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    Svedka -- Year 212


    “He only knows home in his dreams and even those dreams do not mimic large, centuries-old redwoods. Lio doesn't remember the last time he laid his head down and truly felt comfortable.” --Elio, written by Phaetra

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    [open quest]  seek me out; round i

    It’s hardly noticeable, at first.
    The mist is thin, in the background, it obscures little. They pay no mind to it, in the beginning, they move about their day. Yet the mist thickens, until it is nearly a corporeal thing, surrounding those who it chooses. They may struggle, at first, run in their confusion as the world changes to nothing around them, the air thick.
    The ground changes first, beneath their feet, from dirt or rock or forest floor, all of it transforms into sand. They notice this when their gait changes - perhaps they stumble. The sand itself is warm, holding the memory of a blazing, forgotten sun. The temperature around them, too, seems to rise, the air grows dry.
    The mist clears, then, revealing the world anew - and it is indeed anew. Gone are the old surroundings, instead, they are in a desert.

    Some of them may know the tales of the desert kingdom - hell, some of them may have once walked the sands themselves - and some may not. The kingdom itself is glorious, with shifting dunes and a blazing sun, the mist that had taken them a quick-gone memory. There are horses milling about, the kingdoms residents, but they are far in the distance, and take no notice of the strangers who have come.
    Further still in the distance is the oasis - a striking blue against the sand, as if a piece of the sky had fallen and nestled into the sand. The image of it shimmers, as if a mirage, but there is the faintest scent of water in the air. It doesn't look to be far, but distance can be deceitful, in the deserts, with its shifting landscape and blazing heat.

    The oasis itself has a pull. They will be drawn to it, either from curiousity or base survival - for after all, there is no other water in sight. The paths they take will vary, but there is a common goal - that bright piece of blue, shimmering like a jewel in the deserts.
    The wind picks up, whipping sand against their faces, stinging. Encouragement to move, perhaps, or a reminder of the inherent cruelty that the deserts possesses.
    Go, whispers something - the wind? - and then there is silence, under a desert sun.

    craft & anatomy

    • You have been transported to the Dewdrop Deserts, an old Beqanna kingdom. Describe your character being ‘taken’ to the deserts (teleported by a mysterious mist) and their journey to make it to the oasis. Along the way, you must encounter at least one obstacle - this can be a kingdom guard, dehydration, injury, random attacker, whatever. Stop when you get to the oasis. Please don’t drink from or wade into the oasis.
    • One entry per player.
    • There are no eliminations in this quest. Spelling/grammar/punctuation will be taken into account but it will largely be judged on your character’s choices and creativity.
    • Please include which (current) land your character is tied/loyal to, or if they’re not tied to a land at all. This can be within the post or as an ooc note.
    • Failure to respond to a round risks temporary defects.
    • Entries are due Dec. 3 by 11:59 PM CST.

     The island was cool in the pre-dawn light. Fine, insubstantial mist hung above the water like the tattered fragments of a funeral shawl, reaching for the shoreline with its thin claws. Ischia was never cold, was a stranger to the bite of winter and the chill of fall. Still, some mornings the air hinted at what lay beyond their protected realm. The breath of cold from the mainland that gave the heavy-with-humidity air a form.

    The island was formed of rocks, waterfalls and verdant jungle, white sand ringing the entirety. It was a paradise. On that particular morning, the sky was only just beginning to feel the bright fingers of morning along the eastern shore. On the western shore, in a small, concealed cove, the sunlight did not yet reach. It did not burn away the fingers of mist reaching for the pearl mare who slumbered there. 

    She was a creature of the sea as surely as any fish, coral or porpoise. From the glossy golden white scales that covered her nose to tail, to the fins that hung in satin curtains from her crest and dock. From a glance, she could be perceived as nothing but the child of water that she was. Still. The mist grasped at her, thickened into a cloud-spun cocoon that drew shivers along the dozing woman's spine. She nestled deeper into her bed of sand, a muffled groan exhaling, making the mist dance before it coalesced once more. Her eyelids fluttered, once, twice. 

    They opened. They opened, and it was with surprise and confusion that she stayed in her prone position. White, everywhere was white and close, the scent of plumeria and saltwater fading even as she registered them. There was no time to run, dive into the sea in a bid to escape the claustrophobic whiteness that encased her. It had done its job. 

    She had not been aware when it had come to take her, but she saw quite clearly when the mist dissolved, eaten by the choking heat that knifed down on her. She was no stranger to heat. It was all the island offered, in varying degrees. That heat though was heavy with moisture, it hung thick in the air and made breathing almost like being beneath the sea. She never felt dry, and to a nereid that was a boon. 

    As she blinked into the scalding light, she knew without seeing that she was not home. The sand beneath her was gold, and so very hot to the touch. Too hot to lie in comfortably, and so she rose to her feet. The air seemed to burn a path down her throat and to her lungs, so dry that she could feel her skin being sapped of all moisture. There were fish she had seen washed ashore. They had lain in the sunlight for hours, baked beyond recognition, dry and brittle as old leaves. Was that to be her fate as well? 

    Her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the biting sunlight, though they wept from the intensity of it. It was like standing in an inferno, all gold and blazing hot. The sky was just as hard to look at as the glinting sand. It was so blue that it looked false, and not even a wisp of cloud interrupted it. The nereid felt her heart stutter. 

    She had woken up in a place far from home, as hostile as any land she'd ever walked in. Briefly, the memory of the Taiga midwinter sprang up in her mind, the idea of deep cold suddenly delicious. Delicious, but she seemed to be about as far from the Taiga now as she was from her own home. Nothing but sand and shimmering waves of heat in all directions. Except, perhaps... It was hard to tell, but perhaps in one direction there seemed to be a bit more. Dark shapes on the sand, rippling in the heat, the shadows of palms and the possible glimmer of water reflecting the too blue sky. 

    It was not much to go on, but she found herself quite suddenly out of options. If this was a dream, it was a cruel one. If it was truth, then she knew she'd die very quickly if she didn't find some kind of help. Her mouth already felt sticky inside, her nostrils as dry as the sand. To stay in one place would be her death. 

    The shifting figures seemed terribly far off at first. Then closer than seemed possible. Gently sloping dunes stretched her muscles in unfamiliar ways as she strode determinedly onward, breath coming hard as the air scorched her from the inside out. The sun beat mercilessly on her back, digging into her skin with persistent weight. Between her scales the skin grew pink, the ruddy, tight and itching. She was pale, and ill equipped to ward off the burning light. The wind that blew for a moment did little except move the hot air around, flicking stinging bits of grit against her and whipping away the escaping moisture it pulled from her eyes. 

    Soon, they too felt dry and sticky, as rough as the desert itself. Had the shadows come any nearer? It was impossible to tell. Her head was low as she walked, the delicate membrane of her mane burning along with the rest of her exposed skin. It was becoming painful to move, and her steps felt heavy in the dragging sand. 

