"“Content to admire you from afar.” Well that’s just bullshit. She wasn’t *content* to be admired from afar. She would rather not see him at all then be tortured by a buffered distance." --Mazikeen, written by Squirt
09-10-2020, 09:21 PM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2020, 09:53 PM by ghaul.)
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire
He grows weary of Wolfbane’s execution. Ghaul leaves them and moves instead to the farther reaches of their home, gliding over the flames he has summoned. There are untouched acres and trees left for him to ruin. He extends his talons and lands back on the ground just as he exhales another roaring plume of flame from the depth of his throat.
From behind, a boy covered in stars and splashes of gold rushes toward him. Malone has not forgotten the way the Pangean king left him bloodied and bruised in the deserts. Now, he rears up and kicks out at the scaled monster, hoping to shove him to the ground. He manages to push Ghaul stumbling forward, certainly, but he recovers in time to turn his head and receive another kick to the face. His jaws spread wide as he screeches furiously.
If scales fair poorly against his light, then how will feathers do? He keeps his mouth open wide as the beam forms there along his tongue before it fires at him, burning a perfect hole in the Sylvan boy’s wing. Ghaul watches delightedly as his outline stumbles back before crumpling to the ground.
“Your screams are music to my ears. I’ve missed them so,” he coos as he steps closer to loom over the writhing Malone. “Have you come to burn alongside your brethren?”
Defiant as ever, the boy spits in Ghaul’s face. The monster gives a disgusted scoff before turning and leaving him there. Whether he succumbs to the flames and smoke is hardly of interest to him anymore. Instead, he continues on his way, breathing more fire as he basks in the scent of ash and smog.
He doesn’t come quickly, but he never did anything at anyone’s pace but his own. He knew this was coming, and he knew that he would need his strength. He knew it wouldn’t be easy (he is arrogant but not altogether dumb) and he thus spends days sleeping, waking only for nourishment before forcing himself back into a cathartic level of slumber. When he wakes, he feels rested. He feels whole. His power thrums under him steadily, nearly simmering with the need for release, and he shakes his neck to release the tension.
It is then, and only then, that he begins to travel toward Loess.
He calls upon the things within the earth as he goes.
And they answer his call.
He feels them crawling forward from their graves. Some answer that are smaller than he would like, and some larger. They rise, listless and groaning under the weight of the life that he pours into them, and they stumble after him, their steps growing louder and steadier the further they go.
By the time that he crests Loess, his gathering is not insignificant. His neck is slick with sweat but his breathing steady. He can feel his pulse distinctly and he focuses on the rhythm of it, letting it guide him as he notes the shape and feel of Ghaul’s life force in the distance. He comes to a stop near the edges of Loess, far enough away from the flames to be endangered but not far enough away to escape the smoke that wraps around him. Inconvenient, but not something that he could actively avoid.
With a sigh, he breathes toward the undead minions who shuffle behind him,
And they do.
Stave’s eyes roll back in his head as he pours all of his efforts into leading them toward the slaughter and the destruction, his heart pounding in his chest, and the flames licking up toward the sky.
The scales went with her beauty, leaving her with only a mouthful of sharp teeth. She doesn’t need any more than that, especially now that the last of the feathers have regrown on her once-absent wing. Her self-healing is slowest at regrowing bones, but she trusts it enough to breathe deeply of the smokey air without fear for her lungs. Celina coughs and hacks and blinks watery eyes, but there is enough wind to give occasional breaks in the wind, and that is all her body needs to regenerate.
With fresh eyes, she looks down at the strange assortment of creatures rumbling past. They are magical, and she knows to avoid them as carefully as she avoids the fire. Do they know to avoid it, she wonders as one of the smaller things – half a squirrel, or maybe a large rat – trudges toward a burning swath of grass.
It seems they do not.
Taking her eyes away from the crisp rodent, Celina returns her green-eyed attention to the commotion in the distance.
She comes up from her den at the scent of smoke, confused and uneasy. Loess burns before her with its inhabitants fleeing this way and that. Khuma allows her scales to bloom across her body while her fangs erupt. Though she has never cared for war or fighting, she will not let the attack go unanswered. The thing with no eyes is covered in dragon scales, however. Her teeth will not find purchase there.
She turns her gaze to another, instead. He linger just ahead with no armor and seemingly uninhabited by his own mind. Khuma ducks when his undead monsters come shambling into Loess, though one manages to swipe its claws across her shoulder. She sucks in a breath and hurries from it, closer to their master. The serpent woman spreads her jaws open wide as she rushes forward to take him by the throat.
But there is a younger, stronger predator lying in wait.
