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  • Beqanna

    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

    [open quest]  Come Along to the River; Round 1
    I've seen crazy things - out in the forest,
    I've seen monsters chasing dreams
    She shouldn’t be able to be here.

    This morning, she woke in the fields of her childhood, wildflowers dormant under her head even while frost covered the ground as well as the grulla mare lying atop it. At the mere thought of what her home was in non-winter months, she had found herself surrounded by blooming flowers, their colors seasonally impossible. Days later, she’s standing in death, the place that she had finally begun to accept as home some decades after dying.

    While the veil between life and death has always been tenuous for her, now it is non-existent. It seems to be torn to shreds, somehow allowing many of the dead back into the land of the living – but as far as she has been able to determine, very few are able to step back into Death. Not that most would choose to do so – but she seems to have been recreated with many abilities she didn’t have before, and this casual crossing of the border between life and death is one of them. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, her favorite of this new bag of tricks, but you can only explore your childhood home for so many days on end, discovering everyone you know is dead, before starting to be uneasy at the unbalance between life and death (or, at least, Nikkai can; maybe others are totally unconcerned).

    The utterly disturbing conclusion she’s come to so far is that there isn’t much of a limit to her power right now, other than being one of the few able to cross back into Death.

    That’s not quite true either – they can all cross back into death.

    The others just have to die to do it.
    & I wanna be by your side
    when we light up the sky for the world to see
    html by devin | lyrics by The National Parks

    Hello, hello! We did tell you to pay attention to certain characters. Smile

    This is a writing quest - grammar and punctuation will be taken into account but so will the character's choices, and creativity of the writing. And remember that this quest is "hosted" by the character, not by an impartial judge. She will communicate with questers on some basis, so feel free to use that in your decisions or to use any part of her history that would probably be common knowledge to someone who was a student of history or had the ability to become one while dead. There's plenty of that on her profile.

    Individual prizes of various sizes will be awarded, as well as something big that moves the sitewide plot forward, which will ultimately be awarded to a land rather than an individual. There may also be temporary defects.

    And now, for the directions!
    ->One entry per player.
    ->The character entered must be dead. This means either a previously deceased character (who has NOT crossed back into life unless they've died again), one whom you kill for this quest (but they cannot start any new threads while dead), or a new character you create who happens to be dead.
    ->In the first round, you must somehow describe how your character died. This can be a memory, someone else telling them in death, third-person description, whatever. You should also somehow include which (current!) land your character is tied to/loyal to, or if they are not tied to any current land at all. The post should end with your character being yanked out of their current location in death, but not include where they end up.
    ->Entries are due Saturday, November 9th at 6:00PM EST.
    i will be brutal
    He watches her go, down along the gray shoreline and into the mist until even her silhouette is invisible to him. She never tells him where she’s going and he doesn’t ask. Larva knows she will always orbit back to him and he doesn’t mind the wait so much anymore. He’s gotten used to the way his madness looms on the edges of his mind as she leaves, the way it comes slipping in with the same old song and dance that he’s grown accustomed to. The monster closes his eyes and when he opens them once more, he’s laying on his side at the beach while the setting sun turns everything dark orange or red. His old joints ache even though he’s lying perfectly still while Samael looms over him with a smile that is all teeth.

    This was how he died, the first time. He knows this is the first and not the third because that awful child’s hooves come crashing down on his skull with a muffled crunch. In this nightmare, though, he gets to see the way his grandson just kept smashing his face until the dirty gray sand ran red even without the dying light of the day. He gets to watch as the boy walks away without a word, completely unceremonious and unsatisfied. This death had been quick and perhaps even deserved, but he is still furious that he could not fight back. Everything in him wanted to rage against his ending, wanted to show the world that he would not go softly.

    And yet he did.
    He died old and weak.

    He hardly remembers the second death. When he opens his eyes once more, there is a group around him but their faces are all blurred like a poorly exposed photograph. Larva remembers that Beqanna had summoned them from their graves and gathered them here on the beach. He can even recall that one of them had been chosen to return amongst the living. His mouth opens to curse that man, to demand that he be given that gift of life once more. The old serpent watches with gritted teeth as the other shambling corpses begin to crumple into the sand as the magic leaves their rotting carcasses. Even as the world goes black, he howls with rage and vows that he will return despite their best efforts.

