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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70. Fit For a Queen

They made them dresses, and unlike the ones from before, these fit perfectly.  They did not hide Estha’s hunched back or suffocate her waist - it fit, and that was enough for the party.  The dress was white, and perhaps the most elegant thing known to be, the stars pulled from the sky to be sewn onto her bodice and streaked through her hair.  She kept her ribbon around her wrist, white flowers beyond what grew on mortal soil placed under the bow.  

    When she put it on, however, she felt like pork stuffed into a nightgown, and cringed.

    “You look beautiful.”

    She chuckled, “Don’t be so- Oh.”

    She saw the figure by the door, and blushed harder, her eyes welling up with embarrassment, “I’m sorry, I thought you were Ichais.”

    The Goddess stepped forward, dressed in pressed trousers under a net dress, her hair tied back tight and her whole body a shade darker than what was around her.  She seemed to embody the night, and the closer she stepped, the colder the room turned around Estha.

    “I’m sorry to intrude.”

    “No, that’s alright.  Pandia, was it?”

    She smiled, very genuinely, “You remembered.”

    “I’m not so good at forgetting.”

    “Well, I find that to be an attribute to you,” Pandia said, “It must be odd, being adored all of a sudden like this.”

    “It is, but I won’t say I mind it.”

    “No, I’d imagine so,” she laughed.

    Estha found herself shivering, “Why is it exactly?”

    “Gods find beauty in acts, not in the complexion of one’s skin, or the length of their hair - I’m sorry, I’m making you cold, aren’t I?”

    “It’s alright.”

    Pandia tutted, pulling a white cloak from the pile of clothes.  They were given tents to dress in, and she had been too taken with the hand-fashioned gown to remember to put on the rest.  The lining inside, she noticed, was red, like the ribbon.

    “Most Gods are warm, where as angels are cold, but my mother and I are strange like that, it seems.  I must say though, your friend seems taken with you.  She really does find you beautiful.”

    “She says it, yes.”

    “Ignore the others, they see darkness through a one sided mirror, and they think that their light disguises their judgement and bad acts,” Pandia shrugged, “I’m sure that Ichais is as good as we would be.”

    Estha couldn’t help but show the smile she had kept down, her teeth chattering as she did, “You’re kind, the first realm would love someone like you, I think they’d need it.”

    “And my mother says the same about the second realm, we all hate the ground we walk on because it tires us, and love the next trek because we think it won’t.”

    “At least you can be free here, that’s more than a lot of us can say.”

    Pandia hummed, “I suppose that you’re right.  But just forgive us for how we treat your friend, we don’t mean all the harm we inflict.  Come on, I thought I heard the music starting.”

    

    The ball was smaller than they had thought, although the hall was as huge as you’d expect from the Gods.  It was nighttime now, and lone flames flickered across the dome above, where murals had been taken from the first realm of themselves, Estha even spotted Celene and Pandia in the artwork, although they were both much younger then, the portraits perhaps thousands of years old and unfazed by time.

    The walls were strung up with ribbons and there was a musician playing by each table on the outskirts, all in time while still the room’s length away.  They played a piece that could be forgotten and also danced to.  Older Goddesses played on the arms of angels, and angels helped young Gods to woo with their powers.  The room smelt of singed hair, and oranges, distinctly.

“It’s quieter than usual,” Pandia said, taking Estha’s arm in hers, “People are still terrified.  They don’t like mortals leaving here with a bad impression, so I’m sure that you’ll be escorted around all night and only shown the best of the best.”

“Why do you not care about what I think of your realm?”

    Pandia smiled, “What makes you think that I don’t?  What makes you so sure that I haven’t been on my best behaviour all night?”

    Estha laughed, and threw he head, spotting Icahis as she did so.  She was pretending to not have seen her already, and to be ignoring the angels who openly gossiped out her.  Her dress was still hidden by the long coat she always wore, along with a sulking face.

    “I should say hello,” Estha said.

    “Oh, I’m not holding you up.  Please, enjoy your night, and if my mother asks you to dance with me do not feel obliged, she’s gone a bit mad for you it seems.” Pandia bowed, and found another God to mix with, one who smirked when he spotted Estha and shoved her shoulder.

    Estha was still flushed when she caught up with Ichais, “Drink?”

    She jumped, smiling when she saw Estha, “You frightened me.  I wasn’t expecting you to…”

    “Speak to you all night?”

    “Well, this is your party.”

    Estha waved to a couple passing, “Pandia asked me to apologize on behalf of everyone who treats you like this tonight”

    “Pandia?” she said, “Oh, her, well they haven’t exactly treated me bad.  They’ve just treated me like nothing I suppose?”

    “Nothing isn’t good either.”

    Ichais grinned.

    “What?” Estha pressed.

