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  • Beqanna


    None -- Year 218


    "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 want to hold you close to me
    started under neon lights, then it all got dark
    i only know how to go too far

    It is the changes to the world that finally rouse the magician.

    He takes a step forward, and the sand around him crumbles. The tide has nearly buried the navy blue horse, but he emerges and shakes himself clean in a shower of black sand. Time has passed but he had not counted the days, and as he stares out at the water he wonders how long it has been since he had come to Islandres

    Erne still circles, high overhead, a silent sentry above the monster.

    Though still, he has not been idle, and the blue eyes with which he traces the uneven horizon of Tephra are both bright and brittle, cobwebbed like broken glass and illuminated by sparking lightning. He has been playing and replaying a thousand possibilities in ways he’d never before thought possible. Winding and unwinding time, spinning and unspinning reality, powerful in ways of magic far beyond his wildest dreams. Each reality always seems to end the same: with his eventual death.

    All except for one, the one where he is most prepared. He must reduce risk, if he wishes to survive, he must remove any chances he might slip up and make himself vulnerable. Though he has torn out his heart, he knows now that he’d have been better to destroy it. Instead it remains, just out of reach, beyond the grasp even of magic.

    He searches for it nonetheless, crossing the newly flooded southern sea, circling the frozen northern island, walking the silver cove, weaving through the redwoods. Nowhere.

    Gale is devouring a rocksheep when the solution comes to him, and he snarls at the obviousness of it. Shoving the partially eaten body down the side of the Nerenian cliff, he spreads white wings and sails south toward Hyaline.

    If he cannot destroy his heart, he will destroy the woman who it protects.

    She is the one that destroys him in every future.

    He must destroy her first, leave her in that endless void he’d discovered when he’d killed the angel.

    He lands high in the still-snowy mountains, allowing time for the young stallion who patrols these borders to come at the sound of Craft and Anatomy’s alarm, already on edge from the quaking earth and rising sea. Gale smiles, and can tell from the way that Malik winces that much of the magic he’d placed on the boy had come undone. Well, he supposes, that is to be expected. He’d not been a very good magician yet when he’d taken away Malik’s memories.

    Malik refuses to tell him where his sister is, so Gale pries it from his mind, moving the unwilling colt with the bone bending he’d mastered long ago. Viszla is as easily controlled, and Gale laments that he’d not been fortunate enough to stumble across Bolder as he made his way down toward the lake with a child stumbling to either side. The pair of them are struggling, eyes rolling despite the way thier limbs carry them along and part of him is pleased at their refusal to be cowed.

    That must be his blood in their veins, he thinks.
    It’s almost a shame he’s going to kill them.


    Where the forest stretches down to meet the lake on its eastern shore, there is an outcropping of granite on which nothing but lichen grows. The rock face is too sheer, and on nights like these, the full moon reflects from the water and then to the rock face with a nearly white glow.

    It is there that he cuts their throats with a scythe-like tail, just as Mazikeen steps into the clearing*.

    Their blood spatters crimson on the bright stone, and Gale turns to face their mother with a smile. Even if they are not truly dead (given their heritage, they likely aren’t) he knows how the sight will affect the white mare, and watches her face with eager eyes as he hears the low thud of their bodies striking the ground.

    He steps carelessly over Malik’s body with the hard scaled foot of a dragon, and the boy’s left horn gives beneath his weight with a sharp snap. Gale is focused only on the orange-eyed Mazikeen. He is going to kill her next and this time, he is going to make very certain that she stays dead.


    *perfect timing brought to you by magic
    Gale had said he’d come, and though the threat loomed over her Mazikeen hadn’t let it needle at her. She hadn’t let its shadow touch what she was trying to repair, the light she was enjoying living with. The new and old joys she was discovering in this life that felt right, even if it had too much sorrow to feel completely whole.

    She doesn’t even get a chance to feel shock when she steps into the clearing at the exact moment she watches her son and daughter have their throats slit by their father.

    No shock, no numbness to shield her from the hurricane force of her grief.

    The sound that erupts from Mazikeen is not one she has ever made before. She had shut down when Sickle had died, blocked off her emotions and even when she had cried out afterwards it had been a simple wail of distress. This time, though it is tempting to try for the emptiness again, her emotions wash through her with an intensity that makes her knees shake. It is a scream, a howl, a cry - it is unearthly in its pain and anger and horror.

    This time, she does not care whether all of Hyaline or Beqanna can hear her. She does not care if it draws others to this fight because this time.

    All along she thought she had to do it on her own but that’s wrong. She wants all the help she can get.

    If she was strong enough to defeat him, she would’ve done it already. And she doesn’t want to die alone.

    Her eyes focus on the fallen bodies of her children and she knows she can’t die. Not yet. Not even when the pain in her chest feels like it could take her down all on its own.

