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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening


    Wolfbane -- Year 210


    "She presses into him greedily, hungrily, and demands more. She does not know how to be gentle when she is with him—does not know how to quell the aching in her belly, the neediness in her touch. She would devour him whole. She would sacrifice herself completely. She would give and give and give—" --Tabytha, written by Laura

    [open quest]  seek me out; round iii

    Another vision is what tears Agetta’s attention away from Garbage, away from the palomino mare. It shows two mares - the golden queen near her and Anatomy. Her heart warms with the knowledge gained from this vision. They were both once queens, belonging to that old version of Beqanna that Agetta had loved so much. Had she met this golden queen once on a diplomatic visit from the Gates? Had she mocked with members of the deserts while she was in the army? The memories of that life are so blurred, haze covering all but the major points.

    Her children, her friends, Plume, the Gates.

    The vision clears and it refocuses the white mare. It does not seem to likely be a coincidence that she had been dropped into the Deserts and that now she stands here with one of its queens.

    After a quick glance at the orange-eyed stallion, Agetta focuses on the golden mare - blue eyes focused on amber. She feels humbled being in the presence of a queen of old, even though she herself was once one as well. “I’m Agetta. I knew Anatomy, in another life. Back when the Deserts and the Gates and the world we knew was still solid. I am sorry to say that I did not know you, but that hardly changes the fact that the love you two have for each other is something the world needs.” She doesn’t know if this is enough, doesn’t know what speeches it will take for the once-queen before her to move.

    Maybe just the mention of Anatomy’s name would do it. But she continues all the same, knowing that they need to find the portal to get out of here.

    “I was separated by the love of my life as well, caught in a half-life while he was at peace in the afterlife. The feeling of our reunion…” Words fail her to describe what it felt like. The combination of pain and complete, utter joy. “It did not change the heartache the separation caused. But...” And here her midnight blue eyes brighten with a shining smile. “It’s a feeling you’re not going to want to miss. Trust me. I can help you find her.”

    Now, finally, Agetta falls silent and what she has said seems to be enough - the golden mare nods, and Agetta does not think anything of her silence. She can only imagine the storm of thoughts going through this queen’s mind - this has been a very busy little hallucination. It pains her to be leaving the Deserts, to leave this once before she got a chance to go to the Gates and collapse in the soft grasses there, but though her eyes stray occasionally to the north she keeps her legs moving towards the portal.

    As they search for and then find the portal, Agetta talks companionably - perhaps a distraction for them both. “This new Beqanna takes some getting used to, you're going to see a lot of weird things. But there’s more faces from before than you might think and that makes it easier.”

    we are made of starstuff

    artwork by yoricade
    the love you take is equal to the love you make

    Lala’s breath comes in short, heavy pants - equal parts from the physical exertion and the sheer panic that had gripped her.  Panic was an unfamiliar emotion to Beulah, but the calming waves she had sent to Ana seem to have a secondary advantage of calming her too.  She allows herself to take a deep breath, or as deep as she can manage, given the circumstances.  It is only then that she refolds her wings now that she can feel that Ana has calmed - that she is safe.

    “I’m sorry if I frightened you. I was just scared,” she said, somewhat abashed at her appearance. “I didn’t want you to get hurt,” the pink girl said, with a shrug of her pink wings. She feels somewhat foolish for admitting it, but she feels absolutely no shame for intervening when one of her friends was in trouble.

    ”Are you okay?” she asks, touching her soft pink muzzle to Ana’s dark shoulder.  The black mare nods, ever so slightly.  However, Beulah is relieved at even the small acknowledgment. The pink girl is worried for Ana - for what could have driven her to such a state.

    ”Aida is your daughter, isn’t she?” Beulah asks, though she feels she already knows the answer.

    ”Yes,” Ana acknowledged, speaking at last.  Slowly, the pair make their way further from the cliff - away from the danger. Beulah allows Ana her space, but does not move from the dark mare’s side. Concern is evident on the little pink girl’s face.

    ”If I can help you in any way - I promise you I will. You’re my friend and that’s what friends do for each other,” she says, genuinely.  If there is anything that Lala could do for Ana - she’d do it.

