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    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    SOCHI -- Year 207

    QOTY

    "He will inevitably decide that it all fell apart because he had orchestrated it and he will carry the blame like a stone in his chest, too. He will add it to the pile and perhaps, someday when there are enough stones to weigh him down, he will walk into the sea and let them drown him" -- Kensley, written by Savage


    it's hard to stop what you can't see; anyone
    #1

    — I'll break you a hundred different ways —

    It has been weeks since the invitation to come to Loess had been extended to him. He had mulled it over in his mind, but had make no effort to accept it. He had been born in a time when neither parent laid claim to a kingdom, and to be within a border of one felt too similar to a prison. He had grown up trailing his mother, to wherever she felt inspired to wander, and even before the curse had been set upon him he had followed a similar path. There was nowhere that he lingered for long, save for the very distant mountains and forests – places so dark that no one else dared to trek, and if they did, the sight of the skeletal stallion was enough to send them away.

    He isn’t sure why he comes. He stands on a rocky outcropping, elevated enough that he can scan most of the territory. He had already scouted it from above, but now his wings sat folded neatly at his sides. It was not his ideal choice in layout; not enough trees and other places to steal from sight when night fell, but the mountains of Hyaline that bordered the one side would suffice, he supposes.

    It was also far enough away from Tephra that it was unlikely he would run into the crimson and bone-laced girl here. It irritated him, the way he still saw her face when he closed his eyes; that thoughts of her crept into his subconscious when he didn’t ward them off. He still smelled of ash and sulfur, even though it had only been a short time that he spent at the base of the volcano; but much like the smell, she haunted him, even if their encounter had been brief. He had left for Loess immediately after.

    Without realizing it, he had descended from his perch while lost in his thoughts, his hooves meeting the summer-scorched ground with a thud. With eyes devoid of expression, he watches, only faintly curious of where Sochi might be. It is not she that will determine whether he stays or leaves, however; it was whether or not he could tolerate everyone else.

    — and I'll make you remember my face —

    Nightlock
    Reply
    #2
    Sochi

    darling, you're wild-eyed, empty, and tongue-tied
    maybe you need me or maybe you don't

    Sochi had never really fancied herself a kingdom horse either.

    Too many rules, too many restrictions, too many arrogant horses with their bellies full of food and their minds empty. She had little respect for them—until she met Castile. And in him, she had found something she had never thought she’d found. Perhaps love, although she would never be the first to say it. Perhaps it was simply respect. After all, for a predator like herself, it was difficult to not respect a dragon.

    Whatever it was, it kept her within the borders of Loess far more than she would have ever anticipated. She finds herself walking the borders often, making sure to pay attention to the beach. After she had watched Isobell emerge from the waves, she had learned to not underestimated what could come in with the tide. While the mare had ended up being Castile’s sister, the next to arrive may not be.

    Today though, she is further inland, the ground rockier but still soft enough to be easy to traverse with her feline paws. When she sees the winged stallion make her descent, she pauses, angling her head in his direction. There was something familiar about him, although she couldn’t say exactly what it was. It was just something there in the back of her mind, an itch that draws her forth toward where he stands.

    “Hello there,” she calls, her voice raspy and soft, the gravel of it rumbling in her throat. She angles toward the front of him, face washed clean of emotion, her golden eyes taking in all of him. “What brings you to Loess today, stranger?” Her lips curve upward, but not in a smile—instead her teeth glitter white in the summer sun, the pink of her gums exposed as she finally pauses, tail twitching behind her.

    playing the slow rooms, howling at half moons
    if you are a Queen then, honey, I am a wolf



    Nightlock
    [Image: sochi.png]

    I was less than graceful, I was not kind
    be out watching other lovers lose their spine

    Reply
    #3

    — I'll break you a hundred different ways —

    As he had expected, he was not alone for long. He is not surprised that she is who greets him; she didn’t seem like the kind that let too much slip past her. Her feline scent reaches him before he actually sees her, though a miniscule cock of his head brings the tigress into his line of sight. The taut lines of his face smooth only slightly as their eyes lock, and there is the barest hint of a smile that threads itself across his lips. She doesn’t recognize him, which is not surprising. It would be impossible, after all, considering everyone’s bones looked the same once the flesh was torn away.

