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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    GHAUL -- Year 209

    QOTY

    "(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby


    [open quest]  a burning star - round 3
    #1

    my heart is a lit candle, a forest fire,
    a burning star


    Lepis
    There is peace, but it is false. Beqanna stretches before her, but the sunset red turns dark and bloody. The landscape that stretches before her loses its false beauty, and the ravages of war are clear. Lands lie in smoldering ruins, the bodies piling in both lands and on the beach grow into hills and valleys.

    Groups form. Whispers hide in dark shadows. They plot just outside of her reach. They think of peace, yes, but they do not believe that their dictator has brought it, can hold it. 

    The first to rise against her is Pangea, some of her family among those betrayers. But it only takes one to start the rallying cry. More territories and kingdoms join.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”

    Ruthless
    The world comes back into focus, and Ruthless finds herself standing at the base of the mountain facing Straia, and it is clear they have never left. The others are not there, still lost in other worlds, in dreams turning into nightmares. Or perhaps they too, have already been sent home.

    ”Go home, child,” she says, voice soft. ”You are stronger than you think, but you are not what I seek.” Then, like before, Straia disappears, leaving the girl to make the trip home alone.

    Tiasa
    They come, and for a while, perhaps she feels worshipped. Perhaps she is, by a few. But can you call it worship, really, if they only come to glimpse a curiosity? Time processes on, and Tiasa does what she had hoped to do; she becomes a legend. She becomes the stuff of stories told to children to keep them away from the dark, murky ponds. Those that come are children come to test their parents, or adults come to look and realize that the stories are little more than that.

    They glimpse something, but what? A creature in a land of magic. She is not unusual. She is nothing worth worshipping. What has she ever done for them? Tiasa is left to her swamp as a sideshow.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”

    Kildare
    The world comes back into focus, and Kildare finds himself standing at the base of the mountain facing Straia, and it is clear they have never left. The others are not there, still lost in other worlds, in dreams turning into nightmares. Or perhaps they too, have already been sent home.

    ”Go home.” she says, voice soft. ”Perhaps you needed a lesson, and I am glad you have learned it, but you are not what I seek.” Then, like before, Straia disappears, leaving him to make the trip home alone.

    Beryl
    She becomes a force, a someone...or perhaps she simply becomes something. In the quest for security, she finds power, and power breeds something far darker than itself. You twist beneath it’s grip, become some version of yourself you do not recognize.

    More dragons come. Some in the form of a dragon, some in far sneakier disguises. But there will always be more dragons. She is powerful enough to fight, but those she loves no longer recognize her. They shrink away, leaving her to the power that she has found, leaving her to lose herself.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”


    Sochi
    Natural law is so much more than removing the kingdoms, removing the borders. They are two different dreams, in some ways. Because you can accomplish the one, and Straia finds she appreciates the latter dream. But the former? It is much harder, no, impossible, to achieve.

    The dragons converge, finding it in themselves to band together rather than to fight alone and against. They attack, time and time again. There is one she knows above all others, and sometimes, time does not erase all traces of love.

    Her children do not approach her, kept away by the pack or what she has become. Time marches on. She grows old, though does not age. Those she knew disappear, replaced by new faces, new pack members. Life becomes something else, something other, something distant. Maybe she’s the one that becomes distant. Does it matter? It is not just the tiger that is lost, but more.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”

    Leilan
    He is clever, taking over with little bloodshed, waiting for others to do the dirty work. But in the end, it doesn’t particularly matter. His daughters, if not lost early, are lost later in the process. Perhaps they turn on him, perhaps they fall in the wars that come, perhaps time simply catches up with them.

    He rules for a while, content but alone on his throne of ice.  Someone always finds a reason to be discontent though. They begin to plot, begin to plan his overthrow. They attack. Perhaps he wins, perhaps he doesn’t. If it doesn’t win this one, there will be another. And another.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”

    Castile
    It is never so simple. He leaves fear in his wake, and fear breeds unrest. The kingdoms untouched by his reign of terror rally and fight, slipping in to Loess one evening and laying waste to the kingdom he loves. Some of his family are lost in the fight.