    However, before she can say anything more - the vision comes.  Again - she sees Ana and the unknown golden mare.  Lala comes to an abrupt halt as the scene becomes clearer.  A little ”Oh,” escapes her lips.  At the sound, Ana turns to look at the little pink mare, but Lala’s eyes are distant - unseeing.

    She sees the desert again and this time she knows in her bones it is the desert Ana had been looking for. And Ana is not alone in the vision. The golden mare is there too - and it is evident to Lala that the pair belong to each other - belong together.

    The vision disappears as quickly as it had come, and Lala’s breath comes in short puffs.  Now it was Ana who was concerned.  The dark mare stepped closer to the pink filly. ”Are you alright?”

    Lala’s bright blue eyes move to Ana’s as she regains some composure. ”I saw something. I saw you,” she began, uncertain of how to continue. ”You weren’t alone. There was another. A golden woman. She was beautiful…” Lala offered a small smile to Ana then. “You looked happy.”

    ”Craft. You saw Craft.” Ana said simply, the emotion thick in her voice.  Ana turned away then - consumed by her own memories and the feelings that came with them.

    ”I think, Lala began, hesitantly, ”I think there’s a way for you to find her. Craft.” At this Ana turned back to the girl - dark green eyes questioning.

    ”There’s a portal. Somewhere. I believe Craft is on the other side - waiting. And I think she wants to find you too.”

    Lala feels foolish, it must sound ridiculous but somehow she knows these things to be true. ”Will you help me look for it? The portal, I mean. I know you were looking for someone but maybe she’s there too,” the words come in a rush at the end - reverting to Lala’s general state of clumsy words and babble.

    It doesn’t seem to bother Ana. Her gaze is distant, pensive. ”Craft.” she says, softly to herself.  A moment passes. And then another.

    Until Ana turns towards Lala with a look of determination in her gaze - and the smallest flicker of hope. ”Let’s find it. The portal.” Let’s find her.  Lala simply nods, and gestures inland. She’s sure the portal is that way, and Ana follows without question.

    Lala isn’t sure how long they walk - but it isn’t far. They walk in relative silence. She can tell that Ana has a lot on her mind - such is understandable given the last few hours. So Lala is content to walk alongside her friend - hoping her companionship is comfort enough.

    The little pink mare finds herself drawn to a pool of water - it would look like an ordinary pond if not for the other wordly shimmer that danced across the surface. Lala could hardly draw her gaze from the water.

    ”This is it.  This is the portal,” she said, finally drawing her gaze from the shimmering surface. She looked up at Ana, finding the dark mare’s gaze unreadable.

    ”Do you trust me, Ana?” Beulah asked - knowing that she was asking so much of her friend.

    ”I do,” Ana said, simply, her gaze shifting into one of sheer determination.

    ”We’ll go together. On the count of three…?” Lala asked.

    Ana simply nodded.

    ”Okay. One. Two…Three.”

    And with that, the pair stepped into the portal together.

    b e u l a h
    image by ciel! <3 

    If she ceases to exist after this, she will be okay.

    Her lids have fluttered closed (not before once last glance - just one last look at sunflower gold glinting in the desert sun) before it all falls away. Gravity pulls her away from the star she orbits and everything swims in that mist again. The fog of her mind, she has to assume. Even with the visions and this desert - this place where the sands of past and present and future swirl together -  something in her has to search for the rational because she knows this is not her Elaina. She knows none of this can be real.

    And yet-
    when her eyes open again, the warmth of the golden woman still radiates nearby. They are not huddled together as they had been before. Boundaries have been restored where they stand and for a moment, Lilliana tries to forget the screams that are still echoing in her ears. I'm so sorry that I couldn't save you too, she thinks. I am so, so sorry. Maybe she shouldn't be. The anger of his hooves, the rage in his orange eyes had been enough to reveal his intent. It hurts her heart and the weight of the guilt of not being able to spare him a terrible fate, not being able to spare the midnight woman who had called out Aida! hurts her in ways that she never could have fathomed. (They are knives that come in from all angles and nestle within her ribcage, enjoying the torment they create as they twist and slice against her beating heart.)

