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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10. Hit the Ground Running

I have two sisters, Decima and Morta.  This will not be the last you will hear of them, but you have heard from me long ago.  I phrase this as a riddle, and perhaps it is.  I wonder if you know my name?  I suppose not, you do not remember being young.  I am the youngest of my siblings, and even the Gods fear our power.

    But why tell you this, do I expect you to run or hide from my bloodline?  Of course not.  I tell this to tell you that fate works in a strange way that even we do not control.  And that is why they laughed to themselves in the world beyond when the soldier Chene brought a sign of harmony to Gomez just as he fired an arrow through the handle, greatly wounding someone who had come as a friend.

    “What a way for brothers to meet?” Decima had said.

    “Funny that, and yet fitting,” Morta replied.

    I did not laugh, for I knew what they had planned.

 

“How-”

Gomez looked him up and down frantically, anywhere but the wound, “I- I am so very...”

“Save it,” Chene snapped, and pushing Gomez back by the chest until the bed was clear, “Call into the hall, call my commander.”

Gomez, who was not an unreasonable man, looked to the door which became suck ajar and unlocked, and then back to Chene, who lay on the bed bleeding.  He finally said, “Why should I?”

Chene pointed to the arrow, “You punctured my lung, bastard, call my commander.”

“But they’ll kill me if they see that, and in all fairness, it was a mistake.”

“If I hobble you, I promise that it was a mistake as well.”

Gomez looked out into the hall, before swinging his head back around and grabbing the key from Chene’s belt.  He locked the door, and place a straw chair under the handle.

“Don’t.”

Gomez looked back, “Don’t what?”

“Leave me to die, don’t be that man.”

The elf arched an eyebrow and looked on out the window as if he had all the time in the world, “I am not that man.”

“Then call-” his breathing had become sporadic, and he arched his back from the mattress.

“But I am not that man either.  Not dead nor murderer.  Come on, get up,” he said, pulling on Chene’s stiff hand.

“Wh- And go where?”

“Up, stand up.”

He did, despite himself.  The room, which already was bile-yellow and thick with the stench of rotten cider and brothel dwellers, began spinning.  As if he were out of his body, he watched himself lurch forward to be sick, but he could only dry heave as the arrow buried itself deeper and blood spurted from his lips like fireworks.  The colours of the room bled together, along with the wavering figure before him, whose hold wasn’t enough to keep him on his feet.

“What was your name?”

“Wh-”

“Chene, was it?”

“I…”

“Chene?” he clicked before his face, his bracelets and bangles as loud as gongs inches from his nose, “Chene, as in the warrior?  Suits you, doesn’t it?”

He leaned forward again, blood drawing horrifying tattoos across the floorboards.

Gomez crinkled his nose, but was only gone a minute before he was shaking Chene again, “Alright, Chene, you will need to do something for me.  I do not hold the magic to which you could be healed, but I believe that a jinn like you could.  If I say the spell, you must place pressure to your wound and use your power.  Can you do that?”

Chene shook his head, or maybe he swayed harder, “I couldn’t…”

“You can, and what’s more - you will.”

“What’s going on in there?” two guards attempted to barge at the door, “Who is that?  Is someone else in there?”

“Just a moment!” Gomez lied, and turned back to him, cringing but hardly panicked.  His face was clearing to Chene, but it was one of the few things, including a bright, white light, “But we’ll need to move quickly.  I’ll pull out the arrow, and - and you use your power.  I don’t know how it works, I just presumed that you do.  Can you do that for me?”

“No, no…”

“Why not?”

“I can’t…”

“Why not, Chene?” he shook him again.

Chene swung his arms out, grabbing him and pulling him in closer.  The sudden move surprised Gomez, but at least his voice was clear in his own mind this time, “Because I’m not allowed to use my power.  And not for the man that killed me, to add.”

“I haven’t killed you yet, and it’s that or die on this horrible oak floor in this worn down hell of a tavern, you decide.”

