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    COTY

    Mazikeen -- Year 214

    QOTY

    "“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


    [private]  it's like we're on our own to figure it out | mazikeen
    #11
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    The Curse is fluid in a great many ways, and the deep rumble of its purr grows louder as she prowls up its body. Without a true body of its own, the Curse is neither male nor female, and the momentary worry of her teeth hovering over its exposed belly warms quickly to hot desire as she stands over it, hip to hip.

    The lion raises its head, exposing its neck without fear, pressing up against her where it can, enjoying the way its body fits against hers. Do you think about it, she asks, and it starts to laugh because how could it possibly be thinking of anything else at this moment?

    But she continues before the laugh is anything more than a sharp exhale, and she is not talking about what it had thought at all. For the second time in a remarkably short period, the Curse is surprised.

    Gale takes this small advantage, and speaks.

    “Take away my shifting. Bind me in a single shape so I’m less likely to hurt you. I’ll try not to fight.” That’s all he manages before the Curse is back, seizing control and shoving Gale back down into the darkness. Furious, both at Gale and itself, the Curse barely remembers to make the feather grow dark before it shoves her off, far less gentle with her than Gale would dare.

    This is not what it had wanted.

    She keeps surprising the Curse, upsetting all its carefully laid plans with a few words or moments of thought. She is sharper than Gale, who’d not clued in to the swift passing of days that accompanied his loss of memory. She is an obstacle to be eliminated, but each time it almost moves forward, it remembers the children and rocks back on navy haunches.

    Hurting her might mean hurting the children, so it keeps its sharp-clawed paws on the snowy ground where it sits. 

    Words won’t hurt the children.

    “It’s nice to see you in the daylight, Mazikeen.” It says, and for the first time it doesn’t sound like Gale. The Curse still speaks with Gale’s mouth, but it no longer imitates his speech patterns, that soft accent of a Loessian that had all but faded during his time in Islandres. This voice is crisper, sharper. Colder.

    The eyes with which it surveys her are Gale's eyes, but the pupils are blown so wide they seem nearly black. That gaze takes her in, the sleek white fur, firm muscles, the scars of battles that so enchant Gale. That gaze takes her in lingering on the swell of her belly where Gale has so helpfully planted children. It stares just like Gale stares, and when it finally returns its gaze to her face, it smiles with his very same charming smile. 

    Mazikeen

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    #12
    Mazikeen
    Even though she had asked the question, even though she has been wondering it for some time, the answer she gets surprises her - the final sentence squeezing onto her heart so hard that she thinks she can feel another piece fall away. There’s no time to think about it, though, no time to give the tears that might have formed a chance because then she’s being shoved off with a roughness that is startling.

    Her head is dizzy from the whirlwind of thoughts that have kicked up as she easily gains her balance and twists to stare at him. There are simply too many things to focus on and some of them will get lost - how she recognizes the feeling of influence on her vision when the light of the feather goes out, how she’s not exactly sure how the fuck she’s supposed to go about binding Gale into one shape - and with that finally realizing that she’s not simply going to be able to just do it when it’s time… she’s going to have to plan it.

    She’s going to need help.

    Despair might have crept in or there might’ve been an apology for ruining what could have been a pleasant moment, just as she had when he had joked about being just friends, but it’s gone when he continues to speak.

    When the voice is very distinctly not Gale’s. Not the one who had just answered her question a moment ago.

    Dread seeps into her, chilling her, and she feels her skin crawl when she watches the eyes she loves so much roam her body. She enjoys this appreciation when those eyes are kind but the way they linger on her pregnant belly inspires less pleasant things now and she (finally) feels protective of those little lives. When the lion then gives her Gale’s charming smile, the one that usually inspires warmth, Mazikeen is no longer sure what to believe. Not about this moment, not about any of them.

    But she always was better at feeling than she was thinking before she acted. A few cracks appear down her spine, adding a faint fiery glow as she stares at what should be Gale and she’s grateful her voice does not tremble with the doubt she feels as she snarls out “Give him back to me.”


    Gale
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    #13
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    Taunting her was not the wisest choice, but it is certainly an entertaining one.