    She couldn't save them all and yet she would have, if she could.
    She hates this desert for making her choose. It isn't her place to choose; not life or death. They are not her choices.

    Lilliana is standing, silent as the events continue to replay themselves in her mind. The black mare. The cliff. The stallion and the dunes.

    The flame stands in quiet reverie with her, the two of them lost in their reprisals of the events that unfolded in this desert. Maybe the palomino mare has heard her thoughts, perhaps the magic has told her that Lilliana had withdrawn so far in her mind that there is no way for her voice to emerge. 'He was going to-,' comes an unfamiliar voice that echoes within her, that touches lightly against the fringes of her disbelief. A voice that does not need to speak of what he had meant to do.

    'He is,' says a thought from the silent woman, this woman who talks without words ever leaving her mouth, "was my son."

    Glass shatters in her heart.
    Pieces of her fracture and Lilliana wants to know how you ever put anything back together after a confession like that.

    Her face is engulfed with emotion, with sympathy and empathy and compassion because she cannot (will not) imagine what it takes to reach that point. The chestnut has been staring at the dipping valley of sand below them, has looked anywhere but at the mare she has saved because this vision is so real and so aching that Lilliana can't fill the holes in her chest fast enough. Oh, she wants to say. Another stupid, empty response in the face of so much emotion. Oh is the only word that comes again and again in this tethered connection between the two mares.

    Silence. Sweet, blissful silence that might be numbing except for the vision that comes. This one is not as consuming as the one before, doesn't draw them in like the fog from the beginning. This is a treasured memory, like a photograph or video reel taken out again and again, watched and revered with love because it represents the best and most beloved moments. There needs to be no words between the pair to explain to Lilliana what this is; a dreamer knows love. Gold and black, intertwined, balancing a whole heart together. (Day and night, light and dark, whole universes brought into existence because of this love, their gaze says.) The chestnut needs to chase the stars away from the corner of her eyes and tries not to dwell too much in her own memories. Of her own reminders of gravity shifting and heavens being brought earthbound. Lilli blinks and feels that her eyes are damp, emotion that has been overrun from the quiet places of her soul. Her dark lashes are rimmed with tears and they have run down her cheeks.

    Bring her back, the desert commands.
    Lilliana blinks again and feels her heart twist.
    Reunite her. Reunite them.
    And this time it is not a command - this time it is a plea.

    "Ana," comes the haunted reply. Not strangled, not broken. It flows over the vowels with warmth, with want, with the longing of a lover. The midnight mare, the one who had hovered at the cliff and Lilliana couldn't save, is called Ana. She is a prayer on the tongue of this golden mare, made devout in love. Lilli has looked away from the vision now - torn her pained gaze away from the embraced lovers - and instead studies the flame, the way she burns so brightly for this mare. You are her light in the dark, she thinks.

    "Yes," says the golden mare. No thought was needed for this statement. "I need to be there. Where she is. Home."

    Lilliana (feels) hears her heart tear out loud. The break, the shattering is audible. 

    But as torn as her heart is now, even if it lays in glimmering pieces in the dark places of her soul that this mare illuminates, the tearing sound is not her. It is a sound like the groaning of Taiga's pines in a westerly wind; of waves angrily churning against Nerinian rocks in a gale. A portal opens and it beckons, pulling them towards the unknown. It is a culmination of everything: a burning bush, the blue of the sparkling oasis, the cries of a stranger is this enough?

    When her companion looks to her, there is a second she considers lying. (She considers everything at whatever cost that this desert begs.) Lilli thinks of telling her that Ana is on the other side, that on the other side everything is okay. She thinks of telling her that whatever she is looking for will be on the other side.

    But she can't.
    Even if she can't speak, the words don't even bloom in their bond.

    The flame considers the portal ahead of them. What is here for you? prompts the chestnut. If you stay here, what do you gain? The regal figure pauses and stares at her, looking every inch the imposing blaze she is. Her features are unreadable and Lilliana doesn't have her gift. She has no way of knowing what this woman is thinking, of what she is wanting other than the ghost that must still linger in her mind. The palomino looks to the portal again, torn and unsure. Uncertain.

