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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

    let me crawl inside your veins, Ophanim and Cress

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

    She hardly remembers making it back to Loess. She remembers the way the earth in Tephra had begun to shake, and how sparks seemed to fly from the volcano as it first began to sputter, before finally releasing the vibrantly glowing lava. She remembers making sure Ophanim, bleeding and broken, made it into one of the portals that had opened up,  and she remembers following him.

    But landing in Loess, with her brain still in a fog from the resulting blast when she had collided with the white dragon, and the smoke that had filled her lungs and stung her eyes, left her still feeling dazed and confused. 

    Blinking her eyes, Loess almost feels too bright in comparison to the shadow-world they had just left. It takes her a moment to regain her bearings, but when she does she immediately feels a flood of panic as she spins around in search of Ophanim. She finds him, golden and tattered and still stained in blood, and her heart drops. There is no hesitation when she presses into him, her lips finding his cheek and his jaw as she whispers, “You’re alive.” But then, she brushes across where the dragon’s talon had punctured his throat, her lips coming away wet and soaked with his blood, and she feel an icy fear once more grip her. “I’ll be right back, okay?” She pulls away from him reluctantly, before disappearing further into Loess.

    She runs, just as she had been doing all day and all night – running to Malone, running to Tephra, running to Ophanim. When she finally arrives in front of the golden mare, she is chaotic and disheveled, and nothing at all like the poised, often sharp-tongue woman that she portrayed herself as. Her mane clings to her damp neck, the stars across her sides seem to be duller underneath the sweat and grime and ash of Tephra, but the intense desperation in her cobalt-blue eyes could not be denied. “I know you hate Loess, and you hate us,” she says, breathless and with panic still lacing every syllable that she speaks, “but you have to heal Ophanim. You can leave Loess once you have.” She says the words before even realizing it, and if there is a flicker of regret, she hides it well, as she adds firmly, “You have my word, even though that likely means nothing to you.”


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

    Ophanim Cress
    like a house on fire we're up in flames; i'd burn here if that's what it takes
    One by one, they return to Loess after razing Tephra to the ground.

    She’s heard the whispers already, of how the great volcano of her home had become very active during the battle, eventually exploding across Tephra. It may have only been her home for a few short days, but she had loved Tephra before, as well... any now it is in ruins, and when Leliana needs advisors the most, she is stuck in this despicable place. She hadn’t minded Loess at first, and in the beginning, she had even liked Castile, but stealing her back here when she had only just broken her chains? It is nearly unforgivable, though she is trying. She simply doesn’t hold hatred in her veins.

    She is resting from healing the young boys, standing beneath the shade of a large tree, when the grey mare comes skittering across her vision, sliding to an uncharacteristically messy halt in front of the healer. She goes on about how Cress hates Loess, and her people, then pleads for her to heal Ophanim, and Cress offers her a sad smile. “Your king would never allow that,” she tells Starsin sadly, wondering what things would have been like if she had actually started to love Loess. “And you’re wrong, I do not hate Loess or any of you,” she adds, then brushes past Starsin, starting in the direction she had come from. “Bring me to him, and I will heal him the best I can.”

    They get to the golden stallion quickly, and Cress immediately drops to her knees before him, settling in for what is sure to be a long evening. Just hours ago she had saved the life of their son – he is the spitting image of the both of them – and now, she is set to save the father as well. “This is very bad,” she murmurs as she examines the punctures in his throat, already gathering up her abilities. Glancing to Starsin, her brown eyes darken with worry. “I will do my best to save him. Lay with him now; he needs your warmth.”

    Closing her eyes, she sets her nose to the uninjured part of his neck and gets to work. His flame-bladder* has been ruined as well, and she almost cringes away from it – that hits a little too close to home, and the fire in her own chest flares as she turns her attention to it. Slowly, meticulously, she repairs it then moves on to closing up the punctures themselves, knitting arteries and veins back together as easily as drawing a breath. She moves next to his broken wing; bones are harder to repair, and it takes her quite some time before she is able to call her work done.

    Eventually she opens her eyes and climbs to her feet, looking down at the angel-boy and his fiery wife. “I’ve done all I can,” she tells them, looking over her handiwork – he shouldn’t even scar. “Ophanim will be tired and sore for a few days – I cannot heal the aching muscles or the exhaustion – but he should be fine.”
    Starsin Ophanim

    * i couldn't think of a better word for his fire-thing where the flames come from. so like a swim bladder lol

    It hurts to move or breathe. His tongue is coated in the copper tang of his own blood and he wishes he could speak to tell Starsin that everything will be fine. The memory of teeth sinking into his tattered wing is fresh and he nearly vomits at the sound of his bones crunching in Casimira’s jaws. Yet the sound plays on repeat in his mind until he’s certain he’ll be driven mad by it. But he does his best not to show the fear and the agony on his face so as not to worry his beloved wife. If it is his time, then let it be peaceful and easy for her, he thinks with a faint smile.

