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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    LILLIANA -- Year 206

    QOTY

    "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." -- Wolfbane, written by Calcifer


    [open quest]  seek me out; round i
    #11
    and underneath the layers, I find myself asking what's left
    a hollowed out form, the skeleton of a ghost, the pitiful echo of what once was
    He doesn’t notice, not at first. With an intense, unwavering stare, Castile falls into the abysmal hole of his thoughts.

    There is Straia’s voice echoing to him. It’s almost overpowering with its temptation, like a net thrown down and entrapping him. There is his family, Sochi and the children, but just out of reach. There is also Oceane and Loess in the foreground, but still, beyond his influence and standing like forbidden fruits. An attempt to call them is futile as it dies in his throat, a low gurgle before silence ensues. When he tries to walk forward, his hooves weigh as heavily as iron.

    Lost in his thoughts, Castile does not feel or see the mist encompassing him. It curls against his legs sweetly at first, kissing his skin as he stands beneath the Loessian sun. Little does he even realize that his eyes have shut and all his thoughts are just a dream. It all seems so real as he peers up to watch a hawk fly overhead, and then to the right to see the familiar cliffs and rocky ledges of his kingdom. A breeze tousles his metallic locks, framing his baroque features as he stands vigilant, resigning to motionlessness. Oceane and Sochi regard him, and the children all turn and run in his direction as they call out ‘dad.’ A smile stretches across Castile’s lips, but it wavers when more faces emerge while his loved ones recede. There is Sabra and Solace, even Ciri. Mother, father. They crowd around him with hooded stares, but he cannot speak nor move.

    In his sleep, Castile twitches.

    The mist crawls up his body, slithering like snakes.

    It hisses, translating into his dreams, before slipping into his ears and into his head, swallowing him in entirety while he slumbers.

    Those around him snap and hiss, murmuring maliciously all while Castile struggles to move. Desperately, he jerks his legs in effort to elude them all, but it’s almost like tar underfoot. When his head drops, he realizes it is quicksand. Panic claws at him as he sinks down. Those surrounding him still creep nearer until they hover above him in the last seconds. Fear glazes his eyes as the quick sand finally pulls him underneath, pouring into every crevice and opening, down his throat and into his lungs.

    The faces of his (mostly) past disintegrate into ashes, blowing away with a breeze with only the pit of quicksand left behind.

    Seconds seem like hours and minutes seem like days.

    A rumble suddenly ensues. The ground angrily quakes as Castile’s body trembles with power and growth. Spines rip through his flesh and scales tear away his skin. Why is the shift so painful this time, so awkward? Every bone snaps and screams painfully as muscles unnaturally stretch until he is as himself, a dragon, clawing from the pit and emerging from its weakening grasp. First, a claw emerges from where his face sank beneath view. His leg, then his face, neck, and other front leg. Almost as though reborn from the earth, Castile breaches and coughs up the quicksand that had poured into his mouth. Flames pursue and pierces the sapphire sky. A roar rattles through him as the remainder of his immense body climbs from the sandy, dark depths.

    He expects to see Loess as he awakens, stirred alive by the nightmare.

    However, when he blinks, he is surrounded by a desert. The dunes rise high, shifting with periodic heavy wings. His eyes narrow in resistance as the grains pelt his hide. A dissatisfied grumble vibrates through his core, but he is quieted by the soft voice in his head that urges him to go. Between his closing lashes, Castile sees the distant oasis. Without a face to the voice, Castile hesitates, but behind him the quicksand pit has grown. It warns him with a slow ripple, daring him to step back and thus lose himself in its larger, stronger grip. With a grunt, the dragon looks forward toward the oasis, taking a slow step only to find that he still sinks. The sand shifts underfoot, making a simple walk difficult and awkward. He tries again but his talons gouge the earth and create resistance. Castile pauses, his neck arching to look to his left as a low rumble – one that dwarfs his own – shatters the lonely quiet.

    It's a first to see a sandstorm, to watch as it accumulates and dangerously powers toward him. A snarl curls his lips as he takes flight, pounding against the air and desperately battling gravity to ascend from a standstill. The sand, initially, is unwilling to release him, but Castile rips himself away and climbs higher, higher.

    The altitude is possible and within his grasp, a norm in his everyday life as he ascends higher than the sandstorm’s reach. Wind still pommels him, wavering his balance, but he manages to avoid the suffocating storm and remain afloat until it has passed.

    Once it has, Castile drifts down toward the oasis. It blocks him at first, a trespasser.

    With hesitant resignation, Castile shifts back into his horse body, retracting his wings and all draconic features. Sweat and sand lather his coat, but he doesn’t move closer to the oasis despite how alluring the water is as it twinkles in the daylight. Parched, Castile swallows his own saliva as his mismatched eyes curiously observe the lush spot of oasis, fascinated that something so vibrant can survive in a world of sand.


    castile



    Reiteration that Castile is loyal to loess
    Reply
    #12
    to the lonely sea and sky

    Doused in the warm embrace of sunlight, Oceane sails upon a drifting summer current in the open skies above her home's tallest mountain, letting her winged shadow fall gently over rocky outcropping, desert cacti, and tropical fern alike. She smiles, the expression more involuntary than not; it's her first Loessian summer, marking an entire revolution around the sun since she'd followed the sunset-hued mare in Beqanna's field. A year since she'd met Blue, and Ruinam, and Castile.

