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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12. His Console Doth Exceed

Jinmi walked until he fell to a bed on the border of Mavros.  It smelled of chewing drugs and the salt of a sailor’s back, but he rolled to his side and held himself tight as sleep washed over him like the tides.  

    He never slept right without her, when she came home late from her work at the bars he waited for her to come home safe, and bandaged her when she didn’t, as was common in their town.  But on his travels the few days walk from their home, he had kept his eyes open and glued to the most worn path as to not get lost without a map nor guide, lest he leave Daphne waiting even longer than he had to.  People did not walk a single place in Mavros other than away from it, so old roads worn from horseshoes and wheels were safe bets as far as Jinmi could tell.  Either way, he had no notion of where the opening to the Second Realm could be, so to his mind he could spend half a lifetime walking in circles and still be looking without hope.

    He rolled onto his back.  He thought that if he didn’t sleep for days it would come easier to him, but despite the weight behind his eyes, he couldn’t find it in him to sleep after thinking of Daphne.  Despite his best intentions for himself, he thought of her wellbeing.  He wondered why Apalla wanted her again, what use could she have been there, or what could she have done to be taken prisoner if that was the case?

    “Can’t sleep?” the man in the bed next to him said.

    Jinmi looked at him, expressionless, “I tend to struggle with it.”

    “I can imagine.”

    “Why is that?”

    The giant sat up in the bed, beckoning Jinmi to do the same.  He was as broad as he was tall, with a beard like flaming twisted thorn bushes.  His eyes were gold, and familiar.

    “You’ve walked a long way boy, do you know where you’re going?”

    “I…” he slumped over his hands, a tangled nest resting in his lap, “No, I don’t, I’m afraid.”

    The man shook his head melodically, “I would be afraid too if I were you.  They say those who don’t sleep are either lost of body or spirit.  I would think that you are both.”

    “Both, and of heart.”

    “A maiden?”

    Jinmi nodded.

    “I’m sorry, boy,” he said, crossing the room in a stride to rest by Jinmi, who’s end of the mattress rose by a foot under the new pressure, “And you are going to find her?”

    ‘I will.”

    “You sound certain,” he grinned at him.

    “And I am.”

    “Good!” the man clapped him on the back, sending a pop out from his tailbone to his neck, “I’m happy for you in that way.  Love cannot be lost, just misplaced or passed to the wrong person.”

    “I couldn’t give my love to another, don’t worry about that,” Jinmi laughed.

    “Oh, I’m sure,” the man brought his hand back into himself.

    They sat for a moment, the atmosphere growing awkward as the boy sat by the mountain of a man and they spared awkward glances to each other, and out the window to the glowing border in the distance.

    “It looks nice out there,” the man said.

    “I hope so.  We should reach it by afternoon tomorrow I would say.”

    “I’m not following you,” he blurted out.

    Jinmi avoided narrowing his eyes somehow, “I know that.”

    “Oh,” the man said, his accent thickening once again, “I just thought since you said that we would reach the border,”

    “Just since this was a traveller’s rest, I presumed-”

    “No, no,” he waved his enormous hands in front of Jinmi’s face, “I’m going inward, into the lakebed to the snowy west.”

    “Well, good luck,” he smiled, but the giant still stood and avoided his stare.

    “Thank you, and to you.  Days,”

    “Days?”

    He looked back, startled.  The stranger now had a layer of sweat forming at his brow, the material under his rolling belly drenched and stuck to his skin.

    “Days - it’s a formality from where I come from, it means ‘many days to you and yours-’”

“No, it isn’t.”

He seemed to snap at this, stamping his boot and denting the floor.  Below, in the kitchen, the housekeeper hissed up at them as plasterboard fell into her soup tureen.

“What do you mean it isn’t?” he said.

Jinmi couldn’t hold back the toothy smile that seemed to open a face he thought locked since Daphne’s vanishing, “Days is an ocean bay formality.  Going by your accent, you were raised by mountains yourself.”

“Maybe I moved.”

“I doubt that,”

The Giant sighed, defeated, and took up his things, allowing Jinmi his minute to laugh at his expense.

When he turned back, one hand on the door handle and the other swinging a satchel to his back, he also held a small smile.

“You’re leaving so soon?” Jinmi said.

“It seems I must,” he said, the accent gone completely, “But I’m going to the lakeside.  I suggest you follow.”

“Where is it?”

“A week by horse, back the way you came.”

Jinmi’s mouth fell open, “You’re joking.”

This time the man could laugh, “Unfortunately not.  Rest now, boy.  Tomorrow go to the stables at the border and make at least part of your trip worth something.”

“But…” Jinmi sighed, and lay back in his bed, “Thank you, sir.”

The man smirked to him in the same familiar way, and turned to leave.

“Wait,”

He turned back, his face already clearing and sharpening to something new.

“Who taught you to say days?” Jinmi asked.

The man laughed again, “Brizo.  He protects sailors and fishermen.  Goodbye, Jinmi.”

He then left, shutting the door behind him and leaving the boy in silence for only a few seconds before it reopened with a witch in the doorway pulling in a crate of luggage and a surprised expression.

“Excuse me,” she said, “Is there anyone else staying in this bed?”

“It’s yours,” Jinmi smiled.

He rolled onto one side and slept what must have been the best rest in a very long time, hope blooming inside his unchained chest again.

 

Jinmi was right, and by the next afternoon he was at a stables he hadn’t even known had existed until he was pointed to it.

He bought a horse for half of the coins he had left, and shooting a short prayer to the Gods begging them to watch out for him as they had before.

He stopped for just a moment, staring off across the Mavros border.  The light outside was almost blinding, the sky awash with clouds in the shapes of armies and torches and angels.  He wondered for a moment what it would have been like if Daphne hadn’t refused to move with him back into Cardeni.  He stayed with her, of course he always would, but what would his life of been like out there, where the grass turned azure in spring and the rain turned into diamonds as it fell from the skies.  What would their life had been like in a cottage rather than a cavern, and if Daphne had not only come but stayed, would the sun let her petals unfurl as they never could in their cramped world.  Would she sit on the tree swings he’d build for her and let the ivy from her wrists curl up the ropes and tie her to the ground so that the Gods could never take her away from him again?  And he knew that he would sit on the grass by her feet and let the leaves and tulips and roses from her touch wrap around his hands and tie him there for the rest of time with her - immortal and holding all of the colours in their known universe.

    As the stars outside began to shine he turned the horse and began down the long winded path back into Mavros, towards a lake and a seemingly unraveled lead.

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