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    version 22: awakening


    GHAUL -- Year 209


    "(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

    he drank my past, like the finest of wines // Aodhan

    Soul as sweet as blood red jam

    How easy it had been, in her new life, to forget this kind of sickness.
    The bone-weary kind of sickness that only the Dark God could create.

    She had known there would be a price to pay. But as she stumbles down the mountain, Warlight realizes she hadn't really thought it through, and she curses her foolishness and her ambition. Every breath is a battle in the thin air of this place built for sacrifice, but she refuses to feel miserable. Instead, she channels her self-pity into anger, although she has no target for her rage.

    Maybe it is another cruel trick of the powers of the land, or maybe it is just her own stupid fault, but with the next step she takes, the shale begins to move below her chipped hooves. Her quick jig-steps are not enough to save her though, and with a sharp cry of pain, Will falls into the stream of moving rock, carried down the mountain on her side.

    The land begins to level and the momentum if the falling shale, gravel, and horse halt. Bloodied, and gasping for air she closes her eyes, only for a minute, where the stones meet the meadow grasses, and it would be easy to miss the death-still form of a spotted mare.

    [Image: Warlightpageddoll1.png]

    Elayne had gone out in the storms, just as he said she shouldn’t do. What was it with teenagers and not listening to your parents? He’d sighed, thinking that eventually she would discover it wasn’t all that fun out there, that her parents maybe were actually right about the experience - after all, she could take any aquatic shape, so a larger one that could swim back to Ischia should be no trouble.

    However, it took days, and so one morning, the shifter set out in his usual unusual shape, that of a golden sea serpent, to find his daughter.

    The sea however, kept her secrets. None of the whales, sea gulls, or tortoises seems to have spotted any sort of purple fish that seemed out of place (of course one couldn’t fully trust the seagulls, but they wouldn’t have been able to keep down a shifted horse for too long). Worry creased into his brow, and his search expanded from the sea floor to the beaches, and eventually the river and beyond.

    He stepped onto the meadowlands from a creek, his golden shape reducing to that of a spotted horse, a young-looking baroque stallion. He wasn’t, of course, as young as he appeared, but honestly he had no time to adjust his apparent age to what might be more appropriate, instead on automation taking the shape of the young male he had been when he just got his shifting abilities.

    Aodhan doesn’t stay in one place for long, however. Wandering from herd to herd and group to group, he asks around for a purple and mauve filly with golden sunset mane and tail, and oddly changing wings. She could be glowing? But no, such a color, he gets answered, would be one they would remember. What does he want with her anyway?

    He sighs, standing still just a moment when it seems he has spoken to almost everybody here - when a cloud of dust rolling off the Mountain catches his attention. She wouldn’t…? But he should check either way. If it is his daughter, it wouldn’t actually surprise him - she knows the tales of fairies. Hoping it is both her and not, because she shouldn’t get involved with the magic creatures of the mountain if he could help it, he trots over with renewed energy.

    But it is not Elayne he finds, broken and dusty after a slide off the mountainside - only stopped by a rock. Scraped, sick, and bloody, it is the Tephran mare, Warlight who had come to their little island meeting way back when.

    She coughs, and then he sees it. The Plague. The blood is not all from her fall - he lungs as well, and her skin begins to loosen. Horror fills his face as he steps back, terror grasping his heart. ”You got the Plague?” he breaths, almost certain she wouldn’t be able to hear him.

    He’d thought it was over! Is she contagious? Is it starting again?

    He waits, waits for an answer, or for the inevitable feeling of dizziness. When nothing seems to happen, he slowly realizes the reason he got his shifting in the first place.

    The Cure.

    Would it save him still?

    from the ashes a fire shall be woken


    Soul as sweet as blood red jam

    The wave of rocks and brambles she rides slide to a halt, and the world is beautifully still for a moment. With deathlike stillness, she evaluates the pain in her side, her lungs, her head. It seems, at least, none of her bones are broken. A sense of calm starts to fall over her as she slowly exhales, and the world begins to darken. But the crunch of approaching hooves is earth-shatteringly loud, and her blue-black eyes blink open.

    With effort, the bay-splash mare rolls onto her belly, but she doesn't' dare try to stand yet - she didn't plan on collapsing into the embrace of a stranger. But her world is spinning now, as her eyes lift to find exactly where that voice is coming from. Woozy, she gives up her attempt to turn her head, instead, looking forward again before letting her antlerless head fall to rest on two bent knees.

    While most of his muttered sentence is missed, there is one word that is painfully clear.


    Suddenly, her situation is agonizingly clear. Panic flairs, hot and wild, in her breast. She knew this feeling, she knew that this burning in her veins would only get worse as the night wore on. 