    Does he stay in the mountains, unaware? Does he fight?

    In the end, does any of it matter?

    Perhaps he wins this battle, goes back to the mountains for rest. Time slips by, and perhaps the territories remain beneath Loess, perhaps not. More time slips by. Leaders change. Generations come and go. Time becomes meaningless to the dragon in the mountains. Eventually, they forget the history, forget how the territories ever came to belong to Loess at all. ”There was a dragon, I think?” they mutter, and others just shrug, for there are many dragons.

    What do you do?

    When it is all over, a voice asks. ”Tell me, is it worth it?”


    straia



    Ruthless and Kildare have been sent home. Oisin has withdrawn.

    You are still in your dream world, but all dreams have a dark side. Keep generally in line with the prompt given to you, but there’s lots of perhaps and wiggle room for you to play with. Describe how you deal with the repercussions, what you lose, and answer the question: “is it worth it?”

    Posts are due Monday, March 16th by 9am EST.

    Use of mild power playing is allowed; no injuries without permission

    #2

    Leilan
    a dragon who couldn't be hurt on the outside
    could have so many ragged holes inside
    Leilan’s rule is… well, let’s say it’s as chaotic as his will - some days he likes to do good, others he likes to provoke people. He offers stability to the ones who ask it of him, leaving them on the Island Resort or in Ischia when it joins them through some sort of trade and a marriage (he doesn’t really remember). He offers insanity to those who insult him, because he likes the way they think, and offers life - and loot - to the ones who come to him for power. He outlasts several kings and queens on the mainland, keeping his own land neutral in name enough for a time being. Some of his subjects are restless, and he tells them they can do what they want outside his borders, just not in his name. Never are they officially his.

    Someone always dislikes him for some reason, either within his lands or on the outside. That has not changed, perhaps even worsened. He is rude more often than not, knowing he has the power to waylay their threats, and sometimes he knows just who to charm - he was always a clever boy indeed. Sometimes he gets bored, and he remembers what he did, way back when. Remembers the insane version of the lightning woman and the glorious creature she became when death brought her back.

    Once, he gets stabbed in the back quite literally. From the shadows someone comes - perhaps, he thinks, they were related to Beryl in some way - and kills him. But the ice dragon is cursed with immortality, and he does far worse things to the spies in the night when he comes for them the next day.

    For a time, there is fear and silence, but he knows his time is ending. He sees it in the way his more loyal subjects avert their eyes, and his less loyal subjects turn to others for guidance. Challengers come and get averted, but for how long?

    His end then, comes in the shape of a great-great-grandchild of his, an acid-spitting dragon of his own blood, whose name he doesn’t really remember any more. Brutus maybe; or maybe Leilan will only remember him as such. Not a shifter, but something dangerous. At first, he took him in - he was a promising boy. When he grows old however, when he sees what the ice king does with his land, what the dragon closes his eyes to or even participates in - in the end, the child-no-more is part of the conspiracy to unhand him.

    And perhaps that was always the way it should be. The ice dragon glares and bares his teeth, but he knows it’s going to have to end sooner or later. He’s withstood challenges and spies, but his time ends when his own blood comes for him - his own blood by Breckin, even. By Arthas and Breckin; how lovely. And so he flies, because he can’t continue to die and come back - his huge wings carry him up and away, and one last time, his icy breath engulfs the flaming tree; it’s flame higher and bluer than it had been in years due to the feeding of new magical fuel. A reminder as he departs.

    The dragon finds himself a lone ice cave in the middle of the northern sea to wait out his days - to… maybe not to die but to fade, knowing there is no other way for him to be truly gone from this world.

    He is content though. He got old. He was always gonna lose his children’s respect; he knew what he gave up when he went for power. Had he not done it, he might have been nameless but more loved, but it’s something he’d never really know. Does he want to? Probably not.

    The voice comes when he is alone and perhaps on the brink of actual death. This time he might actually die, he thinks. He hopes so, even.

    Was it worth it?