    A year since she'd played the part of the nomad, running and flying tirelessly from the cold-fingered reach of Nau-Aib. And nearly three years since she'd seen that land: her homeland, the birthplace of her dreaded, hidden-away phantasms. It's all but gone from her thoughts. No longer does Oceane wake in the middle of the Loessian night in a cloak of her own sweat, having narrowly escaped Nau-Aib's guards or the king's arithmancer.

    Now, there is only Beqanna, and further, only Loess.

    It's upon the foothills territory that her amber eyes gaze, lovingly sweeping the now-familiar swatch of land in almost the same way a mother would look upon her children. Oceane has grown to love the land that had welcomed her into its safe bosom, and at the same time has nurtured her own desire for continued knowledge of Beqanna under the capable, mismatched gaze of Castile.

    The opaline woman has tried not to make a habit out of searching for the gold-banded Loessian king whilst indulging in airborne solitude but whatever chemistry she feels towards the painted stallion nearly always draws a desire to see him into the corner of her mind, coaxing her molten amber eyes to seek him out whenever she has the free time.

    Today is no different, despite her hesitation to admit it even to herself.

    Loess, it would seem, has other plans; a light fog soon coats the lazy foothills, making the ground, let alone Castile, nearly impossible to see from this height. Intrigue piqued, Oceane slowly drifts nearer to the terra firma. Her decrease in altitude is met with an uptick of eerie foreboding.

    She is not forced to wait long to find out why.

    Quickly overtaken by a denser, colder fog, Oceane fights off a chill that rattles deep in her chest. The eerie, milky blanket forces her interest away to make room for fear and then —

    terror, when the fog becomes so thick she can no longer flap her giant feathered wings. An attempt, no matter how futile it may be, is made to fight off this formless attacker, but Oceane remains within its grasp until it sees fit to unfurl itself; it deposits her the way someone might deposit a rehabilitated animal into the wilderness, effectively releasing her with only enough time to clamp her wings to her sides before her beautiful pearlescent frame is skidding abrasively across the crest of a sand dune.

    She cries out in pain at the impact, but scrambles to her lavender hooves as fast as her tangled limbs let her with determination to not remain prone or defenseless. The way her weight shifts across the sand dunes feels familiar, as does the intensity of the sun upon her back and the way it stings her gilded eyes no matter where she tries to place them.

    Panic grips Oceane as the realization sets in, filling her until she nearly collapses beneath the weight of it. Nau-Aib? She spins in a tight circle, her frantic legs kicking up hot sand as her eyes dart all around her. Nothing but sand, dune after dune, an endless sea of heat and grit and death. The violet woman gasps for air as if she has just surfaced from the depths of the ocean, but the air tastes of sand and offers her no reprieve.

    Nau-Aib.

    But how? Surely the magik of the king's arithmancer would leave aural traces in the sand or on her gleaming body, but she lacks the shadowy tendrils of one who'd recently been subjected to the whim of someone else's magik. Forcing another shaky inhale, Oceane reminds herself that even the most talented arithmancer in Nau-Aib couldn't have found her in a place as far away as Beqanna. But even if they could have traced her magikal abilities before, she'd begged a friend - a fellow exile - to rid her of her magik before she'd escaped her homeland.

    These thoughts offer her little solace, considering her current surroundings. But perhaps there is another explanation. Her primal subconscious desire to live reminds her that she cannot simply remain transfixed in the middle of the desert and hope to make it back to Beqanna. Her eyes wander again, this time finding a small glimmer of hope in the distance, beyond dune and valley. An oasis.

    Once she has spotted it, Oceane wastes no time in her pursuit of it. Accustomed to traveling over sand, the pegasi woman finds easy footing in the sediment even despite the ache in her joints from her aforementioned landing. The twinge of pain is soon forgotten, however, as she notices the approach of a silhouette in the distance as she nears the halfway point between nowhere and what is, hopefully, an oasis.

    Had Oceane realized that her belief that she has returned to Nau-Aib and her subsequent panic attack had paired with exhaustion from the heat, she would have recognition this approaching equine for what it truly was: a hallucination. But instead, her heart threatens to still as she crests a sand dune and the approaching stallion does the same, forcing them to come face-to-face, with him standing between Oceane and the oasis.

    The stallion - an arithmancer named Mchawi - is one she recognizes almost immediately by the trademark opalescence granted to those of the king's court. But where she is a pearl, he is an oil spill. He spreads his great obsidian wings wide to block her path, his lip curled into a sneer as he regards her.

    "Traitor," he spits as black tendrils of shadow begin to pour from his eyes and nostrils. They snake towards Oceane who shakes her head, mouth fallen open to deny his allegation but her throat is too dry and her panic is set too deep into her brain. All she can do is try to avoid Mchawi's tendrils of magik but to run back into the desert will lead inevitably to death.

    And so she sprints for him, her head lowered to her muscled chest with the intention of colliding straight into one of the arithmancer's outstretched wings to damage it. The shadow tendrils reach Oceane before she can reach Mchawi and she expects to fall instantly to the sand in writhing pain the way she had done countless times before —

    nothing happens.

