CN: Death (mentioned).
Dreams guided Gold Cleaver beneath an ocean. Flatfish rolled through the rocky sand by his bare feet. Gargoyles, mangroves, triggers, and puffers gleamed like his father’s gems. A hammerhead snaked behind him. Gold Cleaver paid it no mind, unafraid.
There was a time when he’d wake instantly after learning where he was: the depths in which he’d died. His heart a war drum and his breath a bugle. But now he found solace amidst the fear, wearing it as magnificently as he wore cobalt cloaks and golden greaves.
His cloak floated behind him. His hair became inky tendrils as he walked through the water. The flatfish continued tickling him while the hammerhead continued shadowing him.
The others lit the way to a warrior fighting skeleton bookkeepers with a metal fan. A boy who was new to manhood. Naked save for a fairy-wing bracer. He was otherwise so beautifully plain, Gold Cleaver thought. Short in stature. Limbs with baby fat that refused to grow up. Brown eyes paired with brown hair that was too short to flow as he pirouetted towards and away from danger, dancing with his opponents.
Gold Cleaver was instantly captivated. He stayed where he was, observing. Drinking in every detail of the warrior and his cascade of motion. It felt like the whole ocean moved with him, whipping up sands that would debilitate enemies with eyes.
Gold Cleaver soon learned that the warrior’s strength was faltering. His movements were becoming sluggish. He was becoming too focused on his current target, failing to track the rest of the mob. His doom was sealed once a skeleton hit him in the head with its book, itself becoming dust in the process. Downing the warrior was apparently a higher priority to it than living its best unlife.
Gold Cleaver rushed to snatch him up, holding him in his arms as if he were a babe. The hammerhead tore into the remaining skeletons while Gold Cleaver sealed his possession with a kiss.
He woke with the boy asleep in his bed. Gold Cleaver was dry. The only evidence of his undersea adventure was the boy using his chest as a pillow. Gold Cleaver was wearing his sleeping robes, but the boy continued to be nude, save for the bracer. The boy was ice-cold.
Gold Cleaver moved the warrior’s fan and bracer to the nightstand.
“You wield a fine weapon, little bride,” he said as he trapped him inside a cocoon of blankets. “But I will teach you greater things than fighting, starting with submission.” Gold Cleaver grinned, thumbing his warrior’s chilly cheek.
Beneath the boy’s eyes were lavender gardens. He clearly needed tending to. Gold Cleaver felt himself becoming heated. He cared not how his little warrior had come to neglect himself so, only that the boy was his now, and that this would never happen again.
Gold Cleaver continued holding him against his chest, watching the boy buzz out steady beats of breath through his little upturned nose. Gold Cleaver’s was narrow and nearly flat: commonplace among his once illustrious family.
Gold Cleaver moved one hand to the boy’s ears. He’d never seen softer-tipped ears on an Elf. His own were high and skyward-slanted. These curved gently like a beech leaf. They were like touching icicles. But Gold Cleaver paid the cold no mind. He simply rung the bell for servants to renew the fire.
“Shh… go back to sleep, little one,” Gold Cleaver said when the warrior began to stir.
“HFE, thank you for creating and sharing so much art and writing for free. How can we help turn your passion and skills into a full-time gig?”
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