Ciara springs from her hiding place with her talons and her teeth bared. There is just enough time for Khuma’s wild green eyes to stare into that glowing mouth as it closes shut on her face. Anaxarete had often commented on how her daughter often took her time killing things and today is no different. She drags the elder mare to the ground and presses her claws to Khuma’s throat.
“Weak,” Ciara rasps, embers churning from her throat. She tugs Khuma’s mouth open then to admire all the viper teeth glimmering there. And then she lowers her head to fill that same mouth with fire while the former queen screams and writhes. The Pangean girl fights to keep her still enough, but the battle is over quickly. The serpent goes still while the smoke rises from her charred throat.
Ciara brings her pink gaze up to Stave then with a nod. “Safe,” she promises.
Do not go quiet, do not go careful. When he gives you his wrist, bite straight through.
khuma tried to kill stave and instead she got a mouthful of fire courtesy of ciara.
09-13-2020, 08:49 PM (This post was last modified: 09-13-2020, 08:50 PM by Oceane.)
a little white light in a sea gone black
Loess burns. And with it, Oceane's heart breaks.
She glides far above the foothills, but the heat of the flames below her are still hot on her opaline underbelly. The smoke nearly chokes her, and at times the pegasi is forced to move higher, to cleaner air, to counter the dizziness she begins to feel. Panicked gasps turn raspy in the rawness of her throat but still she glides closer to the earth whenever the dizziness subsides.
She thinks of Lepis, of Soran, of Altum and Kestrell.
She hopes they have already found their way to safety.
There is nothing she can do but call out to the Loessian wildlife and plead for them to run - she directs them from the sky, leading as many as she can to safety away from the flames. As she begins to loop back towards the heart of the territory for another flyover, her attention is pulled towards the arrival of an army.
There is something odd about them. Something empty. She extends her feathered wings and dares to swoop a bit lower, grimacing against the heat of the flames and the thickness of the smoke.
She uses her zoolingualism to call to the creatures, but there is no response or acknowledgment. Undead. She had seen them before in Nau-Aib, but never in Beqanna, and if they are similar in any way, her newly blossoming hopelessness might be well-founded. Oceane forces a slow exhale from her ajar maw to calm herself; it is accentuated by a cough, but it gives her a moment to remember that the undead in Nau-Aib had needed an arithmancer to guide them.
It's not much, but it's something.
She immediately begins to search as best she can through the fog and flames. Despite the blanket of ash he carries, Oceane recognizes ghaul in the midst of the chaos. She gives him a wide birth, hoping that she is hidden from his view within the smoke as she continues to search for the undead commander. Last she knew, he did not possess such a power, but much can change in this universe.
Hidden between the flames, the shadows, and the smoke, an obsidian and galaxy-painted equine lurks. Oceane, who nearly flies by, is lucky to spot them as she glides overhead. They remain back from the action, and appear to be concentrating on something else entirely - Oceane is hopeful. Could this be the puppeteer? She reaches out with her zoolingualism again, to the snakes and wolves and cougars that she had ushered away from the flames, and she asks them to investigate what it is that stave is doing just at the edge of the territory.
With bated breath, Oceane circles again, and waits as the creatures agree to do her bidding and start to close in on the galaxy-coated stallion.
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire
Loess burns easily with no one fighting to keep it safe from him. He is almost disappointed, but he knew that this victory would be served to him on a silver platter. Ghaul turns and watches the undead creatures as they come marching into the fire. That can only mean that Stave has arrived to assist him, a fact that brings a grin to his face.
“Ghaul, it’s time for this to end,” he hears someone call over the roaring fire. The Pangean king turns and assesses the stranger - tall, like him. A bit more broad-chested and covered in serpentine scales. Like Gospel, he thinks. Ghaul offers a soft croon in an attempt at friendship, but he is met with a guttural hiss of rejection. Like Adna, then. The thought curls his lips back as he bares his teeth.
“It will not end. This is the beginning. Can’t you see what I’m building here?” he pleads, stalking closer to meet his brother. “This was never a war. This is a rebirthing of this world, a second chance at greatness.”
But Larva does not seem moved by the words. He slithers closer as the two begin to circle one another, sons born of the same curse finally meeting in the inferno. The viper remains silent as he allows the younger male to carry on. Let him reveal his grand scheme and then be done with it.
“Fire burns that which is weak. The ashes are the foundation that makes the forest spring back twice as tall. Through destruction, we clear the way for whatever comes after us.”
Ghaul steps in to test his brother and Larva shies backward, just as quick. The serpent has studied the draconic king and learned his mannerisms well enough to know that his words are all leading up to the same inevitable end - a clashing of teeth and scales to prove who is the superior hunter.
