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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]  lost in the woods; any
    #1
    again you’re gone, off on a different path than mine
    i'm left behind wondering if i should follow

    A chill wind streams across the red kingdom, slipping through the lowlands and skirting the high mountains. Lepis, standing on a sandstone cliff, watches the greenery beneath her shift and bend in the strong wind. This is not her first winter in Loess, but it is her first in many years.

    The dun mare takes a deep breath, inhaling the familiar flavor of sandstone and salt. She has missed that.

    She has missed everything about Loess.

    The faces that she sees are mostly new, but the land itself has remained unchanged. This is the place she had spent a happy childhood, the place where she’d been the happiest. Once, she had thought that happiness was not a matter of where she laid her head, but she has learned better. She has not slept often since coming back home this summer, but when she has it has been soundly. Lepis sleeps alone, with no foal to mind her hooves around or mate to shake the nest with his snoring. Everything is exactly as she likes it, and rather than feeling empty as she had often fears, she instead feels satisfied.

    So she smiles as she looks down at the familiar red hills, and though the expression is faint it is undeniably fond. There are a few horses down on the valley floor, too far away to identify. Some are probably her kin, Castile’s children and siblings, but many are residents that have come in her time away. It’s been a long time away, after all.

    A sound behind her causes the long-haired pegasus to turn, and her blue-grey eyes seek out the source



    LEPIS
    i’m the one who sees you home--
    but now i’m lost in the woods

    and i don’t know what path you are on


    @[any loess resident]
    Reply
    #2
    When she turns to look there won’t be anything there for her to recognize. Lepis might’ve gotten familiar with the curved platter-jaw of Wolfbane’s cheeks, or the seemingly confident rise of his lips underneath a blue-tinted mask, but those are gone. He’s not really himself anymore and he hasn’t been for a while but the creature that approaches her is… undeniably alien. It’s probably the last thing she suspects.

    It’s a stallion - that’s a comfortable feeling for the horse who’d been born ‘male’ and knew it best. A unicorn as well, with a long spiral horn bursting out from his forehead underneath a curling blue forelock. Plain looking: grey or white, whatever you choose to think of the color. No markings and no indication that he was different from your average Beqanna horse aside from the ocean-colored blue mane and tail. His horn was yellow, as were his hooves. Not golden or sparkling, just a pleasant yellow that offset his brown and inquisitive eyes.

    The unicorn huffed a tired breath and came to stop under her sharp gaze, smiling comfortably.

    “What a trek!” He exclaimed between puffs of air, as if this sort of rock-climbing excursion was an uncommon thing for him to be doing, “But also what a view…” He murmured, blinking hazily in her direction for just a second longer than expected. Afterwards his gaze swept past her to the precarious dropoff and the land stretching out beneath it.

    Steam rose from his blanched withers and red clay dusted the feathering hair growing out from his fetlocks. The strange-looking stallion gathered his wits and breath, waited for a response and seemingly enamored by the scenery of Loess at this height. For all of Beqanna he looked innocent, unassuming. A newcomer trying to carve out the more recluse areas of a new home, perhaps. Nothing like the husband who’d destroyed their marriage and himself.

    Lepis mmkay. I'm finally making this happen. I hope you like it
    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
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    #3
    again you’re gone, off on a different path than mine
    i'm left behind wondering if i should follow

    The smiles on Lepis’ face remains despite her lack of familiarity with the horse she finds beside her, though it shifts from easy fondness to something more distant but not less than polite. Her days of excitement over meeting someone new are not long gone, but they are no less surely gone. With her choice to remain solitary here in Loess, she has no need to forge relationships for diplomacy, and Lepis has come to realize that friends are fickle things. Faithful until their chance at being a leader’s wife is stripped away from them, or until their Comtesse’s husband pulls them into an embrace.

    She has her children, and that is enough for her. (Or so she tells herself, knowing well that she could only find two on any given day – the others are missing or avoid her entirely.)

    The unicorn is a stranger, though he smells enough of the hilly kingdom that Lepis suspects he is one of the residents that have come since her absence. He endears himself to her slightly in his admiration for the beauty of Loess.

