❝ Take my eyes, take them aside Take my face and desecrate Arms and legs Get in the way Bodies break ❞
fire emblem: awakening
On first meetings, Henry is a cheerful boy, on the second, mad and filled with bloodlust, the third, emotionless and unhinged. If you survive a fourth encounter, maybe you'll meet the boy who forgot how to feel, physically and mentally. Through it all, Henry will smile just the same, because, ah, it's so much better to smile isn't it?
Blood and destruction sets his smile ablaze, and oh, there's so much of it, what's not to be happy about? Semantics matter little; politics, factions, peoples- whoever lets him make blood gush and bodies drop until his blood gushes and body drops, well, what else is there? He'll be obedient enough, cheery and whatever weapon they need.
As their friend? Henry hasn't understood the word sad or love or pain in a long time, has long since discarded it's meaning. He'll laugh, wave it off. Tell you that all he loves are cute little animals, like sweet doggies or the crows that follow him.
(But if demons came from humans, then the smiling bloodlust of his came from a forgotten boy, who only learned to hurt and scar over each bruise and injury. Maybe, he could've learned to be something else, something real but, it's a little too late now he thinks. Hollow smiles, hollow laughs, hollow man. The child Henry died when his wolfmother was struck through arrows aimed true, the adolescent Henry died with a school who taught with whips and bruises, and the Henry now only knows to destroy, not create. And he does it with an ironclad will needed to cast his curses, because that's the only thing that still fills his hollow bones.)
There's nothing wrong with friends or helping for all his wholesale slaughter. But Henry's not quite sure how to operate on the same wavelength as others. He's remorseless, with a taste for hexes and taboo arts, but he's innocent in some ways. His eyes are shut and he's grown too hard to feel not just sadness and pain but also happiness and real affection. Ever since he's joined the Shepards, he feels less hollow, somewhat. It's new and odd, but it's nice he supposes. They don't seem to understand how good the death and destruction he can create but for once, he actually cares about what they think. He doesn't stop of course, that would be silly. It's just now, Henry always is out to kill to satiate the bloodlust in his veins, but that doesn't mean he can't turn all that bloodlust into a gory vengeance. Or (non-)lethal curses to help a buddy out!
Henry's a talented dark mage, with a knack for dispelling curses and a strong will needed to successfully curse others. As long as it's some kind of dark arts meant to main, torture or kill, Henry's probably dabbled in it if not studied it.
People, Henry has learned, are the same. They bustle and chatter and bleed in ways nearly indistinguishable to each other unless you payed attention. Everyone has his own quirks if he looked closely enough, if he cared enough.
But oh, since when has he cared?
Animals, two legged, three, four legged, with fur and scales, soaring and breathing fire. Animals, who remind of home, of safety and something good, though soured still by the taste of blood in his mouth, warm and ugly for once on pallid hands. The blood of a wolf more mother than a human, wild fauna more family than his ilk. When he leaves his home with blood still tingling, its a few weeks when he first learned to smile. Funny too, how it wasn't long after he sees his wolf mother filled with arrows, with blackened words on her killers's tongue of the strange boy.
He does not smile when he kills the villagers, ravages them and stabs them and burns them from the inside out. He smiles when everyone is dead, and the day after a bunch of bunnies, baby ones too, had warily waddled to him. He is dead already, but it is nice to see that there are some things are still good in the world.
(He cried after too, wailing and screaming for mother, mother but only an empty forest still remembers.)
Magic is made from will, he learns. Your will to summon galeforce winds and blistering lightning, to crumble foes from the inside out, insidious. With lashes stinging and blood pooling in his mouth, curses flow freely from untrained hands and an iron will. Henry is no genius, but enough bloodlust for half the students there.
He laughs through gap tooth grins, ringing hollow in dank rooms and grim faces. He is radiant and ugly, bruises on pallid skin and knobby knees. Henry is ugly and hollow but knows that so is everyone else.
In the army everyone is a comrade. You do not kill comrades. But no one ever said that you had to protect them per se. Loopholes, loopholes, shouldn't they be more careful about little things like that?
Because, wouldn't it be a shame if war broke out and ended quick as they come? He leaves for Yliesse with the same sunshine grin, as a crows screech and cry, his own harbinger friends. He makes sure those Shepards knew what was coming, and that they would make it exactly as Henry liked- long bloody deaths, hard and unforgiving. He's always danced at Death's side, singing curses and following its rhythm.
Holds destruction in his hands for so long that he's already forgotten what it's meant to be nothing but its tool.
The blaze of something sharp and fierce at their deaths is new. Villagers, frontline feeders, pfft, who cares? But the Shepards, they're special. It's weird. They call him the hollow boy, dark mage, harbinger- and yet. They call him friend. And he calls them friend too. Not fakey, you're-alright-I-guess friends but actual friends.
Because humans are ugly and dead things still walking, worth little in his hands. When did that change? Because suddenly, it's nicer when there's someone else there, sharing the blood on his hands. Henry ignores it. Smiles it away, playing his part. It's easier to be the blank slate. empty pages with scarlet scribbled over, rather than a hymnal for children shut in closets, for boys who bit through their lips and adults filled with nothing.
Better to tread in shallow water before the long drop into the abyss.