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    version 22: awakening


    OCEANE -- Year 208


    "Because if she had not met him, she knew she would have been searching her whole life for the piece that he filled her heart with." -- Eva, written by Shelbi

    Where the rocks lie - Lilli
    And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire
    Ghaul’s kindness is fickle and often difficult to see – he burns his son’s wounds to keep him from bleeding out, and then he taught him to take a life. The lessons he gives are difficult. His own father had taught him what it meant to be lonely. Anaxarete had taught him not to rely on affections and unearned words of kindness. They have each sculpted him into the monster standing before them. But they amuse him infinitely in the way they continue to bristle and react no matter which way he approaches. There is still some of that strange kindness in him left for them.

    Her blood trail does not end in a corpse,” he says with a shrug. “I did find your monster though. He didn’t kill her, lucky for you. He did the opposite.

    And then he laughs at his own joke, callous and forgetting they are not privy to the same information. He had never thought to allow such an affair to survive but he can’t pretend to understand the philosophy behind Wolfbane’s actions. His laughter dies to a soft chuckle when Lilliana explains she intends to add fire as a weapon for their home. But then Eurwen points out her friend’s physical state and he examines the pregnant girl curiously.

    Then go to the Cove,” he says with a shrug of his shoulder. “You could even approach my brood, if you like. Asphyxea is the only one who bites.

    Ghaul thinks to offer her a visit to Hyaline but he worries Atrox may think she is a gift for his next meal. She still holds enough value to him alive that he keeps that offer off the table for now. Though, he does think the option could be revisited for another prisoner, should he find himself bored enough. Phyx would love to watch a practiced hunter subdue his prey while he grooms her little fluff of mane.

    I’ll make a deal with you, as I would like to see you ultimately survive my games, Lilliana,” he thinks aloud as he stares off in the direction of the Cove. “I favor Neverwhere as the leader of the north, but I favor my own goals far more. When the time comes for me to set your Taiga ablaze, you will stand aside and watch from the safety of the Isle. In exchange, I will not only let you choose your new leader, but Pangea will spare Taiga from any steals for one year. We won’t even initiate any challenges.

    And then he turns to look at her, his grin wide and full of crooked fangs as he steps closer until their faces are inches apart. He imagines it would be delightful to see those ancient trees burn and fall all around him. It stirs his heart to a vulnerable state.

    She’s frowning as Lilliana looks up at the taller stallion. Ghaul is certainly talking. She can feel the rumbling of ghaul’s words in her chest and feels his conviction stirring in her own firebrand soul. How many times has she thought that: that for those she loves, she would let the world burn and blaze if it meant their happiness? Their safety?

    It’s a thought that has terrified her since her youth and has made Lilliana always vigilant with her emotions lest they blow too strong.

    Ghaul shrugs away Neverwhere’s existence as if she is a leaf that falls away in autumn, as if she is another tide that washes away from shore. Though the copper woman has never said it - apart from her sons and her golden beacon back in Taiga - it is something she has never told anyone else. Neverwhere and Brazen and Eurwen all belong to that fire that burns in her chest. (And perhaps the dreamer and the monster are not so different; maybe fanatical is not so different from whimsical.)

    The Nerinian Queen - her friend - is alive and a breath wrestles itself free. She hadn’t realized that she had been holding it, not until he said it.

    "You found him?” she asks with the air burning her lungs. Neverwhere is alive but the demon still lingers about. Lilliana takes a step back from him as if the mere mention of Wolfbane implicates that he could be nearby. That thought sends a shiver rippling down her spine and the Taigan mare takes a small sidestep towards Eurwen, seeking out her warmth with the way that Ghaul has made her world grow suddenly cold.

    He is thinking - pondering? - thoughts aloud as he looks towards his Cove where his brood grows and Lilliana glances to that horizon, listening to his words as he imagines aloud of his own fires and blazes. An ear flicks in his direction as she tries to find a way to dream away this nightmare.

    (Is such a thing possible, Kagerus? she wonders.)

    Her ears go back at the mention that Pangea will allow them to choose their ruler. "The North will decide which way her Winds blow,” the chestnut says, "just as the North would never presume to tell Pangea where to light her Fires.” She doesn’t need to push that point further when they both know that Nerine or Taiga or the Isle aren't in the position to tell any kingdom anything, not as they currently are.

    Still, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

    "I am but one voice in Taiga’s woods,” the blue-eyed mare cautions Ghaul. Though the way she says that means she hasn’t disregarded his proposition, that she isn’t already picturing the redwoods filled with black smoke instead of silver mist, of flames embracing the proud trees instead of sunlight beaming down through its dense canopies. "And the forest is filled with many.”

    Lilliana nods to Eurwen, "Let her take this message to Lethia and the residents of Taiga. If they agree to your trial by flame then by all means, burn it to the ground.” The Redwoods have stood through many tests of time and perhaps a part of her has always known there would be others. She does not doubt Taiga’s roots. Whatever Ghaul meant to do is nothing that Time herself couldn’t undo; the Redwoods would heal. They would regrow.

    "Keep your armistice,” the chestnut mare responds with a voice that brings to mind rolling thunderheads. "Just keep Wolfbane from the North.”


    if i ever get to heaven
    i've got a long list of questions

    [Image: sTAi2f.png]

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