    “One of my favorites,” she agrees, taking a moment to note his features – blue and yellow and white. The colors are familiar, even if he is not, but Lepis is not suspicious. In this world color is as novel as wings; there is nothing suspicious about a coincidence. After a moment, she follows the gaze of the out-of-breath stallion and looks back down into the valley.

    “I wonder if this is how the Fairies see us,” she muses aloud as two black-dot horses meet in the snow far beneath them, “Just little dots moving about aimlessly. At least until we climb up the Mountain, I suppose.” She’s climbed the Mountain herself, and the bitter wind and a cold nose were all she’d gotten for her efforts. There are some things that the fates are not interested in intervening in, it seems, and Lepis cannot blame them. She takes a deep breath, a habit she has picked up since choosing to use her magic less, and turns back to the stallion.

    “I’m Lepis, by the way. What’s your name?”



    LEPIS
    i’m the one who sees you home--
    but now i’m lost in the woods

    and i don’t know what path you are on


    Wolfbane
    Reply
    #4
    Until she replied Bane wasn’t entirely sure Lepis would stay. A part of him knows her so well and right now that part of himself is most aware and most in control, but still there’d been an inkling of concern she might just nod her head, spread her wings, and plummet away with that stiffly polite nonchalance she was uncannily renowned for. As he was, Wolfbane was a quiet nobody. A warm body to fill the Loessian hills and valleys while Lepis on the other hand was a mare of duty commonly known by name if not by reputation. She had no reason to entertain the whimsy of a seemingly plain stallion who looked touched by a hot-blooded lineage and only a hint of Beqanna magic.

    Wolfbane thinks she might be bored and that’s why she’s alright with casual conversation.

    “Oh I think they see a lot more than that.” The slender legged arab smiled happily, settling his small hooves into the packed earth as he leaned out briefly to eye the pair of horses miles below them. “Omnipresent beings must be annoyed at us constantly.” He grins jokingly, spoken like a true believer in the higher powers and the mysterious ways in which they worked.

    She introduces herself; the unicorn laughs and shakes his dished face, The Lepis? It’s an honor. I’m Tipper,” The horse beside her dips his head for a moment, “sometimes Tipp when I’m feeling lazy.” He looks cheery while saying so. Everything about him looks cheery, actually. For being a dark shade of woodsy brown his eyes still sparkle, Tipper’s attitude is like a rolling wave of nonchalant summer vibes, and he seems untroubled by the seriousness of life or the impending worry of death.

    “So, Lepis…” He tries again hesitantly, a bit starstruck it would appear. “I’m not really sure what to say!” Tipp laughs, the momentary tension gone with the outburst. “I wasn’t expecting that I’d be entertaining a royal, have to say I feel a bit out of my comfort zone.” The admittance came easy enough. The truth, however blunt, wasn’t intended rudely just factually: what could a nobody possibly say to someone like her? “How’s the weather up there?” Wolfbane scrambled to think. “I’m afraid I might bore you talking about the weather and crops.” Tipp grinned warmly.

    Lepis
    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    Reply
    #5
    again you’re gone, off on a different path than mine
    i'm left behind wondering if i should follow

    The indecision that loomed over Lepis’ last days in Taiga had vanished once she crossed the border. Loessian sunshine – direct in every season – simply burnt it away, and she has been untroubled since. Leaving behind the woods had been difficult, far more difficult than she will ever let on. The land of Taiga itself had never truly no hold on her heart, but there are memories as deep in the redwoods, and it was those she left behind as well.

    Coming back home had been the fresh start she needed.

    Her children are grown and she has many good years ahead of her. There are no limits to what she can do, no weights or anchors to hold her down. There’s no ballast either, and no oars, but those are concerns for another day.

    Lepis doesn’t much care what the Fairies think of her, as she has decided that she doesn’t care much for them anyway. The unicorn beside her seems to think they’re interested in the lives of Beqanna’s residents though, and Lepis doesn’t really care enough to argue. It’s not worth the effort. She is considering exactly what Wolfbane suspects her of (though she’d bid farewell at least before soaring downward) and has even taken a half step forward when the stallion reacts to her name.

    If she has one weakness when it comes to strangers, it’s flattery. Flattery appeals to her sense of vanity, to her pride that – regardless of what she considers to be a recent demotion – has never dimmed.

