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] i feel a bad moon rising | neverwhere
01-11-2020, 09:11 PM
01-13-2020, 10:00 PM
Winter in Nerine can be unpleasant. The winds are always wild, but now they cut, as well, and the hairless skin of her face is red and chapped. In the worst of the season, cracks appear in the skin and sometimes she bleeds, adding pink to the white hair that remains on her chin and cheeks. Today is one of those days and she rubs her muzzle against her shoulder, leaving a small stain that darkens the silver-brown of her coat ever so slightly. It is as she does this that she catches sight of a familiar figure landing nearby. Lepis. There's really no mistaking Lepis, if you have ever had reason enough to pay attention to her, and certainly the new queen of Nerine has reason to be aware of the former Comtesse of Taiga.
Now a resident of Loess, Neverwhere reminds herself, and wonders at her arrival here. Her ears flicker - forward, backward, forward again - brushing away the irritation that gathers like she might chase away flies. Perhaps blame for the trouble with Loess does not sit wholly at the softly golden mare's doorstep, but she is not innocent of it either, so what is it that she can be here today to speak on? What is to be said between them at all? Thoughts of Lepis mean thoughts of Wolfbane and Lilliana are not far away and that, too, is troubling. She had once used Lepis' name as a weapon against the two as she wedged herself between them, a physical barrier between her friend and the dangerous line she walked. Her loyalty to Lilli had driven her to - rather than stopping her from - hurting her friend that day, something that she later considered with anger and some small regret. They had not spoken on the subject since then, but their friendship survived, so it is without any residual guilt that she makes her brief ascent from her place among worn grey rocks at the mouths of the cliff-caves. Her steps are not hurried, but careful and measured, a holdover from blindness, and her knees lift slightly higher than necessary, stepping over rocks and roots that don't exist. Old habits are hard to break.
"Lepis." One bristling word, spoken only as loudly as needed to be heard above the howling around them, spoken as Lepis pull her wings tight against the furious wind. Does she know that it is Neverwhere who rules here now? It is so unlikely that she will recognize the milk-eyed mare, unlikely that her attention was on anyone but Heartfire in previous visits, but she will perhaps have heard her name on the grapevine. A few have. Her head tilts slightly to one side, the irritated skin around her eyes wrinkling, suspicious, as she studies that other mare for a moment. She leaves space for the wind to speak before addressing her again.
"I'm Neverwhere," her voice is husky with wind and cold and mistrust, "There is a windbreak this way. Come, and then you can tell me why it is you seem to think you're welcome here."
Without waiting for acknowledgement, Neverwhere turns back the way she came, leaving no opportunity for Lepis to interject, to question her. If she does not wish to follow her back to the caves, she can stay there alone on the plain until the wind warps her into the same bent, withered, shape as the stunted trees.
01-14-2020, 12:49 AM
She can hear the footsteps of Lepis behind her, grinding in the rocky, sandy, soil of Nerine, following to where the rock walls reach skyward, but careful not to stop beneath them, careful to leave the open air above her. A way out, just in case - a precaution that Neverwhere approves of, though it is unlikely to be necessary. The winged mare begins her story and the silver mare lets her eyelids drop. Does it look strange? Beqanna is so full of the unwary, she thinks to herself with amusement, savoring the irony of the thought against the backdrop of her actions. It is easier to listen sometimes without the distraction of her eyes. Her ears swivel and catch every word, every tone shift and the skipping of her voice, though she can only guess at the emotion that causes it. Wolfbane. Cursed? She wonders when that might have happened, before or after that day in Taiga. Before or after he had lured Lilliana in with a dreamer's sweet words? But it doesn't matter, not really, because the meaning is the same. The threat is the same. Beneath the inflammation of her skin the scar tissue grows pale and mottled, blanching briefly before flushing back to red. Anger mingles with worry, mingles with that flare of hatred she had thought had finally died away.
