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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65. My Body Lies Over the Ocean

“Chene, do you remember that cabin we stopped in before?”

    “When Noom ruined those people’s blankets and carpets?  Yes, and what happened to her, anyway?”

    “At the castle, Meliae should be minding her.  And yes that night, do you remember when you said that you knew nothing about me?”

    “And you said that you knew nothing about me either.”

    “I did, but I’ve never heard anything more about you after that.  I always wonder, why do you hate Mavros so badly?”

    “Don’t most people?  It’s grimy, it’s full of crime and nothing grows here.”

    “And yet most people walk through, you seem so afraid.”

     They were trying to find a market place.  Markets grew like rivers in the dark lands, so it wasn’t difficult to stumbleupon them, along with the tents, carts, and crooks that posted themselves in every direction, as if they were protecting the outside world from what was within.  Gomez guessed that if they were to have a clue where to find the spell, it would be up for a high price on the back roads.  They had already slid off their jackets and pushed them into their bags on Onyx’s back, the war taking enough toll on Chene to make him look as worn as most of these wizards did, and Gomez was already reverting back to his weakened state.  They left the horse by the riverbend, behind the trees and tents where he couldn’t be seen.

    “I don’t love fortune tellers and I’ve always had a problem with wicca, ever since I was young.”

    “Hm?” he smiled, “And why exactly is that?”

    “You’re not getting any past from me, elf.”

    Gomez laughed, “Just curious, is all.  You can guess what my life was like after you left from the state of me, knowing you so well, I think I can make a fair assumption.  But I’ll never know much about you before all this.”

    “What’s there to tell?”

    “Wherever you feel you start.  Your parents?”

    “Let’s start with anything else.”

    Although they were yelled at a few times by poorer sellers on the outskirts of the market - selling pirated or counterfeit goods, the market itself was clearer than Gomez thought, and quieter than Chene knew it to be.  He remembered screams, calls for sales and beggars moaning on their knees, not this.  A grey scale, and yet almost civil town, where stalls were set up wall to wall, against the finely kept ruins of what must have been a cathedral once.  So many people had attempted to claim the land for their own that Chene had lost count, but the outlaws will always outlast them.

    “What are we looking for?” it felt appropriate to whisper, pushing up against shoppers to peer in at the wears.  If we was unwise, and didn’t know this place well, he would have mistaken this for a friendly seaside town.  There were trinkets for sale, pearls necklaces and piercings as large as rocks and food unlike he had ever seen in these parts.  In Mavros food was salvaged, scavenged, but here it seemed normal to find fresh fruits and herbs grow in the Cardeni light lands, fish caught in nets by the river which passed their town, gasping and gurgling as its kin were pulled out in swarms and were dipped in honey and chili and fried, or gutted and blended into rice cakes and tarts.  The air was light with the scent of cooking, not only the iron of ready swords and shields.  It was a nice change, Chene thought.

    “Someone who looks suspicious, or holds a sign that say “map and curse extraordinaire” if you think that we’ll be that lucky.”

    Chene rolled his eyes, but looked at the merchants anyway.  They all scowled at him.  He looked jinn, his proud appearance, olive skin.  The people here, even in this market where sun did crack through the clouds, were unnaturally pale, and while Gomez kept his hair tucked over his ears where it was still thick enough to do so, and was brown of skin rather then coloured by light, Chene stood out in the crowd, and the locals noticed.  Most of the sellers were scruffy, wizards and witches of different lines.  Some bore mountaineer marks, black sketches and baubles melded into their skin, some were water workers, their hair always long and tied and plaited with seaweed and kelp, their cloaks long, flowing trails around their bodies that were red with the rash of seasalt, and others were desert fortune tellers, draped in purples and oranges and blues, royal colours that stood apart from the rest, gold chains hanging from their shoulders and connecting their ears to their noses to their lips.  They were the few who took kindly to the strangers.  Where jinn hated fortune tellers, they loved jinn.

    “Chene?” Gomez waved him over.  He had been so caught up, he hadn’t even realised that they had been seperated.

    Gomez pointed to a woman.  She was older in face than in age, time having done its work.  But she stared at the with white eyes, her smile coy, twisted.

    “No, not her.”

    “She’s looking right at us, and like that she might have the gift of sight.”

    “She could also be a scam artist.”

    “Or not?” Gomez was pleading, but already dragging Chene to her awaiting arms, “Please, trust me for once.”

    “Cute.” the woman patted Chene’s face, squeezing his skin and pulling at it until some of his scars began to itch.

    “Are you a fortune teller?” Gomez asked in amazement.

    “Aye, bab.  I suppose you’d ask me to step away from my shop to take care of you two?”

    The woman gestured to the empty rug before her knees.

    Chene pulled at his sleeve, “Well we wouldn’t ask you to take time out for us, come on, Gomez.”

    “Gomez?” she said, “That’s a wizard name with a elvish accent.  Tell me, lad, what did they call you from birth?”

He swallowed hard, “Rilae.”

“Ta Oaka?”

“How did you know that?” his eyes were as large as the moon, and Chene felt himself groan as they slipped away into this little fantasy.

The woman cackled, stereotypically, he thought, “I know a few things.  Come, help me in, and I’ll help you find whatever it is that you’re looking for.”

