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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    Wolfbane -- Year 210

    QOTY

    "She presses into him greedily, hungrily, and demands more. She does not know how to be gentle when she is with him—does not know how to quell the aching in her belly, the neediness in her touch. She would devour him whole. She would sacrifice herself completely. She would give and give and give—" --Tabytha, written by Laura


    [private]  slipping through the cracks of your cold embrace, Atrox
    #1
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    Her unfailing obedience has always been both a flaw and an asset. A flaw, because it meant her loyalty was fickle and wavering. But it has saved her on more than one occasion, if only because it was often unexpected. Most were not quite so willing to bend beneath the strength of someone else without a fight, but she was not entirely foolish. She was small and slight, and she didn’t stand a chance against most; listening was always the safer option. She was not a fighter, but she was a survivor.

    It’s why when Atrox tells her she is going to Hyaline he is not met with any sort of resistance. There is a confusion at first, but she does not ask him why she has to go. She never asks; she just follows. She always finds out soon enough, and it’s not like she had any sort of real allegiance to Tephra. It had served as her home since she first came back, but any chance it had at being a true home she had destroyed when she had pushed Skellig completely away. Skellig flickering across her mind is the only hint that she hesitates; he could come back, and she won’t be there, and he won’t know where to find her.

    But then she thinks of Ashhal, and Carnage, and even Atrox, and realizes why would he want to find her?

    Disappearing into Hyaline felt like the better option.

    She is surprised, though, that she immediately likes it.  Maybe it’s because it reminds her a little bit of the Valley, at least moreso than Tephra did. The snow-capped mountains that encircle the meadows and lakes, and the forests that have long since lost their autumn leaves – it feels like a jolt straight to her heart. 

    It is similar – but not the same.

     “What made you pick Hyaline?” She asks once she is alongside of him again, staring at the mirror-like surface of the lake. She catches a glimpse of her reflection, of the soft amber glow of the halo, and she diverts her gaze to his face while also shifting a step back. She ignores the tension that still simmers beneath her skin, where she thinks it might still sting from his teeth even though her body had healed the marks. She doesn’t ask why he has brought her here; she suspects there isn’t a reason, and that if anything she will end up doing the diplomatic duties he doesn’t feel like doing. It’s a role she’s played before, and supposes she could step into again, if it is asked of her.
    ryatah
    Reply
    #2

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

    He is not surprised when she shows up. He has come to expect that Ryatah does not necessarily do what is unconventional, but she certainly does what is in the best interest of her survival—and that usually meant listening to the things she is told to do. (Not that he has any desire to hunt her down should she have tried to say no; at least not now.) Still, he grins when she does show, his yellow gaze flicking to the angelic sight of her on the borders of Hyaline—a juxtaposition of loveliness from the shadows that bruise her.

    He says nothing until she is by his side, making a noise in his throat as the only answer to her question as he continues to look outward, studying the mountains and the trees. It was no Chamber (in truth, he has a hard time imagining its counterpart in any of old Beqanna), but that doesn’t mean he dislikes it. Certainly he prefers the cooler climate to the absurdly hot climate of Tephra. How Twinge and Magnus had come to love that tropical jungle weather is beyond him, but he has certainly never grown an affinity for it.

    “It was available,” he finally manages, chewing on the inside of his cheek slightly. The truth was that he had seen an opportunity and took it. The scent of the leader had long faded from the borders and it happened to be tucked underneath the protection of Anaxarete. It was comfortable and quiet and he was looking forward to sinking his claws into the soil and making it his own—whether for hunting or women.

    He flashes a crooked smile as he angles his head toward her, studying her for a moment.

    “What made you decide to come?”

    He has a feeling he knows, but it was always more interesting hearing it from her.

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

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

    Reply
    #3
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    She had a habit of becoming attached to things – men – that she shouldn’t. There was a fascination with the dark that she couldn’t escape, accompanied by that twisted need to be wanted; even if it wasn’t real, even if she knows she’s just a relief for their boredom and that she will eventually be discarded. Dhumin had instilled something in her that she was never able to shake loose – it had taken root inside of her until it became the foundation of her. It was the thing that made her unable to handle freedom, it was that part of her make-up that needed (wanted) to be controlled, to feel like someone had some sort of control over her chaos.