    “Tipper,” she repeats with a far warmer smile than the one before, and her raised hoof resettles on the russet sandstone beneath her. There is no sign that she’d been about to leave his company; the dun mare looks perfectly content. That he flounders in her presence is as charming as he intends it to be; she does enjoy being fawned over.

    “Pretend I’m someone else,” Lepis says with a soft chuckle of her own, attempting to reassure him that while she appreciates the reaction that she is not so different that conversation need be stilted or strange. “What’s your favorite view of Loess?” She asks, a leading question that she doesn’t doubt he can answer. Everyone who’s been in Loess for any significant time has climbed the ridges, looked down over the vistas of the mountainous kingdom and found one that called to them more than any other.


    LEPIS
    i’m the one who sees you home--
    but now i’m lost in the woods

    and i don’t know what path you are on


    Wolfbane
    Reply
    #6

    I believe I'd die if I only could

    I sure feel strange, but it sure feels good

    Pretend? She had no idea. That makes Tipper’s returning smile all the more warm and agreeable. He could pretend with her alright, if she demanded it of him. The tone of her voice (while pleasant) is delivered with an unspoken command and her compatriot in these rare cliffsides of Loess gives just the hint of his knowing that, but remedies it with an eager narrowing of his warm eyes. Her role was one to hand out orders; his role was to accept them without question.

    Lights, focus... action.

    “What an ironic question from a pegasus!” Tipp laughs in her direction, more ironic than her demanding that he imagine her as common folk. If she were common, no doubt the conversation would turn back to nobles anyway and their respective positive-or-negative influences over the territories. He and another random equine would more than likely end up discussing Castile or Heartfire anyways. And if he did have a favorite spot in Loess, Tipper assumes Lepis would find it almost endearing since she must’ve seen these views from angles unreachable by the earth-dwellers like himself.

    “I’ll humor you though - as you requested.” The yellow-horned stallion secedes jokingly, his nature constantly buoyant and his hazy, aqua-furred tail stirring restlessly at his dirty heels. “Farthest south I’ve gone was towards the sea. There’s a ridge of hilly mounds that keep a very small spring hidden away, covered by the trees feeding off it. I like it for the seclusion, first off, and then if you climb the hills you can look out and catch sight of the sea in one direction and far off in the other direction is the Forest.” He looks off into the distance, picturing the scene with eyes wide open.

    The rogue Loessian shrugs, knowing by far it won’t come close to a bird’s-eye view.

    “Alright one for you, Lady Lepis -" His eagerness returns and his pale ears rise up, “If you really were a commoner what’s the one land you’d want to be in most?” The stranger wonders aloud. “Besides Loess.” He emphasizes playfully, turning to show her an expression devoid of judgement or ulterior motives.

    For this thread:  Sex: M  ◉  Appearance: Unicorn  ◉  Mood: Pleasant

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
    Reply
    #7
    again you’re gone, off on a different path than mine
    i'm left behind wondering if i should follow

    There is no further objection from the unicorn after her suggestion. Lepis can’t help that even her suggestions come off as commands. Even if she could it’s unlikely she would; he’s already admitted that he’s one of the common folk, and while Lepis does not think less of him for it she simultaneously doesn’t not think much more. Those worth knowing tend to distinguish themselves early, after all, and for all his pleasant demeanor Tipp is still just a friendly stallion from Loess.

    Tipper is brighter, at least in temperament, than most of her acquaintances. He reminds Lepis a little of Popinjay. The dun mare realizes as she smiles in response to his willingness to humor her that it has been some time since she laughed. Really laughed, not just chuckled for company, not just shaped her face in a way that perfectly mimics genuine amusement. At this realization, that genuine joy vanishes, but Lepis takes another long breath as Tipper begins to describe his favorite view. It would be easy to suffuse herself with amusement, but the emotion remains untouched amidst her arsenal; she chooses instead to listen more closely in an effort to return to it naturally.

    The view that he describes is not one she has seen – at least not from the vantage point that he describes. She can picture the place though, the southern hills where one might sea both the sea and the Forest.

    “That sounds nice,” she replies with a slow smile, “Though I’ll let you keep the seclusion you like and do my best to not find it.” Lepis knows the value of solitude, after all. There are places she does not share – not anymore, at least. Perhaps she is overdue for a place of her own, she thinks, and as though the dusty unicorn is able to read her mind he asks something quite similar.

