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    version 22: awakening


    OCEANE -- Year 208


    "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

    now watch me burn it down; any / all
    I rise from my scars. nothing hurts me now.

    They don’t listen. She had known that perhaps they wouldn’t—that perhaps her warning would fall on deaf ears. She had known that they had warmonger hearts and a thirst for chaos and the plea of a magician would do little to stem the tide of what is to come. She had known that they would not release the captives that remained within Tephra or begin to walk down a different path of what is good and right.

    But, even she has to admit she was surprised by how quickly they retaliated.

    She had no sooner magicked Cress back into Tephra—into safety—then they snatched her back again. And it was her husband’s hand who did the thieving, no less. The fury that fills Leliana when she rises and realizes what has transpired is holy and fierce and it sluices through her as she narrows her golden eyes.

    Without hesitating, she wraps a current of warm Tephran air around her and pulls it inward. She blinks out of existence in her home and onto the border of Loess. Her face is stony, her features carved from rock, and she does not waste time in letting her power slam into the ground beneath her feet. 

    Maybe they feel the reverberations of it echo throughout their home.

    Maybe they don’t.

    Regardless, Loess begins to curl around her clenched fist as she takes the same power that she had buried in its soil and yanks it upward. With it come thorns and trees as wide as a horse. Rocks tumble into place and bramble weaves itself together. The ground shudders as vines and thorn shoot forth, as branches tighten into knots, as the walls of it become interlaced with hemlock and nightshade and oleander. 

    The ground becomes littered with poisonous white snakeroot.

    It feels fitting.

    Sweat beads on her neck and grass weaves up her legs and when she is done, a significant portion of their home is no longer wide, open expanses but a maze of thorn and trees. Some areas are covered with a canopy so thick that the sun can’t make its way through. Others are merely a never ending pattern of switchbacks and colliding trails and paths that lead to no where. It is not deadly—save for the poisonous plants that she weaves throughout it (although she makes each one hard as stone and impossible to eat).

    It is not deadly, but it is a warning shot. 

    “Release Cress. Release any soul here who doesn’t wish to remain.”

    She lets her words ripple through the wind that she sends billowing through Loess. 

    “This is the final time I ask.”

    When her voice fades, she begins to sway slightly on her feet, the fatigue marrow deep. With spots blinking in front of her eyes, she grabs the wind again, pulling it inward to her navel and disappearing.

    loess now is covered (not completely) by a large, twisty maze.

    we have upgraded from the world's most aggressive british baker to the world's most aggressive gardener.

    (corn maze of doom cleared with aeris and officers.)

    You're Just Like Heaven To Touch

    Without warning a single yearling is caught in the middle of something beyond his comprehension. His mind is filled with quiet thoughts as he walks, directionless, northward. The ides of war stemmed by tumultuous relationships is so completely above his head that Tiercel doesn’t think it could ever possibly touch his pleasant sphere of self-concern. Tephra is hundreds of miles away on foot; they wouldn’t come knocking and if they did, certainly no one would aim to hurt innocents in between?

    But thoughtless anger knows no such mercy.

    He feels a trembling, enough that it draws his ocean blue eyes down to the ground where small pebbles dance curiously. The wingless son of Wolfbane and Lepis knows it isn’t natural for stone to act like that, so why does it continue? Is something wrong?

    He stumbles forward, wobbling, into a land that ruptures around him in violence and careless magic. A high scream echoes, true fear twisting his face and legs all at once when new growth wickedly sprouts around him. One branch drags along his side and shoves him down, brambles curl around his body and tear into him relentlessly.

    Poor Tiercel is engulfed in a wall that chokes him and presses hard thorns into his eyes and lips, but when it stops there’s still soft wheezing deep inside the greenery. A voice booms across their home demanding, unaware that he can’t reply to ask for help or mercy. The colt is stuck fast but alive; too scared to cry and too trapped to fight.


    my heart is violent because it learned how to bleed at a young age
    when it is hungry I feed it with shaking hands.
    Malone does not know how to obey when his mother tells him to stay put. She tried to tuck him away somewhere safe when the ground began to rumble and the vines began to sprout from the earth. Now he waits, peering from the undergrowth and shrubbery as Tiercel is swallowed up by the walls of the flower queen’s maze. His breath catches in his throat and something within him commands him to run, to help the other child in any way he can.

