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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28. These are those Pretty White Lies

Ichais wore all black, a ballgown like the night sky and a small masquerade mask as to not hide the gentle curve of her nose or the red cupid’s bow lip she had been granted.

    By contrast, Estha prayed that the ginger nest of hair she had was long enough to hide the hunch in her back.

    But her dress, regardless of that, was beautiful.  A dress to the floor, the swung in hoops by her hips, a heart shaped neck lathered in diamonds.  It was as green as a swamp, but between the colour of her skin and the orange of her hair, it suited her well.  Even made her pretty, she thought, walking from around the corner the see that the room was looking at her.  Her mask was a jester's, matching with its cat eyes and cunning lips.  She was afraid without the protection of her scarf, she had thought that this was enough, but when she walked down the steps she felt most of the eyes on her.  That of King Sinder, Prince Cinis, most of the crowd and of course - Ichais.  Lovely, lovely, Ichais, to which for only a moment, the attention was lost.  But she didn’t seem to care.  Rather, she stepped forward from the crowd and lay a hand before Estha, who was doubtful and glad that the mask hid her blush.

“Care for a dance?” Ichais said, her accent posh and jinn.

Estha looked around the room, still nervous, but Ichais took her hand.

“You’re right, they are looking at you.” she whispered to her.

“But why?”

Ichais laughed and outloud said, “You really don’t know?”

She shook her head, curls bouncing like a halo unlike any seen before.

“Because you look amazing, Estha, you look as though you are the queen herself.”

“You can’t even see my face, Ichais.”

“But I stare at you even with your face, I would add,” she laughed to herself.

Estha felt the blush crawl along her ears and chest, lighting her up like a bulb, “That’s not funny.”

Ichais stopped, and frowned, “What?  I mean-”

“Ichais, come join us!” a man waved to them, and the both girls drifted towards the much larger crowd.  Estha felt the heat within her subside, but it wasn’t long before it was back under her body like a disease.

“I can’t believe they let you go on this adventure, Ichais,” a girl with a shrill voice said.

“Me neither, nor do I know why you accepted it,”

“You know me well, do I ever say no to a price?” she said.  Her tone was even, her smile polite.  If Estha looked as though she were a queen, Ichais was a Goddess.

“Evidently not,” a man said, finishing off his drink, “And why do they even send you these wild things?”

A woman cut Ichais off before she could begin, “Oh, she thinks it’s because we’re willing to kill baobhan siths, but that’s not it at all.”

Her twin tittered in with, “Tell them about the murders, Ichais!”

The crowd chimed up with, “Tell them about the most recent one!  Tell them about the bishop’s men, tell them about the mermaids!” even the king joined in to have his story told.

“Now,” Ichais said, sweat lining her collar, “I am not one to brag about such things.  I do my job where it’s needed, that’s all.”

“Is that why you killed the princess?”

The audience all laughed, fits of bitter spit and ringing hacks.  Estha looked at her, the truth plain in the anxious tick of her nails and click of her jaw.

“I didn’t kill her, stop that now,”

“Oh no,” the duke said, shaking her by the shoulders once more like children, like beasts, “You just turned her is that right?”

“The princess didn’t seem to mind so much,” another man laughed.

“Wait, now-”

“Not with a girl that lovely, not with our Ichais.”

“And no wonder she turned so fast.”

The all laughed, climbing, scaling, revealing laughs that froze Estha’s blood over.  She turned on her heals, running, far away from the grasp of Ichais’ lies.  She had heard all she needed, and it terrified her.

 

She waited in the corner, as far from the king and his men as should possibly could be in his palace of fiery stone.  She felt her face sweat under the mask, her feet stretching out the fitted cut of the heels.  She was a fool to ever believe that she could belong here with Ichais.  Saying she was lovely, asking her to dance - it was all a facade, and she should have know.

“I think you’re picking up on that terrible habit of Ichais’,”  Cinis said, handing her a glass of fruit juice enriched with hard liquor, a long straw for her mask leaning out one edge.

“Which is?” she said, taking a long sip for such a small girl, but it made her feel better.

“Speaking your thoughts aloud.”

She covered her mouth, though he couldn’t see her face.  

He laughed, “Don’t worry, I’ve heard her do it for years before now.  But I don’t know which is more disconcerting, the fact you think she really ate my sister or the fact you are in denial about how beautiful you look.”

“I never said that she ate the princess.”

“And you shouldn’t.  They had their… Time together, but that was all it was.  She inspired her to become an adventurer herself, although where she is now I could not say.”

“Do you never get lonely without family?”

He shrugged, taking a drink.  His mask fell halfway down his face, just under his nose, lace dripping from his skin like icicles, matching the cold running through her veins.

“I’ve never cared much for family, and so you still don’t think that you’re beautiful, angel?”

She shook her head, her hands knotting in her skirt, the velvet kind between her fingers.  He resting his hand against her chin, her head snapping up, awake.

“You’re more lovely than one man could describe.  So petite and… Soft.  And maybe that’s why I didn’t have the courage to say this earlier, because I was afraid that you’d find a better man out there.  But that won’t be, and I couldn’t let you go to waste.”

She shived under his touch, his eyes falling to her lips.  Even the brush of his thumb beneath her mask was icy.

“I don’t know if I should.  Ich-Ichais and-”

“Never mind her now,” he said, pressing his body flat against hers.  She hadn’t seen his arm wrap around the back of her head, pinning head against the wall, nor had she noticed how far she had ran from the others, from Ichais.