    “Besides Loess?” She repeats, a brightness in her blue-grey eyes at both the idea of being someone else and ever choosing someplace else. “That’s a tough one.”

    For all her accomplishments, the dun pegasus is not especially well-travelled. There are few lands where she has lingered for more than a few hours or accepted offers of a tour with more than passing interest. Hyaline was pretty, she supposes, if she could forget her captivity, and Ischia if she could bear the lack of a winter. She thinks first of landscapes, but after a moment considers the other aspects. Her children are mostly in Taiga, at least those she can find, but the misty redwoods had never truly felt like home.

    “The Pampas,” she says after much consideration, and a sharp nod accentuates her certainty. There are memories of an old life there, but they are happy ones, lit with the surety of safety and the brightness of a youth. She’d barely been an adult when they’d lived there, Lepis realizes; she was younger than Pteron is now. It feels like yesterday, she thinks, and a thousand years ago. “Have you ever been there? It’s beautiful.” Lepis glances back at the brown-eyed stallion, and there is a mischievous tilt to her smile as she adds: “The view of the flowers in summer is better from the ground than the sky even.”



    LEPIS
    i’m the one who sees you home--
    but now i’m lost in the woods

    and i don’t know what path you are on


    Wolfbane
    Reply
    #8

    I believe I'd die if I only could

    I sure feel strange, but it sure feels good

    ‘Tipper’ surprises them both by asking Lepis a question even the real version of himself (Wolfbane, that is) wouldn’t know the immediate answer to. They both contemplate the idea to themselves, him providing his usual chuckle at her exasperation of choosing another home under much different circumstances, while Tipp slaps his aqua-faded tail against a milky white hide and stretches his neck lower to his forehooves to pick at and subsequently clean the caked, frozen dirt gathering there.

    “Hyaline and Sylva won’t be her answer.” He knows off the bat, ticking off the two places she’d been forced to live in against her will. After that the others chime in with their own suggestions because he can’t stop them, while he’s playing the fool the rest of them are bored beyond compare. “No a soul in hades shade would willingly live on that Icicle isle.” An older, roughened voice growls in his thoughts. “She’ll throw you for a loop and pick Nerine.” Another purrs, “Imbeciles -” One cackles to interrupt, “The islands are the obvious answer.”

    It could be said that even at the worst of times, living with your fractured self was never a lonely pursuit.

    Tipper raised his head again just in time to catch her response and the nod following after, grinning as calm and pleasant as he’d been the entire time. “Okay! Not what I expected;” He could admit easily enough, “Child Queen, ruler of nations, defiant even against the strength of Nerine and her allies…” His voice deepened, and true to his role of being a well-rounded actor Tipper darkened his face into a more serious expression, “Dreams of another life spent rolling in the Pampas flowers?” He brightened up again, exploding into a grin that felt like it could calm a stormy day.

    “Well well - she’s more human than god after all!” The unicorn stallion hummed. “Color me surprised. Never been there but then again I’m not some fresh filly high on the feeling of her first crush.” Tipp likened the flower-laden pastures to a youthful whimsy. “I go for a different sort of rush. The Adrenaline kind.” He shuffled closer to the lookout’s edge, toying with danger as the outermost curve of his hooves came to rest just over it.

    “Do you ever just want to toss caution to the wind? Say ‘Fuck it’ and see what happens?” He smiles to himself now, choosing to look at the far-off horizon in the distance rather than the cold, hard ground hundreds of meters below. “Dare me to jump off this cliff?” The color-tinted horse grinned back at her, twisting his face around.

    For this thread:  Sex: M  ◉  Appearance: Unicorn  ◉  Mood: Pleasant

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
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    #9
    again you’re gone, off on a different path than mine
    i'm left behind wondering if i should follow

    The sun that beams down on her raised face is feeble but bright. Lepis can almost imagine that it is summer and warm. It is the wind that saps the heat from her skin, carries the cloud of her breath away. The cloud shimmers as it vanishes into the open air in front of the dun mare and her companion. It’s already freezing already in the bitter wind.

    She’s just exhaled cloud of laughter, as quick and rapid as the warmth of the sun, its warmth gone as soon as it’s felt.

