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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77. Our Stories of Him

She pushed him, back, into the house.  The door clicked behind her and she pulled his face to hers.

    “I’m not like him,” she croaked, “I won’t keep myself from hurting you if it’s what I need to do.”

    “Who is he?” he was pushed over the couch, and he struggled to get to his feet.  The fire was lit, the house was kind, but her body was so frantic, grabbing at her cloak, pulling out a dagger so thin you wouldn’t feel it until you had bled out, “I don’t live here, I don’t know who did, I’m sorry.”

    “Don’t play dumb, Chene.” she said.

    He held his hands up to show they meant no harm but to keep him safe, “You’re talking about Gomez?”

    She gave a strict nod.

    He backed up, she almost tripped blindly over the coffee table, and caught herself of the sofa.  She was quicker, pressed herself forward until his back hit the wall.  She was not only shaking.  She was vibrating, convulsing.  Her soul was doing its best to reject her.

    “I’m sorry, but… I didn’t kill him, I don’t know what you think.”

    “He was my brother!” she screamed, the blade hitting his chest.

    “As much as he was mine,” he said through gritted teeth, his hands balled in her long royal grey skirt.

    She sniffed, and dropped the knife onto the table, “I know… God, he loved you.”

    “Then why did you try to kill me?”

    “Because,” she took a shaky breath, “It was that love that killed him.”

 

    “Thank you,” she said when he handed her tea.  The Ta Oaka children were polite, and this all reminded him of when Gomez had cut into Chene’s throat when they had first met, giving him empty threats, and a story to go by.  

    He sat beside her, “You’re the eldest?”

    “Meliae,” she said between sips, her shaking subsiding, “The heir to the Ta Oaka throne.”

    “That’s a lot of pressure.”

    She hummed, “I’m young, for elvish people, I’m just more than a child.  And now, I am commanding troops.  I was always more the teacher, it was Rilae - Gomez, I should say - that should have been king.  Unfortunately, there are so many siblings before him, the odds weren’t in that favour.”

    “I always thought the same.”

    She smiled around her cup, “We’re not so different, you and I.”

    “No, I suppose not.”

    “Well, I think that’s time I got to it,” she put down the drink, and pulled a single letter from her royally encrusted satchel.  It was old, stained, but Gomez’s handwriting was clear on the envelope, “He wanted this to be personally delivered to you, and the dragon too, but I suppose that you know that already.”

    He looked at it, tracing over the pen splatters and wax seal.  A willow tree, the pendant he wore around his neck.

    He put it on the table, and saw Meliae’s confused look.

    “I’ll read it later,” he said.

    “Are you sure?”

    Chene nodded, and rested back against the couch, “We may never meet again, there’s already someone I didn’t know well enough passed.”

    She smiled, and took her cup back up, “I can tell you stories.”

    “Of?”

    “Him,” she drank, “Baby,”

    He settled back, refilling their drinks, listening.  He still felt as though he was in a dream, and he let Meliae guide him through it.

    “I was only a girl back then, although I was given the same responsibilities and my mother after she left.  Unlike so many of the children who came after me, I was pureblooded elvish, so Dyrad took to me for a while.  It wasn’t long before I found my powers in teaching, and he quickly found me useless.  He sent me to the knights he knew well to train me for my inauguration, but I never could focus, it just wasn’t who I was,

    “Now, Gomez, he was different.  He was a grower, by skill, and a fire wielder by choice.  He came to us after his aunt and uncle’s home in the forest was torched, and he was so scared, I can still see him now.  But he looked up at his big brothers and sisters with moon-wide eyes, and we decided that no matter what, we’d give him his home.  So we gave up our bedrooms for him, and gave him our clothes.  He was small, since he was a scut of a thing, so we stitched him a jacket out of one of our mother’s old dressing gowns.  It was red, and he took to it like that.  He practiced fire for so long that the revenge - well, it just wasn’t it him, you know?  He was never meant to hurt, just to give, and be given.  

    He wanted to be a brother, if a little one, so he began doing what the others did.  He would tell scary stories to the field worker’s children, and run off to kiss them when he got that bit older.  He’d wear red, and Dyrad would keep him around to show the duality of the woods - but he never stopped growing.  The world bloomed from him, as much as it did suck him dry, like a leech.  He saw our tattoos, and he wanted one, more than anything in the world.”

    She turned away from him, pulling down the neck of her cloak to show him the golden eye that watched from the back of her neck, floating above clouds that ran down her back in nail rakes.

    “Did he ever explain what they were?”

    Chene shook his head.

