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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55. Healing Takes Time

He met Gomez again at midnight, when everyone else went to bed, or at least pretended to.  They had stopped celebrating.  They now knew they had no reason to.  War is a little like that.  Remorse disguised as winning.

    The bodies meant less and less with the sheer size of the bloodbath, but the roads were almost clear, and so Chene walked between trees lost, knowing that he would stumble upon what he needed.

    Gomez was surrounded by oil lamps, brushing the blood from a horse’s matted black fur when he saw him, and although he heard the steps, he didn’t move.  His sword was leaning against a tree stump, his long coat by its side.  He stood in the cold of night in no more than a thin white shirt, his knee high boots, his hair thinning again and covering his ears.  Chene hated seeing him like this, so small in body for a man so huge in spirit.  It made him seem like he was broken, bursting.  That’s not who he was meant to be, Chene knew.

    He took an ivory comb from the Gomez’s coat pocket, and started with him, taking out each knot and smoothing the curls in the horse’s mane.  The animal eyed him suspiciously, but when Gomez was at ease, he was too.

    “Thank you,” Gomez mumbled whenever he thought of it.  His hands didn’t shake, not like Chene’s did when he was afraid.  His eyes didn’t stray, and his lips didn’t tremble.  He was bigger than his body, and it showed.

    “Are you hurt?” Chene eventually said.

    “No.  We stayed back with a few deserters and that.  Are you?”

    “I only helped a few injured.  I wanted to look for you, but I knew you’d be safe.”

    “I always am.”

    I love when people say that silence means something.  Maybe it just means that everyone knows what needs to be said and avoided.  Maybe it in itself means less than being afraid to use your tongue.  Now, it meant that Gomez was afraid of collapsing unless he kept moving.  He could help the horse.  That was enough.  He could help it at least.  He could.

    Chene left the comb in his hair where the blood was thick and cold.  He walked to the horse’s muzzle, that drew away as soon as he spotted him.

    “I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered, plucking grass from the ground where it was clean enough to do so.  He cracked his wrist, his fingers pulling at the blades until a beetle formed under his nail and scratched its way to the surface.  The grass flickered, green to red, long to rounded, sweet now.  More beetles walked across its surface until it shined.  

    Chene held the apple to the horse’s mouth, and despite whining at the insects, and at the feeling of Gomez slowing and eventually stopping his hands moving, he eventually reached down and plucked the fruit from his grasp, nudging his nose into Chene’s jacket, searching for more.  He laughed, rubbing at his ears, and pulling up more grass again.

    “You’ve gotten so much better.” Gomez admired.

    “You were the one who said I was to be a great wizard.  Do you remember the food I used to make?”

    “I try forget when I can.  You once said you weren’t water trained - what was your Jinn power?”

    He shrugged, handing Gomez a handful of soapberries that were once nettles, “I wasn’t like the others.  Where each Jinn was trained in either water based healing, or mountaineering and artillery, I both excelled in everything, and failed in it.  It made me sick, everytime I used my gifts, and no wonder.”

    “It’s amazing,”

    Chene mumbled something, his mouth full of food, and gestured for Gomez to step away.  He ran the comb through his own hair until it glowed black.  It only took a tap from the prongs for the mane to come undone in a show of rolling oils and dripping water, seemingly from nowhere, drying before Gomez had a chance to feel it on his skin.

    “You’re a healer.” Gomez said.

    Chene shook his head, “I try to be, but whereas this takes magic-” a beetle crossed over his brow, furrowing into his pores, “-Every power that hurts feels like a second nature to me, muscle memory.  I can create fires from nothing, arrows from sweeping my hand like a new skin.  I try heal where I can, thinking that maybe I can rewrite who I am.”

    “Remember what happened the last time you tried to rewrite who you are?”

    Chene felt the bugs nip at his insides, finding his soul and sinking back in.

    He smiled, “Can I do something for you, Gomez?”

    He took him by the sleeve and walked him to the tree stump, sitting him down.  He kneeled by his feet, staring up at where his skin was worn down again, the cracks between sparrows, the tears in his hair.

    He pressed the back of his hand under his chin until his own birds spun from the darkness around him.

    Gomez laughed at the little hummingbirds that pecked at the creases in his tired smile, “They’re cute.”

    “Not as beautiful as yours, I’m afraid.”

    He healed him.  His skin dipped in amber, ageless, his birds shone like the morning sun even in the uneasy glow of the lamps.  His hair was longer, growing out again around his shoulders, down his back, the loops of his ears where his piercing had been pulled through healing.  His body fit into his clothes, his body expanding to make room for all the spirit he was inside.

    “How many times will you heal me when I’m broken?” Gomez joked, the hummingbirds circling his neck and pulling at the spikes of his collar.  He giggled, and pushed them away.  They rested on the horse’s snout, their wings flurries of black magic that made the animal stomp and whine.

    “As many times as you need.”

    Chene brought everything he had with him.  He was not going back, he could not bring himself to leave Gomez again.  So that night they filled their pockets with what they could, slung their bags onto the horse’s back - Onyx, Gomez had decided his name to be - and set off down the river, back the ways to Mavros.  It wasn’t until he saw the mountain ranges that Chene knew where they were going.

    “What’s wrong?” Gomez asked, stopping on the foot of the hills.  The world vanished into darkness before their eyes.

    “Nothing,” he lied.

    He wouldn’t tell anyone.  He wouldn’t.

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