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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42. My One and Lonely

You again,” Chene said.

Gomez took a moment for the words to enter his mind, and when he did he looked up, so quickly the blood rushed from his head and he went blind for a moment, “Me again.”

Chene was sitting on the edge of the river.  He was washing clothes, his collar back to being an ordinary black stripe.

“They let you stay?” Gomez asked.

“I’m back to rank nil, and moved troops, but yeah I guess so.”

“I suppose that’s good?”

“It is,” Chene stopped scrubbing, and wiped his brow with the back of his hand, blue soap staining his skin, “But I was meant to move out tomorrow.  This means I can’t.”

Gomez ignore the skip in his heart, “You’re staying?”

“For now, yes.  I was meant to move further out, back across the mountains.  This means I’ll be here when the war starts.”

“Sinder is bringing the war here?”

Chene looked up, “I shouldn’t have told you that.”

“Does it matter?”

“Well now elves have a head start in preparing for it and it’s my fault.”

Gomez laughed, each noise dry and cackling, “It’s not as if they listen to me, even if I had any reason to tell them.”

“Do you not care about winning the war at all?”

Gomez sat on the opposite bank.  The river between them was still, fish bobbing their heads to the surface, the clouds overhead reflected in the silver surface.  The air was clear and from this far you couldn’t smell the gunpowder and boot polish.  The calm before the storm, it seemed.

Gomez first to speak again, “Have I ever?”

Chene could act as though they didn’t know each other, like those nights in the forest were forgotten in time, in all of the preparation for this battle, but Gomez knew better.

“No,” he said, “I suppose you never did.”

Gomez smiled, and took off his shoes to dip his feet in the water.  It was shallow enough to roll your heels against and feel the sharp teeth of clam shells and urchins, to feel pond dwellers migrating South for winter cross over your soles and toes.  His feet had become swollen and blistered, and he felt curious fish peck at where he was bleeding.

“You look bad,” it wasn’t the first time Gomez had heard this, but it seemed to be the first time it really affected him.

He looked up from the fish that pulled away at his skin, a smile ghosting his lips.  Chene had left the washing, and sat watching Gomez with soft eyes, afraid to hurt him, almost.

“Do you think so?” Gomez gushed.

“What happened to you, Gomez?”

His own name seemed new.  It only just occurred to him that he hadn’t heard it spoken in what seemed like months.

“Same thing that happened to you, I suppose.”

“The war?”

“I meant the torture, but a bit of both?”

    Chene dropped his head, “I’m sorry.”

    “Don’t be.  I was the one who lead you to the castle, and the one who didn’t stop you being tortured.  I didn’t do more than beg the king to stop, but I should have known better, I know that now.”

    “Y’know, I told myself that for a long time,” Chene seemed to smile, one of a broken man, “But I realised that that’s not true.  It wasn’t your fault, it was mine, I was just too much of a coward to come to terms with the darkness that is a part of me.”

    “You are more than it.”

    Chene chuckled, “Thank you, Gomez.  But you - you still seem… Ruined, almost.  Not just sad, but sick.”

    “I’m okay.”

    “I think you’re dying.”

    Gomez  sighed, leaning back with his arms holding his weight and the grass alone cutting through his palms like razors, “I’ll be okay.”

    “Do you promise?”

    He smiled, the words the kindest thing he thought he had heard in his entire life, “I promise you.”

    This seemed to settle Chene, even somewhat.  

    “You seem softer today.”

    “Softer?”

    Gomez shrugged, “Kinder.”

    “I dreamt about you.”

    “You did?”

    He nodded, “You were sitting on a windowsill, dying, sick.  I wanted to reach out for you but when I did I hurt you, as I have others in my sleep.  And yet, you didn’t mind it, it was almost as if you didn’t notice what I was.  It made me miss you, those days months ago.  I felt as though I trusted you more than anyone before, and I haven’t found that in so long since.”

    “Chene, I think-” Gomez stopped and smiled, “I think I had a dream like that too.”

    “Really?”

    He nodded.

    “That’s so strange.”

    “That, and the fact we’ve met again.  It must be fate.”

    Chene laughed, the most lively sound that Gomez had heard in awhile.  He almost forgot that they were soldiers on the opposite sides of the river, enemies, and yet not at all.

    “Meet me back here, will you?  If it is fate after all I’d hate for us to lose that.”

    “My patrol ends at midnight, I’ll be out straight after.”

    “I’ll see you then, and Gomez?”

“Yes?”

“Please… Just please take care of yourself.  I would hate for the world to lose you.”

    He smiled, “I’ll be careful.  Until tonight.”

 

    It was fate, and sour and dark, and where fate ties coincidence echos, as when Chene told him it would be a shame for the world to lose his friend, in lieu of saying it was himself that would miss him most, time grew closer to a day where they would be separated yet again.

    Time is like that, I suppose.  When it gives, it is never long before it takes away, and it can be so long before it gives again.

    Time is selfish, and we have all seen it, no one more than those two soldier boys.

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