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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


    [private]  eyes like sinking ships; cheri
    #1
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    At first, Targaryen had been two seconds away from crying at any given moment. When the world began to look unfamiliar, the boy assumed he had just taken a wrong turn. Yet unfamiliar became strange and strange became foreign. He had danced between hot and cold — one moment he was burning with anger, the next he felt terror sweep over him. He felt disgusted to have found a place he could call home and have it be ripped away so suddenly. He felt even worse knowing that it was his own doing that led him away from Taiga in the first place. And that deep anguish, so tangible it felt like a handful of rocks in his chest, had made Targaryen’s eyes threaten to burst.

    As time went on (and he knew it was too much time, months even), the anguish settled so absolutely that the boy wondered if it would ever go away. It trailed him like the shadows, nipping at his heels and mirroring his every step. Cheri was a dream; the girl’s face and laughter and smell and smile and voice echoed in Targaryen’s mind for every second of every day. And he ached. He prayed to the trees, touching his forehead to the bark and asking them to bring him home. He screamed at Jedar, wishing the eagle would guide him to Cheri. He cursed the dark, making it known that if the night were tangible, he would have pulverized it.

    Yet the trees remained quiet, Jedar told him to politely fuck off, and the darkness seemed to laugh.

    Targaryen had wandered for so long the world began to blur around him. The shadows shifted around him, seeming to pull images from his mind so they peeled away into things he treasured and things he tried to forget. Some days he would run blindly with Jedar cawing angrily in his ear. Some days he would stand in one place until he felt spiders make homes between his feathers. Targaryen felt his life swing into a rhythm that dredged sadness from its small hiding places and made it grow in his chest.

    Suddenly, during a spell of nothingness, the light comes. It is too bright to ignore, unlike the stinking pieces of meat-flesh Jedar would drop from the overhanging branches in an attempt to feed the skinny boy. It burns into Targaryen’s eyes, so hot and fierce and welcome that he shudders and dances simultaneously. With the sun comes a warmth soaking into his feathers, adding a layer of shine to their color.

    And also with the sun — the knowledge of geography, of direction, of his home.

    Though his wings are thin and sore from disuse, Targaryen spreads them wide and flings himself toward that newborn sun. He flies as quickly as his body will take him, and his eagle mirrors each movement the dark green boy makes. Targaryen doesn’t stop until he finds that familiar break in the redwoods, the place Cheri considers her favorite. “Please,” he whispers to the wind, to the reborn sun, to the mighty forest. “Please.”

    His landing is terrible and clumsy and painful. By the time he lands, he is gulping for air and his wings burn like hell. But her name falls from his mouth like a prayer, breathless and soft and pleading.
    credit to fangs of bearbones.



    Cheri
    Reply
    #2

    The light that meets the dark

    Cheri remembered where she’d been when the world went black; she could never forget it. Now, she’ll get to remember exactly where she was when the sunlight returned again and the dawn of a new hope rose over Beqanna.

    In the Forest, trailing lightly with sad, solemn steps between maple trunks and oak leaves, Cheri froze with the world. Every living creature seemed to still, holding their breath together even if they weren’t sure why, and in her heart she admitted to being afraid. She thought it had finally come, and then stumbled back in confusion when the opposite happened. Their world did not end as she’d expected it would; merely, the moon slid away from her soulmate in the sky and the sun beamed down from the heavens again, washing everything in its glorious light like a harsh dream come true.

    The world exhaled, and with it Cheri let a wild cry of stunned joy fly free from her dark mouth.

    Winds it was beautiful. The way her eyes burned and squinted, how quickly the warmth stroked her fur and left her hungry for more, so that she was suddenly moving at a trot, a canter, a wild gallop without care. She laughed, brazenly struck by the blueness she missed up above, peeking out from the canopy of still-dead tree limbs. She flung her head back against the wind and skipped prettily through the wood, renewed by the energy and the realization that her mother should be home… maybe… maybe Lilliana, too?

