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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening


    SOCHI -- Year 207


    "He will inevitably decide that it all fell apart because he had orchestrated it and he will carry the blame like a stone in his chest, too. He will add it to the pile and perhaps, someday when there are enough stones to weigh him down, he will walk into the sea and let them drown him" -- Kensley, written by Savage

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    Huff and puff and blow your house down
    Tickaani grazed on the dewy grasses while a spring-loaded colt romped in the dense pasture. Her deep brown eyes sat half-hooded as she dozed, ears flicking to and fro in the morning air. That is until things got a little too quiet. It was too much to hope that the boy had fallen asleep somewhere. Her blocky head lifted suspiciously above the tall grasses. 

    She almost wished she hadn't. 

    Her eyes rolled with quiet dismay, as the scene unfolded before her. There was a pool that their herd had claimed, cool mercy in summer's heat and welcome refreshment the rest of the year. She nudged the shoulder of the horse next to her, gesturing silently to the drama unfolding before them. A spindly shadow rippled through the grass, brindled in shades of green except where glossy brown eyes peeked out. She could only really catch the shape of her son when moved, slow as a snail on a leaf. At the edge of the water, a filly was standing. It didn't look like she knew what was coming up behind her. 

    Tick knew she could intervene. Should intervene, even. But the larger part of her also knew that this might end up being hilarious, and so she only watched, and waited. 

    He'd been watching their family, there was no doubt of that. It showed in every little calculated step he took on legs not made for prowling. Little colt didn't realize most days that he was not made the same way as his daddy, as his playmates. As thoroughly equine as his dam, if only a bit more colorful. But if he didn't know any better, well, she didn't see any reason not to burst his bubble. Clearly, the boy was having fun. 

    devin Kristin Herd thread!

    I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness,
    nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory

    He’s dozing, pleasant dreams flashing behind closed eyes even as the wildflowers that sit atop the tall grasses tickle his belly. His dreams are full of pleasant wonder – because he’s still not sure how any of this happened. Ryan hadn’t known he even had family left in Beqanna, but somehow he’d stumbled across his cousin, the daughter of an uncle he’d never met, here in this beautiful land. Even more wondrous, both of the mares who hold his heart had found him, and joined him here. Now Tickaani and Keeper’s children - Ryan’s children - play safely amongst the fields and streams alongside his cousin’s young daughter Noma.

    The stallion blinks sleepily awake at Tickaani’s touch, glancing at her with question in his eyes, but her message is clear enough. He shifts and turns his head, to where Noma stands quietly at the edge of the water, peering intently into the liquid’s surface. She’s slightly older than Mikael and Fiadh, a yearling, but she has been joyful to have playmates and gentle with her cousins.

    Ryan spots his son slightly faster than his mother or his aunt might, but only because Mikael inherited his color-changing abilities from his father, and Ryan from his mother, and he had played similar games as a youth himself. He hums in quiet appreciation, the cat coiled inside him all the time quite appreciative of offspring’s growing skill in subterfuge. He might not have the easy defenses that Ryan, Keeper, and Fiadh have, but he will not be defenseless.

    Because sometimes the dreams are not as nice as today’s had been. Sometimes, Ryan has nightmares about what Noah had told them of her life – that her father his uncle had been murdered to try and destroy Beqanna, to unleash the plague that he remembers vaguely. Ryan had been little more than a nomad then, a wandered existing almost entirely as a silent big cat, but he remembers the taste of fear on those whose paths he had crossed. He does not wish his children to ever see such a day, but if such a day were to come he wants them to be strong and smart and loyal to each other.

    He glances back at Tick, at Keeper, a laugh in his eyes at the antics of the children, but a look from one of them makes him aware that he has seen only two children about to clash at the water’s edge. Where is the third cub? Ryan lifts curious green eyes back to the water’s edge and gives a sweeping inspection of their surroundings…. ah. There. Fiadh is also creeping through the grass, her shifter form almost as big as her brother, on a path to intercept. He stays quiet to see what will happen, but can’t resist leaning into Tick, and reaching out to touch Keeper’s shoulder with his golden nose. Fiadh is clearly waiting to try and pounce on her brother when Mikael tries to catch their cousin unawares – and Ryan is very interested to see who will end up with the upper hand. Hoof. Paw.


    ( I love only that which they defend. )

    Then —

    Deep and grumbly snores populate the cave-dark. They come from the snout of a grizzly bear sow with a big belly indicative of pregnancy. She hibernates; deep in dreams and a thick winter-sleep as her body consumes its fat-stores. 

    The babe inside takes shape and grows along with the deepening hibernation. She’s not sure what shape it will hold: horse, bear, wildcat, or something else altogether. Her dreams don’t tell her this.

    Like any good grizzly sow worth her salt, she births her cub in the dark during her long sleep. She trusts the babe to know what to do as she moves from dream to dream, still snoring until Spring reaches a warm welcoming hand inside her den.

    Keeper wakes instinctually. 
    It is Spring and she has shifted back to her mare’s shape sometime in the last few hours unbeknownst to her. She takes a moment to blink the sleep from her eyes and the fog of dreams from her brain.

