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    version 22: awakening


    LILLIANA -- Year 206


    "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

    [private]  break me like a promise — carnage
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    She can’t remember when the darkness first took root inside of her, when it first twisted its way around her sense of morality and bred in its wake a certain kind of selfishness. It has always served as a sort of contradiction to what she appeared as; pristinely white, and now with the ambered illumination of her halo reflecting off the darkness of her eyes and the angel-wings tucked at her sides. Inside, though, she could be a wretched thing. She knew it, even if she didn’t always choose to recognize it, but anyone that had suffered at the hands of her selfishness — namely, Skellig — would be unlikely to argue.

    It’s why even she is surprised to find herself here, at the base of the mountain when the first light of dawn touches the top of it. She cannot remember the last time she did something that was not directly for her own benefit, and it spawned an unsettling feeling in her chest. Atrox has not had a heart for nearly as long as she’s known him; it was similar to her having been blind so long, it was just a part of them, just the way that they were. That wasn’t enough to spur her to do something; it was learning that Magnus had lost his memories of Atrox that forged that restless and uneasy feeling in the cavern of her chest. 

    She wouldn’t call it love — that was never the right word — but there was something that brought her here. 

    There is an eerie silence when she stands at the summit, with a cool fog that nearly smothers the glow she can’t seem to shake anymore. She is quiet, her heart nervously fluttering in her chest as she waits, not even sure how she was going to explain her request; to explain that she needed to find a heart that is buried in a land that no longer exists.


    lord, I fashion dark gods too;

    He had thought himself mistaken when he glanced through her eyes and saw the path the was one, saw the looming mountain in the distance. Thought, perhaps, this was someone else’s body, but it had only taken a second to confirm. He should have known this, of course, because he so rarely makes mistakes (and admits to them even less), and besides, they are connected in a way that is unique.
    Love isn’t the word, but it’s something. A connection forged in war and death and the ghost of a valley, amongst galaxies.
    Yet despite this – despite the fact she is connected to a god – she walks to the mountain? For what?
    He could find out, of course, plunder her mind, but the reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is a slight – a betrayal, even.

    He considers possessing her from here, raking her own teeth across that lovely body. Perhaps she does not even deserve his presence, if this is how she sees fit to conduct herself.
    But that is petty. So he leaves her body, returns to his own, and then he is on this hateful mountain, where the horses come to prostrate themselves before the land. It was here where he once vomited forth Pangea, a defiance; it was here where he tore out hearts, intercepting other horses, his own personal slight to the land that once tried to strip him of his godhood.
    He lets her make it to the summit before he lets himself be seen, appearing from the fog. She is a sight to behold, having found angelhood somewhere in between their meeting, wings at her back and a glow about her. Usually he would have relished this, felling his own private angel, but there is still a petulant fury in his throat.
    He stands before her, the fog thick around them but clear in the space between them. He does not close this space, does not touch her.
    “Ryatah…” he says, shaking his head, “whatever are you doing here? What is it you seek, that you’d come here, before coming to me?”
    And then he is closer, close enough to put his mouth to her ear.
    “You can fuck whomever you want, but to pray to other gods? I thought better of you.”
    And then he is closer, close enough to put his teeth to her throat. Close enough to savage her, and blood spills across his jaw, intimate and warm, and he keeps tearing. He uses no magic for this particular act, it is animalistic and cruel, built of a desire to punish her for seeking other gods before him.
    The act is done quick enough, and –

    ( -- and somewhere is the world of death, a woman sees the angel appear. There is blood at her throat, but it disappears before her eyes – they are often made whole, in death. Gail walks closer, curious at the appearance of the white mare, and is struck then with a realization of who stands before her.
    You’d like her, Carnage had said, telling her of the white mare he’d once blinded.
    “Ryatah?” she asks, but she knows the answer before the mare confirms. She steps closer, dark against the white, and casts a shield over them. She does not know exactly how her powers act against his, but his magic rarely works on her, and she thinks it might extend to this. She knows he will want her back, and soon, but Gail is not ready for her company to disappear just yet.
    “Close your eyes,” she whispers, “I don’t want him to see where you are yet.”)

    He stands over her body, tasting the copper and iron of her blood. It was ungraceful, this death, more impulse then plan. He should apologize, maybe, but he knows he won’t – she should have known better, after all. He reaches out with his magic, ready to bring her back again, to see what she has to say for herself.
    Her body twitches, then, nothing.
    He tries again, confused, wondering for some horrible moment if the reckoning had come anew, had stripped him of his powers – yet he can feel the magic in him, there is his blood, rich as ever. Yet she doesn’t move.
    He touches her, a stronger connection, sends the magic into her again. Thinks, live. But there is nothing. He feels how he could animate her body, but there is nothing of her in it.
    She is gone.
    He seeks out their vision connection, but there is nothing. Darkness all the way down.
    “Come back,” he commands, as if this would work, as if he could speak her back into being when his magic had done nothing.
    He so rarely makes mistakes, but it appears he’s made one now.

    c a r n a g e

    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    She is surprised when it is him that materializes from the fog, and the feeling of dread that settles in her chest like a stone is almost instantaneous. She would never claim to know him entirely, to always be able to predict what will anger him, but she knows him well enough to recognize when it is too late. “Carnage,” his name feels like ash on her tongue, and for the first time in a long time she is hesitant to meet his gaze directly. He controls it, but she can feel the fury that brims beneath the surface, and perhaps that makes the calculated steps and the measured tone of his voice all the more fearsome.