    I can't promise you that everything will be okay. The thought is for her companion and herself. (It's something she has said to herself often enough, against the quiet of Taiga's fog and against the ancient places of her craggy shore.) I don't know if Ana will be there. And that thought is echoed with sadness - with the familiarity of someone who has looked for a cherished face on a million others and never found it.

    Earnestly, she meets the amber eyes of the golden woman now. I have to go back, she simply states. Lilliana knows she can't stay.

    Her attention turns to the portal and the healer walks towards it. A few steps that she hopes will encourage the other. Onward the crimson woman goes and an ear flicks back to hear the pillowed steps of hooves behind her. The golden woman follows. Together they venture towards the unknown and what waits. Lilliana feels the brief thrill of an adventure, of something looming that might change life as they know it and her throbbing heart (still raw, still hurting) leaps at the chance. Closer they come and she can feel the pull of it, another world waiting, waiting, waiting. So close and then silence behind her.

    Lilli turns her head and glances back behind her shoulder. The golden mare is wearing that face again (if she had known she was a queen, she would call it noble). Gently, feeling the thoughts flow between them, her chiseled head dips. What if... I can't find her? thinks the stranger. That hope stills and her lips form a line as her thoughts pertain to what the palomino has asked. That sadness is back followed by her perpetual desire to ease, to want to take away all these hurts. She wishes that she could reply with certainty.

    Her eyes are dimmed and she gives a gentle shake. You might not. Silence. Emptiness. Space.

    Lilliana looks to the portal again as it ripples with things that might be. The thing to remember is that if we're all alone, then we're all alone together. She takes another step and then Lilli looks over her slender shoulder with a smile she might have offered to Kildare or Mina when they had been too shy to leave their mother's side. I'll be alone with you.

    And with that, the golden mare walks forward. Together, they travel through the portal. In this place that holds so many memories of the past, they are moving ahead and that is all that matters.

    If they keep moving ahead, they will be okay.
    It is all they can hope for.

    [Image: sTAi2f.png]

    How far had they run, since she had found the fearful scene? Since she had torn her way into the ancient scene and changed the script. Not far, not really, yet the time she had spent in this strangeness was telling. If someone or something had decided to punish the sea mare, they had chosen the correct means. Her head pounded with the need for water, salty or fresh, it didn't matter. 

    With vague awareness, she noticed the wary looks the golden mare was giving her. No wonder, when she took into account how very abnormal she must look. Any creature wearing scales and fins would look out of place in this ocean of sand. Doubly so when they adorned her equine form. It took a dose of concentration that seemed larger than usual, enough that her gait slowed to a halt. When she recovered though, she felt relief.

    It was a short-lived feeling. As it had before, fog decended on the pair. Aquaria felt her throat tighten with the sudden obscurity, how it clung to her and let nothing else exist. She was beginning to hate and fear the fog, and what she was anticipating followed it. 

    She was expecting more blood, or another blistering empty waste that threatened to swallow her up. The vision that followed was none of those things, something far more beautiful instead. 

    Two mares, the ones she'd watched meet their ends before. One of whom she had led away when given the chance. Here they stood entwined, framed by sand and endless sky. It made her heart ache to see them like this, such a private, intimate moment put on display. It was important though. This was love, pure and untainted by time or doubt. 

    As quickly as it occurred, the scene erased, and Aquaria found herself looking anew at the gold mare she had found. "What's your name?" She asked, feeling the dreamy unreality of the situation. The mare looked her over with flat eyes, clearly unimpressed with the little white-gold girl who had dropped so unexpected into her life. 

    "I am Craft. Who the hell are you."

    Aquaria flinched slightly at the hard tone, but knew it was warranted. She was the stranger here. 

    "I'm Aquaria, I... I'm not really sure what I'm doing here. But I think it has to do with you, and with another mare. Black, with eyes like sea glass..." She had felt stupid beginning the sentence, but the look on Craft's face as she described the other mare made her think otherwise. There was a longing, and a pain etched deeply on her face, the weight of years made plain. 

    "Anatomy," A world of emotion fit into that one word. The palomino nodded, weary. "Go on."