    “They’re fairytales, or old fables - the same ones that were drawn on the grand hall walls before the war consumed our culture and it’s people.  Mine is the story of a God of Love, and his time with the God of Nightmares.  Do you know it?”

    “No.”

    She waved it away, “It doesn’t matter, but there are so many stories, but Gomez’s was simple - sparrows dip between mountains, under water and over to bath in the sun.  They fly over clouds and fall to the ground, and yet, they always knew how to come home.  Gomez wanted to always know how to come home.

    “One of the older boys tattooed him, and he scrunched his nose and kicked his legs, but he didn’t even cry.  He loved those tattoos, he thought that they were beautiful, and he knew that once they were eternally on his skin he would be one of us, and that was more than we could have wished for him.”

    “He did love them, I saw him so many times catching them moving in the mirror when the sun was rising and stop to stare and their pattern.”

    She bit her lip, and smiled, “He never changed.  Well, no - Rilae , she was amazing, but Gomez was bright, and happy, and brave.  I know that he became what he always would have, and I was so happy to see it.”

    “More tea?”

    “Please.”

    She lifted the glass back to her lips, stopping, “What was that?”

    “What was what?”

    “The…” she flicked and clicked her fingers, and she just had the time to put down her glass before Chene could hear it too, and Noom jumped into her lap.

    “Hello, gorgeous,” she said, tickling along the ridges of the dragon’s back.  She snapped happily, and bounded across her knees, “Aren’t you a happy thing,”

Noom stopped, squawking, and buried her nose in her dress.

“Do I smell like the palace still?”

    She pulled back, looking up at Meliae’s face, confused.  She dodged her palm, running up to see her clearer.

    “Oh, no,” she said, taking Noom by the wings, and pulling her back into her lap, “I’m… I’m not Gomez,”

    She tilted her little head, and nuzzled into Meliae’s clothed hand.

    “He’s gone, okay?  He’s…”

    Chene didn’t say a thing.  Not when Noom got bored of Meliae, and plopped herself in his lap instead.  Meliae still reached out a hand to hold her claws, and rub her thumb over the dry patches on her warm skin.

    “We’d call him baby,” she sighed, not meeting his eyes at all, “And baby once grew these stalks in the grand hall, up the pillars and between the paintings.  Our world is grey and gold, and he spent so long growing sundrops and wall huggers so that he could create golden vines that would move in the morning and evening sun with the stories, as it broke across the floors from the window panes above.  But the king was allergic, of course, so he ordered them to be ripped down.  I can still see the sprouting shape of my brother try to save just one branch, or seed, but Dyrad pushed him back, and said that if he took this to be a joke, he could take it all down himself.  And he did.”

    Chene scoffed, “Why do you stay with that man?  Why do you let him go?”

    She frowned in response, “Because until now I thought of it as a necessary evil.  Or maybe that’s a lie.  Because if he was still there, then I wouldn’t be made queen.”

    Noom yawned, and smoke rose into the air from her belly.  Meliae smiled.  This was her last living part of Gomez too.

    “But he took them all down, and he put them up in the twin’s room, spiralling up the bed rails and walls.  I used to see all of the children running in there on my way to morning study, but I never knew why.  One morning, I rose that bit earlier to follow them in.  There were dozens, more then I knew could fit in that little room.  Their room faced the East, and had one wall more or less only glass.  They’d press themselves into corners, or onto each other’s laps, and they’d watch in awe as the sun rose, and the vines would climb across the beds and the roof and over their stubby hands.  And their tattoos would move with them, and you could see all the stories within my brothers and sisters unwind in the dawn light.  Baby did that, and I always thought that he shone the brightest those days, his sparrows bring him home to us.”

 

    Meliae wrapped her coat up, and let Chene marvel in the blinking eye on her back.  The sun washed over the sands and gave the world a falling feeling, as if it was burning with the fire of a family house, just like all of those stories.  Chene wondered if one day Gomez’s eyes would mark someone’s flesh, one eye black, the other white, and they’d hold so much time, and so many homes, that you’d never be without stories to share.

    “Is it crazy,” she said as she left, “That I want to keep my siblings safe now?  I find myself keeping them in, locking them up.  I just… I can’t lose them, is that crazy?”

    He smiled so sadly they both understood what he meant, and he let his arms wrap around her just to know the beat of a heart that knew his, and to smell the place where he could make home of a Hell.  She pulled him closer.

    “I don’t think it’s crazy at all,” he said.

    He felt her laugh, “I think Gomez had a guardian angel.”

    “An angel?”

    “He must have,” she spoke into his shoulder, “To meet someone as good as you, Chene.”

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