    The Curse smiles when she snarls at it, smiles with Gale’s mouth, and tilts Gale’s head in familiar curiosity. “You can tell us apart now?” It asks, and the smile it wears grows darker at the implication of the words. It has taken Gale before, that smile says, and she hadn’t been any the wiser.

    Mazikeen begins to glow, a warning sign that the Curse recognizes. It would be fun to keep at her, to make her doubt and question and fear, but she is strong enough to fight back. How fortunate that this body is not only a warrior, but one with healing as well. Ultimately it is expendable, so long as there are descendents, and Mazikeen.

    “He wanted to tell you months ago,” it says, kneading the stony earth beneath its paws, its voice both amused and pitying. “I suggested we move here instead.” Is that what had happened, Gale wonders. He can’t recall anymore, and he’s only halfway listening anyway.

    It watches her face carefully, waiting with bated breath. She cares about Gale, it knows, cares about him and will be so delightfully wounded to think that he’s not been himself for such a long time.

    Will she glow brighter, it wonders? How bright?

    “What would you trade for him?”


    Mazikeen

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    #14
    Mazikeen
    Her gaze turns fiery at its taunt and more flaming cracks appear on her back as she fumes at the implication and how easily it sows doubt in her. She’d been trying so hard not to focus on them, not to question everything. Mazikeen cannot believe that everything has been false, some of it had to have been real. Some of it had to have been Gale. At the beginning especially, when the eclipse had ended. It is a very slippery slope though, following this line of thoughts. Who had she accompanied to the midsummer festival? Who had sired these damn children?

    Thinking of it being the Curse who touched her even once out of all those times instead of Gale makes Mazikeen want to rip the twins out of her right now and be done with them. Her skin crawls and more burning cracks appear around her face as she burns with disgust.

    Maybe it's just because of who suggested it, but Mazikeen shuts down these doubts before they can strangle her. She is sure that Gale loves her, that some of it - hopefully most of it - was real. What they shared wasn’t enough by a long shot but it could be. It had been more than she feared they’d get.

    And she knows too that it doesn't even matter what was true and what wasn't. Even if everything Gale ever told her was a complete lie, she’ll stay without hesitation. She’ll keep her promise. She had been prepared to do it before when she thought him uncaring and indifferent and she’d do it now. Mazikeen has never worried about what damage she might take in the process - the drive has always been minimizing what might happen to others. She could take it. She knows now that she’ll fracture and fall apart but so long as there’s one piece of her left she’ll deal with whatever is thrown at her until she can figure out a way to end this so no one else needs to suffer too.

    He'd called her frustrating once, but he had no idea.

    When it mentions suggesting moving here, she’s drawn out of her storming thoughts and bites back with force. “That’s not how it happened.” She knew it wasn’t. Gale had wanted to go to Islandres and she had been the one to root them here.

    Every word, every touch, every moment with Gale is branded onto her mind against her will and even though she may not always be certain of what they mean, she knows that they happened. She believes that much.

    Wariness creeps in when that voice asks another question. The answer to it isn’t ‘anything’ but it’s so close that it might as well be. She does not want to admit that truth even to Gale, nevermind whoever she is talking to now, so she asks her own question in response while she sits - her body is so tense it takes effort to move even that much. “What do you want?” Though there’s still a harshness in her voice it's softened by that uncertainty. What could she possibly offer in exchange? What did a Curse want?


    Gale
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    #15
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    The heat of her emotions illuminates her face, and it watches as her bright eyes and the bold, sharp lines of her face begin to glow. The longer she is quiet, the brighter she becomes, and the Curse’s knowing smiles grows ever more content.

    It knows that she is clever, knows that she well might be planning something devious this very moment. Unfortunate that Gale had taken to someone with wits as well as beauty, but there is little that the Curse does better than wreck and ruin the bonds of love. It will need to rid itself of Mazikeen once the twins are born, but it hasn’t quite figured out how. Is she is thinking of ways to stop it, the Curse wonders?

    But no: she wants to argue its version of events, which elicits a roll of Gale’s blue eyes. Maybe what she says is the truth; it doesn’t care. Gale is the only reason it is honest, and Gale is grappling in ways that would turn his physical body inside out and has stopped listening entirely. Each time the Curse shoves him back down, the darkness at the bottom of wherever he is inside himself grows a little closer.

