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  • Beqanna

    COTY

    None -- Year 218

    QOTY

    "He watches her, noticing first the way she moves beneath moonlight, and he is reminded of a time before magic ran rampant as it does now. How back then there were some that simply seemed to be magic without actually having it, the kind that could capture your attention and keep it." --Eadoin, written by Colby


    [private]  I just wanted to be found, ashhal
    #1

    CASIMIRA

    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    Ever since she had made the decision to move to Tephra she did not often leave.

    There was the sense of responsibility to the throne, of course, but mostly she did not want to leave Savior. The death of her mother had rattled her in more ways than one—mostly because a part of her had been convinced that Ryatah was not capable of dying, but also the fact that if something could end her mother in such a way, Savior could be taken just as easily. 

    It planted in her a worry that she could not shake.
    It took root in the back of her mind, blooming even when she tried not to think of it.
    She tried to starve it but it always came back, and she was afraid that Savior was going to find the way she constantly glanced at him with a worry she could hardly mask insufferable.

    She leaves behind the humidity of her volcanic home with a promise to Savior that she would be back by nightfall, and letting her white dragon wings carry her towards the common lands. 

    The cool autumn breeze is enough to soothe her mind, at least for now, and she makes sure to begin her descent before she has a chance to see those Hyaline mountains in the distance, finding it impossible to think of her once-home without also thinking of her mother’s final resting place. 

    She lands at the edge of the forest, where the afternoon sunlight had warmed a grassy clearing. Relaxing her wings at her sides she turns, and is immediately startled at having not realized someone else was already here, their body having been obscured by the angle of the trees. Sucking in a sharp, surprised breath, a wave of dragon scales wash across her body, spines erupting along her topline. “I’m sorry,” the words are rushed, hastily forcing the scales and spines away, though her dragon wings remain. “I didn’t realize someone else was here.”



    Ashhal
    Reply
    #2

    I tried to sell my soul last night
    Funny, he wouldn't even take a bite

    There is a cloud of darkness hanging over him lately. A savagery in his blood he cannot quite shake. The peace he had once almost dreamed he could taste is nothing more than a distant memory. One that taunts him on his darker days. Today is one of those days, and perhaps that’s why he had come here to the forest. Here, away from the pretense of a home he’d found. Here, away from the gut-churning reality of his pitiless existence.

    It follows him of course, but still he tries.

    He is not paying attention to the skies overhead. Once, pretentious fucker that he’d been, he never would have been caught so unaware. But then, once he’d actually given a shit about his life. Now though? Now it’s all he can do to trudge from one ceaseless day to the next and hope it’s not the day he finally loses the last of his sanity.

    Or maybe that day has already passed. Who can fucking say anymore?
    He hears her when she lands however. He would’ve had to be deaf not to. His lips are already twisting into a scowl when he turns his head to find the intruder. When he sees her however, his expression blackens even further. The pristine white mare that greets him may be a stranger, but she bears features that are far too familiar for his comfort.

    “Fucking hell,” he growls, the annoyance in his voice far surpassing what is warranted for the situation. He would like nothing more than to sink into the trees and pretend he hadn’t seen her, but it’s much too late for that. “There’s a fucking endless supply of you out there, isn’t there?”

    Gods, he really, really hopes this one isn’t his too.



    Casimira
    Reply
    #3

    CASIMIRA

    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    She knew very little of her father, other than his name and that his relationship with her mother had been complicated, to say the least.

    But Ryatah had hidden nothing about him—she never did concerning her children’s sires, ensuring that even if their father was not in their life for one reason or another that they knew exactly how they came to be. The stories were softened up, though, their edges made less sharp and any darkness was brightened if it could be.

    Some required more softening than others, and while Ashhal was not one of them, he did come with a gentle warning that he might not be keen on the idea of two boisterous twins seeking him out unexpectedly.

    Young Casimira had not understood this, had not been able to process that idea that anyone would not find her and Cassian’s antics anything but amusing. If it had not been for her budding dragon shifting she likely would not have heeded her mother’s warning, but wrestling that feral beast that so longed to break free had consumed all of her adolescent years, along with all the other obstacles that she soon encountered in her path.

    And so, even if he felt like a missing piece in her own life, she eventually accepted that she was a piece better off lost in his, and she never went looking for him.

    Looking now at the pale gray stallion that she had visibly irritated there is nothing to indicate that this is the man that had so long been a source of mystery and intrigue in her childhood. She is too busy steeling herself against his verbal assault to remember anything her mother might have said about him, and forcing that armor of scales that long to rise to his irate tone to remain at bay requires most of her attention. Her ice blue eyes are the only thing that hint to the friction in her chest, the way they shift to something decidedly more draconic, piercing and almost relentless when they fix themselves to him.

