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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    OCEANE -- Year 208

    QOTY

    "Because if she had not met him, she knew she would have been searching her whole life for the piece that he filled her heart with." -- Eva, written by Shelbi


    as if death itself was undone; birthing, vulgaris
    #1
    leliana

    I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
    and all around the world was waking, I never could go back

    The months, the years, have not been kind to Leliana.

    She can feel it—the way that they have all accumulated on the shores of her heart. She can feel the bruises and the lacerations. She can feel the way that it has eaten away at the core of her, leaving her hollowed out, her very bones turning to dust beneath the pressure of it. The time within captivity, the attack from Vulgaris, the plague returning, the disappearance of Dovev. It was all enough to make her curl into herself. Even with the baby’s breath delicacy of her reunion with Vulgaris, it was too much.

    She felt pieces of herself falling away, crumbling each day.

    She grew thin during the pregnancy, thinner than ever before.

    But she does her best to hide it. She presses soft kisses into her daughter’s hair and sings them sweet songs. She curls into her serpentine husband’s side and buries the fear that sometimes lingers—the nightmares that curl around her psyche in the middle of the night. She does her best to restructure this land as a home once more and not a prison. She does her best to find the pieces of herself again.

    When the familiar pains of childbirth arrive, she does not panic. Not even when the rest of Beqanna so clearly enters into the throes of its final cure. She glances up to the sky but once, feeling the magic as it pulls through the rest of the land and then folds herself to the ground, lifting her head and letting loose a soft, throaty cry for Vulgaris. For the first time since Sabbath, he would be here for their coming.

    Some piece of her clicks into place with the recognition.

    It is a golden glow in her chest, the thin mare pulling onto the exhausted threads of her healing to ease the process for her child. She falls into the rhythms of it easily; it is almost welcomed. The tides and the pressures and even the pain, although her gift works at helping to ease it. She welcomes it.

    But there is something different about it.

    She feels it when Beqanna swells, purging the plague, when the magic cracks through the sky and when the rest of the land around her begins to bleed of it. She feels that seed of it plant within her. It melts into the sensations of childbirth and she closes her eyes, arching her neck back, teeth clenched.

    She does not notice when not one, but two child slide to the ground.

    She does not notice that she herself is no longer on the ground but rather suspended in the air—every cell on fire. In her head, she is screaming, but on the outside, she is silent. In her head, she is coming undone and stitching back together. She is falling apart and being remolded into something new. She is being born as surely as her son and daughter had been. There is a piece of her—a shred of the girl from her youth who is soft and kind and hopeful—that she steals away, locking into some hidden part of her.

    But the rest?

    The rest burns to the ground and spreads like ash in the wind.

    Seconds pass—minutes, hours, eons. It doesn’t matter to her anymore. It is everything and nothing all at once and when she finally breathes again, when she begins to lower back to the ground once more, she continues to glow golden. Entire cosmos spin in her chest, her mind splintering outward to look at the world from entirely new perspectives. When she opens her eyes again, they are the color of glowing volcano mouths, pupiless and wide. The rest of her remains so much the same, if not so different.

    Her health has returned in a breath’s time, flooding through her. Her coat is glossy, the dapples rich and thick. Her weight has returned, the years curling away from her like bark from an ancient oak. She is young, radiant—the flowers blossoming thick in her mane and cascading over her shoulders.

    She is entirely herself, and yet—

    There is an emptiness in her expression, a quizzical loss, when she turns her attention toward the children on the ground, on the man before her. Somewhere deep in her chest, she feels the tolling of a bell, these emotions that once would have flooded her, but it fades into echoes, into ripples— into nothing.

    [ no more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world ]

    [Image: avatar-1975.gif]
    the heaviness in my heart belongs to gravity
    Reply
    #2
    " every scar will build my throne. "

    Normally he would be pacing the borders of Loess, as he so often did for comfort, but instead he lingers near Leliana today. Winter always felt like a threat since Sabbath was born and he’s not eager to be far from her right now. When she calls, his ears turn before his head does. The sound of need in her voice has him running as quickly as his heavy body will allow. His strides are long but he was never built for speed. Still, he manages to reach her before the baby has arrived.

