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    version 22: awakening


    GHAUL -- Year 209


    "(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

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    [open]  The old that is strong, does not wither - any

    ice and fire
    All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost
    No answer came, and after a second call, the knabstrup hybrid was set to grazing, and admiring the different kinds of flowers.

    Hours passed into days, days turned into weeks. The spotted male waited stubbornly.

    Oh, alright, he didn’t just sit around and wait the whole time. He made a trip to the meadow often enough - to have someone to talk to. It was possible that maybe, maybe, someone lived here - but like in a corner far away or something? Caves - did this place have caves. But no, he’d combed out all the flowery fields and found no-one in hiding wherever he looked.

    Aodhán felt truly lost to his own devices - the mare he had smelled here before didn’t show, and he wondered if he wasn’t chasing an old ghost. The land certainly felt ghost-like.

    Today however he had decided to do it differently - slumber through most the day and now he would be up all night. Perhaps, after all, someone lived here but only came out at night.

    And so, the horse he once was, became a white, snowy owl, hooting in the pampas every now and then as he flew past. Surely he would find someone today?


    The young horse didn’t want to give up though. Perhaps they were shy! Or shifters? Maybe they were shifters. Then maybe now that he had demonstrated his ability to change form, they would want to meet?

    Winging himself through the flowery fields, feeling quite desperate by now, the snow owl (someone should notice a winter creature like that didn’t belong here) tried to cover as much ground as he could.

    Perhaps he was in more luck now than in the time before.

    I feel like an idiot for posting this lol
    Someone come say hi?

    ice and fire
    All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost
    Joining a land had never seemed so troublesome to Aodhán - here he had found a pretty place, and then it turned out to be completely empty. It made him sad to think about what could have happened. A natural disaster? Someone being called away for something else? But then…

    Then he was truly alone here.

    How to join a leader that was absent? How to even recruit anyone to come with him, if he couldn’t promise them someone would be here to protect them? The flowery meadows were one thing - truly beautiful as he had seen them over the course of the last day of winter when he first arrived here, through all of spring so far. But beauty could not be enough to make a home. A home had people in it.

    His owl form seemed to attract no visitors, and so he lands and changes back to a horse form. Calling out, expecting no answers. Truly he had imagined something different of this place.

    He sighs, taking a mouthful of grass. Slowly it begins to dawn, and so it also slowly begins to dawn on him.

    If no one arrives today, then maybe he should lead this himself - it was a herdland after all, it couldn’t be much trouble politically right? Maybe he could have the children visit, maybe some liveliness here could attract more horses, more family. He certainly didn’t care if they would truly be related or not. But this emptiness, was something he really couldn’t bear much longer.

    Every few years, Castile visits.

    It's an inward obligation to himself to check on the territory while it still rests in Loess' palms and requires its protection. He regrets not having done the same with Sylva, however, the sense of mistrust often deterred him. While it may have possibly prevented their betrayal, it was at least returned to Loess after a victorious battle.

    With the forest now under control, Castile can again shift his attention to the Pampas.

    His wings emerge into existence and provide an easier abs faster method of travel. Noah has always led here. Somehow, after so many years, the land and her seem synchronous. In another case, Castile would've pursued someone else to lead Loess' territory to maintain its activity. The Pampas have always been rather quiet, but his admiration for Noah always takes precedence. At least with her, he doesn't need to concern himself with betrayal. She is a compassionate and amiable soul.

    He once tried to be heralded by the plague from her touch. It was futile, but still she exerted energy even without his asking. Noah simply noticed his suffering and gave her best effort. It opened his eyes. It opened his heart.

    When his hooves heavily touch down, it's in the bosom of the landscape. Flowers dance with the wind and birds happily sing. Castile listens with a small grin before finding himself drawn to an unfamiliar scent.

    "Hello," he gruffly welcomes as he draws to a halt in front of the man, his mismatched gaze scrutinizing him, "I'm Castile. Who are you? " the have been a couple others beside Noah that he has seen from a distance or noted the scents of, but this one is new and entirely unfamiliar to him. narrowing his eyes beneath his forelock, he falls quiet and expectantly waits.

    ice and fire
    All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost
    Bored, he’d started grazing - no-one seemed willing to make a show for it. Sure, he could make this his home; but the young stallion seems uncertain how exactly. If there’s no-one to report to, then the road to living anywhere seems to be to just walk in. He did that, but it seems unfinished still.

    He could call out on the plains; if no-one showed there it would be his to take, and then, of course, to fill. This place needed more than just sitting around. And if they did show, perhaps they could work it out. He has no real interest to fight anyone or take away their home, but the emptiness of the ghost-land is too vast for him to ignore. It itches, in a way. So either the leader does something, or he will. He’s not one to sit still, after all.

    The male who approaches him now is slightly taller than Aodhán himself (courtesy to his mother he supposes), but he is definitely not this place’s leader. He smells of Loess, of fire and ash, and nothing like the mare’s scent he had picked up on the first day of spring, but which he could not find. So, being observed so closely, knowing the man probably actually didn’t live here, whoever he was - the mismatched gaze was matched with a gleaming emerald stare, as much bright and open as the man is scrutinizing and narrowing his. A shrug follows. ”I’m Aodhán.” And as the winged tobiano had not given him a title, he was fine with not giving much of an explanation either.

