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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

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    In Hell I'll be in good company // Leilan
    I look about me, unsure if I should be impressed with the level of destruction the old king of Loess had brought about, or disdainful that I was running an errand in such a hellhole. A little of both, I decided, stepping carefully through the sooty mud springtime warmth was creating. Urg. I had flown out here, leaving the black coated sprog in the playground. Can't have her slowing me down today, and maybe she'll even make friends. But I think I might try swimming back to the mainland, if only to rid myself of this persistent muck. 

    Really, I can't imaging anything surviving in such a wasteland. It's like Pangea, but wet. Apparently though, there's a tribe that has settled in, and the stallion I seek is one of them. My golden tail fin sways from side to side as I take in the scene, trying to decide where anyone living here might be hiding. I loose a shrilly whinny, the sound ricocheting from rocky faces and stunted trees. I do it again, for good measure, then sit back on my heels you wait. If there's anyone actually here, they should be by before long now. 

    If they make me wait too long, poor Lilliana is just going to have to deal. I'm not staying in this muddy mess overnight. 

    There’s little that a dragon-horse doesn’t spy quickly in the cold and relatively empty land; his heat vision finds the living quickly, and even if he doesn’t use it or pays attention to the signatures around him, his gaze picks out the vibrant shape of the mare as quickly as a hawk would a mouse.

    She is no mouse though. If she would be, she wouldn’t look so disdainful, letting the melting snow stick to her hoofs and making faces at it. His baritone voice - one of the few things he’d inherited from his father - can be heard in a low chuckle, but only if she pays attention to it (which he doubts, since she looks busy with the ashy snow drool).

    He moves from his place in the shadows of the western forest - Forest of Burnt Sticks, he’d called it - and drops the darkness aura he’d wrapped himself in. He likes to keep from sight every now and then and see how the others behave when he’s not present. Is that spying on his own people or just curiosity, or even insecurity about his own leadership? Hmm. He drops it like the shadows that surrounded him, moving towards the colorful mare in the open.

    ”It’s better in winter, when it’s frozen solid - or maybe you’d prefer midsummer, when it’s all dry, black granite.” He approaches her with a slow, but confident walk. His golden tail flickers a bit behind him when he halts, his icy blue gaze assessing the mare shortly. ”Name’s Leilan. To whom do I owe this absolute pleasure of a visit?” he tilts his head a little, grinning - he can’t help it if his teeth are pointy now; it’s her look that warrants the subconscious change.

    She hardly looks like she wants to join his band on the Isle with those grimaces she made, although honestly, she looks like the type who could handle herself well enough around here. Maybe he should have poked Chem to greet her; he might charm her enough. But she smells thickly of the south, and of milk, so perhaps she would not stay however many handsome men might greet her.

    A new start and a bunch of men to pick from would be a great offer to most, but not if one was already occupied.

    Too bad.
    nothing burns like the cold

    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    My eyes narrow doubtful at his approaching words, though my lips curl. He's sauntered from nowhere, or everywhere, and my heart stutters unpleasantly behind my ribs because of that. I don't like being surprised. More so since leaving the forsaken red canyons of Pangea behind me, and his jagged grin is met with one of my own. Blunt as my teeth are, they gleam with quiet threat as dangerous as any dragon's fang. 

    But that's not why I'm here. No, my mission has little to do with throbbing venom and more to do with the stallion so compliantly standing before me. A breathy sigh flutters on my lips as I sit back a moment to look him over. If he says his name is Leilan, then my job is half over. 

    "Belle," I replied, brief in my introduction. "As pretty as my scales would be on a black backdrop, I've got to pass. I'm here for exactly one reason, and the quicker I can get out of this mud pit, the better." I spare another less than impressed look at the surroundings before dismissing them with a flick of my tail. 

    "You know a mare named Lilliana?" I asked, knowing he must of she'd sent me his way. "She has a message for you: You're to meet her in Taiga in the autumn, assuming of course that she lives that long." My wings shrugged at the statement. What can I say, she looked rough when I last saw her and we're still a ways from the falling leaves season. Still, I grin my acid smile, glittering in the bleak landscape like a jewel washed up from the sea on his black glass sands. 

    Lilliana didn't ask me for a return service, and I would have said no if she had. I'm not waiting for an answer, but it would be rude to turn tail as soon as I've said my piece. Besides, I find myself intrigued by the thorough appreciation in the stallion's eyes. It's been unimaginably long since anyone has looked at me with anything but scorn. 

