The storm looming over the island resort has finally passed, leaving a trail of broken trees and scattered leaves, the faint smell of burnt wood lingering in the air, and with the sudden arrival of his brother, the stallion feels the need to succeed at the quest he has been given by the mountain, the idea of travelling to Nerine and speaking with Heartfire springs to mind, not only could he visit the leader on diplomatic terms and discuss what was going on with loess, but he could always also inquire about his quest, sure enough, that the leader would have her own stories to tell.
Ruinam leaves the island quickly, leaving his brother and his companion behind so that they wouldn't cause any problems.
By now the white stallion has grasped the art of floating around in the tropical sea and eases his way to Tephra's shore, shaking his pelt as he walks languidly in the general direction of Nerine.
The walk to Nerine seems longer than it really is and before long, the ancient trees that decorate the Taigan landscape to his right slowly fade into the kingdom of Nerine, formations of rock smoothly edging their way through thick billows of low hanging rock, canyons of stone and boulders decorating the gilded sand that his hooves sink into.
As the stallion walks he admires the intricate carvings caused by the sea, small caves only visible at high tide, the hum of the ocean accompanied by the occasional sound of water slapping against rock as it hits the roof of a cave, making it disappear until the tide lowers again.
The thick fog that he had seen at a distance leisurely rolls off the sides of the cliff, creating a vivid waterfall of thick haze that slowly falls and fades as it reaches the water.
Ruinam halts comfortably on the beach of Nerine, calling its ruler as he takes in the scenery, admiring the ancient cliffs and the familiarly soothing whirr of the ocean, gently lapping against the beach, taking grains of sand with it as it recedes.
Heartfire I hope its still ok for Ruinam to pop in and say hi!
It’s easy to admire the beauty of the kingdom that stretches out before her. With the stunning vistas and picturesque, fog-shrouded waves, it would always be easy. But for all that, Nerine is rarely an easy kingdom. The northernmost reaches of the land stretches cold distant, surpassed only by Icicle Isle in chill temperature.
It’s ironic, in a way, that the former Amazon’s had landed in a place like Nerine in the wake of the world ripping apart. But then, at the time, most had only been glad to have a tract of land to call their own. They had not questioned anything beyond that.
Heartfire had not spent her youth in the jungle however, and so, Nerine had come to suit her far more than anything else ever might. She had long ago shed the vestiges of attachment to the desert in which she had been birthed. And now, Nerine is all that remains. Likely all that would ever remain.
She’s aware of the stallion approaching. Aware that the leader of Island Resort had, at long last, come calling. As they are tied so closely to Tephra, Heartfire had not felt the urgent need to visit (not with so many other pressing matters to attend to), though she had the thought in the back of her mind, once current events had played out. It seems that has become unnecessary however.
When he lets out the call, she is already on her way. With no supernatural means of travel, she must make do with the use of her own four feet. Still, in a suitable enough amount of time, she arrives, the steady clip of her hooves assuredly unhurried. Her blue gaze fixes on Ruinam, sharp and inscrutable in the dark mask of her features. She settles comfortably a conversational distance from him, head tipping faintly as she finally offers a mild greeting.
Ruinam hadn't been to visit Nerine as much as he would have hoped for, missing out on all the sights and scenery it had to offer, though now he has the chance to take it all in, admiring the different carved cliff faces and flora that grows around him.
He barely has to wait before Hearfire appears, watching her walk to him calmly, returning her greeting by dipping his head slightly.
"Thank you, Heartfire. I hope you are well" he says warmly, a gentle smiled composed on his blanched face.
"I have come to ask you about something and also hopefully discuss diplomatic matters" he opens, hoping he had not come at a bad time.
Ruinam had become increasingly worried about the situation in Taiga, especially after he was visited by Aten and Lethia, having to turn their offer on behalf of their kingdom down, deciding not to ally with their kingdom but hoping their lands would remain friendly.
"I have received a task from the faeries, I must find out what it feels like to destroy something when you are trying to protect it. I have tried to seek out others, but some weren't so willing to help me," he says, casting his mind back to his first meeting with Castile, the fear he felt dragging him away from Loess and quickly back to the resort where he felt comfortable "I was hoping you could help me" he asks, hopeful that even though the two horses did not know each other that well that they would invest trust in each other, even if it was only for a moment.
"I hope I have not come at a bad time for this, but I would also like to discuss the Taiga, I was recently approached by them and asked for an alliance between the Resort. I have had to turn them down, and in all honesty, I'm not really sure what is going on over there" he admits, hoping that he will be able to gain some insight into what had been going on behind closed doors, also hoping to take action if it was necessary and learn from Heartfire, still having much to learn about leadership and diplomatism.
Heartfire had never been a woman strongly inclined towards diplomacy, though neither has she been one to incite unrest or violence. For a long time she had been content to remain a bystander, observing the dramas and foibles of the world at large. Unfortunately this world is not one content to leave those who keep to themselves alone. She had known this, and so she had readied herself well in advance.
