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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


    This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race // Eyas
    #1
    She'd royally pissed him off. 

    That summed up his feelings, and for quite a while, that's as far as the dragon-stud wanted to look into it. It was unavoidable, really. As it often had in his youth, curiosity got the upper hand. 

    He'd taken a guess, and whether it was sheer luck or some lingering touch of the witch-mare on his mind, the draconic stallion winged his way west. The dragon soul put up no fight when he asked for the change. It was an odd bit of silence, of cooperation that had come about after Eyas' invasion of their joint mind. Grimly, the soaring beast smiled into the wind. Three one good result her meddling had wrought. 

    Winds warmed as he traveled, leaving the touches and hints of coming winter behind as the tropic air currents met with the cold banks of air. The battling tempered tossed him high, until the air grew too thin to hold him. The lazy spiral he descended in left him drifting over the channel between mainland Beqanna and the islands that swung off of the western coast. Tails of smoke swept away as soon as they were produced as he considered where to land. 

    Horses for miles around would know a dragon had landed on the white beaches of the Island Resort. His glittering form caught the sunlight like a fistful of diamonds cast on the sand, unmissable. Good. He wanted to be seen, to be unavoidable. But he could make his own concessions as well. 

    The ice encrusted wyrm trembled and shook where he stood. His outline brightened until anyone looking would have been hard pressed to keep looking at him, and it dimmed on a different body. Thoroughly equine from head to tail, with the exception of the leathery wings that he had never managed to shift away. 

    Mismatched eyes cast up the shoreline, nostrils flared to capture any trace of her scent on the tropic breeze. He would search every corner of the world to find her, if need be. He only hoped she wouldn't make him work that hard for what he was after. 

    Eyas
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    #2

    I've got you deep in the heart of me

    -So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me-

    There’s always a catch to power. Eyas sighed, feeling her own drawbacks kick in, and blinked away the brief vision she’d just received of Santana heading due west, the sun on his back. The shadow he cast far down below him was still like a great thundercloud, fat with an oncoming storm. The kind that made you shield your eyes and look up, thoughts of the nearest shelter in your mind. His shadow was racing over the dull browns of a dry, rolling grassland when she snapped the connection off as much as she could. Eyas knew better than to avoid the impending storm, this time. Or to lure him in any faster.

    She was actually hoping to keep the destruction of Island Resort to a minimum, since Gale liked it here so much. If she was quick 'Tana could be intercepted, there was still enough time. Eyas trotted through the heat of the inner jungle, so hot that beads of glistening sweat dewed quickly on her skin, and followed a twisting path out toward the beach where Santana was headed. She calmed her rising fear by concentrating on the sound of her hoofbeats; the way the sand and soil mixture had been stamped down over so many years left the path she was following nearly smooth - just a winding ribbon of silky, soft brown to lead her out of the maze of green. She stepped with a lively gait, one-two, one-two, one-two, and the muffled noise was soon matched by her calmed pulse.

    Eyas broke out from the foliage, trailing dry vines and brittle sticks in her wings. She could feel the urgency getting to her now, despite her best attempts at maintaining a sense of calm. Satana could hardly be reasoned with before… what made her think she could possibly be successful this time? And worse yet, he was starting to catch on to the little part of her magic that Eyas considered a crutch: the fact that Satana could sense her there, or somewhere. Against her best intentions he’d begun to develop a … taste... for her gift. Through their bond. A connection, tying them together, and Satana was finally tugging the string on his end for once.

    Her trot picked up to a canter, then. Eyas rounded the bend of a dazzling shoreline, pristine and white, and shielded her gaze in the crook of a wing from the bright flare of light a few hundred yards away - closer to the shore - as if it were a comet that had landed and not a shape-shifter.
    “Santana!” She tried to shout, but her voice broke from a tremor of unsuppressed fear. How funny; before she’d been the one on his doorstep, taunting him to come out and face her. “You found me…” It was more of a question. That was her knee-jerk response to most things that took her by surprise: question, analyze, study, learn.

    This time though, she hesitated a few hundred yards out - just far enough that a sudden snap or swipe from a larger beast would miss her. As if the dragon was still there, a solid but invisible shape around the stallion waiting for her.