    And a journey that should’ve winded her now seemed short-lived. She only had to leap and unfurl her wings when she reached the river, and Cheri glided above the murmuring whitecaps before flapping down on the opposite shore with a very unladylike snort. Her wings folded in on themselves happily enough; the now two-year-old mare had little use of them in the dark. Pacing in contemplation of where to go first, she listened for a moment and heard a sound that now was possibly the sweetest she’d ever heard, save one: the sound of chirping in the air, of birds already calling out hesitantly for a mate.

    Her heart knew exactly where it wanted to be at this moment, and without hesitation she flicked her wings open again — soreness be damned.

    The exhaustive rest afterwards would be well-worth the reward of flying quickly to her favorite meadow. Cheri bent herself into a coiled stance, rearing steadily as the great feathers made of pure light fluttered and swept her up, and from there she followed the line of sentient evergreens at Taiga’s border until she was above them all, flying steadily through the redwood crowns she couldn’t match in height. Down below her, the ugly truth of what the dark had hidden became painfully clear: Taiga was a bare and barren herdland now, save for the very few spots Borderline and Memorie had worked tirelessly to save. She looked up and around, at the smoke still billowing like black tar from Nerine’s bonfire, and saw that the destruction had been far-reaching.

    Beqanna was scarred, but she was not dead. Not yet.

    There was hope in her yet, magic and the good of a few horses willing to risk everything for their fellow equines. Cheri felt tears stinging her eyes as the forest cleared beneath her, revealing the largest meadow in all of Taiga, but she brushed them away with the shy tips of her lashes and descended from the sky. There was another horse already occupying the territory, and she wouldn’t be caught dead with girlish tears staining her cheeks even if it was the best reason in the world to cry. Cheri would rather not be seen as that helpless filly she once was before, the naive little horse who went to the Mountain of the Fey and woke up as a ghost on the Beach. Beautiful, charming, soft around the edges perhaps… but not weak.

    “Can you believe it!” She shouted at the stallion who’d been walking before she came down. Her eyes were like springtime when they landed on Targaryen, rich with new life, but she hadn’t yet recognized that it was him. “Isn’t it wonderful?” She laughed breathlessly.

    And then the winds shifted their dance. Cheri lifted her ears and her smile fell, but not with sadness. She was shocked by the tangy scent carried her way in the breeze, struck by how velvety Targaryen’s emerald green pelt looked in the glancing rays of heavenly light, and it stopped her dead in her tracks. Her heart seized at once, and then (thinking better of it) started again with alarming speed. She swallowed the pebble of fear lodged in her throat, determined to make good on the promise of not being weak (no matter how her knees felt right now), and spoke his name as a question.

    “Targaryen?”


    Targaryen
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    #3
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    “Cheri.” It is nothing more than a whisper, but his heart wants it to be a scream. His lungs quiver within their cage, desperate for air from a throat that only wishes to call for a green-eyed girl. And for a few moments (enough where he begins to ache from the sheer tension of it), Targaryen’s body is at odds with itself. It must decide whether to continue breathing or to repeat her name into the empty clearing. The tobiano knows what his answer would be, but this is just another opinion adding itself to the chaos that battles within him.

    And eventually, instincts take over. Targaryen sucks in a breath so deep that his lungs squeeze painfully. Yet the breath fills him, bringing life back into the tired cells of his body and offering his heart a chance to steady itself. The rational part of him knows that it would be ignorant to call her name again — the only sign of movement in the empty clearing is an arctic fox who peers at him with twin orange eyes. Its summer coat blends easily into the dead foilage of the clearing, and the sound of its paws crackling against the dry grass makes Targaryen think suddenly of his mother.

    Noori has always been a creature of the woods, woven from bark and leaf herself. Yet Targaryen has never learned if his mother survives like a horse or like a tree. When the sun still rose and set, he would find her dormant body rooted into the soil deep in the Forest and wait for a day at a time, watching for the nearly imperceptible rise and fall of her chest. Since the darkness, he hasn’t been able to find Noori (let alone the mighty, ancient redwoods of Taiga).