    He’d almost forgotten this was a dream, magically induced by Straia. As he jolts his head upwards, he hears nothing but the rush of the sea and the screams of the penguins and gulls that make up his meal on this place of ice.

    Was it worth it?

    ”I lived, at least.” he muses aloud, knowing the voice will hear him. Then, he nods his head. ”Yes. Not to an outsider maybe. But for me, it was worth it.” He left behind a kingdom and a legacy that’d one day turn to myth and then be forgotten, like many of the old kingdoms from before the Reckoning were forgotten by now. Most who lived weren’t born in the old times, like he. Beqanna had probably reshaped again since he left for this hermit existence, too. Maybe even two or three times over. But what is time to an immortal?

    He does have regrets, of course. He had really missed his daughters, his ex-wife. He never had expected any of Eurwen’s line to come for him - of his and Arthas’ line. Fate had weird twists like that, he supposes. It was likely that the kid had already grown and died by now, that the kingdom in the north was no longer something to be feared and respected - that his watch had ended and his power had been chopped to pieces. And he would be forgotten, but unlike his once-brother-in-name, he does not seek to live forever in stories, legacy, or myth.

    He made a good story for himself, out of his life. He had not let his abilities and power gone to waste. He achieved what he came for and he knew the price. He did it anyway, because he wanted it more than he wanted to wander and do nothing noteworthy. He needed the change of pace. He needed to live.

    He had done all that, and it was worth it. Even considering the price. Others might disagree, Straia might disagree. Honestly, he couldn’t even care.

    ”Don’t you know, Straia? I did this for myself.”
    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    |
    #3
    and underneath the layers, I find myself asking what's left
    a hollowed out form, the skeleton of a ghost, the pitiful echo of what once was
    Castile returns to his den to rest, his body weary from the battles and tireless efforts to increase Loess’ power, but he has returned a conqueror. He falls asleep, the kingdom supplying him with its own inner magic that complements his lasting immortality. Torn muscles weave back together, lacerations stitch back, puncture wounds all heal. Although immortal, he isn’t invulnerable. Even magicians in this dream world get hurt. But the land is grateful for his efforts. Once, he considered leaving for Tephra because the volcano frequently called to him, but Loess yelled louder. It hugged him to its breast and provided him a life of satisfaction. As repayment, he expanded its influence. It clapped shackles to his ankles, but sweetened the deal with tendrils of magic that increased his superiority over the pseudo-dragons, over his opposition entirely.

    (They are not true. Not like us)
    (We were born like this, together)
    (They are frauds)

    When Loess awakens its dragon, Castile opens his eyes to see the den empty. Mother, father, siblings, and children. They’ve all faded in time, abandoning him to his own ventures. Castile knew it would happen one day, that he would outlive his children and grandchildren. Has so much time already passed? Is he so callous to knowingly shrug and move on?

    He hears a clamor outside even at this mountainous altitude. Go, the kingdom says to him, and he obeys.

    Upon silent wings, he descends upon them with torrents of fire that split the land. What remnants left from Leliana’s magic wither underneath his fury as outside nations combine in opposition. He is not the King, but still – forever – a guardian of Loess. The land burns, but he knows everything will be reborn like the phoenix. Magic spears toward him, yanking him to the ground to resume a bloody battle. Quick flashes of vision witness Alcinder’s murder, then Velk’s and Sochi’s. Mother falls as well. He thought them lost, dead and easily suppressed (half forgotten), only to see them on the battleground burning in his hellfire while defending Loess’ honor and reputation. Seeing their bodies litter the rocky hills shatters his already-broken heart, destroying so much of his world that he stumbles back a step. He questions himself, much as Straia hoped. Can he truly give up everything – his entire family, his entire being – for this, if he will have no one to enjoy it with?

    Surprise reads vividly on his face, and his enemies lunge forward to overwhelm him. Castile’s jaws clap together ferociously when he pulls himself from his demons, maiming a few, killing many. The war is gruesome, but this isn’t the first he has experienced. It certainly will not be the last.

