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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening


    GHAUL -- Year 209


    "(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

    Silver Cove Quest - Part 1
    Round 1
    The faeries were able to bring back the uninfected places, safe havens for their people, but they know that it’s only a temporary relief. It is not a solution. After many days (or hours, or months, they aren’t the greatest at keeping track of mortal time) of contemplation, they believe they have found a solution.

    But as their people had helped the Dark God to bring about this despair and destruction, the people are the secret ingredient to undoing it. The people of Beqanna will have to put more effort into the healing of Beqanna than they put into its sickening - at least four times as much, or so it seems to the fae on the Mountain. Four times the effort, and four lands brought back from Beqanna before - the symmetry is pleasing to them

    They have completed one-quarter of it now, a harrowing search for icicles that tests even the staunchest among them. This time the fey call them in the light of a thin moon, summoning those who would give themselves to save Beqanna.

    The fairy that steps from his brethren to address the assembled is both old and young, with skin like a granite cliff and eyes as bright as the stars above. His voice is like the rumble of the earth: low and deep and bone-shaking.

    “We seek now the second ingredient in a cure for this Plague: the stones that make up the shore of Silver Cove. You must travel there, through the lands filled with sickness and the ill.” he watches their faces with his bright eyes, searching for weakness, or something more. “You must not tarry. Time is of the essence, and any delay will bring ruin.”

    -Everyone may enter one character in this quest
    -Round 1 entries are to be posted in Silver Cove in the Quest thread no later than December 13, 2018 at 8:00 am.
    -Your first post should describe your character making the journey to the Silver Cove from the Mountain, and end with their arrival at the border of the land
    - Your character must come across at least one horse sick with the Plague that asks for their help, and must include why they choose not to help but rather to continue their quest
    -Your character has lost any and all traits for this quest
    -This quest will have three rounds; no eliminations in round one, 50/50 chance of being eliminated in round 2, and round 3 will be judged on creativity, readability, and judge’s preference
    -Each round will give 5 days for responses to be posted
    -Those eliminated in round 2 will have a minor and non-permanent defect; those who advance to round 3 will have the chance to win a 2 or 3 space genetic trait; failing to respond on time or at all without notifying the officials you are dropping out will result in a permanent defect
    fair winds & good luck

    { and in my dreams I've kissed your lips a thousand times }

    The ice yet lingers in my mane and tail, and in Solace's, too. Though not unbearable, the crystalline fixtures remind us uncomfortably of our failures. Litotes succeeded, however; this makes up for our mistake, as arbitrary as it may have been at the time. The fact that Beqanna has begun her healing is also enough to placate my worries; that, and I've managed to yet avoid the plague.

    Being quarantined is easier, now that I have Solace with me.

    This evening, as twilight sinks into dusk, she and I and our youngest child all lay together in a small grotto on the backside of the southernmost mountain. While the cave's dimensions fail to mimic the one we occupied in Hyaline, we also have less demands for room, considering that we have but one child instead of three. Furthermore, a small stream runs through the back of this shelter, its fresh water conveniently refreshing us all whenever we need.

    The sun sets, and our collective breathing slows. I can feel Aegean's perfect little head resting gently against my spine, with his legs bundled up against Solace - a relative tangle of baby and mothers. Occasionally his limbs flutter with the waves of a childish dream, the thin white lids which barely conceal those vibrant purple eyes flickering to and fro. A smile makes its way across my lips as my ears twitch back to catch the sound of his sleepy, snuffling breath; with my last conscious thought, I stretch to Solace, pressing a kiss and an I love you to her golden skull.

    Later. My dreamscape is vague and shifting, alternating between wife and son as I offhandedly monitor their dreams. As the thalamus acts to the cortex, so too do I act to them, diverting ideas which I find would result in more pain than pleasure or learning. Occasionally I slip into the fabrics of their minds, interacting with them in the many abstract ways they dream up; this is usually erotic with Solace, and usually sweet and thoughtful with Aegean.

    Tonight, however, I sense something different in my miracle child. With a careful step into his consciousness, I listen carefully to the dream unfolding in his young mind; an argument, between him and a duplicate of me, about... About what? As I strain to hear, the duplicate of me and my actual consciousness seamlessly meld, so much so that I don't even realize it.

    "I don't care if it is dangerous, mother, I want to go."
    "Aegean, you are barely three months old - you will stay home and do as you are told."
    "No! I am going!"
    "No, you are not."

    It takes a moment for me to realize that this dialogue is not artificial, and that it is actually passing between his consciousness and mine. In the same moment as I realize this, I feel Aegean slipping from the dream, and I immediately know that it will be to sneak out of the grotto and to answer the call which all three of us heard some nights ago: to go to the mountain, to save Beqanna.

    Desperate and certain that I shan't be able to wake up in time to stop my son
    (as stubborn as Solace), I dart briefly into Solace's mind, informing her as to what she may awaken to. Then, without wasting another moment, I leap back to Aegean, snatch his consciousness, and disappear.

