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  • Beqanna

    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

    No mile as long as the one that leads home - Brennen, any

    Hey all you cool cats and kittens

    When Neverwhere finally plants her hooves in the thin, rocky, soil of Nerine again, dawn is cresting over the eastern edge of the grey northern sea, throwing blue light across the kingdom. In this darkness, the colt beside her is nearly invisible – and never mind that little attribute – a dark smudge at her shadowy side. Even the flickering gold of his dapples is dim and dull, still hidden under layers of soft curls. His face is a reasonable mimic of her own, small ears pinned and a scowl on his face, but the child only copies his dam in jest and cannot hold the expression long before losing it to look in wonder around him.

    It’s easy to find wonder in everything around you when it’s always the first time you’ve seen something, the first time you see the red-rock arches of Loess, the first time you see the impossibly high kings of the redwood forest, the first time you see that great expanse of the roiling sea and Nerine’s crags, as formidable and frowning as your mother’s face. The boy’s blue-green eyes widen and sparkle, catching the first rays of sunlight and he stops, the small, barely-concealed bones of his wings lifted oh-so-slightly from his sides as though ready for flight.

    Neverwhere slows for a moment and turns to look back at him where he’s stopped, but says nothing, only waits. He is young and has slowed her return even further with the need to stop and let him rest, but the colt is built for travel, long-legged and deep-chested, and he has kept up with the brisk pace she has set without complaint, and for that she is thankful.

    At least as much as she expects is possible, given the circumstances.

    Returning home does not give her a sense of peace or calm, however, nor does she allow the child to linger very long in his survey of the southern edge of Nerine. She calls gruffly to him – her voice by design and by habit incapable of finding a tone that might be called soft or sweet – and continues forward for the kingdom’s heart, wondering softly how it is one goes about summoning its Champion.

    Brennen. She wonder's if she has to actually shout his name, or if just wanting him to appear is enough to trigger whatever magic tripwire he has strung up across the land. Their meetings have never been cordial, and she thinks he may not even wish to respond - or perhaps he will respond, but refuse her request. The white-faced mare shakes her head with a heavy exhalation. That will be her fault - much of what has happened has been her fault, to some extent - but that's a bridge she will wait to cross until it is necessary to do so.

    That bitch, Neverwhere

    Image by Ratty
    Nerine has not been his home for a long time - not since she left, and he strongly believes that her return wouldn’t change things now - and they haven’t honestly made the Icicles the same offer as once before; yet, he uses the northernmost moors as often as he needs to, and hasn’t been told off yet.

    Then again not many would have the courage to walk up to a disguised dragon and tell them to shove it. Especially when they’re just grazing and the population is small enough to miss out on the stalks he takes. He very much believes Nev simply doesn’t really care.

    He frequently wonders if anyone really cares, anyway. Nerine has never much involved herself with her territories, and while that pleased all parties involved right up until Taiga became the source of squabbling over land and titles with other kingdoms, it amazes him how little has been done about the absolute burning of one. He doesn’t know how to feel about it. Sad? Maybe. Offended? Just a little. Surprised? Hmm. Not really if he’s honest.

    He shakes his head, getting rid of that train of thought entirely. What’s more important is finding out why Nerine has been so particularly silent lately. It’s unusual even for her, and although he doesn’t want to be involved with whatever issue the ladies currently have with whichever other kingdom these days, it does worry him to see the land so... barren. The howling north wind no longer sings of freedom, but of emptiness. These women used to rule an empire here, but it seems that the Amazons could not live forever, but only in name. A melancholic grimace crosses his face at the thought of what else he’ll see go down, what else he’ll lose, during his lifetime.

    No wonder Brennen had retreated to Ischia with whomever was his lover this time.

    (He’d laugh so hard if he knew it was his nephew though.)

    As the night breaks into a cold spring dawn, the ice-scaled stallion in the north-Nerine point catches a few rays of sunlight; then, he pulls up the shadows that were given to him, hiding the shiny from the world. It doesn’t fit today to be shiny - none of it does. His patch of slightly unusual darkness might be noticed in the twilight of the meadow, but he doesn’t care about being noticed or not currently.

    As the blue glows of the northern island make way for the orange sunlight, the male wanders leisurely towards the south. Outward calm and inner storm seemingly don’t match, but he’s used to it by now. His eyes betray him however, the colors swirling, trying to compete for the best-fitting color to his numerous, alternating feelings for today.

    He stops when he finally notices someone else - Neverwhere - and a little shadow at her side.

    She’s not looking at the horse-shaped shadow approaching her, not for the moment. He studies her as she seems to study the colt, and almost snorts when she calls her kid to her. She sounds impatient, though for what, he doesn’t know.

    He’s waited long enough to come nearer. He approaches, dropping the cloak of darkness enough not to blind her (again, hehe), but that he is still recognizable. ”Never, where in the world did you get that?”

