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    Jamie -- Year 213


    “"I don’t know how to do this,” she says. What she actually means is I’m sorry, but she doesn’t know how to apologize either." --Titanya, written by Mirage

    [private]  so give me hope in the darkness
    Mariner shifts his focus to the sky at her mention of the moon. How long has it been since they last saw the moon? Has he missed it in its absence? He has carried the night sky with him and has thought so little of the moon. (Perhaps this is a gene he never inherited, the attachment gene, the nostalgia gene, whatever gene it is that allows one to miss things.) 

    And then he drags his focus back to her face (murky in this darkness) when she speaks again. Is this teasing? He doesn’t have friends, he has never had friends, and his mother did not have a sense of humor. He does not know what teasing is and his had been a kind of sinister, casual cruelty. 

    He recognizes her question as rhetorical and does not answer it. Her assessment of him makes his nerves bristle but he makes no effort to defend himself. It’s not wrong. He has never seen any reason to stay in one place long. Without friends or any family to speak of (unless you counted his mother, who he often thought to visit but ultimately very rarely ever did because her cruelty had a tendency to be more deliberate than casual). Still, he does not speak to confirm or deny her suspicions about his character. 

    He shifts his weight as the darkness begins to shift. Is he a coward? Does the one small step he takes backward away from it make him a coward? Perhaps. He exhales a short, stilted breath as the darkness fashions itself into a pair of wings and his brow furrows in confusion. Perhaps he had underestimated her. He reclaims the space he had pushed between them and reaches for the darkness, wondering if his nose will pass right through it or find something solid.

    Do those work?” he asks. “I can show you.” Is this kindness or merely a kind of arrogance? 

    i’m a shot through the dark, i’m a black sinkhole
    if it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone


    The Monsters please mess with his sublimation!
    mariner nothing happens to your sublimation

    mariner remains as much a mystery as anything else in this dark world.

    She teases him (and she can't help it, though she reprimands herself for it now; not everyone knows how to greet her playful banter), hoping to draw some of the answers out. But as she tilts her head this way and that, she comes no closer to learning anything else about the star-spangled stallion. She relents with it, drawing away from her impish nature as the tides draw away from Islandres' shore.

    Islay can't see clearly enough to see his brow furrow but she can sense his confusion. It's a reaction she has seen often enough and the two-toned girl lifts her head slightly, turning the thought over in her mind to step away from the pegasus. Like her magic, the abilities are still growing with her and Islay often discovers she can do a little more with this power each time she attempts it.

    While the ability to craft wings is not new to the shadow spinner, there are intricacies in them that weren't there before. What had been a cluster of dark before reveals the beginnings of midnight-sheened feathers and her movements with these added appendages feel more natural than they ever had before. The two-toned mare spreads them in a swift, arcing motion before looking back to Mariner.

    Her wings are made of nothing; they aren't really there. It is her gift pushing gravity around, chasing out any fragments of light to manifest and move the dark. So she shouldn't really feel the way his nose brushes against her wings but the darkness ripples and it tremors within Islay as well, like ripples across still water. She glances again at the winged stallion as the darkness shifts and wonders if he finds her something of an oddity.

    Is she?

    "I don't know," she tells him. Islay has only gone so far as to create her wings, not use them. It certainly makes her seem more of an oddity. This girl whose bravery has never left the ground. Her light blue head lifts and whether the offer is spoken with kindness or arrogance, Islay only hears the chance to try. She widens her wings - waiting for him - and then nods: "Okay."

    [Image: lSYWxe.png]
    There is some tremor of something in his gut. The thrill of something he does not know how to identify. Something dark, he is certain.

    He is not kind, Mariner. Neither of his parents ever had any kindness to pass on to him. So there is nothing in him that is grateful for the opportunity to teach someone something for their benefit. But he feels no overwhelming urge to interrogate exactly what his motivation is as she stretches out her dark wings and agrees. 

    Instead, he grits his teeth to keep whatever sinister smile wants to crawl across his face at bay and nods. He has not done much flying in this darkness, primarily because he is not certain what he might encounter in the sky and would prefer to have his feet beneath him should he need to defend himself, but flying has always come easy. His mother had taught him as soon as she thought his wings could hold him, not for his benefit but because she preferred flying and did not want to be slowed down by a child.

    All right,” he says and stretches his own wings. He turns so that they are standing facing the same direction and gestures into the darkness unfurling in front of them. “Best to get a running start, flap your wings and just kind of… jump.” He shrugs and then demonstrates, breaking into an easy canter, unfurling his wings and casting himself easily into the sky. He floats several feet off the ground before circling back and landing nearby and returning to her side. 

    Not a great teacher, really, but also not one with a whole lot of practice. “Try it,” he urges.

    i’m a shot through the dark, i’m a black sinkhole
    if it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone


    The Monsters please mess with his sublimation!
    mariner your sublimation has mutated into negative empathy

    If there is darkness in mariner, can she craft it?

