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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

    I'm better under your reflection, Karina, anyone

    ”I’ve got the kerosene and the desire,
    I’m trying to start a flame in the heart of the night.”
    She had been born in the shadow of her sister, and even though she had never really left it, she couldn’t find it in herself to mind.

    Her sister was vibrant and beautiful, and Kade felt plain in comparison. Karina, with her elegant wings and the very light that she radiated – Kade thought she was perfect. She hasn’t learned what it means to be jealous, yet, because their parents had never given her any reason to believe that she was in any way less than her sister. Instead, she was only awestruck by her. She watched her with an odd sort of fascination; a quiet admiration. She nearly loves her sister more than she loves her parents, she is almost sure of it. No one knew what her heartbeat sounded like in the darkness the way that Karina did, and there was a selfish part of her that enjoyed the idea that being twins meant that no one else would ever be as close to her as she was.

    They walk abreast in the autumn sunlight, the warmth of it caressing the slope of her shoulders and the curve of her back. Her skin was still a rich brown, but the black of her mane had already begun to lighten and gray. She didn’t mind turning gray; their father was colored like the most beautiful storm, and she had always liked the wildness of it. She casts a sideways glance towards her sister as they enter the playground. She could hear the far-off chorus of laughter, and her heart gave a nervous flutter in her chest. “I’m not sure about this, Karina,” she says in the soft lilt of her voice, her nose brushing against the other filly’s shoulder as she stares towards the various groups of children. “I know you won’t have a problem making a lot of friends, but…” She trails off, trying to keep from chewing the inside of her mouth the way she did when she felt nervous or insecure. Everyone would be drawn to the luminous light that Karina simply was, but she didn’t have much hope for herself.


    Drache at first did not like what it felt like to leave Tephra. She pulled on him, reminded him not to stray too far or long even more effectively than his mother and father. Independent as he is, it isn’t long until the boy is so far from the volcano that he can only just see its lower slopes poking above the horizon beneath where its peak disappears into the clouds. This is the first time he’s been away from there, it is very strange for the volcano that has cast its shadow on him for his entire life to be so small. He stares at it a moment, draconic eyes giving him a very clear image even from this distance.

    A bit of noise, rustling, draws his dark ears in the opposite direction and then his head follows with movements smooth and reptilian.

    Drache trots through a dense thicket and then finds himself in a strange little heaven with tall trees spread throughout like roman columns supporting an autumn canopy where he is certain he glimpses a sprite or two flitting about. His vibrant legs swish through bracken and fern and squish into dark gooey mud. Dapples of sunlight catch on the bits of rainbow glitter scattered over his skin when he stops to watch a half dozen or more strangers playing together in this strange separate haven. Nostrils flaring he picks out the scents of children from Tephra, somehow his body recognizes them even if he hasn’t met them. He does not go to those children though, or hope to join their games. He is just a strange boy with green dragon eyes that never wants to play with them at home (too occupied with his parents, his sister, Tephra) and now trying to meet up with them here seems awkward.

    The intricately marked colt trots along the boundary instead thinking he will just take the lay of the land and then take himself back home.  When he pushes through the undergrowth and within a few feet of a pair of girls he stops, surprised. Drache hisses to himself with a shiver of black opal scales that disappears as suddenly as it rolls across his frame. A sullen quiet settles on him, and he wishes he could shift more of himself at a time and scare them out of his way but finds he cannot even summon fangs into his mouth. Guiltily he recognizes that they were here first, and they they too have not joined any of the others. Maybe... Tucking his chin to his void-black neck the Tephran and stomps his left fore-hoof. From the point of impact the goldenstar growing at all of their feet bursts brings forth a smattering its small five petal blooms around the girls. Drache does not say anything at all.


    we’re stars now, can’t you see? the center of the world is lonely me.


    it's better to feel pain than nothing at all
    the opposite of love's indifference

    She was born restless.
    But it is more than that, too.
    She is insatiable.

    Hungry in some bone-deep way that cannot be helped except by straying further and further from their mother’s side. And, inevitably, she drags Kade and all of her reluctance along with her. Because their heartbeats are the same and sometimes she could swear she knows what Kade is thinking, know what she’ll say before she says it.