    We awaken with a jolt someplace else, a place I know rather intimately but which Aegean will not recognize at all. The air here chills our hides compared to the windless cave of our grotto; shivers alight across my spine, ears pinning against the base of my antlers. Whuffling anxiously, I reach desperately for the gently glowing figure of my son, breathing a sigh of relief as I feel his soft baby hair against the delicate sinews of my lips.

    "Well, we are here now... You can thank me later," if we make it through this alive, I finish silently. The ice in my mane and tail is testament enough to the dangers which are to come.

    Heart fluttering for fear of my child's health, I nudge him forward and follow behind, herding him towards where I know the meeting place to be, from last time. We arrive first, but many more will follow in our wakes I am sure. Glancing up, I think upon how the thin moon glows so similarly to Aegean; and then, I lower my head to listen to the Faerie.

    Heavy sigh, and a shake of my head as the loss of my antlers creates a strange lightness in my neck.

    "Back home," I mutter to the colt, now as unlit as the rest of us. "Come on, let's go."

    The going begins quickly enough, with Aegean traveling confidently and spryly next to me. The others choose routes similar to ours, and I exchange words with those I know, looks with those I think I know, and awkward silence with those I do not recognize. For some time I forget my anxieties, trying to relax and prepare myself for what is to come, for it shall surely be worse than this.

    We are over halfway to the Sanctuary when I realize that all the others have dispersed past where I can see; then, the sound of a hacking cough catches my attention. While my head raises, I do not veer off course to investigate the noise; unfortunately, the bearer of sickness comes closer, and my anxiety returns full force.

    We are not in a safe land.
    I am not immune, or infected.
    Aegean is not immune, or infected.

    This stranger represents a danger to us.

    Inhaling with the strength of a broken window frame fluttering in a weak breeze, the stranger beckons to us:

    "Please, please, won't you help me? I am dying - please, any help, any kind words."

    My jaw tightens, and my ears pin. "Don't come any closer." The creature stills, clearly too weak to rebuke my orders. "I am sorry. We cannot stop." Feeling pained and lost to the arbitrary needs of the faeries, I turn my head away from the dying stranger, picking up to a canter such that the other will not keep up.

    Maybe they will follow our scent to the Silver Cove. Maybe they will not die. Maybe -

    My thoughts are cut off as Aegean and I reach the border of our home. Breathless and in tears, I clear my throat to hide my emotions; then, leaning down, I press another kiss to my son's forehead.

    "We're here."

    Permission to power play Aegean from Laura
    [Image: kag]

    love is my religion. i could die for that.

    Aegean is young of body but old of spirit and he cannot deny the way that the call pulls at him.

    He feels it rustling in his soul, his mind straining against the constraints of slumber, his heart thrumming against the edges of his ribcage. His dreams, altogether gentle and softened always by the presence of his dreamweaver mother, turn darker, the edges sharper as they clash over the decision to go. He presses his demands into the air, his insistent need to answer the call of the fey and she refuses them, rebuking him at every turn. It is only when she slips away that he feels his consciousness begin to stir, the silver light of the moon beginning to stream into his mind—only to be caught within the tangles of her gift.

    When his dark purple eyes open, they are no longer within the confines of the grotto.

    Instead, the landscape has shifted around them and his pulse increases ever so slightly. His mother draws him close, and although she warns him to thank her later, he leans into her, lifting his snowy face to press a flutter of a kiss to where he can reach on her jaw. “Thank you,” he breathes, his voice of fog low and soft, shared as a secret between them. She urges him forward and he listens, stepping further in.

    When the fae steps forward, he watches solemnly, eyes tracing him and then nodding at the instructions. He angles his head toward his mother, waiting for her signal, before he nods toward her too, listening as she directs them back home. Confusion touches his features when he realizes they traveled all this way only to turn back and then a hint of fear when he looks down and realizes that his body has dimmed, the faint glow he has grown so accustomed to smothered and stifled, his body stripped of his gifts.

    For a second, his heart races, his fear of his lethal disease bubbling up into his expression.

    He turns slightly back to the faeries, studying them, wondering if this is the sacrifice that must be made to bring order back to the world—a safety that he simultaneously never known and only known in the short few months of his life. Protests rise and then die weakly in his throat as seconds pass and then he dips his head, accepting whatever is to come, a courage rising and flooding in him, the warmth of it contagious.

    Aegean does his best to hold onto that bravery as he begins to walk next to Kagerus, his steps more confident than he feels. Each second, he wonders if it will be his last. Each breath feels both sweeter and more vicious, a honeyed poison on his tongue. He doesn’t know if his mother is thinking of it, if it has crossed her mind or if she simply knows better, but he doesn’t bring it up—doesn’t want to worry her.

    Instead, he remains silent, only pausing when the stranger begins to cough, hacking and wheezing as they make their way toward us. Mother is instantly on edge, vicious, and even without her gifts or the edge of her antlers, it is clear to me that she is a force to be reckoned with. Aegean, however, is young and naive and although he fears for his life, he does not fear the stranger. He steps toward them.

    “I am so sorry,” he breathes, knowing his mother will step in between and drag him away at any moment. “We can’t stay. The faeries were so specific.” Another step as he buries his nose into her neck, pressing his dimmed white skull into their skin. “We’re trying to heal this land,” his soft voice, so mature for his age, so unusually well-spoken. “If we stop, we may not succeed, and if we succeed, we’ll do more good than staying here to comfort you now.” Another sigh as he steps back, returning to his mother’s side.

