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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62. Knowing Where to Go and Knowing Where You’ll End up Are Two Very Different Things

Ichais’ eyes opened to a book, not four inches from her face.  It was small, and she knew what it was before she even had the chance to sit up.

    “Estha, wake up,” she said, picking up the spellbook and opening its orange, mildew bound pages.  She reached to shake her awake, for seeing that she was not in fact there at all.

    She frowned, but turned back to the book.  The spells she had sold off to Sinder when she had met Estha in Dyrad’s palace.  God, that seemed like so long ago, and yet the pages were like stories she knew well.  The chickstratch in the margins seemed already learned off, a single spell bringing everything back - a healing potion that Ichais was sure she could recreate if she had to, one so burnt into her mind she could feel the press of Estha’s fading body against her still.  

    She flicked randomly, running her nail along the cracked spine of the book, and it was only then while pressing into the cover that a single page caught in the wind and found itself disconnected and in her lap.  The letter read -

    My love,

    If you are reading this then I am afraid that something terrible has happened to me.

    Please, there is a man you must find, a God named Eros.  He will lead you to the second realm and to me, and do not let either him or yourself be killed.

    There is far too much to explain but all I can tell you is that you must go to lake Pahned and travel out from the Mavros stream until you find yourself caught in a wind so strong it will sail you straight to the waterfall in the centre of all of Cardeni.

    There is something that you need to know.

    I have great faith in you, and always know that I love you so.

        -D.

 

    “Estha!” she called, ripping back the ivy and looking down into the lake.  Like the rings of a trunk, the rising tide had washed the scales into a pattern much like a noose.  It winked up at her, cunning, knowing, “Estha!”

    She spotted her then, speaking to a hooded figure that took her only a second to recognise.  

    Cinis was staring her down, stepping closer and closer, pulled back on her waist if she drifted away.  Ichais’ mouth felt dry, although not helpless, not in this moment.

    He reached into his pocket and pulled out a red ribbon, wrapping it around her neck like a collar and moving it to pull her hair back.  He tilted her head up with the bone of his thumb until Ichais saw Estha’s legs fall weak, like a newborn unable to support herself.  He pulled a flask from his breast pocket, and let it hit her lips and pour down her throat.  Her face flickered instantaneously, pink pouring off her tongue like sand in a storm.  Her skin flushed, her hair lengthened, and there stood the new stranger who was coming to be a common friend.

    “No.”

    He ushered her with one hand on the small of her back, pushing her towards his carriage.

    “What are you doing here?” she hissed at him, unashamed of her teeth that jutted out their warnings.  Estha looked somewhat ashamed, whereas Cinis laughed.

    “She wants to come back to the palace.  You made the right decision in leaving this quest of yours alone, but I know that you won’t want to miss the payday.  I left you the book and as I’m sure that you’ve seen - the key inside to find the realm.  So go on.”

    “She’s not going back with you,” she said, her voice low and growling.

    He laughed again, like popping joints, “What makes you think you have a say in how she lives her life now, Ichais?”

    “She’s not going.”

    “Answer me this,” he decided, running his hands along Estha’s back until she shivered, “You cannot control her but you stay by her side.  Do you love her?”

    “What are you getting at?”

    “Just answer it, do you think you are broken like this?  Two people who can never be everything the other needs?  Do you expect her good nature to help your sadist mind, Ichais?”

    “I don’t, don’t try that.”

    “Ichais,” she stepped forward, his hands tighter reins still, “Just go, it’s okay.”

    “Stop drinking that stuff, you aren’t ugly, don’t let him control you, Estha.” she snapped.

    “I wouldn’t dare,” he mocked her, his voice protruding, carving.

    “I know what people think of me.” Estha said, her words still smaller than their yelling.  Maybe ringing unsure.

    “That’s right, love,” he handed her back the flask, “No one wants an ugly girl, but like this, you know what I could give you.”

    “Don’t drink it, Estha, it’s killing you.”

    “But-”

    “You could be so pretty.  You could be free to travel wherever you so please, and isn’t that sweeter than a life in the woods with a girl who eats flesh to survive?”

    “Estha,” Ichais said, pushing Cinis back by the chest, and stepping close enough be at least be near her, enough space to fill with her words, “That ribbon was given to you by your mother to show your face how it is, not how they expect it to be.  You are bigger than him, than any of them.  Please, don’t let him turn that ribbon into your lease.”

    “But I’m so ugly.”

    Ichais laughed.  She couldn’t help it, but she felt it, how her teeth sank back, only caring about the pained expression on her face, and how the flask stopped midair, falling or rising in slow motion.

    “I think you’re beautiful.” she said, and it was not a lie.

    “Enough of this,” Cinis grabbed Estha by her waist, throwing her against the carriage.  His men heard this - all the screaming and thud of air being knocked out of her, and did not think of moving.  She pulled away, falling into Ichais arms that still held the letter.

    They linked hands, and began backing away towards the lake.

    “This way,” Ichais whispered, “Trust me.”

    Cinis laughed until he was as red as his father.  Ichais saw Sinder in him, how he longed for the touch of someone who despised him, how he uncoiled his weapon.  It glistened in the Mavros light, the corners of the cord filed so thin that even the bleakness of their world could find light for is t reflect.

    “I have helped you come so far, Ichais, and this is how you repay me?” he said.  His hair was greased back, his young face already creased with worry, his hands trembling with excitement and scotch.

    “This has nothing to do with me, you cannot own her.”