    And he did get that second chance, didn’t he? He tried to live an honest life where he did right by his lover. Larva even ruled a kingdom alongside her and Depp, a place that vowed to maintain balance in the world. In that third incarnation, he had lived long enough to see old age once more. He also lived long enough to watch his Dillan die before him.

    When he opens his eyes one last time, he is standing there watching the waves roll in. Samael is beside him with a wide grin and a spell to finish him off at last. Larva swallows hard and takes a step forward, into the frigid waves where Dillan waits for him just beyond his reach. He can taste the saltwater as it coats his tongue and he coughs but he never stops. Farther and farther out, he swims in the hopes that he can kiss her face one last time before it’s really over. But his love just keeps dancing inches before him until his legs grow too tired to keep him afloat. When he sinks beneath the surface, the world goes dark and he can hear her saying she loves him.

    He jolts awake when Dillan kisses his face, reminding him these are only visions of things that have already come to pass. Still, his smile is frail when it forms across his lips. She doesn’t ask what troubles him but instead tucks herself against his side and rests her head under his chin. Their souls are perfectly in tune with one another and few words are needed between them anymore.

    Have you noticed how many have gone?” he says at last, gently resting his chin against her head. “I worry. There’s a storm brewing and our children have suffered enough. If I were in Tephra.. Maybe I could protect them.

    Larva doesn’t know if he could bear to leave her again when they’ve only just begun their eternity together, though. He presses his lips to her brow and watches the dreary waves come rising up the sand before them. If he went, would she follow close behind? The thought terrifies him, knowing she could be in danger among the living just as their family is now.

    Would you wait for me again?” he asks, still staring ahead. She begins to move beneath his embrace but before she can answer, he finds himself stepping backward. The ancient viper knows the answer already. “I love you Dillan. I love you in this life, the one before, and whatever comes after.

    And then the world turns black once more.
    take my soul & make it undone
    be the one, be the one to take me home and show me the sun. i know, i know you can bring the fire, i can bring the bones. i know, i know you'll make the fire, my bones will make it grow.
    Unlike some of the greats, she has only died once.

    Wishbone will admit her murder was embarrassing… It could barely even be called a murder. Nothing screams “I love kinky sex” more than getting drowned by a possessive kelpie mid-bone. She can’t even consider the event to be a pleasant one, with or without the drowning part. She had still been debilitated from the potent combination of the Plague and the birth of twins. At the time, her weakness had resulted in Ivar getting what he wanted. Wishbone wasn’t built for the life of a broodmare, yet that is exactly what those final weeks of her life had become.

    She burns with anger at the thought of it now.

    He had started with showers of kisses along her spine that were equally frustrating and encouraging. “The children are off to play.” His voice had been a husky growl of desire in her ear. Later she would scoff and huff in the land of the Dead, furious that he had said ‘the children’ as if he didn’t know their names.

    Rivuline and Delphi — the sight of their soft baby faces played through her mind like a scratched, repeating record.

    While sparing the details that put her in the position of her demise, Wishbone found herself first knee-deep in the western ocean. It wasn’t a cause for concern because she had trusted him. He surely wouldn’t let her drown (not like all the other mares he had sacrificed to the sea). Besides, her Tephran childhood home and Nerinian homeland had gifted her the skill of swimming despite any fins or gills. Even as the waves rose to her chest, Wishbone had no worry.

    It wasn’t until the sea was soaking her throat and then her cheeks that she realized she was in danger. And Ivar was a tyrant against her back, placing bite marks along her crest that thinly bled into the waves. His weight was upon her like the entirety of the sky was pressing her down below the surface and into the sand. Her voice would not have reached his ears, even if she had said anything. He was instinct — the primal creature he had always been. When a low gasp brought her final quick inhale of air, Ivar might not have even noticed.

    Wishbone can’t forget the way the ocean rushed into her lungs. In those long nights among the Dead, she often woke in a sweat with the sensation still heavy in her chest.

