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.


57. Now, For the Royals

The desert turned black, from orange, to nothingness.

    “Mavros,” Ichais stated.

    “Have you ever been here before?”

    “The marketplaces, yes, but…”

    “But in horse and carriage, sent by Sinder?”

    She licked over her raised teeth, willing them back into her jaw, “Yes.”

    Estha looked into the woods, “I suppose we should go on?”

    “I suppose so.”

    The journey was a long one, longer than words can find it in themselves to be.  Most of their journey was walks in silence, eclipsing conversation about the next turn in the road.  Every stop was a tent or a caravan or a barn where the two found themselves as far away from each other as possible, no matter how cold or cramped it was.

    There was something in the way they walked, drifting apart, repelling, and then swaying back into each other until their hands brushed together, and out again.  The silence was stiff, suffocating.

    Inside Mavros was a new world, one of the oldest features of Cardeni.  A spinning top, if you will.  Hexes draw together, and an explosion of dark magic became that ring that was house but not home to so many.  Wizards and witches, yes, but also trolls and orcs and bloodthirsty creatures like sirens lived within the spirlaling depths of the skirting, where the trees bloomed ash grey and the towers were no more than ruins.  Creatures so ugly and hideous in nature that they had no option but to live where the air grew thick and bleak, and there was enough blood and bone to go around.  That was Mavros, where you lived, you died - there were no stories of redemption or freedom.  Mavros, the Blackness.

    Estha was shaking, her hands patting down her cloak.

    “You can’t keep taking those potions,” Ichais sighed, batting her hands away, “You don’t have the magic in you to stop it from corrupting you.”

    “It’s not corrupting me!” she snapped, her eyes flaring green again.  Then back to brown.  Blue.  White.  Pink.  

    Ichais stopped, and pulled something from her pocket.  She was wearing her laced trousers, hoping that Estha wouldn’t recognise them.  Stealing clothes from those she killed and brought back was a habit.  To reminder her how many it had been since she herself had turned, a toll.

    She rubbed a little lilac jar into her hand, the oils turning her skin back to moss underneath, her breath coming easy.

    “Hey… What is that?” Estha’s voice cracked, croaky, normal.

    “A reversal agent.”

    She pulled away her hand, as if she hand been stung, “I don’t want it reversed!”

    Ichais had had enough of this.  She hadn’t seen Estha in so long, and now she only wanted her back, “You really think that you’ll survive out here looking like that?  Estha, these aren’t cyclops or mermaids, you can’t just charm your way here.  They’re wicca, they’ll smell the magic on you, and they’ll know no matter how hard you try to hide it.”

    Estha ducked her head, and let Ichais smear the tonic across her skin.  It felt like ice, and then like butter.  Finally she saw her nose before her face, the veins protruding from her bottle green skin.  Her hair was tossed in the wind and it fell over her face like a vail.

    “What makes you think that they won’t know what you are, if you’re allowed be so pretty?”

    “Pretty?” Ichais laughed.  Estha hadn’t really noticed yet, she’d been too caught up in her own world to see it.  Ichais’ hair had turned brittle and straggled.  Her face had sunken in, her figure hunched.  Although you could see that she indeed was very beautiful, love had taken his toll on her too.

    Estha looked at her figure, and back at Ichais, who smiled wearily.

    “We should go.” was all she could say, “And for the record, I was not looking for a potion a minute ago, I have lost something, I think.”


    They reached the ruins of a castle, or maybe only a stone barn, since that was all that was left.  A roofless building with steel gates easily hopped over, and they took a moment to rest in one of the first check points  

    “It’s strange,” Estha ran her fingers along the stone walls.  They were engraved with teeth, much like Ichais’, “How something like this can just disappear.”

    Ichais grunted, but was already surprised by Estha speaking to her, and didn’t want to ruin it by opening her mouth again.  Not in this place.

    “Ichais?” Estha said.  Of course she noticed how off-put she was with this place, Estha was like that, kindness isn’t so susceptible to change.

    “This place is a bath house.” she said quietly.

    “A bath house?  It doesn’t look like one.”

    Ichais ran her foot over the drains, clogged with debris.  She waved at the pipes, now more cobweb than water.  But it was still there, although faded in time.

    “You’re right,” Estha said.  She kicked across the floor to clear the leaves, revealing a system of drains and gutters.  Spirals, marks, claws.  For a moment Ichais thought that she wouldn’t ask more, “How did you know?”

    Ichais sat on the windowsill.  She pulled her feet around the grooves in the wind-whipped stone, looking over the teeth.  Rows and rows, as far as the eye can see.  She knew these patterns well.  Sucking, swallowing.

    “It isn’t like the bathhouses you know,” she began, “It’s a Baobhan Sith bathhouse.”

Estha sat on the bench opposite.  It was crumbled at the end and gave away into the floor.  Fingers pressed into the rubble, “I thought that Baobhan Sith hailed from forest parts, like us?”

“We do, but this is a dying place, and we moved with the times.  After the war, just before I was turned, our bathhouses covered the border.  As wicca were turned away, they came here.  Let’s say, no one takes kindly to bloodsuckers, and they found better use for these places as a waste land.”

“So Baobhan Sith - they controlled the Mavros border?”

“If you’d like to say that, you could.”