    For an agonizingly long moment, she lays motionless, pulling the meadow aid into her fluid-filled lungs with rhythmic intensity while she tries to get a grip on her body. Warlight is keenly aware of how he is looking at her, or at least in her delirium, she thinks she is, she swears she can feel his eyes on the back of her head. Carnage's words come back to her then, the supposed cure to her condition, the lesson to be learned. She didn't want to ask for help, but she didn't have any other option. And who knew how long it would be before another creature fund her - a creature who wasn't just looking for an easy meal.  Gritting her teeth she prepares to speak, first swallowing hard to see if she could even find her voice.

    "I..." it comes out in a croak, and she coughs, a spattering of blood landing on her white knees as her head lifts. "I need help. I need to get back to Tephra."

    Gathering her legs below her she prepares to stand, lurching forward then back, before taking a stumbling step towards the meadow.

    [Image: Warlightpageddoll1.png]

    The spotted mare doesn't look healthy - doesn't look recognizable, doesn't look like she recognizes him either. He knows he has seen her somewhere before, but he just can't get his thoughts behind the what, where or how in the moment; distracted by her sickness, and his deep-rooted fear of catching it again, he is so very tempted to become a rock, mist, or really anything that wouldn't be able to catch it.

    But then he remembers she is not Noah in battle with him, and she needs help. And he has been Cured. It should be okay and if it isn't... well he supposes going to Noah is still an option. So, he takes a deep breath, nods to himself, and comes closer. She finally starts to speak when he does, hoarse and croaked, but yes... Tephra. Tephra is a good idea. They have healing waters, and the queen is supposed to be a magician, right? "Oh-kay." He still hesitates, but then he swallows. He wouldn't want to be left behind either... "Oh, no you don't!" he almost shouts, surprised when she takes wobbly steps towards the meadow. Not for the life of him - they can't take the risk! Not with children, and pregnant mares, and elderly in there grazing... no, definitely not. "We're going to fly. Hold on. Stay there."

    A large, golden dragon is the largest shape he's ever taken. Usually he is smaller, but right now, he needs a broad back and even broader wingspan. Besides, scaly shapes are a bit of his specialty - that and winged ones, which happens to be a fitting combination. The spotted male grows; his spots grow larger and larger until they take up more of him than his white patches, which slowly disappear; scales grow where hair was before, and large emerald eyes look down on the ill-looking mare on the ground. His tail lashes, a brilliant sweep through the grass until he holds it out right before her. His transformation skill allows him to do one more thing normal dragon shifters wouldn't be able to - his tail becomes a stairs, made of white and gold marble, all the way up his spine to a place nested between the wings. "Can you get on, or should I carry you?"

    from the ashes a fire shall be woken

    Warlight say hello to the dragon-stairs lol

    Soul as sweet as blood red jam

    Her stumbling step gets a reaction out of him, and when he shouts, she halts. Awkwardly balanced in a wide splay-stance, she waits, fully aware she is in no shape to resist him. Her eyelids are heavy, and the side of her body that she had slid down the mountain on feels like it's on fire. But she finally takes a real look at him, and his golden spots remind her of someone...

    We're going to fly. Hold on. Stay there.

    When he speaks those word she begins to doubt her perception of reality, but it's not like she really can go anywhere on her own. She had only hallucinated - to her knowledge - once or twice when she had the plague the first time. But Raul had been there to be her anchor her, and soothe the sickness with his magic.

    She feels lost without him.

    Her feeling of disorientation only intensifies as the stallion's metamorphosis takes place. It is one thing to know that powerful shifters exist in the world, and another to see such a shift take place so close. On any other day, it would have prompted a barrage of questions from the leopard-skin woman, but today it only makes her blink harder. Without any other options, she trustingly takes a step, then another. Her hooves ring on the stone staircase as she climbs, her blur-black eyes focused at the top as the world swims around her. It takes a painstakingly long time, but when she puts the last stair behind her, she collapses. With a sigh of relief she falls into a neat bundle, all four lugs tucked below her and her head resting beside them on his golden back.

    He smells like summer and sea-salt, and she remembers him then, the stallion who offered her a tour when she had stumbled across Aquaria's first kingdom meeting. A sense of calm settles over her as the great, golden wings rise around her and the warmth from his broad back chases away the chill she hadn't realized was causing her to tremble.  It was a feeling she had rarely submitted to, of being cared for and being so small. Of taking help, and being grateful for it.

    "Aodhan, right?" Her head lifts as she looks forward, and she realizes this will be the first time she has ever been airborne. "Thanks for the ride."

    [Image: Warlightpageddoll1.png]

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