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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    GHAUL -- Year 209

    QOTY

    "(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby


    [open]  all you have is your fire; any
    #1

    He knows better than to be this close to others, but like a moth to flame, he can’t help it.

    He comes down from the mountains and the trees and the shadows where he does his best to stay away from others and watches. He listens to the sounds of the muted conversation, the sound of the hooves against the leaves, to the sound of bodies slipping by too close for comfort. He tips his antlered head, one wine-red ear flicking in their direction and listens to the sound of them as they live their lives.

    As they fight and love and connect.

    It causes a dull ache in his chest.

    He thinks of Brinly and the fire in her eyes and the ache he felt when he realized he couldn’t touch her and the hurt when he had driven her away. He thinks of Kensa and the crushed gold of her skin and the thunder of his heart and the way he still remembers the way that she tasted. He thinks of his mother and his father, so clear-eyed and wild, and how he still doesn’t know where they are. He thinks of his twin with the soft smile and the armored body and the brave way that she faced the world every day.

    He thinks of them all and the way that he has severed each connection.

    He thinks and he drowns in the memories, his face hardening with each passing hour.

    When night finally comes, he slips from the shadows and moves further into the forest. Winter’s grip is beginning to lesson and he finds that the evening does not have the same bite that it did before. His wings turn to the silver of the moon, reflecting the light back, and then quickly turn to the same color as the moss and the bark around him. It does nothing to camouflage the brilliant red of his coat, but neither does it draw the same attention as the wings had for that moment—a beacon he did not intend to be.

    For a second, he thinks he hears the sound of a broken branch and he pauses, angling his head.

    He says nothing and doesn’t move, just waits and listens.

    BRIGADE

    when I was a man I thought it ended when I knew love's perfect ache
    but my peace has always depended on all the ashes in my wake

    Reply
    #2


    I never knew daylight could be so violent

    Healed in body but not anywhere else, the nameless mare continues to wander - hoping that something, somewhere, in this land will jump out at her and remind her of the life she led here. Her gut tells her to avoid the horses that populate this place like fleas but her heart says that any of the new faces she sees might end up being a family member. Might be a bridge across the hollow gap her lost memories have left in her. So she forces herself to linger in the areas where they seem to linger.

    So she sticks around in the forest even after night has come - she’s become accustomed to a nocturnal life and, though her eyesight in this shape isn’t as great as it was in the other. It’s good enough to see the flash of light up ahead through the trees, and though she’s momentarily curious and moves forward a few paces, before she can decide whether she wants to go investigate a flash of movement and the snapping of a branch grab her attention. The mare’s head whips in that direction, the hunter-killer instinct of her old life still coursing through her veins and her mind. Her stomach growls gently at the sight of a deer and the instinct makes her feel a hot flush of shame - followed quickly by anger.

    She’s not a lion any more.

    She’s still tempted to shift back, even though being in this winged form is like having fresh air for the first time in her life. It feels right.

    She just wish that it didn’t.  

    As she shifts her attention away from the deer, and continues forward, she realizes that there’s someone else in the forest nearby. An antlered stallion that she almost mistakes for another, giant, deer before he comes into focus. She freezes, feeling rather dumb for having wandered to within a dozen feet of another horse without even realizing it because she was distracted by the non-meal of the deer and her own ridiculous thoughts.

    It’s hard to tell in the dim light, but she doesn’t feel a spark of recognition when she looks at him so her voice is bitter and disinterested when she speaks. “Hello.” She only says it out of obligation, because they’ve happened to be in the same spot, and she’s already thinking about how she should have just walked away.




    VASTRA

    kastiel x nazaire, wanderer



    brigade
    Reply
    #3

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

    Brunhilde no longer feels as fierce as she once did. Her heart was once made by gasoline, and now it is merely tumbleweeds. She watches, idly, as cars come and go down her dusty desert highway, golden eyes twinkling like fallen stars. One could pluck her directly from a wildfire, but if you ask her she will probably say she feels more like a passing breeze.

    A bit of a brat, and driven by crude intentions, the young woman wanders as if she will never find contentment. There are those that settle, and those that thrive, and then there are those that remain in constant limbo. Like her father, how pitiably like her father - all this lust for nothing, all this discontent refusing to be tamed. She thinks she can make something of herself, if only someone would take notice; alas, she remains engulfed in the shadows of Loess, only tumbling into the Common Lands to spy on those that do not matter.