    That, more than anything - more than the way she runs straight through Mchawi's inky black wing - startles Oceane back into reality. She keeps running, never looking back, shouting into the sky as she gallops and gallops: "You're not real! It's not real!" she continues to yell as her eyes collide with the oasis, with the truly real oasis, that sits only a hundred yards away now.

    She comes to its shore, so thankful that it is not also an illusion that she drops to her knees in the sand and simply revels in its existence.


    round 1 | speech



    Loyal to Loess.
    Assaulted by a hallucination of her past.
    i must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    and all i ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by

    ∙ minor powerplaying & injuries permitted ∙
    ∙ please tag in all responses ∙
    Reply
    #13
    We got older and I should have known
    that I’d feel colder when I walk alone

    It’s not like he’s got anything better to do.

    The thought is wry and sarcastic, because it’s not true at all - sometimes what the fairy tasked him with seems impossible, sometimes he thinks he’s done plenty. Adopting a little girl who turned out to be a lion-shifter - it made life so much easier and so much more difficult -, was perhaps his hardest task. It meant that he had not only helped her survive that day, but every day after. It meant he knew he hadn’t been a particularly great parent to Yuki, and that he was trying very hard not to suffocate Beryl the way he had Chryseis. So far so good.

    Icicle Isle’s summers are still cold, just more sunny and overall dry-ish. The icy tundra of the island is hardly allowing it to be called a summer at all, if not for the receding snowline showing that even Icicle Isle can thaw. He’d use it as a metaphor for himself, but he just isn’t the type. He simply recognizes that it could be.

    Summer on the northern half of the Isle is recognized by only one other thing: mist. Sublimated ice condenses quickly when it discovers that the air might not be as warm as the sun shining on the snowy surfaces suggested it to be; the magical mist does not seem a whole lot different to the frosted stallion, and so he doesn’t recognize it as potentially dangerous until he is transported away in the twilight.

    Twilight no more; the sun shines hot and hard where he stands, no, sinks into the loose grains. Were he not completely standing still before, he would have lost his footing.

    He sees nothing but the flickering sunlight beaming down at him, and when he tries heat vision it is only worse - everything has approximately the same temperature in the desert, at least on the surface.

    It takes a heartbeat. Two, perhaps even three. Then, the unbearable heat unbecomes him, and there is only suffering in the world. He’s surely dying.

    Worse, he’s melting.

    Of course, a stallion cannot melt - but it sure feels that way for the stallion covered in ice. Quicker than the summer melts the snow on the southern half of Icicle Isle, Leilan’s magical frosty adornments near-sublimate. They get replaced somehow, magically, at the cost of most of his own bodily coolness and whatever humidity is in his body. Ice in his veins? It doesn’t help him here; in fact, it worsens and quickens his dehydration tremendously. It’s about as bad as how much of a misfit his enhanced vision is.

    He takes a few steps, hardly registers the command to go, or perhaps subconsciously so. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the vision of his parents, of several siblings and most strangely, a newborn filly, scowling at him. Why, he wants to ask, but his voice is only a croak on the hot sandy wind. He tries to walk some more, stumbles forward like a baby, until he sees what was the problem.

    A palomino filly lies in the sand, coughing and dying. Beryl? His daughter, whatever anyone may say about it, and he can’t or won’t do anything to save her. Says who? He knows this and yet he stumbles forward; crawls almost through the sand and yet every time he comes near her, he desperately watches as she seems to have moved forward as much as he. This goes on for a while… On and on and on and on, until he can’t anymore, and drops down where he drags, eyes closed against the headache. Something’s wrong.

    His temporary place of “rest” (of dying, of melting, of despair) happens to be in the shade of a rock, and he remembers the word.

    Go.

    Had he imagined all of it? Was not seeing the trick?

    He tries again to see the temperature, and finally he registers the dark spot in the overwhelming brightness. Oasis? He doesn’t know, but it’s the only thing he can be sure to not be a hallucination.

    Of course, deserts aren’t only sand. In that light (or absence thereof for someone who looks for heat signatures only), he stumbles blindly into a cactus labyrinth, finding his fetlocks, mane and tail entangled in prickly and irritating needles. Shocked, he switches vision back and silently thanks the heavens for the scales on his body.

    Then a loud curse follows, which actually sounds more or less like a shriek as those same scales had allowed him to waddle himself wholly stuck.

    Swaying on his hooves, he waddles and pulls hoping to free himself like a foal. There is laughing, perhaps hallucinated, and then he laughs silently, unable to make a sound in this terrible ordeal - the Deserts. Yes. The Dewdrop Deserts, the place that the Jungle had been allied with for so long. Wasn’t that the thing that mare had been looking for? What about it?

    He wonders if this is punishment for breaking the alliance.

    But that is stupid. He had nothing to do with it, too young and way too male and even more stupid to be involved. He can hear his mother’s scoff for even thinking it, and discards the thought.

    Oasis. That’s what he came for.

    Or rather, he has no other choice.

    A final insight makes him attempt to freeze the cacti he is fighting; mane and tail get torn free or break in the cold, and he arrives at the oasis as a shiny, dehydrated cactus himself, needles sticking out everywhere.