    Water was all she could think about. Cold, clear, deep water. Thin, trickling rain. The salt water ocean, merciful and cruel. If she dove into it now, it would sting viciously, but then the water would sooth away the pain. She would remain below for days, until the blisters rising beneath her translucent scales were nothing but a memory. It was too sad to think she might not see her ocean again. Test she might die here alone. It would be no fitting death for one of her kind. A cruel joke. She only hoped that her bones would not be left here to dessicate until the wind-blown sand buried them. Let whatever force had brought her here at least allow the kindness that she be returned to her family and her home. Let them know she had not abandoned them by choice.

    The sun was getting to her, blinding her to her path. Her thoughts spun in dizzying circles, eyes nearly shut to the searing light. The shapes she had unconsciously given up as mirages passed by. Horses, ones infinitely better suited to the land they inhabited watched the land bound girl as she stumbled by. They seemed no more real than her memories. The palm trees, the scrubby growth that began to dot the sand was ignored. The images of her family passing through her mind seemed far more substantial to the seamare. 

    The scent of water crossed her nose. But perhaps it was only the memory of it. The days she had spent on the river. The melting snow that had lain beneath her when Pteron held her close. The ever flowing waterfalls of her island home. So much of her life centered on the element, it seemed right that it would be on her mind now, when it seemed the end was so near. 

    The muscles of her legs ached from the long walk, and she decided to be kind to her body as a last gift. She would not make it continue the pointless journey. Feet away, still water pooled. It reflected the too blue sky like an eye in the desert, watching and waiting.


    OOC: Her land of choice is Ischia, her obstacle(s) are dehydration and moderately severe sunburn. 
    Landless, directionless; the small brown mare that cannot seem to shake the fuzziness from her fur, drifts about in a small lazy circle. She is grazing and sniffing at the flowers, just enjoying the day that dawns full of promise for her. 

    Perhaps she’ll find companionship or adventure! Or a bee to follow back to the hive, despite knowing that honey is sticky and not something she might like to eat. There might be a tree in her future, to scratch her butt against and nap under… it seems like a day for dreaming. Just don’t ask Bean to tell how she knows it’s that kind of day for her. 

    Every day is like that!

    The brown mare doesn’t notice the mist that creeps through the meadow. Not until it grows as thick as pea soup and she lifts her little fuzzy head with grass poking out of her mouth, chews once then twice like a dumbstruck cow, and just blinks at the mist surrounding her. It feels like a bubble that she’s stuck in, not that Bean has actually tried to escape despite the pleasant disorientation that settles over her. Hmm…

    Unlike those that walk, run, or fly; Bean just stood there chewing on a mouthful of grass. She bent down to grab another mouthful and came up spitting sand and a peculiar word or two not fit to be mentioned here. “Ick!” she spat, feeling the grit still on her tongue as she realized she now stood on sand instead of grass. Hey, where are the flowers and the trees, the birds and the bees?

    Her eyes narrow as the mist dissipates and she finds herself staring up a sky so blue and bright, it actually hurts her eyes. She is starting to sweat, as it gathers on her neck and in her armpits as a foamy fine lather. Bean doesn’t like it here - too sandy, too hot, and too bright for anything but a squint. Which makes Bean look ridiculous, which given how fuzzy and generic she is, comes as no surprise. 

    So, a desert.

    Her lack of enthusiasm is also not surprising. There must be a reason she is small, kinda plump, and hardy but a horse like her just doesn’t belong in this landscape. She must stick out like a sore thumb and through her squinty gaze, she can make out the shapes of others far off in the distance but it doesn’t occur to her to call out to them.

    Probably best not to draw attention to herself anyway. That might be the first smart thought she’s had since the strange mist took her. Her next thought is the grains of sand still in her mouth that she can’t seem to rid herself of and the fact that she is thirsty, and hot. Water might be good to find… oh, another smart thought! Her nostrils flare and flutter, picking at the scent-free air until she just barely smells water.

    Bean follows her nose; sometimes her eyes are closed and sometimes, she opens them to peek at her surroundings but she trusts the desert. Which could be a mistake… especially when she ends up stumbling over a dune and sliding down it on her side. Oh nice, sand scrapes to add to heatstroke and dehydration. 

    The brown mare just lays at the bottom of the dune for a moment, minutes really, as she catches her breath. It comes out in gasps and pants and finally, a groan as she struggles to her feet. Bean feels like giving up, except she’s not the giving up sort and her nostrils flare again - water! Closer now than before, brilliant and blue in a way that the mean sky above her is not.

    She is not a good judge of distance and each step is trudging and slow but eventually, the brown mare reaches the oasis. Brown from head to hoof, fuzzy and sandy, she stares at it as suspicion fills her simple face. “Are you real?” she asks it, feeling a terrible mix of doubt and hope seize hold of her. It seemed more polite to ask the oasis about its existence than to go pawing and slurping at it. Plus, she wasn’t keen on getting another mouthful of sand at the moment.

    ooc: bean is not affiliated with any land yet and suffers from exhaustion, dehydration, heatstroke and some sand abrasions because she’s a dunce and can’t walk properly lol.  edited only for proper paragraph spacing.
    Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
    With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
    And eyes squeezed shut ‘neath rusty mane;

    He has done many terrible things in his all too long life, but killing his mother was the worst.
    It was the catalyst, maybe, for all the misery that came after – if he hadn’t torn out his eyes for her, if he hadn’t almost died for her, he might not have become Cancer’s consort, he might not have met Tabytha, he might not have journeyed down the long and awful road of his life, full of sins and sorrow.
    He relives the moment often, and it’s strange, because he can no longer recall the fury that had taken him down that path. But he can remember the look in her eyes, furious and sad, one of the last things he saw before he tore his own eyes out (they were replaced, later, scars healed and face made anew by the magician, you would never know by looking at him). He can remember the question he screamed out, begging, desperate in a way he had never been before but would soon become a familiar feeling – is this enough, mother? Is this enough?

    He is wallowing, as he is wont to do, when the mists begin, curling around his ankles. It takes him far too long to notice, absorbed as he is, it’s not until the trail before him is swallowed up that he comes to a halt, realizing he is surrounded by a pressing white thickness, the trees gone, the world gone.
    He moves again, stumbles – the dirt is gone beneath his hooves, changed to sand, and he feels a faint heat radiate from it, and the familiarity is a fist to his stomach, he is breathless with it, because he knows, even before the mist dissipates, where he is.
    A prince never forgets his kingdom.

    Truth was, he’d only been in the deserts twice – his birth, and his mother’s murder – but it was enough, the sight and smell of it are seared in his memory, but still, when the mist does clear, he falls to his knees in grief.
    (He’d been grateful, when the reckoning came, when the kingdoms of old disappeared. Glad for its demolition, to know it was gone, and he would never have to step foot in it again.)
    He might have stayed that way for hours, wrecked on his knees in the sand, but the oasis tugs at him, something deep and unignorable, like a strange, long-forgotten instinct. He moves slowly, bearing the sudden weight of memories refreshed, the heat of the desert sun baking on his dark skin, causing him to quickly break into a sweat.