“I should get back,”

“Not just yet, surely,” he said, pressing a kiss to her jaw, lifting the mask, “I was just starting,”

She pushed back against his chest, struggling to escape, but it was too late.  He had seen the snaggle tooth face, the green and the hail and the sores.  He saw what he had almost kissed, the mistake he almost made, but he did not run as she expected.  Worses, in fact.  Worse than she ever thought possible.

“Oh, and what do we have here?  An orc?  No, you’re far more disgusting,” he covered her mouth with one hand, the other secured around her waist.  She turned against him, pounding until her muscles were sore and torn, but he was far stronger, and with the easy click of his fingers she found her arms heavy, weighed down, “A troll so?”

“Let me go!” she screamed, or at least she meant to.  He tapped he lips and her tongue became heavy and seemingly too large for her mouth.  She began to choke on it whenever she spoke, dribble falling from her chin onto the palace ballroom floors.

“They would love to see this,” he said, pulled her away from the wall, her body now putty in his hands, no more than a ragdoll, gagging and drooling like some caged animal, “How’s about that dance, milady?”

He swept her onto the dance floor, her legs kicking but never finding ground.  The others noticed the peculiar sight and followed to watch the man that swung around the beast through waltz.

Ichais was the first to realise, but the others came soon after.

She pushed her way to the front, “Unbind her, Cinis.”

“What is that?”

“A troll?”

“What’s it doing here?”

“Is it wearing the princess’ clothes?”

“My lord, did Ichais come with that thing?  To here?  The castle?  It isn’t a zoo, she knows that right?.”

Ichais pulled a knife from her thigh, “Unbind her or so help me I will gut you.”

He stopped twirling her, and left her down so that she rested helplessly against his side.  He rested his hand on one hip, Estha’s spit rolling off of the other, “You ruin everything, Ichais.”

“I will give you five seconds to undo that spell.”

“Or you’ll kill me?  Ichais, dear,” he laughed, “You’d kill the prince for a monster.  How does that feel?  That lapse in judgement?”

    She stuttered for a moment, her hand wavering long enough for the king to knock the knife from her hand.  She looked to it on the floor, but ten others scrambled to get it first.

    “My beautiful people,” Cinis sighed, his hand on his heart, “Now, Ichais, you should be careful bringing such beasts in places like this, some don’t appreciate the entertainment.”

    “Ichh-” Esther said, her face turning from green to blue, struggling to take so much as a gasp of air.

    “Shush, you,” he pressed his finger to her tongue, her mouth cracking open with its size.  Her chest heaved and dropped, so quickly Ichais wasn’t sure whether she was breathing at all, or drowning in thin air, “Now, Ichais, you must be clever with your pet, if you let people think that it’s a girl of some sort, they might just-”

    Ichais turned her back on him, holding her payment into the air, “A bag of gold for whoever unbinds my friend.”

    Only one boy was quick to step forward, a servant she realised was wizard, a slave in this place.  He nodded to Estha, who fell to the floor in a heap, her back rising and falling with air once more.  The hunch on her back tremored, and Ichais could see Cinis’ foot aim for it.  His eyes were cold like the marble of the throne, and without as much mercy.

    Ichais grabbed the dagger from the hands of many, aiming at Cinis like a dart and the point finding the peak of his cheekbone.  She may not of been much, but she was a good aim.

    He fell back on the floor, blood dripping only once or twice, and yet he was outraged.  

    Ichais broke from the crowd’s hold on her, from the clutches of the king.  She helped Estha to her feet, pushing her towards the door, “Go, Estha, run!”

    “Hunt that monster,” the prince yelled, and the crowd erupted in cheers and yups once more.

    

    If I were to tell you that that was the last time they met, would you feel sad?  Remorse, even, for two girls both madly in love and not to be?

    Ichais had nightmares for weeks of the green dress she wore begin found on a cliff face, the royal family diving into the ocean to reclaim her mangles corpse, beyond recognition, and using her skin as puppets for their sick, twisted games.  Every low hanging branch held the colour of that dress, every leaf was a Giant’s Palm, every last snap of a branch behind her was no more rat than Estha, running up behind her, surprising her, explaining that it was all a joke, of course it was, she would never leave her like that?  Days turned to week turned to months, and she stopped turning to the sounds of footsteps in the forest.

    Estha knew that the was a monster that ate flesh, and hated it, why would she come back?  Why would she keep her promise?

    And Estha was kicked out of each room she came by for screaming in her sleep, or soaking through bedsheets in cold sweat.  No one forgave her, not with her face uncovered like that.  She stole a scarf from a farmer’s market way out by a lake the other side of Cardeni when she reached it.  She sometimes forgot that the jinn king and prince wanted her dead with her head stuffed as some sort of disgusting prize, and she would sit on hills or at fountains in the night and think about where to go next, and when she would turn to Ichais, she never was there, because she hadn’t gone to find her, and she hadn’t stayed to watch her defend her beauty without reason.  She would keep walking, not knowing anywhere to go but away from what she had know with Ichais.

    Who could love something so hideous?  She remembered how Ichais said it, the words disgusting in her uneasy sleep, how she said that she stared at her bare face - and who wouldn’t?

    They were both beasts of horrors so great they lived in shadow and were doomed to fall apart.  In love and yet not to be, for who could love a monster of either body or soul?  And know one knew that better than Ichais and Estha, the strangers once almost in love, two which never got to see the ocean together like that, I’m afraid.

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