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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening


    SOCHI -- Year 207


    "He will inevitably decide that it all fell apart because he had orchestrated it and he will carry the blame like a stone in his chest, too. He will add it to the pile and perhaps, someday when there are enough stones to weigh him down, he will walk into the sea and let them drown him" -- Kensley, written by Savage

    [private]  Mesmerized Skeletons || Lepis ||


    Standing motionless in the twilight haze of Taiga’s dark woods, Wolfbane contemplated everything he was about to lose with a seriousness colder than the snow blanketing the trees. He replayed the scene again and again, each time feeling worse for having heard it. Thinking of moving back to Loess, his wife had said openly to Noah, knowing the opportunity to speak her mind in the presence of their mutual friend would provide her with a safe space if Bane disapproved. He showed nothing in that moment but felt everything. If Lepis suddenly sprouted a horn and turned to skewer her husband through his mottled, broken heart she could not have hurt him more. Leaving? Leaving him. Leaving him and Taiga for Castile and Loess.

    His face twisted into a vicious frown, curled at the edges and sharpened into a clench of bitter anger.

    Rage consumed him, blooming out and changing him from a stallion to a lion, and the impossibly large beast struck out at a nearby tree with its paw. The bark ripped viciously away from it’s trunk to fly off into the twinkling dark, splattering over the snow like fresh blood. Wolfbane’s mute gold chest heaved while he stood next to the damage of gouged markings, his wide golden eyes staring out toward the hollow cavern of the redwood he and Lepis had turned into a home here. Somewhere in its warm darkness his children might be lying, preparing themselves for sleep.

    Somewhere close by would be his wife, and he didn’t need enhanced senses to prove it.

    “Lepis.” He growled, chuttering and clicking her name on a foreign tongue. Then he closed his eyes against the void of what was coming and breathed deeply. Calm, he commanded his body until the transformation reverted a dusty brown mane to a stiff, white one. Until the paws became hooves and the length of his body returned to equine shape. “Back to Loess?” He asked, opening his eyes to the vision of her and feeling that same distinct pain again. The pain of confusion and turmoil, loss and new beginnings.

    Commandant of Taiga // Champion of Loess

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    lepis, comtesse of taiga
    i think i need a devil to help me get things right

    She’s not purposefully avoiding him. Or so Lepis tells herself as she bids Noah farewell with the excuse that she needs to wrangle her own children, and as she smooths a blue mane and then a golden one despite having long-ago rid them of tangles, and as she recounts the story of the foal who cried Carnage in far more detail than usual. She’s not avoiding him. She’s not. Deep fissures crease her dun face, but Celina is old enough to not ask why, and Elio young enough to believe her answer that everything is fine when he inquires. After that she tries to smile better, and is still wearing the expression as she ducks beneath mouth of the hollow.

    The smile flees at the sound of splintering wood, and a glance back the children assures her the sound had been too distant to disturb them.

    The trees of Taiga sometimes crack in the bitter heart of winter, but that is not what she looks for in the darkness. Her eyes, a striking shade of blue-grey, can see nothing in the dim light of the half moon. Her ears are still turned in the direction of the sound though, and she has taken a few dozen steps toward it when something looms out of the darkness ahead. It speaks her name – she thinks – and what she had only recognized as a tawny creature that morphs into a face that she knows.

    That she had known?

    The dichotomy confounds her, and the flood of emotions that his appearance have elicited make it no easier. They flurry within her still, and are made ever more lively as she traces the brow and the nose and the cheeks that she has so often seen only in her imagination. She wants to kiss him, and to knock him head over tail. To scream with rage and to apologize. All at once, with none stronger than the other.

    She had not been avoiding him, but if she had been, this would be why. This turmoil, this uncertainty. Only once before has she felt like this, and those tentative emotions are paltry things next to what fills her chest and colors her eyes. It is like standing on a ledge, and neither standing still or leaping off seems a better option. She doesn’t know how long she might have been still, her mouth half open, if he’d hadn’t spoken up.

    The questions startles her. Startles an answer out of her even, one that she doesn’t even consider before voicing aloud.