    But she will not let him go softly into this fiery night. He drags his wing with its missing feathers and keeps his head hung low so as not to use any of the muscles in it. His bright blue eyes just follow her as he tries to remember whether he actually saw Kensa or if it was a fever dream given to him by the pain. Ophanim thinks of how kind she must be to worry over him when their lives are all at stake.

    Now in Loess, the world is familiar at the very least and he even manages a blood-stained smile when she finds him again. He closes his eyes and tries not to sleep as he lays in the dry grasses of his home. Occasionally he rouses enough energy to open his bright blue eyes again, and at one point he thinks he might’ve seen his mother watching him from afar. She never did well with blood. He says nothing when Starsin returns with Cress, though, and he remains silent as they speak. Ophie can’t help but give a short laugh when she explains how bad his injuries are, and the sound summons a new wave of pain across his throat and jaw.

    He sucks in a breath that hisses between his teeth when she touches him but he’s too weak to pull away or fight it. Instead he only clenches his teeth and tries to be calm while she weaves him back together, piece by piece. Somehow, her healing his wing feels worse and he cries out when the bones snap back into their proper place. His legs squirm beneath the torment and he has to fight himself to not flap his wings as she rebuilds them. Luckily he manages to remain still enough, and he’s relieved when she lifts her head to say she is finished. The angel boy remains on the ground, gasping for breath as his body finally begins to relax again.

    Malone comes crashing through the grasses and shrubs toward them, his clumsy legs collapsing as he drops down next to his father. The gold and white sire smiles weakly as the boy nestles his face into Ophanim’s shoulder and cries.

    I’m fine, Malone. This is all other people’s blood,” he lies as he tries to lift his head and look at his child. “I just flew in from Tephra, and boy are my wings tired.” He laughs and this time the sound isn’t caked in dried blood or framed in agony. The black and gold child keeps his face tucked into Ophanim’s side for a few moments longer before finally lifting his face, tear-stained and terrified, to look at Cress.

    Thank you,” he says softly, black and blue eyes dewy and misty from his weeping. His own tiny wings hang limp with worry across his sides as he looks to his mother, his rock in all this chaos.
    Starsin Cress

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

    She isn’t sure if the other woman is lying when she says she doesn’t hate Loess, or any of them. She could have looked into her mind and found the truth, but all she cares is that the woman is following and agreeing to heal Ophanim. For once, the banter and games that Starsin so dearly loved to play to occupy her time had been set aside, in favor for a worry so corporeal that it swallowed any other thought.

    Healing Ophanim is not as simple as she had thought it would be, and she doesn’t think she has ever felt this helpless. She stays as close as possible, while still doing her best to stay out of Cress’ way, but every sound that comes from his lips sets her nerves on fire. She flinches when he cries out, but she attempts to suppress the mounting desperation in her throat by pressing her lips into his neck and murmuring quiet reassurances against his skin. She doesn’t allow herself to breathe a sigh of relief until Cress steps back, and declares her work as done, but even then, she cannot shake the tension that lingers in her tight muscles.

    Before she can thank her, Malone comes tumbling through the brush, golden and glittering. He goes to his father immediately, and she can feel her chest tightening again when she thinks about how different this could have been. How would she have ever managed to tell him if his father was gone? How could she have ever looked at his perfect face and watched his heart break in his eyes if she had to tell him his father wasn’t coming back?

    Willing those thoughts away, she reaches over to run her muzzle along Malone’s neck when he looks from Cress to her, and then she carefully brushes a stray tear from his cheek. “He’ll be okay, love. Cress fixed him and he’s good as new.” Her dark blue eyes find that of the golden mare’s, then, offering her a hesitant, but genuine smile, “I don’t know how I can ever repay you.” She cannot articulate into words how much Ophanim meant to her; she could never possibly explain out loud that without him, she would have been nothing. From such a young age he has been the only constant thing in her life, the only thing that was certain when everything else was not.

    With her head lowered to where he still rests on the ground, she buries her muzzle into the tangled strands of his mane, and even though he smells like fire and ash, there is still the scent that is purely him mingling beneath it. Her touch travels upwards just slightly, her lips nestled into a soft spot near his ear as she whispers in a voice so quiet it is nearly inaudible, “I wouldn’t have been able to live without you.” For the first time, the tears that she has been holding back finally fill her eyes, transforming them to a blue that is so dark they almost appear black. They slide down her cheeks and gather in his mane and dampen his skin, but she doesn’t regret at long last confessing out loud something that she had always been afraid to accept and admit.


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

    Ophanim Cress

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