Gomez nodded to the blind woman, and wrapped an arm around her.  She was steady on her feet before Chene found it in himself to help, and she waddled into a tent behind the church walls.  Much like her, the insides were wrapped tightly in fine silks as deep as the river, and was decorated with chains that shone in the candlelight and held her little shop together.  Pressed to each side of what would be the main hall - each flap opening to a new room, a kitchen, a bedroom - were cages as small as the head of a man, each one holding a dragon no bigger than a stack of golden coins.  They hummed without a particular rhythm, but when they caught sight of the old woman they began singing, each knowing their part, and harmonising an eerie tune that reminded Chene of a funeral chant.

The boys sat on the mats under a low floor table, and she sat behind it, taking a wand from a box to her left.  Wands were old fashioned, but neither could help but notice the obvious print of a new wand that had been stylised for that exact reason.  Chene, again, was not convinced, and didn’t even raise a brow as she swept the wand across her temple, her eyes turning from cloudy to a clear blue.

“Hope you’ll excuse me,” she said, a posh ring to her accent that was missing earlier, “It brings in the tourists, the gift of sight isn’t always enough.”

“Tourists?”

She pointed the wand to Chene, “Don’t act smart, a fair few things have changed since you lived here.”

“You lived here?”

Chene slunk down against the table, “What is it you want?”

“You came to me, jinn, I expect little.”

“I’m jinn?”

The woman, considerably younger in this light, her hair even turning blonde around her shoulders, smirked and said, “And you think you’re wizard now too?  How wrong can a man be?”

“What do you mean by that?”

She brushed the dust from her crystal ball, the cliche causing even Gomez to cringe, “I will give you three questions, one each and then together, choose wisely.”

“Where can we find the spell?” Gomez began.

“There is a lake not far off, let the wind pull you out, and it will take you to the second realm.  Next.”

Chene felt the question on his tongue, what do you mean I’m not wizard, but Gomez stared at him until he knew what would be of use, not only drive him insane, “And how do we find it within the second realm?”

“No one knows how to find the curse from in the world, but it will come to you if you deserve its power.  Finally?”

Chene swore off his chance to ask a question, when Gomez piped up, “How would we unlock the spell?”

The fortune teller pointed to Chene with her wand, “Does he agree for this to be your last question?”

Gomez looked at him, not asking or demanding, but Chene knew that there was little that could change who he knew he was now, not when he and Gomez had come so far, “I agree.”

“Very well.  Always hold on to what reminds you of who you were meant to be, for times when doubt festers.  Elf, answer me, you are two little soldier boys, do you not know a song about that?”

“A song?”

“A rhyme, about war?”

Gomez thought, and sang, “Soldiers find homes in moving stones, wars move like roaming lones, and at the end of the day, the sons stay away, and they stay still for once as resting bones.  Away and away, the children dost play, until away they’re blown.  And to end the life for for the sake of a stay, to reclaim a throne, to death we lay.  Merry men fight and are lost on the way, and the king’s don’t atone, when soldiers find homes.”

“Very good,” she clapped her hands together, and the dragons copied his tune, their voices piercing, screeching.  Chene ducked his head away from the one by his ear, but it seemed to only get louder, until Gomez was doing the same, both wincing as the dragons screamed the song’s tone again and again until it was little more than white noise, static, ear-splitting all the same.

The stopped after long, returning to their old melody.  Chene felt a cold draft at his neck dripping from his ears, and dabbed it to feel his fingers come away sticky with blood.

“You two are funny, you could have asked me about your love, or your death, but you chose to see the so near future.  Do you not see that there is more than that?”

“There may not be very much more for our people in war if we do not find that spell.”

She rested her head in her hands, “No?  Well, I don’t find myself caught up in petty things like war and whatever else.”

“Petty?”

She smirked up at Gomez again, “Small.  People are so, so small, and I love them for it.  Go on so, you have had what fortune you want, don’t ask much more of me before I begin to lie.”

“How much will we pay you?” Gomez said.

“Oh nothing, bab,” she pulled at his ears, “Not a thing for you.  But leave, before I change my mind.”

He thanked her, and left a silver on the desk regardless.  Chene avoided the stares of her dragons, and made his way to the door a step ahead of the others.

But she grabbed him by the collar, allowing Gomez to pass and whispering in his ear, “I would have thought with what powerful blood ruts inside, you’d be less blind.”

“Blind to what?”

“The future.”

“I am not a fortune teller.”

“No, no.  But you might be slow.  Let it be a lesson, don’t take love for granted, it’s so often lost in time when we ourselves are wandering.”

“What does that mean?”

She pushed him out of the tent, her hair grey again, her skin wrinkled, “Little to nothing.  Goodbye, lovely.”

“Wait-”

But she had already closed the curtains, and Gomez was thinking over what each word and phrase could have meant, “What do you think that was about?”

“I’m not sure, but did she not seem familiar?”

“I don’t think so, not her.  Maybe you’d met her before in Mavros.”

“I hope not.”

“Really?” Gomez said, stopping his pen as it wrote out trails on his hand drawn map, “Why is that?”

“I’ll start charging you a silver a question soon, now come on.”

But Chene still couldn’t shake the feeling, even as they walked along the river and Gomez recounted old memories in the woods, that he knew the fortune teller, and that she knew more about him that he would never hear, and may never know.

 
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