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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

    [PQ] As within, so without
    I was bored, and that seldom led to anything good. Today, my disconsolate nature led me away, up and up and away. My first real venture outside of Loess since Mary had met me at the gate and allowed me inside. 

    Now I stepped across the river, kept my feet on the muddy bank as the surface rose over my head. A few breaths filtered through the slits at my throat before the ground rose up once more to lift my gold crowned head above the current. A few steps more and I rose on the other side, dripping wet and gleaming in the summer sun. 

    My wings are heavy and sodden by my sides now, useless until the summer heat dries them out. That's the rub, isn't it. I'm half air, half water and not enough of either to feel right anywhere. My idiot of a mother, pure sky creature that she is, should have know better than to lie with a sea stallion at my conception. Or perhaps it was simple spite that lead her to it. I couldn't guess against who, there are too many candidates. But I know I feel it in my bones whenever I try to use the gifts nature saw fit to land me with. 

    At least my scales no longer itch with dryness as I make my way up the mountain, though the moisture coating them will evaporate soon enough. Sooner. By the time I reach the stony plateau where it seems these things are done, the little bony plates scrape against each other with a subtle rasping. My every step has its own whispered echo. But I am here, and the wind doesn't phase me as it snaps through the stiff fins I am decorated with. 

    I am a gaudy thing. Too much color, too many fins and feathers and nonsense coming from every side. Too much. I've always been too much. Might as well make the best of it. "Faeries! Creatures of magic and air, I come before you!" I call out, not loudly. They know I'm here, no doubt. No reason to shout. I shake off a chill before continuing, wings still not dry enough to keep me warm. 

    "I wish to be as toxic as I appear. You gave me a body that cannot be hidden or disguised, so let me use it as a warning to those who would do me harm. I am not a kind soul. I admit my requestis selfish. But I figure there's no point in pretending to you that I'm anything I'm not, so do with me what you will." I shrugged, cocking a heel in a relaxed pose while I waited for some kind of answer. Or not.


    Rebelle is petitioning for something venemous. Poison Spines, Venemous Bite, Poison Secretion, something along those lines to go with her toxic personality. Thank you, faeries!
    She doesn't seem particularly discomfited by the environment on the mountain, but then again, she hasn't climbed very far. The fae is interested in this - it seems that the most sincere are the ones who climb so high that the cold and the thin air make their lives quite difficult. The ones who don't climb so high are the weaker - or the less motivated. It really depends, and what it doesn't always determine is their sincerity. This one does seem quite sincere, and what she is asking for is small.

    Her arrival is heralded; first by the mild wind turning to a fierce and biting maelstrom, and then by the buildup of snow and ice carried by that wind. If she isn't uncomfortable now, she's lying. From the whiteness of this storm she appears, stepping onto the plateau with Rebelle as the air stops moving and the world goes eerily silent. The fairy looks the creature up and down slowly, impassive eyes like ice, one pale ear flicked forward to catch any more words she utters. "You insult the body we created for you, instead of valuing it." The words are censorious, stern, and she flicks the other ear forward, considering.

    The world goes dark around Rebelle, and there is the feeling of falling. "Don't come back until you have experienced the pain you wish to inflict on others." When the world rights itself, light coming back as if she is waking from a long sleep, Rebelle will be somewhere else; somewhere she's never been before.

    The task:
    Rebelle needs to encounter someone or something with one of the aforementioned traits and be bitten/stung/infected with venom/whatever before she comes back to the Mountain. You may find another character to interact with, use a non-player character account, or write a long post including encountering one in nature (i.e. a poison dart frog or some sort or snake or spider). If you do a thread with another player's character or yourself and a NPC account, you must have a least 5 posts in the thread (3 must be yours). If you choose to write it as a story all in one post, it must be a minimum of 2,000 words. Your post/thread can end with your character dragging themselves back to the mountain or passing out or dying or something of that nature. Either post it here (if not a thread) or a link to the thread here.
    When the wind bites into my furless coat, I know that I've been heard. A being of grey and blue emerged from the bluster, an expression as frigid as the wind she rode in on drawn across her face. It's cold now, much colder than I'd been prepared for, and the sudden drop in temperature sets my bones to chattering. The otherworldly mare who looks at me now may as well be a mare of snow and ice, for all the emotion she betrays. That is to say, none. 

    Her words are equally cold, but I can't say I expected anything else. Who but a foal would expect faeries to be fluffy, glittering sprites full of goodwill? Well. She's got the fluff and the glitter down, anyway. My teeth chatter bitterly as she chastens me for my attitude toward their "gift". Whatever. She doesn't have to live with this neon skin every day. I do, and i know what will make me more accepting of it. 

    I'm about to say as much when she does something. The ice faery didn't move, didn't say any magic word, but I know she's the reason the world goes dark. It's confirmed when her chill voice vibrates through my already shaking bones. Experience the pain I wish to inflict on others? How very masochistic. I'm not my mother, pain has never done it for me. I suppose this is some twisted faery idea of karma. 