    “I don’t care what you do to me,” She suddenly found the strength she’d been lacking before, trembling as the surge of familiar adrenaline raced through her bones. “but if you came for a fight let’s do this in the air.” Eyas sounded pathetic even as she said it, her voice all shaky and sort-of pleading. But she backed the pathetic attempt at bravado up anyways, unfurling her two-toned wings and snapping them out like dry sheets in the wind. Never mind the clutter that rained down around her hooves when she did. The small pegasus (small even in comparison to the horse version of Santana) clenched her teeth and nodded her head in a resigned way that said, “Let’s do this.”

    EYAS

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    #3
    He wasn't made to wait long. In barely the time it took to slip from one skin into the other, the scent of her overtook him. An instinctive shiver ran the length of his spine, drawing a leathery rasp from his wings. The bluish white of his lips parted slightly, drawing her scent more deeply over his tongue. He would have called out if she hadn't beat him to it. 

    Instead he turned with precise slowness. Contrasting eyes gleamed with his inner flame as the still too-thin mare approached on trembling legs. His tongue stayed immobile as she began talking, shouting really, across the distance she was keeping between them. The lines of his face grew sharp with distaste at her grovelling. It was unflattering, and felt like a new kind of lie for the mare he knew should have been above such a pitiful display. 

    Wings flaring out in echo of her own fluttering feathers, he rumbled a disgusted snarl. "Stop sniveling. I'm not here to fight you." It occurred to him that perhaps it would be kinder just to eat her. But no, that train of thought had been contemplated before, and had resulted poorly for all involved. Instead, he made himself take deliberate steps closer to the winged mare, never once letting his gaze slip from her figure. 

    When he was close enough to not shout, he halted, noting very minimal improvement to the ragged woman's exterior. Then again, it wasn't the exterior he was concerned with. "You have one chance. One. To be straight with me and explain what the hell happened. If I think you're lying even a little bit, I [Ii]will[/i] remove your head from your neck and I am not even slightly interested in making that a fair fight." His jaw opened slightly, just enough to let the island sunlight glint off a mouthful of teeth that were decidedly jagged. "I suggest you start talking. Now." 

    It was very decidedly not a suggestion. 

    Eyas
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    #4

    I've got you deep in the heart of me

    -So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me-

    ugh… she should’ve never bonded herself to him. Why? Why did she insist on making things harder for herself? Eyas sighed, knowing the look in Santana’s eyes was one of disgust. She didn’t need to read his thoughts or see herself through his vision to understand that. After all, she was the meddlesome witch who’d baited him out from his cave only to nearly die in the process. Why would she simper and grovel now? What could’ve changed?

    Only everything. He mistakes her shivering worry for groveling, but it’s not. It’s concern for her brother, who lives here in peace and had, in turn, brought peace to her own soul. She’d been reckless before with Satana because she had absolutely nothing to lose, and now that’d changed. One of her triplets had been returned to her - she doubted Tiercel would ever come back - and Gale’s new presence in her life had given her a reason to keep living. She’s not afraid of Santana coming here … she’s afraid of having to get Gale involved in her own mistakes.

    Tana berated her, annoyingly. He tried to use that word - sniveling - like it would offend her, but Eyas set her teeth in a scowl and held her stance even when he stepped closer. Seeing him like this, all horse… it was different. Good different, maybe. She couldn’t exactly decide. It made him seem more real and less of an abomination; the pegasus mare had only seen him like this once before, and briefly then. He’d been just as condescending, though. That she remembered well.

    “Look I may have run screaming from you the last time we met up,” She began with an indignant huff, “but it wasn’t because I was afraid of you. I was overwhelmed. So chill out.”

    She paused, then began again. “That doesn’t excuse what I did. I… deserved what happened to me.” She seemed hesitant to admit at first, but when she lowered her head and let her eyes drift away from Santana the scars along her neck seemed more prominent. They were his own marks, and the only ones she carried around for every other horse to see. He’d done a permanent number on her mane: where his teeth and claws had ripped her smoky gold skin, nothing grew back. There were patches of her trojan mane that wouldn’t grow back over the tough, scar tissue.

    “I’d still do it all over again.” Her voice came out much quieter, much more subdued now. The ocean crashing against the shore nearly drowned out her contemplative voice. “You’re the closest I could get to his mindset…” Her musing drifted off, nonsensical.

