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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

    look up at the stars, {heartfire} they're smiling at us

     She would wake before dawn and make her way quietly down the stairs to the kitchen, where she would pour herself a bowl of cereal, mixing fruit pebbles and cocoa puffs, a speciality of hers that others have seemed oddly reluctant to try. After eating every last bit and drinking the fruity chocolatey milk, she would put her bowl in the sink she’d bound upstairs and get dressed pairing a pleated light blue skirt with yellow sequins in the shape of the sun on the side, near the hip with a pastel yellow shirt to match the sequins and mismatched socks because she claims the washing machine ate the others. Feet enclose themselves in a pair of light purple sneakers, scuffed with adventure and stained from stories. Her hair would be messy, there was little time for brushing, before she would rush out the door and into the world, content to enjoy it in solitude having inherited her mother’s fondness of alone time. She never feared, never questioned. She danced and laughed showing all her teeth and would hang upside down like a bat. A wild child who danced to the beat of her own drum. 

    But it would seem, this wild drum, has found a conductor. 


    A soft, reckless smile etches itself on her gold face. Diamond eyes look out across her new home. Nerine. She wonders, what her mother would think of this new home, as opposed to the desert she had been born in. It reminds her of the stories her mother had told her once upon a time, about where she had been born so many years ago. A place where she could dig her hooves in the sand and let the tide come in to lap over her feet. Astana likes to think, as poetic as she is, that things have come full circle as she stands here in Nerine, her hair stained by salt and sea. There is this layer of ocean air that remains clinging to her skin and Astana hopes it will never go away. 

    She has made her way down to the sandy shore, carefully picking those feet along the rocky cliffside. Heartfire as dominating of a presence as she was, strong and imposing, she afforded Astana a considerable amount of freedom, encouraging her to test her limits and grow stronger. So she acknowledges the challenge of the rocky cliffside, but she thinks of Heartfire and attempts to imitate the mare that had taken her in. Maybe, possibly, she could be just like her one day!

    Astana’s dreams have always been a bit far fetched.
    It’s part of her charm, really. 

    The white golden filly was able to make her down the cliffside, hooves stepping off the rocky terrain and into the soft sand that the beach provides. She has been exploring more and more as of late, so to settle within her home for a moment feels oddly comforting. Regardless of how she ended up in Nerine, Astana is happy to be here now, utterly content with what it has to offer and to have settled along side Heartfire and look to her as her role model. Shoulders work in unison with those legs that are still too long for her slight body as she reaches the edge of the water, muzzle lowers, letting the salt ignite her senses. It is then diamond eyes peer forward and suddenly, the horizon seems a little more unattainable than usual. 

    a s t a n a

    She's got the devil's eyes

    It’s freeing, in a way, to watch Astana’s endless wonder and joy in the world. Heartfire had not cared to explore her motives for bringing the child home too closely, but doing so had shifted something almost unnameable inside her. In the beginning, she had told herself Astana would stay only long enough for her parents to learn their lesson in leaving their child so unprotected and naive to the world. But now, long past the time when she should have brought her home, Heartfire is forced to admit she doesn’t wish to let her go.

    Perhaps one day the golden girl would learn of her duplicity and hate her for it. For now though, she brings something into her life she hadn’t known she had been missing. Something she is loathe to let go.

    It’s foolish and selfish, but Heartfire had long ago crossed the threshold of morality. She could never hope to claim any kind of purity of heart. Not anymore. Not for a very long time now.

    It’s almost amusing then, that, unbeknownst to the roan queen, Astana should view her as a role model and aspire to be like her. Heartfire is and never should be anything of the sort. Perhaps when the young filly learned the truth, she might realize how mistaken she had been to place such faith in her. For now though, with such innocence still hers to cling to, Heartfire might live up to that warped truth.

    She watches idly as the pale girl picks her way carefully down the treacherous cliff path to the beach below. There is a perpetual wonder that seems to surround her, something that would be inspiring were the blue and white woman not beyond redemption. Still, it’s comforting. Alluring even. It may not last forever, but in the eyes of at least one living creature she neither cruel nor callous nor manipulating. She is not catered to for what she knows or what she can do. She does not need to fear a secret desire to tear down everything she has built.

    There is beauty if that simplicity.