    “You think this has nothing to do with you?” he laughed again.  Estha looked between them, pulling on Ichais hand when he raised the cord.

    “You don’t love her, don’t trick yourself into believe your own lies.  You can convince this world, but you won’t take her.”

    “Are you not afraid that she wants to go?”

    “I can speak for myself.” Estha snapped, although her voice cracked around the words, “Leave us alone, Cinis.”

    “You’re so mouthy, but if you’re so sure then why did you drink?  Why do you only keep your hair back when you look like this?”

    She pulled her hand away from Ichais’ to rub her lips where they were stained pink with magic and so lovely and so bitter.  

    Ichais turned back, “She doesn’t have to answer you.”

    “Does she want to?  I thought this was all about her choices?”

    Every step he took closer, the blade grew higher, until it was parallel with Ichais throat.  

    “Because I will always be alone if I look as I do,” she said, stepped in front of Ichais so that the blade found its eyes on her, “But one day, I’ll realise that I have all I need, and nothing you can offer me will do any good, no matter how much you can stitch my face into forming the blighter you want to see in your lap.”

    Cinis thought, and pulled the cord tighter, “You will change your ways.”

    “God, you’re insane!” Ichais said, pulling Estha back by her waist until both were in the way of the blade, neither feeling the need to step away just yet.

    “I am not the one who fell for the ugly side of this creature.”

    “But as I did, you fell all the same, so don’t pretend I’m at fault here.”

    “You don’t get it do you?”

    He grabbed Estha by the wrist, pulling her flush against his side.  He held the cord in one hand, a loop that only brushed Ichais skin in warning and leaving a thin glowing mark.

    “No-”

    “This is all about you, Ichais.” he pushed the blade against Estha’s skin, no remorse in the drops that marked the sin of his ways in blood pink with the spell he’d cast.

    “Let her go.” Ichais stepped away, pleading to him to drop Estha, if only to kill her instead.

    “You took Favi.” he said, pressing until Estha whimpered and thrashed against his hold.

    Ichais dropped her hands, “Favi?  Your sister?”

    He laughed manically, running the hand that held the weapon through his hair until it was riddled and stuck with blood and sweat.

    “I loved her,” he hissed, the blade back at Ichais’ throat, “And you ruined her.”

    “I’m sorry that I killed her, but I brought her back, that was all I could do.  That was now so long ago, Cinis, and you were the ones to turn her out.”

    “I don’t care about her dying, you loved her and she loved you and that was what ruined her!  She’d tell us all about you held her and kissed her lips that were mine, Ichais, and now this revenge is for that.”

    Ichais gritted her teeth until her fangs cut her gums across the back, “You’re even more foolish than she had been.  Of course, you loved her, that explains why you kept me around so long and why she left so quickly.  You told her this, I suppose?”

    He nodded once, like a guilty child.

    She rolled her head back, letting the blade graze her and a laugh bubble up from the fires within her, “She was cruel.  She would eat her flesh alive, use her time kissing me with blood on her tongue and smile as their loved ones found their bodies still dead.  She would hurt, and hurt, and I hated her for it, that’s why I handed her back to you.  But the Lords know that I never would have brought her home, if only to spite you, or because I would never hurt anyone enough to let them be by your side.”

    “And yet, Estha will be mine.”

    “You deserve less than your sister, and I watched her pull still beating hearts from childrens’ chests, and fate will bring back everything hat you both deserve.”

    “Shut up, don’t speak about Favi that way.”

    “But you will feel the worst pain I can bestow, don’t think that taking Estha from me will change that fact.”

    “You cannot take everything from me.”

    “Can’t I?” she pushed his hand away, pulling her body close so that he felt her words hit his face, “I will ruin your life just as I ruined your sister.”

    He lept forward, dropping Estha to draw the cord tight, and pressing them onto the ground with Ichais’ head splitting on the scales and his blade digging into her veins.

    “She… Will never love you, you-”

    He fell to one side, his head snapping back with a deafening crack and his body falling limp against the beachfront.  His eyes were half shut, blood christening the shells and stones and ragged breaths escaping his lying mouth.

    Ichais looked above her, where Estha stood panting this a long sword in her hand, the blunt end facing the ground and splashed red.

    Two men, only one holding an identical sword in his hand, stood watching them uninterested.  They walked forward, taking the weapon back and pulling Cinis onto their shoulders.  They bowed their heads to the girls, although their faces were slacking, bored, Cinis carried without care or grace.

    “Love live the Queen,” the said together.

    “The Queen? Do you mean-” Ichais stood up, and smiled, “You mean Favilla, the Princess.”

    They shrugged their highness higher up, his head wound deep and unsightly.

    “Favi is alive?”

    They turned away, saying little more than goodbyes, and shoving Cinis into his awaiting carriage.

    “And now?” Estha said after a while of washing the blood from her hands.

    Ichais brought her to a boat that was nearly rotted through, but at the very least had a sail that was almost together, if patchy.

    “Where will this bring us?” Estha said, pulling the rope away from the dock, a single log deep in the sand, “Are we going to find the spell?”

    “We are, and the Elvish people will get the victory they so deserve.”

    “Revenge doesn’t suit you.” Estha said.

    “No?” she sat back as a wind unnaturally strong caught ahold of their sail and pushed them far out to sea along the river, and through the centre of their world, “But this revenge is more than me.”

    Estha held onto Ichais as the boat tipped forward into the water, falling, flying almost.  The second realm could judge them for who they truly were.

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