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    Reave -- Year 219


    "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." --Cordis, written by Cassi

    [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

    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

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