    The voice breaks through dunes, breaks through everything, and he looks up, looks at the horse, the stranger, a bay stallion stronger and taller than him. The other moves easily through the sand, adept, and soon he is before Garbage, who makes no move to run. He knows he would be chased down in an instant, and besides, he lacks the self-preservation to run.
    “You know what you did,” says the stallion, and Garbage only nods, because of course he knows, and he doesn’t say anything, and then he feels the blow of a hoof to his shoulder, teeth raking across his neck, he’s bleeding and bruising and he doesn’t fight back, because the deserts his owed his blood, he supposes, and he falls to his knees again, just as he’d done when he arrived, and he’s sure that this time he won’t get up, that this warrior will end things, here and now, and he will be
    His eyes are closed, so he doesn’t know what happened next, only that the blows stopped coming, that suddenly the world was quiet again, save for his own ragged breathing and the faint noise of the sands shifting. He opens his eyes, and sees he is alone again. He feels blood trickling, warm, his skin raked and broken open in several places, bruised in several more, but the stallion is gone, nowhere to be seen, and if it weren’t for his wounds, Garbage would think he'd imagined the whole thing.

    He gets to his feet, moving slow, the pain rushing through him. He’s almost grateful for it – it’s a distraction, something to focus on, something to swallow. He keeps moving. He falls, once more, on his trek, but he gets back up.
    There’s something in the oasis. Something to it.
    He makes it to the edge, the blood beginning to clot. He looks a wreck, sand sticking to his sweat and blood, cut open, his breathing heavy and ragged. He looks at the oasis, desperate for more, but doesn’t step into it. Doesn’t drink from its shore, even though he is parched.
    He waits, this broken prince of the deserts, for whatever comes next.

    Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
    I never saw a brute I hated so;
    He must be wicked to deserve such pain.

    garbage is entering not to be judged because i could NOT resist doing this to him
    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.
    Although Wishbone has never been one to cry, a tear leaves a sorrowful trail down her mahogany cheek.

    “Gather round, then, and let us return.” For a moment, she wants to reverse her decision. Warrick still has a life he could live… Wishbone could handle the land of the Dead, especially — only — if it meant her father could return to the land of the Living. She is lying to herself with this bittersweet thought. The pull of Life is too fierce for her to ignore, even if it means sacrificing her father so that she may have it. Her passion for Life doesn’t stop the second tear from falling; the grulla’s words symbolize the death of her father, even while they put air in Wishbone’s lungs again.

    Before she has time to say anything past “I love you” to her father, there is a feeling of being jerked. It’s a sharp tug at every cell of her bruised and bloodied body. Warrick’s familiar face is fading like the memory of a dream in the late afternoon. The rocks surrounding Wishbone and the others begin to darken with the shadow of a thick mist. At first, the mist looks like early morning fog and the mahogany remembers a time when Tephra had been covered in a similar haze. But the mist grows in strength and density quickly, becoming the sight of an angry thunderstorm hovering over a deep ocean. The weight of the air is heavy on Wishbone’s skin and it clings to her tangled, dark locks.

    When she blinks, there is thick, uncomfortable stillness.

    Wishbone’s amber eyes open upon a scene so sunny that she immediately closes them again. Even with her eyelids sealed shut, the brilliance of the sun brings an ethereal brightness to her darkness. A heat unlike anything she has felt before suddenly plunges into her like the edge of a sword. While she can remember Tephra being humid in the summertime, this warmth is dry and piercing. It soaks up every inch of moisture that might have remained on her curves, yet it also brings perspiration to the surface of her skin. After a moment of standing in the sweltering heat, Wishbone brings herself to crack her eyes open into a squint.

    “Where the hell am I?”

    If she has returned to the land of the Living, this is not the Beqanna that Wishbone knows. A thorn of dread jabs in her stomach at the sight of sand so copious that it rises and falls as far as she can see. The sky is a striking blue and without a cloud to provide relief from the sun’s anger. While Wishbone has experienced several different climates as her home — Tephra’s volcanic tropics, Ischia’s serene summertime, Nerine’s bitter winters — she’s never been to a desert before.

    Her first step proves this point, where the fickle nature of the sand causes her foot to slip out from under her in a way Wishbone hadn’t expected. Pain still blossoms from relieving her death and falling off the waterfall’s edge (deep bruising expands down the length of her back, her throat feels as though Ivar had shredded it doubly, every inch of her is sore and uneasy) and the sand’s mischief brings a small cry to her mouth at the twist of her leg. Wishbone scrambles to catch her balance, looking much like a fawn running across an icy pond for the first time, and ends up sliding down the face of a dune.

    When her descent is finally stopped by the shoulder of a rocky outcropping, Wishbone begins to seriously contemplate why she is here. Her mouth is dry and now coated in sand, while multicolored grains cling to the sweat-stained curves of her body. When she stands the second time, the mahogany finds that if she treats the ground like ice, it is easier to maneuver. Wishbone might look a little silly with her legs spread wide like a polar bear gliding across a glacier, but she can keep her balance and even take a few steps along the foothill of the dune.

    As she rounds the bend of the dune, the sight of an oasis in the distance shimmers like a perfect summer dream. The scent of water is thin, but it doesn’t fail to remind Wishbone of her urgent thirst. For a moment, her heart quickens as memories plague her mind (of saltwater rushing into her lungs and the weight of a kelpie on her back). Instinct can be stronger than fear and for this situation, instinct allows Wishbone to follow the path of survival.

    With the polar bear technique mastered, the mahogany can cover a decent amount of distance in a short amount of time. Wishbone is thankful when the image of the oasis seems to draw nearer. The heat of the sun seems to gravitate toward the darker parts of her body — she can feel the sting of a sunburn on her sable nose and the weight of searing warmth on her dark tresses. The desert saps the moisture out of her body, even as sweat drips from her brow and lathers against her chest.

    The scent of water and tropics is overpowering when the mottled brown vulture suddenly drops from the sky. It had been following Wishbone for the majority of her walking, wheeling in endless circles while keeping its beady yellow eye on the mare below it. While she hadn’t particularly loved the sight of the bird, she hadn’t minded the company either. Unknown to her, the scent of Wishbone’s blood must have called it, and while the bleeding has stopped, the scent of the clotted blood still hangs in the air around her. The sudden rustling of feathers catches Wishbone’s attention and she twists her head skyward, where the dirty underbelly of the vulture looms close.

    “Damn it!” She has just enough time to shout the profanity before the bird is using both talon and beak to attack her head. The pecks are like shards of glass splintering across her skin, leaving a dull ache in the wake of sharp pain. A sharp claw gashes at her left cheekbone and a piercing pain flares as hot as the desert sun. The movement of the vulture’s wings guides the claw upward, cutting across the expanse of her mahogany skin. Wishbone tosses her head violently against the bird and she barely evades the promise of a talon to her amber eye. The injury ends above her brow; blood immediately gushes down her face and into her left eye, coating one half of the world in maroon.

