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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

    [private]  all I know is we're going home; Tiberios

    all I know is you're here with me


    Despite her many protestations and great disbelief, it marches on.  She has felt the pull of it deep down in the marrow of her bones.  But because she cannot die, cannot age, even, she does not cave to its calling.  She is like a pebble stuck fast to the muddy bottom of a stream, smoothed by the water that flows ever-onward over her.  She is forced to watch it change everything and everyone around her even as she exists outside of it.  Time becomes like an enemy she cannot defeat: she cannot touch it, she cannot staunch its spill, and she cannot even defect and join it (even if she wanted to).

    Instead, the years pass around her, impervious to her existence.

    She abandons Beqanna when it becomes more than she can bear, the pain.  It is more her companion than anything else in those many years after she leaves her last hoofprints on the Ischian sand.  She finds that she is not able to outrun it, even then.  That, like time, she is powerless against it.  She lets it swarm around her head like flies, each one a different part of her home that she commits to memory again.  She lets it fill her heart like water, each drop a different face that she will never forget.  She may not see any of them again, but she will not let the pain erase them from her.

    Time becomes all that is left.

    Knowing this, realizing that empty years will be all that will greet her, Talulah follows the path back.  The air is familiar and yet different all at once.  The meadow is not where it is supposed to be.  She rolls her metallic shoulders and presses on down another trail, the distant roaring a welcome sound drawing her onward.  When her amber eyes alight on the churning water glinting in the midday sun, the once-dulled pain sharpens to a point.  She closes her eyes and draws on those memories again, loses herself in them for a time.  The cool wind could be coming down off of bruised-blue mountain faces.  The spray misting her face could be that of the winding river, her son’s favorite spot.  The gentle touch on her back could be the caress of a lover, not a leaf spiraling down from the canopy above.

    All are lost, she reminds herself and opens her eyes.  It is only the River ahead of her.  Still beautiful, but not her beautiful.  Not the kind that her soul sings for.  Not the kind that wraps around her in soft golden light or sets her passion ablaze so that she burns white-hot with it.  These things are like ghosts now, moving on but passing through her, still.

    She makes to gather it all: ghosts, memories, and will, and almost turns away.  A moment longer, she thinks, staying her feet on the saturated, mossy bank.  Her face catches the sun through the branches arcing above and she sighs.


    Photo by Joanna Nix

    [@ Tiberios]
    The season is serene. The entire world is serene. Winter seems content to cover her maw and leave the teeth inside today. Or maybe it's the ripple of blue ombre fur, littered by white tiger stripes, that cover Tiberios' skin and keep the bitter chills at bay.

    Sometimes he warms himself in the sun and ruminates.

    His thoughts often turn to the irony surrounding him, and by that he means the perpetually quiet woodlands and the sea full of teeming life far below Tib's reach. All the world is a quiet place, haunted by memories. He wonders if this is the world his ancestors envisioned when they spoke of unity and peace.

    Did they know what it would cost them?

    The Liger flicked one of its rounded ears and chuffed, unbothered.

    The rock he'd chosen was teeming with dry sea lichen. It made for a soft bed, despite the hard slab of stone underneath. The spot wasn't a particular favorite of his, because Tiberios had to be aware of the tides coming into shore, but it was one he frequented when he felt ... distant. He lay there until the water lapped up against the stone, and then (knowing his options for red meat were limited) Tiberios slunk back to the safety of dry land where he could turn back into his 'normal' self.

    Foraging through the Winter again, he thought.

    If Silver Cove existed, he'd head there. The once-established inlet had been a great place for Tib to get his bearings after being resurrected from the dead. There'd been no one around to trouble him then, and he supposes that's when his proclivity for loneliness began. Now, he keeps to the common lands - one of the few places left for a horse of his kind. Today's quiet journey leads him to the River.

    His thoughts are light, free of the concerns they once harbored when he'd lived his first life. Tib can finally enjoy the loose pattern of the cold sun, reaching down from above to permeate the canopy of overgrown trees and illuminate the way. He can enjoy the feeling of air rushing into his lungs, unbothered by the idea of whether or not it would be his last. He simply exists.