    Loess is the victor, and Castile celebrates by casual meetings with women, bringing more children into this bloodthirsty and savage world. He tells them tales of his life, of their ancestors before him, of Beqanna, because stories last far longer than a soldier’s mortality. They carry these remnants of the past with them, admiring and fabricating them, until their last day. From one ear to another, they may change, but still, a thread of Castile lingers on.

    Another lull, another disaster, another war, another monarchy. It happens in cycles, repetitive. If not with Loess, then other lands, other territories. Some seek independence from his kingdom’s grasp whereas others simply want to replace their superiority.

    Generations come and go, but Castile still exists, worn – and now – indifferent by the losses he has experienced over time. One after another. In this nightmare, no one he loves has his immortality. It strands him alone. At first, it rattled him and nearly broke him, but then he encased his heart in iron and learned to simply live.

    He chose this life.
    These are the repercussions of his decisions.

    He attends another battle, no longer keeping track of Loess’ powerful influence. It’s this time, however, that he segregates himself from the great majority in the field. Powers adapt and develop with each season of offspring. Castile, clutching arrogantly to his magic, has warded off so many enemies, but he allows himself to be defeated this time in order to break the monotony. Kill him, they shout, and Castile stands proudly in front of them because he is ready. He has been a soldier, a father, a son, a king, and a lover.

    A jagged grin stretches across his lips as his mind reflects back to Straia, repeating something she once told him. Even in her absence, her legacy survives with one statement, through him. ”To live, one must die,” he knows it will not be forever because Beqanna never allows their deceased to eternally rest. Magic always brings them back and breathes life into their deflated lungs on the beach.

    Something punctures his heart, another rips his wings, and a final rips open his throat. It stings initially. His jaws clench and his enigmatic eyes flash, but then an odd wave of peace overcomes him. This is death; this is how Sabra described it once, eons ago. A final breath escapes him as Castile’s body collapses heavily to the ground.

    For generations, he was known as a conqueror and a fearsome (destructive, volatile) guardian to Loess.

    Now, they will gossip of how the beast was finally slayed.

    Eventually, Castile rises from the ashes as he knew he would, smug as he takes his first breath. Indeed, life is exhausting and sometimes death is required, isn’t that right, Raven Queen? Considering The Grim Reaper’s feeble hold in Beqanna, the dragon – reverted back to his equine body in this fleeting moment – shakes himself of the dirt and leaves. He peers arrogantly up at the sky as a voice speaks to him, familiar and demanding of his attention. ”Yes. It was worth it, and will be time and again.” To achieve greatness, one must give up everything, including life, even if that means restarting the cycle.

    Soldier. Lover. Father. King. Guardian.

    Once, he hesitated at her words because he thought of Sochi, of their love, of their children. Now, Castile has only himself. There is no one to hinder him (to give him pause), no one that can be used against him, no one to dismantle him.

    The world – this dream world – thought to break the dragon by unraveling his life, but it only made him stronger.

    castile
    #4


    The high that Tiasa rides from achieving her dream carries her through the dips, the lulls. When the tides start to shift against her, it is disappointing, of course - Tiasa’s not stupid enough to not acknowledge that - but it sparks a deeper ambition within her at the same time. When her mane curls around her in the depths as she stands there waiting and no one comes, the feeling of loss that sits in her heart is not as great as she feared but the fact that it is present disturbs her a little bit. Eventually she stops waiting so much, eventually she becomes more of a wanderer, a nomad. She got what she wanted, for a time, and perhaps it was foolish to think that she could remain at the heights for eternity. She is not cowed, however, and certainly not deterred.

    All gods are forgotten in time, made sideshows and scrambling for scraps of prayer here and there. Does that mean she got what she wished for when she reaches that same inevitable end?

    The voice of the mare comes, breaking through the dream - the prophecy of her life. “That’s an odd question.” She replies, blatantly not answering it directly to buy herself a little bit more time to answer. She turns it over in her mind for a while, considering it. Would she be at peace, living in her swamp, after all that time? Happy with whatever visitors she gets by chance - the opportunity to stretch old muscles to seduce and to kill. She doubts this even now, even as young as she is, and she hopes that time will not have the same effect on her that it does on so many others - she does not wish to become complacent or boring. Whatever happens, she will not settle or give up.

