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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 quest]  Part Two: The Investigation
    yes i know that love is like ghosts,
    few have seen it but everybody talks —

    The portal behind them closes, and with it comes a brief sense of dread—that realization that there is no turning back.

    But there are others here, and hesitantly she dares to steal a glance at them. They are all strangers, but somehow she finds hope in that; in the idea that so many from all walks of life have come together to mend what has been broken. It feeds into the idea that there are most likely others beyond those that are here that care, that do not want to see Beqanna torn apart because of someone else’s war.

    When she looks at their surroundings, though, much of that hope dwindles.

    All around her is mayhem and bloodshed, the cries of the dying and the echoes of those already dead ringing in her ears. Her eyes squeeze shut, and she fights that familiar feeling of panic that climbs up her throat; too many voices, too many things that she cannot fix. It is the sound of the sprite’s voice that finally gives her the courage to open her eyes again, to at least pretend that she is calm, and not on the verge of crawling out of her own skin. She wonders if they can hear the dead, too, in this strange time bubble—if anyone else can see the shapes of their souls, hear their voices, sense the pain that still pulsed within them long after their hearts had stopped.

    She listens silently to those around here, takes in their ideas and lets herself stare at the war that does not seem ready to stop. Beqanna herself was not a stranger to war, but usually it was kept between kingdoms — it was not a riptide or a tornado, dragging in any who happen to wander too close. They were easy to avoid, if you wanted to. For Baltia and Stratos to fight for so long, to fight so hard that it has crossed dimensions, that was something beyond her comprehension.

    There are a few that follow the vein of thought she has begun to track, and finally she speaks up softly, “Maybe it was an accident.” She is not bold enough to speak loudly to the masses, and so she turns her gaze to the sprite nearest to her, clarifying, “Like others mentioned, maybe it was a misunderstanding—where someone got hurt, but it wasn’t intentional.”
    — spirits follow everywhere i go,
    they sing all day and they haunt me in the night
    She should’ve known better than to trust the fairies. And yet, she plunged ahead without thought, deposited into chaos.
    As soon as her feet touch the ground, she’s met with a flash of lightning and a deafening crack of thunder and watches as a scaled, finned creature falls beneath the strike. Nearby, a dark red mare with glowing spikes and horns pins a struggling winged stallion to the ground and Ea watches, wide-eyed and entranced, as the mare stares into his eyes, her glow brightening, before the stallion goes limp and she retreats, off to find another victim. There are hundreds of them, maybe, their rage and fury palpable as they collide and fall. Too late, she notices another running straight towards her — whether chasing or being chased, she isn’t sure — and Ea holds her breath, bracing for an impact that never comes.
    A ghost, again. Of course.
    The sprites’ voices bring her back, allowing an exhale. It’s only then she notices the other bodies — ghosts — standing with her, not a part of the violence. She eyes them, quickly, sizing them up as the sprites speak: a wound must be found, must be healed. And they must work together to do so. It had been a lifetime since she’d last worked side by side with anyone, though she still remembers them all: Tiphon, Phaedrus, Ashley, Talulah, Vida, Adalyn. The foundation of their island. It’s just another scar added to the hundreds that mark her body, now.

    She listens as several of them speak — could it be some alien influence? the meaning of the Ruins’ stones? ambitious royals or their advisors? — and none of the thoughts intrigue her until a solemn, dark purple stallion speaks. Was there ever a time they loved one another? A gold and black dragon and a quiet, bejeweled black and mare add their thoughts: a split in family, an accident. Any of them could be right.
    “The deepest hatred always stems from love, doesn’t it?” She muses aloud, though mostly to herself. “What if —”
    Her thought is cut off by a stirring of the sprites and then the scenery around them changes; they are all flashed through scenes — memories, perhaps, though whose she isn’t sure.
    The first scene: groups of four or five stand opposite each other on a rocky beach. Ea can tell two of them are yelling back and forth, though there is no sound. Some of them beaked and birdlike, the others finned and tentacled. Children are tucked behind mothers. The first scuffle, she thinks. The wind picks up suddenly, shooting a wave over the groups and they are transported once again.
    The second scene: a rocky field stretched out before them with several large rock structures stacked high, some fused into an archway. Ea can smell the ocean, a short distance away. Two figures emerge from the sea, their tails shifting into legs, and as they walk towards the rocks, a winged figure appears from the clouds, landing before them. Ea prepares for an altercation, but instead, they share laughs (though, of course, they are silent to Ea’s ears). Peace. The Ruins were a meeting place of sorts, before the bloodshed.
    Before they’re transported to another scene, Ea calls to the rest of the group, hoping they can hear her, at least: “Could it be so simple as a small disagreement? Over what? What misunderstanding could possibly lead to not only the destruction of their lands, but ours?”