And when, inevitably, trouble had come knocking, she had set her carefully laid plans into motion. Of course, what they say of the plans of mice and men is regrettably all too true, but that had hardly kept her from pushing forward.
And now the entirety of Beqanna rests upon a precipice, holding its breath as those who care wait to see which way it falls. Heartfire had, of course, worked very hard to tip the balance.
It surprises her not at all that Lepis had sought out each and every kingdom, territory, and otherwise to extend careful neutrality towards. Though the fact that they had offered an allegiance to Island Resort does cause a raised brow. She had thought Lepis more cunning than that.
She considers Ruinam’s words for a moment, blue eyes steady and watchful as she weighs what he had just revealed. Though she tends to be more blunt than circumspect, as Ruinam had already proven relatively skilled at, she can see the need for carefully choosing her words in this situation. “I’m not certain they know either,” she finally replies rather dryly after a moment of silence. “You can rest assured it’s being handled. I have already established an alliance with Tephra in any case. And, if I’m not mistaken, that in turn means Island Resort, does it not?”
Though she had phrased it as a question, they both know there is only one answer that can be given. Unless, of course, Ruinam’s intention was to wage war on Tephra. And Heartfire very strongly doubts he has any such thoughts.
She had not paused to acknowledge the personal request he had made of her, but now she does turn consideration towards it. She does have to wonder what had inspired him to seek her out. Of course, it is becoming more widely known the knowledge she has directly at her proverbial fingertips, but she suspects this is not a request for direction to others who might fulfill that request. Finally, after he’d no doubt begun to wonder if she would even deign to acknowledge that comment at all, she slowly replies, “I cannot imagine there are many who would be so eager to divulge such a personal failing. Especially when it comes at the request of someone so fickle as a fairy.” She pauses then, her blue eyes boring into him for a long moment before continuing, “I might be able to offer you the kind of insight you seek, but tell me Ruinam, why should I?”
Ruinam begins to feel his nerves settle as he watches Heartfire, a soreness arriving at his throat as the mare delays her response, standing quietly and holding a heavy silence.
When she does finally speak, Ruinam can feel his tense muscles release, though the meeting seems to have taken a turn, his initial entry had been warm and quiet, though perhaps this was a mistake for the unseasoned leader.
The mare flips the conversation once more, neither answering nor dismissing the male's initial question "It's complicated" the male smiles wryly "Though of course, if you have it handled, then why even worry" he says, his tone remaining quiet, though changing in warmth as he speaks.
His current situation with Tephra was still unknown, he had been creating a plan of his own, an idea to bring peace and hope to Beqanna, though even that was in its early stages and Ruinam had no intention to be blunt about it.
Just as with Castile, Ruinam knew that asking questions never easily brought forth answers, though he was usually ready to work for it "In truth, you shouldn't, giving out such information to strangers is never advised. Though with favours, come rewards" the warmth in his tone returns for a moment, fading into a dry smile as he breathes in again to speak "I am a very ceding man, and I would be happy to offer you almost anything, whether that is a friendship, peace between our lands or alliance" he says, his tone stagnant as he becomes comfortable, pausing and clinging onto the momentary silence, his eyes staring back at hers, both boring into each other.
"I am not a dishonest being, I do not wish to be deceitful or cause harm to anyone, Heartfire. Trust me." he finishes, quietly exhaling before taking a step backwards, his eyes still focused on the Nerine leader.
She does not miss the careful response he gives in answer to her rather bluntly worded probe. Nor does she miss the fact that he had given neither confirmation or denial. This does, of course, stir a near immediate curiosity, and her gaze sharpens on the ruler of the small, quiet island with which she’d developed some familiarity. Her children had been born there, after all.
But that fact is neither here nor there.
She had been under the impression Ruinam had chosen to keep the island more or less a sanctuary. But it seems perhaps that was a mistaken assumption, and she should have been watching the goings on there much more closely. Of course, it is still a small and sparsely populated territory. In the grand scheme of things however, that does not always matter. After all, Lepis had mistakenly assumed Nerine weak as well.
She does not comment though, instead choosing observation to provide the truth rather than words that could be carefully chosen and presented so as to blur lines and ambitions alike. She is silent for a length of time, blue eyes studying him with open directness. Of course, what she finds there and her thoughts on it is something she leaves up to his imagination.
“It’s deed, not word, that proves the worth of one’s honesty in my opinion,” she finally offers rather bluntly, though does not indulge any further. He could make of that what he would, but she’d rather he not attempt to make promises he could not keep. “You offer me nearly anything for such information,” she continues levelly, her voice thoughtful. “I do hope you realize just what you have done.” Her lips quirk briefly then, a faint thread of amusement quickly vanished. “Your prize must be a great one if you would make such an offer, in any case.”