    “I didn’t know if you’d want me to stay.” The words are softer than his, and no less intense. “and I didn’t know if I wanted to.”

    Lepis has admitted her wrongs to others, and yet the words are far away as she stands in front of him. She wants to tell him she is sorry, that she had said things she regrets, done things that she should have never dared, taken risks without thinking of the consequences. Starsin had told her that was the way to making things right again. That is how to mend the cracks, to relay the foundation that has shattered. And yet…

    The ledge she balances grows narrower, she has to choose; she cannot stay here forever. 

    “I didn’t really want you to go,” she says to the snow that glistens around her fetlocks. "I just didn't want to keep fighting." 

    The words sound overloud in the still night, like rocks clattering down a slope. There are more coming - words or emotions she is not certain - these feel like the first rolling bits that precede a landslide.


    He can’t help it; Wolfbane starts to pace. Looking at her and seeing her aren’t the same thing, really. He needs to listen but not be drawn in by the look of confusion, so instead he turns one way a few steps, shoulders rolling and neck bobbing, then the other way to trace the line again. Of course you should stay, he wants to bite back, not if you didn’t - don’t want to though. He thinks, torn by indecision and how she seems so unsure of… them. Of this. Taiga and all its problems they’ve played a part in creating.

    But he holds his tongue, still understanding her enough to know there’s more to come and when Lepis speaks again Bane’s pacing irritation slows to a halt. He stands with his body perpendicular to her own, giving the Comtesse an ample view of the shapely curves that used to warm her on the coldest of nights. “We both needed our space.” He consoles her, sighing and (for the first time in a very long time) wishing she would fabricate some sensation of peace. Bane knows better than to trust his emotions right now, and yet pride prevents him from asking.

    Pride and… guilt.

    Taiga is so dark and cold in the winter. Her quiet corners and blanketed valleys soften harsh words and vile tempers. Wolfbane remembers the feeling of his claws grasping her throat and squeezing, shaking his wife’s head like a piece of raw meat. It would’ve been so damn easy to just snap, so easy that he trembles quietly thinking about it. If she hadn’t told him to go the end result could’ve been far worse.

    It’s then he realizes: she should go. Far away from him and this place, back to Castile and the comfort of Loess where she belonged. Away from the cold of the north and the threat of his grandmere, Heartfire. Away from a disgusting creature who hardly knew himself these days.
    Wolfbane held his breath and looked back to Lepis, feeling the remaining vestiges of his already soured heart breaking for what he was about to say but - damn him, damn this body and this fucking curse - he still wanted her happiness.

    If she stayed here, Lepis wouldn’t find that. She’d only find, “The truth… is that I’m not quite sure I love you as a husband anymore, Lepis.” He swallowed, the fine mist of his warm breath drifting away into the air as he said it. Don’t you fucking stop coward, Wolfbane urged himself on, sick in the head and truly sick in his soul. Hurt her until there’s nothing left to cling to. It’s best. “I betrayed your trust. Our vows. I-” He closes his eyes in the moment and turns his ears down, lifts his head to the dark boughs of so many black branches and just … lets go, “-am falling for another. Feeling things I’ve only felt with you - in another’s embrace.” His eyes open again and they turn on her, hardened by sheer willpower despite the overwhelming urge he feels to cry.

    And Wolfbane has not cried since his father beat him close to death. Not even for Gale.

    “I don’t want to fight anymore either.” Her Commandant concedes. “I just want this to end.”

    Commandant of Taiga // Champion of Loess

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    lepis, comtesse of taiga
    i think i need a devil to help me get things right

    He paces, and she remains still.

    Only her eyes follow him – back and forth and back and forth. Like when he had appeared beside Noah, she sees the ghosts of the memory-linked changes in his static shape. Broad white wings where there are bare shoulders, the flaming red and brilliant golden stripes he had worn on their last night together, a row of freshly plucked flowers that Pteron had lined along his ribcage while he napped, an indescribably larger self that had loomed over Aten. They’re all there, all him, and she finally begins to understand the depth of the changes in him that she has tried so hard to pretend weren’t happening.