    “You invited me,” his voice is still nearly hollow, even when spoken from the softness of a tongue rather than the emptiness of a skeletal skull. But there is no malice in the flat darkness of his eyes when he looks at her, and he notices that though she is not at all placid or soft, she does not seem wound so tightly as she had been that night in the forest. “Hello again, Sochi. I suppose I look different during the day.” He does not offer her anything else that would hint at his identity, certain that she was intelligent enough to figure it out, or at the very least forward enough to ask.

    The breeze ruffles the silvery feathers that adorned the wings that for now he held close to his sides; not exactly pinned, but the rigidity of his stance was far from relaxed. His gaze had shifted away from her now, still scanning the unfamiliar surroundings in an almost scrutinizing manner. He wasn’t sure what he had expected; he didn’t expect much of anything, really. He had nothing to compare it to, and when he glances back to her he offers idly, “I don’t know if I’ll stay, but I had nothing better to do.” His jawline tightens almost indiscernible, an image of Wonder’s face flashing across his mind just briefly. It was better if he was here, away from her, and away from the tangled thoughts that she unknowingly stirred.

    — and I'll make you remember my face —

    Nightlock


    Sochi
    Reply
    #4
    Sochi

    darling, you're wild-eyed, empty, and tongue-tied
    maybe you need me or maybe you don't

    Sochi prides herself on remembering scents.

    She may not remember names—she prioritizes a lot above trying to feed someone else’s sense of self importance—but there was plenty of need for her to remember scents. It was a way to keep a mental catalogue of who was friend, who was foe, and who was just a few steps away from a meal.

    But the funny thing about running into a skeleton was it didn’t carry much of a scent.

    Outside of marrow that is.

    So she cannot place him for a second, even though there is a ring to his voice that reminds her of someone she had indeed met. For a second, she angles her head in thought, shifting into her equine form although still maintaining that faint look of puzzlement on her face. “Did I?” she responds, faintly amused.

    It’s then that it clicks, in time with his amusing reminder, and her lips spread into the closest thing that she wears to a grin—her lips curving in the corners, silver eyes sparking. “Well, well, Nightlock, and here I was thinking that you didn’t let anyone see you in both forms.” Her teeth remain sharp behind her velvety lips, the edges of them poking out just barely. “You look certainly more…” her voice trails off, leaving whether in hunger or something else to the imagination,” appealing like this.”

    She laughs lightly at his admission, rolling her shoulders. “It matters little to me whether you choose to stay or go.” It was good to have numbers for an army, but Sochi cared little for forcing anyone to stay within Loess outside of actual prisoners. “But you might as well check it out while you’re here.”

    Taking a step back, she jerks her head in the only clue indicating she intends for him to follow.

    “Loess is a fairly large kingdom. We have ground to cover.”

    playing the slow rooms, howling at half moons
    if you are a Queen then, honey, I am a wolf



    Nightlock
    [Image: sochi.png]

    I was less than graceful, I was not kind
    be out watching other lovers lose their spine

    Reply
    #5

    — I'll break you a hundred different ways —

    These last several months were the most he had ever spent in what he considered to be the open. His retreats to the solitude of the mountains and forests were becoming less and less frequent, but he could not deny that they still called to him. His wings itched with the need to fly, to carry him away from the cacophony of too many voices and the chaos that stirred beneath the guise of their small talk and faux friendships.

    That constant flicker of a crimson face framed by ivory bone is what keeps him from disappearing, but that apprehension and ingrained wildness is what keeps him from staying.

    Sochi was a suitable enough distraction, though, and he didn’t despise her the way he did so many others.

    There is a flicker of what looks like amusement in his dark brown eyes, and accompanied by the slightest angling of his head. “Some things just can’t be avoided, I suppose.” He doesn’t think it will ever be something he is entirely at ease with. Even though there were two that had now seen him, there would always be something about his skeletal form that unsettled him. “Hopefully you’ve eaten recently.” The statement is followed by a brief upward tilt of his lips and a quirk of his brow; perhaps one of the most noticeable displays of emotion he has shown, even if it is just something being said in jest.

    There is a moment’s hesitation before he falls into step alongside of her, deciding that coming here would have been pointless if he didn’t actually see the kingdom, and reasoning that if he had to have company, Sochi was likely far more tolerable than anyone else. “I’m surprised that you choose to stay anywhere.” He cast her a sideways glance as they walk, referring to her wild and predatory nature. Having met her in the dark parts of the forest that others rarely frequented, he still wondered what it was about Loess that drew her back. "Why here?"

    — and I'll make you remember my face —

    Nightlock


    Sochi
    Reply




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