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  • Beqanna

    COTY

    Jamie -- Year 213

    QOTY

    “"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


    [open]  Bind our fortune, damn what the stars own [Atrox/Any]
    #1

    Ciri

    She had been trying. Trying to get past her bitter resentment of Jah-Lilah raising her lost son. Trying to forge a relationship with her wary child while treading lightly around the remnants of the one she had once had with his father. In that new land, Eternal. And then the world broke. And the portal that she had willingly gone through before seemed to form and snatch her up without asking. Instinctively. There was no time to find any of them, no time to reach for them. In a matter of seconds, it’s twirling blue force pulled her in and before she could even cry out… She was gone. That world was gone.

    Hurtling through starlight, she doesn’t know how long she travels. She never does. Time plays by it’s own rules here and of them there are none. In her memory, it seems to happen in minutes but the reality is much more confusing and chaotic then that. It’s been years since she once called Hyaline home. Years since she had been spit up on the edge of the lake and Amet had found her, bleeding and sick. Where she had found love and family and all the things she never thought she had actually wanted. Of all the planes of existence, all the other worlds that spun in the universe, whoever played with her strings of fate decided to bring her back to this moment in time. This spot of Beqanna. Hyaline.

    With a sharp crack that throws ripples over the water, she’s thrown head over heels into the muddy bank, flailing and kicking and angry that she still hadn’t mastered the art of a graceful exit. With another ear splitting crack, the portal vanishes. And it’s just her and the sound of her own heavy breathing. She doesn’t realize at first where she is because it’s so damn dark. Instinctively she tries to pull from above, to shield herself in starlight and give herself a makeshift flashlight. It doesn’t come. Confused, she rises off bruised knees and tries again. Nothing. There’s a tinny whistle in her ears, a slow whine of dread as she tries again, and again, and again. No stars come to her rescue. Her swirling silver iris’s lift to the sky and she sees the problem immediately. It’s like the clouds have turned to sludge and not a single ounce of starlight can break through. Some weird sliver of light plays off in the distant horizon but it’s not enough. It’s not her beloved friends, her ancestors and siblings, the part of her that is star-fallen. They are obscured to her, hidden. She cannot reach them. It’s been a long time since she’s felt true fear but it crawls up her spine now, chilling her bones and reaching the hardness that sets in her gaze.

    She’s known darkness like this before, somewhat similar to when she had been in the Upside Down. But even that doesn’t compare to this. It’s too dark. Smothering and choking. Trying to calm herself, taking slow long drags of air into her lungs and trying to make sense of where she was. There’s a scent here that’s familiar to her, like an old song you just can’t remember the name of. It tickles at the back of her head but she still can’t place it. Taking a few careful steps across the sand and hesitating when water pools around her front hooves. It doesn’t smell salty like the sea. It’s a different fragrance, one with notes of murkiness and decaying organic matter. One of rocks that shine when water laps around their edges. One of cattails and tadpoles. She knows that scent. She knows it well.

    She is quiet and still at the lakes edge as the realization of where she is hits her. Her home, a home no longer. There is a pain lodged deep in her chest. Being here again. Alone. They should be here too. The silver swirls are sluggish in her eyes as they search for even a hint of her reflection in the dark water, trying to at least find the familiarity of her own scarred face. Finding nothing. No reflection. No family. No love. No stars. Only that deep thick pain that seems to settle and spread within her.

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

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    #2

    Mazikeen had gotten into the habit of being more obsessive about border patrols for Hyaline when she had lost her shifting. It was a way to contribute and a way to tire herself out. And, of course, to keep an eye out for any more monsters that might slink across into the shadows and harass those that called this place home.

    Now that she has her shifting back, the habit has been hard to break. It is, in a weird way, comforting to keep it up.

    It’s something to do, something to keep her focus on, so her mind doesn’t stray into the multitude of topics she thinks she’s better off avoiding. And now there’s a host of different animals she can become, to practice with this new form of shifting. On this particular day she wore the shape of a sabre-toothed cat, black instead of her usual white colouring - only keeping her bright orange eyes and relishing the ease with which the feline pupils cut through the darkness.