    “I hope you understand.”

    But she is ushering them forth and he can only give the stranger an apologetic glance before his coltish legs take him further into the night, the fear of the plague brushing against the edges of his mind and merging with the fear of his own lethal disease. He waits for his mother’s disapproval when they finally come to a stop but he just walks into her, a tear slipping down his cheek for everything he understands and everything he doesn’t. “Home,” he whispers, but he knows they are not here to return to slumber.

    Not yet.

    In his youthful heart, he fears never again.

    i could die for you.


    Mary had always been a curious equine, as a foal she always ran from her home kingdom to meet others from neutral lands. Now the Queen of Sylva she finds herself meeting new faces what seems like a daily occurence, though there was one land she had never visited yet.

    The Mountain

    It was the very place her father was stripped of his immortality, finding himself dead for pestering the faeries. The mountain was also known for being giving as much as she is destructive, that was a personality she could get along with.

    It just so happened that the day she decided to visit the mountain was a good one, We seek the second ingredient to cure the plague the words echoed loud enough for all lingering by the mountain to hear. Her head tilts as she listens to the voice from above continue, talking about stones from the silver cove, noting they must travel through the ill lands, time was of the essence.

    Guess there was no time to waste, she was not sure why she was so inclined to help, she could really care less that the plague had struck Beqanna. She was hoping to find a healer to help cure her of the annoying plague that had struck her, perhaps if they found a cure for all of beqanna she would not have to deal with this annoyance again. And for that reason, the dapple mare sets off from the mountain to visit the cove.

    Perhaps it was the adrenaline of the request from the faeries, but she had felt more weak than ever, her body had thinned out and she found a new spot everyday that had slowly started to lose hair. She already knew this journey was going to be longer than it should, but regardless she would need to complete the task that they ask of her, she was already to far into it.

    She was not familiar with the cove that lay just east of Hyaline, but she knew that it has arrived along with the plague. She had meant to visit the new land since she was crowned Queen, and it seemed to be perfect timing for the faeries to request this of her. 

    She was able to peacefully travel through the forest, a few coughs here and there, only having to stop one time to clear her throat. She was now on the border of Hyaline, the kingdom was so lush, and just to the east of her lay Pangea. The kingdom could not be more opposite of Hyaline, interesting how that worked out she thinks to herself.

    She was so caught up in her own thoughts she barely noticed the equine before her. It was an adult equine, one she had never seen, the mare was a frail chestnut, her body spackled with roaning. Help me the words ever so quietly escape the mares red lips. Mary tilted her head, she had no sorrow for the pathetic mare who begged for help before her. Please, I am going to die the roan mare pleaded, looking for anyone to help her. 

    Mary could tell this stranger was weak, there was no point in helping her, and she was not her problem. No she finally responds, it was not her responsibility to help her, and she should not have let herself get to this point. Mary was also plagued, but here she is, making this trek, for the 'better of beqanna'. I can not help the weak, you are better off finding a peaceful place to rest... and what she meant by that was...to die. Goodluck she responds heartlessly, a small nod of her head and she pushed onward to her original destination.

    She could hear the roan mares cry of help for anyone, it was unfortunate that it was Mary who she came across, anyone else would have been more inclined to help. Mary heard the faeries, there was no time to waste, and she did already wasted enough time listening to the mares plea. Mary rolled her eyes, annoyed with her own self for wasting time. As she draws to a halt, her weak body begging for a moment to catch up, she looks around and a smirk tugs at her lips. The smell of the salty water hits her nares, a scent she has never inhaled before, with Hyaline and Pangea behind her, this surely had to be the Cove the faeries talked about.

    Long May She Reign


    in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
    There have been stories told about fairies. Papa tells them of course, so, one best not take them too literally. Still, when they call... they're going to heal the world of the sickness, right? The one Mama and Papa are so scared of that Oisín and she will get it. Honestly, she hasn't seen much of the sickness in her young life just yet. 'Seis has it, she thinks, but it's probably not that bad or their older sister wouldn't want to play with them - wouldn't be able to, in fact, come to think of it. Eurwen sincerely hopes it will not worsen. What if it gets worse?

    All in all, she just has to admit that she's curious to see the fae. Their call comes from a faraway place, the Mountain, but it is also a magic place, one she'll want to see once in her life at least. Looking around, it looks like her parents are sleeping when she gets up one morning - Grammama not around either. Good. She doesn't want them to worry, but if she's going to make a long, long journey, then they can't know that she's leaving or they might stop her.

    But Papa could do it in the ice. Surely she can do it when there's not ice.

    Of course, she has not idea how close he'd come to death while doing it. Freezing, wet, sinking. That this will be no less dangerous, that this is not just an exciting trip to see the fairies and help them with a simple task and then go home. But she's not a half year old yet. She's scared and brave and curious in one. Most of all, just so, so naive.