    She is thankful she didn’t have to experience what took place once her body washed against Ischia’s shore. When the mahogany had woken beyond the veil, something had felt removed. She had not been whole… Not simply because her daughters were alive while she was dead, but because a physical piece of her had been tortured along with her waterlogged lungs. A hazy, dancing reflection among the Dead revealed the absence of her jugular, torn clean from her throat by the teeth of her murderer.

    Her Death years have been spent in bitterness. The line between Life and Death is a worn path she paces daily. She is so ready to get out of this nursing home. She is a captive against her will. She is a tigress trapped in a cage. Her anger is a fire in the dryest forest, engulfing anything that dares get in her way. Wishbone knows she will never allow herself to submit to the life of a broodmare again. The temptations of Ivar are weak against the iron-will of her determination. One day, she will get home to Nerine.

    When she feels the line crack, she is already there.
    credit to eliza of adoxography.

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

    The muscles of her heart flex and strain. They seem to splinter apart and there is nothing the mare can do, nothing can ease the impending breaking of her fractured heart. When the darkness had begun to crawl around the edges of her honey amber eyes, a serene smile replaces the gagging struggle for air as her throat closes and her lungs begin to give up..and still the heart rips and tears as it struggles to go on but there is no one by her side...Manhattan has abandoned her a quickly as he came to her under the moonlight to whisper incantation of love promises, weaving within the dark tangles of her wild mane.

    She thinks of her children, all so painfully beautiful and laughing in the golden sun. They are her legacy despite her small and near nonexistence. She would not leave the world marred like many that have come before her and those that will come after. She is but a small fragile seashell that is tumbled and beaten against the shore till it becomes nothing but minuscule grit.

    October welcomes the collapse of her organs, the final sweetness of painlessness at the final beat of her heart.

    Finally her suffering will end.


    Sweet dreams of happier times cover her like a soft blanket in her final rest. She remembers the way Sariel had found her that day alone in the field. A small twist of a horse, caught between the worlds where a filly becomes a mare, shivering and scared to be so alone when the world felt so big. He had appeared with his wide smile and kind eyes. His words promised to care for her, comfort her, protect her and she had swallowed them greedily. Black stocking legs joyfully bounced beside him as she stole girlish glances when she thought he was not looking...but he saw everything...he saw her.


    'I have been dreaming.' The lukewarm whimsy of a lifetime past flows through the murk of her fever sick brain. The dark eyed mare draws a breath that weaves through her pine needle clogged throat, itching and angry. A soft moan escapes through parted lips of smudged black and she pulls her legs beneath her. They creak and groan but October is barely aware.

    A rush of winter cold, fresh and frightening, startles her awake and the empty skull that had been the only remainder of her insignificant existence is now flushed with blood and muscle. She can feel her eyelids crawl back slowly, filled with gritty sand. Sunlight stung her painfully as it never had when she dreamed...she could feel the warmth on her heaving sides...but it is the sound of her heart beating in her ears that urges her to go on, a gentle push as it urges her to rise...to find her feet and go on and not allow herself to just be shaded in the shadows of all who passed her on their own roads to glory.

    She drinks deeply on the frozen air with honey eyes wide and knowing before her feet are gathering and forcing her upright. What kind of magic is this? Why rouse her sleeping remains? She had been punished enough by those she loved and those she thought had loved her...but love should never be only one sided. October blinks slowly as she becomes aware (as much as she fights it) she is no longer a collection of bones and wild flowers.

    "Where am I?" Rusted, clotted words echo against her own ears on a tongue that felt swollen and uncoordinated. One leg hesitantly reaches, stumbles, then reaches again...she is moving like a newly born foal...embarrassing...but something urges her to try again.

    (please try again, always try again)

    The little voice pleads desperately and so she must obey.

    She doesn’t know what happened, not even when she drew in her final breath, but it was cold. Her body shuddered in Death’s icy grip. It was a peaceful, albeit lonely, demise. Brittle, old bones creaked with each new morning and her chest grew weary of breathing and beating. Without her lover, without Larva, she was nothing. Their passion and life together kept her alive, but with his blood there on the beach, there was nothing left for her. Goodbye, she remembered whispering into the crashing of the waves, her voice choked by the agony crushing her heart. Crushing it until she could no longer survive, until she no longer wanted to survive.

