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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8. Tell Them Who You Are

“Let me go!” Daphne struggled in and out of the masked man’s arms.  He reached for white ribbon ties around his hip, but another woman stood forward, taking his arm and shaking her head.  The man dropped his arms but instead wrapped them tighter around Daphne and her writhing body.  She screamed and called for help, but not a single soul in Mavros would wake for a bastard and his thieving partner before dawn, and she knew that even if they looked for the source of her howling and cries it would take more seeking spells to find their hideout than they were worth, so before long she gave in to simply sobbing Jinmi’s name over and over again through shaky breaths and between grabbing hands.  

    He wondered if it took that for them to remember that he was still in the room.  The woman, just watching her men hold Daphne in place, looked his way, at the young paralyzed boy who had been to quick to rush to Daphne’s defense.  She came closer to where he was trapped in his bed, and he realised that they weren’t masked, but their faces were instead morphed into clouds of smoke, two beady eyes the only signs of life within them.  She cocked her head to one side, looking down on his from where she stood, perhaps eight feet tall, as broad as trees and as pale as bone.  She bowed her head and before she completely vanished, her body appeared resting in his hammock by his knee, weightless, her figure shifting and flickering like a dark reflection.

    Black magic, he thought, but his mouth was frozen shut.

    “I’m sorry, my dear,” she said, resting fingers on his that he could see but not feel, “We didn’t know that she lived with anyone else, we would have come when you were gone.  This place, it’s magic, it makes it hard to see those who live beneath.”

    He wondered if she felt his fists ball under her touch, or hear the shout that rose in his chest.  Daphne watched on with her eyes wandered across him, from each ear, to his lips, to his neck, to his hands, to his nose, as if she were truly afraid of disappearing like her captures did.

    “There is an old song my people sang to those who lose someone they love.  I cannot sing, of course,” she seemed to have the audacity to laugh, “But um… Osir, will you sing for this boy?”

    Osir nodded, and straightened his back.  Each note from the ghost that was his mouth sounded like a hiss across untuned strings, no matter how beautiful the song was.

    “Take my end, tie to ships and to trees.  Tear yourself open to let yourself free.  And if at the end, you still miss me, then follow the line, still death do we meet.”

    She looked back at Jinmi, her eyes holes in the mist and somewhat hopeful, “I’m sorry, again, child.  Daphne is truly a remarkable person, and any friend of hers is a friend of ours, but today I am afraid we must leave you behind.”

    “If only they could say goodbye?” one of the men said, but the woman simply dropped her head lower.

    “You know that cannot be the way.  Goodbye, child, and may you rest well.”

    She then stood, and vanished as if she had never truly been there in the first place.  The rest followed.  What had once been nearly a dozen in the room became four, became three.

    One looked to the other, and then walked to Jinmi and waved a hand over his chest.  He hadn’t realised that he’d been crying, but his breathing suddenly felt less laboured, and his tears began to feel warmer on his frozen skin.  When he could finally move his eyes he could see her, and the nail marks in the capture’s arms that she’d cut, and the nails she had broken clean off to do so.  The bruises across her jaw and the lips that could only look for him.  She looked broken, the strongest girl he had ever known and she lay like a ragdoll in his grip, drowning in the secrets that had trapped her in that stream of fate.  The flowers under her skin wilted, petals falling to the mud floor.

    “Take Daphne home again, I won’t be a moment,” he said, and the two nodded before pulling her into their abyss, the last noise in the room her screaming out for a friend she could never see again.

    The silence that followed was crushing, a harrowing sting of suspense and the relief of which, their prized girl stolen from his grasp as he lay immobilized and weeping like a coward.  He hated himself for it, and he felt his breathing hitch again.  The man simply stared on, but it seemed as if he was solidifying, if only enough to see his rough, patched features.  He sat on the edge of the hammock on the opposite side a she had and it swung under his weight.  He sighed, a whistle through branches in a forest of storms, but the noise was clear enough to make everything real again.

    “Our leader's name is Apalla, and she is not witch nor siren,” he began, looked away from Jinmi as if he could be ashamed, as if remorse could be on the conscious of a hunter.

