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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

    Ain't no grave gonna hold my body down // Dove
    As with most of Sabra's children, Saphris' childhood had been cut far too short. The mad mare's final child had been born of the Dark God, when her mind had been at it's most fragmented. Perhaps he might have been grateful to know that in letting him go, she had spared him more violence. 

    It helped, that he had more closure than most receive when a loved one dies. The afterlife had opened to the boy, and the woman Rhys had allowed him a last day with his family. The last gift of his mother had been a name, and it had been all he carried with him when he returned to the living lands. 

    He'd survived, because that was what his mother had asked him to do. Survived in a half-feral way, without herd or home to guide him. The sky-bright pegasus found himself avoiding others, lost with the demands of society and much more at ease when it was simply him and the clouds. Every bird must land eventually, though, and so today he brought himself down on a smooth looking plateau, red sandstone gritty underfoot. A light breeze pulled at the teal locks of his knotted mane, the dark colour glowing blue-white in sporadic flashes of electricity. 

    It was a pretty view from here, endless plains and cut away cliffs. Ideal for hawks and eagles to roost in such isolated walls of stone. Safe. A deep, filling breath expanded the boy's ribcage as he contemplated the sparten ground. Hardly anything seemed to grow, at least on this particular mesa. Weak winter sunlight lightly brushed his spine as he gave up on a meal. It didn't seem to be in the cards with this landing. Instead, he found himself leaning over the edge of the cliff, sandstone crunching against his hooves as the canyon opened up beneath him. 

    In the shade of the canyon, brief foliage seemed to grow. It was all prickly, sharp looking things, but plants nonetheless. Worth trying, if nothing else. The broad wings opened, already catching on the updraft the stone formations created. He could glide forever on the columns of air these canyons offered. It was easy enough to step out, to let the ground's support fall away. 

    Heart leaping into his throat, the blue boy plummeted meters before the wind caught him in a swooping upcurve. A shout of pure joy crowed from his throat, echoing along the canyon like a falcon scream. House outstretched wings held him aloft in a lazy spiral as the canyon bottom stretched beneath him, the rising walls striped with the sediment of ages. 

    Mane and tail streaming in the wind, he banked precisely to avoid the walls. The sky became a ribbon overhead as the ground neared, and at last his hooves clattered to land with practiced grace. It had been a good, if short flight, and now he could find some kind of roughage to take the edge off his growing hunger. It was promising to be a day worth remembering. 

    She is alone today, and desperate for a distraction.

    Always afraid of wearing on Draco’s nerves, she does not follow or argue when he wants to leave. There were others that were far more worthy of his attention, like their half brother, or the pretty viper girl, or the one that looked like a walking galaxy. She does not feel jealousy when she sees her brother with someone else; the feeling inside of her chest is more like sorrow, and it sinks like an anchor to the very core of her, unmoving. She is beautiful, but she is not dangerous – she is not sharp or interesting, she is not destined for great things. Everything about her is soft and blurred, from the intricate snowflakes on her pale nose, to the dim glow of the dapples on her skin. She would always be an afterthought, to him and likely anyone else she met – just the pretty little silver girl, with eyes as blue as her heart, but never remarkable enough that anyone stayed.

    She is near the river that winds through, because it was, in her opinion, the prettiest part of this kingdom. Pangea was for the most part barren and dry, seemingly unable to shake its cancerous beginnings, but here along the riverbank that carved through the canyon there were parts where the grass was verdant, and the water clearer.

    She is surprised, though, when someone lands nearby.

    From the corner of her eye she watches him – all brilliant teal and white, with beautiful wings, exploring in the shadows of the canyon’s walls. She doesn’t have wings, but she can fly, too, in a way; dissolving into a shimmer of fairy dust and spiriting herself to wherever she may want to go. It’s not the same as flying, though, and while there is a glimmer of curiosity, she does not approach him.

    It’s not until she sees the way electricity sparks in the strands of his hair that she turns to fully look at him. She can feel her heart begin to flutter nervously, warring with herself on whether or not she should say something to him. She wants to – she so desperately wants to ask about his wings and the lightning he seems to carry with him – but that crippling shyness sets up like concrete in her veins, and she doesn’t.