    Another sin to list: that she had not asked (at least not listened well enough). She’s ready to recite them, realizes this as he tells her that they had both needed their space. Yes, she agrees with a nod. They had needed it, and as long as the two weeks apart have been, Lepis finds relief in knowing that at least they are over. He is here now, and the dun mare is certain that is all that is important.

    Lepis knows about the fuses, those not platonic devices her husband had laid and then set off in the already-crumbling structure of their marriage. When the blue-haired woman had told Starsin that there were some things she could not forgive, Lepis had meant it. She had thought those detonations were unforgivable at the time. (A bit of her still does, but she does not listen to it, tells herself it is something they will talk about, something they will resolve and move past).

    In the weeks since, the Comtesse has admitted to herself that there truly are worse things in the grand scheme of things, and that perhaps the tally of sins between them need not be identical to be equal.

    There are worse things than what Wolfbane has done with sweet-voiced Lilliana, but none of them are worse than this. Nothing is worse than this. Wolfbane does not offer to rebuild, or even start to hack away at what remains of them and set fire to the rubble that had once been their marriage.

    Instead he denies that it exists at all.
    Every shattered bit of debris Lepis clings to turns suddenly to ash in her hands.

    She is left with nothing.

    For one agonizing and desperate moment, Lepis thinks she could change his mind. That she should change his mind, even. If she asks - pleads - surely that would change things? He could listen; surely he would. ‘Not quite sure’ is not the same as ‘Not at all’, says a fragile voice inside her that she hardly recognizes.

    If the tears welling in her eyes spill over, if she begs, he might listen. If she shows him she means it, if she tells him that that there is not a thing in the world she would not forgive him or give him. She would give anything, everything, and just as she starts to say it...she stops.

    Because he has more to say, more than just the admission that he has betrayed her, and then still more even after he confesses he has broken his vows.

    And in the end, it’s not what he has done that is the worst. Rather it is what he stillintends to do, what he means when he speaks of falling in the present tense, of feeling things in embraces not only past but future too. True, the recounting of his trangressions is a knife her already hollowed heart, yet it is his lack of remorse, worse still that he means to continue, that drives it in and twist it so cruelly.

    ”Fall, then.” She tells him, finding it is easy to sound emotionless when every bit of her that has been so recently gathered up again is dust in her once-hopeful hands. “Fall, and when you find that the landing feels nothing like what we had, don’t bother coming to tell me about it.” She will already know. There is something building, the rattle of pebbles she had sensed earlier precluding a landslide. It builds, emotions with it, a writhing mass of anguish and rage and agony and fury.

    “Before that though, before that...” She takes a breath, and though a tear falls, it does so alone, a single glittering streak down her golden cheek. “Stop lying to yourself. You know you don’t love me anymore, it’s not something you’re not quite sure of.” These words finally accompany visual emotion: a sneer, one that reduces her handsome countenance to a mask of pity. “If you still loved me, you wouldn’t be falling. You chose to take that jump, and if you loved me – loved me like I loved you – you’d have never taken the leap at all.”

    Lepis never realizes that she has spoken of her feelings for him in past tense, and it is clear from the way she shakes her head, the way she backs away from him with an expression nothing less than shell-shocked, that she has no intent of arguing with him.

    “Say no more,” and just those three vicious words act as a shield from the pain that she knows will break her if she lets it waiver for even an instant. “We’ve been over since the moment you thought that you might find something better with Lilliana than what we had.”


    It works. His anger and hate works a bit too well. He watches her fall and slip away from him, keeping everything he’d ever wanted to say - everything he could’ve said to cement their love back together - stifled underneath a thin veil of composure. He didn’t want this, he didn’t want anything to do with this and if he could Bane would transform himself into another creature, disappear as he was apt to do for another ten thousand years or so until the memory of them and their love was gone but.


    A love like theirs isn’t so easily forgotten, or so easily mended. Lepis gives him a blessing but he feels the truth of it: her blessing is a curse and he knows he deserves it and so much more. He is falling, spiraling out of control without care or concern to who he takes with him in the descent. He has ripped their lives apart and destroyed her faith in their union for… what? For love? He can’t be sure anymore. He’s not sure of anything, most of all himself. He doesn’t even feel the way cold rivulets of tears are streaming down his face, dropping into the snow to leave hot indentations of their passing like the dark stains on his heart.