    He presses his lips to her neck as she strains but he doesn’t seem to notice the way Beqanna heaves with her. Magic has never found a home within him so he doesn’t recognize the way it hangs heavy in the air around them. Vulgaris only notices the way her body continues to strain after their daughter slips onto the ground near her mother. Was it too much for her this time? Has her body finally given up? He presses his face to hers and mumbles soft pleas for her to be okay. And then there son is born, all legs and wet like his sister just before him.

    The serpent lifts his head and exhales sharply in surprise. The twins stir sluggishly and blink in confusion as their mother begins to levitate, all golden light and miracles. The twins had come as a surprise, but this is something entirely different. His breath shudders in his lungs as he witnesses her rebirth. It terrifies him but he places himself between her and the newborn babies trying to make sense of the world. His muscles shiver even as she lowers back to the ground with burning eyes, with all the beauty of the day he met her.

    L-Leliana.. What.. just happened?

    Behind him, their son has begun testing his legs as he struggles to stand on the spindly limbs. He seems uninterested in the glowing eyes of his mother as he shivers, wet with afterbirth and a stomach full of hunger. The newborn whimpers and glances at his sister as if noticing her for the first time. Vulgaris turns to look back at the twins, then at Leli once more as he struggles for words or even some idea as to what he should do.

    We.. we had twins and..

    His voice trails off, leaving the sentence as lost as he is. Should he comfort her? Should he help the babies with their first steps? He has no idea of the storm settling within her, only of the one building in him.

    VulgariS
    leliana
    Reply
    #3
    leliana

    I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
    and all around the world was waking, I never could go back

    There is a part of her that mourns this moment.

    She should be pressing joyous kisses into the wet necks of her daughter and son. She should be curling around them, letting her forehead rest exhausted against his scaled neck. But she feels no fatigue, and she doesn’t feel any true maternal flicker of warmth. Just an echo of it. Some memory of what it was.

    A frown crosses her features.

    It is beautiful and stormy and she angles her head toward Vulgaris, studying the discomfort in him. She looks through him to the babes on the ground—to the boy who rises so quickly. The girl is not far behind him. He has her rich coloring and she is the color of ink. Both have the beginnings of flowers beginning to curl in their hair. They are beautiful—delicate, strong. Everything she could have hoped for.

    Once would have.

    “They are hungry,” she says simply and even her voice feels different in her mouth. It is not cold, but the warmth is a distant thing. The edges of it reverberates on her tongue and she realizes, almost instantly, that she can help them. There is a breath of wind around her as it extends from her to the children, filling their bellies with milk, comforting them with its weight. It is the most that she can give them now.

    Larke lifts her delicate head, licking the milk from her lips, and then rises on spindly legs. She does not take to it as fast as her brother, but she doesn’t grow frantic about it either. She simply fights to stand and then moves forward, slowly, until her hip is to his. She leans over and exhales slowly into his fur.

    Leliana watches the interaction, her expression unchanging. After several minutes, she looks back up, almost surprised to still see Vulgaris still there. “You’re upset.” A pause, the breath pooling into her chest, the rest of the world calling to her with silver bells. She remembers what it was to be upset once.

    She spent so much of her time feeling such a thing.

    “I won’t hurt them,” another shadow of a frown, “or you.”

    But there is a part of her that is glad that he so quickly positioned himself before the twins. So glad to know that he is back, that he is himself, that he will be there to care for her children.

    [ no more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world ]



    vulgaris
    [Image: avatar-1975.gif]
    the heaviness in my heart belongs to gravity
    Reply
    #4
    Suddenly, he feels like an ant being viewed by an indifferent god. This is not the wife he clawed from the depths of despair for. This is not the lover he tore his skull apart for. He clenches his jaw as he realizes Leliana - his Leliana- lives only in his rebuilt memories now. He blinks the blurry tears from his eyes. Not in front of the children, he thinks as he glances back at the wobbling babies with a sigh to steady himself. But what to do next? He looks back to her, red like dead planets. Like diminishing suns.