    Now his chest tightens at the thought of his mother gray and brittle somewhere, shriveling without the energy of the sun. So Targaryen focuses on the sun, hoping that its return will bring life back into Noori. The sun’s warmth hits his back so fiercely it seems that it missed them just as much as they missed it. The tobiano closes his brown eyes, enjoying the way the heat soaks into his skin and seems to collect itself into the colored feathers on his wings.

    At the sound of a voice — older, to be sure, but a voice that has echoed in his mind for months — Targaryen feels as though the sun has found a home inside him. The sudden shifting breeze does nothing to dim the burning that seems to light him on fire (and he wonders if burning simply by hearing her voice will doom him to a future he still does not quite understand). Targaryen turns slowly, anticipating those green eyes to spark with anger.

    The burning becomes something softer, sweeter, smoother and Targaryen relaxes at the sight of Cheri’s slender face. “Cheri.” He feels something release from within — a tightness among the cords of his heart — and assumes it is from relief. He is grateful to be back in Taiga, after all. The redwoods had become home during the time he spent before getting lost, and he has come to associate Cheri with the land. Perhaps that is why he is burning, then simmering, then relaxing… It certainly must be because Cheri reminds him of the first home he has come to love… Right?

    Targaryen doesn’t know if an explanation will soothe the anger she must feel, but it comes spilling out of him before he can stop it. “I went for a walk, but it was so dark I couldn’t find my way back, and then I got lost, and I didn’t know how to get home, and no one could help me, and I was so scared, and I am so glad to see you.” Because she reminds him of Taiga, and Taiga has become home… At least, that is what he thinks.
    credit to fangs of bearbones.



    Cheri
    Reply
    #4

    The light that meets the dark

    Targaryen had said her name hundreds of times before, so why did this time sound so different? He made the short word silvery with emotion, spoke it as if he were saying a thousand other things instead: things Cheri only barely understood herself. Out loud he kept talking, but inside of her head Cheri was dissecting any possible meaning behind the husky sigh of his breath or the relaxed, noble expression of his maturing face. Targaryen was… very handsome, she had to admit. More handsome than she remembered? Just as handsome as he’d always been? “Why am I suddenly obsessed? Snap out of it.” The young mare thought harshly, blinking in the sunlight.

    “I’m glad to see you too, Yenny.” Cheri replied, the smile on her face blooming slowly. “Glad we’re home together again.” The black appy put on a brave face. This was Targaryen, she reminded herself. A stallion that could practically be her brother. She paced ahead, slid her head deftly into the groove of his white-patterned shoulder, and tried not to overthink things as her nose ruffled the fine feathers of his wing. He was incredibly warm to the touch, like a stone left out to bake in the sun. Cheri remembered that she practically galloped and flew the entire way here; she was probably sweaty.

    Self-conscious, she cut the hug short and paced back a few bouncy strides.

    “I should never have left you, I’m so sorry.” The dark mare apologized by ducking her head. Glittering strands of her vibrant green mane fell over her nose, veiling her face. She was the image of pure repentance; even her wings drooped at her sides. “I went on a quest with some of the others… but I ended up as a ghost on the beach.” Cheri explained pitifully.

    She’d stayed that way, too. All through the dark days remaining, Cheri had floated among the quiet redwoods and lamented the loss of her grandmother, simultaneously trying to come to terms with feeling voidless and dead. It hadn’t been a great time, and she’d thought about his empty presence daily.

    Now they were together again and the sun was back, and Cheri hardly felt like a voidless being at all — in fact she felt more alive than ever. “I missed you more than I realized.” She looked up thoughtfully at Targaryen, and there it was again: her heart thudded heavily in her chest. It was like being back in the meadow again, where that irritatingly rogue stallion had started a fire by toying with her emotions. Her tongue felt like heavy metal in her mouth. Cheri glanced away and then just as quickly glanced back, irritated with herself. This was Targaryen, she recalled; more firmly this time than the last. Her brother. Why couldn’t she get a grip on herself? First the meadow and now this, whatever ‘this’ feeling was. “You’re just exhausted. Sun-drenched.” She told herself, impatient to hear her friend’s reply.


    Targaryen
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