The Loneliest Traid

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  • Published: 2 Apr 2017
  • Updated: 13 May 2017
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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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9. If Erotas Were a Type of Hatred

Ichais did not hate Estha, in fact the opposite was true, but there was a knot in time that connected both the bleeding out warrior named Chene, and the troll girl who lay in the wood with a spearhead trapped in her hip.

    “You snooting, raging, little-” she broke off, screaming.

    Ichais rolled her eyes, and yanked again at the handle.

    Thank God that she screamed, I was going to slap her if she continued, she thought.

    “What?”

    Ichais looked up, “I was speaking aloud again, wasn’t I?”

    Estha clipped the side of her head, answering her question, and perhaps hitting too hard when the pain began to shoot up into her body again.

    “Does this always happen to people when they’re with you?” Ichais said.

    “People with me?  You’re perfectly fine!”

    She pulled her dress, revealing an arrow through the heart.

    “Oh.”

    “I can’t die from it, don’t worry.”

    “I wasn’t,” Estha laughed, but yelped again as she tugged at the spear, “I was joking!”

    “Of course you were, and in answer to my question?”

    Estha rolled her head back onto the log she rested on, “Yes, it is a perk of being hideous, people tend to throw things at you.”

    “Including blades to the colon?”

    “Apparently so,” Estha paused, “What’s a colon?”

    She sighed, “Delicious.  Can you stop bleeding, I’m starving and we need to move before night falls again.”

    “I forgot about that,” she said, attempting for a moment to hide the gap in her body with a soaked hand, “Does blood not…”

    “Feed me?”

    “Effect you, is what I meant.”

    “Not yours, no.”

    “Wh-Why is that?”

    Ichais stood back, giving the girl her space, tapping long nails on her leather belt and batting the air wildly.  The air was full of carnivorous dragonflies and even she was being eaten alive.  She knew that she was either going to go insane or die very soon, depending on where the closest flesh could be found.

    “I don’t know, Estha,” she said eventually, “But you’d be dead in the ground if I wanted to eat you, I’ll say that much.”

    Despite this seemingly not being insulting, Estha frowned and looked back at the spike in her as if it were far much more interesting after what the baobhan had said.  

    “What should I do?” Ichais said, pretending not to notice the sudden shift in atmosphere.

    “Do you have a healing spell?”

    “No.”

    “A wand?”

    “What am I, witch?  Of course not.”

    She lay back again, her eyes rolling to back of her head.

    “Estha?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Are you usually this… Clammy?”

    “Quite possibly, yes,”

    “Oh,” she stuttered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring it up, just-”

    “Or it could be because I’m dying, Ichais,” she said, sitting up suddenly, and possibly too quickly.  She closed her eyes again, so impossibly heavy for a moment Ichais wasn’t sure if she was going to open them again, “We can’t all be perfect.  I can’t feel my fingers, and my eyes have puffed over.”

    “That isn’t normal for you?”

    She shot her a poisoned look.

    “Sorry, genuine question!” she looked around for a moment.  The last few days had been long and tiring, ever since she had met Estha in the castle.  They heard elven calls and brushed by a few hunters, but had spent the last several moons walking through miles of countryside, the troll living off of roots that made her hair glow pink, and water from large forest floor leaves.

    “They’re called Giant’s Palms, these leaves, see the six purple stems?” she had said, lapping the water like a house cat.  When she spoke it was as soft as a whisper, a gathering tribe not long passed.  By the looks of the markings on their skin, they weren’t too far from the base of a mountain town.  Ichais knew people well, but it seemed that Estha knew plants.  She had said that she was raised in the land, but what she had meant by that, Ichais didn’t know.

    But in the same way the water fell from the rim and hit her fingers like the tapping of lips to wine glasses, a sweet ring calling out into the open air and splitting her hearing, the way she laughed when her hair began glowing drove something within the other girl insane, and in a way she wished for nothing more to be free from her.  But then again, when she ate, Ichais didn’t feel anymore full, and when dark cloaked hunters passed with darts and staring eyes that just overlooked the cowering two, she didn’t feel safe.

    “You said that there could be a town nearby,” Estha said slowly, allowing her time to weigh up her reaction, “Do you think they would have healers?”

    “The mountain people are more fond of their explosives, Estha, would you be willing to risk it?”

    She knew what she was asking.  Do you think they’ll mistake you for a beast and hunt you down, but would mistake be the right word?