    She scorns and scowls, scrapes for reasons not to be around, and yet underneath all that, there must be some sort of softness - or kindness, warmth - because she is still here, is she not? Belle, she snaps by a ways of introduction, and the ice-reflecting stallion’s ears perk up at the sound. How lovely her sneers. A woman after his own heart, if he were ever into that kind of mess again - probably not though. It wasn’t worth the trouble, and he had trouble enough with his family as-is. A thing he actively ignored.

    ”Maybe next year, then.” he shrugs it off as if she had indeed proposed to come back next winter, seeing as she only declined summer. But she already continues and perhaps it’s best to keep the meeting short, then. He’s known his fair share of grumpy-unless-you-know-better kind of women, his mother being one that could be counted towards that category - and he prides himself of knowing exactly how far one can go and when to stop prodding (the same spot, at least).

    He nods slowly at the name Lilliana, seeing as she implies there’s more to come. And she follows up, with the message and then her own assessment of the mare’s situation. He tilts his head at her, wondering briefly. ”Where’s she at now?” Surely she can tell her that, he thinks - she doesn’t seem like the kind who would withhold information intentionally, and frankly it doesn’t seem that she has much to gain from this whole visit anyway. ”And you’re doing this… out of the kindness of your own heart?” he wonders, his color-changing eyes taking her in with a mixture of appreciation and humour. ”Or is there something you’d want some help with?” he wonders. It’s just a one-time offer; in fact he doesn’t owe her a lot, if anything, but he likes this gruff woman, the way he likes his niece and Neverwhere. So if it’s not too hard, well, he couldn’t get hurt over having another acquaintance in Loess at any rate.
    nothing burns like the cold

    Rebelle idk he just wanted to offer I guess, haha
    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    The heart of the matter is quickly addressed, and I'm ready to be on my way, but there are some details it seems we can't escape. Where is she now? My gaze goes distant as red cliffs and barren desert flashes before my sight, replacing the mud and the cold with the memory of unforgiving heat. 

    My throat is dry when I grimace in reply, head shaking to rid myself of the hateful sensations. 


    The word is bitten off and spat out like a bitter weed, coating my tongue in a flavor that lingers. When I focus my gaze on the ice lapped stallion again, it's her face I'm seeing, wan and worn. Even now my own face bears traces of my own time spent in the desert kingdom. New scars along my back flicker with lightning quick sparks. New venom in my heart. 

    Face thunder cloud dark, I shake my head. "Not kindness, no. I have very little of that to spare. But there is solidarity among prisoners, and I will honor that." I look at him harder then, still and silent as a thought wriggles in my mind. Pangea offered me nothing but grief, and sent me home with a living reminder that I hadn't the strength to erase. But I could move it. Out of sight, out of mind, and I can go on with my life a little less weighed down. 

    "Now that you mention it, there is something you can do for me." I say, blinking languidly at the man. "I have a foal, sired on me by one of the Pangeans. I have no use for her, but you might find her... interesting." And why not. She is soon to be weaned, and I would not have kept her long after that anyway. The strange little thing would blend in here, among the black stones and the ruffians. Let the reminder of hell be gone from my sight. 


    It's easy to say, but her voice doesn't seem willing to work with her so well at any rate. He'd frown at her if he didn't have some kind of sense for politics and diplomacy after all; if he weren't currently the one supposed to lead this broken island, he might have pushed farther, and get her to spit it out - though, honestly, she did a fair job of that herself, already.

    That the mare before him was scarred, he already knew - it's the ones on the inside that come to light right now, with a single word. Part of him is still the heroic kind, the one that wouldn't let any of this happen to his sisters, and thus not to any mare, but he remains stoic enough with her - as she confirms she has very little kindness in her heart, he knows she has stood up to her captors in many ways already - and this was one of them. She talks about solidarity among prisoners, and he nods, waiting for her to come up with an answer to his question - he knows there is always a little something that can make a life easier. He tilts his head for a moment when she mentions a foal, then he nods. "Sure, why not. She might be useful to me, if she's anything like you. Send her over whenever you want." It'd be another Loessian child, true - but not one as bound by politics, not a wanted one, like Alcinder. If it's a kindness to take her away; in fact, he thinks it might do both of them good - then so be it.

    He stares a little longer at the mare, then follows up. "Do you want her back at some point?" His voice is business-like; he just needs to know if she cares about the child at all or if she intends to pretend she never foaled. It can be harsh to have such a daily reminder about her imprisonment, he thinks, but then some mares still cling to their children even if they are the product of unpleasant memories.
    nothing burns like the cold

    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.

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