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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    LILLIANA -- Year 206

    QOTY

    "There is still something of himself - something of the Wolfbane who would always love her - that rallies against the slime. It says, 'lie in the bed you’ve made'. So he gathers the covers and tucks himself in." -- Wolfbane, written by Calcifer


    [private]  show me where my armor ends; castile
    #1
    When their visitor has left in search of his family, Lepis turns back to her piebald uncle.

    “The mention of political ties was for you,” she tells him with a wry smile, though the dun mare is already quite sure that he knows this already. “That’s why I’m here in the first place, after all.”

    Their departure for the north had been more than a year ago, and while Lepis knows that her son is here as often as he is in Taiga, her own visits have been far less frequent. First there was the responsibility of stabilizing her rule, and then her pregnancy, and then the care of a newborn. Her return to Loess has been spurred not only by finally having the time for it, but by shifts in the rest of Beqanna as well. The conversation that she and her husband had recent had with her in-law is the most fresh in her mind, but she is eager to discuss the many things that have transpired.

    “Taiga is doing well under my command,” she tells him, and there is a bit of pride flickering behind her blue grey eyes. The redwood forest is still eerie, but it is no longer quiet. “I’ve spoken with Litotes, and I think I can see what you and Bane see in him. And Heartfire recently came to Nerine.” Here she pauses, her curious gaze attempting to read his draconic face. That there is tension between Loess and Nerine is no secret, but Lepis is not sure the exact source.

    She does know that her actions will undoubtedly make it worse, but it is the only way forward that she can see, and so she has convinced herself that she must take it.

    “I told her I intended to make the Taiga a territory of Loess rather than Nerine.” Another pause, and then: “I think she declined, and so I’m here for advice.”

    Castile
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    #2
    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
    ”I figured,” he flatly states with a slight upturn of his mouth, always admiring his niece’s brash and forward nature. Although she isn’t nearly so iron-fisted as his mother, the similarities are near enough. Lepis is still a formidable force. With Taiga now resting in her palm, Castile assumes that she will climb the ladder to continue achieving greatness. Ever ambitious, ever proud. That’s the reason why he lacks surprise when she slips into Taiga’s welfare. ”I expected no less,” she has the ability to berth life into deadened land. It’s a gift of hers.

    A brow lifts, intrigued by her news, but his curiosity is piqued when she mentions Heartfire. Refraining from speaking out of turn, Castile merely nods his head and continues to listen, noting the slight uncertainty in Lepis’ tone of voice. It would’ve been too easy if Heartfire agreed, of course, so although her reciprocation was expected, it still throws a wrench into everyone’s plans.

    ”A shame,” he finally murmurs with a contemplative tilt of his head. Far north lies the kingdom from where he was born. It still holds a piece of his heart – it forever will – but he realizes how impossible it seems to enjoy a visit to the familiar black shoreline. ”I always considered her an aunt. I’ve known her since childhood since she was in Nerine during mother’s reign,” he more or less thinks aloud, pulling Lepis into the depths of his memories. ”Heartfire actually visited Loess a while ago. She wanted information from me and wanted to know my plans. I told her that unless she was here to forge an alliance, I would tell her nothing,” a shrug ripples through his muscular shoulders, ”An agreement was never made.” The woman wants to understand the world so that she may capture the knowledge and hold power above them all, but he refused to indulge her just as Lepis now has.

    But where does that place them in this great game?

    A thoughtful breath sighs from Castile’s lungs as his eyes search those of Lepis. ”I feel as though Loess, Taiga, Pangea, and our other political ties can provide greater protection than Nerine. Perhaps, we need to continue extending our influence. Icicle Island, although quiet, would still pose an advantage if they side with us. That will leave Nerine surrounded by enemies. Tephra, on the other hand, has two islands. The Resort is quiet and I’ve not heard much from Ischia.” Piecing everything together aloud cements it further into memory, helping him to realize the great lengths that Loess’ friendships have extended. It isn’t even about power or subkingdoms. The fact of it all is friendship – that’s the glue binding all these lands.