    The pale dappled girl hesitated, unsure off what exactly she needed to do at this point. It was a puzzle that she didn't have all the pieces of yet. Not quite. "Let's keep moving, and I'll tell you what I know." She suggested, and began to piece things together aloud as they trotted off. 

    Craft listened, intent and quiet even through the brief descriptions her companion gave of her visions. Past, present, future, none seemed to exist in the space they occupied. They were simply there, and moving toward an unknown. At last, the story wound to the current point, and Aquaria realized she was coming to the end of her rope. 

    "The kind of love you have- had, with her. I... don't know what it's like. I don't think I've ever had that kind of feeling for anyone who's cared to return it." She stated dispassionately. This wasn't about her lackluster love life. It was so much bigger than that. 

    A faint shimmer caught her eye ahead of them. The sky grew deeper, darker, scattered with an impossible number of stars. Beneath the cloak of night the sand undulated in endless waves. Wind and water had similar effects, it seemed. And not so far off, like the oasis pool from before, a faint glow emanated much as the glowing algae that washed on Ischia's shores. 

    They slowed as they neared it, eyes fixed on the shifting light that pooled at their feet. A thought filtered into the nereid's mind, as much a hope as it was an idea. "This could be a way home. For both of us." And what that meant suddenly came clear. "My home is Ischia. It's the only thing that I can honestly say has all my heart right now. But I think home for you might be her, Anatomy. And," she took a breath, praying that there was kindness in the universe after all. That maybe some stories could be retold with happy endings if the first one didn't do the tale justice. 

    "I think she's home to you. And if you jump with me, you won't be alone anymore. If she's out there, I'll do everything in my power to help you find her." She shrugged, not knowing if she was making anything like sense at the moment. But she had tried. Truly tried, and now the day was catching up with her. She wanted to rest, to heal. There was so much weight in the world, and she needed to see this one piece through. Then, maybe, she could be set free. 

    Jude is not sure why she laughs—she just knows that once the cruel noise leaves her lips, it feels incredibly inappropriate. Her lips press tightly together as the palomino woman before her breathes quietly.

    The rushing in Jude’s brain tells her to speak, apologize, ANYTHING to fill this silence; but she resists, bites her tongue, tensing as she watches the sun reflect like fire in Craft’s fur. She thinks it strange and uncomfortable, this sudden quiet after a creature’s gurgling death. Like a hurricane’s wave it crashes over the strange pair, somehow simultaneously cleansing and sullying them.

    “I don’t know that he did,” Craft finally admits, a sword’s sharpened steel in her voice. Jude shies a minuscule step back before perking her ears to something else.

    Reunite them . . . The whisper comes with a vision, one so sweet and beautiful that when it ends, it leaves an empty ache in the pastel woman’s breast. She releases a breath she does not she is holding and closes her eyes.

    When she opens them again, she finds the palomino queen’s gaze set firmly on hers.

    “Who are you?” she questions, to which Jude merely swallows and turns around.

    “You need to come with me,” is the pegasus’ only answer.

    “Why should I come with you?” Craft snaps back.

    “I don’t know.”

    She doesn’t know, exactly—she just knows the palomino won’t regret it.

    They travel together, a short half mile that disappears in silence. The portal spirals before them, and it takes a moment for Jude to look away.

    “We need to go through here. To get me back and get you where you belong.” Jude is hesitant in this explanation, uncertain of how she knows it—she just knows it to be the truth.

    “How do you know where I belong?”

    “I don’t know. I just know there is someone that misses you on the other side of this.”

    Jude takes a step closer, somber and shameful. She feels as if she does not deserve to be leading such a reunion.

    “I’m not following you.”

    “What?” Jude turns back with a start, anger flashing briefly in her eyes.

    “You laughed at his death. I’m not following you.” Craft’s response comes as a shock, leaving Jude staring near-open mouthed and stunned.

    Regret wells angrily in her throat. The callous creature she has always been comes back with a vicious bite once again. This failure is unlike any other, but Jude will be damned if she shows this woman her tears.