    The gold and star covered boy rushes from his hiding spot and dives through the maze, kicking up clumps of dirt with his small hooves. His thin chest is gasping for air but he keeps running, wings tucked tight to his little body when he finds the other. Malone’s jaw drops and quivers at the sight – blood dribbling from all his wounds while he wheezes for even the shallowest breath. But he lacks his father’s scales or teeth to rip the plants from the stranger. Little tears brim his eyes and he feels his throat tighten as he tries to force himself to breathe.

    How.. How do I help? What can I do?” he whispers as he leans in, desperately pulling the brambles with his teeth even as they stab into his lips and cheeks. He whimpers against the pain and throws his head side to side like a dog. But the plants only harden and he has to back away. His tears come streaming down his face now as he watches Tiercel’s blood drip down the maze wall. “I’m so sorry.. I’m so sorry..

    His voice quivers around the apology as he backs away. Malone’s gaze remains locked on the boy until a large thorn sinks into his shoulder, making him jump and gasp at the pain. He only now begins to notice how much tighter his throat has gotten since he reached Tiercel and now the world begins to spin. The stars across his body seem to dim as he stumbles, more thorns catching on his tender babyskin as he falls to the ground.

    Mama.. help me..” he mumbles as his throat swells nearly shut. His breaths leave him in shallow whispers as his black and blue eyes drift shut.
    m a l o n e

    and let me crawl inside your veins. I'll build a wall, give you a ball and chain.

    He wasn’t supposed to move.

    When the ground had first shook, it had taken her a moment to realize it was Tephra’s doing. As the vines and trees erupted from the earth, twisting and intertwining and tangling, she had quickly snatched Malone close to her side. The sound of Leliana’s voice echoing across the land stirs a rage inside of her breast – her patience with Tephra, and everyone else, was wearing impossibly thin. Where was this warfare when they had first taken the healers? Bristling and irritated – because honestly, right now, this overgrown and untrimmed garden was more of an inconvenience to her than a real threat – she had found a location away from the maze, and, pressing her lips to Malone’s forehead, she had commanded him to stay.

    She wouldn’t be gone long, but she wanted to make sure Loess was on their way to burn Tephra to the ground.

    When she returns, she can instantly feel that something is wrong.

    Her eyes seek out the place that she had left him, but even from a distance she can see he’s no longer there. “Malone?” She calls, even though she knows it is useless. She is close enough that if he were nearby, she would be able to hear his thoughts, but all she hears is the increasingly panicked ones of her own. Her heart begins to race, as her body tingles cold with the fear that grips her. She spins around, and the rocks of Loess and the hedge of the maze is a blur as she races past it all, ignoring or nearly colliding with anyone that didn’t move in time as her star-studded form streaked past. By the time she reaches the entrance, she is breathless, but her adrenaline has completely overtaken every part of her.

    She hardly even notices the older boy that is completely ensnared by the wall of vines and roots. Maybe for a brief second she can hear his own thoughts of panic and desperation, but she cannot even spare him a glance. The sight of her own son lying crumpled and dim on the ground was enough to fade everything else away. Her breathing is ragged as it catches in her throat, and each inhale is like knives embedding themselves through her ribs and straight into heart. “No,” it is a whisper at first, as she lunges forward, but when she says it again, and again, it is almost a scream. She touches her lips to his still head, gently caressing her lips against the soft curls of his forelock, before nudging him roughly, frantically. “Wake up, please, please, you have to wake up,” Her anguished plea is nearly drowned by the tears that stream down her face, but somewhere underneath the grief, there is a fury blossoming inside of her that is so palpable that it tells her that if Loess didn’t succeed in bringing down Tephra, that she would.


    it’s not like me to be so mean. you’re all I wanted.
    ( just let me hold you Like a hostage. )

    The familiar hills of her homeland are gone, covered by thick walls of bramble and vine. Somewhere ahead - somewhere below - is her son. His shrill cries no longer echo in the cold winter air but she is certain they had come from this way. Her husband and friend behind left her, Lepis is heedless of anything but the search for her only wingless child. A flash of movement has her banking sharply, but it is a smaller boy. Not her own.

