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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53. When Did "Don't Go" Become "Please Leave"

Ichais sat at the bar until silence swept over the tavern.  An easy sleeping backdrop to the few hours remaining of a desert night.  She drank water until the bartender handed her the jug and asked her to not steal.  Ichais tipper her kindly, and was left in the stillness of murmuring conversations and the pecking of lips.  The room was thick with bad intentions that left the walls wet to the touch, but wanders grew to get used to that sort of thing.

    She looked over her shoulder for the millionth time.  Estha had fallen asleep on the other side of the room, in the arms of the soldier.  Ichais smiled warmly.  Although her face was still polished beyond recognition, Estha held her habits of twitching her nose in her sleep and rubbing her legs together like a cricket, that’s how Ichais knew that she was really asleep.

    Cinis had never returned after stumbling out into the sandstorm drunk.  But if Ichais had learned anything from her years of playing carrier pigeon for Sinder, she had learned that he would not let his only son walk through the world without private guards by his side.  She wondered about the spell.  Was it really worth finding this for Dyrad really?  Could the man who tortured her be trusted for the call of death?

She laughed.  How had her life become so messed up.  In all the years of walking alone and eating the dead that no one wanted, had she never learned that she was as good as those given to her.  No one cared for her, and yet now she could turn around and care for Estha as if that never really mattered?  Cinis was right, what made her think that she had a say in Estha’s life anymore anyway.  Maybe she should give the spell to the Jinns.  They’d have the magic to keep it and the gorgeous Estha got her prince.  What more could the world want?
    She heard shuffling behind her, any noise loud with how carefully she was waiting for it.  Estha was awake, finally.  She scratched her hair around the tight ribbon until it came out in knots and stood up, pulling the boy’s hand from her hips.  She picked up a glass and smelled it.  Although it was clear, in must have been strong, and her face scrunched up in a little pout.

Ichais giggled fondly, although Estha didn’t see her.  She shrugged on her cloak and left.  It must have been cold outside, because a wind blew right through Estha until her straight hair was curled at the tips, as it used to be.  She stepped out into the night, her yawn leaving a cloud where she stood, like the mist on top a distant, untouchable hill.

She followed her, for a reason that she couldn’t say, she followed.  Everything people do, they presume to be knowledge they have learned through the ages.  Common sense.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Sometimes, it is instincts.

She stepped through the curtain, only to see Estha sway and fall into a bed of straw, a bottle in her hand landing in the sand with a thud.  The man clearly hadn’t seen Ichais, and she backed away until the night swallowed her.  She watched as the man looked through Estha’s cloaks and dresses, and finally pulled his hand from her face to her skirts, ruffling them around her until the cold night air raised goosebumps on the back of her bare legs.

Ichais killed the stable keeper so quickly that he wouldn’t remember it if he woke up again.

She looked at where his head came loose from his body, a gruesome sight that even she wasn’t used to.  Not the blood or gore, that she knew well, but having to pick Estha‘s body up from the hay and watch her head loll back with her nose scrunching and her legs kicked - totally unaware of what had happened  it struck with a strange sort of sadness that bordered on protection.  Not ownership, of course.  Baobhan sith were known for their taking of those they turn but Ichais, she wasn’t like that.

She pulled her skirt back around her ankles, smoothing out the creases that the man had left when he tore his fist through it.  She flattened out her hair and lay her on her side with her cloak around her shoulders and removed any evidence that the stable keeper had touched her.  She left her there dreaming and turned to the mangled corpse.

He looked older still in death, ugly.  She took him by the throat and dragged him off to the back roads, where the carts had already left and there was little to be seen but caught tumbleweeds and dragonflies that dipped their winding tongues into the pool of blood that was left in the ever changing sand.

She threw his body against the wall, a snap muffled in the dead storms of the night.  She looked over his body, at his unlaced trousers, his heeled boots and the horse hair that marked his clothes.  She tilted her head, taking in the shape and the press of his figure.  She never had laced trousers before.

Honour did not belong in her work, because she did not deal with those who were honourable.

She found it difficult to lace them, her fingers shaking to her surprise.  They fit her well, her height suiting her now.  She turned back to the man whose eyes were open, dragonflies crawling under his eyelids, over his wagging tongue.