    The bird has moved away from her head and toward her hips, perhaps aiming to land upon her back and snack on the powerful muscles of her back. Wishbone gives a fierce buck, one that sends her and the vulture off-balance. While the mahogany mare falls into the sand, the predator gives a moment of thought to its meal before it takes off, flying away into the clear blue sky. “Damn right, you fly away.” The words feel good on her mouth (an expression of the pent-up anger, frustration, and bewildering confusion she has felt throughout the day) even as her head swims with pain and fatigue.

    The last few steps to the oasis are weary and winding. The skin on the left side of her face is angry and inflamed, a deep red track of blood and matter that becomes even more uncomfortable in the heat of the desert. It would be easy to splash into the water of the oasis and rinse away the sand, blood, and ache of her day. Yet something stops her. Wishbone can’t quite describe it as anything more than the feeling that to step in the water would be a betrayal. To whom, she isn’t sure. But she stops just shy of the quiet shoreline, letting out a heavy sigh as exhaustion creeps on the fringes of her mind.
    credit to eliza of adoxography.

    Wishbone is loyal to Nerine. She encounters difficulty walking in the sand, mild sunburn, and an attack from a vulture that cuts her face.

    Here it comes with no warning; capsize, i'm first in the water
    She had dreamt of many things in the darkness. In the world of shadows and death, everything was tangible with every passing moment. Every memory and thought she ever had was easily replayed. For her, though, she always relived the memory of her death.

    It always happened the same way—every time. Lucrezia felt every punch and blow from the monster-stallion that murdered her. She remembers every part of her breaking, from his physical hits to his verbal blows. Each of his words felt like he was breaking her bones, snapping her in half. The truth rang loud and clear in every word that spilled from his lips. Lucrezia knew very well she had lived her life as a failure, so why was she getting a second chance?

    Deep within her heart, she knew she was being ungrateful for the chance to redeem herself. But she doesn’t understand how she can ever erase the mistakes from her past. Her thoughts are haunted by the memories and the broken promises.

    There was nowhere for her to go when she returned to the land of the living. Beqanna was much the same as she had left it. She dares not run back to Tephra when guilt fills her lungs and she chokes on all her regrets. The only thing she can do is wander—living a lonely life until death comes for her once more.

    Perhaps Nikkai will take me back, she thinks with a heavy heart. A deep sigh releases from her mouth as she wanders through the trails of the forest that have long since been abandoned. Her head hangs low as she walks slowly, dragging herself forward. She does not look up, keeping her eyes low. Lucrezia would not want a stranger to see the excorticating sadness that fills her eyes.

    When the mist comes and slowly begins to surround her, she doesn’t take note of it. The champagne mare continues forward, eyes looking down as she follows the abandon path. It isn’t until the mist thickens and obscures her view that she notices it. Suddenly, Lucrezia stops in her tracks. Her head darts up, ears flicker forward instantly, and her eyes try to make out the mist that is beginning to swallow her surroundings.

    “Nikkai!?” She yells out loudly in the thick mist that surrounds her completely now. Her eyes go wide and her gaze flickers around wildly with urgency. Lucrezia steps forward a couple of paces, she feels the hard forest floor beneath her, but suddenly stumbles and topples forward onto something soft with hot radiating heat. Picking herself up as quick as she can, she shakes her head, and spits out the soft hot dirt out of her mouth. The air feels drier and hotter than before. It was not the moist and cold air she felt in the forest just moments ago.

    Shaking her head once more, she looks up. The mist slowly clears and reveals a long-forgotten memory. It hits her hard instantly, her mouth goes dry and her heart tightens in her chest. Her eyes widen with bewilderment as they flicker across the shifting dunes. A sharp pain quickly spreads across her and her stomach drops. She feels nauseous and dizzy all at once.

    It can’t be! Lucrezia knows it possibly couldn’t be true. The Deserts had been wiped away along with the old lands of Beqanna. There is no way, she thinks with a shake of her head once more. Her home was gone long ago—all her memories, friends, and family. The only thing she had left of the Deserts was the sphinx tattoo on her right hip. It had to be a dream. All of it certainly should be a dream. Maybe I am dead again. Perhaps she had never crossed back over to the world of living. Maybe it was all a trick, but she cannot help but think it was not either.

    Lucrezia takes a step forward, feeling the familiar soft warm sand underneath her hooves. She remembers how hard it had been for her to adjust to the sloping dunes when she first came to live in the Deserts. The memory brings a soft smile to her cream-colored lips. Her gaze then flickers to the horizon where the golden dunes expand, her eyes instantly, by memory, find the oasis. When she sees the dotted horses in the distance, her heart warms when she recognizes those that possibly could be friends. Yael, Vanquish, Kreios, Tarnished… She thinks happily, and without thought her hooves carry her forward towards the oasis in the distance.

    Moving up and over the slopping dunes, the dotted horses in the distance still feel so far away. She was only noticing now that it felt like she hadn’t made it any closer. Her muscles are beginning to ache; her mouth is terribly dry from all the heat; and the blazing sun feels painful hot on her skin. Determined to make it to the oasis, Lucrezia pressed onward over the shifting hills.

    Soon enough her pace was slowing down. It became more difficult then ever to make it over the dunes. Her body was drench in sweat from the blazing sun that hangs high above her. All she could think about was the cool, clear refreshing water at the oasis. The taste of it is on the tip of her tongue. She was so thirsty thinking about it now. I’m almost there, she tells herself as she drags herself up the slope of the dune. Her steps are sluggish, and she stumbles onto the sand beneath and her.

    The sand is soft and warmly pressed against her body. Her head is spinning fast. She doesn’t know how much longer she can keep going on. Her muscles ache from the sloping dunes and the scorching sun burns her skin—it feels like fire almost. “Maybe if I just rest here for a minute. Just for a mo—” she says softly as she closes her eyes and drifts off.

    “Lucrezia, Wake up. Lucrezia!” A voice breaks through the silence, echoing across the desert, and she looks up instantly at the golden winged mare standing on top of the dune. “Yael? Is that really you?” She asks slowly with a quiet voice. The golden mare doesn’t answer, she turns, and moves down to the other side of the dune, disappearing from Lucrezia’s view. Quickly, she pushes herself up, her footing slips, she stumbles, but tries again and makes her way up to the top of the dune.

    From the top of the dune, there was no one there. “YAEL!” She calls out, feeling her heart clench against her chest. The golden woman had just been there! “Yael, come back!” She calls out again, tears filling her eyes. Her head begins spinning again, her body aches for her to lay down on the soft sand and fall asleep again. As much as she wants to do so, she knows she cannot, she must keep moving forward. The heat wipes away the remaining tears in her eyes, Lucrezia looks to the horizon once more, the dotted figures and oasis are much closer now. The blue crystal water calls to her, her body urges her for to move again.