But someone else, too. Eyas, bold and bluffing in the Meadow, but running from something. From someone. She had said her father wouldn't dare challenge her, but was that true now? Had it even been true then? Eyas had needed Heartfire, too, had needed her over anyone else, even her mother. How long since Lepis last saw her daughter? Neverwhere's jaw clenches and she says nothing. Everyone he has a connection to is in danger - And everyone he hasn't, she supposes - if what Lepis says is true. If. But there is no evidence that she is lying, not a hint of it, and not much reason to lie, either, whatever else their relations might be. Neverwhere re-opens her eyes and they focus sharply on the other mare, a scowl twisting her lips until yellowed teeth bare and flash dully in the winter light.
"Oh, I have met Wolfbane before," Her voice drips with loathing and she takes a step forward, closer to the pegasus with eyes flashing behind the cataracts within them, "and he has not been here to my knowledge. Not, in any case, in his usual shape. You don't need Heartfire's vision to notice that."
Heartfire. She pauses, nostrils pinched and narrow so that her breath hisses through them. Heartfire gone and the best hope at defeating the dark magic that has consumed the stallion. Heartfire's grandson. Lepis' husband. Eyas' father. Lilliana's would-be lover. How did she come to have so many connections to him? She does not encroach any further on Lepis' space, but her bear-cub ears flatten and disappear under the wind-knotted tangles of her mane. Her gaze, which had shifted inward and away, locks again on blue steel eyes.
"Heartfire is gone. I don't know where, and I don't know if she will be back, but she has put me in charge - and it's a lovely mess she's left me, too." The wind moans in the cave at Neverwhere's back, putting emphasis on her words, "So nobody in Nerine will be disintegrating you today, but I do not know that I can help you with the problem of Wolfbane."
Lepis well, I lied when I said I wasn't replying to you tonight, but technically I didn't because it's after midnight and now it's this morning.
01-16-2020, 08:51 PM
01-21-2020, 07:52 PM
She has no expectations of Lepis, not sympathy or congratulations, not friendship, certainly - it is rare she reaches out for that - nor for any reckoning for Wolfbane's actions He has done nothing to her but he represents a threat to those few that she holds close. A threat that lurked unseen in plain view, and it is that which draws her ire out, then and now. More so, now, knowing that the threat grows, and who is there to stop it? There is also, somewhere deep in the anger, a coal that burns on Lepis' account, for the betrayal that Lilliana played her little part in. She says nothing, but reins in the fury that makes her eyes flash because it aims its barbs in the wrong direction. The dun is a victim - perhaps of the curse, perhaps simply of a disloyal husband, who's to say? But, she does not deserve what Neverwhere lays at her feet, not in this context.
It has not occurred to Neverwhere that perhaps it is Wolfbane that has taken Heartfire. There is no reason to assume it was him, but no reason to assume it was not. If he can take any shape, if he is cursed what ability might be at his beck and call? She never truly knew what he was capable of doing, but Heartfire had not been deeply concerned by the visions she had plucked from those cloudy eyes.
Did she know? Could she know?
What do you do about a curse?
A request for information is made and the dun is wise to attempt to make it such as commands have no affect on Neverwhere, except perhaps in the opposite direction, digging in her heels like an obstinate child.
"And then what? Will you heal him? Kill him? Lock him away in Loess? Can you do any of those things? I would be happy to see an end to this before he has an opportunity to hurt my friends, but what little I know of Lepis mostly involves threats to the kingdom I have been charged with leading, so you'll forgive me if I lack faith in your good intentions where Nerine is involved."
Lepis' skyward glances are not missed, and it is easy to guess that she is eager to go, to take to the sky before the wind grows too wild, before the storms hit. Though not a flier herself, the dappled mare has seen the birds struggle, has seen inexperienced gulls blown until they shatter against the cliffs. A lack of faith, but not of practicality.
"That storm will hit soon, perhaps sooner than you think. The wind moves fast when there's nothing but the sea in its way." She pauses, meeting the iron gaze with a return of her usual coolness, though a scowl still pulls at her lips, "You should stay until it's done, I'm sure you'd find it inconvenient to break those pretty wings on the rocks."
Her head tilts slightly to one side, it's almost impossible to imagine that the offer will be accepted. She thinks Lepis must fear entrapment almost as much as she wishes to find whatever is left of her ex-husband.
"We will not try to hold you here, of course."