The Loneliest Traid

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  • Published: 2 Apr 2017
  • Updated: 13 May 2017
  • Status: Complete
Love and death and war and Gods and blood and magic and dancing and rest and revenge and kings and fate.
Don't worry, within these three stories you'll know yourself,
And I will put you back together again.

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67. All That Glitters

Nothing in Mavros grew, and yet near the river there was a clearing that was filled with logs and benches and blankets nailed into the ground.  Swings had been tied to the dead trees, and lanterns hung from the branches.

    “This is not what I remembered,” Chene said.

    “What did you remember?” Gomez sat on a log, “Don’t tell me if you don’t want to, of course.”

    He sat beside him, even though there was not enough room, “Witches.  They gave me these scars.”

    “I thought that you had gotten them in war?”

    “No, they’re old now, just scratches, but they’re deep.”

    Gomez ran his finger along one, “Wouldn’t you heal yourself?”

    “They’re a part of me now, but speaking of.” Chene took his face, pulling his hand over his cheeks that were tinted brown, to cover over the sparrows, and he rubbed out the creases and clots that were already forming.  He brushed out his hair with the comb from before and left long curls framing his face as it filled with colour.  Weakness was something Chene would never have full control over, he knew, because a weakness is not something that ever truly goes away.

    “Thank you again, Chene.”

    “You don’t need to thank me.”

    Gomez smiled, and downcast his eyes and Chene rubbed the sores from his elbows and wrists, “After we find the spell, I’ll be so much stronger.”

    “You’re already strong.”

    “But stronger still,” he said, “I don’t want you to have to worry about me, and I don’t ever want to slow you down.”

    “You won’t.”

    “But remember that night?  Your dream when you saw me so weak and even you as that monster pitied me?  I know I’m not the man most warriors are but I don’t want to be that way either.”

    “No,” Chene said, “You’re twice the man they are.”

    “You’re sleazy, have I ever told you that?” Gomez laughed and stood up, walking across the riverbank and letting his heels dig into the poisoned mud, “Let’s get Onyx, I trust the centaur, if there are people with magic here, then war will follow.”

It wasn’t Gomez’s words that damned them, but it seemed to be.

When the sound of the market place had finally fizzled into the lone gushing of water and sound of wet boots on wetter ground, a call rang out in the distance.  Painfully familiar, fate to hear, almost.

“Did you hear that?” Gomez said.

“Why would there be a Jinn call in the marketplace?” he said, strapping the horse up tighter, hiding their coats and symbols from view.

“Sinder was collecting magic folk,” Gomez said, “This is their war too.”

“Do you think that they saw you?”

“They wouldn’t care about me alone, but an army-”

And again, as if a call from the Heavens, an elvish horn rang through the woods, bouncing across trees like thread wrapping through tacks.

“We have to go.”

They turned towards the river and kept on straight, back the way they had came.  Maybe the man was right, they should avoid Mavros, keep to the light and away from where war thrived, where death was commonplace and guilt was a commodity few could afford.

Gomez still limped, not completely healed, and when Chene thought he heard shouts from the dead woods they threw him atop Onyx and they began running as fast as they could.

It felt as though they were running in circles, the voices already on top of them, but they counted their stars that they hadn’t been hit, and kept going until Gomez hit back with his heel, charging into a clearing in the river’s path where it grew wider, and where it was surrounded by heavy foliage and water works.

They turned back, the voices now hushed, fighting their own war, forgetting about the deserters already.

“That was close,” Chene panted, resting against Onyx and rubbing his brow that was brimming with sweat and dirt.  He felt as though his heart was about to give in, and his legs would thank him for it, but they were alive, even if only for now, and although his mind’s eye flashed to the fortune teller whose town was now in ruins, he stood up straight, and gathered his thoughts, “This war is spreading so far, it would be best if we moved along the river until we found the bays, before the battle reaches us here.”

“Chene?”

“Yes?”

“Come here.”

But the war had already come for them, and the ground was bloody and trees were pierced by swords.  On the ground, among the bodies and elvish and jinn, was a single centaur, after bleeding out in the middle of a fight he did not want to rage.

The beast flickered inside Chene, although he knew there was nothing he could do.

“We should go,” Gomez said in a hushed voice, fit for a graveyard.

“He asked us if we would accept the blood on our hands.”

Gomez covered over the man’s eyes with grass and leaves and whatever else he could find that wasn’t stained red,, “I am not accepting it, and I am not leaving this to chance.  Come on, we’ll follow the river until we can find the lake.”

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