They met by moonlight in the shadows of the bone garden — a place of relative sanctuary in the old ruined city — and there lay down together, servant and princess, in the dust and the scattered remnants of ended lives. The boy, Stille, held his young lover close, drowning her in passionate kisses and limitless promises, for such was the capacity of his young heart that his love knew no bounds: he pledged to Almira his love for all eternity.
But Almira's father, King of the ruined city, discovered their affair from a servant's loose lips, and on the night of their next scheduled rendezvous, sent his men to the bone garden.
When the princess arrived she found only a small cloth sack with her name written upon the fabric. Inside was Stille's tongue, still bloody, still warm.
She wanted to cry out with sorrow and rage, but did not. Like Stille, she remained silent.
Almira knew that her father had ordered this. The king told her she was forbidden to ever see the boy again. And even if she did, he could no longer whisper his words of love to her. Their love affair was over.
Yet several nights later, the grieving princess found a familiar figure on her balcony. Her heart leapt for joy on seeing his beautiful face. She rushed forward to kiss him, but Stille held her back with a raised hand.
In her passion, she had almost forgotten how her lover had been mutilated.
The princess hung her head. Her father was right. She would never again hear Stille's whispered words of love...
But Stille had found a way.
The boy removed his cloak and lifted Almira's chin. By candle-light she saw twisted calligraphy sprawling across his entire body — a madrigal written on the fabric of his skin, a declaration of love that could never be silenced.
(This story first appeared in Antipodean SF in 2005.)