    Fall then, she bids him, so he does. He falls away from emotions altogether - lets the darkness rise up with a triumphant snarl and overcome him, completely. It’s easier to fall into the pitch black than to fight it. It feels correct. Hate yourself, the curse goads him and he listens. There was never anything to love anyways. Lepis desired the shell of a man ripped apart by family problems, she longed for a man who was whole until his past caught up with him. She couldn’t feel what he felt that day on the beach, with Wyrm (his flesh and blood, his creator) ripping into his skin and flaying him alive, hungry to devour him the same way he eventually devoured Wyrm.

    What does she know? The curse comforts him through her accusations, keeping him steady even though Lepis is taking a few steps back and will soon take herself and their children to Loess. What does she know of your struggles and plight?

    Nothing, because he hasn’t been open with her. He hasn’t told her… he never will. 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. “Lilliana isn’t to blame.” Wolfbane snarls, then composes himself. Breathes deeply and flicks his tail to brush away any irritation. “And however you came to that conclusion - don’t tell me. Keep it and your spies to yourself.”

    Even better, he tries to desperately to maintain control. Deflect the obvious and blame, blame, blame.

    “I know Castile came. I know why you want to leave. I won’t stop you. But our children…” The reality of what’s happening strikes him as sharply as blow, “they don’t need to be involved. Taiga too. What did you and your scheming Uncle plan for the rest of us, hmm?” That annoying sound - that grating hum he’s gotten so used to in the past few months slips out. “How will Celina, Elio and the rest be affected? Should we fight about them as well?”

    Commandant of Taiga // Champion of Loess

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    lepis, comtesse of taiga
    i think i need a devil to help me get things right

    The creature in front of her wears her husband’s face, speaks with his voice. He has his mannerisms: a clockwise cycling of his left ear when he is in thought, a way of tightening his cheeks in agitation that bring out the boldest features of his face. Lepis has always thought that might be how he will look when they are older and more drawn: when time has pulled away the tightness of youth and left them worn like statutes. Her mind would fill in details, she had imagined, with details and memories of each storm that weathered his face. Storms they had weathered together. Wasted imagining, she berates herself, one more thing to be lost in the ravenous void that her chest has become.

    Everything about him is Wolfbane. She knows the satisfied glow that suffuse their children after time spent with him, even though it is a new look on Elio, and one that had grown blurry with Celina. His mind is there, his memories, his habits. He is her husband, she has no doubt, and the blow he lands next elicits a wince no different than a physical blow.

    Blame Lilliana? Who does he think she is?

    There had been a few times, wayward thoughts, when she had let herself think of suitable demises for the copper mare. A scorpion sting? The bite of a hungry sea creature? A pack of wolves? There were plenty of possibilities. And yet the guilt had always driven them away in the end. Each time, she forced herself to reorient, to refocus, to remember who she is. It is not Lilliana to blame. The chestnut mare has disappointed her, but no more. The removal of trust had stung, but there had not been time to bury their budding friendship deep enough that Lepis suffers more than that. Once, on a lonely night, she’d even let herself admire the younger woman – Lepis is not sure she would have been able to deflect so easily in Lilliana’s position. It’s a skill to be valued in the career that the other woman had chosen, and Lepis ca even admit that to herself.

    But blame her?

    When she can look back at him, at the man who defends his mistress even after words like that from his wife, he is speaking again. The way her face sets, firm and frowning, is not for what he says now, though the words do not seem to affect her beyond deeper etching in the scowl. Wolfbane surely knows that Lepis would not blame Lilliana, and never when he was standing in front of her, a target so large he practically glows.

    He is trying to hurt her, she realizes.
    She’d been right after all, those spears she’d flung about not loving her anymore striking true.

    The creature in front of her is not her husband after all.

    She has always known that growth is a lifelong process, and yet since the moment she loved him, Lepis has never imagined that the way they would grow was apart.