    It’s almost a relief when she spots the stranger cross into Hyaline.  Someone new to meet, something else to focus on. She’s curious if it’s a new shifter recruit or someone just passing through.

    As she approaches, she shifts from the sabre-toothed cat to herself - the glow from her twisted horns not doing much to light her way but they illuminate the white mare she becomes and the area around her. The gentle current of the lake catches the orange and red light too as she comes to stand nearby on the shore, fixing the stranger in her bright gaze. There's a wariness to her tone when she speaks, but it's not particularly cold. It's been a while since anyone new has wandered in here - anyone that wasn't crafted from shadow and bent on blood, anyway. “Hello. Can I help you?” Which is a friendlier version of the question she wants to ask: ‘what do you want?’

    MAZIKEEN
    mazikeen


    Ciri
    Reply
    #3

    Ciri

    She’s expecting company at this point. The crack from the portal still rings in her ears or maybe that’s still the shrill whistle of dread that she can’t access her power lingering in her head. Either way, she’s bound to draw some sort of attention, good or bad. Kingdoms rarely let strangers go unnoticed and she can’t escape the irony of that. That she’s an interloper now, an outsider, an unknown to this place that had once been her only true concept of home. A soft snort of unamused laughter, once she had been called Hyaline’s Heart. His heart.  Bittersweet memories that she forces down down down into that locked place inside of her. Turning her ravaged face towards the approaching orange eyes that glimmer in the darkness and guarding herself for what’s to come.

    It’’s instinct now, her body immediately bracing into a defensive position as she makes out a large cat like figure. Curved lobes pinning to her skull and becoming hidden beneath the thickness of her dark mane. The absence of her star shield is a heavy weight along her back, unable to help herself as she instinctively calls to them even though she knows it’s pointless. She knew exactly what kind of things could lurk in the dark, knew better than most that monsters were real. Sometimes the Leshen still haunts her nightmares, the things she had seen in the Upside Down something she can never entirely forget. The cat suddenly shifts as it comes closer, a white mare taking its place. Light glows faintly from horns that frame her forehead and Ciri hesitates for a moment, still wary. Still guarded. Thousands of scars that pucker her dark body and leave silvery threads across her face tell the story of why she always assumes the worse but even those are hard to see now in this oppressive never-ending night. Slowly her ears relax and start to turn towards the mare who closes distance between them fairly quickly.

    The stranger’s tone matches her own cautionary behavior and she’s not offended by it. Doesn’t blame her, know’s she’s the one trespassing here. It won’t matter, that she hadn’t meant to end up here. Wincing slightly against the sudden brightness of her light, the swirling silver of her iris’s moving slowly as it adjusts from the darkness. ”Sorry, I didn’t mean to end up here. I must have gotten turned around.” She speaks slowly, regarding the other hesitantly as she tries to gauge her reaction. It’s not really a lie, she hadn’t meant to land here. Hadn’t asked for Eternal to combust and force her out of its planer existence. She wonders if anyone else had survived. If anyone else might somehow find their way back to here. Or if this was another alternate reality too judging by the weird darkness and lack of a sky. ”I’m Ciri.” She offers as an afterthought, casting her pewter gaze around her before looking back to the horned female through tangles of black forelock. ”If you don’t mind showing me the way, I can get out of your hair.” Obviously she doesn’t have a plan, has nowhere to go, doesn’t realize exactly how unwanted she probably is even though a shifter gene lies dormant and unexpressed in her DNA. Even though the reason for that gene, her own mysterious estranged father, prowls around this lake and calls it his home now. All she does know is that she needs to figure out how to reach the stars, how to protect herself, and try to figure out what to do next. If her fate was to return to a life as a nomad, back to a forgotten wanderer then so be it. But she needs her stars, her lifeline. She needs them desperately.

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was



    Mazikeen
    Reply
    #4

    It doesn’t escape her notice, the way the mare’s ears flatten and disappear as Mazikeen approaches - she doesn’t think anything of it. The darkness has been making most of Beqanna’s inhabitants pretty jumpy. Mazikeen would like to think she’s kept her cool during most of it, but it is difficult to relax when there could be actual monsters lurking around, prepared to attack.