    Laughing had felt wrong, and she’d bitten off her reaction to the stallion’s good humor with am abruptness that is impossible to miss. Her pewter eyes, as silver-blue as the sky above them, grew stormy in an instant, the mask of good humor slipping. The expression lasts less than a heartbeat, and the cut-off peal of laughter is long since torn away by the wind. With someone more important, she might have done something different than what she does. Might have.

    But Tipper isn’t someone important. He’s not someone that will know will even know what emotional projection is, let alone recognize Lepis as the source. He knows quite a bit though, the tobiano reminds herself. While Taiga has made no secret of their defiance of their Nerenian monarch, it’s not every resident of Loess that would know so much about Lepis. The unicorn stallion doesn’t look very old – surely no more than a few years older than the fourteen year old mare herself.

    Trust, she sends to herself, and she is less careful than usual with the scope of it. Tipper will likely feel it too.

    [Who are you really?], she thinks to herself – and also directly and silently to the stallion in front of her. She means it as innocently as her suggestion that he play pretend; Lepis suspects nothing about the horned man beside her save that he is not her family, and therefore that he is never to be implicitly trusted, no matter how warm his smile or infectious his laughter.

    ‘Do you ever want to toss caution to the wind?’ He asks her, and Lepis finds herself smiling despite herself, shaking her head back and forth. Lepis is not innately the type to ‘just see what happens’; she loves her plans. (She is not always good at carrying them out, of course, but she does love the heady anticipation that comes with making them, and that’s enough to make her wary of surprises.)

    “Only if you have some way of catching yourself,” the woman answers, her words slightly muffled by the navy mane that has been caught by the wind and blown across her face. Shaking it back to a more controllable position means a shake that reveals her scars, but Lepis does so with a grin. “Though if you don’t, I bet I could add Murderess to a list of titles that don’t mean anything anymore. You wouldn’t mind if I took credit?” Her brow, already rippled by a myriad of blue lines, lifts higher in genuine amusement.



    LEPIS
    i’m the one who sees you home--
    but now i’m lost in the woods

    and i don’t know what path you are on


    Wolfbane
    Reply
    #10

    I believe I'd die if I only could

    I sure feel strange, but it sure feels good

    The charade was going well until Tipper felt something foreign brush it's invisible fur up against him. Something Wolfbane noticed and felt the fringes of, a sensation of warmth out-of-place in this wintery bluster high up. It gave a soothing pretense - like a light tingling over his skin, but just barely, and then faded away. He grit his teeth. A few crumbling specks of compacted sand fell away from the cliff edge and disappeared under his hooves, still perched over the precipice.

    Lepis was using her old bag of tricks.
    [Who are you really?] He hears her voice as clearly as another voice added to the mix. For a second his ears flick in all directions in search of where the sound might’ve come from, afraid that he might be slipping into a delusional state of mind. There was clarity in the sound of it, but no depth though. With the ‘others’ in his head there was a true “presence of being”… Lepis’ voice lacked force behind it.

    So he covers the moment of confusion with action and raises his head to the world stretching out like an unkempt blanket, asking her a question and smiling to himself. He feels the need to stop thinking altogether, in case his ex-wife had caught a condition of the telepathic kind. He stops contemplating and just stares out into the open, choosing full immersion over a quick fold at the gambling table.

    He questions if she’ll dare him to leap for his life, and she gives a very typical response. Tipper’s smile darkens, casually. The light in his eyes fades for a moment and he sighs, resigned to acting as if her stiff response was almost expected. “You higher-ups are all the same. Going to use your powers on me? Make me do it?” The accusation comes with a commoner’s tilt; he moves away from perch, knowing she couldn’t possibly bring it on herself to force someone she was mildly suspicious of into a spiraling death. She would need damning proof… there’s still the possibility that she’s wrong.

    And she’s shown her hand first.

    “That you in my head, just then?” He stops, turns back and regards her with a melancholy smile. “Who am I really?” Tipper repeated it back to her. “Not to sound accusatory or anything - my back was turned - but it sounded funny in my ears.”

    For this thread:  Sex: M  ◉  Appearance: Unicorn  ◉  Mood: Pleasant

    [Image: wolfbane_by_cowgirlconrad-dcokq5p.png]
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