    The only good thing is that Beryl isn’t here to see.
    Leilan
    no. 7 | ice forged in fire


    Heatstroke/immediate dehydration + hallucinations;
    Not exactly capably of any sort of speech as a side effect
    Also got attacked by the cacti

    Mostly loyal to... idk Icicle Isle or Nerine maybe, but it’s Complicated and possibly Temporary. He’s technically still Lieutenant in Hyaline so you can note that, roll a dice between the aforementioned three, or just no particular loyalty if that’s easier. He’s just here because I got the muse
    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    Reply
    #14



    At first, she does not pay the mist any mind. She’s been drifting on a high since Plume has returned, since she left the afterlife feeling lighter than ever in her heart. She certainly would not have remained in the mist if she had known it might lead to another adventure - the small white mare had been through plenty enough of those since she had returned. When the mist begins to thicken around her, she calls upon her new ability - shining a bright light but it does little to cut through the dense moisture that presses in around her.

    Whether or not she wanted another adventure, it would seem that one had found her.

    All annoyance evaporates with the mist. She sees the sands first, and it takes her a minute to recognize where she is. But she does recognize it.

    And as soon as Agetta realizes where she is, her head snaps in the direction that would take her to her beloved Gates. She had travelled between this desert and the rolling hills of her home so often that she does not need to guess at what path would lead her there, her heart already knows. Although there is another pull at her, towards the hazy image of the oasis - or a mirage of it - in the distance, Agetta’s white legs begin to move her northwards.

    A blast of sand-flecked wind hits her, encouraging her to turn. She doesn’t know why the mists had brought her here and she doesn’t care. She wants to see her home. If the Deserts exists in this alternate world, or the past or wherever the hell she is, then surely, surely her home does as well.

    As she moves, the sand seems to suck at her legs. She’s fighting against whatever is going on, whatever brought her here. She expects the mist to pick her up again and put her in the right path but instead something shifts in the sand before her hooves. It’s larger than she would expect for a natural animal, and when it splits into three her attention redirects - searching the sand around her to find who might be playing this trick.

    A hazy, ghost-like figure stands on a dune not far away. The heat is intense and causes wavy lines of mirage to shimmer to the point where Agetta isn’t sure she’s really seeing someone who is there - but she knows she sees the three large snakes that emerge from the sand. They are made from sand themselves, with eyes like glittering fire.

    Magic.

    Knowing what she does about magicians, she can easily guess that these creatures could inflict real damage. One feigns a strike and Agetta backs up, wary about turning her back on them, but takes a few cautious steps to see if they will relent if she goes towards the oasis. She cannot help the way her eyes still drift to the horizon that would bring her to the Gates. Her moment of indecision emboldens the snakes and another one strikes, teeth of sand and glass biting and puncturing into the muscles of her foreleg. A shout of dismay and pain rips from the mare. Her light beams shoot out from her in a blast of blinding light, but they do little to deter the snakes - they are already in a desert of blinding sunshine.

    Her heart aches as she turns from the direction she still wants so desperately to run and instead she runs towards the figure standing on the dune. Every step is agony but she’s survived worse.

    She can’t die now. Not when the love of her life has returned from the dead.

    She can’t die here.

    A roar erupts from Agetta as she shifts mid-run. The snakes have burrowed back into the sand but they chase her beneath the surface, swirling shapes giving away their pursuit. Hooves don’t land on the sand, but the paws of a lion do. As a white lioness with shining sapphire eyes, Agetta surges towards the hazy figure.

    Blood drips down her leg but she forgets the pain when she realizes that the figure, if there was a figure, has disappeared. She falters in her thundering steps and the movement of a snake beneath her causes her balance to stumble further. One of the creatures lunges out of the sand towards her but she’s ready this time and with a swipe of a massive paw she returns it to scattered pieces of sand.

    Panting, she continues to run in the only direction she can think of - towards the oasis. She needs the water there now, needs to rest and recuperate before she can journey to the Gates. That idea has not yet faded from her mind even as she moves further and further away from the home she is so desperate to see.

    Another snake lunges, this one missing it’s strike but it’s teeth graze as it falls, tearing down her back. She twists in fury, taking it down with a vicious ripping of her own teeth. Even as the taste of sand grits in her mouth, it feels worth it.

    The sand moves like water as the last magically-enhanced snake surges towards her but the lush presence of the oasis rises before her and she can hear the snake hiss in disappointment as it dissolves at the edge where sand meets grass.

    With a grunt, the lioness shifts into a white mare, her coat still smeared with her own blood - sticky and coated in sand. Although her breathing is a little ragged, there’s adrenaline pumping through her as well. How long has it been since she has felt the exhilaration of a fight? One without anyone other than herself getting hurt. She is half tempted to return to the sand to finish off the last of the magic snakes but she’s got enough sense not to. Her gaze shifts to the water in the oasis and she begins to move towards it, eager for whatever this is to be over.


    we are made of starstuff

    artwork by yoricade


    Agetta is not currently affiliated with any land!
    Reply
    #15

    gotta do it in the penthouse
    that's where I keep my pen

    He’s not entirely sure what wakes him. Truthfully, he doesn’t even give the odd little shiver more than a passing thought before dismissing it. Yeah, sure, he’s had a few odd things happen in his life, but not enough to make him suspicious of every little weird tingle on his skin. Besides, it was probably just Casi glaring at him as she flew by.

