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.


37. The Dream God

Samhain saw him, and knew who his face belonged to.  

His grandfather, or maybe great grandfather father, he never kept count, had been a powerful wizard during the time of the Great War.  The navy hair, its matching aura.  There was no doubt in Samhain’s mind, he was watching the descendant of the unnamed, unstoppable wizard be strangled by vines.

And odder still, when he woke up, there they boy was, breathing once more.

Samhain stuttered for a moment, sitting up in his bed, pressing himself against the felt backboard, “Gods can’t come in here.”

“I’m not a God.” the boy said.  He was panting from the climb up, or maybe from running.  His hair stuck to his foreheads in beads, his body straight, broad even.  The warrior whose blood he shared was small, dainty, breakable - he proved to be.  But this boy was not.  Even though exhausted buckling lungs, his voice was strong, sure.

A halo of darkness surrounded his entire body, swallowing the light Samhain had spent so long creating.

“Then how did you get here?” he asked.

“I climbed your tower.  Or rather, crawled, or perhaps fell?”

“You struggled to get here so.  Why?”

“I didn’t think anyone would be all the way up here, so I thought it the best place to hide.”

“And now that I’m here?  Will you run again?”

Samhain had not seen another soul in generations, and a hole had carved its way into what should have been a heart.  He so often lay wrapping himself in duvets and blankets, his own arms tied as if he were in a straitjacket, holding on tight to keep the hole shut.

And it is a funny thing, that gap that grows.  It is a black hole no bigger than a single touch that swallows up every memory of love you have stored away for a rainy day.  Samhain realised that he hadn’t seen skin in a very long time, and Jinmi’s veins pulsed life that he could see like blue rivers under silver sheets, as soft and exchanging as snow draped over distant hills.  They, unlike Samhain’s, were clear of scratches and cuts.  His fingers wrapped around each forearm, over the plush part below the bend that strapped his arms across his chest.  He could see each digit pressed against someone else’s, his hands bending to hold another, holding a love that radiated from him like the swarm of black magic that oozed from his body.  

Samhain knew that the boy would go again, it was inevitable of course - who would have come to see him?  And yet, he surprised Samhain once more.

“I’ll stay, if you’ll let me?  It’s only safe here.”

Samhain opened his mouth, his voice strangled with sleep and years of going unused.  He cleared his throat again.  Compared to the boy’s words, his were soft, high-pitched, and even with little said he could tell that they meant less.

“Everything here is safe, it’s the second realm.”

“Safe for angels, maybe.”

“And you’re not an angel?”

The boy laughed, the pulled skin of a drum, coated in collar bells, and released, “No, no.  Do I see like an angel to you?”

His words held no bitter ends, his words genuine.  If Samhain hadn’t seen the snake of dark air that spewed from his lips, or seen him die not moments ago, he might feel inclined to say yes.

“Then how did you get here?”

“The tower?  Spikes appeared from the ground, they just seemed to push me up.”

“No, the second realm.  How’d you manage to get here from the third realm?  The gate it… What’s happening below?”

“The third realm?  Do I seem dead to you?”

Samhain opened his mouth and shut it once more.

“I’m from the first realm, and I suppose I just walked it?  I don’t really know, I got distracted.  As for the second realm, I wouldn’t know, I’m sorry.”

“You just walked into the second realm?”

“Yes, why?”

Samhain laughed.  If the boy was bells he was pans and pots, banging together, denting, but it felt good to laugh for once, the hole a little smaller with his chest moving once again.

“How did you even find this place?  Someone must have lead you, no?”

The boy seemed to look away, down the tower, not ashamed but nearly, “Something like that.”

“I may have been alone for hundreds of years, but I’m not an idiot,” Samhain said, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“You’ve been alone for hundreds of years?”

Samhain sighed, and rested his head back, “Again, something like that.”

The boy looked at him for a while then.  Thinking over what he had said, what he had meant.  Then, he took a place beside Samhain on the swing bed.  The new weight shifted Samhain down in the tilt, their thighs brushing.  The new touch felt like ice, shaking and spreading through his blood.  Samhain could feel it, turning his nerves to icicles, desperately reaching out for more, but pulling away instead.

“Do you mind?” he said.

Samhain shook his head, afraid that the words would come out in the wrong order if he spoke.  He cleared his throat again, but waited for the boy to speak.

“I’m Jinmi.”


“Samhain?” Jinmi said, rolling it across the tips of his lips like cream, “Sa-wa-ain.”

“Sa-wa-one, and it’s not as odd as you are, stumbling your way up a place this size.  Tell me, why would you come to the second realm?  There’s nothing here but Gods and angels and cherubs.”

“You say that with such spite,” Jinmi laughed, “And it’s not as if you aren’t an angel yourself.”

Samhain heard the question behind the compliment, although he blushed regardless, “I’m a God, actually.”

“Hm.  I’ll answer your question if you answer mine?”

Mortals liked this game.  It made intrusion seem equally shared.


“I came to look for a friend that had been stolen by another God.  But I don’t know where she is, or how I can find her.  Or even if she wants to be found.”

“That’s awful, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” Jinmi said, his head rolling back against the pillows too.  The side of his face was much like his ancestors, Samhain noticed.  Sharp nose, sharp eyes, eyes so deep you’d swear that if you fell through them you’d come out a better man.  He realised that he was staring, and looked away.