She pauses then, breathing calm and steady as her eyes take in the entirety of his countenance in light of what she had just said. “So then Ruinam, without knowing what I might ask of you, do you still stand behind your offer?”
As Ruinam watches Hearfire, his eyes racing to catch hers, he feels the doubts in his mind beginning to clear away.
He is caught off guard when her voice pierces through the silence that she had created, his eyes darting upward as he stares at her, quite frankly with little to no emotion.
He listens to her response but does not answer, only acknowledging her comment with the slight nod of his head as she speaks.
Ruinam knows that his offer is perhaps a little naive of him, but he also knows that he will keep to his word and try to fulfil each promise he makes, risking it all to achieve his goal.
"I understand and I intend to keep to keep to my offer" he manages to work up a smile, even though inside his stomach has begun to twist and turn, his body having second thoughts as usual, already panicking.
His stagnant expression finally allows him to express a smile as he begins to relax "I won't lie to you, what I seek will grant me the ability to protect the resort and I will also be able to connect with my ancestors, which is why I will do anything it takes to achieve my goal" he nods singularly, his smile slowly fading as he waits for her reply.
He knows that Heartfire is in control now, though he hopes that she will remain civil, and hopefully not send him out to eventually destroy himself.
sorry this is really bad but I feel horrible and just wanted to get something out Heartfire
There are many in this world who would say Heartfire is a cold and heartless woman. Were that true however, she would have ended this tense stand-off with Lepis and Castile long ago. So, while it may not often appear that way, she does actually care about far more than she ever lets on. And she is certainly not a petty or malicious woman who would eviscerate someone for such a bland, if somewhat probing, request.
Ultimately, her hesitance to answer stems far more from a disinclination to reveal information that, in the wrong hands, could be used against her rather than a desire to be obstinate or difficult. However, the incentive Ruinam had placed before her is one of the very few things that might actually stir her to give him his request.
She considers him quietly for a long moment, noting the sincerity with which he affirms he would stand behind the offer. While it’s just as clear he is coming to understand the import of it, that he would have so much to gain from it seems to outweigh any misgivings he has. Even one so large as giving away something that could just as easily be used against him.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, if it came to pass), Heartfire would be unlikely to use it to destroy him, unless, of course, he made himself her enemy. Still, she had just garnered a very huge incentive for him to remain on friendly terms with her.
“Very well,” she agrees, a note of finality to her voice. A faint smile kicks up her lips for the barest of moments before she continues, “My price is knowledge, freely given. Past, present, and future.” She pauses heavily before finishing, “Agree to that, and I will share with you what you wished to know.”
Silence once again, a tension he felt brewing throughout the entire conversation, though the silence was something he could learn from, almost a different dimension of wisdom, sometimes better than any form of speech.
He hoped that after the meeting everything would begin to run smoothly, allowing him to visit the mountain and pursue his idea.
Though his companion still sticks to his mind, the dreadful thought of being separated from him on his mind daily, the thought of losing such a strong bond almost unbearable to him.
His mind quickly skips back to Heartfire as she inhales, paying attention to even the smallest sound that breaks the silence.
Though when she speaks, and the silence breaks, the ivory male expresses a hint of relaxation, almost thankful to hear her speak again and agree to the proposition.
Ruinam shows no hesitation as he replies, he knows what he needs to achieve and the blue roan mare's offer to his surprise is fair, even if it has the potential to run him into the ground.
"I agree," he says, still smiling "I will tell you anything you need to know" he nods faintly, happy to have finally come to an agreement.
Silence is a tool she uses often, though there are few who truly realize the value in it. Too many seek to fill silences, and that is an often made mistake Heartfire takes full advantage of. Those who could learn to harness their tongues however, garner a respect rarely granted. After all, what fun would it be if everything were too easy?
Today though, her silences are less prying and more thoughtful. This is not a small request, after all.
For all that, Ruinam agrees readily to her price, seeming disinclined to consider it too deeply. Of course, were he to consider it that deeply, he might not gain what he seeks. And that would be a pity, wouldn’t it? Almost as much as if she had lost such an opportunity.
A slow smile curves her lips, exceptionally rare in it’s very presence. There is satisfaction in that smile, as well as appreciation. Though it does not last, it tells a story of it’s very own. One that could be either alarming or comforting, depending on how one chooses to look at it.
“Oh, you needn’t tell me anything at the moment Ruinam,” she replies almost gently after his steady agreement. “If I have questions, I will ask. But everything else I need,” for the briefest of moments, his eyes would flash, as though gently prodded, “is right here.”
She wonders if he would come to regret his decision. Perhaps, but she’d seen enough of him to know it unlikely he would renege. And even should he do so, it wouldn’t matter anyway. The bond she needed had already been established, as it were.
“Now, would you like to see what destruction I’ve wrought before you ask your questions?”
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