    “Fine. I cannot make you.” With this, she takes a step back, falling away into the time warp. Craft’s gaze fades as Jude disappears, emptiness and unbearable sadness sitting like rocks on her chest.

    Ooc: um this is gonna post all weird because I did it from the bathroom at work but uh. Here you go :)

    { and all we are is skin and bone trained to get along,
    forever going with the flow but you're friction }
    She watches the vision as it is played before her, and the guilt wastes no time taking root inside of her heart. She had saved one, but not the other – one half to a whole. Lilt has never felt love, but she has seen it. She has seen it in her parents, day after day, and she knows without question that if anything ever happened to her father that her mother would not be far behind. Starsin would not want to live without Ophanim, and she is so sure Anatomy must feel the same. “I’m sorry,” her voice is hushed, as always, but now it breaks with her regret and her guilt. “I’m sorry that I didn’t – that I couldn’t – save you both.” She blinks away the tears that rim her eyes, swallowing away the painful knot in her throat.

    She does not hear the sound – the sound of the seam between worlds beginning to tear.

    But Anatomy does, and Lilt, still watching her so intently, sees the way her head lifts and her eyes focus on something behind her. She turns her head, desperately searching for the source of whatever had caught the other mare’s attention, and deftly, she shifts to her dragon vision. She does not see anything at first, no matter how much her sight can magnify what lays on the horizon. There is just the endless stretch of desert, which as far as she could see led to absolutely nowhere. Sylva had to be somewhere beyond those dunes, but she pushes away her own selfish desire to find her way home. She is going to ask Anatomy what she thinks they should do when a voice assaults her mind.

    Lilt has never heard anything before – not out loud, and not from those with the ability to reach into other’s minds. The sudden intrusion of a voice that was not her own makes her startle in fear, with a gasp-like cry accompanying the way she jolts sideways. But she listens, and she understands. Reunite them. Her eyes brighten at the realization, and she turns to Anatomy and exclaims in a voice that though terribly soft still managed to express her excitement, “She’s alive!”

    Suddenly invigorated, she turns to once again look back in the direction Anatomy had looked, and this time she does not just use her dragon vision to see into the distance, but rather, in heat signatures.

    And there – seemingly in the middle of thin air – is a wavering strip that glows a mix of reds and oranges and yellows, and she wishes that she could share her vision with the black mare so that she could see how obvious it was. She turns back to her, and says urgently, “I think there’s a portal. It’s not far, but you have to trust me. I think it’s the way to get you both back together.”

    In a rare display of boldness, Lilt does not give the other mare a chance to dispute her. She turns, and she sets off pointedly in a very specific direction. In a few strides she glances to the side, and is pleased to see that the black mare has fallen into step next to her.

    A half-mile is not far, but the unwavering heat of the sun does them no favors, and the sand seems eager to swallow their every footstep. By the time they arrive to where Lilt has located the portal to be there is sweat glistening along her neck and flanks, but her determination does not allow her to feel her exhaustion. Her silver eyes narrow, studying the slim strip. “I’m not sure….it doesn’t seem big enough.” She is certain the other mare thinks she is insane; she isn’t sure if she can feel the energy that the portal radiates from it, and Lilt can only hope that she is willing to continue to put blind faith in her.

    “I’m going to try something...watch out.” She steals a glance at Anatomy, and waits to be sure that she is not in the way. Then she inhales, slow and deep, and with her eyes focused on the portal she opens her mouth, and on the exhale she releases a powerful stream of fire. She watches as the tear begins to burn along the edges, growing and lengthening as her flames eat away at it. She does not know if it makes a sound; if the fire melting away the fabric of time and space and dimensions is loud or silent, and she does not lose focus long enough to look at Anatomy’s face to judge.

    She does not stop until she feels as though she has opened it enough, and only then does the flame die away, a few stray plumes of smoke twisting and spiraling from her mouth. Her attention looks back to the black mare, and she notices what seems to be bewilderment on her face; she probably hadn’t expected fire to come from her throat, and Lilt smiles sheepishly. “I learned that from my dad,” is all she offers in explanation, before looking back to the portal. “I think on the other side of this is where we need to go.”

    And with that she steps through, the black queen following close behind.

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