    Even with their children on the ground, thriving, Dillan knew she only belonged to him.

    There on the beach, she rested. Her body lied on the sand, her legs tucked close and her cataract-riddled eyes staring longingly across the ocean toward the distant horizon. Immortality did not keep her alive, love did. Age wasn’t something Dillan could escape. It found her every day and paled her coat more and more. Her soldier body, refined by muscle, withered until her hips and withers pulled sharply against her skin. What had once been a thick curtain of locks, dulled into matted mess of debris and tangled knots. But she no longer cared. Nothing mattered without him.    

    ”I love you, Larva,” she whispered into the cool, coastal breeze when it kissed her skin.

    Without children at her side, and with her lover having already passed, the air from her lungs sighed one last time. Her aching heart, never having mended, crumbled after one final beat. Dillan hummed with a final exertion and lowered her head to the ground. The sand cupped her chin as her eyes drifted shut, succumbing to age and a broken heart.

    Her soul lifted, however, and fled from a body that had long suffered. Like a beacon, Larva called to her and embraced her like countless times before. She smiled then - the first time since he died – as she melted into him, their love extending beyond life and into death, into eternity.

    There are no days, no years, or sense of time in this world. Dillan looks up at him endearingly, but her nutmeg eyes flicker with uncertainty when he mentions their children and Tephra. A low, thoughtful hum vibrates through her, but she does not peel away from his side even as he implies to leave her and find the foreign volcanic land. They’ve suffered enough, he adds, and her lips purse tightly together because she cannot help to focus on the sibling love, then rivalry, between Shiya and Vulgaris. Most of their other children have vanished, but she has not seen them, not even here. ”I don’t know, Larva,” she croons, afraid to intervene and afraid that they will again be torn apart. ”I don’t know if there is anything that we can do, but…” she trails off and looks away from him, her gut wrenching with the knowledge that something is in fact brewing. Something is wrong, and she cannot bear to ignore it either, but her hesitation combats his confidence. She doesn’t fight him though because he is what gives her courage and strength. He asks if she will wait and her mouth opens to says yes – her answer will always be yes – but Larva is already backing away from her. In refusal, Dillan steps forward, and on the edge of her tongue is a beg for him to stay, but there is a clap of thunder, and he is gone. ”I love you,” she says into the darkness, unwilling to let him go alone and unable to fight him on it. Shutting her eyes, Dillan’s soul feverishly follows her lover into the shadows.
    She lies with a cheek on the cold, packed sand, gray eyes staring out across waters that match. Today, just like every day, she lingers in the pain and the loss. The curl of his mouth, the sneers of disgust. It envelops her in a cruel, burning hug, one that she has felt a thousand times over … too many times but not enough, never enough, and now she is numb with the feel of it. She’s lost track of how many gray sunsets have come and gone, how many tides have ebbed and grown. The wind - always cold, always biting, skates along the bilgy ocean water, an ocean that mocks her with it’s dead-filled silence. It lifts and plucks half-heartedly at her seawater-matted mane, ragged and pitiful against a listless neck. I am not your lover, dirty one. She winces, a stir of “life”. Legs lying akimbo, the once pristine white socks now hopelessly streaked and stained, she sighs. It had gone all wrong, though they had told them it had not been right from the start. A shuddering sigh rattles through her gaunt frame. Tatter, she whispers, but no sound passes dead, cracked lips. Tatter, she breathes - still no sound, and the wind pays no mind.

    Every dawn she lies in this quiet agony, remembering the vitriol, the hate that burned in eyes so like their father’s. Though she is looking directly at him when he rises, when that smirking mouth she loves so twists into something ugly and dangerous, she does not think to evade him. Even as her body spins away instinctively she does not consciously think to escape him. Never, not once, had she considered that her beloved Tatter would strike out at her with anything more than words. Pain explodes behind her eyes, black spots dancing in her vision, threatening to go black. She has never been struck before, not even during her and Chain's training sessions. Always too agile, too lithe for her heavier grandfather to hit. But Tatter, dear Tatter, he is too fast for her, encumbered as she is by the heavy burden that stands between them. She cannot help the cry of pain; it cuts loose from a strangled throat, high and surprised. A few ribs crack beneath his weight and now every breath burns with an aching fire she'd not thought could exist. He laughs at her now, his back turned, daring her to carry out on her threats. But she cannot focus as she stands there, long legs trembling, fighting every breath even as she gasps for air. It hurts, it hurts. She tries to shuffle away, unsteady and swaying on her feet, but she catches the toe of her hoof on something, tripping and going down on her knees before she can catch herself. She is moaning, low pitiful sounds that do not register, preoccupied as she is with getting away, struggling to get back on all fours. 