    My head is spinning with the lack of stimulation when the light returns at last, weak and filtered. A few quick gasps of air are forced through my lungs, angry and violent as I look around. Where the hell did she drop me? There are no recognizable landmarks, nothing I can use to orient myself in the dense trees I've found myself in. It's certainly not Loess. 

    Being thrown into the unknown feels like a slap in the face. Not only have I been told to get myself poisoned, but I must do so in some place that may as well be another planet for all I could guess. Maybe that was the frigid faery's plan all along. Can't go asking for things if I'm lost and dead, right? My dark train of thought continues as I break through the trapping foliage. Vines grasp and branches snap across my neck and shoulders, and it's beginning to feel as though the very jungle I'm marooned in is out to get me. 

    I'm blowing hard by the time the greenery releases me, foamy sweat making a dull film on my scales. It's hot, so hot here, and more humid than any place has a right to be. Or maybe that's just how it feels after the bone deep cold of the mountain. The break in the trees is just enough for me to see the thin ribbon of dark river water cutting through the earth. It's probably as hot as the thick air I'm walking through, but as long as it's wet I don't care. 

    Stepping through the undergrowth, my focus is entirely on the sluggish water ahead. It's a strange color, almost black with silt. The scent coming from it is clean and mineral though, and at this point I'd drink acid if it would quench my thirst before I dropped dead. That could be the joke, I think, a macabre grin splitting my face. Poison, toxin, I'm seeing it everywhere now. Anything could do it, could make my veins burn enough to satisfy the magical requirements. 

    It's almost a disappointment when the water is just water. It's murky and warm and tastes like dirt, but it eases the dryness in my throat, and replaces the moisture seeping from my skin. A long drink later, I can finally lift my head without groaning. It's a relief, and then a creeping motion catches my eye. A shape like a variegated vine is sliding through the rocks toward me. Stripes of blue and white that undulate across the earth, patches of sunlight catching vibrant hues from it's sleek skin. 

    A snake, as intent on the river as I had been minutes ago, creeping and slithering like... Well, like a snake. I've always been fascinated by snakes. They're insidious and clever. They are the ultimate hunters and yet they are so fragile. Thin bones, thin skin, there's not much they can do when someone decides their time has come. I've watched hawks tear strips from their bodies, and the rodents they'd otherwise prey on turn and east them instead. That's the law of nature in action. 

    Today it's me who has decided the little beast's time is up. It's too easy to turn my anger at the day on a defenseless creature, to stamp out the life that burns so tenuously beside mine. I have to be bigger and burn brighter than anything else around me. It's unacceptable to be anything less than the top of the food chain. 

    So when the little thread of life dips it's head to the surface of the water, I watch its throat expand and contract for only seconds before I strike. One sharp hoof, brought down to pin the serpent's tail between the stone and my bony foot. It's just too slow to react, twisting and flailing only after I have it trapped. The end is near for this little beast, and it acts like it knows. Hissing like a serpent many times it's size, I can feel it try to slip from my grip, so I press down just a bit harder. Little bones will be beginning to crack now. 

    It's slicker than other snakes I've caught, almost fish-like as it writhes. I step another foot, just ahead of the other, cutting into the soft flesh of its belly. Flattening the stripey little thing, a few inches at a time. It'll be nothing more than a bloody ribbon by the time I'm done with it. It's thrashing and twisting, striking at the soft skin of my ankles repeatedly in a vain attempt to escape. It's cute, in a way, that it thinks it's actions will have any effect on the outcome we're marching so steadily towards. 

    The little serpent's efforts are valiant right up to the end. It wriggles beneath me with increasing weakness, right up until my now blood-spotted hooves sit beneath its neck. One final, decisive motion, and its skull is nothing more than a patch of gore and fractured bone glistening on the stone. 

    I feel so much better. The long, drawn out torture has released the tension building behind my eyes, transferred every bit of anger into the mutilated carcass that I've discarded. The raging storm that had so recently overtaken my mind has settled into a more manageable size as I can now consider just what to do about my situation. 

    I have to find my way home. There's not so much as the scent of other horses here, no sign that there's anything more than buzzing insects and creeping reptiles for miles. Nothing but little old me. I'm going to die old and alone and no one but the creepy crawlies will remember my bones. Fuckin' perfect. 

    The jungle can't go on forever. I know, logically, that it can't. But that's not how it feels as I tread through seemingly endless acres of thickly vegitated terrain. About an hour on, the pain begins. It's nothing at first, easily ignored. I figure it makes sense that my knee is sore. There's been hiking and swimming and walking, all in my day. It wouldn't be unexpected if I had made a wrong step at some point and irritated the cartilage there. 

    Beneath one of a thousand other identical trees, I stop to catch my breath. My knee is hurting worse for the break, and now my shoulder is beginning to feel the strain. The whole leg is starting to burn, the bones feeling stretched and brittle. An irritated groan shutters from my lips as I look at the limb in question. There is no swelling that I can see, no indication that I've damaged myself somehow. Until I look closer, at the delicate skin just above my boney hoof. Tiny tears mar the deep blue tissue. Long since dried droplets of blood make black little smears on the surrounding scales, and I remember the pitious serpent and its attempts at freedom. Perhaps it hadn't been so futile after all. 