    She gives him only a quick glance, meaning to soar past, but sees a flash of gold in the growing wall ahead of him and instead cuts down to the earth. The walls of the maze are not wide enough for her wingspan, but the pain of thorns against them is nothing. Nothing like the hot splash of fear and rage and helplessness at the sight of her Tiercel impaled in the poison wall. She joins Malone without thought, kicking and beating and biting at the vines – but too tough to eat means too tough to break and the only thing she frees is the blood in her face and forelegs where it drips from a dozen cuts.

    “I’m here, baby.” She breathes, searching for his face in the tangle of thorns, “Momma’s here. I’ll get you out. I’ll get you out.” But she can’t, just like Starsin beside her can’t wake up the little starboy who’d fallen in his efforts to free Tiercel. Her voice is as soft as she can make it and she gives him each ounce of calm and every drop of hope she can. It leaves her with nothing, nothing but fear and fury and a coursing violent rage toward whomever had hurt her littlest boy.

    She will free him, and then she will make them pay thrice over.

    they promised that dreams can come true

    This is real. She knows it instantly, which is strange for her, the line between reality and illusion so easily blurred for her. This though, she can feel the wrongness of magic just as she can feel the wrongness of her own illusions. The ground trembles even though it shouldn’t, and soon brambles and vines and all manner of wicked things are shooting from the ground. Ori takes to the sky, a thing she does infrequently but she is at least capable of flight. In the air she’s unsteady and graceless, and if she wasn’t so stunned by the maze growing beneath her she might have make a mental note to practice flying more.

    Instead, she is paralyzed, watching the first place she’d grown to like as it’s swallowed by magic that twists something so beautiful into something ugly and wrong. It is no better than the power she weilds, a power of trickery and deceit. This was more than that, but it was power that pretended to be for the better good when it wasn’t. She may be young, but even she is not naïve. The voice demands the release of prisoners, and Ori is looking for the source about to yell back that maybe the prisoners like it here, but the magician is already gone.


    The word comes to her unbidden, but it tastes like truth. A coward magician, who leaves innocents to suffer, and for what? Her thoughts are pulled away though by a scream, by a commotion of a boy trapped in the vines, another on the ground, and two mares beside them. Mothers and their children? The sight stops her in her tracks, wondering if that was her, would anyone come to save her? Would anyone care? She doesn’t dwell on it though, on the understanding that likely no one would help her, that she would be on her own as she has always been on her own. At least these boys don’t have to be alone.

    They are powerless to help their children, but they are there. Ori too is powerless to do anything but paint them a picture of what they wish for, but in this instance, what good would that do? None. It would only hurt them more, and they needed no more hurt. Not now. Still, Ori finds herself landing beside them. Her antlers have been growing in leaps and bounds lately, and not all of the plants have been hardened through, only some. She can’t help the boy on the ground, but she looks to the mare who must be the boy in the wall’s mother (Ori knows no names) and gestures with the antlers on her head, offering help.

    She has been growing in leaps and bounds lately, her antlers as well. Though she’s still clearly a child, perhaps she can help. Meticulously, Ori sticks an antler into the brush and pulls, targeting the vines and brambles that the thinnest and not hardened. It’s slow work, too slow, really, but in the absence of anything better she keeps working, hoping that either she can break enough of the small bits to help him get free, or that someone with better suited to such a rescue mission will come along, and quick.


    but they forgot that nightmares are dreams too


    i'm a geyser, feel it bubbling from below
    hear it call, hear it call, hear it call to me, constantly

    She wonders if setting the maze aflame will award her notice in Loess. While sumptuous and confident in appearance, the sly mind she possesses is much more reclusive. Brunhilde spends most of her time hidden amongst the trees of Loess, the eyes she inherited from her father glittering gold and cruel in the dappled light. Everyone’s time seems to pass around her while she stands still. She watches the life of Loess come and ago as if she is never there.

    Of course, she cannot blame anyone but herself: she chose to stay this way, remaining as meek as a victorian peasant, daunting beauty making her invisible most days and intimidating when she needs to be. She finds that as time passes, though, knowledge is not as interesting to her as power is. The power of, perhaps, fire that she only uses when she singes a butterfly too close into ashes. That is what she is speaking with her father about, actually, when the perfect opportunity to test her interest arises.