    Moving down the hill, Lucrezia presses onwards with a sluggish pace and head low. She endures the blazing sun that stings her flesh where sunburns are forming; she ignores her dry mouth that feels like sandpaper; and her breathing is heavy and ragged as sweat drenches her body and drips. She keeps moving, moving until she reaches the edge, where the sand disappears, and the smell of fresh grass and water overwhelms her.

    The sparkle of the blue water draws her forward with urgency, she ignores the pain from her sunburns, drags herself to the edge despite the ache that fills her muscles, until she is at the edge. Her instinct tells her to drink the water, her body begs her to do as well, but something, deep within, tells her not to.
    ...too close to the bottom.

    Lucrezia suffers from dehydration, sunburns, and sees a mirage of Yael (who she knew from the Deserts). The land she is tied to is Ischia.
    Profile | Detailed Bio | Character Reference

    The fog of Taiga is no different than any other fog she has known. Thicker, maybe. It can hide the craggy outline of Nerine to her right. It can hide the giants that linger in the forest behind her. It can hide the most obvious of things - those things she would rather not shed light on. And what better place to hide those obvious truths than under mysterious veil of fog that rolls in from Beqanna's sea? Out here, where the world begins and ends, it is just Lilliana and all those wild dreams that each tide brings. She measures her days by the pulse of it, by the way the waves come crashing in and swiftly going out again.

    She has heard stories. She knows the tales as they all do, as all the children of her clan had been warned. Mist Meadows had fallen to the fog. Paraiso became forgotten behind a wall of it, an ominous warning issued to those caught on the other side. Only a pure heart will find it, Lovelace had said. And Lilliana had fretted - still ties her heart in knots - with the realization that she will never be able to go back home. The finality of that hits her hard some days, that there is no returning to a life that she had known. That lives, an entire existence, whole stories, could be wiped away behind something as guileless as simple fog.

    Lilliana should be afraid of the fog.
    It should make her shiver. It should make her soul recoil in terror.

    It does not. Lilliana pays no heed to it. Her attention is held by the waves and she finds solace in each one that comes cresting towards the shoreline, that comes reaching towards her. The chestnut mare takes one certain step after another. She walks towards the waves and yet - the waves never find her. The smell of salt, the brine that has become almost constant in her nostrils, becomes fainter and fainter the closer she tries to draw into the ocean's embrace. Lilli can hear it still - in and out, it whispers, in and out.

    The sand beneath her hooves is damp, heavy with the centuries of ground stone that have been crushed against the rocky coast. In and out, it beckons. One step, two, three more and she grows confused. Her head turns to look from one end of the beach to the other but there is nothing; nothing but the sound of crashing waves against a seashore that no longer seems tangible. Something about the fog seems peculiar - another kind of tang all together that mingles in the salt air - a metallic, bright tang that seems unusual for this beach. For her beach.

    Suddenly, she can no longer find the beginning or end of her coast. It has become lost in the fog, she thinks (but not her). Lilliana does the only thing she knows how  - she keeps moving forward.

    The chestnut times her breath by the waves, keeps an even pace with it as she continues ahead. Eventually, the water has to break somewhere. Eventually, the sea has to find the shore. Two steps become three and then five, five become ten until there are no waves to time her breathing by. There is only fog, this disillusionment that she is somewhere and yet nowhere. Her breath catches, quickens, panics in her throat as it burns with the knowledge she is not where she should be.

    This is not where she should be.
    This is not home.

    Those certain strides become unsteady as the sand below her shifts. It becomes softer as it sifts away from her in a way that she is unaccustomed too.  Then she falls. She is stumbling. She is caught in a current that is a wave but not - this is dry fire on her skin and plummeting. This is losing control in a way she would never let herself do if she was still in Taiga. This is letting go.

    One white sock presents itself forward as Lilliana rises, as she tries to stand beneath the shadow of a mighty dune.

    Lilli stares up, momentarily stunned and blinded by sunlight.

    In this shadow, the heat makes its demands known. It is insufferable - suffocating - and she knows she cannot stay here. Move, whispers the wind and so she follows. She climbs up the steep bank of one dune to stumble down another. She rises and keeps going, refusing to let this Hell swallow her. The sun ascends these heights with her and the day continues with temperatures that climb higher than she can. That chestnut coat darkens, becomes coated with sand and sweat. There is a cut on her front right leg that bleeds, a scrape on her left flank from a rock that hid beneath the desert when she fell again.

    The sun peaks and the day gives no sign of relenting. Her throat is raw. Her whole body yearns for her beach, for.. water. Her stomach clenches with the thought of it and yet, Lilliana sees nothing. Dread sets in like that mysterious fog. It is only the empty miles of dunes and her. She continues on, continues to fall and go in circles. There are birds that circle above her. An ominous sign and yet.. if there are birds, water? A source has to be nearby. "Hey!" she calls, a demanding voice that rings against the acoustics of the desert and sand dunes. The birds circle, watch and then fly away the more she shouts, apparently perturbed by the noise. "Wait!"

    Lilli tries to follow but as she comes to the top of another dune, she loses her footing and she falls. Down and down, she goes. There is no one to catch her. She falls to the very depths of this desert, through the sand, down, down into nothing. An empty abyss... until her eyes open. There is a shadow. It moves. It speaks? The chestnut mare lifts her head, tries to see the dappled ghost clearly through her confused stare.

    A wisp? An apparition?

    And then she smiles. "Mama," she breathes, relieved. Lilli brightens and stands, dizzy and slightly unstable but she stands. "You left the mountaintops." She is so glad. Her mother is safe - she is here! Lilliana presses her head into that dappled neck, finally safe, before she pulls away again.

    The chestnut mare tilts her head as her mother frowns, as she shakes her head and says something that Lilliana can't quite comprehend. "Where are we?" Aletta looks disgruntled. She can't remember ever seeing her so angry.. except. A whisper, "He can't come here, can he? His magic would never work here." A debt owed, a debt that still needed to be collected. She shivers despite that her body is damp and dark with sweat, rank with it, in all this unbridled heat. A heat she no longer feels.

    The ghost - her mother - moves. She leads Lilli over dunes though she continues at a slow pace, though she continues to fall and small cuts line her body, sores forming where her skin protests against the sand. Up and down, (in and out), up and down. At some point, her mother hides her. "Frostbane?" she asks, as she huddles against the silver of mother's specter. They seek shelter behind something solid. A rock? A frozen wall? An ice storm is raging, her troubled mind concludes. The Prince of Winter has found them, she thinks. After all this time, he has finally found them. Even as she moves into the warmth of this ghost, she smiles. (Elaina is gone, she triumphantly thinks, and he will never find her. A silver lining in this desert.)

    It will all be over soon.
    He will bring down that frozen vengeance he promised.
    (And somehow, she feels nothing. She is not afraid.)

    The wind and ice cease. The blizzard stops.