    Just in case, he scowls a little.

    Shifting, he stretches forward, a yawn cracking his jaw, before dragging himself to his feet and shaking himself roughly. As he settles on his feet, dark locks tousled, he looks every inch the aimlessly roguish young stallion he is.

    And maybe that’s why he’s chosen for the coming adventure. For all that he wears the cloak well, he’d never been meant to waste his life like this.

    Whatever the case may be, he’s not really paying much attention when the mist begins to swirl around him. Doesn’t even notice, in fact, until it grows thick and murky enough that he realizes he can no longer see the meadow all that clearly. Frowning, he eyes the mist with an abrupt wariness, neck arching as he snorts uncertainly at it.

    Not that that does him much good of course. But, well, he’s never actually had to be useful before.

    Feet shifting nervously, he spins around, trying to (unsuccessfully) discern why the warm light of the meadow had been so suddenly obscured by heavy fog. But as he moves, he realizes his feet aren’t hitting firm ground, but rather sinking into something shifting and spongy.

    Well crap. He had a feeling he wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

    Suddenly intrigued (no one ever accused him of being consistent), he kicks experimentally at the ground. The sensation of something spraying against his legs startles him. With another snort, he bursts forward just as the mist lifts, leaving him stumbling over the peak of a sand dune.

    With an unexpected “hmmph” escaping his lips, he tumbles forward, hooves unable to find purchase in the shifting sand, leaving him to fumble gracelessly down the dune before landing in an uncomfortable heap at the bottom. With a disgruntled groan, he flops over to squint at the sky.

    “Huh,” he says after a moment of perplexed silence. “This is not the meadow.”

    Honestly, if there were anyone who had the misfortune to witness that whole spectacle, they’d no doubt wonder at what kind of idiot he must be. Which, while probably not far from the truth, is at least mitigated by the fact that he realizes he is, in fact, stating the obvious. But, well, what the hell else is one to do when they find themselves suddenly dropped into the middle of a blindingly bright desert?

    Ok, probably not that, but it was a start at least. And when he becomes aware of a niggling sensation pulling him in one certain direction, he has already come to accept the fact that, like the last time he’d found himself randomly dropped somewhere, there was probably something he was supposed to do.

    Which sounds infinitely more entertaining than what he had been doing. So, with a sudden burst of exuberance, he climbs to his feet for the second time, shakes himself, and sets off in the direction of that mysterious… whatever it is.

    Of course, as you can probably imagine, in a hot, dry desert, exuberance can only sustain a body so far. It soon becomes abundantly clear, as his steps slow and sweat begins to darken his neck, that perhaps he had bitten off more than he can chew. But, well, at this point he’s committed.

    At least until he places his foot in the exact wrong place and a muffled crack sounds from beneath the sand. He doesn’t even have a chance to wonder what it was before his unfortunately placed limb collapses beneath his weight, wrenching painfully as his own momentum draws him forward even as the caught hoof stops him dead in his tracks.

    “OWWWWWwww!” The pained yelp is dragged from deep in his chest even as he awkwardly twists his body to relieve the weight torquing his leg.

    With a huff, he grimaces at the offending limb before tugging experimentally, wincing as it aches sharply in protest. After a few steadying breaths, he wiggles it again, gritting his teeth as he tries to ignore the pain. A regrettably unsuccessful endeavor, as it turns out.

    Closing his eyes, he breathes slowly for a few moments. Then, jaw clenched to muffle his yelp, he heaves back abruptly, pain screaming through his shoulder as he brute forces his leg free from the hole. Breathing heavily, he steadies himself on three limbs. It takes him a moment to test his weight on the injured leg, but when he does, despite the rather embarrassing flinch at the pain, he finds it able to bear his weight.

    But he’s not entirely certain he could make it where he needed to go like this. He does at least manage to slowly hobble another few miles before night begins to fall. Still, at this rate, he wouldn’t make it much farther. So instead, he does the smart thing for once: he stops for rest. Long enough at least for the throbbing in his shoulder to ease slightly.

    ------

    Though Cassian has always been a reasonably athletic fellow, even he finds the journey across the shifting sand grueling. By the time he stumbles across yet another dune to find the heavenly sight of blue and green highlighted by the breaking dawn just there in the distance, he is exhausted, sweaty, and thirsty. Were it not for his stubbornly affable nature, he might have found himself devolved into a regrettable reflection of the father he’s never met.

    Still, the whole unfortunate exercise has rather taken its toll on his good humor. More fortunately though, as he closes in on the oasis, he notices he is not alone here. Not only is he not alone, but one face is shockingly familiar. Suddenly cheered immensely, he tries to trot forward, only to be recalled to his injured state by a sharp protest in his shoulder. He does manage to hobble a little more quickly though, so that’s something.

    A tired, lopsided grin brightens his features as he limps to a halt alongside Lilliana. He eyes her companion briefly, curiosity tempered by exhaustion, before greeting the young chestnut mare familiarly. “So I take you didn’t get a bucket this time either?”

    Cassian



    Cassian is currently unaligned
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    #16

    Burn everything you love then burn the ashes.
    In the end everything collides;
    My childhood spat back out the monster that you see.