    Coherent thought slips away from her or she might have tried to call out for Firion. And perhaps a sign of her lack of clarity is that she actually thinks she would need to shout his name to get his attention after that cry had echoed through Hyaline. If he could come, he would.

    Grief churns into anger which then empties out her mind. It blooms across her skin in white-hot markings that crack along her skin just before she becomes engulfed in flames. A phoenix made of pale fire, except for the burning brands of her eyes that only just now move to Gale. She cannot tell if she cries out again or if it is just the echoes still reverberating from that last one. And she knows, she knows she can’t lose herself fully to her anger - it makes her sloppy - and so she is a conflict of desires. To give in, to let the fire fill her as it had when she was not herself, or to hold onto everything that keeps her rooted in this life. Even if two of those roots are now severed.

    No, Myrna will be fine. She can heal. It is Malik she needs to find help for. It can’t be over like this. She cannot have failed him so spectacularly yet again.

    Kill Gale, find help. Kill Gale, find help.

    These thoughts seem to replace her heartbeat, the rhythm of them matching her wing beats as she closes the gap between them, a sharp hooked beak matching the talons that stretch out, glinting in the light she casts and seeking purchase in flesh.

    started under neon lights, then it all got dark
    i only know how to go too far

    On a long ago summer’s night, Gale had regained control of himself for just long enough to tell Mazikeen how to kill him. The Curse inside him has no memory of this, and the second iteration of Gale - the one that had told Mazikeen - had died long ago, and with him had gone the memory of that starry night.

    But most nights, the Curse remembers.

    It remembers the way Mazikeen had wailed when it’d made her kill Sickle, how sweet the sound had been. This is even better. For the briefest moment her face is composed - what had she been thinking about on her walk around the lake, the Curse briefly wonders? And then it falls away into shock, and then grief as her orange eyes remain to their children and finally, finally, to anger.

    The fire ripples across her unscarred face, down her neck, and into the flaming wings of a white phoenix that finally meets The Curse’s blue gaze as she attacks.

    Gale once mimicked her shapes without a thought, a portion of their magic bond that the Curse has severed during his seclusion. Severed, and perhaps even successfully warped, for it takes so little effort to become her opposite. A long pointed beak, dripping with salt water, aims for her heart. A pair of translucent wings, the left containing a silvery school of fish, flare out and then come together in front of the waterbird in an effort to douse her flames.

    Bleeding her out would be more satisfying, but the marvelous sound of her screaming has been amplified by the granite behind him. Someone will have heard, and the monster does not wish to be interrupted.

    So rather than waste time with ripping and tearing, the Curse instead calls down a bolt of lightning from the cloudless sky with the intent of channeling the electricity through its watery body and into hers. It has never done magic like this before, and almost laughs at the ease with which it can manipulate the elements. There is truly nothing that can stop it now, it thinks.

    Behind them, Viszla begins to stir. Malik doesn’t move, save for the ever expanding pool of blood that oozes from his throat.

    Sometimes Mazikeen is lucky enough to forget the fears about how she is better at fighting and slaughter than anything else, as if she were made for only those two things. She let herself believe for the last little while that she could be something more, someone happy even when they weren’t entirely whole. Someone who did not need to fight and analyze and burn - someone who could live in peace.

    These fears rise up but they are greeted with a memory of a voice that is deeper and kinder than her own, one that tells her the last year and a half has been more than just a tease of a dream. It's been real.

    Gale’s lightning happens too fast for her to actively think about a reaction so she simply acts instead. Those instincts of hers come in handy, but they are driven by her love so perhaps not all is lost. The sooner she gets rid of this monster, the sooner she can find help for her children.

    Mazikeen becomes stone, dropping to the earth in a statue-like facsimile of the phoenix just as the bolt connects with what had been feathers and skin. Like the mountains around her home, lightning does not bother Mazikeen in this form and it dissipates harmlessly against the resistive surface.

    Encased in stone (or entirely part of it? She isn’t sure) she forgets for a short moment how to change again. She is aware of the weight around her consciousness, the unnaturalness of it all. This is not a shift she has done more than twice before - a new one she’d tried inspired by Myrna and her flowers.

    Things she had not thought she was capable of, things she hadn’t known were possible at all before her daughter had shown her.

    It’s this stray little thought that brings her back, accompanying a half-memory or maybe just a wish that she had seen Myrna begin to move.

    When she returns, stone falls away to feathers bristling with electricity of their own - a large thunderbird that is a pale white mirror of the other that had come to roost here in Hyaline. Mazikeen cries out again, loud and fierce, as she dives close as though for another strike with her long talons. They stretch out, seeking to hook themselves in flesh and tear it apart with all her strength. She does not know how to kill him and make him stay dead but that isn’t about to stop her from trying to rip out his heart like he has done for so many others.

    started under neon lights, then it all got dark
    i only know how to go too far

    Mazikeen becomes stone, and the bolt of lightning shatters against now-impenetrable skin, splintering off and hissing with steam when sparks rebound against the monster’s watery wings. Gale’s mouth opens in a furious shriek, voicing the monster’s frustration at the miscalculated attack. Control of the elements is less useful against an opponent with the ability to mimic them, it quickly learns. But there are other methods of attack, other ways to hurt her, and hurt her quickly before someone comes to answer her screaming.