    Slipping away, she wonders one moment if perhaps she should have asked her sister to come. Either of them; she would have felt braver. But she's already stepped away from them and she won't risk sneaking back in for Oisín or snooping around Nerine and call Chryseis. They will know. They will find her. They will stop her. Best not risk it.

    The little girl, gold and white as is her namesake, darts over from the foresty area near Nerine's borders to the Taiga woods. Eerie and cold, they spook her a little; but once her mind is set surely she can't really go back?

    A shiver runs down her tiny spine, but then the pink-spotted filly moves. She can't stay here. She's going to see a fairy!

    The path is disorienting and dwindling; but she keeps going... roughly south. This land is nearly unoccupied; not marked with scent borders, she is free to travel here. By daylight it would have been easier, now the moon throws shadows between the trees and it's slow going, she swirls between trees, finding footing slowly between the soft forest ground and it's roots. Sometimes an owl hoots; sometimes, she watches rabbits get scared and run away from her, but all in all she is not held up too long.

    A mountain lures and she knows she's made it. With renewed energy and a girlish giggle, she walks up to the gathering.

    Not many horses have arrived yet, but she hardly pays attention to them anyway. Instead she stares at the fae; she doesn't see an ice fairy or a winter fairy like Papa had encountered, instead there is one very rocky one - his voice deep and going through her whole being with an urgency she can't quite explain. A task, he has, for her, for those around her. She stares at him, trying to assess his features. But it's urgent, he adds. So urgent, she immediately nods to him and turns around. Perhaps he hadn't been talking to her specifically, or only meant for adults to come - but she is, for once in her short life, certain about something. That she will go and find the things.

    She doesn't tarry. She doesn't go very fast, because going down the mountain is harder than going up with spindly legs like hers. But she goes at a steady pace of her own, like she always does. Slow and steady wins the race, Mama might say. Oisín would say she wouldn't win anything that way, probably. Chryseis too. Wenny would just stick out her tongue (but from behind her Mama or Papa). And now, she's going to prove them wrong. Maybe.

    Down the mountain, to the east where everybody else is going so that must be the way, there is a sick land. It stinks. Stinks of... she doesn't know exactly. Sickness smells, and death smells, and cold sweat and fear and oppression.

    Hurry. Go fast. Eurwen isn't the fastest horse, however. Not even because of her age, but because she wants to explore whatever she encounters and decide it's safe to continue, before actually going. So she looks around a lot, avoids a crevice in the earth she doesn't trust - another might have jumped over it, she goes around - and when a sick-looking, coughing horse approaches her, she freezes.

    There's nowhere to hide away when you're practically white and have mane shining gold. It's the downside of her beauty which she will yet have to discover; for now she's just a child, accepting the way the world is, the way she is, without question. So she accepts Chryseis' sickness. But this horse is new.

    Towering over her like all adults would, the spotted filly trembles with fear as they approach. They seem to stop at a respectable difference, but without any of her family to stand by her, what does she know? Is it a trap?

    Coughing reaches her ears, and she's scared. She doesn't want to go any farther. How can she possibly safely go around? Any delay will bring ruin. She tries to speak, and a pathetic squee comes out. Shaking her head, she goes sideways; her wide, near-black gaze never leaves the horse when she does so.

    "Help." They say; but the filly is in fact too scared of them. Loss of hair and an obvious drool on their lips, as well as coughing blood - it's nearly too much. So scared, she is, that she can barely move; she surely isn't able to speak. She shakes her head. Must not tarry. Time is of the essence. When she's finally around the sick horse, and hears more coughing from somewhere behind her (imagined or no), she can't hold it up any longer. Spooked, she kicks into a short race, and she doesn't stop until she makes it into the Cove.

    lies the seed that with the sun's love
    in the spring becomes the rose
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    She had been the first of the group to dash off to scout out the best hiding place.  With an excited kicking up of her hind limbs and royal purple tail bannered in the breeze, she ran.  Far and fast apparently because before she knew it she was a great distance from the den.  Galaxy eyes searched high and low for the perfect nook to scoot her small body into.  Another stride forwards and her ears perk in excitement.  A large boulder next to a massive mountain, leaned just slightly enough to create a dark crevice.  Easily she slips into the darkness without fear.

    In her wait, eyes peering from the shadows to see if any of her friends would find her, her ears catch the Godly sound of a higher voice.  Her gaze shifts to find other horses having begun to gather, and as quickly as they arrive, they are gone.  She had heard the instructions of the fae, travel to Silver Cove -do not stop for anyone.  This was her home and she worried slightly that something had happen. Momma, finch!  Eyes wide with panic, she darted from her hiding place and made a beeline for home.