    Something doesn’t feel right… she feels lighter, as if her hibernation has voided her of something that she shouldn’t have been. Panic strikes her then as she realizes she doesn’t feel pregnant anymore. Where is the baby? 

    A quick fruitful search turns it up tucked into her side. Keeper, in her panic, just hadn’t felt the little one there. She sighs in relief and is glad to see it is a foal after all. Her brain can’t fathom how a bear could carry a foal or birth it but she trusted her body to do what was necessary. 

    Looks like the little one was a survivor at any rate, with a nice round milk-belly. She smiles, before touching her lips to the soft baby-brow and decides it is time to emerge from the protective dark. “Wake little one,” she encourages softly before sniffing her den for any signs of intrusion, welcomed or otherwise.

    Keeper is scenting for Ryan. Would he have checked on them or stuck around in his cat form? The foal stirs sleepily before finally climbing to its tiny hooves. She had missed its first wobbly steps and futile searches for nourishment before landing on its mother’s teat. But then, Keeper has missed lots of things while in grizzly shape or sleep.

    She doesn’t think about that now as the foal reveals itself to be a filly and cavals around the small cave. Her mouth is a proud mother’s grin as she fondly on her small bright daughter dancing about in the absence of sunlight and fresh air. “Come,” she beckons and together, they emerge from the dank and the dark to look for the father.

    Keeper calls out softly into the spring sunshine, trusting that he’ll somehow be there. “Ryan?”

    Now —

    Keeper isn’t certain how or why this happened exactly but she knows she’s happy. Except for a tiny part of her that looks up and into the nomadic wind every time it blows, like she expects it to blow her away too. Or perhaps for a particular scent that gets all tangled up in memories of moonlight and mushrooms.

    This is also the longest she has kept this shape. 
    Usually, the grizzly nature has taken over by now.

    Keeper joins them in turns of grazing and dozing; sometimes, her eyes flicker to catch the whereabouts of her daughter but she is never overly concerned. The growing quiet merely makes her look up from the grass she is munching on to watch the foal’s’ antics. Amusement paints her face in a grin and a brightening of her eyes until she realizes Fiadh is not quite amongst them.

    She chokes back a chuckle once she sights their daughter but throws a look at Ryan. Fiadh is bound and determined to intercept and she looks on with thinly veiled interest at how the rest of the game will unfold between the children. It reminds her of the days beside her brother and sister, beneath the stern glare of their father’s unhappy eyes. 

    Keeper is glad the children are so happy and untouched here, for the time being. She leans back into Ryan’s touch, chortling just a bit now as the moment approaches when they will discover who will get the best of who! Her body shifts to align better with her companions so that she can drape herself along and across Ryan and nibble at Tick’s side while still keeping an eye on what’s going on.

    ooc: perfect opportunity to combine birth post and a reply to this! except it got crappy at the end lol ❤️ 
    Their little family is an odd one. 

    A good one, but odd. 

    Tick smiled at the children's antics, her spring-molting shoulder comfortably being itched by Keeper's gentle gnawing. She'd emerged with the new year's sun, leggy filly in tow. Her own Mikael had bounded with joy at the introduction of his half sister, and Tick had crooned and crowed at the beautiful lass her sweet Keeper had given them. 

    They'd held on to bright, warm days of springtime. Easy, hopeful days that the roan mare never wanted to see the end of. Land knew there had been enough strife in the world, enough grief and pain to last many lifetimes. She knew her blessings when she saw them, and leaned easily into the embrace of her loved ones. Her inky tail swayed idly in the sunshine as the trio of adults watched the youngster's play. 

    One by one the pieces of the game moved. 

    Tick's mischief-loving heart laughed to see her son prowl so carefully towards his elder cousin. Young Noma was such a sweet soul, ever patient with the two foals and their never ending energy. There was another player in this game, however, and it took following Ryan's line of sight to notice her. Fiadh. Clever girl, so alike Mikael in looks and as daring as they came. Today her figure borrowed its predatory likeness, a shape Tick had no name for but what was clearly somewhere between Keeper and Ryan's shifted shapes. 

    It was a struggle to hold back her snort of amusement when she saw the girl's focus was not on the unwitting Noma, but on her own sneaking son. Inch by inch they moved, Fee carefully angling herself to intercept her brother. It was a slow motion dance, until it wasn't. 


    The snail's paced race came to an explosive conclusion when colt and filly leapt, one just behind the other. A hair too slow, Mikael rolled beneath his sister's weight. She'd caught him mid-pounce, hefty paws bringing down her brother just as he'd erupted from his hide to bring down their pied cousin. The siblings tussled in the grass, paws and hooves flailing amid shrieks of outrage and laughter. 

    Tick's own mirth burbled out in a hearty laugh. "Oh, well done!" She called out, breaking away from Keeper and Ryan to referee the impromptu wrestling match. Mikael had developed a tendency to bite harder than was strictly necessary, perhaps making up for his blunted teeth. As if that made it not hurt. 

    keeper Ryan

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