    A thunderbird explodes from the stone, so bright that its eyes clamp shut, and the Curse feels the watery impact of her talons on its liquid chest. It feels the lightning she brings in each bit of its watery form, as the electricity dances between the bits of salt and debris. The silvery school of fish light up for an instant, then sink - dead - toward where the Curse’s heron-like feet stand beside the bodies of its children.

    The wings the monster had tried to wrap around Mazikeen become the coils of a colossal navy snake instead, its head a massive thing that drops down from above to swallow her whole. The instant before it can, something cuts and burns at its outdoor coils, and instead it snaps at that, pointed fangs and attention now entirely on the pale filly that stares the monster down even as it continues to try and crush Mazikeen by constriction

    Myrna’s eyes are wide and terrified, illuminated in the dark night by bloody horns that burn with white fire. They grow wider still when the thing calls her: “Viszla,”in a strange hissing voice and the girl realizes in one terrifying instant exactly what her mother and brother had meant when they said there were dangerous things in the world outside Hyaline.

    It is the Searcher, she realizes, recognizing it even after the long absence, even without having ever seen its face. But this is a more terrifying face than she’d expected, and her legs had begun to tremble the moment she met its glowing blue eyes. It had never looked at her before, only at her mother and Malik. But it sees her now and Myrna feels cold horror at the realization that she is what it had been searching for.

    Momma,” she pleads, but the words are barely more than a whisper. She wants nothing more than to shrink in on herself and cry till everything is okay again, but her bones are locked into place and the tears fall silently from her dark eyes.

    This is the child that she had hidden from it, the Curse realizes. She’d given her another name, an effective shield so simple that it sends furious lightning down the sides of the Curse’s coiled navy body, illuminating the air. Yet just before it can finally crush the air from Mazikeen’s lungs - afterward intending to abandon this body and take Viszla’s instead…

    Something Happens.

    The world around them goes white.
    Then black. 

    Malik opens his eyes, rubbing at his throat with the black spotted paw of a leopard.
    “Mom?” he says, his last thought having been recognition of the white mare as she stepped into the clearing. Myrna turns at the sound, her blue eyes having been fixed on the place where the thing had been. “Malik?!” She squeals, having seen him bled out and lifeless what felt like only an instant ago. Only…

    “Where’d he go?” Malik asks, voicing the same concern that consumes his sister. The thing had cut his throat just moments ago and now it is just gone and he is alive?

    “Did you get him, Mom?” just as Myrna asks: “Who’s Viszla?”

    There is not a single moment when Mazikeen does not struggle. Her body flickers through shapes - taking turns pushing against the constricting coils that close around her and attempting to rip the offending flesh apart.

    Even with the intent to kill her, she is furious that he dares to touch her again. She misses Myrna rising and only snaps to attention when the Curse utters the name Mazikeen had discarded, and when her daughter’s soft voice comes to her. Relief and fear and determination flood through her and her efforts to escape the grasp of the serpent double, frustration tearing through her as breathing becomes harder. But she does not stop fighting.

    Until suddenly it all stops. She is free, crashing to the ground at the sudden absence of her tormentor and her orange eyes cast wild glances around looking for him.

    Mazikeen is on edge, still ready for the fight to continue, absolutely bewildered at the complete lack of any sign of Gale.

    And then Malik speaks and her head snaps towards her children.

    She doesn't understand how, but they are both there. Alive, unharmed - but shaken and unsure just like she is.

    Mazikeen is exhausted but relief eats away through both that and her confusion. She stumbles forward in her equine shape to hug Malik first - holding him as tightly as he’ll allow her to. One sob breaks through before she wrestles the rest back down. Moving on to reach out to Myrna and hold her for a moment as well before stepping back just enough to look at them both.

    “I don’t know what happened.” She hates her uncertainty and the way it cannot be buried like her exhaustion. But she won’t lie to them. “I hope he’s gone for good but I will find out if not.” She hopes Malik can hear the determination in her voice - she wants so badly for him to be safe from the Curse, from his father.

    She wants them all to be safe.

    She turns to Myrna and tells the truth there as well. “Viszla was the name your father wanted to give you.” Mazikeen hopes this deception of hers can be forgiven. “If you… like it better we can use it… I just wanted to keep his influence as far away as possible.” It was just a name, maybe, but it signified more. And she couldn’t regret something that had helped keep the girl safe for as long as it had. Her orange eyes flick between her son and daughter, gauging their reactions as a small, sad smile forms. “And I liked Malik’s choice. So that we’d match.”


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