    The two that entwine themselves between the trunks of the forest almost go unnoticed. The little flame pauses, clear eyes glinting with a cold curiosity. This is what she does best: observe the suffering of interaction instead of forcing herself into it. She was once outgoing, boisterous, even venomous. That little snake lives within her, now, furious and scratching at the coffin she is buried so deeply in.

    A muttered hello catches her ears and swivels her head around a tree to get a better look at the pair. She is so enraptured by their combined beauty that she does not think how she glows will announce her presence. The antlered stallion is so wild and fierce, she imagines him upon the edge of a cliff; and the pale woman has cruelty in her stance that it so harsh it’s mesmerizing. Brun blinks, finally noting how the area around his is dimly illuminated. She sighs.

    “Hi,” she utters when she approaches, reproachful eyes flitting between the pair. If she admired them a moment before, they will not know by meeting her gaze.

    “What a sullen trio we make.”

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

    Brunhilde

    brigade Vastra
    Reply
    #4
    Lass, if ah'd known this would happen ah'd have done somethin' about ye' already.

    The words roll in those perfectly tipped ears, the brogue ringing as clearly in them as they had the night he had whispered them to her. His voice sounds like a song and it lifts something in her, manages to make that heart of hers rise and rise and -

    She knows he touched her. His touch is still warm against her cheek. But when those blue eyes wake, when her mind clears from the fog of memory and sleep, it is only the empty woods that surround her. The warmth of his touch that she had been so sure of had only been the placement of leg outstretching, brushing against the fine bone of her cheek as his muzzle must have surely done on that night. The velvet cloak of night wraps around her, creeping in closer and closer. The wood is silent in its winter slumber and Lilli lifts her head, trying to discern the shape of tree and brush in the shadows. An ear twitches though she hears nothing, nothing except the whisper of him still echoing in her mind.

    She loses herself there for a while, remembering and longing and wishing for all the familiar things she has ever known.

    How much time has passed when she stands, she doesn’t know. But the chestnut girl finds her footing and rises, accepting that sleep won’t be coming easily to her this night. A single sigh comes from Lilli as she sends the memory away and she lets the crisp breath of winter brush against her crimson coat, lets it awaken her senses as the chill passes over. The voice in her head fades, the warmth on her leg is carried away by the night air and Lilli stands utterly alone, hollow-eyed and dull with the ache of missing those she loves.

    She wonders if it gets easier. She wonders if there will ever come a time when she no longer wishes for Elaina, that she could tell her thoughts and her secrets. Lilli has been accumulating all these stories of the places she has been and the faces she has encountered with every intention of sharing them with her golden cousin. But the thought often comes that she doesn’t know if she will ever see her again. It hits her again and again like a wave crashing on a rocky shore, taking a little piece of Lilli’s heart with it each time it pulls away.

    The loneliness sets in as it always does, reminding Lilli that she has left a family and a history and part of her heart in a land beyond the mountains. The hours pass, long and empty, as she fills with the ache of wishing for something to soothe the pain, a balm to ease heartache and her own uncertainties. But the night only answers with its usual serenity, a blanket of stars that beam down on the winter landscape below in their silent revelry.  The night does what it always does – the darkness gives way to hues of violet and purple, of midnight and blue. The shapes become clearer and that engulfing darkness becomes something entirely.

    Lilli admires the night sky and stands in silent reverence for the stars, the same ones that her dream-weaver friend has said hear everything, know everything. The same stars light the way here as they did in any place she has attempted to call home, they shine where parents are, where Elaina is. And the thought is comforting, something that the crimson girl can cling too. The ache is still there, it knots in her stomach and weighs down her heart. But the stars send a silent message, a reminder and Lilli hears it. A look of determination crosses those refined features and harden those blue eyes, chasing away the emptiness that has so often haunted them in the early morning hours.

    Her head looks away from the silver sentinels. Movement from further away, shapes in the midnight blue that give way from the cluster of trees. She is too far away to hear noise but the unfamiliar scent of horse and Beqanna fill her nostrils, causing them to flare with the attempt of who (or what) they are and where they come from. She can’t tell anything about them from this distance other than there a few of them. The scents that cling to them mean nothing to the chestnut. She comes forward, leaving behind the memories and as each step takes her forward, she can see the antlers off the first figure. He is proud and natural, as much as part of this landscape as the trees that surround them. And then she sees the mares, his perhaps? Her blues eyes go from the cream to the sunset, appreciation for both reflecting in them. Part of her thinks she shouldn’t be here, that perhaps she has interrupted something.

