"(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby
A thought has wormed its way into his mind over the last few days, a thought which stirs him from the sublime emptiness of hibernation.
Rapture's disappearance had not sat well with him. Something was off; the mare who he had spent weeks with him in their paradise would not have disappeared without a word or a hint that she was leaving. Or at least he wants to think so.
But it would be the first time the fallen prince had been mistaken.
And while it was the pattern of his life, nearly his entire family had vanished, he still clings to the hope that it had not been her plan. That something had taken her and he only had to look in just the right place to find her. The swath of flame along his crest flairs a the thought, he almost feels pity for whoever would dare to keep her from him.
So he had given in to the restlessness in his legs and allowed them to carry him to the one place in Beqanna he had never been - the southernmost point of their content, the ghostly shores.
A heavy fog rolls in off the ocean, the vapor-thick air haloing the burning stallion as she walks across the moon-white sand. The horizon is obscured, hazy, creating the illusion of endlessness and nearly disorienting him. But his mismatched gaze focuses again as he follows the line of the hissing surf.
The muscle of his heart seizes in his chest as he rushes to her. Just above the waves lays a crumpled form, the exact shade of blue he knew so well. The towering stallion falls into the sand beside her, talking her cold body along his own, his mind blank and thoughtless.
Above them, a thin dome of flame stretches, warming the autumn air and burning away the mist around them. He lays the heavy weight of his skull across her, a storm of emotion compiling in his breast. But just as it is about to break, to send him spiraling, the faintest pulse stirs below him...
She does not know how long she drifts for. Memory is blessedly altered in this dark and lonely reality. Pain has become only a phantom, barely remembered and too easily dismissed. She is dying. Or perhaps she is already dead. She cannot say and as she floats in the dim warmth of emptiness, she cannot seem to care.
There are flashes of memory in the darkness. She flinches from them, knowing they will bring only pain and despair. But life is too persistent. It will find a way, even when she does not want it to. Fleetingly, consciousness prevails until she is dragged under once more.
She knows there is sand. Her body presses heavily against it. In the dim recesses of wakefulness, she can feel pain. The dull ache of muscles, the sharp spasm of a torn hip, the grief in her heart. But she forgets easily when blackness returns.
She doesn’t know how long she floats there. Long enough for realization to settle that she must fight. Long enough for her to know she does not truly wish to die. And so she struggles for the surface, fighting her battered body, fighting a deep-seated evil that has invaded her very bones. She inhales sharply, the scent of salt and ocean and death mingling with the familiar scent of flame and smoke. Of Levi.
But her eyes seem too heavy, her mind encased in a thick fog that she cannot seem to break. Her whole body hurts, her very soul aching with memories she cannot seem to recall. “Levi,” she rasps, her voice barely a thread of sound, lost amidst the sound of crashing waves. She struggles to cling to him, to his scent, to the warm press of his body against hers.
But once again, she is lost, dragged into the depths of unconsciousness by an immutable force. An illness that claws at her, gripping her tight in it’s merciless grasp.
He didn't realize how empty he had felt until she speaks his name. Hope fills him, washing away whatever dangerous mania had been rising.
"Rapture," her name escapes him involuntarily in response to his own. His heart hammering with such force that surely she can feel it against her side. Her skin seems not so cold now, and her pulse a little stronger. But just as quickly as his hope had flared it is smothered.
She fades again, her head falling across his knees, and his hope crashes down with it. Levi's mismatched eyes uncharacteristically wide, and his heavy skull swivels above her, unsure of where to touch, what to do. He holds his sturdy frame still against her back, afraid now that any movement will jar her or cause her discomfort.
Panic rises in his chest. Could she walk? Has she had fresh food or water in days? Could he carry her? There is a chance she will live if he chooses the right actions, if she is lost now it will be his fault.
Yet, he is at a loss.
"Rapture," he says again, but this time it is a call, a plea, instead of praise. Finally, his muzzle settles on her brow, gently removing her forelock from where it rests over her closed eye. "Tell me what to do."
Even in her unconsciousness, she would recognize him anywhere. She knows nothing else, her thoughts scattered and fragile, but she knows him. A safe harbor in the storm of her jumbled memories and disjointed emotions. She reaches for him, struggling to hold onto him in a sea determined to see her drown.
Slowly, the storm begins to ease. She clings tightly to him as she fights for the surface. Memories begin to return, haunting and horrible, settling into their rightful homes inside the recesses of her mind. For a moment, she wonders if she wants this. Wants to remember everything that had happened in the land of decay. Her breath quickens, chest tightening with the surge of emotion that rises, a tidal wave that threatens to draw her under again.
With a gasp, her eyes snap open, wild with fright and panic. She jerks against the body holding her, confining her. “Longclaw!” she shouts, her voice raspy and bruised, shaking with anguished regret. For a moment all she can see is his glimmering blue face, slack and rotting with death. “NO!” she gasps, struggling now against the weakness of her own limbs.
Then his scent intrudes, hot and salty and so familiar, bring with it a tinge of sanity. She whimpers softly as she collapses against him, exhausted by exertion and grief. Tears slip silently down her cheeks as she buries her face against the familiar heat of his neck. A part of her refuses to believe, but a larger, more persistent part of her cannot fail to recognize the truth of what had happened deep beneath those waves.
And so she weeps silently into Levi’s skin, wishing she could simply disappear into him. Wishing he could, somehow, drive away every memory, every ounce of pain that had settled into her heart.
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