    She isn’t sure if that’s what she finds in Atrox, but it’s close.

    He feels more tangible than Carnage, because he is here; he is mortal like her, and he has Hyaline. She can feel that sick part of her begin to awaken, just a small spark that promised to ignite, but she smothers it, for now. Instead she shifts her gaze to his, her voice level and masking the strange sensation humming beneath her skin as she says, “Well, I like it.”

    He asks her why she decided to come, and she tilts her head with an amused smile lifting at the edge of her lips. “Because you told me to.” Her body turns to angle towards him just slightly, and she takes a step closer when she inquires softly, “Did you think I wouldn’t listen?” She laughs, a sound that is remarkably light in comparison to the land around them shrouded by mist and shadow. “You should know by now I’m not much of a fighter.”
    ryatah
    Reply
    #4

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

    As unsurprised as he is that she had chosen to come to Hyaline after he had told her to, he is equally surprised by the fact that he liked having her here. He was not a man known for such feelings—or, really, known for having any at all—so to think that he enjoyed her company was a somewhat confusing development. She was, after all, quiet and obedient and not at all like the sharp-toothed women that he usually preferred, but he found something fascinating about the contradictions that lived within her.

    Something infinitely curious about the way she wore her halo and yet was drawn to the sinners.

    It is enough of a fascination that he continues to amuse her with conversation, yawning to make it clear that he was still relatively bored with the entire affair, but not yet dismissing her outright. “Well as long as you like it, princess,” he drawls, amusement flickering in the scarred corner of his mouth as he finally brings his gaze back from the crystalline lake to her face, not moving when she steps in closer to him.

    “I think you have tools at your disposal that are far more interesting and effective than fighting,” he wonders if she even knows what a survivor she is—how she has adapted to her surroundings again and again. He himself was more of a brawler, more content to make do with his brawn and steel, but she didn’t need such things to make do in this world. “And I think you listen because you wanted to come.”

    He laughs then, something husky and smoky as he shakes the tangled mane from his yellow eyes.

    “I am rather handsome and have been known for my exceptional conversational skills.”

    A shrug, a lazy smile.

    “So I think it’s hard to blame you.”

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

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

    Reply
    #5
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    He is difficult for her to figure out, and maybe she puts too much effort into trying. It’s an ingrained habit, though, to try and figure out what makes them tick; to decipher the almost covert inner workings of their minds, even if she can only scratch the surface. Part of it is a fascination, if only because her mind could never possibly function that way. But mostly, it is survival – learning what she can say and do without getting hurt or killed, testing invisible boundaries to see what the limits are.

    There were some like Carnage, where that limit was ever-changing; days where she almost foolishly trusted him, followed by days where a mere glance felt like a lethal mistake. And on the other end of the spectrum, Skellig – where there were no limits, no boundaries, and everything was theoretically as it should be. But she took all that freedom, all that safety and trust, and wove herself the shortest rope to hang their love with.

    She stares at Atrox, and wonders where he falls amongst the rest of them. She is afraid of him, but not the way she is afraid of Carnage; maybe, almost, similar to the way she had been afraid of Dhumin. Because while Dhumin had never physically hurt her, he had a way of looking at her and making her feel like she would rather be swallowed by the earth than to live with disappointing him. She was not ambitious in the way other women of the valley were, her tongue was not sharp and the scars that laced her body were not from battles fought. She was not the ideal woman for men like Dhumin, or even Atrox; she was just their willing victim.

    “Did you just call me princess?” She laughs, and even though the phrase was dripping with sarcasm it does not land the insulting blow it may have been intended as. Her skin was thicker than it may appear, and it was unlikely there was much that Atrox could say that would offend her.