    Another stir of “life”, the memories a well-worn cascade she is helpless to stem. It is a struggle to get to her feet and she groans but there is no resistance in her, not anymore. Day in and day out, this is her existence, here on this side of the veil. One foot in front of the other, leaving no trace as she moves north along the beach; head bowed and eyes closed, as if by doing so she could hope to stave off death’s punishments. Fey, Fey, Fey, she gathers the name on soundless lips, repeated in staccato, but even the ire it stirs is not enough to warm her. So she walks, and her life - wasted in the end - walks with her. 

    I can’t breathe without you. I can’t live without you. And so, she hadn’t. 

    She moves with the steady motion of one who has done this a thousand times. She has, in fact, and death will never grow weary of making her relive the worst moments of her life. This gray scale one seems to be its favorite. Her strides are steady even though her emaciated frame should betray her. Dirty and bedraggled, a queen no more, she reaches the end of the beach and slowly turns out toward the lifeless waters. A pause here, another skeletal breath. She had walked into the ocean then, so many years ago, and with the same sort of brokenhearted mindlessness, she walks into it now. It was the same icy cold that day, gripping at her ankles, tickling her underside, swirling about her shoulders before slipping over her back. It had robbed her of her breath, stirred a primal sense of survival in her belly, but she had been determined not to live a moment longer without him. So she went on. Now, here on the other side of death, the cold still aches in bones long dead; the insensate waters still close over her head, dragging her beneath the surface, flooding her lungs and her mind … 

    It is always the same, day in and day out, but suddenly - violently - it’s not.

    they're gonna eat me alive.

    Everyone is born to die.
    But not everyone truly lives.

    Such was true for Nadya. She had tried to live once. The attempt had broken her. So instead, she drifted.  She had wandered, listless, cursing the day she had been sucked into a world of dreams. It was there she learned how quickly dreams can turn to nightmares.  She had remained trapped in a nightmare of her own making for an indeterminate amount of time.  In the meantime...the Reckoning had destroyed the Beqanna she knew.
    When Nadya finally did return - she could not understand what she was seeing. The line between fantasy and reality had blurred. She could no longer tell what was real and what her mind had created.

    (She could still taste the metallic tang of blood in her mouth, feel the texture of the flesh against her tongue, hear the sounds of the screams…)

    It broke her.
    Nadya just couldn’t cope with reality. 

    Her death had been effortless. Life moved around her, but she did not move with it. She knew what she was. (A monster.) She knew she must be kept away from others. She lived in self-imposed isolation.

    Her mind had broken, irrevocably. Soon, her body began to fade. She stopped eating. Stopped sleeping. When she did sleep she dreamt only of the freedom that death would bring.  She wasted away, having lost the will to live in a world she didn’t - couldn't - understand.

    And finally, death came for her.
    There had been no goodbyes. There was no one to mourn her. This is what she had wanted. Freedom. Quiet. Peace.

    There had once been a time where she would have wanted to be remembered. Her dream had been to rise as her parents and siblings once had. Not now. Not anymore. Not after that dream had been twisted into something horrific. Nadya had no loyalties now. Not to any one or any place.

    Death was peaceful in a way she could never have imagined. Her mind was quiet. There was no turmoil now. Gone were the voices and the memories that plagued her. She did not have to work to discern what was real and what was not.

    It simply was.

    Time held little meaning in the afterlife. That suited Nadya just fine.  She had no idea how long she had been here - how long she had been dead.

    What she did know is that something had changed. It started with a feeling - a sense of unease she had not felt since before death had taken her.  And then came the burning light and with it the searing pain.

