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  • Beqanna


    Assailant -- Year 226


    "But the dream, the echo, slips from him as quickly as he had found it and as consciousness comes to him (a slap and not the gentle waves of oceanic tides), it dissolves entirely. His muscles relax as the cold claims him again, as the numbness sets in, and when his grey eyes open, there’s nothing but the faint after burn of a dream often trod and never remembered." --Brigade, written by Laura

    [open]  what are we made of but hunger and rage? (any)

    Cordis doesn’t quite know what to do with herself.
    That old adage - time heals all wounds - is disgustingly true, she supposes. As many times as she’s picked her wounds, made them bleed over and over and over again, they scab and heal and when she picks again, there’s a little less raw flesh than the time before. The pain of it just a little less sharp.
    That, of course, is terrifying in its own way. The pain trickles away in agonizing slowness, but so too do the memories. She remembers Spyndle – god, of course she does – but everything is softer, blurring, and small things escape her. She is less and less sure what is memory and what is the memory of a memory, a thing replayed so much that she cannot be sure it happened at all or if it’s since become purely part of her imagination.

    She is past mourning. Past the sharpest part of it, at least. She isn’t sure when it happened, which is terrifying in its own way. She did not wake up one day healed, she was simply moving and she realized that somewhere along the way grief had stopped stabbing her every motion.
    It’s a strange feeling. She is lighter and heavier at once. She doesn’t know what to do with the time that’s opened before her, what to do without wounds to claw open.
    She experiments with her magic in a way she has never done before. She changed landscapes and never mind if they shift back in a day or so. She shifts into monsters. She freezes a bolt of lightning and walks up to its endpoint and looks at the storm-ridden world below.
    She still doesn’t quite know who she is, in this new, emergent form. But she knows that whatever or whoever she is, she is powerful.

    And so she returns. Back to her homeland, to the familiar yet not-familiar land. Things have changed – so has she.
    Besides, the meadow is there, and it is familiar enough. So to the meadow she goes, a silver woman with lightning crackling across her skin and something almost like a smile on her lips.

    I’ll touch you all and make damn sure


    that no one touches me

    picture © horseryder.deviantart.com
    my heart, my god, is full of stars
    and ooh, don't you know, don't you know?
    you brought a demon to the dark.
    Caw isn’t sure what year it is, what day.

    The world ended for her a long time ago and whatever happens now, whatever is, whatever will be, is of no concern to her.  She doesn’t know what’s become of her children, or her lover, or anyone else she ever cared about—sometimes she wonders if they curse her name.  Or if, by chance, they came to some understanding; someone, somewhere, acknowledged how much she hurt as a mother and how weak she was.  How she couldn’t weather the storm, even for Virgo’s sake.

    She hopes they moved on without her, often, she finds herself wishing they think her dead; let no one have searched for her, let them think she walked off into the waves and that her ribcage became home to shadowy little monsters ruling the depths.

    The black mare slips through the woods, ignoring the branches and thorns that rake along her thin sides; she doesn’t mind the sting that follows, it doesn’t compare to the ache in her belly, anyway, and none of them ever quite match up to the aching in her chest.

    Caw’s shifting skitters, her movements are janky while once they were fluid; merely morphing herself to fit between the trees or twisting and bending to round corners that might have been impossible for someone else, something else, feels painful to her now.

    ‘What broke me?’

    It’s a thought that crosses her mind often, especially when she tries to remember her children—their sweet, soft little faces.  She remembers them snuggling up to her at night, warm, safe, and loved; she remembers the blood and the screaming that came so vividly that she never realizes when she would start to scream herself.  She would scream, and scream, and scream until she could no longer make sound and then her gentle sobbing would see her off to a sleep that was never restful.

    When Caw appears from the treeline, she happens across Cordis by chance and even then, nearly misses her; her mind too caught up on ghosts, too haunted by the what-ifs and what might have been if she never allowed them out of her sight at all.

    The glint of silver catches her by surprise, she comes to an abrupt halt and lifts her head to peer through her ragged forelock.  “Lady Cordis,” the shapeshifter whispers softly, still sounding as if she is in awe despite the years that have passed.  “It’s been a long time.”

    She has worked hard to escape the past. Not to forget it, but to shed some of its weight. She’s learned time and again how easy it is to drown there, in the molasses-thick waters of memory. She is the queen of this type of drowning, until she finally learned to stop filling up her lungs.
    So it would only seem right, in the cruel irony the universe seems so fond of, that a piece of her past would walk the tree line and come into her view.
    Cordis doesn’t remember her well, but she does remember her. Remembers the crows, leading her to the girl – dead, and not-dead. Child of a monster.
    She’d helped her. Or tried to. She doesn’t actually know if the girl was better off for her, but she remembers her intent.