    “Why do Gods fall so hard for mortals?”

    “Depends, what are you referring to?”

    Ichais nodded to Pandia who was watching shamelessly.

    Estha hit her,”Don’t be so obvious.”

    “Me or her?”

Estha kept her hand from hitting her again by grabbing two tall glasses from a passing tray.  The drink smelled of fermented butterscotch, and it made Estha gag.

“What happened to prudish Gods?” she said.

“They couldn’t survive watching over our world,” Ichais said, shotting down her glass in one, and moving onto the dancefloor, “Have one dance with me?”

“Always, if you take off the coat.”

Ichais pulled at the buttons, “I knew that you’d ask, it’s just… It’s lovely but…”

The dress was exactly that.  It was lovely, black georgette that hung in strings, like falling blinds, fringed and uncinched.  But it was baggy, ill-fitting even though it was tailor made for her, it made her seem more witch then baobhan, and was drowning in cloth, an androgenesis shadow in their pale world.

She twirled for Estha, and she saw the two holes in her back where her dead wings jutted out like ghosting glass, smashed shards.

“Oh,” she said.

“Again, lovely, but,” she held her hand out, “So can we dance?”

The song changed in accordance to Estha’s wishes, one that could be remembered, an angel singing in an old lost tongue made of whistles and symphonies, a song no mortal would ever hear again.

They danced too quickly speak, and only laughed each other as they were swung around, partners mixing until Celene was paired with Ichais, and Estha found herself behind an angel, stopping their waltz to laugh and finally being taken away by another group who wanted to meet with the spoken of mortal who glowed just as they did, just as pure.

“You’re a funny one,” Clene said once they were alone.

Ichais stopped laughing, “I am?”

“You’re as dark as the evil hearted and yet care so much for that girl.  I’d expect you to have eaten her, if not cast her aside for her looks.”

“I do think she’s beautiful, that’s no word of a lie,” she shrugged, “And I couldn’t eat her, she’s so sweet, it hurts to even think about.”

She raised her eyebrows, scanning her for a crack in the story, “Is this place sweet?”

“Yes, like oranges, it’s nauseating.”

“This room is bitter like lemons,” Celene said, “I have a feeling that you fall for the pure.”

Ichais shook her head, “You make me sound like a demon.”

The music came to a stop, and they pulled apart to applaud the singers.

“You’re not a demon, but what evil is inside you Estha has grown to love.  The girl could stay here, I’m sure that Pandia wouldn’t resist making her a Goddess.”

The woman chuckled when she felt Ichais’ arm freeze around her grip.

“No, no, pet.  We wouldn’t do that to either of you, so few loves are important still, yours should be treasured.  But let my girl have one dance with Estha, will you?”

“Of course, she’s not mine to control.”

    She pet her hand, “Sometimes we don’t mean to control when we have the power for it.  My daughter, our war has been hard on her, and she had been so taken by Estha that she hasn’t been worried since she had seen her.  I think that she sometimes doubts that there is good in the world, and sometimes you need a reminder.”

    Celene excused herself, and went to wave down Pandia, who looked to Ichais before looking at Estha, who chatted with a plate in her hand of foods so small they’d fit atop a pin.  She was talking, and trying to be social, but was glad when Pandia rescued her.  She too looked at Ichais, who hoped that her smile was encouragement enough.

    They danced to a song so slow they might as well have had stopped entirely to talk, but they seemed happy with Pandia’s hands around her waist, and Estha’s around her neck.  They both spoke at once, over each other, laughing about those around them.  Estha had a talent of being so completely bright that she drowned out the entire room, and all eyes always watched her.  Ichais couldn’t find it in herself to be jealous, not when she was so happy like this.  Not when someone finally saw Estha as she did.

 

    As the night went on and grew cold, she started walking towards her tent, nodding at those she passed and they looked away whispering as if they hadn’t seen her.  She smiled anyway, leaving the ball and turning down the long winding path that lead to stands where she presumed that shows would be on if the world wasn’t in fear as it was now.

    “Ichais, wait!” she heard someone running behind her, and was surprised to see Pandia.

    “Hello?”

    “You left so early,” she said, not out of breath at all, “Where are you going?”

    “To grab my cloak, my coat is thin in this weather, is something wrong?”

    Pandia chuckled and walked with her, “It’s only cold when the Gods of Weather are gossiping, and I suppose they must be fond enough of your story.”

    “Fond, I’m sure.”

    “But I was afraid that you were leaving for something I did.”

    “Dancing with Estha?”

    She gave a shy smile, “I won’t overstep a line.”

    “Please, I don’t care whatever you do.  I haven’t seen her that happy in so long, and I’m only glad that we’ve come so far together, and that we are close again.  Don’t they say that you never know what you have until it’s gone?”