    It must have been longer than he’d thought since he’d seen her in the Field. Has she lost her mind? No - she looks a little broken, but the fire in her eyes is still burning. But she has lost something, he thinks as he studies her. He’s taken in enough lost ladies in his time to know the look of someone who’s lost a part of herself. ”Lost your quills, Porcupine?” he frowns.
    nothing burns like the cold

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

    There may not be many who would tell a dragon to shove off, but surely Neverwhere is one of them, if she found a good enough reason to do it. However, even had she been home these past few months to find his ragged band, she would never have made Leilan or his gang of raiders return to their barren island. Her understanding and faith in politics may be poor, but she would not chase off the subjects of her own kingdom from food their territory could not provide. Perhaps it would have been better to go and offer and show support, but she finds she hates these little empty gestures that being Queen demand of her, and she has stagnated under the heavy mantle.

    She had been so sure Heartfire would return and take it back – though the roan had also done little that would help them where they stand now, and at the very least, Neverwhere’s scowls and sarcasm had given no piece of land away to those that would claim it. She had out-waited them all and then the tumbling rockfall of Beqanna had whipped them up into another of its own special sort of disasters. The kingdom and the territories fall into disarray, yet they are whole. Heartfire had been right about that, at least.

    Her eyes look for the colt as she calls, but they fall on an unusual patch of darkness and it troubles her briefly. No-one she remembers from before Wolfbane came as Ghaul had that little trick, but she has seen something similar once before. Years ago, a cremello stallion – she shakes her head then gathers the colt close, pushing him slightly ahead as she watches. The dusky shadows begins to melt and she stamps a foreleg in warning to whoever lay within, short ears flat and every line of her face drawn tight and angry.

    And when it is Leilan’s voice that cuts through the lowered shield of darkness, there is only the faintest softening, her ears lift but remain back, she turns away from him with a hmph.

    “You are too old to need me to explain where foals come from, Leilan.” But he is approaching and still talking and with the breath hissing from her nostrils she snakes her head low again and snaps at the air for him to stop where he is, “I have not, and if you come any closer, you’ll feel them.”

    Image by Ratty

    The answer to her unspoken question is that all she needs to summon him is the thought. It’s less like a tripwire than it is vibrations across a spiderweb, but the important part is that it works. He doesn’t simply disappear and reappear – it doesn’t feel that urgent. He takes the time to settle his youngest daughter into a snuggling nap with her other father, checking out the security of their island home just in case, and then he walks out into the surf and teleports to the edge of Nerine’s colder waters. Wading out onto the rocky shores, he goes looking for Neverwhere.

    Due to his slight delay, he’s not the first to arrive. He can’t help the little smirk that passes across his face when he catches Leilan’s comment about the foal and Neverwhere’s snarky response. It fades into a smaller but genuine smile, which he turns on Leilan with a momentary assessing glance. He’d been aware of the dragon-boy’s exploits from the first hoof he set in the Brilliant Pampas, but since he seemed to have no intent to hurt anyone, Brennen hadn’t been of a mind to interfere. “Leilan,” he drawls. Perhaps it’s rude to greet the boy first, but his relationship to Leilan is one ages old than his tentative relationship with the Queen, and there are times when he can’t bring himself to play the politics game ‘correctly’.

    “Neverwhere,” he turns away from the icy creature and looks instead at the mother and son duo, curious. They’ve coexisted now in relative peace for a while, but he doesn’t know her any better than before. “You called?” Briefly, his amber gaze drifts down to the colt at her side, another smile flickering on his face. Brennen likes children, pretty much all of them. His best of all, of course, but it takes a lot for him to dislike one. Looking back up at Neverwhere, he settles in comfortably with one foot rested and his large dark wings lain down along his sides, waiting.


    Neverwhere Leilan
    He drops... most of the act, when Neverwhere's usual snide comments start into something like true anger. With it, also most, nearly all of the aura - his face clear between the dark fog, but keeping just enough to remove the ever-available shine and glitter of the morning sun on metallic mane and ice-made scales. Her physical snapping at him is new, and it stops him just enough, but a comment cannot be held in. "Ouch, Grumpy, you're hurting me." If not physically - of course not - this is nearing the line of actually lashing out, and he doesn't think it's anywhere near hormonal talk.

    Brennen arrives then, before anything else is said, and perhaps that's for the best. He gets greeted first and he nods respectfully, though as always with the black-winged bay, the not-really-an-uncle incites something of humour in the dragon-boy's eyes. Perhaps it's their odd relationship that he still thinks of as kind of funny, or the way the Champion interacted with the Queen. Brennen takes almost a dry tone - or maybe he just imagines it - with the dappled mare, and Leilan takes the time to examine the colt behind her. Winged, his dapples gold and almost glowing, and a dark sort of buckskin. Honestly, it's not something he immediately recognizes; although Brennen might probably know through his magic, Leilan would have to guess based on looks - and possibly whatever traits the kid has - to know.