    Momma had said to NEVER go in the dusty land of Pangea, so she makes her way through the hills of Hyaline along the border.  Slender legs carrying her with much haste, she hardly stops to catch her breath.  That is until something within the land of sickness nearly jumps at her, causing a yelp to explode from her lungs.  Splayed legged and wide eyed she looks at the undead creature that stalks the edge of the land. "Won't you come closer M'Dear,"  it beckons, "I am hurt can't you see.  Please help me."  Flesh hangs from bone as the ghastly being threatens to near with a hoarse cough -blood droplets spilling from its lips.  Frozen with panic, she does not think to answer -she couldn't even if she wanted.  Instead she stares blankly at it, but when it reaches for her, flight takes hold and she is fleeing upon tired limbs.  Running without thought or care, as if her life hangs in the balance.  A fallen tree creates an obstacle and she attempts to leap over it.  Had she thought of it's sheer mass, she would have gone around.  But she jumps, tucking her limbs to her underbelly.  At first she thinks she has made it, but a sharp pain radiates from her hind hoof and her body snaps backwards.  A limb of the tree snags her ankle in the crook of its connection to the trunk, ripping and scraping at her bright pelt.  Desperate to free herself, she scrambles and pulls.  With each attempt the rough bark cuts into her leg deeper and she whimpers in pain.  

    Calming herself just the slightest, she refocuses, looking back to where her leg was snagged.  With all of her weight resting on her front and the fallen tree, she pushes back slightly.  It was just enough to slide her caught limb back and up, finally freeing it as she tumbles forwards and onto the forest floor.  Her thoughts jumble. Pain, fear, confusion, relief.  It all floods over her and suddenly she remembers why she was running.  A quick glance up, she looks to see if the diseased horse had been trailing her.  Sunset ears twist to search for sound, and in finding nothing, she decides to rise from the dirt and continue home.

    With now limped strides, she hurries as quickly as she can.  Blood was trickling down her pastern and covering her hoof, though the red tint blended with her natural hue it was still fairly noticeable. Behind her was stained earth and before her was border of her peninsula home. Silver cove.


    *a voice within the stars*

    Cosmos is ever wondrous in her travels, dual-colored eyes studying each facet of the world around her in vivid detail. Tephra is home, as it always been; but now, it is home in an entirely new way. Home in that she has only ever escaped on her own a couple of times; home in that she knows every nook and cranny, every strain of plant, every members name; home in that she hardly knows play outside of Myrkari and Segolene -

    Home in that she bored and itching - dying and rotting.

    How like her mother she is: persistent, curious, serpentine, and dangerous. The little pink filly must know everything, pestering and digging until every detail is unearthed. Something sinister stirs deep within, just as her mother, but her mother’s are much more instinctive. Cosmos is terribly introspective, especially for a child. That is where she is different from her mom: she thinks and thinks about anything and everything else. From the minds of others to how a plant survives, she is always thinking. She does not understand the woes of her mother, or how distant she may seem at times, but she tries (and she loves her mom - she truly does).

    When the fairies call, Cosmos stirs. Jude does as well, lids drooping sleepily as she watches her daughter rise. There is light questioning, but the pegasus’ mother does not stop her, tucking herself back around Myrkari with a resigned sigh. A twinge of disappointment pains her chest, but she allows it to pass with an observing cock of her head.

    Soon, she thinks, her mother will feel her own call - will finally accept the world as it changes around her.

    Cosmos’ trip to the Mountain is not quick, but she does not mind experiencing Beqanna in its wild nighttime happenings.

    Amongst the shuffling equines there is a face the filly recognizes: Aegean. Her heart flutters, excited to see the pretty face of her fascinating friend. The horses continue to shift, though, and she loses sight and control amongst the much larger adults. No matter - she will find him, or she will not. Her lavender and gold eyes peer up at the others, an inquisitive smile gentle on her lips. How terribly fun this adventure is.

    The fairies begin to speak and Cosmos cannot contain her eagerness: she gently pushes her way to the front. There she watches, ears pricked and eyes sparkling with delight. Their message is simple. Cosmos dips her head to the creatures, her gaze glued to them as her head drops.

    The others begin to disperse and the pink girl barely catches the sight of Aegean’s glowing tail as it disappears down the slope. She trots after him, lanky and awkward six month old legs stumbling across the rock. He is accompanied by a much older woman, causing Cos to hesitate in running directly up to them. Instead, she hangs back, following mostly off of scent and sound. It is not fear that keeps her away, but more fascination, wondering if she can listen to them as they interact.

    The sound of another, a stranger, causes the girl to stop. She stands still, shivering with excitement and swivelling her head from side to side to find a better angle to hear.

    Cosmos creeps through the brush, spotting Kagerus and Aegean just ahead.

    She watches as the two hurry away from the cries of the sickly one, a cruel sorrow she does not yet understand clenching her heart. Cos follows in the two’s footsteps only to find the sick one has drawn closer. They are just ahead, ragged and so horribly sad. She stops as they notice her, a bittersweet moment passing between the two.

    “I’m sorry,” Cos whispers, “I . . . I can’t.” The filly begins to walk a circle around the sick one when she stops.

    “Maybe what I am doing will help you, but I cannot stop now,” she murmurs, feeling the first heartbreak of her young life. She breaks into a desperate canter, tears streaming down her face. For one who feels so wise, she knows so little.

    Did she just watch someone die? No matter - she mustn’t stop now.

    Her panicked canter brings her directly up to Aegean and Kagerus. She stops, sniffling, peering at the backs of the two before walking up to her glowing friend. She brushes her nose against his shoulder, whispering, “Hello again.” Cos then turns her attention up to the antlered woman, bitter smile twisting her usually open features:

    “Don’t worry, I’m not sick. My name is Cosmos.”