    And suddenly, her mother is leading her. They are going home! Her heart soars and though she is so tired, though she is so sore and everything about her wants to sleep, the ghost tells her not too. It tells her to follow. So Lilliana, the dutiful and obedient daughter she is, follows where the apparition leads her. Lilliana smiles through her delirium, raises her head to thank the ghost. But it is gone. Her lips press together and frown as she glances around, wildly searching for the Regent. Sleep, says a disembodied voice. 

    So she does. For once in her life, she falls and simply doesn't care how the pieces will shatter.

    Her mind still isn't clear when her eyes open again. There are spots where memory doesn't exist at all and yet she knows the body next to her.  Knows the smell of jagged cliffs and blunt words. Neverwhere. Not her mother. Tenderly, she nudges the sleeping body. Lilli wants to speak but her throat burns and the words don't come. They have turned to sand in her mouth and nothing comes. Together, they rise and together they go over the remaining dunes.

    Against the breaking of dawn, the horizon shows a glimmer of hope. It is the clear, bright scent of a dream. It is water. An oasis in the wasteland.

    If her body would allow, if every part of her didn't cry out in anguish for each step they toiled, she would run. But Lilliana follows the mare in front of her watching as the golden dunes come alive with the coming day. Each breath feels like a ragged, struggling thing that is an accomplishment in itself. The dreamer journeys on, step by agonizing step. Only when Neverwhere stops, does she. She comes to stand alongside her as Lilliana stares longingly at the oasis that presents itself so luxuriously before them. The scent of it rises and wafts to her flaring nostrils where it almost drives her to the point of desperation.

    Drink, her body begs.
    Don't, her heart warns.

    Lilliana gets lost and falls... alot. She gets heatstroke and then dehydration. Her mental clarity dwindles until she hallucinates as she ambles around. Neverwhere comes to save her though she thinks Nev is her mom. They deal with a sandstorm and rest until nightfall. They travel all night until they find the Dewdrop Deserts at dawn. 

    Lilli is for Taiga. #gotwigs
    but it's all in the past, love
    it's all gone with the wind
    The mist is thin, and she does not pay much attention to it. There is often a mist that spreads across Nerine, blown off the sea until it spills over the cliffs again, back across the crashing expanse of salt water or into Taiga where it pools between the trees as thick as milk. The dappled mare ignores it, pretending that it does not gather in the corners of her eyes, that is does not steal away her vision. It drifts in streamers, growing thicker around her until, with a disgusted exhalation, Neverwhere leaves her place among the stony outcroppings at Nerine’s eastern arm, navigating the narrow pathways along the ledges with a bold precision that belies the anxiety bubbling velvet-soft in her chest. She beats it down with a deepening scowl and pinned ears, chasing away thoughts that Heartfire is rescinding the Sight she left behind in those pale eyes after that first day in the Meadow.

    She wouldn’t...
    Well, she might.

    Magic is fickle, and so are those that wield it, but there would be no benefit in taking it back, so the silver dapple sheds that worry with a flick of her tail, the twisted strands catching in the wind that buffets against her mercilessly from the sea. Here, the mist should break apart in the rushing, swirling, air, but it doesn’t, instead growing more opaque and moving against the whirlwind gusts. Suddenly her anxieties return, licking at the back of her throat until the muscles of her jaw tense and tighten, wrinkling the skin of her two-tone cheek and adding a strange edge to the scowl she was already wearing. Magic. Within moments, she sees nothing, but blindness is nothing new to Neverwhere, she does not panic or run, but pauses to lift her head high with nostrils flaring and ears twisting, seeking scent and sound to find her bearings. There is nothing, not even the smell of salt in the fog, but the ground changes underfoot without her ever taking a step. Something soft and shifting, sliding against her frogs like snake-skin. If she did not know better, she might think that she had taken a wrong turn and landed on one of Nerine’s narrow beaches, but the sand underfoot is too dry, the air too warm. The mist breaks apart at last, unable to long withstand the beating, blazing, sun overhead.

    “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Nerine anymore.” she says to no-one in particular. It’s more than a feeling, the fog may have burned away from the air, but it lives on in her eyes, creating clouds and halos and haze where they had not been moments before. This is clearly not Nerine, and she does not need to see to know it, to know that she has somehow ended up in a desert, and at mid-day. For a moment she stands still, casting about for a direction as she has done so many other times in her life. Pick a direction, any direction, so hard to know which is the right path to follow. The scent of water comes to her from some distance away, to the northwest, she thinks, but if it is within sight of a normal horse, it is hidden from her, gone in the glare. The wind picks up, sand stinging her flanks and she takes a step in the direction of that scent, heeding the call as the others before her have, but something stops her. Another scent. Somehow, a familiar one, and Neverwhere freezes, still as stone in the sun and the sand, head dropped low as she seeks it out.

    There, to her left, the sand is disturbed, hoof prints, stumbling and confused. The scent of Lilliana lingers above them, just barely there, burning away in the heat. Where… Where is she going? Neverwhere turns her head again in the direction of the smell of water and shade, and then, with a sigh, turns away, squinting through the murk and tears of her sore eyes to find the erratic path her friend has travelled. Her ears lace back and she sets down on her haunches, slipping down the side of the dune with only a little more grace than the red mare who, by the looks of the golden sand, tumbled tip over tail the entire way down. At the base, a rock is stained dark with a splash of blood. The stifling heat has baked it dry but it smells strongly of Lilli, and whatever she cut on the sharp edge of it must have bled for some time because it leaves a trail across the desert, climbing many more dunes than could possibly have been necessary. At each place the chestnut mare fell, Neverwhere pauses and her concern begins to outgrow the grumbling irritation, ears once pinned now alert for any sound, but there is only the wind.

    Only the wind… and then?

    A voice across the open plain of golden nothing. Her eyes widen and the light floods them mercilessly, making the bald-faced mare wince and curse, but she ignores the tears that stream and stain her cheeks with porphyrin until they are red as old blood, ignores the sweat that froths at her neck and flanks, and grabs a swift trot to the top of one last dune. Down, down below, at the very base of it, a crumpled red figure in the sand, dark with sweat, and Neverwhere slips, slides, and at last throws herself to the small valley, pressing her nose to the wet and too-hot shoulder.


    Mama! It catches her off-guard.

    “No, Lilli, what?” She wants to bite her, to grab her in her teeth and shake sense into her, “Come on, I don’t know, but-- who?”

    Lilli shivers and Neverwhere looks at her askance. Shivering in this heat. No good, no good, she thinks, pressing her head against the other mare’s flank, sour with sweat, and pushing against her until she begins to walk. Go. Around them, the wind is picking up, but it brings no relief. The sand stings her face, her eyes, she chokes on it, and there is a sense of something larger looming in the distance that she cannot see but for a growing darkness and a distant howling like wolves. Are there wolves in this desert? Not knowing makes her angry but Lilli calls her Mama again and Neverwhere bites back her aggravation, brow creased with worry, takes a breath. Not wolves - wolves don’t bring darkness like this - a storm. But not one with rain, as the sun is blotted out she blinks away the worst of the haze and sees the windstorm coming, the dark wall of sand. Her stomach sinks and Lilliana falls again, unaware of the exact nature of their danger. Not far away, an overhang of rock projects from the shifting terrain and as the chestnut regains her feet, Nev guides her to it, presses in against her with tails turned against the wind while the storm rages dark and wild overhead.