    “Endless supply of what?” She asks him, the confusion evident on her face. Her assumption is that he means dragons; that he had taken note of her great white wings still clasped to her sides, that he had seen the scales and spines as they laced across her body. The idea that he sees her mother—so clear if you know what to look for, that same delicately shaped head and unnaturally white color—never occurs to her, and the way she watches him now is with a cautious kind of defense, though she doubts his dislike of dragons could run deeper than her own.



    Ashhal
    Reply
    #4

    I tried to sell my soul last night
    Funny, he wouldn't even take a bite

    The fact that she displays draconic traits so openly might have put him on edge if he had not already been balanced on that precarious precipice for another reason. As it is, the wings and quickly suppressed scales and spikes draw little more than a passing glance. The possibility of death by dragon pales in comparison to the visceral reaction stirred by the familiarity of her features.

    It occurs to him belatedly that he never should have spoken. Never should have offered such a rhetorical question when he has no desire to answer the inevitable confusion it wrought. He could hardly expect her to know how much her features remind him of another, regardless of the immediate irritation that spikes through him.

    His lips curl into a derisive sneer as he glares at her, features unyielding, wings tense where they rest at his sides. He doesn’t answer for a long time. Debates whether he should answer her at all. This is hardly a conversation he wants to have. Which begs the question whether answering her or ignoring her will make her leave faster.

    Try as he might, however, he can’t get a good read on her. She doesn’t betray any dogged curiosity, no fear, no interest. Only cautious distrust. In the end, there’s no damned way what he has to say will make her trust him. Which means she might leave if he gave her reason not to.

    “Ryatah’s fucking kids.” Or grandkids, though the difference hardly matters to him. His snapped reply leaves very little doubt of his thoughts on the subject. They invariably seem placed in his path only to annoy and infuriate him. Some more than others admittedly, but all have gotten under his skin regardless.

    And if his dark glower is anything to go by, this one wouldn’t have to try very hard either.



    Casimira
    Reply
    #5

    CASIMIRA

    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    His irritation is not lost on her, though her own expression remains mostly impassive. She is not afraid of him, but his irascible demeanor has set her on edge, though it is kept hidden beneath an unreadable shield. She has never been the kind to loose her dragon on anyone, and it was unlikely that he could do anything that would threaten her into doing so now. But the way his tongue is so sharp, and with the anger she couldn’t quite place that darkened his face, it was all enough for her to keep herself guarded with her great dragon wings, knowing that she could shift at a moment’s notice should she need to.

    But his words are a strike to her chest, partially because she has never heard anyone spit her mother’s name with such animosity, but mostly because it was a blow to hear her name at all.

    It sounded different, knowing that it was a name for a ghost.

    “She’s dead,” she hears herself saying, and she wonders if the metallic feel of those words will ever go away. She realizes this was an odd thing to say—to just blurt out to this stranger that her mother is not alive, and her face is shadowed with grief and guilt but she quickly washes it away. “Someone killed her,” she continues as if the explanation could soften the abruptness of the first statement, but judging by the way he had spoken earlier she does not expect this man to care.

    She finds herself looking at him a little more closely, though, realizing that in order for him to recognize her so easily as one of Ryatah’s children he must have known her well. The tone in which he spoke made it difficult to discern exactly how he had felt about her; she hadn’t really known her mother to have any enemies, but there was really no other explanation for why she had ended up slain in the field by the river. Perhaps she’d had more than any of them realized. “You knew my mother?” she asks him, her usually sharp blue eyes having softened with the sorrow she carried with her. “My name is Casimira, by the way,” she tacks on hesitantly, fairly certain that he does not care but feeling the need to say it regardless.



    Ashhal
    Reply
    #6

    I tried to sell my soul last night
    Funny, he wouldn't even take a bite

    The words, so bluntly spoken, drive something sharp into the deepest part of his gut. For so long, he had convinced himself he did not care. Even when he had finally admitted to that unwanted emotion, it had been unwelcome not just by him, but her as well. Perhaps it would not have been so unwelcome had he not waited so long to recognize it, but no one has ever accused him of cleverness.

    Though he had removed the confession from her memories, he could not hope to so easily remove his own.

    And now? Now it seems it doesn’t matter anyway. Her death ensures that in a way nothing else ever could. He wants so badly not to care. To pretend it doesn’t matter, but the throbbing ache in his belly says otherwise, and fuck if he can will that away. Instead he wraps himself in stone, his expression hardening into something distant and unreadable. Every trace of anger is washed away beneath the coldness that settles over him.

    He can’t speak. Not at first anyway. To the untrained eye, it might appear as if the stark declaration had not affected him in any way. A cleverer eye would find that whatever reaction he might have had is instead locked behind a stony guise. A guise he hasn’t bothered to use in years. Decades even.

    It takes him a long time to unstick his tongue from the roof of his mouth, and then it is only to acknowledge her introduction with one of his own. “Ashhal,” is all he says, his voice low and filled with gravel. There is a moment of silence, then a question of his own rather than an answer for hers. “Who killed her?”

