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    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

    I don't take back what I say; LAURA pony
    This time she had skipped off to the Playground with her daddy in tow. Totally got permission after her encounter with Pteron at that place. Well what they decided must be Silver Cove. Even if they still weren’t one hundred percent sure. That reminds her she should definitely remember to ask about that again later tonight when she went back home. But today’s adventure was going to the Playground and she was so excited about it. Crynn and Hilde were at home with Momma and she would bound off around him and then back to his side to sneak in for a cuddle before she bounced off again.

    When he drops her off at the edge with a smile, she nuzzles up against him, sneaking in for that final hug and kiss before she scoots away from him. “Byyyyye Dadddddy!” She says with a laugh, her voice trailing off as she yells over her shoulder. Her hooves were already taking her on a collision course with the first other foal she could find.

    It takes her a moment to find others out amongst the warm spring day. Okay, maybe she really gets distracted by some random trails and small critters she hadn’t yet laid eyes on yet. But really, no this time, she was serious. She sees him there and doesn’t hesitate just like the last time when she had met Pteron. “Hi!” She’s all happy, and her coat practically rainbows colors in excitement as she stretches her nose out to his. “My name is Astarielle, but you can call me Star. It’s much shorter.” Another happy smile, even as her nostrils flare and his scent is placed with his soon to be coming name. “What’re you doing?”

    laura Your choice as to who you want to post Aegean or Brigade <3
    but, oh, I got an iron in that fire

    The playground is not somewhere that he chooses to be often.

    Cleave is but a boy, barely coming up on his first year of age, but he has never viewed himself as being young. He has never thought of himself as a child—let alone a baby. He had been born into a world of danger, his mother spiriting him away and placing him with another woman to protect him from his father, and even though he has no real memory of it, it is an event that blossomed in his chest and made him into the hard-edged boy that he is today. It is an event that has formed him without him knowing.

    So he is surprised when his wandering takes him here, and even more surprised when it is interrupted so quickly by the bright-eyed, brightly colored filly who makes her way over to him. Cleave angles his heavy head toward her, red eyes entirely blank as he studies her, practically feeding on her innocence.

    “What does it look like I’m doing?” he says in response, voice still youthful but beginning to take on some of the gravel and the grit that would permeate it during his later years. “Star,” he repeats her name, tasting it on his tongue and then nodding, as if finding it acceptable. “My name is Cleave.”

    He has always liked the way that it sounded, the sharp edges of it.

    “What are you doing?” he says, suddenly looking at her a little closer. In response to his curiosity, small flames burst into life down his spine, licking at the air and then climbing up the youthful curve of his neck, overtaking his mane so that it becomes a living thing, flickering and crackling in the air.

    “Why would you come here all by yourself?”


    lol cleave decided he wanted to reply instead :|
    Oh look he sprouts flames just like little Hilde! He immediately had drawn her towards him without doing anything. The black and red broken appearance of his skin. The way his eyes seemed to find her and then study her just as intently as she was studying him. Excitement made her heart thump in her chest, even if there was a bit of anxiety deep down in there somewhere swirling in the mix of emotions she felt.

    The faint gravelly tone of his voice made her ears twitch as he replied to her. That smile still curling her lips. “It looks like you are just standing there brooding.” She says with a small laugh, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.  “You are too young to brood, only adults do that.” Once she takes in his scent and his name she circles around him briefly, her nose touching here and there in the deeper looking cracks. Well, almost touching. She had made the mistake of touching Hilde once and she got her nose burnt for it, so she knows enough to stay away when one smells of fire.

    He was different though, he didn’t smell like home and fire, he smelt of…far off places and a fire burning through the woods. Danger perhaps. Or maybe her imagination was just full of it today. Either way when he introduces herself, she can’t help the silent mouthing of his name. Cleave. Such a harsh word. A tilt of her head as she looks at him and wonders if he will be as harsh as his name.

    “I’m looking for friends. For people to know.” She tilts her head at him again, ears flickering curiously. “You look like someone I should know.” A smile, a deep curling of her lips. “Why wouldn’t I be alone? This place is safe. My daddy and momma told me so.” Besides she had known a couple fairies in her day, the ones that had taken care of her before she had found Kensa and Litotes. Before she had been blessed with a sister and a brother in one season. Crynn was quieter, but much more content to stay home.

    Of course they were both teeny tiny still.

