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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    OCEANE -- Year 208

    QOTY

    "Because if she had not met him, she knew she would have been searching her whole life for the piece that he filled her heart with." -- Eva, written by Shelbi


    they said i did something bad
    #1

    i can feel the flames on my lips; crimson blood on my skin


    The walls of the Hall of the Slain crumble around her; from glittering gold to flaking ash in the space between one step and the next. Stars glitter in the sky overhead – where had the sky come from? – and a bitter wind blows the heather wisps of her mane across gentle nutbrown eyes.

    Everything is gone.

    Everything she deserved is suddenly gone.

    A primal yell spills from her night-black lips, feral and raw. Louder than it should be, the strength with which she beats the earth with her front hooves is equally impossible, and the thunder of their fury shaking the earth for a good half-mile around the grey mare. Birds scatter from trees at the edge of the Plains, startled, and a rabbit three yards away collapses. Its little heart was no match for the fear brought about by her scream, and the blood that drips from its soft nose soon taints the air around her. 

    Starlace smiles, and some of the dried blood that stains her crimson shoulders flakes and falls. Muscles more toned than they had ever been in life quiver beneath her dappled coat, and a dozen bits of bone clatter in her ash grey mane: trophies.

    The world she knows is gone, but she does not need familiarity to feel at ease. This is a world where creatures bleed (they do not do so everywhere) and so this is a world she can conquer.


    Starlace

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    #2

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    She was from a time far after he had disappeared into the shadows.

    From a time when he had wrapped himself in the fog and the dark and disappeared into the caverns of the Chamber to rest. It was not something that the kingdom had allowed him to do often—when he spent too long from active service, he could feel the pressure on his heart as a not-so-gentle reminder.

    So he has heard rumors of her, mentions of her, but has never once seen her in person.

    That is, until tonight.

    He is passing through the Plains, traveling to or from the beach (it is difficult to keep track when he has little care to do so) with the two spectral souls by his side. They are large, their eyes blue as though blind although he knows they can see just fine—but, most importantly, they are silent. Mouths nearly sewn shut with obedience, which is exactly the kind of companions that he likes best. He can talk enough for both.

    When he sees her, blood-stained and war-torn, the bones in her mane and the look of death in her eyes, it is enough to make him pause. Enough for him to angle a feline head and keep one paw lifted in the air. When he decides that he is curious enough, he angles toward her, shifting into his more usual equine form when he is several yards from her. Like this, he is jet black save for the yellow eyes peering out from a thicket of forelock that is too thick and too unruly to ever stay in one place for long.

    He does not know her, but something within him tightens in recognition all the same.

    After all, she may be gone but the marks of the Chamber never fade for long.

    ATROX | THE PANTHER KING
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

    Reply
    #3

    i can feel the flames on my lips; crimson blood on my skin


    There are less horses than before.

    No, there are the same but they are less than they had been, and more of something different. She tastes it in the wind, sees it there too: something different. Something more.

    Beqanna is less equine than it once was, but as she touches the still-warm body of the fear-slain rabbit at her feet, she knows that they are still mortal.

    Starlace is still laughing to herself as the cat approaches her, and she does not quiet herself. Not until she has looked enough at the horses – not horses, souls like she had been so recently – does she even look at the slinking cat. Its eyes are too sharp, and even when it becomes a stallion, she thinks he might do well with a bit less…something.

    ”Do you know how to speak?” She asks in a voice that is roughened with battle cries, and deeper than her sex and small size might warrant.

    ”Or shall we meow back and forth until we get the point across?” Her black lips curl up in amusement, and the quiet hum to herself is almost like a purr.


    Starlace

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    #4

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    Atrox has always preferred women with a little bite and at the sarcastic edge to her voice, he finds that he warms to her rather quickly. Not that it changes much about his demeanor. He remains standing there, his yellow eyes studying her intently but his posture rather lax—something about it nearly cocky in the face of what was clearly superior power running through her veins. But Atrox was never afraid of much.

    Still, he laughs in response to her question, quick and husky, before rolling a shoulder.

