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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35. Evil and Love are One and the Same, and Spread like Smoke

Daphne sat crying at her balcony.  She was allowed an hour or so in the courtyard if she was polite, and today she wasn’t.  The flower festival had ended and so she was no longer needed, living back in the sanctuary of Appalla’s house.  Three stories, and the top hers.  It looked as though it was made for her, but she hardly stepped inside when not made.  She didn’t eat, or sleep, or bathe unless made, and spent the whole day in the sun soaking up all the light she missed before now while living in Mavros.

    It would be unbiased to not say, she was almost happy out in the light again.  She had missed the feeling of growing free with nothing to cage her in, enough light and water, not to mention it being pure water.  She allowed the vines that became trapped under her skin to grow out into the air.  Thistles and brambles pressed through the railing of her balcony like prison bars, flowers that were once made white flashy yellows, leaves turning pink at the ends, they sprouted from her skull and made a crown that could never be ripped from her.  The first time they pushed her down into the seat in front of the mirror she couldn’t believe that she was looking at herself.  Her eyes were finally bright, her skin soft and glowing.  She finally didn’t have to give up any of her own life to let the flowers grow.

    She hadn’t forgot him for a moment, not really, she wouldn’t let that happen.  But sometimes her mind… It let him slip.

    “Ow!” she turned around, Appalla crushing on of her daffodils under the toe of her boot.

    “Sorry, dear, but you’re growing everywhere and it’s getting hard to avoid them.”

    She turned back, wondering if Appalla noticed how the roots of her laurel bushes dug through the stone of her balcony until in cracked and held her down to where she sat.  If so, she didn’t say a thing as she had another time.  Instead, she would fill the cracks with gold, her kintsugi cage.

    “Cardeni looks so beautiful with you up here growing.  There are flowers as far as the eye can see.  The angels asked them to rename the flower festival after you, the Festival of Tempe.  How does that sound?”

    Daphne laughed, as cold as she could, never dark enough to match the evil which infected their house, “Name it after your home, fine, but it will never be mine.”

    “You could at least be grateful to the people.”

    “To those you trick?” she said spitefully, “The only reason I never lived in the sun with him is because I knew you’d find me again.”

    Appalla frowned at her, and moved to sit by her feet were the grass grew thick.  Snapdragons and venus fly traps as large as talons sprouted and pulled at Appalla’s robes until she back away off of her plants again.

    “Damn you, will you never let me care for you?” she said.

    “When you either send me home or kill me dead, then I will respect you.”

    “This is your home.”

    “He is my home.”

    “I missed you.”

    Daphne laughed, her face falling to cracks and wrinkles, even through the magic glow of her powers.

    “What is it?”

    “You couldn’t miss me, because you don’t love me.  If you did, you wouldn’t keep me here.”

    “I let you go to the plaza each day,”

“And what about today?”

“That’s different, you were acting up.  I would leave you off if I could trust you to come back.”

“That’s not love.”

Appalla threw her hands in the air, her voice piercing and shrill, full of madness and a wickedness that was more than what wizard or witch-kind could ever inherit, an evil made of a broken heart unrightly placed, “Oh, and I suppose you know all about love then?  You and that - that - wizard boy.”

Daphne smiled, looking up above where the clouds broke, and every so often darkness rained from it like trickling fingernails digging down into their world of false purity and saints.

“Yes,” she said, “I do.  It’s knowing that someone would give you everything that they have, and everything they could ever be.”

“I do that for you, each day I slave away doing exactly that.”

“No, you promise me that you could change me to become all you have or could ever need.  He gave up his entire life for me.  I whine about never seeing the sun, but neither could he, and he never had to do that for me.  He wanted a home for us, a cottage in the meadows where he’d build me my swing and we’d spend the days basking in blue skies, but I said no and he never once complained.  Instead, he brought me water, and books.  He used all of his magic keeping me protected, and expecting nothing in return.  He knew he could have lived up to his family's legacy and been a great warrior, perhaps even the best wizard ever born, but he didn’t.  He said he had me, and that that was enough for him, for as long as I lived.”

Appalla, outraged, pulled a fist of rosemary and baby’s breath from her shoulder, and growled.“I love you.”

And Daphne, her flowers still winding, climbing, and thriving once more, only said, “I love him.”

“Appalla, we found him,”

Forgetting her anger she whipped around, “The wizard?”

“Eros.”

“No,” Daphne said, her mind now racing.  How much of a fool had he been?  After so long hidden in the first realm, he came back?  

She froze.  What if something happened to Jinmi?

Appalla hadn’t been so happy since the night she stole her away, her teeth practically falling from her head, her smile beaming and crooked, “Men, take Daphne back into her bedroom if you will, I think all this sun is making her head spin.  After that grab your swords and meet me in the courtyard.  It’s time the God of Love paid his dues.”

“No, Appalla please,” she begged.

    The Goddess laughed, “Oh, so now you want me?”

    “Don’t kill him, you’ve tortured him enough, he doesn’t know where Jinmi is.”

    “Darling, I don’t care if he knows where that scut is,” she clicked to the men, her guards, it would seem - Mars and Oris - and they stepped on her roots as if they were ordered to, “But it’s about time that he met his end, isn’t it?  This whole “love tied into fates”, it’s unfitting to our story, dear.”

She screamed, a blood curdling noise that made the Goddess of Music herself lurch forward and cover her mouth, but Daphne bit and thrashed as if she could possibly free herself from all this.  Even if she did, there was no where in the world where she could go, no one who wanted her in this realm, and maybe none in any of the others from all she knew.

The grabbed at the branches in her hips, in her ribs, and pulled her from the ground, her head fell forward.  The pain that ruptured her body was unimaginable, a tearing feeling that tore holes in the ground in Cardeni and set upon an unnatural autumn throughout the land.

They took her flowers away in bundles and tossed the bouquets into the streets like scraps, her body wilting into greyed stems as she was carried to her room.  The last thing she heard before falling unconscious was hunting bells singing to her, and Daphne order her men to only leave her half a pitcher of salt water.

“It’s time that she learned that actions have consequences, I’m afraid.”

She had a nightmare when she slept, an uncommon thing to have.  In it she saw Jinmi strung upside down as church bells were struck above their heads.  Her thorns wrapped around his low-hanging throat until his face was red and his body was still.  She was crying, the water fueling her and making her stronger.  Appalla laughed behind her, shining like fire, burning bright.  Jinmi was rotting, his skin flaking, the world around him faded black.  He was evil, that was all she knew, and Appalla was clean and glowing and giving.  And yet, she did not control the branches that killed him, only the water they consumed.

She woke with her heart missing every second beat, and her mouth dry as she searched for water that she wasn’t giving.  She ran to the door, banging against it, screaming for help until she could no longer speak a word.

The pads of her fingers wrinkled, her head pulsating with nausea and pain.  She was not only wilting, but dying too, and in her mind as it turned black she could swear she felt Jinmi’s arms take her in, washing her body clean, kissing the crown on her head as the leaves fell like ribbons.

“I… Love him.” she said.

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