines, rays emanating from an intricate sun which encompassed the right half of his face. Rage rose as hot vomit in my throat. I wanted to scream “what have you done to him? How could you do such a thing?” but I held my tongue. I knew what fervent, obsessive love churned in his tempest eyes, just as I had seen the heartbreaking compliance in his lover’s. My words would fall on deaf, unwilling ears.