    “More than most people wish that I did,” he answers quickly, his grin roguish and wide as it settles onto a scarred but otherwise handsome face. “But if you prefer to communicate like that, who am I to argue?”

    His laughter fades but the amusement doesn’t and it settles into the folds of his black velvet face. For a second, he glances back to the souls who stand sentinel behind him. He could relinquish them for now, could send them back to their eternal rest, but he has no great compassion for strangers and no real desire to give them a peace kept from him, so he says nothing—instead leaves them standing by his flank.

    When his attention returns to the mare before him, it is just as sharp as ever.

    “Atrox,” he finally offers, tossing the name out almost carelessly.

    “My name is Atrox.”

    ATROX | THE PANTHER KING
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

    Reply
    #5

    i can feel the flames on my lips; crimson blood on my skin


    Would he become a cat again? She would like to see how one felt, if the fur was as soft as it looked, if the skin beneath it torn as easily as a horse. Does he have bones in that shape, Starlace wonders; there is something unnatural in the way that felines move – perhaps they are all grace and sinew beneath their black stripped spotted patched coats. Would he take off his skin, if that was what she preferred? Or would he find that worth arguing about.

    “Were you dead?” Is asked with a tilt of her head and a sudden beady look in her warm brown eyes. “Or are you dying?”

    They are the only possibilities, here in the world of the living. She had believed in immortality, once. And then she had learned that all things are mortal, and some of them simply cursed to die again and again and again.

    Or blessed. Blessed, in her case, and she remembers the Great Battles with a laugh and a too-wide smile. She chuckles is just before he throws his name to her, a name she knows. Dead, or dying? Too old to know.

    “Starlace.” She tells him in reply, not bothering to wipe away the smile that clashes with her tone. “Of the Dead,” she says in the way she had once said ‘of the Chamber’, and then the smile is gone and the beady eyed look is back a


    Starlace

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    #6

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    Atrox has thought once or twice what he would look like strewn across the forest floor.

    When one lives as long as he has lived, regardless of the moments interrupted with death, you learn that you have an innate, dark fascination with your own ending. What will it be like this time. Will it be quick or will it be brutal. Will it be clean or will it leave your body mangled—battered and broken.

    Atrox has never been one to actually consider himself on the losing side, but it does not stop the thoughts.

    They are comforting, in a way.

    So he laughs at her questions, his handsome face open and cavalier. “Both, actually.” He pauses to think, as if trying to remember. “Multiple times, although you could say I am dying now.” He rolls a shoulder in a nearly careless manner. “I don’t know anymore. Can you die without a heart?”

    His smile is quick, the teeth flashing white against the black of his lips.

    “I’m sure you could find out.”

    But, as much as he loves to think about just himself, the conversation moves on and he finds himself studying her again. That faint otherness that surrounds her—sinking into her flesh and the magic that lives there. “Starlace then,” he greets, wondering at why her name sounds like it should be familiar.

    “What brings you back to the miserable world of the living?”

    ATROX | THE PANTHER KING
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

    Reply
    #7

    i can feel the flames on my lips; crimson blood on my skin


    Dead for decades, unbound by the limits of mortality, Starlace knows the world she died in is no longer the world that her descendants inhabit. Some parts of it are the same. She has returned to one such place, these blood-soaked fields. And yet…the freshest blood here is more than a decade old.

    How disappointing.

    Atrox answers, and Starlace looks away from the not-red-enough red earth and back at him. Her brown eyes are bright with curiosity, and she takes a step closer as he asks of dying without a heart. Can he die? She does not know, and her black mouth brushes against his chest, just before she asks: “Would you let me find out?” 

    There is nothing in her manner to suggest this question is at all out of the ordinary, and she even seems unconcerned with the answer as she settles back and allows him to studying her. She does enjoy being looked at. She might only be blandly pretty, but she is proud of this fit body and the scars that adorn it.