    It is spoken as though they are having the most normal conversation in the world. But beneath it all lingers a violence unlike anything he has felt in a very long time.



    Casimira
    Reply
    #7

    CASIMIRA

    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    Similar to how he erects a fortress around his emotions at the news she delivers about her mother, she is also quick to raise a shield that hides the surprise that sparks in her ice blue eyes when he says his name.

    She recognizes it, of course.
    It was the only thing of her father she ever had—that and the hazy image she had created in her mind based on her mother’s description.

    There had been a time when a younger version of herself had imagined this moment and how it might play out. While Ryatah had never spoken badly of Ashhal, she had warned the twins not to search for him, which of course had only made Casimira all the more curious. As a child she had not understood the complicated dynamic that existed between her parents; how there might have been some version of love that only they could decipher, but that it didn’t necessarily mean Ashhal would be interested in being a parent.

    She had been determined to find him as an adult, thinking by now she would be strong enough to withstand the disappointment if she discovered he was just as disinterested in her as her mother feared he would be. She has been through so much at this point; death and war, heartache and new love. There is a strength inside of her now that she had not known existed, resolute and unwavering as she learns to rebuild from every fracture.

    But standing now before him she does not feel like the dragon queen of Tephra. She feels small and hesitant, and so instead of telling him who she is she does not say anything at all, and allows the topic to remain on her mother.

    “No one really knows,” she says quietly. There is a pause as she seems to debate how much information to share with him, but when she searches his face—and notices how much he reminds her of Cassian, which causes her chest to twinge when realizes she hasn’t seen her twin in far too long—she decides to continue. “When Gale was king of Hyaline he made a strange comment to my mother once, asking why did Mazikeen want her alive. I guess there was an agreement that he would not hunt the angels—my mother, and my brother and sister—in Hyaline.” It seemed the most logical, given Gale’s history and somewhat erratic behavior.

    But there was another magician that shared a darker history with her mother, and she did not understand why she seemed to be the only one to suspect him.

    “I wouldn’t rule out Carnage, though,” she tells him with an unreadable expression shadowing her face. Her entire life she has watched the strange relationship between her mother and the dark god unfold, and the more pieces of their story that she uncovers, the less any of it makes sense. “I am convinced it had to have been a magician that killed her, because she should be able to resurrect herself, but something is keeping her from being able to. And she would resurrect herself if she could, I know she would,” there is a sudden edge to her voice, her eyes briefly turning narrow and draconic at the surge of emotion that rises in her chest.

    Her mother wouldn’t want to stay dead, she is certain of it, but the nagging doubt that has been haunting her ever since her death tightens around her chest, because what if she didn’t want to come back?

    “She wouldn’t leave all of us,” she finishes softly, her blue eyes once again rounded and gentled by the sorrow that settles there as she shifts her gaze to anywhere but Ashhal's face.



    Ashhal
    Reply
    #8

    I tried to sell my soul last night
    Funny, he wouldn't even take a bite

    She had been right to warn them away from any attempt to find him. He has never had much time to spare for children, his or otherwise. If he were ever painfully honest with himself, he might admit that his averseness to them stems from his unshakeable belief in his own unworthiness. But that kind of honesty is not something he is capable of. So instead that heavy self-loathing is turned outward onto any unfortunate offspring who happen to wander into his path.

    Perhaps, one day, Casimira could be the exception to that rule. Perhaps, one day, with enough perseverance, she might have been able to dig deep enough to find it. But she would have to dig very deep indeed. A feat none have managed to accomplish with any kind of regard surviving the attempt.

    No, she would be far better served by forgetting she ever knew he is her father.

    He listens quietly as she explains the facts of her mother’s death. His dark eyes, as steely as flint and just as cold, remain fixed on her with a barely concealed ferocity. He knows something of the politics that had swamped Hyaline, though he had never bothered paying too much attention. Still, one would have to be really fucking dense to miss all the bullshit that had stormed through that kingdom (and so many others).

    Her mention of Carnage brings his first reaction, though it is little more than a twitch of his ear and a tightening of his jaw. He would also not rule out Carnage - something he doesn’t bother saying. He would not make any claim to knowing Ryatah better than her own daughter, even if it’s possible he might. Certainly he hadn’t known her better in recent years. He might not have changed a great deal, but it’s possible she had.

    Still, when she claims her mother wouldn’t leave them, Ashhal cannot help himself. He barks out a single, staccato breath of harsh laughter. His eyes flick briefly past the pale dragon before returning to her. It could almost be considered sympathetic were it not for the sharp derision lining the edges of his features. “I wouldn’t fucking count on that if I were you,” he replies, his voice biting, lip curling briefly. After a moment however, he accedes, “But in this case, I would be surprised if it was voluntary.”

    As much as he hates to admit it, she had been happy in the life she had built. Or at least as happy as Ryatah could ever be. And while she might choose to do many things at a time like that, he doubts staying dead is one of them.



    Casimira
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