    So she diverts her gaze, looking back to the sparkling surface of the water, locking all her questions and curiosity up inside until the striking boy decides to leave, like he is so sure to do.

    The business of finding food had been the primary concern in his mind. As scrubby as the foliage was, it was still enough to take the edge from his snarling belly. Strong-smelling sagebrush clouded his nostrils, so it was with a start that he looked up and found himself being watched. 

    Immediately, the feathers that cloaked him puffed up and out, wings held stiffly up like a defensive raptor. One hoof raised uncertainly, the decision to stay or flee still hovering over him. If it had been a creature any more intimidating, he would have spun away in a blur of sparks and feathers already, escaped to the skies to the thunder of his heartbeats. As it was, they stood in stalemate. 

    She was no bigger than him. Maybe a little smaller. No gleaming canines winked from her dainty mouth, no slashing claws or spines whistled through the air to snag him. He blinked. Set down the raised hoof with painful slowness, and felt the prickly stiffness of his fluffed feathered hackle begin to settle back against him. She was alone, he thought, and hopefully no threat to him. 

    Wordless, his finely carved nostrils flared to catch her scent, head stretched closer to her with jerking hesitation as he sought her scent. Like the land around them, she was all sand and sky, the tang of her sweat a light thread that pulled her out from the surroundings. A hough of satisfaction rumbled deep in his throat. A little more brave, he stepped a pace closer, touching her nose with the curve of his own. 


    The word felt strange on his tongue. It had been seasons since he'd spoken last. But it came out alright, he believed, and was probably the right thing to say just now. Probably. 

    He notices her, and she feels like her throat might close in anxiety. She didn’t seek out the company of others often, because she was afraid. Not of being hurt; for some reason that has never occurred to her. She is afraid instead of their rejection, their disappointment. That they might see the shy, quiet girl and think about how she may be pretty, but surely she would never amount to anything. There wasn’t a place in the world for mild girls like her – except to be in the shadows of those that shone as vibrant as the sun.

    She feels like he might be one of those. That maybe the sparks that she caught glimpses of had the ability to light up the sky, if he wanted, and with that vibrant coloring he could command the attention of anyone he wanted.

    But he’s looking at her the way she is looking at him – like he’s trying to decide if he should be cautious of her, like she might somehow warp into a nightmare and eat him alive. And she is looking at his wings, flared and poised, and then again to his mane, hoping to see a spark like she had before.

    He moves towards her and she does not shy away, even though her muscles are taut and her dark blue eyes watch him uncertainly. A part of her is too shocked that he actually seemed to want to walk up to her that it does not occur for her to leave; even if she is afraid, even if he hurts her, she is far too captivated to move. She wonders if he can hear her heart pounding like a prisoner against her ribcage, and when she sees his nose reach for hers, her breathing suddenly stops.

    She waits, until he touches her – just barely, merely a whisper of touch against the sensitive skin right there – and then she releases a slow, trembling exhale. “Hi,” she says in that soft, shy way of hers. She is afraid to look at him, and she’s not sure why. Like maybe if they look at each other for too long he will see right through her and decide he doesn’t want to stay, because like everyone else he will be unimpressed by what he sees. “My name is Dove.”

    She stood out in the landscape, a pale ghost to haunt the endless arroyos and gullies that patterned Pangea's skin. He smiled as she let him brush the glittering skin of her nose with his own. There was something of a rabbit about her, soft and bright and ready to dash away at the slightest hint of danger. 

    Not a threat, the sparking boy decided. No more dangerous than those little cottontailed creatures she so reminded him of. His steps eased back, clacking softly against the stony footing. The broad-striped cloak of his wings shuffled and rearranged against his back now that the need to take off had abated. A puff of pale blue down floated to the earth to drift between their feet. 

    Curious as a fox, the sea-tinted young stallion smiled at her, taking in the soft patterns of her coat, the way she seemed to sparkle faintly in the noon light. "You look like snow." He stated after a moment of consideration, voice filled with wonder. Even the little dapple-y smudges on her nose looked like they should be cold to the touch and melt under his breath. They hadn't though. Head twisting up to look at the towering sandstone walls, he blinked at the unexpected beauty from this vantage. 

