when the stars threw down their spears and water'd heaven with their tears:
They are all waiting.
But one of them can wait no more. One of them could feel it like certainty; that which is death come to take him away. Creeping fingers of cold that do not cease in their relentless grip, searching, holding fast and squeezing tighter. It came upon one of them with a shudder and a wheeze, a sound of inescapable truth that sent him wheeling into a hundred new shapes on his way to Loess.
One of them is waiting.
Waiting for his wife because looking down at her, he could not bear to wake her quite at that moment, covered in feathers of varying shades of blue, black, and white. The tangle of limbs and shallow breaths which will echo into eternity. His progeny, his wife. So he had gone ahead into the bruise-colored night just before dawn, breathing crisp air with invigorating hope for the day to come that would never come at all.
Staring at the dark hills and her secrets, loving those shadowy places while beginning to forget the phantom fear that lurked there. A cool scent of newness fills his lungs when he sighs, content. The dark blue night stretches on and envelopes him, waiting for Lepis to rouse.
“My boy.” The creaking voice rises, a pale wisp exhumed from the hard, cold earth and it stares at Wolfbane who stares back in shock to see bones and bare, brittle skin. To see eye sockets that do not stare back. “My future.” It moans softly, kindly. One thinks of what is to come.
The other thinks only of his children and Lepis.
“I want to tell you a story.”
Bane thinks not. His wings unfurl to launch, a body lowering in anticipation of a springing leap. He feels his hooves lift free from the earth and for a second there is only the contemplation of how fast he can fly to Nerine when driven, could he keep from screaming? Joy rises up inside of him, vindicated by the idea that he had tested himself against elementals and hasn't he done -
- Then the claws are driven through him, four points gouging into his throat like fire, a fifth burrowing deep for anchor until it pulls away in a dark spray of blood and he can’t speak, can’t think. The awareness that his jaw and the soft spot where Lepis loved to kiss are gone doesn’t yet immediately register. He’s choking silently, and another paw comes down across his vision with so much rage that it bursts through the bone of his nasal cavity and curls underneath. He can feel the pressure forcing his eyes to bulge out of their sockets.
“Shh.” Wyrm tells him, crouched over his fallen grandson in a shape that can’t be named. Part lion or wolf, part eagle or baboon. Who could tell? “We don’t want to wake anyone.” He shakes the limp head, fingering the neck which has already stopped bleeding. His claws trace down the spine to the wings.
He wrenches one, the snap of bone and wet sound of ligament, and then violently takes the other.
Then the two fly off into the night anyways, leaving those lovely white wings where Lepis and the children would find them covered in hordes of feasting ants.
Wolfbane gets dropped from the sky and he’s happy for it. Relief and horrible pain accompany him on the way down while new veins and new muscle knit together again. And all the King’s horses, and all the King’s men. He should’ve known better. Should’ve known that nothing could prepare him for this. Longclaw tried, Heartfire tried but they failed. Wyrm’s laughter above him is their laughter too; the feeling of his tail whipping across his legs are snakes and the blinding pain in his back is dragonflame.
He shatters against the Beach and loses one of those legs completely.
“Once upon a time,” Wyrm sings, sauntering over from where he’s landed. His limbs twist too, back into the false shape of grandfatherly, old green stallion. “Your great-grandpappy came to this place. This very beach! He came here and I swear, on my honor,” The old shifter giggles, flopping down beside Bane and his shallow, labored breaths. “he took down a full-grown horse as an itty, bitty wolf. ATE ‘EM UP!” Wyrm yells.
“May the dark god rest his soul.” He sighs. “But he weren’t never the same, came back with a ter-rible temper whooooo. You wouldna believe it. But that ain’t all. He got something too. Got himself a pretty swell new power, one you may be familiar with yourself sweet boy.” And Wolfbane knows just what he’s talking about.
“That pretty blue flame. You like that color, dont’cha? Pretty, pretty blue.” His grandfather whispers down into Bane’s ear. “I know the secret. I know what taking a power by force did to the thief but to be sure I made your daddy try.” He says, “And why shouldn’t I? Huh? I created him! I CREATED YOU!” He rages, shifting wildly into the hippogriff that he was before, raining fury and tearing, peeling, scouring away those lovely stripes until he can see the glisten of still-broken ribs.
“And… ” He huffs, throwing his weary head back to lick the blood clean from his beak, “and now I… I know. Phew. I know just what to do with you. I’m tired of bein’ old. Tired of the ungrateful spawn I gave EVERYTHING to and got nothing back in return.” Wyrm lowers his eyeless head. “I’m gonna eat you up, little Bane.” He starts to laugh, “I’m gonna eat you up, and then I’ll - what?”
His tirade stops. Wet mouth moving, lips forming words, his body still healing and Wolfbane tries to speak. “What’s that?” His grandfather is curious, crouching down to bend an ear towards the eye he doesn’t see staring directly at him.
“I said,” Wolfbane moans, “Save his fucking black heart for me, Grandmere.”
did he smile his work to see? did he who made the Lamb make thee?
tl;dr: Wyrm senses he's dying and heads to Loess to pick up Bane and finish him off at the beach. He intends to devour Bane's heart to forcibly steal his self-healing but gets caught up in trying to monologue and can't seem to cut into Bane faster than Bane can heal himself.
Heartfire feel free to kill him however you'd like, but for plot purposes the heart should be left untouched <3