    The three exchange greetings on the border, their next move unknown.
    the good seems fuckin' cheap

    permission to powerplay aegean and kag from laura and sid!

    cold in the violence after the war
    hope is a fire to keep us warm

    She should be sleeping,  but the night is alive with sounds and smells and all manner of interesting things. It’s warm and cozy here though, curled with Dagen and Daddy. She’s debating whether it’s actually worth it to go investigate the dark, unexplored hills and hollows when the call rings out over the land. She stills, blue eyes widening as she glances quickly around her.

    She pokes Dagen insistently with her nose, trying to wake him. “Dagen! she hisses, hoping she won’t wake Daddy too. When he finally stirs, she pushes at him, squirming away from Dad.

    “Did you hear that?” she whispers, blue eyes bright and curious and decidedly impish. “I wanna go see.” She doesn’t wait for his response, instead pulling herself carefully to her feet. When Dagen joins her, she presses briefly against him, nibbling his neck before tossing him a wide grin and lurching forward into a trot.

    She barely pays any mind to the time that passes them as they make their way through forest and rolling hills, until they stare up the path that leads into a tall, intimidating mountain. The impossible pull of the call that had woken her draws her forward though, and she barely pauses along the gentle slope of the foothill before she is surging forward once more. She bumps her shoulder briefly against Dagen before they begin the climb, just to tell him, without words, she is glad he is there with her.

    When finally they have reached the peak (and find the fae that had called them here) Brazen is equal parts curiosity and determination. What might have intimidated others only draws her in, an irresistible lure that she wants only to conquer. She stares wide-eyed at the fae stallion that speaks to them, pressing close to Dagen as she does, his subtle comfort reminding her of his steadfast presence.

    When he finishes speaking, she immediately turns to her twin, blue eyes peering up at him with unmasked excitement. Her smile quickly slips into a frown however, when she realizes the wings she had grown so used to seeing tucked neatly against his sides have vanished. “Dagen!’ she exclaims sharply, her nose immediately going to touch the bare skin of his shoulder. She can nearly feel his concern as though it is her own, and that is enough to cause her to stiffen, features setting into fierce lines.

    “It’ll be ok,” she says, reaching up to scrape her teeth along his jaw in a comforting gesture. She’s not entirely certain that’s true, but as far as she can tell, there is only one way forward now.

    But Dagen, as indomitable as ever, recovers quickly enough and they are making their way back down the mountain.When they reach the sloping hills that stretch to the north, Brazen pauses for a moment, peering around her with a frown. She is too young, not yet versed in the terrain of Beqanna. Only instinct and a faint understanding of where they are now headed have her turning to follow the river. She looks at Dagen for confirmation, and when he seems amenable, she starts forward along the unsteady edges of the landmark waterway.

    She cannot quite name the lands they now pass through, but she is ever curious, eyes attentive and inquisitive as she studies the scenery they pass. She pauses a moment to stare in wonder at the lake they come to, admiring how lovely it is beneath the early morning sunlight. Only Dagen nudging her onwards sends her feet once more into motion as she turns reluctantly away.

    As they continue, something begins the tickle the edges of her thoughts. Something that doesn’t click until they finally encounter their first horse since beginning their journey. Only then does she suddenly recognize how odd that absence had been.

    She knows of the plague, of course. But it hadn’t seemed terribly important before today. Collecting the cure seemed a fun distraction. A way for them to do something exciting beyond the safety of their previously small world. Now though, as she approaches this stranger with childish exuberance, it suddenly occurs to her that perhaps she had taken too much for granted.

    Because this stranger seems terribly ill. She is sickly thin, her hair coming out in clumps, a thin trickle of blood dribbling from her nose that worsens each time she coughs. Brazen stumbles to a sudden halt as she stares at the stranger, consternation and concern warring on her red features. “Are you ok?” she asks uncertainly, her blue eyes dark with worry.

    “Help… please,” she gasps between a cough, her eyes pitiful and bleak as she stares pleadingly at her.

    “Oh.” The soft acknowledgment slips from her lips as she grasps for something more appropriate to say. “Maybe, I think, we know someone…” Her words grind to a halt when Dagen suddenly interrupts her, his body coming between them as he shoves her away. She scowls at him, immediately butting her head against him to inform him in no uncertain terms of her displeasure.

    With a huff, she turns back to consider the stranger, but Dagen’s interruption (as rude as it was) has given her pause. Reminds her of the fairies warning not to tarry. She stares at the woman with troubled eyes for a long moment before she sighs, head drooping a bit. “We’re helping, I think.” She turns then, though her gaze lingers on the stranger. “I’m…” She coughs, and Brazen interrupts, “You should find Island Resort. There are healers there.”

    She couldn’t very well leave without doing anything, but that would have to be sufficient. Hopefully the woman would take her advice.

    She is distracted as they continue their journey, eyes roaming aimlessly over the landscape she had previously studied so closely. She continues with Dagen leading, following the water almost absently now. It isn’t until they reach the ocean that she finally snaps back to herself, shaking her darker musings.