    Interesting, was what the man was - but not interesting enough to try and win a staring competition. The baroque white wasn’t so much for dominance, hence he’d found the only land known to be a herd, to make his home in - no need to get involved with kingdoms as long as it was left alone to live peacefully.

    Instead of staring at Castile, he now looked around the emptiness with a sad expression, asking his questions to the first face that he had seen in this place since arriving. ”Do you know who lives here? It feels so empty, and I’ve been calling all season. I don’t think that’s right for this place. Don’t you think these fields need people to admire them? Children to play in?” Looking back at the tobiano, he frowns a little - clearly whatever happened here doesn’t sit well with the white-and-gold hybrid.

    A thought occurs, perhaps she had been chased away by this man? He seemed capable of it in a way; an air of confidence surrounded him, like he could beat anyone he wished. If it was true or not, the spotted stallion wasn’t sure. But then again, he himself hadn’t tried yet either, and he had no mercy for bullies.

    and underneath the layers, I find myself asking what's left
    a hollowed out form, the skeleton of a ghost, the pitiful echo of what once was
    ”Pleasure,” Castile curtly states, never having been openly amiable to strangers. His voice, however, isn’t so jagged or unwelcoming. It’s distant while his mind weighs the situation and his senses search for Noah. Soon, he assumes, she will arrive to join their small group and lift their voices to the wind much like those beyond the nearby hills. Their conversations are near mumbles, but still just barely audible to those listening. A careful note is taken, but Castile’s steady focus remains on Aodhan.

    The male asks a question that the Loessian King knows an immediate answer to, but he doesn’t yet respond until the topic of children in broached. A lopsided grin softens the harsh ridges of his face, and his head placidly bobs. ”The presence of foals makes any land better,” he fondly imagines his own and their beaming smiles. Alas, that isn’t the core of the question. It isn’t the intentions.

    Aodhan wants the Pampas.

    The inquiry was enough to indicate that, and Castile regards it with skepticism following his bout with Sylva. ”Noah is the leader here,” a kind soul that he has visited twice before. Her heart is certainly in the right place thus the reason while she remains here, untouched and unbothered. The fond grin that lifted the corners of Castile’s mouth has since dimmed. ”The Pampas is under Loess’ protection,” meaning the leader has his support. It was a silent agreement, one forged prior to Castile’s ascension to the throne. He has not severed it and has no reason to. Noah never appeared keen to betray him. She can be trusted. Aodhan, a stranger, cannot. With a lifted brow, he asks, ”There are a few others here. I’m sorry if they didn’t want to talk to you,” his answer is perhaps gruffer than he anticipated but he continues with little pause, ”Let me guess. You want to take the Pampas and bring people to admire the hills and father children to play on them?” He reiterates Aodhan’s perception of the territory, heeding the landscape with a sideways glance as the breeze whispers through the tall grass and wildflowers.

    With a flick of his tail, Castile flatly drawls, ”I apologize, but the idea of a usurper has me a little... leery.”


    little fire
    All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost
    The tobiano male before him is stiff, the spotted hybrid notices - pride and prejudice seem to make the Loessian take his anger, though restrained, out on the new guy. That’s not something that bodes well: however neutral he is treated right now, it could flip soon, so terribly soon.

    As stated by his body language before and still, the spotted young man isn’t here to fight anyone if he can help it, but the no-show of the supposed herd leader had made him decide to take matters into his own hands. Hoofs. Depending on whatever creature he was at the time. That has nothing to do with her as a person, just with the lack of literally any soul around. Or - well to be honest he doesn’t think that the mare who lead the place, should be leading if she didn’t have a very good excuse for not showing up since the start of spring. Actually, the Pampas had been relatively silent for the longest time - as long as Aodhán can remember.

    He is now treated, however, like an evil invading stranger, and no movements are made to get to know him. In fact, this conversation feels like it was doomed to be an excuse to kick him out to begin with, no matter what he said. Even though today is not the first day for him to ask around. It is only today someone showed up - someone from the Kingdom, the one this little patch of green grass seems to fall under - just to judge him. Still, it seems Castile has, or had, similar ideas about the land when the mostly-white stallion brings up the idea of children’s laughter. That’s a good thing - it’s just bad that he hadn’t acted on it yet, though perhaps with the rumour revolving a war with Tephra, he had been preoccupied. And it’s bad that because of whatever reason, he forgives the mare who lead(s) the place for letting this whole land just sit around, but he accuses the newcomer of, well, what, even? Threatening Loess perhaps?