Chene seemed to think for a moment, or fade in and out state.  Gomez, who was much smaller than the other soldier, not to mention more fragile in his strong, worn hands, was getting ruined himself and sweat began to bead under his royal collar.

“Chene?” he said.

“I’m thinking about it.”

“Chene?  Chene, you son of a croning wench, open this door or so help me I’ll send you back to barracks where you so rightly belong,” the general shouted from the outside, and that was enough in itself to bring him back into his mind.

“Take it out, quick if you can,” Chene said, and wrapped Gomez’s willing hands around the arrow.

“Ready?” he said, already giving a warning tug on the offending weapon.

Chene groaned, and then chuckled, if only brief and breathless, “Better to die in your hands than his.”

Gomez grinned, “Three, two-”

He screamed, so earsplitting it hid the final count and the command of his chief.  The door was knocked down just as Chene stumbled back against the bedframe, bending at the waist and clutching at his broken skin as smoke fired from his fingertips.

The army covered their eyes and noses, the room flooding as black as night, even the rising sun outside being wrapped in the coat of shadows that streamed from Chene and spiraled in the air like a freed ghost or demon.  It danced to each of the soldiers, even the commander himself, and sent them stumbling back blindly with their bodies pressed against the walls.  Finally, Chene found the power in himself to will the creature into his wound.  It sunk in with such grace, tying together the gaps in his skin and mending it so perfectly it was as if he’d never been hurt in the first place.

When all of the screams in the room and thumping of steps ceased, Gomez pulled back from his spot clinging to Chene’s arm in the darkness and looked at the patch of clear skin again, even the arrow in his hand dry and mended once more.

“Black magic…” the commander whispered to himself, disbelieving.

Gomez threw the single arrow into the crowed and they all dispersed, still terrified of the demon which escaped from Chene’s chest.

    “Run!” he cried, and grabbed Chene by the sleeve, pulling him out the back window with a shattering of glass, and into the streets below.

    The soldiers paused for a second, even after they were told to follow, but they were close behind.  The energy in Chene felt hot, but as if it had never left his body in the first place.  And yet, although his heart now raced like batteries and his eyes darted like the crazed, he’d failed to see the horse and cart waiting down a dark alley.

    “Get in,” Gomez said, shoving Chene into the carriage with little complaint as an arrow struck the wall by his ear, “Let’s go!”

    The driver cracked the whips, and the horses took of in such a hurry that Gomez was pushed to the back of the fine leather seats, his head cracking against golden railings.  Chene didn’t, of course.  He was trapped sitting up, looking at the world whizz by the curtain-tinted window at almost unnatural speeds.  Though his wound had healed, his mind was still hazy, and his stomach curled at every jolt and turn.

    “Don’t be sick in here, I beg you, this is Thalassian timber.” Gomez said.

    “I cannot believe I ran.”

    “I kidnapped you, if that helps?”

    Chene was not ready to accept jokes just yet, and his spine only got tighter, his face closer to the view outside at Gomez’s cool demeanor.  Though he knew that he wasn’t captured, a small voice within him blamed the elf for what had happened.

    “Why did they try to kill me?” Chene said in an uncharacteristically small voice.

    Gomez sat forward, resting a hand on Chene’s shoulder, “You really don’t know what you did back there, do you?”

    “Tell me what I did.”

    “That was black magic, Chene.  A kind like I have never seen before, at that, pure and concentrated and when untamed - extremely dangerous.”

    But he could not believe it.  How could he, he was a jinn, and a jinn’s only practice the pure arts, surely.  But the more he told this to Gomez, and the more that it seemed like what he described was magic he did not even see come from his own body.

    “And yet,” Gomez said to continue his point, smiling so fond it made even Chene uncertain, “You can control that demon inside you so well without ever having seen him before.  I think that you may be the most powerful wizard in Cardeni, Chene, and you don’t even know it.”

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