Inside Trifecta: Episode 1
Updated: Jul 1
Welcome to the first episode of "Inside Trifecta," a short story that looks at the life of two people who live in Trifecta, but who are not part of the Trimarked series. This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I posted polls on Instagram and Facebook, allowing people to vote for the race and age range of two characters. The votes came in at a Bubble-born (< 20 yrs old) Witch and a Realm-born (>20 yrs old) Fae.
Because these are shorts, there may be information from the books that won't be fully explained here. On the flip side, these stories are outside the main story line of the Trimarked series and won't affect the main characters directly.
Welcome to Trifecta.
*Updated July 1, 2021: Inside Trifecta voting and the stories have moved into my newsletter. Subscribe here to join in.
Inji's fingers clutched the tactilely rich weave of the wrap resting heavy on his shoulders and hanging to his knees. The threads were worn, the colors faded, and he would never be caught dressed in this within the marketplace of Center.
Out here, in the forest, it was safe. Even if another Fae crossed paths, it was easy enough to explain he didn't want to ruin his best clothes while out for a walk. Most likely, none would approach the old Fae with the pursed lips and furrowed brow. In this place of giant pines and scattered boulders, it would be easy enough to avoid him.
He squinted through the bows, judged the angle of the sun, and decided he had more time. His workday was over, watching the young fumble with the broken magic of this realm while they worked mountain dirt and clay into pottery that the Terra-tainted children would sell at the human market.
Inji scowled and tightened his wrap around his neck. There hadn't been a breeze, but a disturbing thought. To think that he - that the Fae! - had been trapped in this human dead zone for twenty years. That their land held echos of their home realm Gypsum and her power was far from the consolation of leaving their home, dying though it was. It was home. Free of humans.
A thump of directed air tapped Inji in the shoulder, stopping his feet.
Gypsum had been free of Witches, too.
Looking up, Inji saw the tangle of vines above his head. Leaves like hearts and triangles, signs of two races who would never be so co-mingled as this clash of greenery marking the Fae-Witch border.
Never in Gypsum would Inji have been told where he could and could not place his feet.
The Witch that approached held an empty bow in her left hand, hanging without intent to use, though as the thump of air had shown, they used their power as ammunition rather than wood. Her red-brown hair plastered to her head, a woven braid hanging to her waist, though tendrils had come free, her clothing bright and decorative despite her occupation as guard. Jeweled bracelets layered on her arms, pendants from her ears, layers of chains and metals at her neck.
Inji curled his lip. Chaos had never been so disgustingly visual in Gypsum.
"You seem deep in thought," she spoke gently. "I'm sure you were simply unaware of your feet."
How could she speak to him? Expect him to reply? Inji's hands shook against his tattered wrap, his tongue swollen, eyes wide and burning. He spun around gut in knots, and walked away as if that break in land didn't exist. As if the Witches didn't exist.
As if Terra didn't exist.
Amala watched the old Fae until the trees blocked him from sight. She sighed, wished she could watch him get home.
"You are very kind to that old pixie." Amala rolled her eyes at Casen from where he perched on a grey and brown boulder that rose higher than her head.
"He isn't always like this," Amala answered. Casen dropped to the ground to be on level with her, ensuring she saw his frown.
"You're what, fifteen? And you've been at this job a month. How do you know what some Fae does?"
"How are you nineteen, have had this job for four years, and don't know what some Fae who comes to our border every day does?" she shot back.
Caden shrugged. "He must have never crossed."
"He hasn't. He can feel the shift from Fae to Witch magic and it always stops him." Amala scowled at Camden. "Which is why I told you not to shoot him."
"I was gentle," Camden grinned, the facets of his ruby-gem eyes glinting as if he'd caught a beam of light in them on purpose. Amala crossed her arms, not falling for his attempted charm.
Even though Caden was Terraborn like her, he held many of the Fae predjudices of the Realm-born. Despite High Priestess Leona's attempt to integrate them with the humans, they had never reached out to the Fae as far as she knew.
It's why she knew that Inji's wrap had been made by his mother, and though it was worn with time, he could not find it in himself to give it up. She knew walking away from their dwelling space within Center was a struggle for him, like the Fae magic sprouted in that place, and faded closer to the borders. He liked the challenge, liked that he tried what other Realm-born Fae wouldn't, or couldn't, bring themselves to do.
Then, there were days like today. Days where missing Gypsum stopped his tongue, where the anger sank into his bones, and where he didn't remember ever having met her. Days that went back to the first few times they'd met, until she'd grown the courage and curiosity to ask him about the beautiful designs on what she thought had been a blanket but was more like a poncho.
"Fae border patrol is boring," she finally offered to Caden. "Watching for him passes the time."
"Fine, then lets make it more exciting for you. Do you know how to split the air into three arrows, yet?"
Amala's garnet irises shone toward Caden, eager for a chance to expand on her skills. The older guard laughed.
"Alright. We hit on something we can both enjoy while stuck out here. Come on, I know a great place to practice."
Thank you for reading! I'll share more scenes every other week on my blog. To help choose which type of characters to learn about, find me on Facebook or Instagram and look for the polls in my stories.