    "D'you ever get snow here?" It seemed unlikely what with the sweltering heat and the gritty texture of seemingly everything. Still, the world had surprised him before. An absent smile lifted his mouth for a moment, before he realized she had given her name. Dove. Pretty little birds with soft, velvet voices. 

    The smile grew and he nodded, as if her name were a thing he was agreeing to. Yes, this is Dove, Dove is her. It was like learning that the endless expanse above them was the Sky, or that the noises some birds made was called Song. It was simply right. 

    It took him a moment longer to remember that he also had a name. He hadn't been born with it, after all. Had owned it only a fragment of his life. He remembered though, and was pleased to share it. "My mother named me Saphris." The word was still new, didn't quite fit in his mouth. It was his, though, as much as anything ever had been. What did it matter that it had been given only after his mother had died? 

    You look like snow, he says to her, and she can feel the heat as it flushes to her cheeks, and had she been made of real snow the flakes would have melted. She was not accustomed to others noticing anything about her, or if they did, they never said anything. It wasn’t surprising that she was often pushed to the wayside in favor of her twin brother. Draco was strikingly beautiful, and with all the confidence of both their parents to go with it. He had inherited nearly everything about them, where Dove was the oddity in their family; she was quiet and shy, nearly to a fault.

    Such as now, when this boy in front of her has already proven that she didn’t have a reason to be afraid, and yet she still struggles to meet his eyes. Through the long strands of her silver forelock she steals fleeting glances at him, admiring the kind way he smiled at her and doing her best to return it with one of her own. “No,” she answers him softly with a shake of her head. “I wish it would, though,” she says a little wistfully, remembering the boy she had met in the snowstorm in the meadow. She liked the quiet that the snow brought, the way it wrapped everything in a muted kind of serenity – when everything seemed just as soft as she is.

    “Saphris,” she repeats his name with a murmur, her navy-blue eyes timidly resting on his face. She hesitates as she looks again at his mane, again noticing the way it sometimes sparked. “You have lightning in your hair,” she says with admiration, because something about lightning seemed so fierce, wild, and entirely unpredictable – everything she wasn’t. “How did it get there?”

    Her gaze danced away from his every time he tried to catch it, the deep blue of her eyes unwilling to meet his. Something like embarrassment pricked at him. Had he committed some folly of polite company without knowning it? The youth's own gaze averted uncertainly, examining the girl's hooves with concentrated effort. 

    He couldn't help the upward flick of his eyes though, when she spoke again. "That's a pity," he commented, eyeing the dusty dry landscape. "I love the snow. As long as I've got someplace to warm up when I'm done with it." As a nomad, he'd enjoyed exploring places with snow. He felt that wherever he went, if it was a place that got snow, he had to visit it at least twice. The lands changed so dramatically with the seasons, it was like visiting a whole new land when the soft whiteness covered things. 

    At the sound of his name in her gentle mouth, the vivid boy felt himself grow warm. A flurry of sparks danced to the ends of his mane and tail as his heartbeat picked up. Saphris. His name, himself, and it was known now to another living soul. The paler sky of his eyes met the midnight of hers for just a moment, and he smiled. 

    She was looking at him properly now, so he did his best to hold still for her examination. Even now, the lengths of his hair stood out from his neck, static energy lifting strands in midair. He grinned wryly at her comment, squinting slightly at her nose. "Probably the same way you got your pretty stars. One of my parents." Never having really thought about it. The little tongues of lightning had sparked and fizzed from him since birth, tiny bits of energy that shone blue-white in the dark and made his back teeth taste like metal when he brushed up against the wrong rocks. He was destined to be forever unkempt looking, because heavens knew that a staticky mane is not one that would ever lay flat. 

    The light glimmered on the delicate tracery of her muzzle, silver against the satin grey. "You know there's an island, way up north? It snows there almost all of the time. And at night, the sky glows like there's the most incredible river of light up there." He sighed a little at the memory. It had been bloody cold up there, but the view had been more than worth it. 

    Eyes focusing again on the sweet Dove, he grinned sheepishly. "Anyway. You should see it some time. I think you'd like it." What he didn't say, because they had only just met, was that he wanted suddenly very dearly to show it to her himself. To watch the magical aurora light up her face, to reflect back from the perfect stars on her skin. 


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