    For a moment she thinks of the ghost of the valley, and that galaxy so far away, but she knows that is not the Carnage with her now.

    Instead she remembers how hot her blood felt when it streamed from empty, gaping sockets, and how her lungs had burned when they filled with sea water.

    Her pulse flutters in her throat, and she doesn’t answer him. There is a different kind of fear running rampant in her veins, because even though she can’t piece together the mistake that she had made, she knows she made one. He’s angry, she realizes, that she came here. And in the split moment when she opens her mouth to protest, to explain that she didn’t like to ask him for help or favors, he is at her throat.

    Any scream that tries to escape is drowned by blood, and the struggle to get away from him is useless. A mangle of bright red blood and porcelain white, her body crumples to the hard ground, the angelic aura and the golden halo disappearing as her heart stutters to a stop.

    When she opens her eyes and finds herself staring again into the expanse of the afterlife, it is despair that finds her first. The blood disappears, and she is again whole and vibrant, but that does not make up for the fact that she is once again trapped here. She waits, foolishly, for him to bring her back. She doesn’t think that he will – not this time – but she cannot help but to hope. She had always known there was a fragile line that existed between them, one that she walked with sometimes not enough trepidation; one that she had crossed, accidentally.

    She hears her name, and she looks up to see an unfamiliar face, but she knows without question who she was. “Gail,” she says, and tentatively she steps forward. They’ve never met, but she knows who she is; the one that Carnage had sent others to find and bring back, the one that the afterlife was carved out for. She tells her to close her eyes, and she hesitates. I don’t want him to see where you are yet, and while her first instinct is to be suspicious, she realizes that she doesn’t have a choice. Going back didn’t seem like an option right now; she knew if she made it back that it was incredibly unlikely that his anger had waned.

    And so, she listens. She closes her eyes, knowing that in doing so she was further severing his connection to her, and she swallows away the unease that that makes her feel. But, he was already furious, and she was already dead – which wasn’t much of a reassurance, but it was all she had. “Won’t he be able to still hear us?” She asks, having never actually been in the presence of anyone whose powers were strong enough to block him out, though she tries to hide the doubt from her voice.

    lord, I fashion dark gods too;

    He returns determined.
    He had stormed away, after his initial misstep, knowing that he might act irrationally, might destroy her beyond any recognition were he left alone with it too long. He is calmer, now, breathing evenly even if there is a set to his jaw. He is used to solving many problems without magic – he knows how to fight, to hurt and kill and survive without ever touching the bottomless wells within him, but he is used to it always being there, as a backup. When it fails him, he doesn’t know what to do. All the skill in the world cannot raise the dead. How was he to know that his own (admittedly rash) decision would lead to this?

    But he has thought on the matter, stewed on it. He has more things to try. He will rebuild her from atoms, if he must. But before he tries anything, he slips back into her once more –
    And sees Gail staring back at him, smiling.
    He chokes down a roar, and before he can do anything else, Ryatah stirs, and her eyes open. Quickly, he heals her wounds, and the magic takes this time, and soon she looks unscathed.
    “Welcome back,” he says, portraying calm once more, as if this had been part of some plan, “what did she want?”

    c a r n a g e

    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    The way Gail describes him doesn’t surprise her, because it is similar to her first memories of him. He was still unpredictable, but he seemed even more so back then; taking the valley and then the dale, blinding her and killing bystanders. He was still ruthless, but there seemed to be something more controlled and calculating about him now – usually.  What had happened earlier on the mountain reminded her too much of that day so many years ago in the dale; only this time she realized she made a mistake much faster.

    She doesn’t feel him, but she sees Gail’s expression change, and she knows.

    She doesn’t pull away when the dark mare presses into her, and when she feels a strange sensation that seems to shock into her core, she thinks it is just her heart jump-starting back to life.

    In the next moment she is back on the mountain floor, blinking death from her eyes the way others might do with sleep. She doesn’t know why, but she is surprised to hear his voice, and to see his face. Maybe because she is instantly reminded of his fury that had sent her to the afterlife, and she had been so certain that he wasn’t bringing her back. A part of her isn’t even sure if he had, thinking that maybe whatever she had felt when Gail touched her had been the death priestess sending her back.

    Her throat heals and the blood disappears, and when she stands she is again whole and clean. Her heart beats in her chest, and she cannot help but to revel in the exhilarating, electrifying way her blood always seemed to pulse the first time it rushed through her veins. She looks up at him, and though his previous anger seemed tempered, she is still tentative. “She just wanted to talk,” she says quietly, and it is the truth, as far as she knows. She doesn’t understand why, but again, she rarely understands why anyone wants anything with her.

    Beneath the amber glow of her unbefitting halo she watches him for a moment too long, before finally she says, “You brought me back. I didn’t think you were going to.”

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