    Something was wrong.
    There was no pain here. And yet the burning threatened to consume her.

    She squeezed her eyes shut against the blinding, burning light...

    ...and then she was falling.

    n a d y a

    Freedom is what you do with what has been been done to you.

    But death did not seem freeing, a black abyss of nothing greeting him in a world of impartial nihility; it is cold and terrifying.

    His eyes suddenly open, though he does not feel as if he has returned to the living, instead it feels as if his mind has brought him back into an existential nightmare, replaying the image of his dead body over and over again.
    There is no time to entertain the thought of an afterlife, or as to why he was able to dream in the first place if he was already dead, as the show has already begun and his time for thought has ended as his living self comes into view.

    He watches from afar, observing as his living soul crosses the border into Pangea, the memory of hope and home still fresh in his mind as he watches himself slowly walk toward his downfall.

    He had arrived in Beqanna with hope, and when he had found out about Pangea and its reformation excitement had filled him, eager to find a home and settle down in this new and wonderful land.

    Though the dream is short-lived, and the dream continues as he watches himself walk toward the canyons that decorate the landscape.
    In this moment he wants to scream, to tell him to stop and turn back, but it is already too late, he can feel a touch softly push him, sending him falling into the canyon, a scream echoing throughout the abyss as he falls.
    Satan can almost feel the touch himself, a still moment framed in betrayal, an unimaginable tragedy that he now has to relive.

    The screaming ceases once he has fallen, he knows that almost every bone in his small body is broken, and now in the afterlife he can see it all unfold, watching as boulders and rocks suddenly fall from the sides of the ravine, crashing onto his body, he can hear and feel as his bones are crushed, the horns around his head reduced to dust.

    He is dead, though perhaps still living.

    His eyes suddenly open, though now he feels as if he has returned to the living, or perhaps another nightmare, one that feels all too real.
    free large image hosting
    Character image by the amazing Ciel on https://www.deviantart.com/millionashes
    ( i'm just here to fight the fire
    oh, a man ain't a man unless he has desire )

    He’s been dead so long now he doesn’t remember what it was like to live.
    He certainly doesn’t remember what it was like to die.

    And even if he did, what good would it do?
    Gather around, children, let me tell you a story.
    He had never been a particularly good father, Antidote.
    And he made an even worse grandfather. It made him itch when they arrived, some frightened, some relieved. They were delivered to him as if he were some kind of shepherd. Because the universe made good on its promise – your relatives will be waiting for you when you cross over, there is nothing to fear. But Antidote was the same mule-headed prick he’d been in life (if he could remember that far back, he might have laughed at how little things change) and he had taken to pretending like he didn’t know them. In most cases, he didn’t, but there was something in the eyes and you could always tell. But they’d come to him, their gazes glassy, their brows furrowed with their confusion. They all asked the same question, some stilted version of, where am I? and he’d say, ‘I don’t know, I guess you’re dead,’ and he’d leave them to it.

    A shepherd he is not.

    There are none left now who remember the story of Antidote. Even the few who’d been blessed (or perhaps cursed) with eternal life have faded into obscurity. And even if they do remember him, there is certainly no one left who has any interest in hearing about him.

    But if there were someone willing to tell the story and someone willing to lend an ear, the story would go like this:

    The life was largely unremarkable. The life of a herd stallion. There were no wars fought, the old bastard never had a heroic bone in his body. Perhaps things might have been different if he’d had a lick of aspiration or ambition, but he’d been content in his unremarkable life. He’d loved a fine woman and, as far as he could tell, she loved him just the same. They’d had children and they were fine children, as far as he could tell. Even the one Cuerva Lista rejected, Texas. He’d caught wind of his son’s success once and had a hearty good laugh about it. Because wasn’t that just the way life worked?

    The death was unremarkable, too. A gradual fading, a diminishing of the light in his eyes. The soul got heavy and, quite frankly, he got tired of carrying it. If he’d had any goals in life, he would have said he’d accomplished them. In reality, Antidote had accomplished very little. Though, perhaps, that was an accomplishment in itself.