    Unfortunately, Tatter hasn’t had the opportunity to discover any chaos just yet. Despite the veil between the worlds being torn open, everything in this strange new Beqanna is oddly peaceful. Maybe it’s the lesser amount of kingdoms bickering between one another, or just the calm before yet another storm, but peace has never been Tatter’s cup of tea. Hell, he had designed slave pens and captured his own grandmother in them, letting the poisons and chains suck the life out of her until she faded away. He had participated in battles and wars and a bear-horse had nearly torn his eye from its socket and still he had fought on, never letting the dullness of peace wash over the Chamber until he literally had nothing left to give.

    He has noticed the mist creeping along the ground towards him as he crops the grass in the Meadow, but he thinks nothing of it – it is a chilly, wet morning and the fog doesn’t bother him one bit as it creeps around his hooves, curling up his ankles and around his legs. It isn’t until he realizes that it’s pulling him somewhere that confusion crosses his face, but he doesn’t panic as the ground beneath his hooves changes textures and the temperature begins to rise. He has prayed for destruction, after all – perhaps this is just the beginning of it.

    When the mist clears, he is standing in a desert, and the familiarity of it nearly takes his breath away. He hadn’t visited the Dewdrop Deserts often when his dragon child had ruled it, but he had visited enough to recognize the ever-shifting landscapes and the blurry horizon and the blazing sun that he had despised so much. Instantly he begins to wonder what had ever driven Nocturnal to ruling this kingdom out of them all; he would have given her the Chamber if she had asked, or gifted her any of the other kingdoms she could have desired. But the Deserts? This infernal hellscape was enough to drive any of them crazy... and perhaps that’s why she went out the way a star does, all at once and burning fiercely as she went.

    The painted stallion can almost see the kingdom residents in the background, and he wonders what point in time he has been pulled back to. There is the image of an oasis just past the residents and he almost wonders if it is a mirage; Nocturnal had warned him that dehydration and sun exhaustion could cause horses to see things that don’t really exist in the desert, but he has only just been transported here. Surely if it were a mirage, he wouldn’t be seeing it just yet.

    He starts in the direction of the oasis with confidence, but soon finds himself slipping and sliding on the sands. It is not easy to maneuver when the ground beneath one’s hooves is constantly rearranging shape, and as he loses his feet once more he lets gravity take over, dragging him painfully down the dune he had been trying to walk along. Thankfully he doesn’t collide with a cactus at the bottom of the dune, but he nearly wishes he had – they are a valuable source of water, and he knows that distances in the desert can be deceiving.

    Thankfully, at the bottom of the dunes he is shielded from most of the scorching sun and abrasive winds, though his fall down the dune has left him a bit battered. Small rivulets of blood run slowly down his sides, and he wonders ruefully if he’ll attract the scent of predators – coyotes maybe, or perhaps one of the birds of prey circling lazily overhead. For now though, he is alone while he crosses the shifting sands, only climbing the dunes when it is impossible to take a different route. Perhaps that is his saving grace; he doesn’t expend so much energy, so he doesn’t feel his water reserves depleting so much as the others.

    It seems as though evening is beginning to fall when he hears the yips behind him, and his ears perk as he turns to see the coyotes. There are only a few of them, maybe three or four, and Tatter laughs as they approach, driven by the scent of blood and a hunger for horse flesh. If they think he is going to lie over and let them attack, they are even stupider than he can possibly imagine.

    He launches himself at the leader of the small pack with a fierce trumpet and they all rush forward, converging on him as he tears into their leader, teeth and hooves flying as he forgets everything and succumbs to the ferocity of battle. It is over nearly as quickly as it had begun and Tatter flops back into a sitting position, breathing hard while staring at the bloody scene in front of him. That’s more like it, he thinks as he catches his breath, looking at the four bodies strewn across the sands in front of him.

    Eventually his breathing slows and he stands, rolling his shoulders and grimacing at the pain. He is not badly injured – just a few new scars here and there – but he knows that he’s going to be feeling it later, and he is not eager to be in the middle of the desert when the adrenaline wears off and sand settles into the bloody cuts.

    He doesn’t stop again until he has reached the edge of the oasis with the rest of them, and the painted king huffs as he stands on the border separating them from the cool waters that will fill their bellies and rejuvenate them. He isn’t sure what is stopping them but he stands with them all the same, finding exhaustion already beginning to set in. What he wouldn’t give for a quick rinse in that water, and to refill his stomach on the sparse jungle grasses growing on the shoreline.

    Tatter.



    tatter falls down a cliff like an idiot, attacks a pack of coyotes like an idiot, and is starting to get a little dehydrated. no affiliations with any lands.
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    #17
    peregrine
    jude
    Tephra has stood the test of time, this much its residents and leaders can affirm. Through fire, storm, lava, and tyranny—she lives to see the decades as they trickle through the gods’ fickle fingers. The seconds and minutes turn as the resident magma hardens over stone and plant alike. She is a beautiful country, tried and true and ever-facing the future with a steady hand.

    This Jude knows, even as her pastel head bobs low enough to the ground to indicate irritation. She knows she loves her home and the years it has given her, but a storm brews in her chest, one unlike the picturesque tropical flowers that surround her.