    Litotes bickers with her about her role in the oncoming war; ultimately, he gets his way, but only because Hildy finds him insufferable (and she is, though she will not admit it, terribly fond of her father). His argument that she will be more useful here with the maze feels like a farce, but she does see its merit. Setting fire to an ugly set of bushes sounds like a horrendous amount of fun. And so, Brunhilde gathers Khal to her side and leaves her father to rest before their strike on Tephra.

    The green of the hedges tangle like she imagines the jungles of their enemies do. Hildy hums to herself, mouth cracked in a saccharine smile. The foliage is too coated in thorns and spikes for her to press her muzzle to it, but she tests her power with an inch or two of flame arising from her nose. The smile on her face turns into a wicked grin as the flame grows and her butterflies land amongst the leaves. Without a thought for her little herd of creatures, she leans just close enough to set a line of greeny aflame. What butterflies remain go up in it. As gleeful as a child, she trots down the outside layer of the maze, every few feet lighting another line on fire. She casts a glittering look behind her to watch the smoke as it rises, then continues on her joyful journey around Loess.

    Brunhilde, stop.

    The girl casts her lion companion an irritated look, but he gestures further down the way toward a small gathering of mewling equines.

    They look stuck.

    Hildy frowns and stretches her legs into a canter. Khal rushes ahead of her to get a closer look: Brun, you need to get down her, now. The little flame breaks into a gallop, anxiety catching in the back of her throat. Khal is already digging at the spot the yearling boy is caught in, lion’s claws and teeth fierce against the tightly interlaces shrubs. She casts a nervous glance to the smoke rising further down the maze. If the flames grow any faster, Tiercel might die.

    and hear the harmony only when it's harming me
    it's not real, it's not real, it's not real enough


    i figured khal might be kinda successful in freeing tiercel :3

    that's all there is

    She follows Lepis over the maze, towards the sharp cry of a child. When they get there she has to hesitate, because there is just no space on the ground. If she were to dive Lepis immediately, they’d probably crash. Her heart is racing, she feels sick, but she waits to dive until she finds a big enough space to land, taking care to note the correct paths that will lead her to Lepis once she’s on the ground. When she does arrive, she takes in the sight with wide green eyes while trying to catch her breath. There’s two boys in various stages of being stuck in the walls; a gray mare over one, Lepis over the other. Someone with antlers is trying to help Lepis, a fire-colored mare and…a lion?

    The little mare spooks backwards instinctively, snorting, but a second of thought says she’s probably safe if it’s not already trying to eat one of the trapped children. Sliding in between the others, brushing her shoulder against Lepis’, and reaching towards the wall with an intense frown. Half the problem is the hardening of the plants; almost as if they’re dead. Or dying. An idea flits across her mind, but she hesitates again, because she’s never tried anything like it before. How stupid, she berates herself, for only ever growing flowers! But it would be cowardly not to try – her eyes flick to the two desperate mothers again, and then she takes a deep breath and touches the plants.

    They feel…gross. Sick. But Noah encourages them to grow, to soften, to stretch up towards the sun and away from the boys. If it works, if they become green and alive again, it will be easier for the others to take apart, with teeth and antlers and hooves. The colts will be able to thrash and move and help free themselves as well. She wishes she could just disintegrate them into dust, but her power only lets her encourage growth, and it’s a slow and grueling process for her being so out of practice.


    Noah is using her flora revival to try and help make the plants not rock hard and looser.

    He knows that he has no dog in this fight, no matter how much he longs for the taste of battle on his tongue. It has been many years since he last battled, and he has learned some new, useful tricks since then, but this battle is between dragons and magicians and everything you could name in between. He would simply be incinerated in seconds, and he doesn’t quite yet feel like throwing his life away. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe never – but not today, in a battle that they are doomed to lose anyways.

    They have all gotten to behold the new magician’s work, as she threads a maze through the most intricate parts of Loess. He destroys the flora as he goes, not by fire but through blight – the tall hedges die around him, crumbling to ash as he traverses through it. His own children have already been brought to safety, though Xyrem and Barebone felt the need to accompany their father, aiding him by use of their own blight, as unpracticed as they are. Xyrem begs his father to let him set the flora on fire, but he forbids it – there may be children or innocent Loessians trapped within the curling vines, and he will not let them be harmed by flames.