    The narrow trail leading down to the river's edge is steep, and today it yields a very unexpected surprise. Pushing the branches out of his path, Tib caught the glimmer of winter sunlight playing off something metallic and saw a glimpse of her - Talulah, pensive and radiant on the opposite shore.

    Mirage or not, Tiberios didn't hesitate to slip into the current and swim across. How long had it been, he wondered? Too long.

    He thought that over time the feeling in his chest would fade like his memories, but one glance at her standing across the water and Tib knew he was as much a fool as he'd ever been. That, at least, time could not change. Nor did it seem to soften his feelings; he half expected her to disappear into the play of light like a dream, and feared her absence for the pain it would surely bring him.

    But, Talulah seemed to remain. He found the soggy river mud with his hooves, and Tiberios trudged up the mossy bank feeling a mixture of elation and trepidation. Mostly confusion. He was a little bit more gray around the muzzle than Talulah might remember, and there was a small but noticeable set of faun horns protruding out of his forehead, yet Tib remained mostly unchanged.

    Talulah was an immortal, and so to him she seemed immaculate.

    "I thought I would never see you again." Tib huffed, out of breath and dripping like a river rat.

    @Talulah First of all, thank you for the lovely surprise. Your words are so, so beautiful <3


    all I know is you're here with me

    Being here puts her at a sort of tempered peace she hasn’t felt in ages.  Just standing on familiar soil brings some semblance of comfort she hasn’t found since she left.  It isn’t the same and never will be again, but she is closer, and that is all she can ask for anymore.

    The sun is glorious as it warms her smooth, unyielding skin.  She is fortunate to be alone, for any that would touch her now would likely shy away from the heat she gathers.  It is not the first time the elements have worked against her; in the winter, the effect is the opposite.  She becomes almost impossible to touch for the cold air that makes her skin feel like ice.  With few exceptions, she has never minded the oddity of her existence overmuch, never truly wished for supple, warm flesh in lieu of metal.  It is her own brand of armor against the world.  It is her way of keeping others out unless expressly invited in – even at their own peril.  Those she has loved have not minded, anyway.

    Talulah lets the turbulence of the river carry away her most troubling thoughts.  There is the potential to start over, she muses.  If this world is changed then maybe she can adapt herself to it.  Maybe she can look for a place, if not to call home, then to settle in.  Maybe there will be some sort of happiness, too. 

    With her eyes still closed, her ears become in tune to the movement of the water.  She learns its pattern of ebb and flow unconsciously, where it scoots around a jutting rock or flows under a half-submerged log.  So when it becomes disrupted by something, when its’ journey is impeded, she knows it right away.  Her amber eyes open so slowly.  She is loath to leave the serenity she has just surrendered herself to. 

    So it doesn’t register at first what she finds there in the river obstructing its progression.

    Or who.

    It is only when he is beside her there on the riverbank that realization crashes down like a thunderbolt.  It can’t be, but somehow it is.  War rages inside of her and on her face as she takes him in, strange and familiar all at once.  It is the young man she had accosted as a young woman as he found the Dale for the first time, traveling deep past their borders before she could stop him.  It is the burnt man who had come back after a quest, who had cut her with his sharp words and she had lashed right back.  It is the once-king of the Falls coming home to her for the final time, leaving it all behind him to be with her forever.  It is the life that had been stolen from her, the white-hot fire that burned her and made her whole all the same that had been snuffed out before its time.

    It is Tiberios.  Impossibly, perfectly, so. 

    It is him, despite the new parts that are brushed aside in favor of drinking in the whole of him.  Talulah rushes into him with her entire weight, not caring about the water rolling off or the possibility that they might both end up back in the river.  She buries her face in the crook of his neck, finding a home in the familiar line where his ruined, puckered skin met dark hair.  Of all the time that has passed since she left, she has not been physically this close to another.  And this, coupled with the fact that it is him, is intoxicating.  She loses herself as the moments pass, afraid that if she pulls back, he will be gone like the morning dew on the grass.  She can’t question why he is here or how.  Even that seems like a betrayal, like an invitation to take him back to his final resting place far away from her embrace.