    “You left me!” She means to say. Instead the words are a whisper, far more question than accusation, as though she cannot be certain it had really happened. She adjusts the phrase. “Wolfbane left me.” That feels more accurate. “left us.”
    Whoever this is, with Wolfbane’s eyes and mouth and memories, this is not the man she married. Ignorant of the curse that shadows his veins and most of the ways of magic, Lepis knows only what is in front her: a man who has changed so much in this year apart that he no longer loves her.

    “The only father Elio really knows is the man in the stories I told him.” She says, and though Lepis knows the words could have just as easily been a barb, she does not treat them as such, not with the shadow of sadness in her voice when she says it. “I think it would be better for him if it stays that way. I think you know that, somewhere inside. The man I married knows that.” (If she had seen him with the children, she could not have said that, not and think it true.) Those words would wound her husband to the core, but this is not her husband.

    Her hard blue eyes are no match for the darkness and her soft voice is muffled by the creak of trees overhead. Lepis takes a step forward, for that reason and no other. It is just then that her mortal eyes find the glittering tracks along his face, just then that the faint scent of salt she had thought the sea becomes obvious as not the sea at all. In an eyeblink she is close enough to force his head up with the bridge of her nose, and to turn his face this way and that with the hard silk edges of her partially unfurled wings. Her touch is not rough, but nor is it tender. Clinical, almost, like the way she looks from one olive-rimmed hazel eye to the other. It is not Lepis’ intent to scrutinize his tears and one some level she knows that on Wolfbane’s face they would have shattered her.

    Rather, she is looking for something, or perhaps even the lack of something.

    “Tell my husband something,” she says to the man in front of her, whose face she holds in her hands, “Tell him that I’m sorry. That I am sorry for what I said, sorry for what I did, and even sorrier for what I thought.” There are tears on her own face, but she doesn’t feel them anymore, except as the wind catches the already raw edges. Lepis breaks a promise she has made to herself, and projects without asking. “And give him this. Tell him this is how I feel.” There is no outward sign of what she does – though perhaps the wind does blow a little harder, or maybe that is just her imagination.

    She is two weeks out of practice, but her mind is as much a muscle as any other, and the projection settle easily. She weaves it small, tucks it somewhere in the back of his mind. A tight bead of emotion that he can always find, an intangible touch of magic that she had not even known she had the power to wield. (And she doesn’t, not really; the wind picking up had not been her imagination. There are other powers at play here). The man that isn’t her husband will feel it now, and at first the jagged edge of pain will overwhelm him as it does her. As agonizing as it is brief, pain fades to sorrow. That becomes joy that seeing him always brought her, or the way he had always made her feel valued and cherished yet always free. Then is the attraction that has given them seven children that could have been seven thousand, and the tenderness and pride she knew when seeing him with them. And though she doesn’t mean to add it, the taint of sorrow returns, clinging even as the rest of them are gone, fading out until it is thinner than spider silk and then gone entirely.

    Breathless from the invisible exertion, her words are tight when she speaks another command. “Tell him that I never mean to feel any of it again. Never.” A list detailing each thing he has taken from her would have been kinder, but Lepis is not feeling find anymore. She is not feeling much of anything at all. “And tell him that it’s his fault.”

    Wolfbane hi did you order a novel?


    Outside of himself, Bane is as perfect as he could hope to be. He doesn’t suffer any ailments. Over the years he’s only gotten quicker with his thoughts, slower with his tongue. Everything Lepis is looking at and contemplating certainly is him - Wolfbane in the flesh. But that’s it. Only flesh.

    Inside of himself, he’s got a rare type of curse. Custom built for revenge beyond the grave and fitting, given the circumstances of what’s going on in Beqanna right now. The entire truth of it evaded Bane and his ancestors before him; the giver (the one who had the power to explain and possibly remedy the situation) is just a lonely shade in the afterlife, some character nearly forgotten. Lepis couldn’t have possibly known about all that but now Wolfbane thinks she does. Or she’s beginning to see it, like others would soon enough.