    “And I suppose that you never know if that say is true until it happens to you.”

    Ichais shrugged, and smiled back.

    “We’re not so different, you and I.” Pandia said.

    “No, I doubt we are.”

    “No wonder that we both love her, she’s a force that balances us well.  You’re very lucky.”

    “You love her?”

    She bit her lip, “I said that?”

    Ichais laughed, shoving her back, “I used to speak without thinking, just like you.  We’re almost prints, although my side is darker-”

    “Ignore that,” she said, “You’re no darker than what you act upon, as far as I can see, you treat people well and eat the same, I won’t judge you.  And they shouldn’t, when they don’t eat but mistreat instead.  Mortal eyes can’t see, but with all their bad mouthing the room is so dark you’d want to light a candle.”

    They walked until she reached her tent, and grabbed the cloak that was red, with black lining inside.  Pandia seemed interested with it, but shrugged it off before Ichais could ask.  They walked back up the hill, falling between comfortable silence, and questions about their realms.  A bridge that would never lead anywhere after that night.

    “Your war seems trivial.” Pandia said.

    “As does yours, but yours is terrifying.  Maybe that’s just to me as a mortal.”

    “No, it is, it means that a God controlling four realms is in turn controlled by a love story.  It’s said that she locked her up for months, letting her rot, but keeping her immortal all the same.”

    “I couldn’t imagine,”

    “Well,” she said, stopping outside the hall, “I hope you never have to.  By the way, what will you and Estha do after this war?”

    Ichais thought, looking over the world.  It’s moonlight sky was a plaster grey, the world becoming lukewarm in her absence, “I always wanted a boat.”

    “A boat?”

    “Yes, a ship, and Estha always wanted to see the ocean.  I’d like to show her it with new eyes, live on a boat with the money from the spell, and see what we want, do what we like.”

    “Is that all?”

    Ichais looked back at her, and smiled.  One girl was fair, the other dark, one hair black and the other grey.  The girls were standing staring into mirrors, and passing by could see the other side for a moment at a time only, “It’s funny, I have no ambitions.  As long as Estha is with me, I don’t mind.”

    Pandia looked through the door, into the hall, a soft look of calm on her face, “You are lucky, know that.  And after our war I’ll be your moon, keeping your waves low while you travel.”

    “Thank you, Pandia.”

    She nodded, “Treat her well, that’s all I ask.”

    “I wouldn’t dream of hurting her.”

    “Ichais, Pandia!” Estha ran through the doors, her nose red at the tip and her forehead smeared with red lipstick, “I was looking for the both of you, please tell me you weren’t fighting.”

    “Fighting?”

    “Over you?”

    “Please.”

    “Don’t be so sure of yourself.”

    They laughed at each other, and then at Estha who shook her head, knowing them both too well to care.

    “The party is winding down, Ichais, are you walking home?”

    Pandia shook her hand, “Take my tent, there are two beds, just push them together or whatever you like.”

    “Are you sure?” Ichais said.

    “Of course, sleep well, both of you - and remember to keep to the paths to avoid Appalla’s army.”

    “I am so sorry that we have nothing to give you in exchange,” Estha said, her hands open flat.

    But Pandia couldn’t begin to mind, “You are our guests, and my mother is so fond of the two of you it’s all I’ll hear about for the next millennia.  I’m afraid that I’ll be off on official business tomorrow, but I am so glad to have met both of you.  And take care of each other, you’re both something the world couldn’t do without.”

 

    They rolled into bed, Estha rubbing the sores on her heels from the night dancing.  They slept in their dresses, too tired to even move, and dreading the morning where they would go to find a mountain and its treasure that now was the least of their worries.  But at least for a moment, they could rest, and everything was calm in the night.

    “You’re beautiful,” Ichais muttered.

    Estha rolled her eyes, but it didn’t hide her smile, “You’re speaking aloud again.”

    “I’m not,” she took Estha’s hand and waited for her to tuck herself in under the sheets, “You are beautiful, and you are kind, and you are the brightest thing in my life so far - and I’m sure ever.  You are sweet and pure and I could never hurt you, because I know what you can do, and I think that I always have.  You make the days I live through seem as though they are going towards good things as well as bad, and that even those that are dark you can make better with how you care for life like someone who only knows kindness.  But you haven’t, that’s remarkable, you take all the bad you have been given and somehow make it shine again.  That’s more than anyone in the world can do, and for that alone, you are enough to live on.  You’re so beautiful, and I am so lucky to have met you.”

    Estha was quiet, before saying, “That was lovely, but it was awfully cheesy.”

    “Really?  I practiced it the whole walk here.”

    She giggled, and pressed a kiss to her nose, “It’s alright, I can love you anyway.”

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