    “Maybe,” she says in response to his comment on how she has other means besides fighting, but her tone is noncommittal. She’s been told that before; that she is interesting, or that she wasn’t what someone expected. She doesn’t see what they see, and she finds it hard to believe that her skillset is truly so different than most any other across Beqanna. She thinks that she is not so different from every other woman; that the ones that are not brazen and bold must have figured out how to be subtly sweet enough to not spark their anger and instead capture their interest. To learn to be that strange mixture of obedient but not so meek that you are completely disposable.

    “I did want to come,” she concedes with another wisp of a smile on her lily-white lips. “I came for the scenic views but obviously I’m staying for the meaningful conversations I know we’ll have.”
    ryatah

    here have some word vomit
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    #6

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

    It is a strange thing to stand in a place carved from the Beqanna of new with a symbol of the old placed by his side; the archaic blended with the contemporary. He finds that she provides a strange kind of balance in that sense, helping to even out his unease at settling into Hyaline and finding his home amongst the newly poured lakes and the shockingly barren hills. He would prefer a pine forest or a mountain—really, anything that he could trick himself into thinking was the Chamber—but it’ll do.

    Her laughter brings a shadow of a grin to his own face and he rolls his shoulders.

    “I’m sorry, do you prefer Queen?” His smile is roguish and only sharp on the edges as he brings his gaze back to her delicate features, wondering how she had fared underneath the weight of the crown. It was difficult to imagine her commanding kingdoms, but he knew enough of history to know that she had done it for several years. He had loved that weight himself; loved the punch drunk power of an entire kingdom rising up beneath him, the armies bloodthirsty and furious. But his crown had always been one soaked in the crimson aftermath of war; he was more General than peacekeeper. It was a natural fit.

    Would she have followed him home then, he wonders.

    Would he have given her a choice.

    The questions escape as quickly as they form, and he’s left to sit in her presence, comfortable in the silence as he remembers the tang of her blood and the way her skin had healed so neatly afterward.

    “Meaningful conversation,” he laughs, echoing her sentiment before bringing his yellow eyes to her, lips peeling back over the sharpness of his suddenly feline teeth. “Is that what they are calling it these days?”

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

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

    Reply
    #7
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    She still doesn’t feel like she has found her place here, and it was an unsettling sensation. Even though all the pieces of her past had a way of finding their way back to her – like she was some kind of magnet for disaster – something didn’t feel like home. Maybe because home, and not just the physical, dirt part of it, didn’t exist for her anymore. And she knows, even if she doesn’t want to admit it, that she could search this whole world twice over and not find anything like home ever again.

    “Not anymore,” she responds with a laugh and a shake of her head. “Being a queen...it never really felt right anyway.” Because she hadn’t deserved it. The crown had been bloodstained by the time it reached her, but she had worn it regardless. She should have known that violence had foreshadowed violence; that though she herself was quiet and the kingdom considered neutral it did not mean she would leave there unscathed.

    She hadn’t, of course, and she would now forever and always be the queen that had her eyes ripped out by Carnage.

    The dark of her eyes find the vibrant yellow of his when he laughs, but her gaze is drawn again to the sharp teeth that glint in the light. She cannot control the way her skin tingles with the memory of what those teeth had felt like when they scraped across it; how warm the rivulets of blood had felt as they trailed down her leg. “That’s what I call it,” the quiet lilt of her voice betrays the want that lingers beneath the words, but she does not cave to it. There is only a half-smile, before a slant of her head diverts her eyes again to the glass-like lake. “Though I suppose meaningful isn’t the right word.”
    ryatah
    Reply
    #8

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

    He knows what it’s like to not find a place—to not truly belong anywhere.

    Even though he now has this plot of earth, this land, it doesn’t feel like his own. It’s not the place where he wants it to be. Not the place where it could be—and, yet, he doesn’t hate it completely. It doesn’t itch or wear thin around the corners and when he wakes in the morning to take in the fog that will sometimes roll across the glass of the lake, he will even feel something like home settle in his belly.

    Still, this isn’t home. It’s not his own.