    Defending Lilliana had been a low, acute thrust meant to distance them. If he’d respected her at all, none of this would’ve happened. She’s not blind to that fact. Just ignorant of the true nature behind it and so is Wolfbane, even though his face seems very determined and very suddenly dry when the smaller dun pegasus manages to gather her wits (and words) about her.

    But… who hears them?

    Not the husband she’s hoping would. A stranger; some horse much colder and much less concerned. He sneers at the idea of her coddling their youngest all that time, unable to find an ounce of pity because he believed she’d deluded herself along with the children. That fantasy Wolfbane she’d spun out into a storybook hero for Celina and Elio was also a comfort to her, the stranger supposes. How utterly sad and pathetic, he thinks. All the while it looks like her husband and certainly feels like him, the way he reacts to her touch. His nose tilts into her face not away from it, lips pursed to taste her skin and feel the warmth of her blood underneath.

    The absence of her touch when replaced by the distant control of her dusty gold feathers yields something strange, though. Lepis pulls her head away, still holding him steady and Wolfbane frowns, staring back. She calls out for him - her Bane - and in reply the shade of his eye color, once handsome and mossy green, changes roughly. Blue for the left eye, not Heartfire’s blue but just as frigid and unwelcoming, emerald green for the right. Heterochromia iridum; a violent-looking mismatch of colors.

    Disgusted by the sentimentality he doesn’t want and unaware that he’d adopted a new look, Wolfbane jerked his head away angrily. Lepis was wasting her time and energy, pumping raw emotion into the body of a creature who slipped further and further away from those types of things. Her efforts are like a reed bent underneath floodwaters: she can plead sorry and beg for a message to be sent but it won’t reach any sort of destination. Wolfbane’s spirit was changed irrevocably, it was tangled and only happy to finally let the darkness in.

    So her pain and sorrow translate to ragged, visceral anger on the shape of Bane’s mask. All of her love in its little shapes and forms come out in the rolling thunder of his voice, changed to rip out of his throat like some wildly enraged animal. He is utterly sick and tired of her feelings and his own feelings as well.

    He doesn’t want to feel anymore and that’s the literal end of it. The curse notices Lepis’ little pearl of memory-linked projections and subtly covers it in a thick, oily slime. It finishes a job half done and oozes into his battered heart victorious, claiming his mind with a final sweep of dark intentions. Wolfbane gazes down at her again, gone away to someplace neither she nor anyone else can touch, and smiles as lazily as someone who’s had complex problems suddenly lifted off their shoulders.

    “Whatever,” He says, hoping that she could sense the same sort of freedom radiating throughout him as the one she’d just given to him moments ago, “blame me or the made-up version of me, whatever helps you sleep. Just take Elio and go.” He means this: only Elio. If Celina were to disappear she could expect he’d come knocking. Bane is still Champion of Loess and that affords him rights in their mutual homeland. “And tell Castile -” The looming stallion breathes, a glittering symbol of fresh hell shrouded by Taiga’s dark night and lined with silver from the faint light reflecting off a white layer of snow, “- that I’ll be in touch.”

    Commandant of Taiga // Champion of Loess

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    the rain that falls upon your skin
    it's closer than my hands have been

    His words are meant as strikes, and they do not miss their mark. Unable to look him in the face, Lepis does not see the shift of his eyes from warm hazel to two hard jewel, one sapphire and the other emerald. 

    If she had seen them, would she have recognized them as the eyes in the stories he had told her on dark nights? Lepis tries not to think of those stories, in much the same way she is sure that Wolfbane tries not to think of the ones that she has told him. They had hurt enough in the happening – and the sharing of them had been no less painful. Lepis hadn’t been able to look him in the eye when she told him the first one (the first of so many). After though while she was still waiting for him to recoil in disgust, he’d reached down and drawn her face up, and kissed each trail of tears with the utmost delicacy. She’d learned then that his eyes were the exact shade of a half-dried eucalyptus leaf, the green of them circling a center with a shade like a twilight redstone cliff still warm from the summer sun. She’d learned then what it meant to be seen by someone who truly accepted her, flaws and all.

    That is not what she sees when she finally looks up.