    “Yes.” She finally replies. “You’ve shown me that the world always changes, whether I will it or not, and then I will change as well. I do not believe there is only one trick in me, and when the world moves on I move on too - I will grow, I will adapt, I will find a new goal and a new dream to achieve. A new way to strike fear and love into those around me. I am capable of evolving.” Tiasa believes this with all her heart now, a fire set alight by these dreams and this vision. It is not enough to just be one thing, not even just a goddess. With each generation she can become something new. Whatever this vision speaks - Tiasa knows the truth. There is no one quite like her. In a world of magic, in a world of monsters, perhaps all she needs to do to set herself apart is avoid being defined as one single thing.

    Her future does not end with the accomplishment of her desire. It is just a stepping stone to more.

    tiasa

    art by dozymare
    #5
    SOCHI

    It isn’t easy. Of course it isn’t. Sochi knows enough of the world to know that to take what she wants, to carve out her own path, will be a damning road—a lonely one. She knows that to accomplish it, she must sacrifice the things she once held dear, she once held sacred, so she is not surprised when the time comes.

    Nikolaus grows increasingly distant from her and the pack, until he refuses to see her altogether—choosing, instead, a life of peace outside of the battles and the bloodshed and the anger.

    Reia joins her own pack, or leads it. Sochi isn’t sure because she never sees her first borne.

    Sochi never does know where Villanelle goes and Spirit follows his father when it all becomes too much.

    It leaves her, as she has been so much of her life, alone.

    There is a part of her that aches underneath the loneliness of it. That fractures when she goes to lie her head down at night and feels the separation like a fault line that splits her open. That threatens to tear her asunder when she reaches for the tiger and finds nothing in return—nothing but emptiness.

    There is a part of her that breaks every time her pack comes colliding with the force of dragons. When she must face them down, leading them into the fray against beasts who hold so much power that it seems unfair to pit her group of shifters against them. There is a part of her that howls with anguish when she sees the familiar bronze and onyx face off against her, when her heart pounds against her chest.

    There are pieces of her that splinter and shed and bury in her like daggers.

    There are pieces that solidify like stones in her chest.

    But she doesn’t falter.

    It is a mix of arrogance, of stubbornness, of a resolute need to see it through, that keeps her on the path. She gives herself time to grieve at night, to mourn a simpler life that she may have led, and then she turns her silvery gaze to the next day. The pack shifts around her. Atrox eventually leaves. Risk too. But she wakes each morning and sees more faces, new ones—and they look to her to forge the way forward.

    She does not disappoint.

    She leads them into battle after battle. She carves out a different way, even if it wasn’t what she had first thought when this all started. She watches from afar as the wild things, the ones like her, are given a chance to lead a life different than the one she had been given as a child—when she had been but a pawn traded between kingdoms. It is enough. Enough to soothe the grief and the sorrow and the loneliness.

    Enough to let her know she has done the right thing.

    She rises one day, older in everything but appearance, to face the magician once more. Her face is no less resolute than the first day they met and the scars she has allowed to stay give her an air of gravity that she has come to appreciate. Like the first time they met, she doesn’t say anything at first, but instead chooses to stand quietly, mulling over the words. Her gaze turns to the horizon for a second—to the things that she knows lie beyond it. The love she has lost. The children she has abandoned. The life she never led.

    And then, it moves to the pack and the wildness and freedom they represent.

    When she feels certain, she looks back to Straia and nods.

    “It was.”

    It always would be.

    she said a war ain't a war before both sides bleed

    [Image: sochi.png]

    I was less than graceful, I was not kind
    be out watching other lovers lose their spine

    #6
    "Is it worth it?"