    “I’m going to die here, Ichais.”

    “Don’t be absurd.”

    “It’s not absurd, I’m mortal,”

    She pulled again at the spear, just to make the other keep her mouth shut, “If you’re close to dying I’ll just bite you, it’s not that difficult,”

“People avoid me already thinking I’m about to attack them, if I turn into a baobhan like you I’ll never get close enough to drain their blood, and I’ll end up dead either way,” she looked up, “Besides, I thought you didn’t want to bite me?”

She sat at the end of a hickory stump and knotted her fingers together, her chin parallel from the floor and far from Estha, “I don’t.”

And she knew why.  Estha had learned something from these last few days too.  Despite living her life alone since her mother’s death, she never truly felt alone.  Ichais, on the other hand, held a certain and impermeable air of complete and utter loneliness.  Despite being the most beautiful creature on their world, with her raven hair, sapphire doll-eyes, and the body of a walking, breathing Goddess, she had ice in her heart that no sun nor hold could cure.  And for that, Estha was afraid, she would always and forever be without in this eternal lifetime.  

She sat up, and leaned her head against Ichais’ thigh instead.  She felt her flinch, but relax back like a mould, and for that she was grateful.  Estha understood why Ichais would never want to touch her.  She was repulsed as so many others were, but she would still look her in the eye when she spoke and walk and let their hands graze and not throw stone or cruel word, and for that alone - and knowing it was all she would ever get or could wish for - Estha was grateful.  Those who pray to be raised up do not live to see higher peaks, and sometimes we simply take what we can get.

    “I wouldn’t mind being baobhan, actually.”

    “No?” she said.

    “Would I get the pale skin?”

    “Tragically, no.”

    “What about the drawling and mundane sense of humour?”

    She saw Ichais smirk out of the corner of her eye, “That is infectious, I’m afraid.”

    “Then I’ll die, but thank you for the offer.”

    Ichais looked down on her, and to Estha’s surprise, resting her fingers to her forehead, “She’s really about to die, isn’t she?”

    “Can you not keep a single thought in your head?”

    “Sorry,” she took her hand back, the absent touch now cold.

    “But yes, I think I might be.  But it could take a few days.”

    “The tribe way back then - we could ask for help, they might try.  Or - Or we could go back to the elven king.  It’s not good, but at least you’ll live.  I’ll do whatever I can, we can’t just let you turn into someone like me, or let you go on to the afterlife like that.  Not… Not like that.  Not like there’s something wrong with you!  That isn’t what I meant.  But dying in the woods, alone.  I can’t let that happen to you.  We should at least try to-”

    “Ichais?”

    She stopped for a breath, seemingly just in time, “Yes?”

    “Why is this part beneath my head so sharp?”

    “You’re lying on a book.”

    “What book?”

    Ichais stood for a moment, resting Estha back on the tree.  She hadn’t even realised that she’d gotten too weak to support her own weight.

    Ichais noticed this and hovered the set of books before her eyes.

    “‘Land Remedies: Forest Healing Magic’?”

    “Yes, I stole it from the king,” Ichais flicked through the worn pages, “I think it symbolises something.”

    “You’re a fool, Ichais.”

    She looked up, hurt, somehow, “What?”

    “You’re a blasted fool, I’ll never know why fate favours you,” she sat up best she could with the support of Ichais’ hold, “Hand me the book.”

    She passed it over, and Estha flicked through the index until she found it, “Page thirty two, please,”

    Ichais turned the page, and rested behind her, pulling her closer so that her head rested on her collarbones.

    She pointed to the page title, which read: “Battle wounds for mudfolk.”

    “Ichais?”

    “Yes?”

    “Grab me an armful of inky cap mushrooms, a fistfull of orchid pollen, an entire miniature palm tree for sap, a Giant’s Palm and the cauldron from the cottage we passed a mile back.”

    “A mile away?”

    Estha snapped her neck giving her the same toxic stare.  It was becoming familiar to Ichais.

“Fine, don’t die when I’m gone,” she said, throwing her head back against the stump and running off to find the potion ingredients.  

“Oh, and bring me seaweed for bandages!” she called Ichais.

“Get them yourself,” she said, pulling the arrow from her heart without so much as a wince.

“And for Gods’ sake, eat someone before you get back here.  I’ll just die if you’re planning on staying this cranky.”

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