    This is where shadow and sunshine lives. Memories that age poorly rot in the back of Jude’s mind. The sway of a large green leaf reminds her of the ripple of Magnus’ smile. The curls of Tephra’s rolling and soft clouds look like the pale roan of her closest daughter. When it rains, it pours, and curling beneath a low-hanging ledge reminds her that she has no memory of finding refuge beside a lover.

    The rain, in all of its beauty, makes her so terribly lonely.

    So, when the sky rumbles above, and Jude’s only response is a pathetic flick of her ears and a soft sigh, she knows it is time to move on. She lifts her head slowly, lavender curls bouncing against her forehead and settling just low enough to irritate her eyes. A few years ago, the pegasus may have shaken them out of her way in irritation, but now—now, she merely lets them blind her, knowing that even with nothing obscuring her vision she will be unable to truly see.

    Depression is not foreign to Jude, but she has always been the kind to fight it off when it sickens her. Even now, as she mulls over the coming storm and picks a quiet path out of her home, there is no real energy or plan behind her steps.

    Perhaps that is why she does not notice the mist that wraps wrinkled fingers around her legs. White and viscous, it twines about her neck and thickens her breath; still, the pale mare treks, lavender gaze dull and unphased. A part of the storm, she thinks—I’ll take cover beneath the trees. And the sky does burst open, tearing through her soft fur to dampen the skin beneath, but she does not find relief beneath a glistening canopy.

    Instead, the rain fades both in sound and sensation, leaving Jude to step blindly through the fog. Suddenly she needs to shake her bangs from her eyes, even though she literally cannot see now. A low whicker burbles up from the back of her throat, one that is uneasy and mildly threatening. She pauses, one front hoof poised mid-air, even as she is incapable of knowing that there is even ground beneath her.

    One hesitant step forward and the air begins to clear. The pastel mare shakes out her now heavy and uncomfortable mane, pale eyes glimmering with what might be the light of excitement. Sure, she may die, step over a cliff, find herself walking into the afterlife—but that thrum of life beats well and strong in her chest, and at least this is different from the graveyard of memories Tephra has become.

    Sand crunches beneath Jude’s silver hooves and the air begins to change. With every foot further, the luscious jungle world changes into something even warmer. She swivels her head first to the left (white and tan, mist and sand), then to the right (green and yellow, tree and dirt). She pauses, shakes the water from her coat, and lifts her gaze again to see the fog has disappeared with the rain upon her skin.

    A smile like the sun, breathless and awestruck, breaks the gloomy clouds of her lips. Wow is a whisper whisked from her mouth by the desert’s wind. Her eyes reflect the endless brown and blue before her: from the sky above to the sand and oasis ahead. Horses walk alone or in pairs in the distance, even closer than the beckoning water. With a grin, the pegasus mare begins a modest trot toward the watering hole.

    Flecks of the earth tear at Jude’s pretty face, forcing her to tuck her chin close to her chest and pick up her pace. She brings her ruffled wings closer to her sides, too put off by the desert’s heat and air to trust taking flight. For a moment, she thinks she may have gone mad for taking literal non consensual teleportation so lightly, but that moment passes with the quickness of the stinging breeze.

    If Jude has learned one thing from her time in Beqanna, it is that time and magic rule there with endless possibilities; so, she continues with a noncommittal roll of her shoulders and a renewed interest in life.

    A familiar shade of silver black flashes quickly past the pink woman’s line of sight, causing her to softly gasp. Vadar. The stallion stops, red eyes glimmering just like her vicious lover’s. Even his lips match, Jude thinks to herself, both exhilarated and frightened.

    “What are you doing here, Vadar? Did the mist take you, too?” Her questions are earnest and eager, but the creature before her only exudes smugness. A knot build’s in the pegasus mare’s chest, one not so unlike the day Vadar attempted to force himself upon her.

    “What do you think I’m doing?” he retorts, turning to face her head on. He presses closer, dodging her questions while eyeing every inch of her body.

    When Jude and Vadar collided after so long apart, the pastel woman’s head was held high and her words were slung low. She was a snarling cat cornered in an alleyway, and he a scrawny jailhouse dog. Both are committed to their raw natures, but still written together like yin and yang—

    But this, this is not Vadar. This is not an equal push to her pull.

    “What do you want me to be doing?” This is most certainly not an innocent question based off of the sneer on his face and the curl of his lips. Jude, so unlike the woman that faced Vadar down with a laugh, stumbles backward. A hesitant smile attempts to mask her apprehension.

    “My mistake, I thought you were someone else.” Her reply is riddled with a nervous laugh (punching holes in what she hoped was an airtight defense), but her sinking heart tells her that this will not sway him.

    “I can be what you want,” he coos, the sneer turning into a sleazy smile. Jude shuffles and averts her gaze, lavender feathers ruffling uncomfortable against her hide. “Come on, what do you—”

    “Fuck off,” she states politely, slowly dragging her eyes back to his. He looks perplexed for a moment, pausing while his eyes flick around her in surprise; but it only works for a moment, and Jude quickly realizes she has to find more of the woman she has hidden away.

    “I said fuck off,” she snaps, baring dull teeth that the stag swipes away with a butt of his head. Jude reels backward, head aching from the blow even as this act of physical violence births something feral in her chest.