    Chronos cries out in fear as his belly fills with milk and he tucks himself tighter to his sister. This feeling defies his instinct to nurse despite the way it hushes his raw hunger. Vulgaris turns his body to block them from their mother’s sight, gently brushing their damp forelocks from their eyes. He kisses the milk from their messy faces and sighs slowly. Magic changed the ones it took root in, his father had told him once. It was too great a thing to be harnessed in one body but it found a host just the same. He swallows hard and looks up into her burning eyes.

    You can’t just feed them with whatever you are now. They’re children - our children - and they need to be nurtured.” He wants to be angry but all he feels is the quiet ache in his heart as he mourns her. Was this how it felt when his body came home without his memories to guide it back into her arms? Chronos nestles his face against his father’s side and takes comfort in the warmth. He leans his thin newborn body against Larke and begins to consider a nap. All the talk has bored him enough, it seems.

    I’m naming them.. Larke and Chronos,” he says, and his tone is desperate for some sign of emotion from her now. He wants her to wake up from this spell and press delighted kisses against the twins but something in him knows she won’t. His breath shudders in his throat but he bites his tongue to keep from weeping.
    Reply
    #5
    leliana

    I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
    and all around the world was waking, I never could go back

    She can almost feel the waves of his despair washing over her.

    It is a disconnected thing—just the pressure of it, the sonic boom of it. The thing that she mentally understands but doesn’t feel in her heart. It starts as an earthquake in him but it is nothing but a mere rumble when it reaches her shores. Some day, perhaps, she will look back at this moment and grieve over the loss of precious first hours. She will grieve for not treasuring them, for holding them close.

    But how is she to cherish such delicate beginnings when she can also see the middle and the end?

    That is not to say that she does not love her children. (She does, she does.) She looks upon them, scared and uncertain and there is a piece of her heart that goes to them. It is the piece that keeps her here when she is longing to go elsewhere. It is the piece that leaves her anchored, even when her thoughts soar high above them, taking her to the edges of Beqanna and then further—so much further than she thought.

    She angles her head toward Vulgaris when he speaks, at the almost sharp edges in his voice. Once, she may have been cowed by it. She may have crumbled beneath his disapproval. Instead, she just looks at him with those glowing eyes, silent for a second. “I know.” She looks back to them, at the sleep that begins to climb up their spines. “You will nurture them. I will do what I can.”

    She presses the sensation of calm into them—to whatever extent they will accept it.

    It soothes Larke—but she is already so accepting anyway—and her daughter yawns wide, jaw cracking. Her velvety lips ruffle her brothers neck, and she smiles up into her dad’s tender kisses before she begins to fold herself back down. She merely coos softly when he speaks the name.

    “They are good names,” Leliana says calmly. “There is balance in you naming them.” After all, she had named the last two—the two born during the depths of his absence. She doesn’t mention such things to be cruel, even now in the throes of her metamorphosis, she does not have the capacity for cruelty.

    But honesty?

    She has the capacity for such things now.

    “I will need to leave soon,” another truth said simply. Pieces of her recognize that he wants her to change back. That he wants her to reverse the hands of time and spit up the magic that floods through her, but such things are impossible now. She is irreversibly changed. She is different. She feels the silver bells of it chiming in her veins, a golden light pulsing within her. “I will be back though. I won’t abandon them.”

    [ no more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world ]



    vulgaris
    [Image: avatar-1975.gif]
    the heaviness in my heart belongs to gravity
    Reply
    #6
    " every scar will build my throne. "

    He says nothing when she speaks, only clenches his jaws tighter as anger continues to pulse through his veins as easily as his blood. How long would their children go without having both parents there to raise them? How long would they pretend to have a happy home here in the growing kingdom of Loess? The second he found some sense of peace within himself, she’s decided to let whatever magic rebuilds her take her heart as payment. He will nurture them. He snorts softly at the command. Was he her husband turned dog now?