“Enough. You’re not the hand of fate.”
And then the dragon launches himself at Larva, talons outstretched so they slice right into his hip. The viper pulls backward with limping steps as he roars in fury. Ghaul is too eager to take the bait, moving forward once more to swipe for a shoulder. Larva sidesteps and ducks his head, opening his jaws wide to sink his fangs into the soft base of his brother’s throat. The Pangean shrieks with a blend of horror and agony while venom floods his veins.
Stumbling back, he gnashes his teeth and fights to remain standing.
“You think you are worthy to destroy me?! You are a worm at the feet of kings! A filthy larva!”
But the wartorn old serpent can only laugh.
“I don’t intend to kill you. I only want to watch.”
And then he steps back from the fire and the smoke.
BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
She has no taste for chaos, Gospel.
Her blind want for destruction its forms pales in comparison to her desire to avoid the brutal pulse of panic in Nerine.
She is not built for these things. One-track-minded, she lacks the attention span necessary to throw herself headlong into battle. How quickly she would be felled there.
She follows Stave to Loess. Trails him by several lengths. Too proud to join him, perhaps. She does not know the purpose of this war, but she remembers, even still, what Ghaul had told her once. About prey and weakness. How desperate she had been to serve him then, how desperate to be seen as something worthy.
How terribly she had wanted to belong to him.
Stave is already lost to his magic by the time she arrives. He has already been protected by certain death by some figure she does not recognize. She watches as life is extinguished by fire and then wanders deeper into the smoke. It gets her eyes rolling, her nostrils flared. It makes her throat ache as she journeys.
She does not call out. Even if the quiet is eerie, thick. As if it, too, is a living thing.
She catches sight of him through the haze. An unmistakable figure, even in these conditions. She moves toward him, automatic, squinting through the burning in her eyes at the other figure approaching. She does not slow, does not hesitate, arrives in the fray just in time to watch the reptilian figure sink its teeth into Ghaul’s throat.
The sound is terrible, echoing as it does in her head. She grimaces against it.
She has no gift in terms of healing. Nothing to offer him except her own venom. So, she does the next best thing, and plants herself between him and the retreating figure. Slitted eyes trained hard on the reptilian figure, hissing and spitting.
09-13-2020, 10:07 PM (This post was last modified: 09-13-2020, 11:22 PM by Starsin.)
and let me crawl inside your veins. I'll build a wall, give you a ball and chain.
She has been patient.
It was not something she was good at, even as an adult. Her temper has always been prone to igniting into flames in her veins at the slightest irritation, and it had taken everything in her to not hunt down the draconic beast that she had fought on Loessian soil years ago. But oh, she remembers him. Starsin’s memory was sharp as ever, and she did not forget a single soul that had ever wronged her, or her family. She had spared him, because she had let her heart soften at the thought of Litotes and Draco.
She regretted that every single day, afraid that she had made the wrong choice. Even more afraid that she would pay for it in the form of losing Ophanim, Malone, or any of her other children.
But she had waited, painfully quiet. She knew monsters like Ghaul were not content to hole themselves away for the rest of their days. He would be back, and he would be back with vengeance and fire, and she would be ready for him.
She smelled the smoke in Loess from Sylva, but did not know that Taiga and Nerine also burned. The sky was a strange, rusted gray color, and she is reminded of when they had burned Tephra. She feels her heart – Ophanim’s heart, actually – begin to beat harder behind the rough scar on her chest, and there is a new sense of urgency to her steps when she finally returns to her original home.
Loess burns, and somewhere in the back of her mind she wonders where Lepis is – wonders if Wolfbane ever found her – or even Castile, but the moment her eyes land on the crumpled, injured form of Malone, everyone else disappears. That familiar rage begins to lick its way up her ribcage, and her beautiful face twists into a sneer when she spins to find the one she has been looking – waiting – for.
He is not hard to find, since he leaves a path of fire and destruction wherever he goes.
The smoke smothers the stars that glow across her sides, and through the haze she launches herself in the direction of Ghaul. She sees the bleeding stallion off to the side, she sees the serpent girl that stands in front of him. Her mind flips back to Tephra and she remembers the ferocity in which she had collided with the white dragon that had been attacking Ophanim, and how Casimira had exploded into fire and diamond-like dragon scales. That had been her initial plan; to explode Ghaul like she had before. She knows with enough rage (and oh, she is never really lacking in that department) she can do it. But the girl standing in front of him presents a problem; she could shatter her where she stands, but she is afraid that wasting any kind of energy would leave her with not quite enough to kill Ghaul completely.
And so she does the next best thing.