    But the night lays in wait for Lilli. It waits to remind her of everything that is wrong and  overturned. She isn’t ready to go back just yet. She waits and then a small smile attempts to break, “Perhaps you could use some more company then?”
    [Image: sTAi2f.png]
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    #5

    Brigade had hoped that moving inland at this time of night was a safe bet.

    Perhaps he’d run into one other soul, but most likely he would be left to his own devices as he so often was. He certainly hadn’t expected another to find him so quickly, let alone two, and three was impossible. But here he stood, red-wine face hard, eyes stormy, looking at the three women who have converged in the area before him. It leaves him bewildered and anxious, on edge as he watches them all keenly.

    The first reminds him of his family and his pack of wolves. She is fierce and proud and completely disinterested in him in a way that becomes immediately clear and is immediately relieving. Her bitter voice makes his hackles rise, but it’s in a way that he can handle—a way that he understands. But he can barely get out a gruff “Hi,” before the second woman is approaching and she is entirely different.

    Nothing about her reminds him of her mother, but she has the same fierce beauty all the same. She is painted in sunsets and flames and glows faintly, even in the silver light, enough that he can see the soft arc of butterflies that surround her in an almost warning. His face contorts into a frown, confusion, making a soft grunt in the back of his throat as a concession to her observation. Sullen indeed.

    But even this is interrupted by the third.

    She is red and perfectly normal looking, save for the stark blue of her eyes, and his own grey ones linger there for a moment, studying her face before she speaks—and this is enough to surprise a laugh out of him. It is a harsh sound, like waves crashing upon the cliffs, and he quickly does his best to hide it, throwing water on the sudden match that illuminates the softer side of his personality he always ignores.

    “Do I strike you as someone who seeks company?”

    The question is in response to the latter, but he throws it out for all three, something like confusion and then annoyance and finally disbelief slipping underneath the surface of his expression, subtle enough to not be caught but contorting the already harsh edges of his features all the same. He tilts his proud antlered head for a second, considering them all, before he shakes his wings out by his side.

    It would probably be best to just leave the three of them to their devices.

    Heaven knows he didn't exactly have the best track record of making women happy.

    BRIGADE

    when I was a man I thought it ended when I knew love's perfect ache
    but my peace has always depended on all the ashes in my wake



    Vastra brunhilde lilliana
    Reply
    #6


    I never knew daylight could be so violent


    It started off pretty perfectly. All she got for her simple greeting was an equally, if not more simple and gruff ‘hi’. That should have been where their interaction ended. The winged mare even lifted up a leg to move off. She didn’t need to stick around, there was nothing else either of them could say of any value. His tone matched hers and, perhaps, suggested he was equally as uninterested in a conversation as she was.

    Her gaze had already slipped away, already dismissed him, when she turned and caught sight of a glowing mare approaching them. Well, the surprise of seeing someone who glowed certainly gave this mare the briefest of hesitations.

    Something about this mare spoke of fire, of danger, but also warmth. Warring instincts flared within the pegasus but her ears flattened just slightly once the fire-mare spoke and she snorts in unison with the grunt that sounds from the stallion. This accidental, mild-comradery only causes discomfort - so perhaps their label as a sullen trio is correct.

    Further attempts to extract herself from this growing group are halted by the arrival of another and now she shifts on her feet, instantly wary. Stumbling across one other in this woods is a coincidence and an unlucky one at that, but three others? Is it somehow the mating season here and this antlered stallion is sending off waves of pheromones to everyone in the area?

    She’s in the middle of wondering whether she needs to make an excuse or whether she can just turn around and leave when the newest mare speaks in a friendly tone and it is met with harsh laughter from their male companion.

    This reaction of his bothers the winged mare, though she’s not sure why. Although she also does not want company, she feels a strange sense of protectiveness over the other mares here. Not to mention his words just… baffle her. She takes them very literally, the subtleties of expressions often are lost on her and she doesn’t notice (or care to notice) any flicker of emotion in his eyes.

    Were they supposed to somehow guess that he didn’t want company? He stayed put while they were all walking around, after all, and it’s not like the bulk of a horse - with wings, when you’re glowing, or even just as-is - is hard to miss even at night.

    So she regards him for a moment, dark blue eyes narrowed and ears still flicked backwards before she speaks, her voice calm but laced with an edge. It’s a teasing voice, one she didn’t know she had. “You look like any other horse to me. But perhaps your ‘fuck off’ sign burnt out and we missed it.”

    Once the words are out, they surprise her, but she does her best to keep it from showing. They don't need to know that she's still learning about herself, about what personality is hidden in the lost memories. Now she can say that, in addition to being stubborn, she's also a little bit of a bitch.