“But how do you know them?  I thought you had only been in Mavros by king’s orders?”

Ichais smirked, her hand falling to her lap, “You do think me naive, don’t you?”

Estha opened her mouth, and shut it again, thinking it wise to let her finish first.

“They’re not bathhouses for cleaning the living out,” she said softly, as if to keep from rustling up the souls still trapped in the ruins, “They brought people here, anyone they could find.  Sirens, witches, satyr - there would be grand parties and they would kill each one, keeping them alive while they ate their skin, working around bone and through fang.  The drains are to clean the blood.  They didn’t bring anyone back, they didn’t turn those they made meals of, and they ate and ate until they were sick.  Wicca, they don’t like that.  So when they came in, they turned us out, and made dust of what history we had.”

Estha was pale.  Even in her returned green skin, it washed out until there was nothing left in her but a knot in her stomach that could only be fear, “You did that?  You actually hurt people like that?”

“I was at two of their parties.”

“So yes?”

Ichais bit her cheek to keep her mouth straight, although she couldn’t help it.  Seeing Estha worked up for her, how afraid she was for something so little.  It was cute, she thought.

“The last one I was a guest, they said.  They handed me this girl, maybe older than me, but not by much.  I killed her instantly, and they booed and said that she was ruined and all that.  It’s true, cold blood is like drinking straight vodka, it’s not the same.  Either way, I turned her the next morning and brought her back home.  She begged me to let her stay with me, but… That’s not what Baobhan do.  She ran off, but we have met since.  She’s happy, she says.  She’s one of the few of us that are happy after all that.”

Estha swallowed, “How did you kill her?”

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.”

She ran her hands along her neck to make an excuse for wanting to look down, to just look away.

Ichais sighed and picked at the stone.  It came loose with a tap, falling into her hand, a memory now crumbling apart, “It was as quick as I could make it.  I didn’t want her going through what I had.  And my first time, of course, was my own turning.”

“You…” Estha looked around again, at the teeth.  They sunk into your memory, too alive for a place so decayed, “You were turned in a place like this?”

“There was such a big party, they needed so many bodies.  I begged my way into the heart of some woman who seemed important.  She took to me, and took me apart.  She started at the top, pulling out my hair, and my lips down my chin with her teeth until they tore.  I died after she reached my heart, of course, but when I woke up she pushed me into the woods with my hair full and black and my body so cold.  Do you know that kind of cold?  When you freeze from the inside out and you can’t run or make yourself think, no matter how many times she pinched me to get me to move or bit at my scars, I was just…  So cold.”

“I can’t imagine.”

“Well, no matter.  She told me that I was worth something, that she’d let me go.  She said, “eat well, eat warm,” and kissed me.  It was so cold, and I wanted to stop and let myself die as I should have, but I did as she said.  And I’ve been like this ever since.”

“I didn’t… Where did you come from, Ichais?”

She smiled, watching the leaves cover the drains, her history so politely forgotten, “Have you ever heard me sing?”

“No?  Have I?”

“Or perhaps my back?”

Estha shook her head, confused, but the ridiculous does relax the confession of a murderer, that much can be said.

Ichais nodded, grinning, and let Estha walk to her and raise her shirt just to the peaks of her shoulder blades.

“My God…”

“I get that sometimes,” Ichais said, flexing all she could.  Her wings were solid white, like stained glass in a childhood chapel fogged with time and slipping memory, a fly trapped behind panes.  They were long but dry to the touch and made a hiss if they tried to come back to life, “Before you ask, yes, they’re dead.  They have been ever since that night.  Also, they make it a pain to dress every morning but a party piece is a party piece.”

“How have I never noticed?”

“Ask me to sing?”

Estha chuckled, her finger bending the reflection of a rainbow scale in the clear expanse of stretched skin, “Sing for me?”

Darling, don’t look, don’t try hide your eyes.  Your chin held to Gods, your smile held to skies.  Born from embraces, made by the love.  Shine ‘til tomorrow and you’ll shine above.” her voice - tinkling, rising, fae- didn’t suit her face, but the song didn’t suit the world around them either.

Estha froze, “How do you know that song?”

“You used to sing it, back when we still spoke.  I’d hear it around the kitchen, or when you did your hair.”

“And you remembered it?”

“Of course I did.”

Estha sat back against the window.  Ichais flicked her wings flat against her body and sat with her.  She couldn’t help but notice this was the closest they had been in so long, their legs flush, their hands close.  Ichais wouldn’t touch her, she knew, but the fact she could hold her again - that was something.

“I was raised in Mavros too.”

“I thought you were raised in the hills to the east?”

“I lied.”

Ichais turned her head so that she saw Estha’s, where her eyebrows worried together, where her face fell like a stone.  She wanted to help, but that was all she knew.

“I mean, I was born in the hills, but I moved to Mavros.  That’s where I really learned how much others hated people like me.”

“Why did you move then?”

“My aunts thought it would be safer, a-after my mother died.”

Ichais took her hand after all, and although she pulled away to scrub the tears from her face, she felt her move closer, even if only that bit more.

“I never knew you you lived here.”

“I-” she sniffed, laughing at herself as those who cry do, “I never knew that you were turned here.”

This story is about not knowing the darkness that we all go through, and it is about being there for those we don’t know regardless.

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