    The fire along his mane soothed her. He reminded her of Hilde and she gave him more trust than she probably should to a stranger. But he felt safe, reminded her of happy moments at home. Her coat reflects that, slowly shifting into a pattern of color changing that looked like the burning fire. Reds, oranges, yellows, blues, they rippled across her body as her eyes followed the flames along his neck. “Why are you out here all alone?” She says, her dark eyes turning to meet his red ones.

    cleave hahaha it's okay!
    but, oh, I got an iron in that fire

    Cleave can feel the edges of himself beginning to solidify. His personality is nothing but a constantly changing, ever-evolving flood of feeling; he can feel it beginning to pull together beneath his touch, the edges of it starting to carve into something real, into something that he can sink his teeth into. But there are still pieces of him that he hasn’t fully worked out yet. There are pieces of him that vacillate between a youthful curiosity and an adult’s rage—a barely suppressed fury at a world not like he expected it to be.

    “I can do whatever I want,” he grinds out, his lips tight as his red eyes follow her, but there is no real heat behind the words. He merely rejects the idea that certain things are to be hoarded by adults—as if children do not have their own things to brood over. Cleave thinks of a father he does not, and will likely never, know. He thinks of his brother and sister who are like him and yet know nothing of him.

    He has plenty of things to brood over.

    Still, she sniffs around him and he watches her carefully, feeling the flames pull tighter into his body, the edges of them licking the air but smothering out on the edges. Beneath his hooves, the plants of the playground begin to smoke, his hooves growing hotter and hotter until the vegetation becomes ash.

    “I don’t think anyone would want to know me,” he says evenly, his boyish voice flat and his eyes hard. “I’m not exactly friend material.” But he doesn’t dismiss her just yet and he doesn’t leave, instead choosing to study her, watching the way her coat flows from color to color. “It’s not safe here.”

    A pause, the first flickering of a smile around his mouth.

    “That’s why I’m here.”

    He doesn’t elaborate.

    Happy, that was what she knew. Grateful. She knew that too. After all her time amongst the Den had been a bit longer. She had been creeping up on her birthday when Kensa had found her, her belly already slightly rounder. She had been silent then. A self-inflicted punishment maybe, back when she had been angry and sad for being left behind, not once, but twice. But now? Now with Kensa and Lilotes she had a family and she was happy. So everything was okay, because she knew that they would love and protect her forever and ever.

    She will change more, shifting, molding, melting into the places she should be. Or into the places her environment and the people surrounding her will mold her. She won’t always be this happy, but she would like to think she will be always grateful for the people that find their way into her life.

    Like him. She is grateful right now, for meeting him. She is thoughtful when he says he can do what he wants. “That sounds lonely.” She says softly, her heart instantly bleeding for him. She knows what it is like to feel lonely and lost without another soul to lean on. She knew it, had felt it. Her lips hover over his shoulder as she steps closer. She wants to touch, but she can feel the heat still burning from his skin. She thinks of how she is going to need fireproof her body. This not being able to touch the ones that curl themselves next to her heart is going to get annoying.

    She huffs a soft breath on his shoulder before stepping back. She doesn’t know that others might not associate touch with love, with happiness, with belonging. No, she doesn’t know that sometimes touch is painful. And so she doesn’t know boundaries, doesn’t know that some prefer large ones around themselves.

    “Of course it is.” She says, a small smile curling her lips. “You wouldn’t hurt me or anyone else you barely know for no reason.” She stretches her still growing wings out at her sides, letting the tips of her feathers reach and stretch towards the ground before pulling them back up against her sides. “Everyone deserves friends. I’ll be yours.” The biggest thing she’s learned?

    Everyone deserves love.

    but, oh, I got an iron in that fire

    She is too soft, he thinks. He could eat her alive—burn the softness from her—but there’s something about the contrast between her and him that’s interesting enough for him to stop. Instead he just watches her with his stern, pupil-less eyes, the red of them smoldering. He laughs when she speaks, the sound harsh on his tongue and he does nothing to make it less. It’s not quite a mocking noise, but its not a soft one either, and he tilts his massive head in her direction, his expression unreadable.

    “I am not lonely,” he asserts, and he isn’t even sure if it’s a lie because he has no idea what lonely really means. All he has ever known is being alone. Even when he is with his “family,” he is alone. They are not like him. They do not understand him—they do not share the same hunger, the same desires.

    He has never known anything else.

    Perhaps lonely is just his default state.

    Still, she pursuits, refuses to be cowed by his stern nature and he can respect that—can respect the way that she pushes forward despite everything that would tell her to stop. “You have no idea whether or not I would hurt you,” he growls, eyes sharp. “Maybe I would burn you alive and laugh while I do it.” The flames on his skin flare outward more, reaching for her in their own way, and he takes a step, his lips peeling back from his teeth. “I don’t want friends. You’re not listening to me.”

    Another step as he continues to study her, continues to watch her.

    “You should leave.”

    Because who knows what will happen if she stays.

    Who knows if he will let her leave.