    As Astana stares at the distant horizon, Heartfire steps forward, joining her young charge at the water’s edge. Her own gaze follows, searching the mysterious distance where sky meets sea. After a moment of silence, she turns her regard to the filly, considering her briefly before asking almost absently, “How are you finding Nerine, Astana?”

    and they'll cut you like a weapon


    She dreamt of him, just as she knew she would. The glowing boy with a pointed ensemble and dreams as wide as oceans and as deep as the core of the earth. Boy, hardly he was, he was a man, but Astana had not dared to allow herself such thoughts to cross her. She liked to imagine he was young like her, but still with that same strength, that same wisdom. Aegean. She still thought his name, daring to only say it aloud when she found herself alone upon the beach, with the crashing waves to drown out her voice. Aegean. She would say, and look around to see if anyone heard her, like he was some secret that only she knew, or she may get herself in trouble for saying his name at all. And, in truth, maybe little girls shouldn't be having those like these for an older man at all. And, in truth, Astana knows this. So, she thinks, it is all innocent for now. Just love for his soothing presence and for that magical power. For an imagination as wide and as beautiful as her own. An innocent friendship with a man who cries at beautiful things.

    Never would have the diamond eyed filly imagined she would be here. Standing out to that endless blue as opposed to those millions, billions, grains of sand she had become so accustomed to. Nostrils quiver with excitement. She is entirely unaware of the mare that had taken her in is now watching her. Taken her in, of course, being a stretch. She had drawn Astana in with mystery and awe, the little girl had followed, eager to see what it would hold for her. There had never been strangers in the desert, and her father had only told her to watch for dragons. Heartfire was no dragon. She was a different matter entirely. One Astana has yet to figure out.

    Heartfire, to Astana, was fascinating, beautiful, enchanting. She captivated all of Astana’s attention the minute she entered the area. She was so different from her own mother, and, that alone, made Heartfire some sort of mystical creature that Astana watched with diamond eyes wide. She cannot read minds, cannot read the past, and Astana has not thought about the future (though she wonders how the stars may change in the sky, if one day the ocean will swell and take the world back beneath its depths.) Heartfire appeared when Astana needed her, and that is enough for the filly made of gold with diamonds for eyes.

    She is taken aback by the sudden presence beside her. The woman’s footsteps having been muffled in the sand and her attention solely focused on the horizon, imagining, if she just had long enough limbs, could she reach out and touch it? Maybe, if she saw Aegean again, he could take her on a journey, to the horizon. Eyes look quickly to Heartfire to note her presence, but she quickly settles into silence between the two, content with how it feels to not be alone any longer.

    It is only when her head turns that Astana quickly follows suit, a reckless grin on her face, bright and childish. “Oh, I love it,” she says hopelessly in love, with cliffs, ocean, novelty. “You are in charge of all of this?” She asks with that foolish sense of wonder that she will never outgrow. “Did you always want to be a queen? Did you ever want to be anything else?” Like, what? Astana doesn't know what she will be when she grows up, a politician, a scholar, a love, a mother. It is endless possibilities, but for now she has been content to call herself no more than a dreamer.

    a s t a n a


    She's got the devil's eyes

    She had once been a child filled with dreams. Though that is now a very long time in the past, she is reminded of that youth. Of the girl she’d once been who had viewed the world with much kinder eyes. She’d never been so joyously free as Astana (even then, she’d seen too much of the world through eyes not her own), but she had been a very different version of herself. A better one perhaps. Gentler and kinder, most definitely.

    Unfortunately age and time and the careless vagaries of the world and equine nature had hardened her. Had sharpened to edges of her soul until anyone who drew close now would be in danger of cutting themselves wide on jaggedness she had honed to protect herself. It’s regrettable perhaps, but she could not hope to undo it. Not anymore.

    And maybe that’s why she doesn’t send Astana away as she should. Because in her, there is hope. Out of reach for her, no doubt, but close enough she could almost believe.

    She knows Astana had been exploring. Knows she had met others, had developed the tender feelings young girls are so prone to developing. Heartfire had once not been so very different. She’d even once believed she had found a forever love. Had known rage and anguish when that had been torn from her. Were she inclined to look more closely, she might have realized that was the beginning of it. That was where her first ragged edge had been shorn sharp.

    But she’d never particularly cared to look that closely.

    Astana’s joy, her wild grin, is almost infectious. Heartfire’s lips tilt slightly in response, blue eyes less sharp than they might normally be. The golden girl is so freely open with her emotions, living in the moment as much as Heartfire lives in the past. She suspects Astana would have loved anywhere she might have ended, but it is warming to see her look with such bright love onto the land Heartfire had claimed as hers.

    “I am,” she replies simply to Astana’s enthusiastic question, though she does not reply so immediately to the remaining inquiries flung her way. Those are much more difficult to answer. Not nearly so simple. After a moment of consideration, she continues slowly, “I suppose, in a way, I did.” A faintly sardonic gleam crosses her gaze as she turns to stare at the waves. “Although, I think being queen is more of a side effect of what I truly wanted.”

    She doesn’t expand on that further, though she doubts Astana fully understands that rather enigmatic statement. After a few heartbeats where she says nothing further, she turns her gaze back on Astana. “Would you like to hear a story?” she finally asks. To the child it no doubt sounds as though she’s changing the subject. “Of when I was young?”

    and they'll cut you like a weapon


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