    How long before he falls in, Gale wonders?
    How long does he have before there will be no more coming back to himself?

    Meanwhile, the Curse keeps a scrap of attention on holding Gale down, and the rest on Mazikeen who has just asked what it might want. Can she glow any brighter?

    “The children.” Though it does not look to her belly, there is no doubt who it means. Its voice is casual, as though dealing in bodies is no strange thing. It isn’t, after all; this is neither the first nor the last body it will wear.

    The Curse is very fond of this body though, with its shifting and its healing and its Sight, and it’s always easier to fit back into the same bloodline. And children are the very best bodies; they are too young for a personality change to be anything serious, and their families never grow suspicious.

    Suspicions are things the Curse prefers to do without, and the temptation of a fresh shape (one with these same abilities it has grown so fond of) is exceptionally strong.

    “I’d even take just one if you let me pick, but for them both I’ll even do you the favor of keeping this our little secret from Gale.” It winks, a very charming expression despite the trade that has just been proposed.

    Mazikeen

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    #16
    Mazikeen
    The children that cold voice says and the lioness hesitates because she knows that she should, and she covers the instantaneous answer that comes to her with a scowl - because she knows she should do that too. Her skin does crawl at the implication, and Mazikeen does feel protective over the children but she has not grown to love them yet. She doesn’t know what they’ll be like, after all, and has not yet come to understand the nature of unconditional love.

    In this moment, she does not see this as much of a choice at all - someone she loves over two mistakes. Innocent as they may be in all of this.

    And she has no idea what Gale’s current thoughts are on the whole mess. She had thought that maybe he had been warming up to the idea of being a father, that he had been enjoying the changes her body was going through and what it meant, but now she doesn’t know if that was him at all. She had been warming to the idea, though she blames the babies for those thoughts - being a mother had not exactly been on her to do list until they arrived. And now Mazikeen wants a life where she and Gale are excited about the idea of being parents, where it could have happened when they were ready and chose it instead of being woefully uneducated on how everything worked and it happening at the worst possible time. She wants a life where these babies could meet their dozen or so cousins and grow up wild and free with two parents that love each other.

    But she does not have that life and she will not get it. So on the subject of keeping this from Gale, she just scoffs quietly - though her indifferent tone is softened by a note of sadness she had not intended to leak out. That note is more honesty than this current conversation deserves. “Would he even care?” She supposes this thing living inside of Gale’s body and mind would know better than she does.

    He would have once, she thinks, but is it different in this situation? Did he harbour the same unachievable dreams about a family? They hadn't wanted these twins so would he care if she gave them away? Or would he just feel relieved of the burden?

    Not for the first time, Mazikeen wishes she possessed the ability to turn off her own thoughts. There are too many of them, she can barely sort out her own feelings never mind consider what Gale would think. There's no point in wishing they had been more open with each other because now she's aware that there's no way of knowing who she would've been talking to.

    Her orange gaze has not moved from him as she considers this deal, and it's still an effort to see this as Something Else and not Gale. Mazikeen wants to agree but the terms are still too vague - she’s asked for Gale, but does not know how that will be interpreted. And it feels important, when bargaining with her unborn children with a curse that’s possessing someone she loves, to be as specific as possible. She sighs, her black-tipped tail curling around her paws, and the glow illuminating her has not dimmed. She'll never not be angry about this.

    When she finally replies, her scowl has turned into a frown and it's clear she's trying to sort this all out. “What exactly will I get if I give you both of them? Will you leave us alone until they arrive and you can take them?” Mazikeen doesn’t know how she’d even be able to trust that the curse is well and truly dormant but that will be a problem to face if the deal is made.


    Gale
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    #17
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    Would he even care, Mazikeen asks?

    The Curse shrugs Gale’s shoulders as though he is no more privy to his thoughts than she is. It does not care if Gale cares, and how his host might feel about his progeny is the least of his worries. Gale has proven himself incapable of fending off the Curse, so the only parent it needs worry about is Mazikeen.