    There is nothing to do but choke on the dust and sand, the shelter is meager, but enough. Lilli whispers a name and shudders, pressing close, and Neverwhere wonders idly at the coincidence of Frostbane and Wolfbane.

    “It’ll be over soon, Lilli. Go to sleep.”

    She doesn’t know when she falls asleep herself. It is after the storm has finally passed over them and the moaning winds have died down, but she knows she cannot face that bright sun again, and certainly not with Lilli in this state. She will have to dig for water in the morning, she thinks, and then she blinks and it is morning, so early the sun is no more than a pink glow in the east. Lilliana watches her with a peculiar expression and Neverwhere smirks through the stiff pain of the sunburn on her face.

    “Are you back?” her voice is coarse as a raven’s, “I’m sorry, I’m not your mother.”

    In the early glow of dawn, the smell of water and vegetation is on the air. The oasis. It must be near, but it could be poisoned for all she knows, and she has enough strength still to dig. Neverwhere pauses and feels that tug, that first pull that she had felt yesterday. It seems like a year ago already, but the draw remains.


    And so they do, traveling wordlessly until they reach it, and then standing like tawny ghosts at its edge.



    The air is still, a calmness that Ruthless had yet adapted to. Born into chaos and uncertainty, the power of comfort was still foreign to our little flame. The absence of harsh winds and bitter cold--a risk to suffocate her final glow of warmth--no longer lingering in the back of her mind as a threat, but instead as a memory. A memory of where she started. A memory of what her mother sacrificed. A memory of what little she has to lose.

    Taiga has an earth musk to it, different than the field or common lands that gave her refuge from the daunting evils that lurked in hidden shadows. The moisture in the air sets an early morning mist, something she had grown a liking to over the last few days. It would surround her like walls, hiding her palomino pelt in a haze of grey.

    Like her mother--cold at first, but comforting and familiar--coming to visit.

    The sun is hidden, still attempting to rise above the trees but truly frustrated by the agonizing height of them. Our little baby Ruth has noticed a change in sunshine; no longer hitting her coat at full force but instead trickling like dripping water through a half-closed faucet. It took some adjustment for our golden child, surely, but she had just started to appreciate the wet-warmth that a mixture of shadow and light produced.

    The mist comes punctually, as it always does, with a freshness that clings to her skin. She feels the moisture soak into her skin, her nose inhaling the sweet scent of morning. The sun begs to ignite her coat in a glistening sheen, peeping through every nook and cranny the ancient redwood relinquishes.

    It does not happen all at once--in fact had Ruthless noticed maybe a second prior she may have had more of an impact on the final result--but instead happens in sections of her body. At first the tingling sets on her hooves, rising from the ground in an eerie horror that begins to wrap around her body in a suffocating grasp. She feels the grip creep up every ligament and tendon, enveloping her stomach and flank, crossing over her wide-set hindquarters. In moments she has become surrounded by a suffocatingly-thick grey cloud, indulging every inch of her body as if being swallowed whole by a blue whale.

    The feeling of fear hardly has the chance to wash over our little golden light, before she is snuffed out by the mist-like intruder.

    At first, it is the spongy-floor beneath her that shifts. What is moss and dirt and cool earthy-textures turns into a nearly unbearable warmth of sand, grains caving at the weight of her yearling frame. And just like the mist, the change rises. Had the mist not been so thick, little Ruth would have noticed the disappearance of trees for a barren desert landscape. She would have noticed the shift in temperature, from a chilled brisk morning to a suffocatingly hot afternoon. It isn’t until mist settles--the tingling sensation leaving nearly as quickly as it came--our palomino babe looks around in a daze of confusion and fear.

    Where has she gone?

    The heat slaps her skin, mercilessly taking away the familiar ancient redwoods and morning fog. The sun hangs high over the orange backdrop, a periwinkle blue sky the only proof water exists. And for the first time Ruthless comes to realize she no longer stands out like a vibrant jewel among rocks of greys, blacks, and browns, but instead a typical grain of sand amongst a billion others. Hell, she could practically consider her coat camouflage.

    I want my mom.

    A few seconds of self pity ensues before the golden child begins to analyze her surroundings, a mixture of fear and insecurity setting across her spine as if even the wind here is weighted. As if the weight was dead ghosts that had died of exhaustion, their dehydrated whispers still pouring across her spine and tightening across her ribs.

    Our little yearling needs water.

    She desperately searches her surroundings, viewing the endless dunes and dust devils whipping in the breeze, before landing on distant horses socializing beyond her reach. Alas, despite her desperate plea for help, her voice gets swallowed in the desert air.

    It seems like hours--though, perhaps only minutes--before Ruth finds herself meandering in the desert sand, groggily wavering side to side as the heat smothers her in a blanket of dehydration. Her girth, chest, neck, and flank becoming lathered in a foamy white sweat.

    She takes a few steps more before the sudden weight of the sun--as if the rays themselves had power--pushes her to her knees. Collapsing front end first, she sinks into the sand feeling the agonizing rush of heat release from the floor. Her head hangs, an obvious quiver surfacing around her neck.

    Then, with sudden intensity, her right knee begins to pierce in pain sending the palomino roan to topple over to her left side letting out a high pitched cry for help. She lies spread out, her entire right side buried while her left side feels the rays of sun burn every inch of her exposed body. Where she kneeled sits a small insect, an insect she has never seen, with a curved C for a tail and claws protruding from it’s chest, a cherry like stinger wiggling in the air.

    Her stomach flips, nerves tensing and mind racing. What on earth... She lifts her head from the ground, extending her nose to sniff at the alien-like creature still dancing a threat in the crater left from her knees. At the sight of her looming shadow, the miniature monster sinks back into its sandy retreat; only the few dots of blood left lingering on grains of sand proof of its existence.

    That, and Ruth’s throbbing knee.
    Her head flattens against the hot terrain once more, life rushing away with the sweat as it darkens her once pristine yellow hide. Her eyes gazing into the abyss.

    Is that… Water?

    Her nose triggers first, the smell of water waving into her flared nostrils as she inhales. And then her eyes follow, her head slightly lifting at the faintest smell of hope. They dart desperately, an instinctual need for survival overpowering her plea for help. A feeling her mother had taught her well.

    Move, my little baby Ruth, move.

    She extends her left leg, the excruciating sting still throbbing in her right. It takes all she has left, but she balances on all four of her limbs before finding the energy to move. With a slow stride, our little yearling hobbles in anguish.