    She snapped out of her brief reveries, then. “My sire is a multi-shapeshifter. He’s evil, Santana - that’s the only way I can think of describing him - but he’s afflicted by something dark. A curse, my mother thinks. I wouldn’t agree. I needed someone who… some horse who was a shifter-type as well, and someone very unwilling to let me possess them. All for practice, so that one day I could take over his body and bring him to justice.” Eyas sighed, knowing that what she said probably wasn’t good enough. She couldn’t have just asked him? Ah… no. He would’ve been willing, then, and Wolfbane would not be. And did she have to choose him? Not exactly. It was just that he came across her first, and the separation of his two souls was too good an opportunity for her to pass up. Too much like what she assumed was going on in her Father’s head, or body for that matter.

    “I may or may not be the only horse willing or capable enough to put him down.” She seemed irritated. One of her hooves lifted to stamp down into the sand again, forcefully. “But I’ll be damned if I won’t try. He - he’s done awful things, ‘Tana.” She surprised herself by using his nickname aloud. They weren’t friends, not even close, but somehow the draconic stallion was closer to her than any other horse. “He deserves to suffer. I would show you, but,”

    Again she paused, unsure of how to proceed. His nearness and the shape he was in distracted her, just a bit. It felt too personal, all of a sudden. “I don’t know that you would believe me. It’s almost too unreal to be true.”

    EYAS

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    #5
    His stare turned arch as she gathered herself back up. Put on her own airs as if she hadn't invaded his mind not only once, but twice without so much as a passing question between them. It was an assault, one he felt more than justified the scars she was now flaunting beneath his nose. Silvered, thickened tissue where he'd torn at her. The price fools paid for meddling in what they didn't understand. 

    There was no remorse in his eyes, and none reflected back from hers. At least they understood that much about each other. Still his lips peeled away from sharpening teeth as her story unfolded. The silent snarl was as far as he let himself react. Outwardly, anyway. Inside, he and the dragon mulled over her words, tasting them for signs of falsehood. 

    Unfortunately, they rang true. 

    "That was stupid of you." He commented gruffly, tail thrashing. The mismatched flames of his eyes cut across her critically, weighing the magnitude of her story with the seemingly desperate actions she was attributing to it. Whether he should feel ashamed or exhilarated that he was the closest she could find to her "evil, shape shifting sire", well, 'Tana and the dragon seemed to feel differently about that. 

    Pushing the conflict back, he nodded to himself. It was something they could look into later. For now, a slow, sultry smile twisted his lips. "Never start with the dragon, darling." He hummed an amused note. "Next time, maybe work for way up." Really, the fact that the scrappy little pegasus hen had survived this long was incredible, if this was how she'd always handled problems. He might even have admired her for it, once, if he hadn't been the victim of it first.  

    Now though, it was his curiosity that got the better of him. Not enough that he would let her back in his mind, as she seemed to be suggesting. He felt himself recoiling from the very thought. But he wanted to see through the story she had dragged him into. It sounded interesting, at the very least. At the most, it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to have his name on the roster of those involved taking out the supposed Big Bad. 

    Eyes glimmering dangerously, he stepped a pace closer, pressing into the invisible bubble she seemed to hold around herself. "I'll have to take your word for it. Whatever that's worth." A pink tongue longer and pointier than a horse's should be flickered at her. Then with a shrugging of his frost-tinted wings, he grinned. "Alright then. I'm in. As long as you keep your voodoo to yourself and more to the point, away from me. I'll help you with your daddy issues." Not that she'd asked. 

    Eyas
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    #6

    I've got you deep in the heart of me

    -So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me-

    The sand ground underneath her hooves and Eyas painfully clamped her jaw shut, twisting her black toes as if she could imagine the petulant dragon there beneath them. God he was so… so… so fucking arrogant! It made her want to scream.

    And yet, as much as she was loath to admit it, he was also right.

    That smirk; it grated at her and yet she couldn’t help flushing underneath it. He was one to talk! She’d toyed with the dragon and come out alive several times, only a little worse off than before (if you could call the gaping scars ‘little’.) Hah! Maybe he should have a healthier respect of who he was dealing with, if he knew what was good for him. Eyas turned her chin to the side so that her cheek was a flat, gold coin for him to stare at, and she turned her nose up slightly at the offending stallion. She highly doubted any other mare on this continent had one-tenth of the reckless courage she had to challenge him.