    Jinmi felt his stomach turn, but the man went on.

    “I only tell you this because that woman will never sing you the rest of our song unless you find it yourself, and I am afraid that it may be important for your fates, boy,” he ran his hands together, and looked around as if his people were still standing by, watching him betray them, listening into to knowledge that no mortal was ever meant to learn, “We are Gods, Gods of music and light and water.  Your friend was once a… Great ally of ours.  We were told to retrieve her, but that is all I can say as it is all I know.  If you ever want to see her again, you must travel to the realm of Gods and hunt her as we have come to Mavros in the same way.  It will not be easy, but I am a God of love, and I feel her affections for you stitched into her very being.  She will not rest until she dies with you, wizard, and although your paths divide I am sure you are the same.”

    Jinmi was attempted to raise a hand, but a finger was all he could manage, and the God noticed this.

    “Forgive me.  If I unbind you, will you promise to allow me to leave first?”

    He nodded best he could, and the God rose and ran three fingers over each of his muscles, freeing them from his spell.  It took a moment for his joints to unhinge, and for each quake in his limbs, the God took a step backwards, cautious, it seemed.  He sat up, his body aching, tears finally stopping in their tracks, their cool touch unable to match what fire grew up inside him.

    “May I ask?”

    Jinmi looked up, and nodded.  The Gods face was now clear.  Though it was as beautiful as marble, carved by a being much higher than anything the wizard knew, it was clear that he held a deep sadness within him that dimmed what was left behind his golden eyes.

    “If you do come to our realm, will you do me a single favour?  My name is Eros, God of Love.  If you hunt us for our crimes, spare me pain.  I had no desire to strip you from your place, nor her, and I image it hurts me nearly as much as it hurts you,” he looked away, out across the water in their home that Jinmi had laid just to see how Daphne could sprout and bloom in a place made for her body, and he stared at the moon’s ghostly reflection as if it would show a way that he could go back and never have woken the lovers from their tangled sleep, never have cut her branches from his chest, the vines from her heart that tied around his wrists like ribbons - from their place in the world when they were one, “Although, I do imagine that it is hard to believe, and for that I will eternally beg for forgiveness.”

    “I will never hurt you, nor your people.”

    Eros looked up at that, surprised somewhat.

    Jinmi stood, and placed a weakened hand to his chest.  Though the God flinched, he took no offence and spoke with words clear so that perhaps Daphne could hear him still, “I will never hurt your kind.  I will never hurt anyone as long as I live, but I will follow her to the ends of the world if that is what needs be.  Don’t worry for me, Eros, promise me that and I will be well.”

    He smiled, his eyes glassy and his hands taking Jinmi’s in promise, “That is what you must do.  Follow her to the centre of your universe, you will find us there.”

    “How will I know where to go?”

    Eros looked to the moon again, “There are two people in your world now that fall in love, one evil of skin and the other evil of heart.  They will join you on your journey to find our world, but before you meet Daphne again you must find the rest of the lullaby.  I believe that there is a dreamer who sings it in his sleep - find him, and save her, for the sake of both of us.  It is selfish, I know, but I could not live with this heartache as my burden.”

    “I understand, and thank you for this.”

    Eros shut his eyes, and stepped back, letting the darkness swallow him again, right where Daphne had been stolen and turned to smog.  The sight alone sent fear into Jinmi’s soul, but he knew that he was wiser than he was only a moment ago, and if he never stopped walking, the end of the world would be met with the Gods as the last thing in his path.  Naïve, yes, but our hero was set on finding love again.  And on that, I suppose you could say that he would.

    “Be brave, wizard, and let kindness lead your path.  Until the edge of our land do we meet again.”

    “I will wait for it, and Eros?”

    “Yes?”

    “Will you tell Daphne that I will see her again soon?”

    He nodded, but known only to those who heard behind his eyes, when he said his next few words he felt as if it were a lie.  Not that he wouldn’t promise to pass on the boy’s message, he would, but the word “soon” could not be true, althoughhe simply couldn’t bring himself to tell Jinmi that.

    “Of course,” he said, before vanishing and leaving Jinmi alone once again, for the first time in a very, very long while.

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