    you get dragged down, down to the same spot enough times in a row
    the bottom begins to feel like the only safe place that you know

    Stumbling through the portal is like the popping of pressure at a high altitude. The discomfort of a layer between oneself and the rest of the world: thick, sometimes painful, mostly strange. The pressure lowers slowly around Animus. He sucks in a breath instinctively moments before his newest reality pops, the sensation almost painful but mostly prickling—a lift of his upper lip the only sign of a response, a sneer he wears as he steps quietly onward.

    Strangely—or perhaps not so strangely to Beqanna—the changing of worlds is the most disturbing part to Animus. It is not exactly a casual look in Animus’ eyes as he observes the carnage around him, but he does seem particularly relaxed. The red glimmer in his gaze matches the blood spilled all over the ground around him; he flicks his ears at a dying scream just behind him. Animus attempts a few steps forward, the squelching beneath his hooves imagined only too-perfectly in his head.

    Incorporeal and utterly alien, the demon flicks a single ear in the direction of his sprite. Not even a passing glance is spared in their direction—too enamored with the passing of war and his freshly-noticed, ghostly companions. Around him are translucent faces ranging from shock to indifference. Animus merely blinks slowly, exhaling out a long, quiet breath. A minuscule turn of his head reveals a crushing blow to a Baltian’s windpipe, the last bits of their life blinking 
    silently from their eyes.

    Yet another ear twitches in the sprite’s direction once it begins speaking. Almost begrudgingly, Animus turns to peer at them, his scales so clean that they reflect a warped image of the dying warriors around them.

    Why? he muses to himself. Why bring us here? He feels a flash of empathy for all those around him, past warriors and ghostly newcomers alike. As if the brash images of the most carnal of violence will enlighten any single one of them. What true answer lies within this past? Animus, born of some of the worst-imagined kinds of violence, rolls his eyes for the first time since he was young, young boy.

    He’s seen violence.
    The way they collide as if they were simultaneously meant to meet and never meet.

    “Is this just history repeating itself?”

    Animus turns an almost angry gaze upon the sprite.

    “Accidental death, both too dead to tell the tale?”
    She had trusted them implicitly, the Sprites.
    It had never occurred to her that it might have been a trap, some elaborate ruse. There had been Death there on the shore, how is she to know that there will not be Death on the other side, as well?

    And yet, she had trusted them.
    She is one of them, after all.
    Though her magic is limited and theirs seems almost infinite.
    (Is it not infinite? They emerge on the other side and there is something in the air, something crushing, that suggests this is not only some different place but some different time. And it is chaos. The kind of chaos that makes her shrink, not in stature but in spirit, for she is not a dark thing but a shining thing.)

    A stray warrior rushes toward her and she gasps, tries to scramble out of the way, but it is no use. There is no flicker of recognition as the soldier plunges right through her without so much as a whisper of recognition. Either she is vapor, or he was. She cannot be sure which. 

    There is a desperation when the Sprites speak and she scrambles closer, leaning into the sounds of their voices. She is not alone here, there are those she knows came through the portal, as well. They must have. Because none of them seem to make an impression on the warring forces either.

    She searches the landscape, every bit of it absolutely foreign, and feels utterly helpless. She is a small thing, Glean, what does she know of war? What does she know of what it means to believe in something so strongly that you’d kill for it? She draws in a breath, trying desperately to cobble together a thought while the others begin to speak. They speak of hatred, animosity, rifts. They speak amongst themselves, feeding off of other’s ideas to create their own.

    But she has always been a thing of animals.

    She swallows, waits for a lull before she speaks.

    I think we should ask the animals,” she says. She draws in another breath, her focus shackled to the Sprites because she does not know what she would do should she turn to find any of them looking at her. “Each side is bound to be biased, right? But the animals are not. There are always three sides to every story, each side and the truth. The animals know the truth. Crows can pass knowledge down for generations.” She has seen it. “Perhaps they can tell us what we need to know. Or at least where we need to look.” 


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