51. A Fucking Pity and a Waste

Soundtrack and Video: Marilyn Manson, The Beautiful People

Inglorion finds himself in his quarters, with no idea how Alecto and Ajax got him there. He’s still high — unpleasantly so. He’s not hallucinating, but his mind is spinning free. He stares at the ceiling with no idea of moving, and probably no ability to do so. 

In this state, he cannot censor his thoughts, no matter how he might wish to. His mind isn’t logical, but it is relentless. It shows him things that are not visions, but that he might shrink from in a normal, conscious state. 

If Inglorion could have ordered up a vision, he would have asked to see the moments where Tereus went wrong: When he first decided to confine and rape Philomela, or to harm Lavinia. He wants to see the precise instant when brutality and cruelty took root in his father’s character. If he could see this, he feels could establish whether he, Inglorion, is capable of the same acts. He could take steps to ensure that he won’t become Tereus.

He’s never cared about Tereus himself, the guy who woke up every day and whistled Handel and joked with his friends and sat through boring meetings — the guy who found himself in the middle of his life and struggled to make sense of it. Inglorion didn’t care because he felt that Tereus was a fucking prick who had it coming, and any attempt to understand him was bound to end by excusing his behavior.

Inglorion felt uncomprehending disgust when Tereus was reeling drunk and Inglorion was forced to care for him. He’s been tormented to have a second self who was taller, effortlessly strong, born into wealth and power, able to ride horseback at midday like a proper fucking gray elf. Inglorion has been eaten up with envy, sickened by it, nearly killed himself trying to become Tereus.

In turn, Tereus loathed Inglorion, first as an uncanny symbol of his fate, later as a younger, more vital version of himself. Even at the time, Inglorion knew that Tereus feared his son’s remorseless, reckless, suicidal, driving will. It can’t have been pleasant, having an outraged and puritanical version of himself sparring and fucking in the same house, snapping up stray housemaids, conspiring to help his daughter to escape.

Now Inglorion feels real curiosity about his father’s love of music and art, his fascination with commanders who came before him: Thucydides and Caesar and Alexander. He knows from having lived inside his head during routine and intimate moments that their attitudes are different, but they’re temperamentally and intellectually alike. Tereus seeks the same oblivion in drink that Inglorion finds in sex; they feel the same sublime joy through music; they both mistrust themselves, and exercise only belated and imperfect control over their impulses.

Inglorion wonders, did Tereus feel envy?

He returns to a key tableau from his youth: The moment when he returned a runaway, 12-year-old Sieia to Tereus and Lavinia. What did Tereus feel? He was a perceptive man. He would have seen Fabius’s dilemma — his fierce protectiveness, the obligation to return her to her parents. Tereus must have known why Sieia fled. He must have known that he was in danger of killing his wife, that he’d driven his heir from the house, that his bastard son was his bitter enemy.

Tereus stood at the top of the steps, just outside the portico, with his wife, whom he treated with cruelty and contempt. He looked down at his son and daughter, united in fear and outrage. Inglorion remembers that Lavinia and Tereus stood side-by-side, not touching. Sieia sought Fabius’s protection, burrowed up against him weeping. He remembers looking up at them without really seeing them. They were cut-out figures. He hated Lavinia’s obsession with appearance, her desire to look like a concerned mother, and to remove the half-breed bastard from the frame. He hated Tereus so much that he couldn’t stand to look at him — it was too painful to see his own features on that tyrant’s face. He remembers being relieved at Tereus’s silence. He felt sick every time he spoke, because they had the same deceptively soft tenor. He remembers now how he hated — hated — hearing Tereus sing. 

It is so hard to dislodge himself from himself, to put himself in that man’s place.

Looking down, then, at his son and daughter. Sieia’s face buried in Fabius’s chest. Fabius would have been wearing livery, since he was on duty that day. Inglorion can’t see the color, but Tereus can. It’s French blue, with silver braid. The bond between brother and sister — the clear moment of conspiracy. Fabius burning with defiant chivalry, eyes averted with loathing. Tereus must have known how much Fabius longed to harm him.

Inglorion sees something simple: Tereus was alone.

It’s vain and sentimental to imagine that he could have been close to Lavinia or Marcus, or to any of the servants or neighboring gentry. His actions, intellect and temperament left him stranded and exposed.

He couldn’t reasonably expect sympathy. He’d destroyed everything around him.

There are two deep sources of pain in Inglorion’s life: The absence of love, and the knowledge that he’s hurt others. Even in the Underdark, where he’s free to pursue his ambition, Inglorion misses Sieia, wishes for a wife, and regrets that he was cruel to Artemisia. Inglorion is young and devout; he has sources of consolation and companionship. For years, he had the clear purpose and duty of protecting his sister. During that time, Tereus died, and led his wife and brother and 32 other people to their deaths.

Instead of crouching at the bottom of the marble stairs looking up, now Inglorion stands silently at the top, looking down.

Tereus felt unremitting grief and shame, and died of it.

Inglorion sees the pain rippling out from Tereus’s act. Philomela’s humiliation and vengeance. Three families murdered cruelly, including Inglorion’s Aunt Valeria and Uncle Lucius — he never knew them, and he never will. Their three-year-old son Claudius was taken prisoner. Unless he’s died, he’s still in the Underdark, tattooed with some clan’s token, old enough to be flogged with a knotted lash. The little girl Inglorion saw flayed in Krysztof’s drawing. Marcus’s shame and Sieia’s mourning, Xardic’s hatred and rabble-rousing. Thousands of Drow and gray troops killed and injured.

A son looking up. A father looking down. The rape and massacre are one episode in a war that’s smoldered for a thousand years. If Tereus and Fabius stepped back for a moment, they would see a staggering panorama: the burning, bleeding world that forged them.

Inglorion sees it now.

It is, as Tullius said, a fucking pity and a waste.

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