    There really is a stranger behind those eyes. And she is too curled in on herself to think rationally, to wonder at this inexplicable change in the man she loved. Later, she will wonder, will doubt, but not now. Now, she forces that aside, replaces it with an anger that keeps the pain at bay. Anger and scorn so thick in Lepis and her voice that they might as well be projected from her thundercloud eyes.

    “They are all coming,” she tells him, “All of them that you haven’t driven away or gotten killed.” He had shown her Gale’s broken body? She will use the reminder of how he’d failed to save him. Her voice had bennt on the last word, but does not break. She does not believe what she says, but just as when they had argued before, it feels good to say it. This time though, she won’t need to feel guilty over it later. She won’t need to lament that pain she’d caused her husband, and by default the way she’d hurt herself. No, this time she will regret what she tells him. He deserves it, this time.

    Whoever this is, whomever her husband has become, he deserves this for doing this to her.

    Lepis ignores that Celina is old enough to decide where she goes, and that Marni and Pteron certainly are. Castile had even told her to appoint Pteron leader here, but Lepis will not leave him behind. Not this time. She’d left him behind once more, fleeing as quickly as they could from a nightmare. Later, when she wonders and doubts, she will remember that more clearly. Now though, she wants only to put distance between her family and this thing in front of her. It speaks of Castile, and she sneers.

    “He’ll come here.” Lepis snaps, her voice as sharp as the expression on her face. “I don’t want you putting a single hoof in Loess in ever again.”

    lepis, comtesse of taiga
    queen of loess
    | queen of sylva | queen of the south
    lover of wolfbane | comtesse of taiga

    Fate moves their pieces across the board, driven by both Wolfbane and Lepis’ actions. One King countering one Queen, their children stationed as rooks, knights and bishops. Taiga is filled with their pawns, scuttling around each time one or the other interacts with them. He thinks he’s forcing her hand with threats and paltry insults (maybe he is, he doesn’t particularly care anymore) and Lepis is hoping to check him by throwing a very dirty accusation now that she’s reached one corner of the board.

    She flings Gale at him just like he’d done to her, the last time they’d tried to talk things out.

    But this time, like the first two that had failed to repair a widening crack, is the one to break and sever everything. This one is no hold-backs, no restrictions. Lepis is starting to understand just how horribly the tides have turned and Bane eats up that desperation like a starving animal. He is so utterly filled with vengeance and the desire to enact it wherever he goes that her threat of taking all the children and leaving him with nothing but the blame for their dead son twists itself in his already twisted mind.

    She can’t win against him in a battle made from words; no one can. He would die on a mountain of self-importance if he didn’t slip into further bouts of insanity first. There simply was no reasoning with Bane eaten up by his curse. None at all.

    “You sound like a raging witch, Lepis. Go ahead and take them if you can.” Wolfbane goads her on, “Force them like you forced Taiga down my throat and everybody else’s. Good luck.” The stallion sighs in a cloud of crystallized smoke, wanting her to understand that personal weaknesses and doubts went both ways between them. It felt sickeningly wonderful to reflect such animosity and callousness. He could do this all night, but thought better of the time and effort wasted on wearing his ex down bit-by-bit.

    He had better things to do.
    Things like threatening a visit to Loess, to speak with Castile.

    Bingo, the wild thing behind a shimmering blue-black face smirked, feeling his ears scald from the temperature of her burning speech. He remembered this side of her - the defiant side that always got him ‘going’ no matter how frustrated he’d been in the past. She did look appetizing in all her glorious rage, and he was getting rather bored...

    “Just try and stop me.” Wolfbane snapped back, his serrated teeth clicking like splintering ice as he blinked and regarded his once-mate. How quickly his thoughts had turned! Just try, He blinked again and sneered, stepping past her to crunch through a fine, unbroken layer of hard-packed snow. As he passed the wisps of his tail flicked sideways, trailing over her skin before he yanked them back to sway at his heels. “Goodnight, Comtesse.” He spat.

    “Sweet dreams.” The stallion shifted, fluttering off into the quiet dark shaped like a bat.

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]

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