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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52. Makes You Big And Strong

The battle was won by Jinn that day, most elven boys and girls dead at both their feet.  Say what you will about who walks away victorious, but both sides walk away trekking through blood.

    Mortals are funny like that, but watching Appalla, I suppose that we can’t say much.

    It seemed as though everyone else had died that day too, the rain letting up as the last body fell, just so the fates could keep from washing the blood into the river, so that each warrior could watch what they could have been, what they had done.

    They cheered, and drank, and poured out glass after glass for their fallen comrades.  The meal was dry and cold but it was enough.  The air reeked of death, if you don’t know what that smell is I can’t possibly explain it to you, try all I will, but imagine that you are drowning in lime that you know you poured on your enemies, that you know is your fault entirely, and you get to lie with those you despised and get all you deserved.

    Chene could hardly breathe, never mind eat.  He sipped at water, to keep from sucking on his tongue and leaving it bruised.  His hands were clean, although marked with the blood of what friends he had tried to save.  They had all died, irrespective.

    His demon was a snake that coiled around his ankles and kept him sitting at the long table, his head swaying over his hands like a sightless man, his shutting eyes darting up and down the table, counting each man and woman that were still alive because of what they had done.  Their bellies peaked over the lips of their belts as they rejoiced in all that they had done.

    “I’m going to be sick.” he said.

    His commander, not but three seats down, heard this and cut off his own conversation, “What is that, Chene?”

    “I said that I’m going to be sick, sir,” he had no pity for the merciless.  Their table was out in the woods under a tent tied between trees, and across the river he saw the worst of the day, stacks of corpses and the foxes and rats that ate with the jinn in triomphe.

    “Then go,” his commander gave a hearty laugh that did not show on his face, “We don’t need stomachless men who aren’t willing to fight as soldier.”

    “Yes, sir.” he stood from the table and walked to the bridge.  Each step was cautious, an attempt not to slip.  Every twig under his boot felt like a bone, every stone an eye.

    He bent over, leaning by a tree and dry heaved until he could little other than dribble onto the blood soaked foliage until his spongy through worked again.  The snake wrapped itself around his legs, up across his hips and over his shoulder like a holster.

    He fell back again, his knees buckling and spilling old sick onto the grass.  

    If they were all dead, then Gomez was too.  But he couldn’t be, not when he promised to see Chene again, not when they had finally found each other.  He had to be somewhere, and if no one would protect the prince, then he would be clever enough to run.  Of course he would be.  It was Gomez, he was strong, brave, a born leader.  He would come home to him.

    And then he heard it, the howling and whistling of an army who had caught something good.

    “A run away!” the said.

    “What do you think Dyrad will do?”

    “Maybe…” the laughed, “We’ll just never let him know.”

    Chene stood so fast the world spun and turned, nothing in his head but Gomez on knees at the end of the long table, their knives ready at his skin.

    But when he stepped forward he crashed into Gomez’s arms so fast his legs gave out and he found his way into his gentle touch.

    “Gomez,” he gasped, the elf tapping the corners of his lips with a rag.  

    Gomez shushed him, and pulled him to his feet and away from the scene of the war, back to the Jinn’s table across the woods.

    He stopped before the trees lining the river grew thin, and pressed up beside one of the few that weren’t circled in bodies.  From here they could see across the bridge, where a young girl took Gomez’s place in Chene’s mind.  On her knees, struggling like a true soldier, and pulled by her hair to her hands.  Chene’s commander pushed her face into the dirt until she swallowed seeking air, and they laughed, vile croaks of those who win the day and are soon to lose the war.

    “She’s one of the youngest in the barracks,” Gomez whispered, voice ladened with guilt, “I told her to run towards Mavros, but she… Her older brother was here - She…”

    Chene pulled him closer, their hearts beating in time, pounding as the hers must have been.  Her hair was uncharacteristically long for a elvish girl, her skin tanned and young.  She was so like Gomez, it sent shivers across the length of both their skins.

    “There’s nothing we can do.” Gomez said, ice in his voice and his veins, “If we act they’ll kill me as well as her, and you, just to be sure.”

    “Wh… What if I-”

    But the commander took a knife from the soldier to his side and swept it under her chin.  She was brave, and didn’t make a sound, her head slipping from her shoulders above the press of her golden soldier’s neck chains.

    Gomez didn’t look away, when Chene did.  He watched her body fall limp across the commander’s steel cap boots and him kick her back off, her body rolling down the hill.  Even from here, Chene could see the spiral of golden tattoos, a drawing for a child, a fat bodied seal that swam through the crook of her arm.  Her blood dripped around his path, until he finally gave up, and turned cold.

    “They’ve stopped tattooing themselves in our army,” Gomez’s voice was shaky, “I drew that one for her, she said her brother l-loved-loved-”

    Chene pulled him back until he spun his head in, shielding his eyes from her severed head which followed down the hill.  The soldier didn’t even laugh any longer.  They hadn’t felt the rain until now, but Chene felt Gomez freeze, and they pulled away to watch the rain pull rivers of blood across their feet.  There was no longer forest, just trees serving as headstones and bodies the rafts sunken through the first day the war hit them.  The ground was red, liquid fire, washing over their feet and pulled them in the rain to walk to the river.  It ran redder still, out to the ocean in shame, bodies filling its hold, poisoning the waters with the petty crimes of mortals.  No one laughed, as blood left its blanket over the world that they were born and raised on, Jinn and Elves one and the same in their death.

    The girl’s body rolled into the water, the seal washing by another boy with a matching tattoo as frozen over as she was, his body taking hers in, familiar, home.

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