    In the end it isnt a dragon or an army or anything of the sort that drags her down. In the end, it is a desperate struggle in the shadows of her forest, grunting and thrashing, but the lion's hungry jaws are around her throat, thinning her air, stopping the blood from reaching her brain, blood beat by a tired heart, oxygenated by weary lungs, and she dies scrabbling in the dirt. The natural order repairs itself in spite of her magic and her power and she, no more than mist, than shade, stands ephemeral beside the memory of the painted mare. She is white-faced with age, the once bright sun on her shoulder red and dark and small, its galaxy frozen. She is not immortal, she was always going to die, eventually, but it did not have to be like this, alone with no-one to mourn or care, no-one to defend her when her arthritic bones could not shift fast enough, when her age-dull mind couldn't call the friendly Shadows to her aid. She frowns in silence and watches as the lion's kin gather 'round her corpse.

    Her powers grew strong after the death of the Dragon King. Word spread and more dragons came. She was young, then, and rash, and stupid, and the power snapped her up easily, whisking her away like a riptide. She was lost long before she knew it, but the dragons still came - some for revenge, some to try their luck (and her patience) - but their massive shapes held no fear for her any longer, and the golden warrior accepted each challenge without question, without stopping to ask if she should, if it was right. So many deaths at her feet and so little reason to any of it. They came, they fought, and she felled them, because to do otherwise was to die. So she told herself when they came to her in other shapes. When they came to her with words of love, words she was desperate to hear and too far gone to accept. Halcyon pleaded with her to stop - there had only ever been one dragon that deserved her ire, that had truly gained her hatred, yet she cuts a swath through them all without mercy.

    Perhaps it was Alcinder's death that drove him to it, she thinks, as the lions quarrel over the bloodied remains of her. It was no surprise when Alcinder came, son of the Dragon-King, though not one himself. His blood drove him to it, drove him to seek revenge for his father, to put an end to senseless murders, as his mother surely would have tried. He had called the animals out of the forest she had built for them, that she had protected from dragon-fire. He called them out and asked for their help, and for it, they died one by one, some splitting at their seams, others choking on the shadows she balled up in their throats, until the semi-circle of death held only her and the pewter-eyed tobiano.

    He was immortal, as it turned out, but it hardly mattered. They discovered that day that you can die without dying. The shadows tunneled through his brain like worms and his deathlessness became a prison.

    She remembers when her tiger came to her. He was leaving, couldn't follow her anymore, wouldn't watch her keep on this path. 

    "I never needed you, anyway." She had spit at him with a lioness' growl lurking in her voice. She didn't need anyone. Not anymore. Not ever again. Ironic words, when even one friend beside her might have kept her alive another day. Halcyon left her that day, but he came back, didn't he? She had felt so happy, so unnaturally happy - to have him there again, felt her heart break with joy, but as the lioness fell into him, he disappeared and threw his weight against her. Heavier and invisible, he had the advantage of her, heartbroken, confused, furious. The shadows did not easily find him and he had none within him for her to call, so completely bared to the sun as he was.

    So she ran.

    Bloody, broken, enraged, she ran, and for a few years, there was a tentative peace. The shadows filled her wounds, vicious scars down her belly where he had raked with deadly hind claws, ready to maul. Just another dragon, in the end. Even in death the mare feels the twinge of scar-tissue there when she shifts her incorporeal weight. Three years later she blinded him as he leapt for a water buffalo and the beast crushed him. Nobody but Beryl knew it was anything other than a terrible accident.

    There is no redemption arc to her story. Not to this one that comes before her death in the dream-weaver's dimension, and it would be so easy to blame the other mare for it, but the aged palomino draws herself up, brown eyes leveling into the nothingness cooly as the world reverberates with the question. It would be easy to lay blame somewhere else, but the ice that sits heavily in her stomach, in the deepest pit of her soul reminds her of the darkness that was always within her. As she peers into the shifting cloud and shadow, figures appear, and she knows them. Dragons and tigers and horses, coming as if to find justice they were unable to mete out in life, a life she spent chasing a dream that, ultimately, she could never attain. The Dragon Slayer had, in the end, needed someone's help as much as she had all those years ago when Leilan found her nearly dead in the snow. Was it worth it?

    "Stupid children make foolish, impossible wishes, but I will not regret my life."
    Beryl
    Litotes x Mehendi
    #7
    I was left
    to my own devices
    The vision in her left eye remains clouded, but her right eye narrows as she is forced to focus on the cost of her peace.