    Chronos seems to try and resist her attempts to calm him but his sister’s reassuring nudge convinces him to follow her to a nap. The small red boy simply sneezes in response to his name before curling his neck over Larke with a sigh, as though he’s had a long day. And perhaps he has.

    Then go. Hopefully our children won’t forget you entirely before you come back,” he says, all snapping teeth and carefully carved words that leave him as an angry, hissing whisper. The twins don’t seem to stir despite their father’s anger bubbling up like magma from him. “If you come back.

    And then he turns his back on her as he settles down beside the newborns. The winter is not kind to such fresh life but he holds out hope that one of their older daughters will come home in time to help keep them warm. Sabbath would begrudgingly obey and nestle down around her new brother and sister. Linnea or Malca would perhaps be eager to bond with the twins, and this thought brings him some small comfort as he listens for the sounds of Leliana leaving.

    He ignores her promise that she won’t abandon them as he had before. Words are empty, meaningless breaths in these days and he doesn’t hold out hope for her glorious return. Whatever has happened has ripped the stars from his skies and extinguished the sun of his life. Vulgaris breathes a slow sigh as he curls his neck around the babies. The sounds of their soft open-mouthed breaths soothe the wildfire beneath his skin for the time being.

    Tomorrow I will introduce you both to the rest of your family. Maybe we can even talk Wolfbane into bringing his children to meet you,” he whispers to them, kissing their sleeping faces as he closes his eyes. He will not drift off as he would like but it’s better than watching this awful reality tick by despite his best efforts.

    VulgariS
    leliana
    Reply
    #7
    leliana

    I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
    and all around the world was waking, I never could go back

    She feels surprise—and it is the most human emotion she’s felt in minutes.

    But the surprise quickly fades into something like a curiosity, something like a need to understand. It pauses her, halts her actions, when she would have otherwise been in the air and gone. His anger, his rage, flow through her—nothing more than a breeze that doesn’t reach her core.

    “You are angry,” her voice is puzzled, turning his fury over in her palm to examine it from every angle, looking at the lights and shadows of it. “How strange.” She can feel the flowers blossoming beneath her feet, feel them beginning to crawl up her legs—these precious reminders of a power she does not yet know how to harness, a power that floods into the earth beneath her unchecked.

    “I,” it feels strange to say it—strange to connect herself with the actions and thoughts of her previous self, like a memory that does not have roots in her soul, “I have loved you through so much. I have forgiven your sins. I have lied to our children to cover up your transgressions. I have turned my cheek to your violence and accepted you back into my arms despite my own fears.” Despite her fears, she almost says, but she does not. She recognizes that she and that sad woman are one and the same.

    She does not divorce them in her head yet.

    “And yet at the barest hint of betrayal, you are so quick to cast blame and slip into anger.”

    Sorrow, disappointment, anger—they are all things she could feel at his reaction.

    Perhaps does feel, in that strange echoing of her heart chamber. But she dismisses it and just takes a deep breath instead, focusing on the vines on her legs and the whisper of breath around her.

    “How frail your love for her must be.”

    It slips then, but she doesn’t correct herself. For a second, the glow of her eyes fades and the hazel appears. Leaving the lovely lines of her face the same—a memory, an echo.

    But it doesn’t last. It is just a breath of time. It’s just a heartbeat.

    The power builds in her again and her eyes glow like magma as she turns her head toward the skies. It is time, she thinks, and although there is a tinge in her as she looks toward the tangle of limbs that is her son and daughter and takes comfort knowing that they will be loved and looked after and cared.

    More than she could offer.

    More than he would let her provide in this new form.

    But it doesn’t matter—none of it does—and so she unfurls her wings and leaves.

    [ no more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world ]



    vulgaris
    [Image: avatar-1975.gif]
    the heaviness in my heart belongs to gravity
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