    “We’re almost there, I think,” she whispers to her twin, pressing her shoulder against him as she looks forward, along the coastline. After only a moment’s pause, she presses onward, even more fiercely determined to complete this task now than she had been before. Determined to prove herself to the fairies. To Momma and Daddy. To the poor sick woman she hadn’t known how to help.

    They continue their journey along the coast, until the cliffs begin to flatten and curve around a large inlet. Brazen slows then, surveying the land around them, the glittering blue waters and the stretching beach that has begun to darken. She’s never been to Silver Cove, but somehow this looks familiar. Like perhaps she’s seen bits and pieces of it before.

    Until, suddenly it clicks. Lio! Lio had seen this. They must be in the right place then. This must be Silver Cove. After a moment however, she frowns, abruptly realizing she hadn’t heard Lio speak to her once since they’d left. She turns her eyes to Dagen, worry evident in her bright blue gaze as she considers the ramifications of that realization.


    Permission to powerplay Dagen from Toli

    those bright crooked stars, man they're howlin’ out
    thought you read them all right, had them all figured out

    He'd been nearly asleep the whole way. Not even the long trek had woken him as he hovered near his sister's side, leading them almost dream-like to the mountain. He couldn't even recall why they were going or why she'd woken him, but she wanted to go and so he took it upon himself as her brother to escort her safely there. Wherever. For whatever.

    It wasn't until his sides were suddenly cold that his dark eyes popped fully open with a sharp intake of breath. Gone! They were gone! His wings! He spun in place as if he could have simply just dropped them, but no. They were gone!


    Oh no, she'd noticed. His face flushed with embarrassment as he felt her nose press to a part of his body that she hadn't touched before, where his wings no longer covered that specific spot on his shoulder. She told him it would be okay and he remembered himself. He had to keep her safe. This was for her. He would figure out the wing thing later. He could do this. This was for her.

    He nodded, the muscle in his jaw pulsing as he ground his teeth together. Without commenting on his sudden nakedness, looking even more like her identical twin now, he turned and led them down the mountain in the direction they needed to go. He'd seen it as they were on the crest, just as she likely had.

    They reached the base and looked at each other, and although the edges of his eyes were tight with stress over the loss of his appendages he nodded again, and in sync with one another they headed towards the river to follow it North.

    She stopped to look out over the lake, the early dawn sunlight fighting so hard to touch the dark water and leave its mark on the surface, and he paused with her. More sleep would be nice. She was probably thinking something far more girly, but really he just wanted to get back home and have his wings back, sleep more next to Dad where they didn't have to worry about much of anything save for when they would see Mom again.

    He reached out and brushed his mouth over her shoulder, his eyes softening and saying what he chose not to. They should keep moving.

    She followed.

    Time passed as they continued but he wasn't sure exactly how much. It hadn't felt like it'd been long before a stranger was there, a woman so sickly and disgusting. He frowned and glanced around, belatedly noticing that this was the only person they'd come across thus far. It was a poor time for traveling and meeting others, perhaps, but still. It felt odd.

    His eyes settled on the woman, watching her with an intense gaze as she pleaded for help. Oh, no. His sister was going to try to help her! Was she crazy??

    He launched himself forward, putting himself between them with a growling snarl as he pushed Brazen back. "Don't touch her!" His brotherly consideration earned him a headbutt and he grunted against the impact, scowling hard at his sister and watching her at least offer the woman a place to go for healing. Their home had a number of healers that could help reduce the symptoms, at least.

    He grudgingly figured that was a better way of handling it, but he wasn’t sorry for telling the woman off either. Brazen wasn’t getting sick with him around. It was his job to keep her safe and he damn well would.

    They were quiet again for the last part of their journey with only the soft sound of the water beside them trickling and the slowly waking birds stirring enough for lonely morning songs. He glanced at Brazen when she brushed her shoulder with his, stating they were almost there. The notion seemed to fuel her with a second wind of energy and he had to speed up to keep pace with her as she pressed on. His teeth reached out to clip her with a soft scolding. He had to keep her in line. She couldn’t just leave him behind.

    The look in her eyes next was not the defiance he’d expected and he frowned. “What?” Wasn’t this it? It looked like the place they were supposed to be to him. What was wrong with her?

    “This is it,” he told her in confirmation. She didn’t have to look so worried. “We made it.”

    learned every constellation, just to find where you're at

    The cold had settled into Nocturne’s bones, ice that sank so deep into him there was no thawing it, no melting it with warmth even as the weather turned. At least the ice stopped hurting. Somewhere along the line, the cold became a part of him instead of an enemy his body needed to fight off to stay alive. He began to understand what the fairy had meant by gifts; they had taken what caused him pain and turned it into a friend. A constant companion that didn’t fend off the lonely ache in his chest, but at least made sure it had company.

    Ice formed itself into a pillow for him to rest his weary head on, wrapped him up in a blanket to tuck him in and keep him cozy, if not warm. Ice trailed after him as he wandered on restless feet, searching for...he didn’t know what. Now that the fairies’ request was fulfilled, he had nothing left to search for. No reason to be, other than the inevitable fact of his existence. His days felt oddly empty, and his nights stretched into endless oblivion cut through with fitful tossing and turning as nightmares claimed his dreams and twisted them into darkness.