    Mazikeen, who seems to be considering the idea. Mazikeen, who seems dubious herself that Gale will care. Meeting her eyes, the Curse does not speak. Anything it says might sway her. Yet in the silence it can hear Gale’s silent protestations.

    Gale had not wanted children for this very reason. They’re nothing but weapons the Curse can wield against Mazikeen, more lives for it to destroy. Eyas had told him all he needed to do was find another host. Is that what is happening? Has her dark Sight given her the ability to know that this was coming?

    Could he sacrifice a child to have his freedom back? To keep Mazikeen safe from the Curse forever? Gale had told Eyas he wouldn’t allow anyone else to suffer his burden, but as he looks through the Curse’s eyes as it looks through his eyes, he knows that he could.

    It would be worth it, for her.

    The Curse smiles, enjoying how such a decision makes Gale suffer, and with the strength that comes from its host’s misery, shoves Gale back down and takes away his memories of the conversation entirely.

    “No,” it says, as though the moment of silence after her question has included a conversation between himself and the mind it occupies. It spares Mazikeen the details - that Gale does care but cares for her more - and flicks its white tipped tail.

    “Yes,” it lies, but that is its nature. It will leave Gale when there is another host, but until then it can hardly be expected to sit quietly and do nothing. That would be exceptionally boring, and the Curse does not enjoy boredom.

    Mazikeen seems to be leaning toward a deal, but the Curse is not yet certain. Perhaps a gentle push in the right direction? But what if she pushes back?

    “The two of you can carry on like you have been,” it continues, laying out a temptation. “When they’re born, leave them near the starlight cliff.s” It names a bald bit of rock and forest high up in the mountains, one where Gale and Mazikeen have spent many an amorous night. (Again - not its wisest choice, but it does want to see her squirm again at the possibility that her children are not truly Gale’s.

    “I won’t make this offer again,” it says idly, “I’m just feeling generous this morning. ”

    Mazikeen

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    #18
    Mazikeen
    Mazikeen shouldn’t trust a single thing that’s being said to her right now - but what choice does she have? She’s going to have to try to figure out what’s true and what’s false on her own. The confirmation that Gale does not care is easy to believe and it solidifies her current plan.

    The idea that they’ll be able to carry on feels false but she doesn’t know how she’ll be able to work it so she can trust that who she is talking to is Gale anyway.

    And then the comment about the cliffs lands and Mazikeen cannot help but burn a little brighter because of it. It is distressing, to say the least, to remember things fondly and wonder if Gale had no choice in the matter. That he may not have wanted it - her - at all. It is a constant battle, her surety of what’s been Gale and these fears chewing holes in her beliefs.

    Thankfully, the voice, the Curse, offers a distraction and she involuntarily snorts when it mentions being generous, though this reaction probably isn’t wise. This does not feel like generosity and she’s pretty sure it knows that.

    Still, the snort does the trick of clearing her head, and she focuses back on the topic at hand. “That’s not good enough. We have not been carrying on lately because you’ve been taking him and his memory.” She is vaguely aware that what she’s doing is dangerous but it’s too late now. She has an idea and she’s going to go with it because she can’t exactly pause and find someone to ask for advice - she’s on her own for this fight. Only this time it’s not her strength but her mind she needs to trust to be strong enough. “Pick one - day or night. Give him to me completely during one of them. Isilya’s bird told me the babies are due late spring, that’s not far away.” It had not told her this, but padding on a few more weeks gives her time.

    She stands and shifts then and it’s not to show off - it’s to sell. Selling herself, her children, as she becomes a large hippogriff. It is a shape she has not shown Gale yet, so a shape the Curse has not seen and with it she displays the implication that these children are going to be capable of far more than their father. Mazikeen does not know whether she’s pushing too much or not hard enough when she changes her colour too, fiery reds and oranges eating up the natural white coat and feathers and a crown of glowing, branching horns grows from her head. Those eyes remain ever the same, focused on the blue lion before her.

    The markings that are still bright down her back, her wings and through her feathers burn now in hatred for the Curse, for this situation, and for herself. And she is grateful that the eagle’s head of this shape does not display her emotions as easily because sadness is creeping in. Her voice sounds sure, though, as she uses what she has to tempt a Curse. “And they’ll be worth it.”



