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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29. But Their Time Comes Too

The king fiddled at Chene’s collar.  He had been badly hurt, yes but he was still very much alive, their scars eerily alike.

    “This collar is the symbol of a foot soldier, no?”

    A black band, solid, cheap and disposable, a reminder of their place in the army, “Yes.”

    He was healed by king’s orders, Dyrad even giving up his immediate care for the prisoner.  The scars would never fully be hidden now, and for that alone Chene was glad.

    He hummed, almost impressed at him, “How long have you been serving for them, remind me?”
    “Since I was nineteen.”

    “Half your life, perhaps?”

    “If I look that old it means that you’ve tortured me more than I thought.”

    The king smiled, not quite reaching his eyes, “Never made an officer in all that time?”

    “I never worked too hard,” he lied.  He had been expecting this question.  In fact, he was surprised that Gomez hadn’t asked yet.

“Scars like these?  As strong as you are, and as honourable?  No, you aren’t telling the truth, soldier.   You’ve served the jinn blindly for years and haven’t been rewarded.”

“I wonder why.”

“Yes,” Dyrad said, dropping the collar again, “I wonder why.”

“Perhaps it’s that I always get hurt?  Or maybe I’m not half the man you think I am.”

The king turned at took a seat against the other wall.  He was twice the size of Gomez, a picture-perfect elven ruler.  His eyes were as brown as his son’s, as well, but they did not hold the light as Gomez’s did, they did not seem to hold any life at all.

“I think that you’re a wizard, Chene.”

He stiffened, and the pain ruptured his body like a blade, cutting across the already slit lashes on his back.

“And I believe that you also think so.  My youngest certainly does,” he looked at Chene with his head cocked to one side, as if he could move that parts in his mind and finally understand the tortured soldier who refused to answer, if he even had anything worth knowing, “Did the officers not see that magic within you?  You cannot say that I’m the first.”

“I have never seen it before.”

“It’s a powerful black magic, only found it those who kill billions, start wars, things of that sort.  And it’s taken over your soul and will follow you through the afterlife and beyond, but somehow you’ve managed get a tie on together.  You’ve held it down so long that it’s not only part of you, but in fact you totally.  It’s almost amazing, I must say.”

“Your praise means a lot, sir.”

“Don’t try to be clever.”

Chene smirked up at him, “Doesn’t Cardeni’s most powerful wizard deserve to be clever?”

Dyrad walked to him, grabbing the hair around his crown, and slamming his nose down to his knee.  His hair had began thinning from the pulling and stitches around his skull, and he it took his two tries to take a handful, not even earning a single sob from Chene.  The monster had began living by his side now, refusing to phase back into his heart.  The claws of a lion, the body of a bear, the face of a demon, and yet not one shape could be seen in this form.  The beast was too young.  The guards whispered to each other in the dorms, guessing amongst themselves that it was not an animal at all, but turned into whatever you were afraid of, a breath of black that blew over your skin and turned you inside out.  No one slept soundly that night, but now the beast watched as Dyrad hit his master over and over, not once wincing or moving to help, and Chene did not ask him too.  

“Why did they not make you an officer, Chene?” the king said, wiping his hands on his trousers.  He had been awake for days now, beating Chene to death slowly, and dragging him back to life.  The sleepless nights left his wounds sagging, under his once powerful gaze blue veins floating in washed-away skin.  Chene was glad of every mark he made on his abuser.

“I don’t know.”

“Tell me-”

“I don’t know!” he snapped, chains rattling like graveyard wailers, “They never thought I could be good enough, maybe that’s all.  I scared people, and I never knew why.”

“And now you do?”

He looked to the storm that rolled around his ankles, that waited by his side as an army of his own, “I do.”

“You were a fool if you hadn’t seen this sooner.”

“I don’t tend to be angry,” he said, bitterly, “Or want to murder those in front of me.”
    “And you still want to go back to your commander?”

“Yes.”

“You sound so sure.”

“It’s where I belong.”

Dyrad sighed, looking away at the torches half lit, drowning them in the underground room, “My son certainly doesn’t agree.”

“What did he say?”

He laughed, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Chene dropped his head, his demon growling, flickering across that caps on Dyrad’s boots, but nothing more than a warning that Dyrad didn’t seem to notice.

“I wrote to King Sinder, you know.”

“What?”

Dyrad took up an envelope from the table by the knives and screws that Chene hadn’t noticed before.  It’s stamp was an uneasy purple, already cut open at the top.  The sight alone sent a chill across the expanse of his body.

“Do you want to know why you never became an officer, Chene?  Why you never mattered?”

“I hope you burn in hell.”

Dyrad smiled, almost innocently, and took out the letter, holding it away as if it was revolting to him, or insulting rather.

    “It reads - Chene came to us young, and what you now witness we have seen before.  In his sleep the devil erupts from his very heart and burns the flesh of his men, and in times of anger or fault, it will pool from his tongue like dragon’s smoke.  He is a soldier with talent beyond description, but that is all he is apart from a sinner and dark wizard.  If he is still alive as you read this - use him as you wish - he is nothing to us.”

    Chene felt the beast press its weight back into his heart, the beating of which turning to a racing animal, afraid of the teeth bared at its throat.  He struggled for so long to hold the demon inside him, but it kicked and trashed, sending his chest beating and pulsing as if it were attempting to claw its way out itself, one bloody stroke after another.  The final look to make his lifeless body buckle forward and free the beast was how Dyrad watched.  Once a holy man, a leader, laughing as he watched a man die at the end of his twisted hands.

    The beast closed its jaws around the envelope and it turned into nothing more than ashes in the still air.  Dyrad did not flinch.

    “I already showed Rilae - or Gomez, is it?  Either way, he has seen the letter, and do you want to know what he had thought?”

    Chene, who flicked in and out of being, did not speak, and let the smoke wind around his body in only a weak attempt of holding himself together.

    As he heard the words fall from the King’s corrupt mouth is evaporated into his skin, nothing more wanting to keep him as one.

    “He thinks that he was right, he knew nothing about you after all, and was wise to lead you to me.  We have no use for jinn, let alone wizards,” Dyrad left the envelope at his feet, the sign of what he had spent his years working for, now leaving him to die, and almost grateful for it, “Your execution will be tomorrow at nightfall.  Is there anything you would like before you die?  A dying man’s request, I will even allow you to meet with my son yourself one final time, for your goodbyes.”

    But Chene, even if he could, said nothing, black now in his heart and the only reason it kept beating while broken to pieces.  He was nothing, he was never made into a man, he was in fact never made at all - and the scars should have proven just that.

    “Very well.  Sleep well, Chene, and thank you for your service.”

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