Hand of God
|Gender:||Male (He/him, ~trans)|
Your favourite song. Sunlight dappled off the face of the river. Rainwater dusting a creosote bush. Is he sentimental? Yes. But there are few men who have known such grief, and fewer still who could so deftly bring you to your knees in laughter and in tears.
What did you expect…? He’s my ex.
Content warnings: war, violence, addiction.
Dai Hei was once Motu’s most esteemed Lexarc, and was the first and last to leave the god’s service. His departure struck a decisive blow in the frenetic devotion of his colleagues, but came at such great personal cost it could not be called a willing one. He has since retired to a quiet life of music, badly tempered by his hand in the war.
Everyone who is someone in high Asthaom knows Dai Hei—If not by his family name, then by his deeds abroad. General Dai Hei is heir to the wealthy Dai family, and the most decorated general of Motu’s Lexarcs.
He’s also going through something of an existential crisis, right now.
Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Dai Hei was once considered a worthless layabout and a disgrace to his family name. He much preferred the life of a partyboy to the social and political responsibilities he had inherited. In truth, his hedonistic reputation belied a love for the arts, but his hobbies were rarely seen as anything but self-indulgent nonsense.
He would have been content to make art and break hearts, probably forever. This changed when he fell head over heels for a quiet printmaker.
He was everything that Hei wasn’t—a working-class man with a soft-spoken manner and gentle heart. Hei couldn’t help himself. He made a point to bother the man whenever he could. The printmaker—Sadren—was stunned by Hei’s attentions, but flattered.
What followed was a whirlwind romance for them both. The two were swept up in one another’s theatrics, driving each other to distraction, to giddy inspiration, and to ever more outrageous heights. Hei followed Sadren to the ends of the earth, through the highest highs of the art world and the lowest lows of addiction…. And eventually, into the arms of the Lexarcs.
Though his lover came to the order seeking penance for their hedonistic ways, Dai Hei would quickly realize that he had much to gain from becoming a Lexarc. His family name did him many favors here, and for the first time in his life, he felt a sense of community and belonging. As Hei cleaned up his act, high Asthaom took note. No longer was he the weak link of the Dai family, but the Lexarcs’ golden child. It seemed that their wayward son was finally coming into his own.
But as Hei ascended through the Lexarcs’ ranks, something began to change between him and his lover. There came a day when Hei woke up as General Dai Hei. While he was outfitting himself for war, Sadren was working in secret to stop this violence before it could begin.
Sadren tried to reason with Dai Hei, he really did. He spoke to him of the tyrant-god Motu, the despot who sows hate in the hearts of men and sends them away to be slaughtered for a senseless war. He spoke of love, of his own shaken faith, of a better world. Spoke heresy.
Hei tried to stop Sadren, but the traitor slipped like water from his grasp. The man fled west, warning anyone who would listen of the false god Motu and his Lexarcs. Hei was heartbroken.
Abandoned by his lover in his hour of need, and left to fight alone in a foreign war, General Dai Hei is now rotting from the inside out. He knows that something is profoundly wrong, but he cannot name it. Soon he will be forced to choose between the Lexarcs and what he thinks is right, but few choices are made meaningfully on the fields of war.
Hei helped Sadren pull Roan out of the ocean black. The two men quickly became Roan’s first friends.
Much like his boyfriend, Hei is a Lexarc who holds Motu’s teachings almost as close as he holds his lover. He, too, is an unlikely friend to Roan, but that’s where Hei and Sadren’s similarities end.
Dai Hei is the brash, ostentatious, and charismatic heir of the wealthy Dai family. He has the heart of a warrior-poet, the brain of a partyboy, and more money than he knows what to do with. Perhaps there was a time when he was a useless layabout and a disgrace to the Dai name, but no longer. Some say he’s destined to become a general under Motu’s Lexarcs. He certainly walks around like he will.
Perhaps this is the reason he and Roan fumble around one another. Perhaps not. Make no mistake, Roan loves Hei—he’s smart, kind, and fun as all get out—but for one reason or another, the two are not as close as they could be. Perhaps the moment Dai Hei pulled Roan out of the sea, he realized that she was not the one that everyone said she was. Perhaps he had always doubted her. Perhaps Roan knows this, and struggles to understand why this has caused them to grow apart.
There were few lovers quite like Sadren and Dai Hei.
To say that Hei was devoted to Sadren is an understatement. Hei, the career Casanova, had never felt so strongly for someone before, and it took him by storm. They became each other’s whole world—for better and worse.
Even now, Hei is a deeply lovesick ex. He struggles to reconcile the grief of Sadren’s betrayal with the growing sickness within him, the heretical sense that something is wrong with him and with everyone around him. His abandonment is a convenient tool that his fellow Lexarcs use to groom and isolate him, but they underestimate the depth of Hei’s devotion to the man. Hei did not join the Lexarcs for his own interests, after all, but for Sadren.
One day he will have to choose between his lover and his countrymen. Sadren can only hope that Hei has the sense to see this false dilemma for what it is, and go his own way.
By all rights, Len should hate General Dai.
He is Motu’s right-hand man and most esteemed general. He’s the rich heir to the Dai family and a notorious partyboy. If Sadren is to be believed—and Len thinks that he is—Hei is also one half of a deeply dysfunctional relationship.
But when they meet on the fields of war, Len recognizes Hei for what he is: A man that’s rotting from the inside out.
His whole world is collapsing around him, after all. He has been called to war in a foreign land, his lover has abandoned him, and he can feel himself slipping from Motu’s divine favor. He knows that what he’s doing is wrong—deeply wrong—and Len knows that he knows this. But the man hasn’t been given the opportunity to make a meaningful choice about it. Few are afforded such a luxury in the face of violence.
Still, Len gets the sense that something is going to break in him soon. Meaningful choice or no, Hei will have to decide where his heart truly lies.
When he makes his decision, Len will be watching.