    “Who do you—” she begins but is cut off as the Vadar clone rams his chest into hers. The pegasus gasps, then plants her hooves into the sand and leans into his weight with a ferocity she forgot she contained. Her wings whip up and around and into the skin of her attacker. The battering hurts her appendages but they frighten and bruise him more.

    “You fucked with the wrong winged bitch.” This comes out as a wolf’s snarl. Jude closes her eyes for two seconds, leveling what was left of her concentration into shoving the man away from her, when suddenly his weight entirely disappears. Knees first, the pastel mare falls blindly into the hot sand. She pants and blinks open her tightly closed eyes.

    He’s gone, she thinks. Where did he go? She whips her head around to see if he somehow teleported behind her, but the only thing she sees is the brilliant blue of water.

    “Wait,” she thinks aloud. “Wait. That was behind me last I checked?”

    No matter, though: just like the mist, Jude takes this in stride (though a little more apprehensively this time). She peers at the blue and the green and the tan, attempting to swallow away the sandpaper sitting in the back of her throat.

    Drink, she thinks, but the universe tells her no.



    tldr; jude faces off with a vadar look alike. also i'm using this as a reason to change jude's home so she was a part of tephra but as of a few paragraphs into this post she is looking for somewhere new.
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    #18

    { and all we are is skin and bone trained to get along,
    forever going with the flow but you're friction }
    She was so sure it could have been a dream, at first.

    Beneath the autumn-colored branches of a tree she slept, safely within the borders of Sylva. Even without being able to hear, Lilt was not afraid. She knew her parents and her siblings would never let anyone cross their borders if they meant to bring harm, and, especially after the brutal murder of her grandmother by a mysterious creature, they were all the more vigilant. She does not think anything dangerous could breach the walls of her safe haven.

    It’s why she does not stir at first when the mist rolls in, twirling and wrapping around her like a cloak. Her wings hug tighter to her sides reflexively, but she does not move. It’s only when the forest floor collapses into sand that she stirs, blinking the sleep from her silver eyes. She is surprised, and most of all confused when she awakens in a world much different from the one she had fallen asleep in. Sylva has disappeared, and instead of being surrounded by dense, white-barked trees, there is nothing. Nothing but a blanket of rolling sand, so bright it could have been snow. Fighting the panic that she can feel bubbling in her chest she scrambles to stand, grasping for any sort of logic that could explain how she fell asleep in Sylva and woke up in a desert.

    I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming, she repeats to herself inside of her head as she walks forward, waiting for all of this to vanish back into reality, and doing her best to calm her elevated pulse.

    She can see other horses in the distance, but even from here she knows they are not familiar. Briefly, her eyes flicker into something more draconic, making rare use of the vision she had been born with but did not often call upon. It confirms her suspicions, however, and she moves away from them with a knot continuing to build in the space between her ribs. Being in a strange place always made her nervous; she couldn’t hear, and she couldn’t always control her shattering. Understandably, her anxiety made it all the more unpredictable, which was something she was frantically trying to smother as she walked across this strange kingdom.

    She is not sure how long she walks, she just knows that her muscles began to ache with exhaustion and she wonders how long this desert goes on for. It doesn’t occur to her to fly, and her delicate wings are still tucked neatly into her sides when she first catches sight of the glimmering oasis ahead of her. The sigh that rattles against her chest is one of relief, and with newfound vigor, her pace quickens.

    Of course, she does not hear the rapid footfalls running at her.

    Even if she had not been deaf, there’s nothing that says she would have heard the lion as it sprung across the sand – fleet and agile, with the shifting footing already nearly muffling any sound. She hardly even catches a glimpse of it from the corner of her eye, but when she turns her head there is a breath of a second that their eyes lock.

    When the animal slams into her side she is knocked to the ground, and something between a cry and a gasp tears from her throat. She does not notice at first that the animal’s claws have torn long marks into her skin as she fights to find her footing again, her blood bright and red as it drips into the pale sand. She whirls to face it, ignoring the throbbing of her shoulder as her silver eyes watch the predator as it paces a half-circle around her. From its mouth she sees the glint of sharp, white teeth, and the way its lips curl into a snarl, but she cannot hear the growl that rumbles from its core.

    She doesn’t mean to shatter it when it leaps at her again. She was too sweet, too naive to want to purposely hurt anyone, not even this vicious beast that had set its sights on her. When the animal made its move to launch at her she had ducked her head and squeezed her eyes shut tight, but the moment the lion’s claws touched her again, everything stopped.

    Breathless, and with her heart beating hard enough that she is afraid it would leap from her chest, she opens her eyes. The sight of shattered bone and blood and golden fur in the sand causes her to choke back the sob that clawed at her throat, and the sudden rush of the adrenaline leaving her body makes her knees tremble weakly.

    She reaches the oasis, smeared in blood and with dried tear-stains on her youthful face. She stares at the water, but suddenly loses any desire to drink from it. Again, she closes her eyes, wondering if maybe the nightmare is now over.

    There is a sinking feeling, like a stone cast into a lake, when she opens her eyes and the oasis is still there.
    Lilt


    Lilt is aligned with Sylva. She fought a lion cause I have Reasons that she needs to be scared of a lion. I guess this is a special Desert Lion.
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