    “Perhaps it was men like you, passing back and forth, weakening the division between the living and the dead.” That is the theory she has heard anyway, but it is clear from the shrug and the way her eyes rove across the horizon that the grey mare has not given it much thought.


    Starlace

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    #8

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    There are few that can actually hold his attention for long, and he is surprised to know that she is one of them. Perhaps it is the stirring of his heart in some far off place long gone that twinges and tells him that she is of his home. Perhaps it is simply the fact that she reeks of a magic unlike anything that has been here before. Whatever it is, it keeps away the boredom that so often nips at his ankles.

    He looks more bemused than anything when she touches his chest and he angles his head, yawning. “I don’t see why not.” He rolls his shoulders, not exactly looking forward to death but not fearing it any longer. He has felt pain greater than the type that accompanies dying, and he has known worse things than the endless blackness that waits for him on the other side. He fears greater things than its nothingness.

    Still, he settles, feeling the two souls that flank him shuffle closer.

    His lips pull back to reveal white jaguar teeth as he angles his head back. “Relax,” he growls, knowing that whatever they may want to do, his word binds them more than their own desires. “There’s nothing you could do if she wants to,” his voice is low as he brings his attention back to her.

    “And I have half a mind to let her.”

    His cavalier grin is back as he rolls a shoulder, mirroring her own shrug.

    “If it is my fault, I feel no guilt for it. Some divisions deserve to be torn asunder.”

    ATROX | THE PANTHER KING
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

    Reply
    #9

    i can feel the flames on my lips; crimson blood on my skin


    Before she had been dead, the ease with which she flexes her new powers would have nauseated he. Magic was a tool of the weak, wielded by cowards whose hooves and dull teeth were not enough to defend them. But now? Now, when she can feel the liquid shadow of it running through her veins? Now, she thinks she might understand. 

    Atrox doesn’t flinch away from her, and she offers him a Chesire grin. The teeth behind her black lips are far too numerous, needle thin and dripping saliva – or perhaps it is venom? He would let her try, and that willingness spares him. Starlace likes to hear them beg before she crushes the life from them; she doesn’t think that this kitten would even mew with protest. But still, she does like how his shadows press forward, how he orders them away. She means to recreate her pack of hounds, and though she’s never had a pet cat before, she thinks she might keep this one.

    “I would like to wear another shape,” she tells him, and it is said with the air of a woman who has never been denied.

    “How do you become the cat?” Some things she returned knowing – how to alter her equine body, how to seek out the weakest among them – but not the shape changing. Starlace is sure she can do it. There is nothing she cannot do. “Teach me.” She adds, in case her question had seemed optional.


    Starlace


    atrox
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    #10

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    Her teeth are fascinating and he stares perhaps a second too long, wondering at whatever magic she possesses that lets her grow such things with such ease, her mouth rimmed with death and dripping with the very promise of it. He laughs again, a low, whisper of it, feeling nothing but that familiar thrill at knowing she is a harbinger of death. Atrox has always had such a weakness for cruel women.

    She does not follow through on her promise though and he feels no relief and no disappointment.

    He assumes she simply has other plans and rolls a shoulder, twitching an ear in her direction at the words that sound so very much like a demand. He has half of a mind to deny her, just to see how she would react to the insubordination, and he is certain that the thought flutters across his face, sinks into his features.

    It stays for a moment, a beat of time, and then his curiosity beats it out.

    After all, more than he would like to see her rage, he is curious about the scope of her power.

    “It is a simple thing,” he says, because shifting has always been second nature to him. He pulls back his teeth and his flat, dull teeth morph into the elongated incisors of his panther form, pressing into the thick velvet of his lips. They shift back just as his eyes become distinctly more feline, but just as yellow.

    “You simply envision what it is that you would become,” he breathes, knowing that her potential has a reach that far exceeds his own. He can only turn into one form. He imagines that she is infinite.

    Still, he shifts into his catlike form and then sits on his haunches, peering up at her.

    “You imagine it and then you let it sink into your very bones until they react to your thoughts.”

    He nods.

    “Now you try.”

    ATROX | THE PANTHER KING
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

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