    Blood has turned the soil as red as the sky overhead, and there are faces that she knows among the staring corpses. Some of them had been enemies. Their defeat was necessary. Others are allies who chose to sacrifice themselves for her cause. For them she mourns. Her grieving is deep, a canyon of emotion and memories with sharp and rocky edges. Yet it is narrow too, a cleft in her heart that she patches over remarkably quickly. She projects them in rapid succession: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, skipping the necessity of time to heal these wounds.

    It will catch up with her someday, this abuse of her magic. Lepis is not immortal.

    But today is not someday.

    Let the stench of bloated bodies teach them what will become of dissenters, so long as Lepis and those she loves remain upwind. Is this all Straia could come up with, Lepis finds herself thinking? Is forcing her to face consequences she has already considered ten thousand times supposed to be a lesson of some sort?

    The dun mare smiles contentedly. The emotion is short-lived.

    Quashing small rebellions is simple work, but then the Pangeans band together with a pair of dragons and raze Icicle Isle for the second time. The Curse is freed along with the other prisoners, and Lepis is overrun. Torn a dozen different ways by the released chaos, Lepis is forced to divide her attention and loses some holds entirely. One winter morning finds her youngest daughter eating Oceane’s heart. Aten and Izora Lethia, still leading Taiga despite their age go missing, and their bodies wash up on the Ischian shore a month later. 

    She loses her children (either to betrayal or to death), and then her grandchildren, and one midsummer morning she stands facing what the entirety of Beqanna insists on calling justice.

    She is Empress no longer, they tell her. She is not a queen, or a leader, or anything at all. She is just an old dun mare, stripped of her magic and sentenced to life imprisonment on an island outside Nerine.

    - - -

    In time, even her good eye goes filmy with age. Her legs are stiff, her joints ache, and the weight of her decisions hangs inescapably around her neck. Was it worth it? Lepis hears the question as she stares out at the brightness that she knows to be dawn over the sea. A sigh, long and low, and at last another smile. "The peace?" she speaks to the wind, to Straia. "Perhaps not. But the power? That was. That will always be."

    Admitting it aloud is not as terrifying as she’s imagined. Perhaps she should say it more.
    n | l
    #8

    my heart is a lit candle, a forest fire,
    a burning star


    The illusions fade, and they are back again, standing before Straia and beside one another. She cannot choose them all, though she would, given the chance. Alas, she was not gifted with such magic as to be all powerful, and in truth, it is perhaps a good thing that she is not. Beqanna could not stand such a reckoning. It has been through enough.

    Her gaze passes over each of them, though betrays nothing. ”You do not need me to accomplish your dreams. You know the path, and you know the price.” Of course, many standing beside them would stand in their way. Their dreams conflicted, required one to win out over the others. It would always come to war. Whether in the name of peace, expansion, or simply selfishness, it did not matter. Life always ended in death.

    ”Sochi, your dream above all else intrigues me. It is different. Tell me, where should we go?” She waits a moment for the answer, before turning her attention to the others. ”Lepis, you will be great, I do not doubt it. You may want to talk to Castile.” She gives them both a pointed look before continuing. ”However, Lepis, I will leave you with a gift to help you on your journey.” In her usual fashion, she does not say what. Lepis will need to discover it on her own. ”For everyone else, you will be given the ability to call an element of your choosing to your defense.”

    With that, she disappears, ready to meet Sochi wherever the tiger chooses.


    straia



    Sochi wins Straia. Go ahead and post somewhere for her for more details!

    Lepis, who tied for first (and I used a random name picker to decide) will receive Peace Manipulation (4 spaces): User has the power to influence all forms of peace, including mental, physical, spiritual and conceptual ones, within the land they reside and can extend mild control over nearby lands/others. The user can end conflicts and may be able to help quell wars.

    Everyone else may choose an elemental aura (fire, water, light, darkness, etc. - NOT emotional ones like fear). Post in updates if you choose to claim your aura.

    Use of mild power playing is allowed; no injuries without permission





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