    But, he doesn't - in fact, Neverwhere and Lilliana never really told him about the boy's father so what does he know anyway. It's a kid, and kids never have the chance to do anything wrong at that age. Neverwhere's thundercloud probably indicates something to do with his making, or the father, or whatever he reminded her of - he suddenly wonders what Neverwhere had been like in her youth, and grins a bit at the mare, though he keeps his thought to himself; knowing she would truly bite whatever she could find on him - turning his attention to the colt, he seems to shrug a little as he lets one shoulder roll. Brennen is here to apparently get orders from the Queen, and Leilan... well, he's just hanging about, not unlike the young colt.

    So, to entertain himself and the young boy, he snorts a bit of ice on a patch of grass, watching the insects crawl away from it, his gaze seemingly on the grass - just waiting for whatever Never's next move is.
    nothing burns like the cold

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

    That he stops coming closer is enough for her, the dappled mare draws herself up to her usual height, those bear cub ears lifting almost imperceptibly from where they lay flat against her poll and the skin around her nostrils softens. It’s a small difference, but enough to say that she sees his wordless recognition of her demands, and that she will be ignoring any further nonsense, provided it stays over there. Her gaze turns from Leilan to the winged bay making his way to them, and if she notices that his greeting is not to her first, she neither comments, nor cares. Her own attention is halved by the boy creeping back towards the dusky dragon, enraptured by the way ice grows from his breath and the insects flee.

    They are none of them perfect examples of politicians, and perhaps that is just as well.

    “I did.”

    That’s it, that’s all she says, letting the windy silence of Nerine fill the gap of conversation before carrying on, her eyes, like the Magician’s, also falling on the colt trying hard to mimic Leilan. It’s a fool’s errand, of course, all his excited snorting at the grass does no more than result in a fit of sneezing that knocks him into a seated position, wings and legs askew. He shakes his head, still sitting, readjusting his wings with care.

    If he winces slightly as his left wing extends and tucks back against his small body, Neverwhere pretends not to notice - children are always finding ways to hurt themselves – and his full attention is back on the grasshoppers jumping away. With an excited squeal the gold-dappled colt splits apart, and two boys hare off after the bounding bugs, quickly over-running them, just as quickly forgetting them to leap and chase one another in circles around the frosted stallion.

    His mother turns to Brennen once again.

    “I need the North safe from Wolfbane,” the still-new scars clawed out across her skin are a road map of the damage of which he is capable, the tooth piercing her shoulder twitching as her skin jumps, irritable, “His curse has progressed beyond simple theft and he is a danger to everybody in it. I’d prefer the whole kingdom, but if that isn’t possible, at least one place in Nerine needs to be free of him.”

    She gives a pointed look at the tobacco-colored colt, who has blended together into one again and stands at Leilan’s knee, watching his (sadly) ice-less breath turn to fog over those cold scale.

    “He’s drawn to his children, and he has more than one of those here." She thinks of the worry that looms behind Lilli's bright eyes and the the anger and hatred that fuels her own interactions with him, "We need your help.”

    Image by Ratty

    Brennen Leilan Djinni
    a light came on when you sang that song and
    i want you to sing it again

    While I wait for the return of the featherless boy, I occupy myself in other ways.

    One way is by watching the residents of this Northern land. They are different than the ones I remember; generations have passed. I still see some familiar traits in some of them – those spots, those bones – but not enough to draw my interest.

    Another is by finding the best grazing on this northern outcropping, which is what I am doing on the morning that I hear raised voices. The wind is against me and I had not caught their scents. My ears – purple this morning – flick toward the disturbance; a mare’s voice snapping. The next voice is a low rumble, slow and calm. I had wished to know that voice once, and while I had not been able to imitate it well, I have no doubt the speaker is Brennen.

    Hopeful that this might mean there have been developments in the featherless boy’s quest, I leave my rocky copse and join them.

    Today I am a lavender mare, as nondescript in breed and height as most of Beqanna’s residents. The antlers I have taken to wearing are a metallic green, my sides are wingless, and my smile anticipatory as I join there.

    There is a third horse I had not heard, and he seems to be the one that the mare is irritated by. He is covered in icy scales, and I narrowly avoid donning a matching set of my own. They look quite nice, glittering in the early morning sunlight. There is a child too, and at him I peer at him curiously. He is not my blood any more than the rest of them gathered are, so he is of little interest. The topic at hand though? That is much more interesting. 

    “They should be able to keep him in one shape soon,” I tell them. Mostly the mare, since she seems concerned, and the bay magician who she has made the request of. “I told the boy how, and his sister seeks Carnage to find the end of it – if there even is one.” I  shrug casually, because it is unimportant to me if a curse that does not afflict me is ended. “Lepis came North years ago for help, and the boy came last summer. He was looking for you - I say to the magician - “But you were unavailable.”

    “You could stop him from coming here, but it’d probably be a waste of your magic.” I don’t like to waste my own ability, at least not on things that bore me, and am kind enough to save others the same trouble. “It’s be easier to just move the children, or get rid of them.” I shrug again before glancing down at the foal. He does not look particularly worth saving, but I suppose if his mother hadn’t ended the pregnancy with the right herbs she must have some sort of attachment to him.


    D J I N N I
    could i be the one you sing about in all your stories
    D J I N N I
    genie | rose gold tobiano dun | trickster

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