    As she listens to the apology given, she needs to remind herself that not everyone is as familiar with the borders of Hyaline as she is. She supposed it was reasonable to not know exactly where you were in this all-consuming night, getting turned around followed suit.

    Really, now that she thought about it, she was surprised it didn’t happen more often.

    But Mazikeen has no reason to think the words are false and she relaxes a little as Ciri introduces herself and requests help finding the way out. That certainly makes things easy and is a request she has no issues at all assisting with. The feline eyes that Mazikeen blinks into existence are helpful at navigating the dark.

    She could find her way around easily - but why not use the tools she had (especially now that she had them back).

    “Sure, follow me. It’s easy to get lost in the foothills.” Mazikeen gestures with her horned head and turns to move away from the lake and towards Hyaline’s border. She pauses to make sure Ciri joins her and takes the opportunity to offer her own name - putting some effort to have a glimmer of warmth in her tone. “I’m Mazikeen.”

    MAZIKEEN
    mazikeen


    Ciri
    Reply
    #5

    Ciri

    "Useful trick that.” She motions with her muzzle towards the white mare, taking in the subtle shift of her eyes as they return to a more feline nature. "The shifting I mean.” She explains before quietly falling into step beside her grateful that she wasn’t pushed too hard on her reasoning for being here and thanking the fates that at least this part was easy. If only everything else wasn’t such a mess. Obviously powers weren’t taken completely away, hadn’t disappeared entirely. The shifter beside her was evidence of that. Perhaps it was only her power that had been effected. Maybe something had gone wrong in the portal, or perhaps this was just an alternate version of the place she had once called home. She can’t stop picking apart the pieces, trying to make them fall into place where she can make sense of it all.

    Mazikeen, it’s the name that is offered as she stews over her predicament in silence. The scarred mare doesn’t respond back right away, her mind churning with several pieces of information. She already knew that this mare was a stranger, had never seen her before, and her name was foreign to her. It had been too much to hope that maybe she had fallen backwards in time, had arrived when perhaps Hyaline was still in the grips of someone familiar to her. But between the darkness and the stranger, she had already known deep in her heart that it was too much to ask. So she has either moved back too far or moved forward in time.

    For a moment she thinks to ask what year it is but decides that’s too revealing of a question, it might invite more speculation of herself and how she had come to be here. Instead she asks, "So how long has it been like this?" Gesturing to the ominous presence of shadows and stains billowing about them. Not realizing that this question isn’t much better than her original thought. She suddenly halts in her slow march, looking at Mazikeen with an intensity that sends the swirls of her silver gaze into a frenzy. There’s another question and she hesitates, knowing it might expose her even further but suddenly she doesn’t care. She just needs to know. "Who rules Hyaline now?” A hesitation before finally admitting what she really wants to know, her voice spilling from dark lips. It’s too late to hide the slight hitch of desperation that weaves between her words. "Has anyone seen Amet?

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was



    Mazikeen
    Reply
    #6

    Mazikeen frowns when the mare stops their trek but keeps her frustration from showing. Apparently, this wasn’t going to be so easy - as if they couldn’t talk and walk at the same time? She doesn’t mind visitors, she thinks. She just prefers to know that they are in fact just temporary visits. Maybe she’ll be a little friendlier when the sun returns (she’s stubborn in her belief that one day, somehow, it will). For now, this suits her fine - it’s keeping herself and the residents of her home as safe as she can manage.

    She listens patiently to the questions that are posed, not really thinking much of any of them. Newcomers were always coming to Beqanna, after all, and time had been a funny thing without the sun to aid. It’d be easy to forget how long it had been since the sun disappeared.

    She tilts her head as she thinks about this first question, her orange eyes flicking up to the featureless sky as she counts in her head. “Um… two winters? I think? It’s hard to keep track of the seasons.”

    And then for the second question - a simple “I do.” It doesn’t bother her in the slightest that she isn’t known - the change had been recent and abrupt and she does not expect news of it to have travelled.

    And for the third she shakes her head. “I’ve never heard that name before, sorry. Maybe you’ll have better luck in the common areas around the meadow?” Mazikeen begins to walk again, hoping Ciri will get the point and resume their slow pace.