    Her sister inherited all of their mother’s kindness, there had been none left for Karina. She does not soften when Kade voices her uncertainty, only rolls her eyes, shifts those deep black wings. Strange that someone with so much power over light should be so dark. “It’ll be fine,” she says, though the tone is lacking in comfort. It is edged in agitation instead, barbed by her vicious want for her sister to trust her without question for once. “Everyone will love you,” she adds and then shrugs. It’s unclear whether she actually believes it or not.

    She is prepared to thrust herself into the center of the activity, prepared to drag Kade along with her, when the flowers erupt and bloom around them. Perhaps foolishly, she thinks it must be some kind of magic borne by the fairies that skitter through the canopy overhead. But she catches sight of him then and her expression – irritated – collapses around the soft edges of delight.

    He is half-shrouded in shadow and she takes a step toward him, concentrating hard on creating a large orb of light that she casts around him. All of that glitter catches the light and she gasps softly, grinning. “Did you do this?” she asks then, shifting her focus to the flowers so that the orb of light disappears and plunges all of them back into their half-darkness.

    winged daughter of jarris and plumeria
    forever twin of their forever daughter kade

    The playground is quickly becoming the silver-haired filly's favourite spot, because things here make sense. Everyone is a reasonable size, everyone is still learning who they are and where they all fit together the same way she is trying to figure that out for herself too. Oh, her parents are alright of course – but there’s just something extra special about this place. Plus, it’s where she found her companion. That owl who was currently sitting among the branches, golden eyes watching Altissima as she peers around trees and pauses in sunny patches.

    She knows she should be out in the open, hoping to find a friend to spend the afternoon with, but instead she's here. Whatever had been on her mind to look for in the shadows, however, is instantly forgotten when her companion gives a soft hoot of warning and she twists around to see what is wrong. Her dark blue eyes move just in time to see a light blooming among the shadowed thickets. Well that is new. Filled with the curiosity and stupidity of her youth, she hurries towards it.

    Before she can find the source though, it’s gone.

    “Oh.” She utters when the light disappears, just as she spies a small group of other foals. Although she’s disappointed at the absence of the light, she supposes she wouldn’t mind meeting someone else. Unaware of the bursting flowers of a moment ago, or perhaps just too wrapped up in her own thoughts to notice any lingering petals or signs that she has interrupted a game or conversation, Altissima just glances at the three faces – two fillies close together and a colt nearby – and asks with a small frown “Did you see some big old light?”

    of litotes and valdis
    image from pixabay

    “I’ve got the kerosene and the desire,
    I’m trying to start a flame in the heart of the night.”
    If she recognizes the notes of irritation in her sister’s voice, she doesn’t let it show. She was accustomed to the sharp way Karina’s tongue made words, and she has never known her any other way. It should have maybe hurt her feelings, but all it did was make her envy her sister more. She longed for just some of that confidence, the way Karina could so briskly say it’ll be fine and make Kade believe her. She believes her when she says it will be fine – not when she says that everyone will love her. This incites a laugh, a lilting sound that is laced with nerves, as she shakes her head in disagreement, “We both know that isn’t true.” Kade already knew how this was going to go; her sister would be able to garner everyone’s attention, if not by her light then with her sheer, undeniable presence alone. And Kade would watch, just as she always does, silently reminding herself that being jealous – truly jealous – of her prettier, more powerful, more popular sister wasn’t going to make herself shine any brighter.

    She is distracted from her thoughts by a sudden explosion of flowers blooming around them. The sight causes her to jerk to a stop, cautious to not step on any of the newly sprouted blossoms. Her soft brown eyes fly to Karina to gauge her reaction, but she is already seeking out the source of the flowers. She illuminates a shadowed space in front of them, revealing a boy that glitters like gemstones, and Kade can feel a breath hitch in her throat. He was stunning – all shadows and darkness but sparkling with colors like she has never seen. She is almost disappointed when her sister drops her light, when the boy is once again cloaked in a half-darkness.

    Her head turns at the sound of another’s voice, and she is met with a pretty filly with unique markings across her face. Kade can feel herself growing more and more self-conscious by the moment – surrounded by Karina with her bright, shining lights, this boy of fire opal and blooming flowers, and this girl so strikingly lovely. Her tongue feels like sandpaper in her mouth, but she offers the new girl a smile when she says, “Oh, that light? That was Karina,” she gestures to her twin with a tilt of her head. With a step back, she invites the girl into their small circle, suffocating her insecurity with a brighter smile this time. “I’m Kade,” it is directed at the pale young girl, but her eyes find the colt in the shadows – maybe lingering on him just a little bit longer.

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