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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48. One Day, as it Usually Is

The war started on one day, much like the one outside your window.  There was a sun in the sky between clouds and crows, flowers almost dead turning their weary heads to the watery spilling of light through the remaining branches of bare trees and somewhere else children played in the drizzling rain blowing from the cool lakeside lands and their parents called out for them to come home.  Home.

But I won't grace it with a proper description, I won't let that day go to those who sent honourable men and women to their deaths, we'll dedicate it to the dead themselves instead.

It was raining hard now, like pebbles of royal stone coursing through their eyes like the slash and sheen of a whip of ice.  In the haze and mist and confusion of seemingly infinite horsemen and their flags stuck to poles, drenched wood flames of gold or red.  It seemed as though the God’s themselves were crying, and I suppose that they were.  Morta was sharpening her blade, grabbing at the rat tail lives beneath her feet, ready.

    “Up, on your steed,” Gomez was ordered, pulled onto the animal as it tossed and turned his head, bashing it off of the hide of larger horses that kicked back on him.  He saw their rides sneer, their faces locked forward, towards the pounding of the approaching army.  

    His horse wouldn’t settle, no matter how hard he pulled on the reigns.

    “Give ‘em a kick,” one more stone-faced soldier advised, “Should keep ‘em still.”

    Gomez looked down at his horse, who stopped thrashing to look up at him.  Beady eyed, challenging, daring.

    “I won’t kick you,” he whispered in his ear, too low for the other men to see what a madman he was, “But if you want to be kind, which I’d admire today, I’ll do you all the good I can.  Deal?”

    The horse huffed, and turned back to face the crowd, his feet stomping and finding his balance.

    Gomez wiped his sleeve over the horse's mane, already ringing wet and studded with hail, “You’re soaking.  You must be freezing, huh?”

    He saw a woman ahead turn back and stare, so withdrew his hand, and his horse neighing and butting her steed.

    “Good boy,” he said.

    

    “Chene?  Are you okay?” his friend once, and now a stranger.

    “I’m fine,”

    “Are you ready?”

    He looked up at him.  Chene was a foot soldier now, and his friend looked at him without pity, with fear.  Positioned by the side of a wizard with such a dark creature within.  Chene had already burned him beyond recognition, and although the whole thing passed like a dream, not a single person trusted Chene after they saw that.

    Well, one did of course.

    “Are… Are you praying for anyone?”

    Chene grinned at him, “You don’t have to speak to me, don’t worry.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Don’t mention it.”

    And no, he didn’t need to.

 

    “Ready, boy?”

    His horse shook his head, although Gomez couldn’t be sure that he was listening to him - or if he could even hear him over the roar of sliced winds carrying the rain like a crying child.  It was so loud, he wasn’t sure if he could even hear the roars of the horns.  He clicked his jaw, and ran his fingers along the cold bend of his bone.  His finger came away dripping make-up, his golden sparrows dull in the clouded night.

    

    Chene breathed, long, a final time to let himself be still, and alive.

    “Tonight we fight for our people!” the speech went, the cheers deafening.  And they began marching, running.  He couldn’t keep up.

    He felt the horses race ahead of him, screams piercing the air and ricocheting back to him.  He slipped on the bridge, catching his balance on a saddle, before he fell again not a moment later.  He scowled, and whipped around to see the first man lost.  No bigger than a child, probably not much older either, his ears pointed at the tips.

    “G-” but the body was kicked and his head cracked and spun to reveal a stranger.  Chene backed away, and started running, now faster than any of the others.

    “Gomez!” he shouted in vain, the rain washing his voice down to the earth with it, “Gomez!”

    There was blood on his hands, but whose he couldn’t say.  Was it his fault?  No.  No, it wouldn’t be.

    He kept his pace, one step at a time.  He passed the soldier who was once his friend, screaming, “Chene!”

    He skidded back, taking the boy’s head into his hands.  He was missing his legs, cleanly sliced.  Whatever Dyrad wanted, he was willing to put everything he had into getting it, no matter how many lives would be thrown away to the victors.

    “Chene… You’re a wizard.”

    Chene knew what he wanted.  He looked at his lower half, at the blood that turned the soaked soil red, drowned worms already bathing in what was left of the low-hanging tendons.  

    “I can try?” he said, but the soldier couldn’t hear his between the marches and battle cries and the screams of the dying over the bodies of the dead.  Chene pressed shaking hands onto the stumps that were once the man’s legs, and he thrusted up into the empty air, his calls now one of many.  Chene jumped out of the way to dodge careless horsemen.

    One man pulled back his reigns just in time to narrowly avoid trampling the two.

    “Leave him,” he said, “He’ll be dead soon anyway.”

    Chene looked at him, and his crying, pleading eyes, and pressed into his skin until he felt the pull of skin surround his fingers and the soldier’s head knocked back.

    Another layer grew, and then another.  Chene breathed from the back of his throat, his own power stopping his heart, his stamina depleted almost.

    But he saw the gently sloping ghost of the man’s legs once were, just an outline, nothing more, but it was enough for his friend to look up and laugh through sweat shut eyes.

    The shadow slunk out of Chene’s heart, a bear as large he was, swelling and filled.  He looked uninterested at the blood, and then to Chene, wondering why he was bothered help this boy who had hurt him.

    Chene raised his eyebrows to the creature who pawed at the man’s face.  He snapped away from his touch, burning, howling like a demon.

    “Get it away!”

    “I…”

    “I don’t care, don’t let it near me!”

    “If I use magic it will come out, there’s nothing I can do!”

    But too suddenly, a fencing sword found its way into the boy’s stomach.

    He coiled into himself, the bear evaporating and leaving Chene kneeling in the ocean of moss and blood, looking at the space where the soldier had been before lifted onto the horse of the man who had nearly trampled him moments ago.

    “Move,” he ordered.  His collar was once Chene’s - studded and black.

    “I can help him,”

    “Get out of here, wizard, or prove your worth.  But make space, we don’t need you here.”

    He raced forward, the hand of a bleeding out friend trailing from his saddle and just out of reach of Chene now.  

    He looked on.  The war had pushed forward.  Jinn were winning this one, and he imagined that what felt like a lifetime ago he would have cared, but not today.

    It was one day, as it usually is, the air sweltering with the iron tang of blood old and new, hands heavy with the burdens and promised deliveries of letters to loved ones that he had been handed by the deceased.  He stood, and walking through the garden’s of headless women and boys with opened eyes and horses the size of cottages lying on men’s corpses - he kept pressing on himself.  He would find Gomez.  That was all he had to do, and after that, he could wish for nothing more, as long as when he found him, he was alive.

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