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  • Beqanna

    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

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    [open]  won't let it go down until we torch it ourselves
    She’d bid farewell to each of her mothers and sisters and to many of her brothers, so by the time Lumina arrives in the shallows of the southern inlet, the sun hovers just above the western horizon. The warm waters had been left behind with her family, and she shivers as the spring breeze pulls at her drenched black mane and her exposed shoulders. Her multicolored hair is thin and sleek, the result of a childhood and adolescence spent on tropical Ischia. Her coat is beautiful - sapphire dapples on white, edged in gold and black – but it serves little purpose this far north. Lothbrok had warned her of this, but the young mare had no time for her eldest brother’s warnings.

    Not when she had an adventure ahead of her.

    Lumina has never met anyone that has been to the Icicle Isle. It is a place that her mothers had heard of, but not a place that any of them had seen. Father had gathered them from all across Beqanna, yet none had ever set foot on the frozen island. Lumina thinks she can understand why – her father would not like this cold grey place. (The thought of him brings a shiver down her spine despite the knowledge that he is well and truly trapped.)

    The four-year old mare takes a deep breath, and she releases it in a soft plume of steam.

    “Hello!” She calls out, her voice pitched to carry over the waves, which she hopes might work over the land as well. Lumina steps forward out of the water, the blue-black fin of her hind end having returned to two strong legs, and enters the Icicle Isle. “Hello?”

    The Island in the north may look silent, deserted, barren - it is not. Of course, the dragon knows very well that the Icicles here need more than just the occasional raid to keep them going, keep them happy - sometimes it's just hard for him to acknowledge that not everyone wants a very outgoing life, that they want quiet times and undisturbed ways of living as well.

    It's not of the dragon's influence how many choose to eventually live here, or not. The one that does choose to travel north all the way, however, is regarded with mixed feelings. Once upon a time there had been a man convinced that kelpies and dragons just don't mix. And for as long as all the kelpies remained in Ischia and it's close-by warmer seas, he could not care less about them. This black and blue-spotted girl (all mares younger than middle-aged women are girls in the eyes of the immortal) does have something more about her, but he cannot point out exactly what. Perhaps just the fact that she swam all this way and had not been deterred by the cold. Perhaps it's just that.

    He lets go of the shadows that cling to his sun-reflecting, icy body, leisurely lumbering towards the high-pitched voice from out of the darkness, into the light. He sports no wings in the moment, though it is quite obvious that he is not just a horse - having opted to keep the spines on his neck, instead of normal mane. He'd been testing out the limits of his shifting abilities, and today, that shows. His tail remains normal though, as do his ever-present ice-made scales. Claws are shifting in and out of place on his hind legs, as his mixed feelings find a way to mess with his current appearance.

    "A kelpie on my shores. That's a first." Whilst technically not true because Stillwater had broke through first, the old man had only done so to leave Castile's dragon-child here to freeze him to death, and had had not intentions of visiting. He brushes the memory aside quickly, knowing who else was there that day to find the colt, and he doesn't want to be reminded -

    that is until he inadvertently meets the young mare's eyes, and starts having a much harder time not to be reminded. His face shows only the minimal twitch, keeping it in check in a now years-practised way of pretending everything's fine. It must have been nearly five years now. Time enough to move on... you'd think. But it doesn't help to remember exactly the how of when she left, and he falls still - very still. The young mare herself might not have noticed though; he prays that she doesn't. He's suddenly very sure that he doesn't want to know anything about her ancestry.
    nothing burns like the cold

    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    The lack of trees here is strange, and a small frown furrows across her brow as her dark brown eyes wander the landscape. It reminds her of the bare stone that floors the too-warm waters off the Tephran beaches, a black and rocky sheet that is nothing like the lively coral reefs of her home. Lumina had never wanted to linger there, beneath the water on Tephra. Nothing did, save a few creatures accustomed to the harshness of the place.

    The Isle has its own such creatures, Lumina finds.

    He appears from the shadows, openly wielding an unfamiliar magic, and the young mare pauses.

    Her head tilts, just a bit, as she takes in the appearance of the stranger. Tall and heavily built (at least compared to Lumina), he’s possessed of glittering scales in a myriad of colors. The length of his tail, the spikes along his neck, and the claws that fade in and out of view suggest both that he has a form other than the one he currently wears and that whatever shape he takes is near the apex of the food chain. If that were not enough to make her wary, this is also the first creature she has met that is not family. Lumina had not quite thought through the ‘meeting strangers’ part of adventuring, but the weight of it grows larger as the bay roan steps closer.

    ‘A kelpie on my shores’, he says, and it takes Lumina a moment to realize that he means her.