She began with his knee, behind it, where the skin was fat and the veins were pressed up against prodding fingers.  They tore out, the length of his leg, and she started up until she felt where his hip had broken once before, pressing her fingers through the gaps until he fell apart, into her hands, melting.

Looking at him, thinking of what he was, she wasn’t hungry.  But she made herself eat, made herself bite him and think of the bartender who loved him so much.  His head stitched itself back into his neck, her poison now living on with him, eternally.  An eternity is a lonely thing, it was her pleasure to give him that.

 

She next morning, she awoke to Estha shaking her viciously.  Visibly angry, but normal.  Her nose swollen, her lips thin, her cheeks rounded to Ichias’ drowsy touch.

“Come with me,” she said, “Now.”

    As they walked Estha gulped down her potions, drinking and drinking the pink liquor until it ran into her pretty, pale face.  She was so used to it now that it made her skin burn to not live inside the cage that the spell provided, but she had Ichais’ hand in hers, so she let her drink and morph her perfect self and she said nothing.

    Ichais knew what she was bringing her to before they rounded the corner.  The stable keeper, the blood he lay in and his body now patched together.  No teeth indents, no delicate rips into his flesh - he was perfect.  Still dead, but Ichais had done her work well, she admired.

    Estha disagreed, spinning on her tail and backing up against Ichais.  Her spell giving her a new height, new muscles and temper itching to be used.

    “Did you do that?” her face flared up, angrier still.

    “Yes.”

    “Why?” Estha sounded disbelieving, the words, why do you always do this just kept back with her jaw clenched shut.  Ichais knew it, and pressed her body back until Estha was stumbling into the corpses space.  The man looked peaceful, that fact alone enough to make Ichais want to scream and pull him limb from limb again.

    “Because he was… He-”

    Ichais ran her hand through her hair to keep from showing Estha how she was shaking, ever since she found her last night.  Anger is hurt, and the hurt from watching those you love be turned to nothing but another’s game creates something of a devil.  And holding your tongue if your love doesn’t know what you do is more than anger and pain.  It’s a special kind of torture.  That’s what love is.

    “Ichais,” she said, pulled her in, her voice a song she had missed being all for her, “You can’t keep doing this.  Not anymore.  You promised me once, you…”

    “Where-” the man sat up, his blood already soaked into the soil, his eternity beginning, “Where am I?”

    Estha stepped away, smiling sweetly and pressing her fingers to the man’s temple.

    “You seem to have been hurt,” she said.

    He scratched his eyes, at his chest where the scars still shone if you knew what you were looking for, “I don’t remember anything.”

    “Let me help you back to bed.”

    “Was I robbed?” he said, suddenly alert.

    Estha shot a look to Ichais, “Yes, I think you might have been.”

    Ichais rolled her eyes, and left the two - him shouting and hollering and gripping at Estha’s narrow hips and the underskirts of her dress.  She smiled and calmed him, not a single care in her pretty head.  Ichais felt sick again, the insides of the undead man rising with bile into her throat.

    She sat on the counter and swung both legs over, plucking out half of the coins left.  It wasn’t very much, and she took his map that he had promised.  He had nothing else important, although stealing the wife away had crossed her mind, if only to save her from that animal of a man.

    She looked up, Cinis sat between two other Jinn too broad and built to not be his shoulders.  One stood up, scowling, but Cinis only clicked and he sat back.

    “Be well,” he bid her a formal goodbye.  Strangers, that’s all they were.

    “Be well.”

    “And, Ichais?”

    She sighed and looked back at him.  His ragged smile, his thin frame, his clothes already scuffed.  She was stronger than him now, a thought that filled a desire from the night he held Estha up against his side and paraded her around the ballroom in shame and disgust.

    “Love comes to those who prove their worth.  You have spoken for years about needing no pride, feeling no remorse, and acting as if those were attributes that filled what inside you was missing.  Don’t let her misguided heart act as a mould to complete you, because you will never be worth enough to her.  Remember that, Ichais.”

    She waved back at him, swinging her coin purse back into the loops of her belt, “I don’t need her to complete me.”

    “No?”

    “Unlike you, I’m only here to make her fulfilled, that’s worth enough to me.”

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