    So he could just go fuck himself.

    The mare sniffed, but the arrogance hardly inflated her. Her way of acting petulant was only because Santana had a way of bringing it out in her in the first place, and she wouldn’t be baited into arguing with him again. Not when there were more important matters to deal with. “My word is as solid as anything, Santana.” She retorted, taking a very deliberate step away from him again to keep that distance she favoured. Her forehooves dug a line into the sand where she drew them back, and her tone suggested mild offense at what he’d said. “And I didn’t exactly ask for your help, dog-breath.” She mocked him, turning her head back a fraction to get a glimpse of his tongue-lolling expression. The way she spoke sounded harsh, but her face belied an expression of curious interest. Maybe even borderline amusement.

    Was she… warming up to him? Ugh, no. She thought, doing her best to convince herself. You need him on your side, that’s all. The ragged mare told herself. But a wicked little grin broke her serious face apart anyways.

    “However, I’d rather have you with me than against me… so we have a deal, I guess.” The pony girl shrugged as well, hesitantly. Was she making a mistake by trusting him? “Also I’d like to point out that we both know I’m not the only one with daddy issues here. Check yourself, big boy.” She smirked. No wonder he’d been on his own for so long - who in their right mind had the patience to keep him and his inflated ego in check? Eyas rolled her eyes.

    They could leave now, probably be at Loess before it got too late, but the little vision-horse took a few moments of silent reflection to evaluate their favourable odds before offering her ideas for a plan, “Stay here, tonight?” Why did that make her throat tighten? “Rest up, fill your belly. There are gators here… I’m sure they’ll satisfy and amuse you for a while. Then we can leave at daybreak, head for Loess. That’s probably the best place to start laying a trap for him.” She spoke in animated bursts, suddenly excited now that things had started to take shape in her thoughts. Unaware that she’d stepped forward and regained the lost space between them, Eyas leaned in toward the dragon-shifter with her ears perked and her wings partially flared.

    EYAS



    Santana
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    #7
    That was his problem, wasn't it. He didn't know what was good for him. He would push and prod at the thing bothering him until he knew exactly what he was dealing with. Often, that came at the price of something painful, but it was usually worth the satisfied curiosity. 

    The indignant fury quaking beneath her surface brightened the twisted smile on his face. It was wrong of him to be so entertained by her wrath, especially knowing what he knew. He couldn't help it though. She was actually pretty damn cute when she was mad, all ruffled feathers and stomping feet. Brave little pheasant. She was wily and had a formidable mind, but her bones cracked and her blood spilt like any other's. His first instinct had been to keep her safe, and it seemed that was where they'd ended up after all. 

    His tongue clicked against his teeth briefly as she som spoke, smile fading into a merely pleasant expression. "That remains to be seen." He watched her deliberate motion, the way she distanced herself so carefully. The step he took to close the distance was just as deliberate. "You did, though, didn't you. That first day we met." His brow lifted at the memory. "You were speaking in riddles then, but this is what you meant, isn't it?" The edge of one leathery wing brushed the feathers of hers, one claw snagging at the loose feathers at one joint. His voice dropped to a smoky rumble as he brought back that day, looking for confirmation in her glancing eyes. 

    At her snipping retort, his lolling grin returned, mismatched eyes sparkling with glee. "That's right! Imagine the old bastard still having that kind of fire in him." He chuckled, leaping to the side with a coltish buck. The white-blond tangles of his tail whipped out behind him as he prowled in a little circle before her. Daddy issues, alright. His heavy head shook with amused incredulity. He'd have to look up the old firelung again  one of these days. 

    The pacing came to an abrupt halt when she spoke again. He had to pause to verify he'd heard her right. She was right beneath him now, pert nose in the air and wings flared in excitement. The dragon-stallion's own wariness unexpectedly kicked in. His expression was a soft one, a serious one. "I appreciate the offer, but no. I don't think I would get much sleep, and you'll want me well rested, I'm sure." His neck turned to cast his sight out to the glittering seas, wings folded tight to his sides. No, he didn't think he'd be able to sleep at all, not with the mind-bending mare so near. "I'll meet you at the Loessian border, bright and early. By the old lightning struck tree. You know the place?" He waited for her answer with uncharacteristic sobriety. 