    “An easy mistake to make,” she replies with an understanding smile. “I’ve less a taste for flesh than my siblings. I think perhaps I’m a nereid? It would make more sense than a kelpie that doesn’t like fish, don’t you think?” Delphi and Svana had agreed with her logic, anyway. And if Fool wanted to argue against it, well, she was exactly like her name; who is she to be an expert of the ways of magic, anyway?

    The enchanted beauty that had come with adolescence is a shared trait between Kelpie and Nereid, after all. The finned tails are also shared with their Kraken cousins, as is the ability to breathe the water as well as the air. It would have been easier to know for certain if her womb mother were there to ask, but she had gone the way that other mothers have gone since – there one morning and gone the next. All Lumina remembers of her is a spotted side and brown eyes just like those that stare back from her reflection.

    Those same eyes look up at Leilan now, bright with good humor.

    “And what, pray tell, are you? I have heard tales of snow bears and furred elephants, but none about anything quite like you.”
    There is a moment of silence and confusion with the blue-spotted mareling, and he almost raises a brow and tilts his head. Her charming smile doesn’t fully allure him the way a certain mermaid like her once had, simply because of the age difference - though he does notice the flat, herbivore teeth of a normal horse and is momentarily placated with her answer that she is no kelpie - at least not fully, he adds in his mind. He does, however, tilt his head at her assumption that thus, she is a nereid. ”Some of my daughters don’t share my tastes, but that doesn’t make them butterflies instead.” he opts to bestow on her what little he knows of inheritance - if she is a nereid, her mother must have been... unless... ”Are you not Ivar’s child?” Oh, he never should have asked, and he shakes his head before she can answer (though, she still might, if she’s fast or stubborn enough). ”Let’s call you mermaid then. I made that mistake with a kelpie once, but it might fit you better, with the... not-teeth thing going.” he grins a bit, his tail slashing momentarily from his restless movements.

    ”I’m an ice dragon, sometimes.” Not always though, he means to say. Just when he feels like it - exactly when he feels like it, in fact, because for him that is how the shifting seems to work. He rolls his shoulders and lets the movement glint in the cold sunlight, nodding from her towards the rest of the Isle. ”Name’s Leilan. Ruler here and all that, I suppose.” at that, his eyes twinkle a bit, knowing how unimpressive it might seem to her, to rule a burnt rock with a bunch of ice crystals on it. ”What draws you this far north? It’s not exactly warm water here.”
    nothing burns like the cold

    Two things I know I can make: pretty kids, and people mad.
    There is a silence between them after Lumina argues her nereidship, and the only sign of passing time is how the snow slowly gathers against her hooves. At the end of her assertion, the stallion had tilted his head in a way that caused Lumina to wonder if he doubts her conclusion. What he finally has to say confirms that suspicion, though the comparison escapes her. Leilan does not look much like a butterfly to her at all, and she is looking for a proboscis or maybe the hint of a missing set of legs when she realizes that he has said her father’s name.

    It has not occurred to Lumina that she is so recognizable as her father’s child.

    On an island where every child shared half her blood, the blue and gold of her hide had been unremarkable. Even the sister she had met on the main island of Ischia had shared a resemblance. She is thinking of this, and nearly answers when suddenly the stranger shakes his head as if he does not want to know the answer after all. Lumina frowns, but it is concern in her warm eyes rather than suspicion. She knows what it is like to not want to speak of her father. With a smile that is sympathetic for just a moment (she does not wish to shame him), Lumina is swiftly distracted by his declaration that she be called a mermaid instead.

    At that she laughs, a clear soft sound. “Mermaid,” she repeats, trying out the sound of it. “That will do as well as Lumina, I suppose. That is the name my mother gave me, and I think it must have been her who gave me these.” Another smile, or a flash of her flat teeth, turns into wide-eyed surprise at his answer to her query about his identity.

    “An ice dragon?” She repeats. She knows dragons – or at least she thought she did. Terrin was a dragon, after all, but his affinity to the sea made him as much a brother to Lumina as their shared blood. His ability did not frighten her any more than the sharks did. It was a part of her world.

    But ice? Ice she does not know, and does not really understand. There is much that the piebald does not understand, it seems, and there is within her chest a growing pressure, it feels like the pressure when she dove too deep, as though the water pushes down on her. Yet now she is breathing crisp air and the weight she feels is embarrassment at not knowing the most polite way to greet and ice dragon, or a leader, or a stallion that is neither her father nor her brother. It is not Leilan’s fault that she feels like a child, but he is the unfortunate soul to be nearest to her as she begins to realize the depths of her own ignorance.

    Now it is her turn to cause the moment of silence, while her pretty face becomes marred by a pretty frown.

    “I wanted to explore Beqanna,” she finally tells him, choosing the truth regardless of how it might make her seem. “No one on our island had ever been here, to the Icicle Isle, and so I wanted to see it myself.”


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