The Loneliest Traid

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  • Rating:
  • 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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38. It's Him

His skin held ribbons, frayed and pressed between thumb and blade.  There were more than before, but that there was no mistaking it - it was him.

    His body had healed itself, as it did now, with him pulling the arrow from his side himself, the beast coiling around him once and the cut vanishing as if he had never been hit.  It was impressive, arrogant, nearly.  Or maybe Gomez only thought so because he didn’t let him help.

    “What wrong?” he said.

    Chene scoffed, and took the lyre from him.  It made a hiss as the strings were pulled, and Gomez reached out to pull it back, like a child.

    “Run, now.”

    “What’s wrong with you?”

    “Now.”

    In the time in which they had been apart, Chene had been appointed to captain.  Something to do with showing up half dead on the king’s doorstep, a stolen, bleeding letter in his hand, but Gomez knew no more.  In fact, he hadn’t heard a single thing of Chene’s state since he watched him run from the castle all that time ago.

    But something more had changed.  Not only was his skin holding deeper scars, but it was tougher too.  Gomez watched his hands as they ran, his fingertips grazing tree trunks with each sharp turn, every time the mob behind them grew closer he reached for his sword, never for Gomez.

    Petty - maybe - but something inside him radiated warm, a faded memory that held how Chene grabbed his wrist in panic, chased away, or of their fingers grazing within the hut of a family that welcomed the travelers in.  Chene running his fingers along the edges of his cheeks, where the birds flew infinite symbols across his skin, and how he looked at him in wonder as the sunset behind him, catching his eyes in the light, glowing, alive.

    He expected Gomez to keep his pace, or perhaps he simply didn’t care.  Either way, something was wrong.  Gomez was a fool, but he knew something was off.

    The pulled around the corner, where the foliage grew denser still and the roots made birdcages hovering over the earth.  Chene slotted himself inside, into the dip in land.  Gomez didn’t have time to try fit himself in.

    “You!” a soldier stopped him, pushing him roughly against the tree.  He heard his joints shake, his brain rattled and pulsating.  The man didn’t seem to care, “What are you doing?”

    “I live here, what are you doing?” Gomez snapped.

    “Fighting a war.  Get inside, sir, there’s a wizard loose somewhere in these woods.”

    “A wizard?”

    “Hold on,” a woman stepped forward, her hand like a trap on his shoulder, “You haven’t seen him, have you?”

    He shoved her off, stepping forward against her, “No thanks to you, there hasn’t been wizards in these woods for years.  You’d think that this stupid war would be over by now.”

    The woman laughed in his face, “You’re naïve, as most dwarves are.  Get inside, sir, and let us handle the war.”

    They left then, scattering across the forest floor, their swords winking in the light as a reminder that this battle was nowhere near its end.

    He sighed, cracking his neck.  When he moved to duck under the roots with Chene, he came up, his eyes unimpressed for all that Gomez’s lying had been worth.

    “They thought you were dwarf, huh?  It’s fair, I wouldn’t recognise you, really.”

    Gomez tucked his hair behind his ear.  He was still missing the golden ring that had been pulled off from his ear, his hair longer now, down and frizzy.  His freckles and tattoos were coated in thick layers of makeup, and unless you looked hard, the small man was easily mistakable for a dwarf.

    “I…” Chene took in a deep breath, holding it until his lungs ached for release, “How have you been?”

    Gomez looked at him for a moment longer.  The silence was now beyond awkward, a heavy weight that could be sliced if one chose to speak to quickly.  Gomez no longer cared about what weighed on Chene.

    “You left me.”

    “I’m sorry, I truly am.  But what was I to do?  Run back to the castle and fight by your side?  The last thing I saw was you being dragged away by your father, you were as good as dead.  And that haunted me for so long, pray, but I was hunted too.  They delayed the war trying to find me.  How could I just come back for you then, tell me?”

    Gomez shook his head, slowly, sad nearly, “I meant a moment ago.  You ran off without me, not even looking back.  Why would I care about the past now?”

    “You… I’m sorry?”

    “Is that a question?”

    It was Chene turn to scoff at him, “I’m sorry I didn’t run by your side, alright?  They found out about this demon that has stalked me since the day we met, this magical… Beast.  They saw it and they knew I was a wizard.  I burnt another soldier to her bone, and now they wanted me dead.  What was I to do?”

    “You became a leader.”

    “Not anymore,” he said, “You were right, they would never take me in again.  Even the king giving me refuge won’t be enough now.”

    “You’re still fighting this war.”

    “And you’re not?”

    “We were going to end it together, Chene.”

    He smirked,  He was no longer just scarred from the outside.  Each moment of torture in the castle, each burn and lashing, it scarred him inside now too.

    “You were going to save the world.  I was your wizard, your pet.  Nothing more, I’m afraid.  We were never going to end this together.”

    Gomez lifted his hand to his face, “What happened to you, Chene?”

    He pushed him away, his eyes cold, dark, his magic cracked and pouring into his soul.  He no longer was the man Gomez had thought him to be.

    “I decided to make it on my own.  Goodbye, Rilae.”

    Gomez spluttered, wanting to reach out, to pull him in.  He wanted to tell him his secrets once more - to sit on the side of a hill and let his powers make the grass grow greener.  He wanted to see how Chene threw firewood to Noom, how he gave them his dry blanket, how he made them food or at least tried all he could - he wanted to see how selfless Chene had become in all the years of being worn down.  How being told that he was nothing made him something, at last.

    But that Chene was gone, so Gomez let him walk, out to the barracks by the lake, back to having nothing.

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