    Damn faery must have planned this. 

    I'm annoyed and angry and yet I still feel victory in my heart. I finished it, destroyed it, and whatever pain it's causing me now, it's nothing to the death I caused it. I still won. I still have that. That satisfaction dims as I try to move beyond my temporary resting place. It is a close thing by which I catch myself, when the leg refuses to bear my weight. I curse, loudly, at anything I can think of. The snake, the faeries, the stupid mountain, my own idiocy that brought me to this place. 

    It's become clear that I'm not going to get far like this. Not with the stiffness creeping from my shoulder to my neck, along my ribcage. And I still have no idea where I'm going. I break out an awkward three legged gait that hurts with every jolting step. Quickly, quickly, my wings unfold and beat the air with a vengeance. Soon and yet somehow not soon enough I'm airborne, and lift myself above the canopy. 

    It's not a graceful takeoff. My foreleg won't fold properly, and instead drags through the tangled branches as I emerge from them. The impact aches but not as much as it should have. I'm too concerned with escaping the suddenly claustrophobic jungle to think on what that could mean. 

    The open air is a relief beyond what I could have expected. It feels so good to just fly free, to let the wind whip the sail of my mane aside, and the updrafts to carry me higher. I can forget just for a moment that I'm in trouble. Maybe even fatally so. Gliding over the sea of green, my eyes catch sight of an impossible thing. The rise of a far away mountain that cuts the horizon like a single tooth in an empty mouth. At last, I have a heading. 

    Every heart beat marches me a little closer to the far off mountain. And each throb of my pulse reminds me that I might not have that much time. It's getting harder to breath, and I know the altitude isn't to blame. The joints of my wings where they meet my shoulder blades is getting ever so slightly sore. If I don't think about it I can pretend it's just the lack of use. That I haven't stretched and haven't flown in a while. Easy enough to believe if my heart would only stop beating out its accusing rhythm. 

    Poi-son poi-son poi-son

    Rebelle, you are poison. And I know I am. It's a thing I was raised believing, and have never given anyone a reason to doubt. Not even myself. Why would I care to be anything other than what I am? And if that's what gets me killed in the end so be it. The end might be today, but I never once pretended to be better than I am. 

    It's getting hard to beat my wings, my focus drifting in and out of reality and revelation. It becomes easier to simply stretch out my wings, and let the considerate drafts do most of the work. Gliding, with only minor adjustments to the primaries to keep me on track, and I can breath just a little bit easier. Just enough. I wobble in the air as another leg falls limp. The nerves burn and scream, and I wish I could scream with them, but my throat had gone dry as bone. 

    You know that dream where you're running and running and whatever you're running toward stays stubbornly just out of reach? That was my living nightmare now. The mountain, my black stone goal. It bleed before my eyes, black and blue and impossibly vivid green all colliding into an abstract headache. My breath is a painful, rasping thing. Every inhale is a fight, every exhalation a victory. My wings are tired, the muscles spasming and trembling as the oxygen by blood carries is used up with unforgiving speed. 

    The end when it comes is decisive. I'm alone, so I don't waste my breath on last words. Not that anyone would care what I had to say anyway. I had been gliding blindly onward, the wind the only forgiving thing in my life. The only mercy, and one I didn't deserve. Not that I knew what I had been given. When my lungs seized, and my heart stopped, my wings gave up just a moment later. And I fell, like a Technicolor comet headed straight for earth. But dead I was, long before my body collided with a mountain. The mountain. Higher than I'd stopped originally, even. What a stupid way to die. 

    @[Ice Fairy]
    The brightly colored body doesn’t ever quite collide with the Mountain – though in her delirious state, she certainly probably thinks she does. She never actually left the mountain, though she will remember the dream-state like it was real, and the Ice Fairy certainly found the dream-drama most interesting. Most creatures were more honest in a dream-state, more revealing of their true natures; but it seems that Rebelle’s true nature is exactly what she had claimed it to be.

    The Ice Fairy does admire brutal honesty.

    Rebelle doesn’t wake on the Mountain. The fairy was interested enough in her to return her to Loess before waking her, so it is in amongst the rocks of Loess, with the scent of saltwater in her gray nostrils that she wakes the petitioner, giving her a brief moment to become aware of where they are now. “I’ve made your physiology as poisonous as your tongue. I’d be careful of both, if I were you. It’s not the greatest way to make friends.”

    And then she’s gone again, leaving Rebelle to discover her new nature on her own.

    Rebelle has been granted the genetic 2-space trait of “Poisonous Bodily Fluids”. All of her bodily fluids are now poisonous – blood, saliva, snot, etc. Contact with her bodily fluids will cause minor to severe reactions in living things, with the severity of the reaction depending on amount of exposure or length of exposure. If the poison comes into contact with the victim’s own bloodstream or it is ingested (i.e. if they are bitten and it breaks skin, or they ingest one of her bodily fluids) it might ultimately result in death.


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