“And your question?”

“Oh, yes.  What is it you do up here, what have you done for hundreds of years in solitude?” Jinmi stared back, “You aren’t a criminal, are you?”

“Would they allow criminals in here?”

“I presume so.  I’m here, after all.”

“You’re not a criminal.”

Jinmi smirked, “I’m from Mavros, of course I am.”

“Mavros?” Samhain sat up, “You don’t live there.  You can’t be.”

“Why shouldn’t I be?  I am a wizard after all.”

“But you’re-”

Jinmi sat up to face him.  Even from here, he radiated a new warmth, warmer than the sun shining down onto where Samhain lay.  Hotter, burning.  He realised that he was blushing again.

“I am…?”

Samhain shook mouth, lying back, his nonchalant act see-through, “You only have one question you can ask, choose wisely, Jinmi.”

Jinmi thought over this, storing the other question away, “So why are you here?”

“I’m a dream God, controller of the sleeping subconscious.”

“You create people’s dreams?”

Samhain giggled, “I wish I did.  Tell me, how often do you dream?”

“Once or twice a week, I suppose.  That I remember, at least.”

“As for nightmares?”

He thought for a moment, “Rarely.  Scratching once a year, I’d say.”

“So instead of you dreaming them, staying awake, staying haunted - I sleep here, through every single last one.”

“You… Dream my dreams?”

“Everyone’s.  Each nightmare, I mean, not dream.  I sleep through it so that they don’t have to.  They can wake up, mind their children, run their shop.  They can sleep soundly, and I give my life for that.”

Jinmi’s eyes - as deep as they were - were filled with wonder and horror.  The colour washed from his face, his gaze fixed.  For a moment, Samhain was afraid he had done something wrong.

“Your arms…”

They were in pieces, scratched like the lines of bark, clawed by animals for what lived within.  Tiger eye stone, precious and yet not so.  Samhain pulled his sleeves down around his fingertips, the white fabric kissing along scabs and scars, even the gentle touch pulling them apart as it went.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare,” Jinmi said.  It was his turn to blush now.  A pink in a navy sky, a sunrise Samhain never had the chance to see before, to beautiful for anyone to dream of for him.

“No, no, it’s okay.  I… Don’t sleep well.  As you can imagine.”

“I can.  What would happen if you didn’t take their dreams from them?”

“That’s a second question,” Samhain said.

The drum snapped up, the bells catching light in the early morning air, like stars never even meant to be, “I’m sure you have something you’d like to ask?”

“I’m sure I can think of something” he said, “If I didn’t take them it would go back to how things usually should be.  Every few days, more so for those who have gone through trauma.  I once was someone like that, in my mortal life.  I don’t remember it well, but I had far more scars than these, and if I can take that pain from someone else - even if only to give them a break when they sleep - that will make something of my afterlife, I think.”

“A dreamcatcher.”

“Exactly,” Samhain smiled, “Now for my question.  What is the name of the girl you’re looking for?  I can’t do much, but I might be able to help.”

Jinmi’s sky was not a sunrise, but a sunset.  The life faded once more, a sense of being abandoned rigid within him.  This was something Samhain never had, or at least, never remembered - having something to lose.

“They just sang me a song as they tied her up.  Something about losing the one you loved.  That’s all I know, but I don’t think I was meant to live without her, I couldn’t even imagine it, if that makes any sense.  I know I have to see her again, and if she’s happier with Appalla - well, if I make her happy, I suppose that will make something of my mortal life.”

He closed his eyes, his shoulders now slouched.  Samhain hadn’t even realised the defense he had taken, the walls he had built.

And then he said the worst few words Samhain had heard since the life times ago in which he had lived and died, “Her name was Daphne.”

Do you ever walk down a dark road, hear a bad name, and suddenly you remember your nightmare from the evening before?  The monster that lived not under your bed but behind your eyes, vultures with longing, circling, craving to awaken that horror that had sprung from your mind when you slept?  Do your fear ever stalk you into your waking world, you only remembering them when you feel truly vulnerable once more?

Although the name rang clear in Samhain’s mind - her, forest girl, grass, leaves, flowers.  Magic, love, loneliness.  Her hands twigs, fingers vines.  Around Jinmi’s neck, his face blue as he drops dead in her hold.  Her white hair like an aura she deserved but was deprived of as a runaway, her eyes green like the growth within her that proved to be both strong and kind, parallels now uncommon - he didn’t need to remember all that to remember her.  Not her face, the black of her makeup wrapping like jewels she never wanted, a collar of possessions taking over the skin of her neck to her bodice.  Her powers were controlled not by her, but by the woman by her side.  Her light glowing a holy. toxic yellow, her face beautiful and corrupt.  Jinmi didn’t need to remember him to remember her - Appalla, and what she had done to this realm.

“Samhain?” Jinmi shook him lightly.  His touch no longer felt like ice, that was too close to the touch of the dead man he was soon to be.  Instead, he felt of nothing, a strong wind not meant to be here at all.

“Jinmi, you’re in trouble here.”


“You…” he felt his eyes glue shut again, no, no, please not now, “You need to… To…”

His nightmare held whites and wizards on all sides, dragonkin and dogs as big as men.  They were at war, and nothing compared to the Hell that was soon to rage within Heaven.

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