    If it is real, she is not sure she will ever be able to let him go lest he slip away on a passing current.

    “You are here,” she says instead, not sure herself if it is a question for him or an answer for her, and praying that it will not anger whatever gods have brought him back.  When he feels solid enough around her, when she is sure her mind is not conjuring him up from memories, she pulls back enough to look into his eyes.  “You idiot,” she frowns, missing the contact already and throwing herself forward to wrap her head around his broad shoulders.  “How dare you.  Don’t you ever do that again.” 

    And if he feels more water running down his neck, it is warmer from where it leaves the corners of her eyes.


    Photo by Joanna Nix

    @ Tiberios  ughh stoppp.  I missed them and your beautiful words so very much <333
    It is him, more alive than ever and somehow here, with her, years beyond what might be considered possible. Her Tiberios. The same melancholic heart beating in his chest, exploding from joy. The same begrudging laughter, rough around the edges and just barely astonished at the weight of her thrown up against him. A shade older and perhaps none the wiser, but still very much the exact Tiberios whose untimely death would become an unexpected cataclysm for so much future pain and suffering.

    He was just as amazed by Talulah, how the very first touch of her smooth, magical skin seemed to unlock a flood of memories he’d nearly forgotten on his journey through a second mortal life. Floating through them, Tiberios closed his eyes and leaned into her embrace like a ship dropping anchor, mooring himself to the very physical, very warm reality of her presence as all the pain and anger he’d forgotten came crashing over him.

    It was one thing to live on the edge of humanity and rely fully on his senses, to pretend like nothing bad had ever happened, but it was an entirely different thing to come face-to-face with someone Tiberios thought he’d lost forever. The joy of seeing her again, of touching her and feeling recognized, of feeling loved … It was a joy shadowed by bitterness. In the wake of his resurrection, he couldn’t forget that everything he’d ever loved or cared about was gone. The Dale, The Falls, everyone in them and the family built up around him; they were all of them either dead or vanished in time.

    That realization had broken him, in a way. It had forced Tiberios to shrivel inward, to suppress the memories until he only thought about eating, drinking, or surviving. So it was only right that remembering would cause him pain, since shoving jagged pieces together never could quite make an object whole again.

    “You are here,” she guides him back like the stars guide their watery vessels, and Tiberios is recovered enough that his half-hearted smirk makes an appearance. He only has enough time to appreciate her everlasting beauty and catch a rare twinkle in her eye when, at last, she distances herself, but the ache to have Talulah cradled against him one more time is nearly more than Tib can bear. He’s secretly glad when she comes rushing back, and not just because he thought he might fall apart again if she stayed away.

    It’s because she reminded him of so much more than just memories.

    “Alright, I won’t.” He chuckled, more than willing to give her anything she asked.

    In a dreamy state of mind, Tiberios began to gently stroke her hair.

    “How are you?” He murmured quietly, wanting to know everything. “Talk to me, Please. You don’t know how much I’ve missed the sound of your voice.”

    Tiberios was desperate to hear a retelling of every minute that he missed in between his death and being reunited with her now, on the shores of Beqanna’s mighty river. It was as if he were suddenly ravenous to fill a void that’d been growing unceasingly since he’d died, and he wouldn’t be satisfied with the bare bones of any story she might spin for him. He wanted it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly - and he’d stay beside Talulah through the whole thing, no matter how long it took for her to tell.

    @Talulah I mean this literally when I say that this reunion thread is giving emotional damage. In the best way possible.


    all I know is you're here with me

    It is the thumping of his heart that draws hers’ back in.

    When they are pressed against each other like this, she knows he is real. When his muscles still, when he is rooted to the spot in awe of this moment, she knows he will not disappear. When she feels her own heart matching the pace of his, she knows they were always meant to be together.

    These certainties are so clear that it is hard to believe her life only minutes ago.

