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    COTY

    Firion -- Year 217

    QOTY

    "She approaches the cave and there is nothing but that anticipation and her ever-present fire inside her. No fear, no flickering echoes of love. It’s all been consumed for now. She is a wildfire contained only by the thin layer of her flesh." --Mazikeen, written by Squirt


    [private]  and he will smell like the sea
    #1




    There’s a shadow growing in her heart, a gloom settling in the back of her mind. It been slow and subtly, creeping across her like shadows over the ground after the noon sun. First a flitter of apathy in the morning into solemn glances at day’s end. The rest of the time was filled constantly by at eerie silence.

    Those same shadows—she sees reflected in Aela’s eyes.

    It both revolted her and drew her in.

    She comes like a cooling shadow in a scorching desert. Elliana was as ghostlike as her mother was sun goddess like, the dark shadow girl. She shuffles quietly as the air moves around her, as if she too could speak to it like her ancestors of old. There is a confused storm raging in her heart. She misses her godfather, her closest friend, and all the friends she has met in her short life.

    She can remember her mother’s stories, if fleetingly. More than that, she remembers the dreams she used to have.

    Dreams of dancing, of twirling into a garden in a world beyond this one, where lie many great treasures and secrets to be found. Elliana had taken the disappearance of Po perhaps the hardest of all, because she knew Andras missed him, and because she had loved Po perhaps more than her mother. He had been her blooming flower horse, the parent she wanted instead of the parents she had, and and most importantly a valuable friend that had, once upon a time, promised Elliana a world of adventure. Elliana lingers in this life, quietly, maybe hoping he might come back, someday, come back and find her.


    The garden was exactly as it was when she’d left it not all that long ago: full of sunshine, full of peace. It was as if a snapshot had been taken of it and immortalized, rendering it immobilized in time despite the whirlwind of events that took place. It feels like centuries since she has been here, she wonders if Reave has been here since, wonders how many flowers have bloomed, how many she will keep from doing so with her shadow looming in.

    (shadows whisper and laugh, you don't belong here)

    (and then it is quiet, so quiet that if sunlight could make noise, it would boom its presence.)

    This silence she hears, she thinks for a moment it is the loveliest she has ever heard.


    « r » | @ Reave
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    #2

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    She had burned hot and cold, pulling him in then pushing him away. If he were any other, this might have upset him. But he is Reave, and the mercurial stallion had instead been amused. More, he had been intrigued. There is nothing more enticing to a tempestuous creature like Reave than taking him by surprise.

    She had surprised him in so many glorious ways.

    He is injured when he returns, the signs of battle on his skin. He should bathe, but instead he moves towards the garden. He isn’t certain why he finds comfort in that place. He knows only that he wants it now. Though the gashes burn and the bruises ache, though dirt is pressed into the bloodied crevices of his armor, he climbs to the familiar cliff rather than descends.

    He doesn’t expect to find her there however.

    For a moment, he stops and stares, wondering if it is nothing more than a memory. But as the days begin to curl around her in the emotions she wears so freely, he knows she is real. He is content to simply watch her for long moments, admiring the heartache and uncertainty that dances around her. There is a heaviness to her that had not been present last time.

    It is that heaviness that draws him closer. Not to mutter words of sympathy (he has so few of those), but instead to better understand it. She has made him impossibly curious, and he is not one to rest until that curiosity has been sated.

    Even in his battered and bloodied state, he finds himself unable to resist the puzzle she represents.

    The familiar grin finds its way easily onto his lips as he closes the distance between them, a sharp contrast to the grimness of his form. When he finally speaks, his voice is redolent with his amusement. “Were you hoping to find me here frozen to death, little bird?”

    reave



    @Elliana
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    #3




    She had wondered.
    She had wondered.
    She had wondered.

    “Are the flowers as beautiful as they said they would be?” He asked her once. She wishes sometimes, she had known then, that he was her father. She wonders if the world will ever change. No matter how many times she tries to blink back the thought and cover herself under the light of a full moon and fireflies, but it always finds her again like a sickness. It makes her head throb and her nose bleed.

    She is not a ghost, as much as she sometimes feels like one — and reflecting on the ghosts in her lives has never brought her peace. So she forces the smile on her lips to persist, even if her eyes turn a little glassy, even if her heart is starting to ache.

    She wonders still.

    The wondering is what brings her back to Nerine. It's what makes her linger by the small garden. Wonder lives in the blaze of her too blue eyes

    There is a song to the garden, notes twisted between the lights and the last-pollen motes of the season. It rings in her ears like the black-white sea, like monsters snarling in gemstone caves and harpies giving out coins for a memory. She can hear the notes of it, hear the softness, the way it's begging for there to be beauty in the shattering on the veil.

    There is a holiness, in the religion of the song.

    Were you hoping to find me here frozen to death, little bird?