    And his only company was the ice the fairies had given him.

    When he heard the fairies’ call again, it was almost a relief. Yes, the first had been difficult, had forced him to the edge of his endurance and beyond, but it had given him purpose, distracted him from the nightmare of his birth and how very alone he was. So he answered.

    He hiked back to the Mountain on legs that were stronger now, a body that was a tiny bit bigger and a little more ready for the task at hand. He still had his thick, fluffy baby coat that glowed almost white under the light of the Cheshire cat moon, and it had grown in a little thicker in answer to the cold and the ice.

    When another fairy stepped forward to give the gathered crowd instructions, Nocturne listened carefully and nodded along. They had to travel to a place called Silver Cove, walking through unsafe lands to do so, gather up stones from the Cove’s shore, and do so as quickly as possible. He could do that.

    As soon as the fairy finished speaking, the ice they’d given him so recently thawed, leaving him feeling warm for the first time since. His skin prickled with it, almost uncomfortably so, and now there was no friendly growth of frost along his coat, or radiating out across the ground from his feet as he stood still. The sudden cessation was almost enough to throw him off balance, but he figured just like last time, this quest was to be done without the fairie’s gifts.

    Fair enough. He turned and set out. On his way down the Mountain, he sought out Silver Cove on the horizon, doing his best to plan the fastest, easiest route there. It seemed like if he followed the border between the hilly mountain land with the giant lake and the canyons of Pangea, he’d walk a relatively straight line right to the Cove.

    So he picked his way down the Mountain once again, a trek that no longer made him want to curl up and collapse in an exhausted heap and not move for a week. Still exhausting, of course, but his body knew depths of exhaustion he couldn’t have fathomed the first time he’d climbed this Mountain, and wasn’t it all relative anyhow? And when he got to the bottom, he followed the clashing lay of the land, staying just to the Hyaline side of the border. If he strayed too close to Pangea, his chest tightened and his heart started to race nervously and his ears flicked back with unaccustomed anxiety. Felt like a pretty big clue that he should Stay Away as much as possible, so Hyaline it was.

    As he wandered the foothills along the edge of the land, Nocturne came across a copper and white spotted stallion curled up on a rock. The man sneezed dramatically and his body turned into that of a strange and fearsome beast, seemingly as a reflex of the sneeze itself. The creature shook his head, rubbed his face against his lizard arm, and looked around with an annoyed expression on his odd, predator face. His eyes widened, pupils dilating as he spotted Nocturne, and his large mouth gaped open, revealing a row of wickedly sharp teeth dripping saliva tinged just a little red. Possibly from the blood that dripped from his nose.


    “Well hello there,” the beast crooned , and Nocturne’s eyes widened in return, a nervous snort his only answer as his ears flicked back and he drew himself up, uncertain and ready to run.

    “My name isssss End,” the monster continued, and his tone was almost friendly. But Nocturne wasn’t entirely stupid, despite his youth and inexperience. He huffed and gave the creature a wide berth and kept walking. “Wait,” the scaly lizard thing coaxed. “I won’t harm you. I need ssssome help. You sssssee, I sssseem to have come down with a nassssty case of the plague.” He broke into a coughing fit as if in punctuation to his statement, sending noxious saliva and nose blood flying Nocturne’s way.


    Nocturne shied back, avoiding the spray of bodily fluids to the best of his ability. “Rude. I wassss wondering if you could help me. I’m ssssearching for a healer, ssssomeone who could ease my sssssymptomsssss at leasssst. But I’m not feeling well enough to keep looking. I don’t ssssuppossssse you could heal me?” he asked, forked tongue flicking out with each sibilant hiss.

    Nocturne shook his little head. No, in fact, he couldn’t heal anyone of anything. “Drat. Well, could you perhapsssss help me find sssssomeone who could? I promisssse I won’t eat you.” Nocturne stared for a long moment, somehow skeptical of that particular promise. Seemed like the kind of thing you shouldn’t have to say unless there was a good chance it wasn’t true. He shook his head again, ‘cause he didn’t have time to help a scary stranger who felt the need to promise not to eat him. Maybe once he’d delivered stones to the fairies, but they said it had to come first, and the scary monster didn’t look like he was close to dying. Sick, yes, but not dying. Probably.

    The lizard thing growled and his eyes sharpened, and he gathered himself to charge. The only thing working in Nocturne’s favor was the fact that the monster was sick and had a hard time getting to his feet and propelling himself forward. So Nocturne took advantage of the creature’s weakness and got the hell out of there as fast as his little legs would carry him, racing away from the snarling beast and the sounds of frustration and rage escaping his terrifying mouth. Add that to the list of things that would give Nocturne nightmares.

    He kept running ‘til he reached the edge of Silver Cove, turning the spike of fear and adrenaline into fuel for frantic little legs to devour the distance.

    ((End is my komodo dragon shifter. He appears briefly as horse and then in scary shape to help move Nocturne along and not tempt him to linger and try to help with the healing. :| I hope that's okay.))

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