Bleed for Me

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Chapter 6 - Calix

The skyline of Trinova is arrestingly beautiful. Stone arches, domes gleaming with guilt in the downcasting sun. I squint as the sunbeams flash against the limestones of Trinova’s capital.

The sea kicks us closer and closer to land. A sprawling port eats up a significant portion of coastline. Hundreds of boats rock in the harbor, some tied in for the winter, but others - dozens of others - are being readied to sail. Trinovantian flags dominate the masts.

A gasp hiccups through my chest when a red and white flag catches the edge of my vision. It rattles in the wind on a mast at the far end of the dock. The associated ship is smaller than the others but sturdy and intricately carved. An arrow of familiarity whisks into my chest. Volcin. Home.

“Bring in the oars, lower the sails! The current will take us in from here.” Crew members scatter across the deck.

I wind up the strand of memories and hide it away, steadfastly avoiding another glance at the flag.

Crewmen heave coils of rope over the hull, and workers on the dock draw us in steadily to port. The gangways are lowered.

“Line up!” Athro Tiernan’s voice cuts over the chaos. His formidable figure blocks the main gangway. The dancers crowd in and begin lining up; Kari, Soren, Jakob right behind me, Tia, Natja, Tiago, Niall - all of us. All seventeen of us in a neat line.

“Rorik,” Athro Tiernan invites stoically. Our best dancer traditionally leads the team from their vessel. “Would you lead us ashore?” Rorik steps forward; he is tall and broad, skin a dark Eraviscian brown. His muscles are distinct across his shoulders. His two warrior braids fall just past his shoulders, thick and silken and brown.

“It would be my honor, Athro,” Rorik bowed. A moment later, he’s taken the spot at the front of our line. Our master steps aside.

The Caerinian Warrior Dance Team steps ashore, our braids beating against our backs in the wind. Several hundred Trinovantes ogle us from around the docks and shipyard, workers, officials, and civilians alike.

The second our toes find land a neat escort flanks us, a standard honorary procedure from the hosting tribe. My heart flutters. I’m here! A warrior dancer.

I follow the sun into Havensport, dancers by my side, and music in my heart. Sweet air fills my lungs and for the first time, the music of Trinova’s famous street performing string musicians tickles my ears from up ahead.

Our march through the city draws the eyes of everyone. Every merchant on the street and passerby and child peering out high up windows.

I see the arena, smooth and majestic in the heart of a massive square.

Two dorms rise on either side and, above each, the flag of the respective competitors whips in a course sea wind. A massive Caerinian flag faces off - midair - with Trinova’s.

I breathe deep and shaky, accidentally releasing a bubbly, giddy laugh.

Carved wooden doors open for us. Our unsmiling escorts hold them wide as we sweep in proudly, Rorik leading the way.

I am lead through the dorms in a blur, barely catching glimpses of gold-framed paintings and elaborately decorated vases.

It’s a blur. Each of us a room to ourselves, a crystalline window overlooking the arena.

“Your trunk will arrive shortly,” a member of the escort intones and the door to my chamber clicks shut.

A breath later I sink to my bed, stomach roiling and nerves twisting. I feel the weight of my eyelids. I lean back on my hands.

CRUNCH. A newspaper. Today’s newspaper neatly laid out on the bed. I hold it tenderly between my fingers as if the foreign Trinovan words will scorch my fingers.

With hungry yet scared pale eyes, I streak them across the page.

The Havensport Scribe

After 200 years of peace and artistic resolution, swords clash on the shores of the Eraviscian Isles. Trinovan ships sailed in hopes of peacefully establishing a new trade route for textiles and other art to be exchanged between the two nations. Both representing officials wore each a ceremonial sword - as is tradition - but soon they were reverted to their original purpose. Both officials only received minor injuries, but the same cannot be said for hundreds of civilians on the islands. After initial bloodshed, the Trinovantes onboard stormed three of the Eraviscian Isles, stealing precious art and jewelry and easily killing any in their path. Trinovantes have currently set up small military bases on each of the three islands they attacked in hopes of forcing their hand in an alliance that would prove to be economically beneficial for both parties involved.

Meanwhile, Caerini and the mainland of Eravisci are mobilizing, drafting hundreds of untrained civilians to compile a small naval force in self-defense. Additionally, Caerini has sent their warrior dance team to Trinova in an attempt to reclaim peace and reach a non-violent end to the skirmish.

The teams are destined to compete tomorrow at the arena in Havensport itself.

Hail Trinova!

Gods. If ever there was a time I wished to be home, safe, taken care of….it’s now.

A heavy sleep descends on me like a burden. I am plagued with dreams smelling of Volcin. Following, a series of dreams in which I am grasping for…. Something that always disintegrates out of my reach and into the starless dark.

Ocean waves.

Salt spray.

Music.

Raines. Ksh, ksh.

Raines. Heartbeat. Ksh, ksh.

Raines. Heartbeat. Ksh, ksh, ksh….

Heartbeat.

Raines.

Kshh….

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