    There are a million things she knows and a million others she does not. And none, none of them, prepared her for the way her heart turns almost fragile when it stumbles into his own.“Reave?” She calls in those same laughing poems of songbird wings, and despite herself she’s already beginning to smile.

    It falters only when she sees him and what has happened to him.

    A story trickles at her lips like a hummingbird with the hunger of  wasp. Of a girl with hair the color of moonlight, with shadows in her blood, and embers clinging to her heart. A girl who would burn part of the world just to save the other half of it.

    “You’ll be okay,” she whispers. And thinks, how her hair is colored like moonlight, with shadows swimming in her blood, and those embers growing hotter to flame the garden in her chest. How she is full of bitterness and just enough love to push the hate out instead of in. (“I will give you a rose instead of a heart.” Danae told her, promised her.) “Reave, let me heal you,” she says and presses either a kiss or a secret into the crease of his shoulder.


    « r » | @ Reave
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    #4

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    There is a fragility to her now, written in the memories of their time apart. It’s both intriguing and devastating. He was not made for fragile creatures - not with the brutality written through every line of his own body. She would shatter against him, and he, beast that he is, would not try to stop her. Does she recognize that in the blood and dirt on his skin?

    If she does, he can’t imagine how she would wish to stay. And he very much wishes her to stay.

    Her lips curve into a whisper of a smile before she turns to find the gruesome picture of reality he represents. It is gone as quickly as it has come, leaving some small piece of him unaccountably disappointed. There is something saccharine in the fleeting curl of her lips that he has missed. But he does not think he is in a state to tease that smile back onto her lips. Not now. Not with blood and dirt painted so freely on bone in a testament of battle.

    They are both haunted by their ghosts, though perhaps his are not quite what hers are. Where hers had driven fractures through her heart, his had driven him into foolhardiness. His had steeled his heart against the world rather than split it open for all to see. Would she be disappointed to know his ghosts have only made him harder and more reckless?

    Her whisper of reassurance surprises him, though he should know by now to always be surprised by her. His own desires had driven these wounds into his skin, yet she offers to steal them away. He can do little more than smile at her assertion because it is true. It is always true. He would be okay.

    She doesn’t shy from the gore splattered on his skin, and he does not try to stop her. His lips find the gentle curve of her neck just as hers find the crease of his armor. His touch whispers briefly, feather-light across her skin, though whether in reassurance or something much more dangerous, he’s not quite certain.

    “If it will make you feel better,” he finally replies, eyes crinkling in his amusement as they find hers. “You shouldn’t worry too much about me though.” His amusement blooms into a grin, eyes dancing beneath the subtle glow of his mask. “I’m tougher than I look.”

    reave



    @Elliana
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    #5




    Someone—Maybird, maybe—once told Elliana that a man and a woman cannot have a truly platonic relationship. Between the two sexes, there is no such thing as friendship, only the beginning of desire.

    The smile disappears from her lips and it does not return, not even when his personality blooms through the somber silence that moves with her like a shadow. Perhaps it's there though, in the way she tilts her head. It is a there and gone expression. The blood and gore make her think It maybe she does not belong here, in this world, whatever one Reave resides in. A garden was no place for a wildflower. Only the meadows would ever capture their beauty the way they deserved. She was always different, never supposed to be where she was supposed to be, or what she was supposed to be. Elliana never has felt like a princess, or a daughter even.

    But she thinks Reave looks very much a king in this moment. There is some small part of her that feels small next to him—and she likes it. In the end Elli isn't brave enough, real enough, to do more than close her eyes in a snowfall of glitter and pretend that he might be nothing more than any god given flesh and thought by the power of her imagination. Only the butterfly catch of the breaths though her lungs hint that there is more she might want to say at all.

    Elliana is not the storm that Aela is: the hurricane and the devouring lightning. She is the wake, the aftermath, the devastation underneath which the frailest of hopes blooms.

    And her hope, her frailest of hopes, is blooming with the orchids, and roses, and ferns. It blooms when she presses her nose to his like a lion to its kill. He exhales her air right into his lungs and she does not ask to be let in. If there is charm in the gesture she has lost it somewhere between the lament of the dead flower and the youthful stutter of her heart. She likes the way his voice sounds, how easy it is, how confident he is. How beautiful. it sounds to her like that wave crashing on the shore of a mortal man. It sounds like a riptide heading back out to the deep with the sand and rocks held tight as a heart.

    She wishes she could sound like that, and is almost sure she doesn’t.

    “Reave,” she scolds, her voice is lowered as if in reverence. “Hold still,” she says as she gathers the shadows around her and lets it knit his flesh back together. She cannot clean the blood, though she wonders if she cried a hundred thousand tears if that would be enough. “What did you do?” She asks him. “Is this the cost of a crown?”


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