    She looks at her and for a moment her jaw tightens. Not at seeing her again, but at the audacity of anything from her past coming back now. She is too full of scars from her past to welcome seeing much of it again.
    None of this is Caw’s fault, of course.
    So Cordis relaxes her jaw. She doesn’t smile, but she doesn’t scowl, either – only looks at the girl. The lightning flickers briefly across her skin and then quiets. She does not make a show of protecting herself before her – she trusts Caw well enough not to hurt her.
    “Caw,” she says, her own voice soft.
    It’s been a long time, says Caw, and Cordis isn’t even sure how long it was, exactly. Decades, certainly.
    “I did wonder what became of you,” she says, which was true enough – the girl had crossed her mind on occasions, especially when her own heart felt too dark and ugly to bear. Caw was a reminder that Cordis could save them, sometimes.
    Assuming what she had done had been saving, and not making things worse.

    I’ll touch you all and make damn sure


    that no one touches me

    picture © horseryder.deviantart.com

    When Caw closes her eyes, she remembers those old crows that kept them prisoner—the sad children whom they punished, whom they tortured for the sins of their immortal parents.  They had feared no one except Cordis.  Caw wonders what that’s like, to be so powerful that even Death’s own dutiful sentinels feared her.

    Caw feels the tingling touch of electricity as lightning flickers across Cordis, she savors the sensation.  Her hairs standing on end, an involuntary shudder running down the length of her spine, it all draws a soft weary sigh from the oily black mare.  “What became of me?” Caw blinks, carefully considering the words. She had never sought power.  Not a throne, not magic.  Her natural born  gifts had been enough.  Living had been enough.

    “I made a family,” she smiles, thinking fondly of her children—of Virgo.  She had never loved anyone else half as much.  Her smile curves slowly into a frown.  “I… lost a child, someone murdered her.”

    ‘And then I ran and left them all because I couldn’t find who did it, because the shame I felt over not being able to protect her was too much to bear.’

    Caw finishes the last bit in her head, though Cordis could hear that, too, if she so desires.  The shapeshifter has let down her defenses, there’s no need to have them up—no, not here.  Not among friends.  She trusts Cordis with her life; after all, she is the one who gave it it her, and Caw, like the bold little child she has always been,  dares to feel safe in her presence.

    “Still,” Caw says quietly,  her ears laying back.  “Despite this, I am grateful for what you did.”

    It’s a secret she has never told anyone else—not Virgo, not her many acquaintances.  No one.  As far as they are concerned, she just appeared one day, as some  horses in Beqanna are prone to doing, and made nothing of herself.  They would never know of the monster she slayed, nevermind the fact that he was her father; they would never speak of her keeping his soul at bay or the battle among the constellations.  No.  Tarnished would, hopefully, never return and the rest of their world would be better for it—Caw’s story untold, Cordis’ kindness forgotten.

    [Writing from my phone, I’m sorry for any mistakes!]

    She doesn’t like this story.
    She doesn’t like it because it is too much like a mirror, albeit a funhouse one, something stretching and distorting.
    I made a family, Caw says, and Cordis remembers her own family, their twins, the short, brief, wonderful period when it had been the four of them.
    I lost a child, Caw says, and Cordis remembers her daughter – silver, the dead spit of her – being taken by Him, and her helpless to stop it. Perse had lived, but there was a horrible part of Cordis that wished she hadn’t, because death was far more swift and finite than the tortures that lay before her.
    There is more – words in her head, loud, and Cordis catches bits -
    I ran and shame and too much to bear and these, too, are things Cordis knows all too well.
    She is sorry for her. It is a terrible pain, and she knows Caw, like herself, is no stranger to pain. She wants to comfort her, to heal the invisible wounds, but Cordis has never been someone who knows how to comfort. She steps closer, though, closer than she’s been to another in months – years, maybe -and speaks softly.
    “I’m sorry,” she says, and knows how hollow sympathies are, but feels compelled to offer them anyway.

    Caw still admits her gratitude, which Cordis is oddly relived to hear. She is glad that Caw still sees everything as worth it, despite the pain, the loss. Cordis is trying to do that, too.
    “I’m glad,” she says, “that it’s been worth it.”
    She’s done many terrible, regrettable things in her life, so there is a small light in the fact that Caw is not one of them.

    I’ll touch you all and make damn sure


    that no one touches me

    picture © horseryder.deviantart.com

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