    In the end, he just got tired. He looked at the woman he loved, said, ‘I think I’ll take a nap,’ and laid down and died.

    You see, it’s not a story worth telling. It is certainly not a story worth hearing.
    Perhaps this is why he has forgotten it.
    So that he can tell a different story. A more heroic story.
    Or, he would, maybe, if anyone ever asked.

    He is standing in the shade of a giant oak now, still quite pleased with how he can manipulate the landscape to suit his mood. (He has been dead centuries now, but there are some things you never get used to). There is a figure approaching, someone he does not recognize. He can tell by the stagger in their gait that they are recently deceased and he doesn’t bother with trying to stifle the groan that swells  up the column of his throat. “Christ,” he mutters darkly, rolls his eyes.

    ‘Excuse me,’ the figure calls from a distance, ‘excuse me, where are we?’

    You’re dead!” he shouts. The gait falters and he has just enough time to see their confusion collapse around the edges of their horror before a fish hook catches him in the belly. The corners of his mouth slant downward under the weight of his own confusion as the ground beneath him begins to dissolve.
    Or perhaps he is the one dissolving.

    a n t i d o t e

    antidote is not affiliated with any land

    Here it comes with no warning; capsize, i'm first in the water

    There had been nothing.

    Was there always nothing? She wonders.

    Nothing but the darkness surrounded her. Engulfed by the blackness, the dark void. She was numb, so very numb. Her heart felt so heavy, but it was empty. She could not feel anything—could not remember what it was like to feel.

    But she always remembered.

    She remembers the music. The song of magic and love that consumed her. The notes that orchestrated her ending from the devilish monster—the song of her death.

    No I am not dead, she thinks.

    There was screaming. The blood cries of death that deafened her. She was screaming—so loud but never heard. Her cries for help, her pleas to be heard, were never heard.

    Her cries were only met with laughter. Her pleas were met with pain and bloodshed. There had been so much of it, so much pain and blood. It spread fast like wildfire across every inch of her body. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t feel the air in her lungs as she hit the ground. The air was knocked out of her with every hit and with every blow was followed with laughter.

    “You are not worthy,” he told her.

    He—the horned devil—never stopped laughing at her. Every part of him exploded with delight with every hit and blow on her. He loved the horror on her face and the screams that filled her lungs. The song of her death he played filled her with fear, sending her into a hysteria of terror.

    No I cannot die! She would never allow it to happen.

    Yet, the fear became her strength in those terrifying moments. She had to get away, to protect something. Protect what? She cannot remember but only knowing it was her strength, her reason to fight to live another day. She scrambled away, missing a blow as he lunged at her.

    All she remembers then is running. Running through the dark shadowed forest. Forever she ran until she felt the sharp air fill her lungs. The cold breeze of the wind on her face. The salty ocean and death filling her nostrils.

    She can feel the water against her limbs as the waves crash around her. The fear within her fades as she realizes what is to come. She remembers this part. It’s so vivid in her mind as if she has relived it a thousand times.

    She accepts it—her death is to come as it always has.

    As she turns from the ocean, she meets her god. The god that weighed the worth of her life. She accepts his answer with every touch and word spoken to her. Perhaps she was always meant to die like this. Then the finally blow comes hard and quick, and she lays on the bone-bleached beach.

    No, not like this, she thinks.

    She was dead.

    But it was not the ending—only the beginning of something new.

    She remembers lying there and the blackness returning. But it doesn't come. She doesn't remember this part.

    The small cries of something new and beautiful—the birth of life. It hits her now as she realizes not what she was protecting but who—her beautiful little baby girl. My sweet darling, Eva. My home. She thinks as she looks at her daughter. It fills her with hope instantly (a feeling she never thought she would feel again).

    The waves quickly come in onto the shore, overlapping and pulling her into the depths of the ocean. With one last look to the bone-bleached beach, her daughter disappears. The ocean current pulls her under more as the waves lap over her and she slowly floats down into the darkness.

    She can feel her lungs being filled with saltwater.

    Every part of her wants to fight it, but she doesn’t.

    Take me back to my daughter, she pleads silently, Take me home.

    To Ischia.

    The darkness comes once more but it is different this time.
    ...too close to the bottom.
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