    VASTRA

    kastiel x nazaire, wanderer



    brunhilde
    Reply
    #7

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

    What makes a fierce woman? The little flame considers that question occasionally, curious about gender and the ridiculous ways it presents itself in Beqanna. Not to truly assume the identity of the cream mare beside her, but her wild eyes draw her starkly from the crowded monotony of a universe returned to peace. She admires that fire when presented in femininity, and has to resist a coquettish smile upon the realization that she does not like that same quality in the antlered man.

    A fourth equine arrives, and Brunhilde finds herself irritated with such a coincidence. She is thinking what Brigade and Vastra are thinking: how did they all end up in the same spot? Regret nags incessantly at the back of the mare’s mind. Perhaps she should have retreated as a spectator despite her obvious illumination.

    The sharp, uncouth edges of Hildy’s personality want to snap hell no when Lilliana speaks. Nothing against her, or really any of them, but the woman has become far too jaded to want to chat with a stranger - much less three of them. She keeps her mouth shut, though, instead settling a coldy observant gaze upon the delicate beauty of the newest arrival. A dagger of what feels like envy cuts a shallow laceration in her chest. Oh, to present as soft as she. Lilliana reminds her of her mother before her father was taken prisoner.

    Brigade’s response is so quick that the flame nearly misses it. Her eyes turn into dual swords, equal amounts of agitation and admiration present in them. She is about to snap out her own little reply when Vastra speaks, taking the words right out of her mouth. For a few seconds, Brun is speechless, delighted eyes focusing on the clear-eyed woman at her side. If this were a bar, Hildy would ask the lioness if she wanted to get out of here.

    “‘Fuck off sign,’” she repeats with a laugh, vicious approval obvious in her voice. A few inches of fire leap from her nostrils when she exhales. Hildy casts one last glance to Vastra before adding, “I can’t say I expected you to be pleasant.” The nonchalant shrug of her shoulders upsets the butterflies on her back, and they flutter angrily about the four of them.

    “Pardon them, I hope they also don’t crowd you too terribly much.”

    Saccharine, sly, and vindictive - she falls back into her old shell.

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

    Brunhilde

    lilliana
    Reply
    #8
    As soon as the words tumble from her mouth, she wishes she could take them back. The mortification and embarrassment flicker across those ice blue eyes as surely as fireflies must light this forest in the summer months. It is dark, the darkest hours of the night and the only thing that offers Lilli any solace is the silver moonglow that bathes them all in that eerie shade of pale of midnight. His laughter comes out like a bark, something that startles Lilli in her crimson skin. Part of her withdraws, pulls away to protect herself from the almost physical blow of his words.

    A part of her wants to melt back into shadow and obscurity. But the ground does not open up to swallow her and she doesn't fade into the nighttide (as much as she might wish too).

    This has been seconds, a mere few, but it feels like a lifetime to Lilliana. His words hang around them, suspended and accusatory. He might have flung them to the trio of mares but they ring in Lilli's ears and cause her heart to hammer, drumming out any other sound that otherwise might be heard. Those blue eyes drop, look down because where else is she to look? She can't stand to look at him because it burns and she can't quite bring herself to look at the other two. The curling mane cascades down and she tries to hide underneath her copper forelock. The apology is there on the tip of her tongue, almost comes out too faint and quiet in the winter night. She doesn't know what else to offer other than that.

    The cream mare speaks, words that are honed right at Brigade and something in Lilli lifts. There is a fire in there, somewhere. It has been reduced to embers in the last few months, smoldering beneath heartache and loss and regret. But it still there, waiting to be stoked again. Vastra's words light that much-needed spark and Lilli lifts her gaze then, December sky eyes taking slightly narrowed with a frosty stare. The transparency of her emotions, which she always hated, look up to Brigade. She doesn't understand the coldness of his words, the hardness that he surrounds himself with. For a minute, she tries to understand it because that is just who she is. Lilli wonders what has happened to make him act this way. 

    It's partly her fault, for her silly words and for that buoyant nature that she has, the glass that will always be half-full in Lilli's world. Somehow, somewhere, Lilli does find enough courage to sideglance at Vastra. There is gratitude in the look whether she chooses (or wants) to see it. The other mare, this one who glows and contains all the beauty of a wild sunset, captivates Lilli. She watches the fire she breathes (awes at it) and then as her slender shoulders send the butterflies dancing, Lilli feels the envy rise in her. She has never been born with great beauty or any great gifts. What you see, down to the very emotions that she fails at hiding, is what you get with the russet girl.