    Eyas
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    #8

    I've got you deep in the heart of me

    -So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me-

    at first she was genuinely surprised he could recall that far back, even if they’d only encountered each other a few times. Nothing about her seemed memorable, at least not to her. Aside from what she’d done to him in the Forest, anyway. But here Santana stood, recalling the garbled mess she’d talked to him about when Eyas had been half-delirious from hunger and lack of sleep. His wing brushed against her own, the leathery skin and the taloned bone incompatible with her own soft, inky feathers, but she hardly felt disturbed by the sensation. She only shrugged. “Er, yeah. I guess that’s what I was asking, more or less.”

    Perhaps the beast wasn’t such a thick-headed imbecile? Perhaps he was just as much a stallion as he was a dragon: capable of understanding and feeling?

    Maybe not, she smiled privately to herself when he spoke up about his sire. There was a sinuous, steely strength in every curve of his well-toned body that showed when ‘Tana leapt aside with a powerful buck. Even as a horse it was hard to deny the ripple of absolute power that simmered just under his snow-patched coat. Eyas herself was still far away from an ideal body weight, though Gale and his grapples, mangroves, and sweet grasses had done a number on her ribs and hips. Still, she would never look like that - the way Santana looked. Her bones were made of more delicate things.

    Sensing her fragility now that Eyas had planted herself directly underneath the wide curve of his masculine jawline, Santana actually seemed to calm down. The mare underneath him watched the joy fade into seriousness, and in response a flicker of melancholy darkened her expression. But what he said made perfect sense, and she blinked away the minute surprise in favor of a stiff nod. Of course he wouldn’t want to stay; it sounded so abrupt and aggressive now that she thought back on the offer. If she could blush, she might’ve.

    “Yep.” The pegasus confirmed, rustling her displaced feathers a bit before tucking them down onto her sides once more. Lightly, she passed alongside him and came to stand just where the white-capped foam was slinking up the beach in search of her hooves. She didn’t have to pull from his memory or offer a glimpse of her own. The charred tree he talked about was a land marker, meant for border purposes, and she’d passed it plenty of times in her youth. “Expect the unexpected.” She warned him, not bothering to look over her shoulder again.

    “And Santana?” Eyas called out, choosing that moment to turn her cheek and address him full-on, “Thank you.”

    EYAS



    Santana
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    #9
    Now that things seemed somewhat settled, the pale stallion allowed himself the luxury of an easy breath. There was no trust between them, not really. But there was a job that needed doing and he felt up to the task. Besides that, he felt the same nudging need to take care of those who needed it. 

    Granted, it was that same urge that had screwed him in the first place. His misguided belief that the molting pegasus had needed him. Certainly, she had done her best to prove him wrong, but the feeling remained. Even now, more muscle on her bones and her words coherent and linear, he found himself wondering how she'd survived this long without someone keeping an eye on her. Reminding her to eat. Suggesting that three world was not her sole responsibility to take on, consequences be damned. 

    She was infuriating, a walking catastrophe waiting to happen. And, as he was dismayed to realize, a bit bewitching. He was long a slave to his curiosity, and she tugged at it for all she was worth. 

    His gaze turned thoughtful as she abruptly changed tone when he denied her invitation. It was for the best, however. She had captured his mind more than once, and he didn't think he'd risk it again. Not even with things seemingly smoothing out between them. At her sharp instruction, he found himself shaking his head. "I thought I was good at that, before I met you." He shrugged, wings rustling softly. 

    When she at last turned to look him straight on, he held her eyes a beat before nodding once. "Of course," his brow lifted teasingly. "You only needed to ask." He shuffled in the sand, the sun settling low in the sky telling him he would need to find a place to bed down before long. Maybe even catch a bite to eat. His wings relaxed by his sides, ready to catch the air that would lift him skyward soon. 

    He turned to face the open stretch of beach that would give him his runway to depart, pausing only to brush at her back with his muzzle in a gentle farewell as he passed. "I'll see you in the morning. Sleep well, pheasant." Then he was running, running, flying back to the mainland and wondering all the time what exactly it was he'd gotten himself into. 

    Eyas
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