    Noah is the leader here the salt-and-pepper male states, and Aodhán is inclined to look around once more to look for her, almost expecting her to arrive on cue, as if she had been hiding in Loess all this time - tilting his head just enough to indicate such - but no, she isn’t there, and the focus lies with his accusor once more. The Pampas is under Loess’ protection, he says. Now that is a very suggestive statement, that the younger male scrutinizes the other, just a moment. What is he saying then? That any change in leadership automatically makes the herd fall under some other kingdom or suddenly makes it independent? That the Pampas would be the enemy of Loess if it changed hands? Whoever come to that conclusion must have some serious trust issues - Castile sure is presumptuous today, and Aodhán isn’t quite certain he likes the man any more. Being told one is a threat even after no such movements are made, does that to a person, after all.

    But he waits - waits a heartbeat to come up with a better answer to this assaultive line of questioning. ”I hope it will be for some time. I for one wouldn’t want anything here to change - except the fact that it looks so queerily empty.” A defensive answer, though with perhaps some spite in the undertones for finding himself being interrogated. But then again, he already wasn’t in this man’s good graces, for wanting a little more than just lurking around in an empty land with no-one to talk to or joining the existing kingdoms - he wants a tad more than lurking around in a land he cannot join for a lack of leadership.

    This is why he had run from Taiga as soon as it became politically involved - to avoid… this. Being anyone’s enemy. As such this land would never be a territory if he could help it, and thus not a threat. A herd-land, that was something he could live in, and live for. Even if it wasn’t his own blood running around here.

    Speaking of, Castile says there should be people already living here. This, again, makes the younger stallion want to turn around and look for them immediately, because he hasn’t been able to find them; though this time he only quivers his neck hide, as if perhaps chasing a fly or itch away. Focusing on Castile, he now waits silently for the man to finish his rhetorical questions, seeing as that he isn’t supposed to answer them anyway.

    When he is finally allowed to speak, he starts with a sigh. ”You came with your mind already set, didn’t you? I’m the Big Bad Usurper in your eyes. But tell me, isn’t taking over something you can only do when there is actually someone on the throne?” Even if the young man is perhaps wrong about the definition, the idea is quite clear, in his tone and between the lines, that this leadership position wasn’t his original goal - but he feels that perhaps he should explain it. ”I didn't come for power, I came to join so I’d have a home. But I found that I could not, for the leader is absent. As such, the Brilliant Pampas aren’t an asset to Loess, they’re a liability. Empty lands like these are too easy to claim. Perhaps you should consider yourself lucky that it’s only me, because I have no ambitions beyond living in or leading a herd, and I wouldn’t think of harming Loess.” Honestly that would be beyond pointless and self-destructive, and it was just common sense for a herd, since it was politically unattractive, to simply stay where they were.

    And - though he doesn’t tell Castile for fear the man interprets it as a threat - he’s capable of defending it, to match nearly every threat to the land he would find. As the son of a queen and a prince, he also knows his way around people - usually, that is. He makes an exception for the ones who try to bully him, like now. Name-calling is just the first step; hypocrisy seems to be the ground for it. There’s hardly anyone associated with Loess who with a straight face could say they would not do the same. Or that they don’t regret not coming here themselves.

    that's all there is

    The deep carpet of greenery muffles her footsteps as she comes upon them. One of the stallions is quite familiar to her – Noah flashes the pinto a quick smile before turning her green gaze to the spotted stranger. He’s been under the impression that the land is empty, but perhaps he just hasn’t been looking for her hard enough. The little red mare hasn’t been hiding, exactly, but she is incredibly shy; and with all the crashing around he’s been doing avoiding him has been quite easy. She’s only really tempted out of the woodwork today because Castile’s presence bolsters her bravery.

    “You’ve become a resident simply by residing.” Whisper-quiet, as usual, he’ll have to pay attention to hear her. Perhaps he simply needed to be quieter and pay more attention himself, rather than crashing around bold and loud, and the Pampas residents would have revealed themselves to him. “But the current residents prefer the peace and quiet. I’m not sure you’re going to fit in very well.” There – more than a slight hint of censure in her words. “And odd, to claim you don’t come for power when you have challenged me for the Pampas. I certainly hadn’t been keeping you from living peacefully here, which is all you claim to want.”

    She glances at Castile, and there’s quite a bit of affection in her gaze and also gratitude, because she hadn’t missed the part where he’d affirmed that Loess stood behind her. “I’m not a warrior, but this is my home, and I like it the way it is. I suppose I shall see you on the Plains.” Noah doesn’t have a champion. She’d never felt the need to appoint one – the protection of Wolfbane and then Castile had always felt like enough, but her negligence in this manner has suddenly become an issue, because she will have to face the behemoth on her own. The Pampas is all she has left, and she will not allow him to take it from her without a fight.

    Turning away from Aodhan completely, she gives Castile another smile. Her heart still hurts from the conflict of the short war – it had felt like all of her few friends arrayed against each other, with Leliana on one side and Castile, Wolfbane, and Lepis on the other – but despite that uncertainty, she is glad to see him here. Noah wants nothing but peace, and she doesn’t understand what drove them to war at all, but she misses them when she secludes herself amongst her flowers. “How is your family? And Loess?” she asks the questions warmly, eyes bright for him in a way they certainly hadn’t been for the stranger.



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