    Gale
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    #19
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    The Curse smiles as she brightens, pleased that its pointed words have found their target, and wonders why it hadn’t revealed itself to her earlier. This is a marvelous way to pass the time. Does she fear the children she carries are not Gale’s, it wonders? Is the disgust clawing its way up her throat, is it eating away at her? It can only hope.

    She snorts at its feigned generosity, which does spoil some of the joy. But the Curse has known she will be a hard one to break, and that an Alpha is unlikely to cave easily. It has time, it thinks as she makes her demands, it has until late spring. Longer than it had thought, but it had hidden deep down inside Gale when they’d gone to the magician. Too deep for the magician to find it, but also too deep to hear what might have transpired between Mazikeen at the mage.

    It is ready to tell her that it will take the nights when she begins to shift.

    Even with their pupils blown wide, the bright fire of appreciation in Gale’s blue eyes grows as she changes. It does not know this shape, but it enjoys the wickedly curved beak and the sharp claws, the branching horns, and the way her muscles move between this shorter coat.

    There is enough of the lioness in her hippogryph form to appeal to the lion in his, and the Curse steps closer. Her light is bright but does not burn, and as she tells it that the children will be worth it, the Curse laughs with delight.

    They certainly will be.

    “I will take the children,” it tells her with a smile of self-satisfaction, “And the nights.” Another step closer, so that the dim glow of its brindle striping is consumed by her brighter light, and a firm press of its blue muzzle against her shoulder so that she might feel the teeth beneath those blue lips.

    It would be delighted if she flinches away, but to be sure, it adds softly: “But only if you let me have you now to seal the deal.”


    Mazikeen

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    #20
    Mazikeen
    Mazikeen has made a lifelong habit of not stepping back or flinching when but she comes close to it when he approaches, when she feels the press of lips and teeth on her skin and she has to remind herself that is not Gale. And then the request that follows surprises her enough that the glow on her skin and between her feathers winks out of existence for a moment as she leans away. It should have been anger or disgust first, shouldn’t it? And yet it is surprise in her eyes.

    She hadn't expected that but she knows her answer almost immediately. Mazikeen does not believe this is her line of how far she’ll go. This was a part of her that had only existed for Gale - it was such a new part that she does not believe breaking it will break her. She's wrong, but she believes it all the same.

    A tremor runs through her body and she cannot tell the cause - so she shifts partially to cover it, maintaining eye contact as she trades the rear-end of a horse for that of a fire-coloured lioness and becoming a friendlier size in the process. It is uncomfortable, being halfway between forms, but uncomfortable is the theme of the day - isn’t it? That change is already a clear answer even as almost every inch of her fiery body blooms with burning cracks again - bright even under the rising sun. There's hatred like living flame in her eyes even when she nods anyway, confirming.

    Maybe she should know better than to trust the deal at all but if she refuses where would she be? So she puts her faith in her plan. The Curse will take the children and she will have Gale, and he can help her figure out what to do next.

    She’s thinking of the taunts, the hints that not all the moments with Gale were what she thought, as her orange eyes dance over those near-black eyes with only the smallest ring of the blue she loves. She wonders if they've already done this anyway, so what does it matter if it has her again? She wonders too if Gale is awake in there and if he’ll see this. And she’s torn between hoping he won’t so he won't hate her and thinking he’d have no right to judge her for how she deals with his mess.

    No, that’s not quite right. She hopes he won’t see this because she does not want him to think it’s his fault.

    That sadness, the weight of her love, will not help her now so she shoves it down somewhere deep along with her self-respect.

    And though she's already agreed, though she's already certain she's willing to do this, there is a question she wants to ask. She mixes pushing her luck with pushing gently into him, drowning the flush of kinder memories where she’s done this before with her words. “Have you not had enough of me already?” She asks in a low, near-sweet voice as she reaches with her beak to the white mane, nosing at it and then tugging with more force than she ever would have used with Gale - teetering between teasing and aggressive. Somehow, she does not think the creature inhabiting Gale’s body will mind dancing that line.


    Gale
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