As she has done so many times before – with trees, boulders, anything close to her – she shatters him from a distance.
Slowly, piece by piece.
She dismantles his scales in large fragments, watches them burst into a series of flames, and watches as those flames feed off one another. Her eyes trace across him methodically; his neck, and his shoulders, across his back, along his flank. She shatters his armor and she lets him burn, lets him be consumed by his own fire.
She kills him, and it is not for Loess, or for Nerine, or for Taiga.
She kills him because no matter how far she has come from the bitter, angry young girl she had been, she is still Starsin, and if he wants to make her world burn, she will be certain that he burns with it.
it’s not like me to be so mean. you’re all I wanted. ( just let me hold you Like a hostage. )
eta this is the only post im making in this war.
she came, she killed, she gone
09-13-2020, 10:28 PM (This post was last modified: 09-13-2020, 10:30 PM by Malone.)
kill me softly, your hold on me is somethin' i can't explain.
His immortality keeps him whole, keeps the bleeding from becoming too great. Malone stumbles up onto his hooves when he catches sight of his mother and he turns to watch her approach the monster. He opens his mouth to call her, but he can see that there is no stopping her. Her thoughts are wave upon wave of fury and wrath. It makes his head pound as he tries to block them out along with all the others.
When he looks back to the gathering figures, he sees a patch of dragon scales erupt from Ghaul’s skin. He howls in pain and turns to face her, though he’s already stumbling from the venom coursing through his veins. Fire licks across the raw skin each time Starsin explodes another section of his precious armor. How strange, to watch a dragon burn with his own fire. But the flames spew out from beneath every shattered inch until he is engulfed by them.
The angry red skin blisters and chars right before Malone's eyes until the entire body reminds him of lava from the Tephran volcano. Had his father screamed like this when he returned from there? He shivers as he watches the horns crumble from the dragon's face, leaving holes where eyes should've been. Ghaul turns his great head and Malone finds himself staring into those pits for far longer than he would like.
Ghaul tries to breathe a final flame at Starsin but there is only another shriek of agony instead. The venom locks up his muscles until he can only collapse to the ground, where the burning grasses join the fire already consuming him. Ghaul’s screams of terror and suffering fill Malone’s ears as he limps closer to Starsin. Slowly, the swan song comes to an end, and the charred remains become little more than a corpse.
“Take me home,” he whispers as he leans against her. He casts only a brief glance to the serpentine creature who smiles with the fire reflected in his sage green eyes.
tl;dr: Starsin exploded Ghaul's scales so he was no longer fire proof, so he burned to death and couldn't move because of neurotoxin. Malone is TRAUMATIZED AS HELL.
Before everything, she had told Ghaul that if he needed assistance in Loess that she would be ready to send aid. For this reason, she’d established a thin connection between his mind and her own. Magic had limitations, of course, but Anaxarete had centuries of experience. She knew how to keep mental connections with others open without expending too much of her own energy. It was how she’d maintained control of the Xenomorphs for so long from such great distances.
So when the thin connection between her mind and Ghaul’s was suddenly severed – she knew in that moment that something had gone wrong. There were very few explanations for what could had severed her magic so suddenly and absolutely, and none of the explanations were good.
The scene in Loess is similar to one she’d just left in Nerine. Ash rains from the sky. She steps from the portal of shadow and her cold gaze immediately falls upon what was once Ghaul. Something like remorse tugs at her, but the shadowmare had lost the capacity for emotion so long ago. She pays little attention to what is unfolding around her – she is not here to intervene in the conflict. Instead – the shadows rise from the earth around Ghaul’s broken body, wrapping him and all of the broken pieces in a shroud of darkness in shadow. The process almost looks gentle, considering the surroundings. The delicate threads of shadow continue to wind until there is no sign of the charred, broken flesh – only a smooth, velvet pall of darkness.
She speaks into the minds of the Pangeans who have come – so they will understand what she has done.
“I am taking his body home to Pangea, where he belongs.” Anaxarete, while not one known for being sentimental, felt that the was the very least of what Ghaul deserved. Pangea had come a long way from the empty desert that it once was, and now the stage was set for Pangea to serve as the birthplace for a new version of the Chamber of old. For Ghaul’s role in that, the shadowmare would be eternally grateful. So when those that loved him returned and the fires burned bright in Pangea once more, she would ensure that he would be given a fitting burial.
And in a swirl of shadow, she steps back into the portal of darkness with the shrouded body and is gone.
tl;dr - Ana popped in on her way home from Nerine to take Ghaul's body back to Pangea after she felt her connection with him disappear. She also mentally tells the Pangeans that's what shes doing. Then she leaves. Carry on.
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