    MAZIKEEN
    mazikeen


    Ciri
    Reply
    #7

    Ciri

    There are subtle shifts in the mare’s demeanor and body language that let Ciri know she’s not pleased with the lingering, not happy to stop and chat with a stranger. A shiver of annoyance claws along her own skin as well. This had once been her home. Her only real home… Until she had messed that up with the confusion of her feelings between Castile and Amet. Castile… Now that was a name and face that she had not heard or seen even longer than Amet’s. It’s a strange feeling to recall him, it had been such a long time ago that she’s not even sure how she feels about it all anymore. The last thing he had said to her was “I can’t be seen with you. You’re his.” and that had hit her hard in her already bruised and broken heart. As if she hadn’t been worth the risk after she had spilled her truth openly and honestly to Amet. Because telling Amet at all had been a risk for her and a chance for Castile. There hadn’t been a moment though for her to tell Castile her own conflicted feelings, her own truth to him. Perhaps it would have made a difference. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered at all.

    The horned mare answered her questions tersely and is already on the move so the heavily scarred mare has no choice but to fall back in line beside her. She is quiet, there is much Mazikeen has given her to think about. So the darkness was new, new in the sense of this existence hadn’t always known an oppressive night. So perhaps this is the same Beqanna she had left and she wasn’t back in the Underneath. Second, Mazikeen had claimed the title of ruler (which also makes it more understandable that she was annoyed at playing escort). But last…. She had never heard of Amet. Which means either she was in a different plane or she had fallen back into the timeline that she had left. There had never been an eternal darkness in the known history of Beqanna, she would have heard it in stories as a child. She obviously wasn’t in the past.

    It’s not what she was hoping to hear. That his name was lost to time and that he probably would not be found again. It makes her heart heavier than she expected, realizing that she needs to finally lay that chapter to rest. It was time to let Amet and her past go, once and for all. Unshed tears sting her eyelids but she bitterly blinks them back and instead tries engaging the mare beside her once more. She makes sure to keep up her pace this time. “Years ago this place was a sanctuary for children… and for the lost.” She had been one of those lost souls, having been spit out on the shore from beneath the lake in much the same place Mazikeen had found her. Broken and sick. Dreaming of things in a hot fever that she can still remember. She won’t.. she won’t continue to think about it. ” What is your Hyaline like?”

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was



    Mazikeen
    Reply
    #8

    Mazikeen keeps her neutral expression as they walk, not interrupting the quiet as she scans the surrounding dark area with her feline eyes. She knows well enough that the monsters have been spotted in Hyaline - her wrestling match with the one that came a few days ago being markedly more successful than the one when she was without her shifting. She feels confident in her ability to protect this mare if it came down to it - but caution won’t let her just wander without being aware of her surroundings.

    Her ears flick when Ciri speaks again, commenting on Hyaline’s past. It was not a subject Mazikeen had ever thought to consider before - all that really mattered to her was what was going on inside of it right now.

    While there may not be a smile dancing in her orange eyes or an overwhelming sense of friendliness from Mazikeen, she is polite and all of her responses had been such. Cool, maybe, but still polite as she replies again - her eyes shifting from the mare walking beside her to the shadows around them once more. “We don’t really need sanctuaries anymore, the world’s been pretty peaceful. Now Hyaline is home to a pack of shifters.”

    Not feeling particularly curious, Mazikeen doesn't think of any questions of her own - and her attention is on their surroundings and making her way to the easiest path out of the mountains. Before very long, she can hear the sound of the river and as they draw closer the light from her horns glints on the surface. Mazikeen pauses on the banks, gesturing downstream. "If you follow this, it'll bring you to the common areas. I hope you're able to find who you're looking for."

    MAZIKEEN
    mazikeen


    Ciri note: I’d appreciate it if you didn’t have Ciri somehow read Mazikeen’s mind or make up reactions for my character! The first line of my last post literally said that she wasn’t letting her frustration show so she wouldn't be "terse" and whatever. That being said, I feel like this is a good place to end things Smile
    Reply
    #9
    Mazikeen I must have misread the post, wasn't on purpose! My bad!
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