    Islay, who has used the darkness as a playmate and a helpmeet, is familiar with the darkness all around them. It is perhaps why she is so bold despite their circumstances. There are things to be afraid of in the dark, she knows. Shades to be watchful for. But there are also wonders to find.

    So as Mariner grits his teeth, Islay sharpens her focus to him and spreads her shadow wings.

    They turn to face the same direction and the two-toned girl watches as he stretches his wings. He tells her that it is like jumping and she imagines the leaping deer she once saw on Islandres. They were small, fragile-looking things and suddenly she wonders what happens if the leap were to fail? It's not a comforting thought and she decides it's not a particularly good one to have before a flying lesson so she swallows it down with her apprehension. She won't fall, she decides as if it were that simple. She simply won't fall. Her black wings shift nervously and Islay watches as the stallion gives a demonstration of the leap that she will need to make for herself.

    Mariner finds the night sky easily. He is a blur above her and all she can hear is the beats of his wings as stays in the air. The winged stallion finally comes into view and Islay watches as he comes down. Try it, he urges and so she does.

    She copies his canter - replicates it as best as she can - and stretches out her wings as she does her stride. There is a brief moment where her hooves leave the ground, where her wings lift but then she imagines falling and the ground suddenly seems too far away. Her legs reach down, striving to land and her wings close too fast. Her magic always comes so easily and always leaves her so assured but she has never tested it to this level; she has never used it to leave the ground. Her heart races frantically.

    When she nears him again, her pale nostrils are flaring wildly. "I-," she starts, somewhat embarrassed. How? she wants to ask but Islay instead says this: "what if I fall?"

    [Image: lSYWxe.png]
    He can hardly see her through the crushing darkness, so he follows, trotting into the shadows after her. He watches her leap into the sky, watches her scramble back down to the earth. He’d felt no rush of pride when she’d taken to the sky, so there is nothing for his disappointment to replace as she rushes to land. 

    Someone softer than he might have smiled patiently, nudged her gently, told her that there was nothing to fear. So long as she believed in herself there was nothing she couldn’t accomplish. But he is not soft and he is not kind and there is no paternal streak buried beneath the stars scattered across his dark coat, so he only shakes his head, the corners of his mouth turned down in a hard frown.

    That’s no way to think,” he tells her. He does reach out to nudge her but there is nothing gentle about it, nothing encouraging. He pushes her back the way she had come. “Try again,” he says, leaving no room for argument. 

    Nothing will happen if you fall,” he adds, his tone sharp.

    Nothing. He will not allow her to entertain the thought that anything at all will happen if she falls. He will not allow her to fill her head with the horror of possibilities. He drags in a long, shuddering breath and sets his jaw. He will not let her fail. Not because he wants to see her succeed because her failure will belong to him as much as it will belong to her. He will teach her the same way his mother taught him. 

    If you think you will fail, you will fail,” he snaps into the darkness, the same way his mother had.

    i’m a shot through the dark, i’m a black sinkhole
    if it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone

    Islay sorry he's meaner than i thought he was going to be!!! lmao

    No way to think?

    Islay blinks once, unaccustomed to this hardness in the winged stranger. Her stars were always kind. Her heavens always left room for doubt but then her universes always knew how to lift her back up. Mariner holds his mouth in a frown and Islay finds that she wants to make it disappear almost as she wishes she could.

    "Are you a healer?" she counters to him. It's rather brash, the way she asks the older stallion. All her daring goes to asking him this question instead of challenging the dark sky.

    But her head looks ahead to the shadows that loom above and that is where Islay puts all of her focus. Her wings - which had partially faded with her fear - return and the two-toned girl concentrates on putting all of her skill there, on imagining that if she reaches the sky, then maybe she might find the stars. That if she can't bring the wonders to the ground then she will fly above to the wonders.

    Either way, she and her heavens will be reunited. If she falls, it will because she had been reaching for the stars she so dearly loved.

    Her heartbeat is a fluttering thing and she wills it to hammer out the fear in her chest.  Spreading out the wings that have been carved from the darkest parts of their current world, Islay trots ahead again (for a few strides too long, she stays on the ground for longer than she needs to be). They beat once and twice and then faster and she tries to picture them moving in tandem with her frantic heart that so forcefully pushes out her childish fears.

    You will fly, she thinks to the shadows.

    The moment finally comes when she leaves the ground and the panic returns that there is too much sky. It could swallow her. Something in her wants to land again but as she tilts her wings down, she realizes that the control is in her head. You will fly, she hears Mariner tell her. It plays like a mantra in her mind and she pushes herself upward, telling herself to search for the stars. Islay, who isn't experienced with heights or the limits of flying and with no way to see how far below the ground is, turns her head to call out to the star-dappled wanderer. "mariner?"

    [Image: lSYWxe.png]

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