    She still watches Brunhilde, trying to understand the scope of the residents that call this place home. She exhales softly, an inaudible snort as the mare turns her attention back to Brigade. Lilli wants to get mad at him, to lash out at him with all confusion and aching she feels.

    But the weight of it leaves her tired, another added burden to everything else she has been carrying.  So Lilli lets it go, refusing to be propelled by anger. "What are you doing out here then? There are better places to hide if you wanted solitude." Her voice comes out, drained and guarded, already steeling herself for his next reply. But the question isn't just for Brigade - it's for Vastra and Brunhilde too. Lilli knows why she isn't sleeping but what of them? What calls the golden flyer, the walking sunset, and the indignant man into the open embrace of night?
    [Image: sTAi2f.png]
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    #9

    As soon as the words are out of his mouth, he knows that they were a mistake.

    He wishes he could swallow them, reverse the entire interaction, and just nod his head and walk away. But instead he’s standing there amongst the three of them. Two of them with fire in their eyes and the third with something like sorrow that cuts though him like a knife. He wasn’t always like this, he wants to say. He was once a happy boy who ran the length of Tephra with his sister. He was funny and kind and maybe a little wild but the older he got, the smaller and smaller those pieces of him got.

    Now he’s bitter and mean and he doesn’t know how to change it.

    Doesn’t know how to be anything but himself.

    Still, when the first mare bites out her remark, he laughs and the sound is a little softer than the first one. It is genuine and almost reminiscent of the boy that he once was. He cuts it off quickly, eyes narrowing in on her. “I’ll get it looked at,” his voice cool and not showing anything of what lies beneath. To the second girl, he flicks his gaze, watching the butterflies cascade into the air and around him. For a second, he feels the faint irritation at the pests but he bites down on it and just shrugs, marking his disinterest in them.

    The third though—she is the hardest for him to look at and for that reason, he forces himself to. His light grey eyes find her own and there is a shadow of an apology there, regret painted across there for a second before he wipes his expression clean again. “No one has ever accused me of being terribly bright,” he offers in his self-deprecating way, a corner of his mouth quirking before falling flat again.

    There is a deep breath, an almost sigh, as he rolls his wine-red shoulders.

    Then, an offering. “My name is Brigade.”

    At least they could know what to call him when they cursed him later.

    BRIGADE

    when I was a man I thought it ended when I knew love's perfect ache
    but my peace has always depended on all the ashes in my wake



    Vastra
    Reply
    #10


    I never knew daylight could be so violent


    One of the other mares laughs at the comment she had made, and an amused glanced in sent her way – that quickly turns into amazement when she watches a few inches of fire shoot from the mare’s nostrils. A look of gratitude from the shy chestnut mare and a genuine-sounding laugh from the odd-man out in their group serve as the other reactions to her snippy words.

    She was expecting a fight, but she does not know whether she’s relieved or disappointed that it did not come. Her attention shifts as the butterflies emerge from the fire-mare’s back and flutter angrily about them all. The dusty-coloured mare jerks her head a little away from one, wary, before reminding herself that they are in all likelihood just ordinary butterflies, despite all the fire that the other mare has about her.

    She doesn’t think enough to be embarrassed that she just flinched from a butterfly, but she’ll hope that no one else noticed it.

    The others speak and it’s clear, for the moment, that there’s a line drawn – us vs him. She has, whether she wished to or not, sided herself strongly with the other mares. She had noted the look of gratitude from the shy-seeming chestnut mare as well, and if they were closer the Pegasus would have touched the mare’s shoulder gently in a gesture of kindness she would not have even understood as she made it. It would have been an instinct long-dead.

    She certainly hadn’t spent years as a mountain lion giving gentle touches and appreciative glances anyone’s way.

    The catty banter ceases when Brigade offers of his name, however, and those few words stall out any temporary sense of comradery or peace with these three strangers that have gathered seemingly against all their individual wills in the night. This mare’s gaze darkens and she seriously entertains the idea of just turning around and walking away to avoid the embarrassment of admitting she doesn’t even know her own name. She cannot join in this game of introductions, cannot accept this bridge of peace (however temporary) because her end will be found wanting.

    A panic she hates starts to rise within her but she manages, for the moment, to deflect it. “A pleasure, Brigade.” She repeats his name instead of offering her own, the words touched with a teasing humour that had some bite, but not much.

    Just like with the butterflies, she can only hope that none of them see her flinch.




    VASTRA

    kastiel x nazaire, wanderer



    brunhilde

    I'M SO SORRY I HELD THINGS UP FOREVER GUYS
    Reply




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