    ”We’re going to have to give Heartfire no other option, I suppose.” Castile’s eyes gleam and crackle like the fire in his soul.


    castile



    Lepis
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    #3
    As a child, Lepis had worked hard for her uncle’s approval. She finds that the sensation of having pleased him is not much different as an adult, and she smiles warmly up at him, her grey-blue eyes bright. He is clearly thoughtful, though the dragon still listens to what she has to say before speaking and she is grateful for the lack of interruption.

    What he has to tell her is not something she knows; Lepis knowledge of the Nerenian kingdom is limited to what she had been told as child. It was not a place that her mother knew well, and Castile only ever spoke of it in fond reminisces. Though she knows the rulers have shifted from one woman to the next, she does not know them from each other. Heartfire is only a known entity for her relation to Lepis’ husband; of her ability as queen Lepis knows only that she seems content to rule an empty kingdom and is reluctant to give up what little power a quite land possesses. (Lepis is much the same way, of course, and thinks no less of her for it). 

    “I’m sending out diplomats,” she tells her uncle. “To most of the lands. anyway. I intend on going to the Isle myself, and then to Nerine pending the conversation with their ruler. I hear he’s recently fended off an usurper. Perhaps he might be interested in further methods to protect his land.” Methods that she intends to let him know Nerine cannot provide. A small smile has slipped onto her navy mouth, the prospect of juggling a multitude of conversations and responsibilities is as invigorating as she remembers.

    “I’d be glad to represent Loess on those trips as well,” she adds, raising one brow as she takes her gaze from the horizon back to her piebald relative. ‘May I wield the power of Loess?’ she asks without saying as much, knowing that the weight of four lands and their allies is a far more impressive show of power than arriving simply as the Comtesse of Taiga. “Perhaps save you a trip north?” she adds with a grin, rather pleased at her own wit and impudence.

    Castile
    Reply
    #4
    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
    Castile draws in a deep breath as his memories race back to Nerine and its salty air. It had been his dream to forever live there once, but that was so long ago. The world has toyed with his mind and heart multiple times to steer him away from the rocky cliffs. Although it holds a piece of him – it forever will – he has found himself comfortable in the warmer climate of Loess where he can soar high above and retreat to the mountains when solitude seems decadent.

    What has become of the northern kingdom, however, he is embarrassingly unaware. Heartfire still reigns, keeping pace with the land’s reputation and established hierarchy. She visited Loess once. They came together for the first time in years, but since peeled away with mistrust rippling between them. It would be beneficial to visit, but Lepis’ curiosity has already put her into contact with his pseudo-aunt. Any information he craves can be translated through his niece. It spares him the trip, just as it may with the Icicle Isle. ”Tempting,” he grumbles when he focuses on her and escapes the dreamy grip of his childhood. ”I’ve never been one for the cold and I trust you to represent Loess well.” His acquiescence hangs in the small space between them, a fondness in the gentle tone of his voice.

    ”I’ve always respected Heartfire,” the confession arises suddenly, unexpectedly even, after having advised Lepis to shave away the Queen’s options. ”But it sounds like she may be losing her influence and power. I applaud her efforts to resist,” but he will not commend it forever. Sooner or later, she will bend the knee – not to him, no, he isn’t his mother – to the empire that is rising and surrounding Beqanna. He wants to witness it before setting his crown aside and handing the throne to someone else when Loess’ power is near its peak.

    With the stakes rising and the determination mirroring, Castile cannot help to tilt his head down and regard Lepis almost as an adoring father would. ”You make me feel old, you know. From a little squirt of a Queen, to disappearing, to returning more ambitious than ever,” a low chuckle slips from him as he shakes his head slowly in disbelief of how quickly time has passed.

    castile



    Lepis
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