    She tilts her head when he laughs, the sound unkind and harsh on her ears. It causes them to fall back into her mane briefly but they are right back up there once the sound is gone. She blinks at him, a little confused when he says he is not lonely. “But you are alone. So of course you’re lonely.” She argues, her eyes turning determined in her quest to be his friend. The fire flares up hotter along his skin and she has to step back and away from it, knowing that being burned hurts. But there was no fear in her eyes as she watches him.

    Even before when he had growled and glared and dared her to go, warned her to go. “I am listening to you.” She says stubbornly, her chin set in defiance now, her eyes glimmering with that same determination from before. She stays away from the fire, letting the flames reach and stretch towards her but she keeps them away from her skin.

    If she wavered at all in those moments it did not show on her face. If her stomach was curling into nervous knots, that did not show either. She blows on a particularly persistent flame, like a birthday candle that wouldn’t go out, as she takes another half step back and away. “I am not leaving Cleave.” She says softly after a long moment, her eyes taking in the way his lips had pulled back from his teeth, the way his eyes glittered with danger. She squares herself up and faces him head on, waiting.

    And while her happiness might have turned into determination, it had not left her. It was just like a puppy, wiggling and eager to get out once she managed to get Cleave to agree with her.

    but, oh, I got an iron in that fire

    He doesn’t understand her softness.

    He could live to be a hundred and he probably would never understand the kind of softness that still holds on in the face of cruelty. It is beyond his own scope of understanding and frustration flares at him, something dark that twists in his belly when he realizes that he is up against something he can’t control.

    With a snap, all of his flames go out, leaving him still peculiar looking, but cooling. His face is hard as he looks at her, lips slowly settling down, the handsome, stern lines of his features unreadable.

    “Fine,” he finally says, the word tossed out almost callously.

    Another step toward her, although this time he doesn’t reach for flames first. This time he is just a boy and she is just a girl and he feels something shift in his stomach at the realization.

    “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    She has no way of knowing that he’s already claimed her in his head. That she pushed and he finally relented, but not in the way she maybe intended. Cleave isn’t the time to have friends, but he is the type to have possessions—to hoard the things that he believes are his own. She pushed for friendship, but he doesn’t have the ability to soften for something like that so he diverts to what he can understand.

    “Where do you live?” he asks suddenly, because now that she is his, these are the kind of things that matter. These are the kind of things that he needs to approve, although he doesn’t say it outright.

    After all, he had warned her.


    this house is rust and wreckage, holding on by just a hope
    but I believe in dust and magic and every word you ever wrote

    If she knew more of the world perhaps she would have heeded his words earlier when he had told her to leave, that he needed no one. But she does not know that he now considers her his in a far more possessive way that she considers him hers. Fine, he says, and her eyes light up. Her legs carrying her back closer to him, her lips searching out to touch, more to hover over the cooling parts of his skin. She would have brushed against his shoulder had she not still felt the heat. Alas, perhaps someday she would be able to invest into casual touch with those that made her work for it.

    “Really?” She ignores the warning, pushes it past and forgets about it. Later down the road she would remember. Would draw it from the depths of her memory. Her body wiggles in delight. The colors flashing, swirling across her body in a rainbow of them. They gathered and then exploded, until she calms herself and it settles back into the color of black ash, touches of red and orange here and there.

    He had stepped forwards too. She could feel the heat from his fire still on his skin. It curled against her own, her nose inhaling his scent again. There was something intoxicating about it, perhaps it was the danger that fueled her to want to be close to tuck him there in her heart with the rest of them she had cared about.

    “I live in Hyaline. Where do you live?”


    but, oh, I got an iron in that fire

    She is more beautiful when she is this color he decides, when her body burns into soot and ash and when the color of flames just barely licks at the edges of her. It satisfies some predatory part of him and he nods a little. “You look better like that,” he says aloud, studying the darkness of her, the complimentary tones.

    It is enough to appease him that he cools his skin even more, the temperature of it still warmer than the average colt, but not enough to actually cause her any harm. It is a kindness, in his own way; perhaps a reward for turning a color so appeasing to him, perhaps just his way of not driving her away just yet.

    Regardless, he doesn’t shy away when she reaches out for him, although he watches with a careful eye.

    “I live in the Taiga,” he says, speaking in the typical way of the forest dwellers. He has never quite understood why they feel the need to add “the” before the land’s name, but it feels adult, and he decides that he likes it. Even if he is not sure that he likes the land itself. “Why do you live in Hyaline?” he asks, his voice a touch harsh again as he studies her. “Wouldn’t you prefer to live with me?”

    It isn’t a trap necessarily, but neither it is it completely an innocent question.

    “You said you weren’t leaving, but if you live there, then you’ll leave eventually.”

    He bristles against the thought of it and flames begin slowly around his legs in response to it.


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