    Her mind is focused on the vibrant sapphire blue oasis with a hoard of palm trees casting a shady hideaway in the distance.

    She is walking dinner, a clear choice for predators as they watch her stumble across uneven footing. Her heart is pounding. She feels oxygen escaping her lungs and cannot seem to breathe in deep enough to replenish them. But, despite her honest effort, baby Ruth falls to her knees twice. The feeling of sharp pain in her knee responding to the grains of sand being shoved into her wound.

    But our little light is a fighter, a flame too stubborn to be blown out. A burning candle with hardly any wax refusing to lose it’s flicker.

    As she arrives in the strange oasis--perfectly placed, yet oddly irrational--her body wavers in hesitation, sudden realization of what she had found and could it be real washing over her like a dose of reality.

    Why isn’t anyone else here?

    Ruthless freezes, worry enveloping her brain. And so she stands, her right knee slightly cocked to relieve pressure and the heat still bearing down on her intensifying coat, waiting for something-- someone--to tell her she will be OK.

    OOC: She is a new recruit of Taiga, and poor little Ruth experienced dehydration, and a scorpion sting while finding her way to the oasis.

    Edited to add OOC comments only! Thanks Smile <3


    Beulah doesn’t even register the mist. Such a thing was normal in Beqanna, so she continued on the path towards home without hesitation.  Perhaps it should have registered that summer was the wrong season for such a thick fog to develop...but it didn’t. It is only when the density of the fog grew far beyond what could ever be regarded at natural did the angel-girl slow and finally stop.  She beat her now-grown wings twice, trying to see if she could clear the air but the fog was viscous and persistent.

    The world shifts beneath her feet - literally.  Lala could feel the change immediately as the firm-packed earth transformed into something entirely less stable.  Her gold hooves sink immediately into the gold sand, doing something to her ever-compromised equilibrium. She stumbles as the mist begins to clear, squeezing her eyes shut against the burning sun - a stark contrast from the shaded forest where she had just been.

    She slowly opens her eyes - allowing herself a moment to adjust to the light.  The landscape here is desolate - all shifting sands and unrelenting sun.  But there was beauty in it too.  It looked untouched - a sea of gold and light. Of course, Lala had absolutely no experience with a real desert and hadn’t yet truly judged the danger in her current situation. But there was something in the distance - nestled between dunes - something that stood out amongst the sands.  Water. It had to be.  She thought, just maybe, she could detect a hint of the smell on the wind. 

    Simple curiosity is the only motivation Beulah has ever needed.  The wind began whipping at her back, the sand forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut.  But with the wind came an idea.  The wind seemed to be blowing in the general direction of the oasis. What better place to test her wings than in a land entirely free of obstacles and sharp objects?!  Beulah was by no means an adept aviator, but her questionable past attempts had not dampened her spirits in the very least.

    So the girl spread her pink wings and with a running start, allowed the desert wind to help her into the air.  She scrambled to stay level but, overall, was thrilled with her attempt. She was up! She was flying! And it was incredible!  For a few blissful moments, all is right in Lala’s world. The sands below fly past in a blur and the Oasis looms in the distance. A particularly strong gust of wind has Lala bobbling dangerously in the air.  As soon as she rights herself, another gust follows the first. ”HEY!” she exclaims aloud, obviously to no one in particular, before casting a glance over her shoulder.  What she sees nearly stops her heart in a chance.

    A storm - but not a storm like any she’d ever seen before. It looked like a wall of sand was advancing behind her. A haboob. Some combination of a scream and a gasp escaped her as she furiously beat her wings - pressing her limits to see just how fast she could fly.  However, her efforts were hampered by her inability to fly in a vaguely straight line.  She could feel the stinging of the sand against her flanks and her heels and she knew, deep down, that she couldn’t stay aloft in such a dense cloud - especially one filled with blowing, stinging sand.  So Lala angled towards a particularly large dune and dove.  She pulled her wings tightly to her sides until the dune was only feet below her, frantically trying to slow herself as her legs found sand. She slid down the backside of the dune as the sun slipped behind the wall of sand.  As she came to rest at the bottom she could do nothing but attempt to shield her head with her wings.

    She wasn’t sure how long the storm had lasted.  It had been hours, but could have easily been days.  She was so covered in sand in debris when the wind finally abated, she was almost completely invisible despite her near-constant glow.  She pulled herself to her feet and managed to shake off some of the sand and debris.  The sand had definitely managed to burrow its way into her coat and her wings. It was an uncomfortable, itchy feeling but certainly preferable to being thrown from the skies.

    She knows she should probably try to find a way home, but she can still see the Oasis ahead - undoubtedly closer now than it had been. So she sets off again, on foot this time, having been put off from flying for at least the time being.  She walks until her muscles ache and thirst burns fiercely in her belly.  But the oasis was close now, she could smell it.  And then there it was - looking as peaceful and enticing as ever.  Lala broke into a canter, which was really inadvisable given the footing, as she was eager to finally arrive at this mysterious place. She had only made it a few strides before she stumbled, only just catching herself before performing a somersault.  However when she tried to move, she found that her legs were stuck in a thick, viscous sand-like mud.  “Oh come on!” she said, with a huff, as she struggled to free herself. But she found that the more she struggled, the deeper she sank.  When she had sunk nearly to her belly, she finally gave up.  Flailing wasn’t going to work, apparently.  She could see the edge of the quicksand pit was nearer to her left, and knew that was her best means of escape.  Thankfully, she had not yet sunk to the point where here wings were contaminated.  She spread her wings wide and began attempting to pull her front legs up and out of the muck.  The progress was slow and exhausting but eventually her front legs came free with a disconcerting sucking sound.  She was able to twist just enough for her forelegs to find purchase on solid ground.  Again, with the assistance of her wings and body weight, she was able to throw herself forward and free her hind legs from the pit.  She stood there, exhausted, panting from both the effort and the effect the heat was finally having on her. 

    She moved slowly towards the Oasis now, only perking up when it became clear that the quicksand pit had been her last obstacle today.  She let out a relieved sigh at the sight of the water. The little pink girl wanted nothing more than to plunge into the water - to rid herself of the glue-like sand that covered her legs.  But she couldn’t help but think that such a thing would be terribly rude, especially since she didn’t know who lived here. Could you imagine someone just barging into your home and taking a bath in your drinking water?! The very thought sent a shiver through Lala. Instead, she craned her haloed head around, trying to make out any familiar shapes amongst the shifting sand.

    “Hello?” she called, wondering just where it was she’d ended up this time.  It seemed she’d developed quite a knack for getting herself into these situations. Sylva first. Then Atlantis. Now this.

    “Hmm. Maybe this was the Desert that Ana was talking about,” she breathed, aloud but under her breath, musing at the possibility before staring longingly at the water before her.

    there's nothing you can do that can't be done,
    nothing you can sing that can't be sung.

    Lala is loyal to Sylva. She had to deal with a haboob and a quicksand pit.

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