    But she has dwelled on her misfortunes and gluttonously devoured her sadness long enough. He may still harbor the bitter roots in his soil, but she is ready for the flowers.

    She is ready to live for others again, not just herself. She is eager to make tracks towards a purposeful destination instead of existing in subsequent forgettable spaces. She wants to see what this world has to offer now, despite its changes – she thinks maybe she can roll with the punches, as long as she is not alone. More than anything, she wants him. To be beside him. To pick up where they left off. To have the time that was stolen so egregiously from them.

    To love him.

    That half smirk nearly does her in as a wave of warm nostalgia wells up and threatens more happy tears to fall. He soothes her with his touch and she idly wonders if this is what the afterlife would feel like for her if she was worthy of it: the feeling of comfort and adoration in perpetuity. She wouldn’t mind death if it gave her that. But she imagines it is not so. Why else would he cling to her living form so tightly now if he’d had enough to sustain him on the Other Side? Talulah realizes then that she will never ask him about it. He says he wants to know about everything After, and if it is not proof enough of the failures of the afterlife, she doesn’t know what else could be.

    “I’m – “ She stammers, her heart catching off-rhythm for the first time since she saw him again. That answer feels like those bitter roots rising up to choke her, to pull her down below the dark, sucking mud, so she shakes her head. She is fine now, that is all that matters. His other unsaid inquiries were easier, so she takes that easy path.

    “And I that handsome, chiseled jawline.” Talulah reaches up to press a light kiss on his cheek to show her jest and to reset her pulse. She starts with the twins: his doppelganger daughter and bald-faced son. She tells the truth, tells him how she and Titanya had never understood each other, tells him how Terran’s strange appetites had nearly cost him his life. But on the next breath, she praises the girl’s fire and strength and the boy’s gentle, determined spirit. Bits and pieces of us both. And if there is regret like the undercurrent of the river they stand beside in her voice, it is weak. Because above all, she tells Tiberios of their independence. How they had never really needed her, only each other.

    Ischia is painted in all the colors of paradise she can think of. So different than their Dale. Inexplicably, perhaps, her life had never been more dull. There was an alien quality to it that she couldn’t habituate to. And maybe it was larger than that island, she explains to him, maybe it was just Beqanna at that time (she has fallen into the story now, pausing only to nibble at his withers soothingly). Little was permanent when all the lands flooded or famined or faltered in some new way before sometimes reappearing seemingly unscathed. She tells the sabino of their family there: of Ramiel’s wife, Ea making it her own sanctuary for many of their blood and many not of their blood.

    But time continues to march on and here it gets fuzzy and both stretches and shrinks for Talulah. Her life in Beqanna became a series of blips: Here she is at the foot of the Mountain staring up but never ascending. Here she is swimming and almost drowning in the ocean, unable to find Ischia or anyone who had called it home. Here she is leaving the land for the final time, setting off for whatever was beyond. And somewhere in there, she met their grandchildren, briefly. Oh, they are magnificent, she tells him, laying her cheek along the small of his back, smiling to herself.

    And that memory is so strong, she realizes she is sending it to him unconsciously. He can see their little faces, Titanya’s young children, if he wants. She hadn’t been lucky enough to find Terran and it is a regret that she knows will haunt her days. Had he met a great love? Had he given them children or had they conquered the world on their own? Talulah relishes the memories she has, but she is greedy for more. What she has will never be enough for those she loves and especially those she has lost.

    She closes her eyes when she says all she can for now. Let him absorb it, let the life sink deep into his skin so that he feels it without ever having lived it. There is a lot of life still to come for the both of them. Despite the grey peppering his muzzle and the weight of the years heavy on her soul, they could still make something of it. Talulah steps back and looks into his amber eyes, relishes the weight of his gaze on her.

    “What now?” She presses her lips to his neck. Tiny electrical sparks arc between them when she pulls away, enough to get both of their attention. “I have a few suggestions.”


    Photo by Joanna Nix

    @ Tiberios  I am SO sorry for the delay but I am back <3

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