    Cress trails behind as well, her own sickly son having been stashed safely away from the clawing thorns and vines. Leliana probably put up failsafes to avoid harming her friend, but Cress couldn’t be so sure – so he is away, near the nearest kingdom border. She is seething, furious, but Oxytocin knows that if there are injured horses within the maze, he will need her help; Cress would never let another horse die in front of her if she could help it, and he’s counting on that to help him save those trapped.

    A familiar voice screams through the air nearby, and he blasts a hole in the closest hedge, Starsin’s familiar form appearing on the other side. There are others gathered, as well – a lovely winged mare, a young antlered filly, a girl the color of flame, and yet another winged woman, lovely in her own right. “Back up,” he grunts as he forces his way through the hedge, Cress gasping and pushing after him when she sees the two boys tangled in the hedges. They may not listen, but Oxy nudges Starsin’s shoulder to get her to move aside as he approaches the boys.

    With barely a thought, he brushes his nose over the tangled flora surrounding what must be Starsin’s boy, whose breaths are getting weaker and weaker as the vines finally begin to crumble and release their hold on him. He moves on to the next child, who is even worse off – he is stuck within the wall, and how he can still breathe is a mystery. Slowly, Oxy extracts him, letting his mother choose to support him as the boy is freed from the wall. Panting, he steps back, letting the two mothers swarm their children, and giving a nod to Cress.

    “Starsin,” he says as Cress moves forward, preparing to heal the children. “Loess needs you in Tephra. Go, I will look after the boy.”


    I don't have my head on straight

    Basically Oxy just blighted a good chunk of the maze into oblivion and the boys are free, Cress is gonna heal them up if that's ok.

    You're Just Like Heaven To Touch

    An eternity passes, one where Tiercel experiences the worst pain he’s ever felt, followed by the strangest sensation he can’t put his finger on. At first it hurts more than anything, because Leliana’s brambles are so thick and wild he can barely see any light through them. But then… then it feels alright, in a funny way. Well not alright but not so bad anymore. He’s not even aware at first that another colt has come to help him: his ears have completely healed over a thicket of bramble wrapped around his head.

    When that first wave of calm washes over him though, he knows. It’s momma. He wriggles against the binds that hold him tight, taking her emotion and amplifying it right back in the form of unbridled joy. Mother has come, mother will save him. The trembling is like a quiver of life in the otherwise hard, vicious hedge.

    Another vibration joins in, down below him. It shakes through the web of thicket and Tiercel feels his heart leap inside of his chest. If he could just move in any way or direction he might able to do this… or maybe loosen that. But for now he only wiggles like a worm on a hook, encouraging the activity best as he knows how.

    The battle for freedom gets louder. Tiercel can feel the thorny vines break and snap underneath the lion’s claws, one swipe taking a vine that’d grown into his hind leg and jerking the shimmering blue thing free nearly up to his gaskin. It hurt and Tiercel couldn’t care less. The free limb was thrashing wildly. The going was getting easier, somehow. The branches weren’t so hard anymore and his other leg twisted out. He slipped down a bit.

    Amidst the struggle the boy’s eyes began to sting painfully, maybe from the way he was using his own weight to jerk and scramble away from a thorny grasp. It’s only when one of his ears rips open freshly that he hears the faint crackle and afterwards, the smell. The joy he’d been radiating out in clouds of forceful emphatic emotion changes suddenly to panic. Who in their right mind?! He thinks, selfishly unaware that Brunhilde hadn’t known of his current “predicament”.

    To her credit, it makes him struggle that much harder and faster. Again he drops, suspended now by one thick rope of twisted vine that’s healed into both of his forelegs. “I’m stuck!” he screams out finally, “It’s getting hot,” and indeed it was, “pull me, just pull me Momma!” the boy screams, certain that the flame is about lick into his skin and devour him right up.

    And then, he falls. Plummets a few inches that feel much farther than they are, directly into the embrace of someone waiting to hold him and with eyes that stare out into the gathering that had come to save both himself and Starsin's brave little Malone.



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