    He would not bleed for it or bury his heart in her soil.

    And there’s nothing he can do to rectify that.

    So in this, he can understand Ryatah and finds himself grateful, if only a little, for her presence here. He grunts under his breath at the confession because he’s not particularly surprised. She didn’t strike him as someone who yearned for the crown. He didn’t think that she was power-hungry or particularly obsessed with the idea of fighting for the crown once more and he likes her more for it.

    His teeth flash into his predatory smile and a laugh as he feels that tension mount. He’s no stranger to it—one doesn’t father dozens of children without some awareness of it—but he prefers to withhold more. Prefers the strange control that comes with it. “Does everything boil down to that with you?” he laughs, low and smoky, as though he had not been the one to turn the conversation in that direction. As though he had not been the one to take the first step in their every interaction. “Am I being used, Ryatah?”

    Humor flashes in his yellow eyes but he doesn’t soften it with any further laughter.

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

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

    Reply
    #9
    she fell for the idea of him
    and ideas were a dangerous thing to love
    He tempts her in a way that she isn’t used to, and she almost hates herself for how easy it is to get swept away in it all. It’s not all fear and games the way it can be with Carnage, and not the electrifying sexual tension that exists between her and Ashhal. Atrox falls somewhere in the middle, and how strange it is for her that it is that foggy in-between that is uncharted territory for her.

    Because she is afraid of him and she wants him and yet she can’t tell if he actually wants her to feel either one.

    It’s his laugh that always seems to get her, or the way his eyes sometimes flashed with amusement unexpectedly. Those brief glimpses into something that is more than just the stoic exterior she usually sees is what draws her in; because she is a fool and she willingly falls into traps even if she has already done the same thing a hundred times. Even if she has already fallen victim to someone else’s sharp teeth and half-smiles, she can’t keep herself from finding out what it might be like this time.

    His laugh comes again, and it makes heat rise up beneath her skin as she looks again into those bright yellow eyes. She doesn’t hide it as well anymore – the want that flickers in her eyes, the tense ache that coils inside of her – but she still does not move closer. “Depends on who you ask,” she admits with a quiet laugh, and a smile so demure it betrays the fact that she is imagining what his teeth felt like against her thigh that day in the meadow. “But is it still considered being used if you like it?” Her almost black eyes hold his, and even though she directs the question at him, she knows it’s one she could just as easily ask herself.
    ryatah
    Reply
    #10

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

    Atrox is quite comfortable in the grey of life.

    He spent so much of his early years in the black and white of it. Back in the days where lines were drawn so carefully and everyone played the role that they were given. There was Light and there was Dark and there were the weak soul who played somewhere in the middle. He had flourished in those times—driven by the easiness of measuring his own actions. He wore the mantle of General and then King. He became the warmonger that everyone expected he be and he had enjoyed spilling the blood of the innocent.

    But life has a way of ripping such clean lines away from you, and he was no different.

    Time, as it does, had gone on. He had died and was reborn; he had known the taste of the afterlife more than once and knew what it meant to have your heart ripped from your chest and then watch as the thing you sacrificed yourself turns its cheek. And in the aftermath of giving his all and then having it taken forcefully, he had learned the importance of himself. He had grown increasingly more selfish in the years and learned that the blurred lines were where he truly thrived. Where he didn’t have to think twice about what he felt like doing—regardless of how it would be labeled, perceived, or discussed.

    It was simple, to live life by one’s own desires.

    It was simple to take what you wanted with no apologies.

    This is the thought that lingers as he studies her face, matching her own laugh with the smoke of his own, teeth flashing in humor. “I imagine I could ask quite a few who would give me the answer that I expect,” he teases, lips peeling apart. “Thank goodness at least one of us have an iota of decency.” His lips pull in the corner as he turns his pointed gaze from her back to the lake, trying briefly to think of the number of women whose bed he has enjoyed before giving up. It was a fruitless endeavor. He had no idea.

    His blood warms underneath his skin as he remembers their last meeting, that primal desire so natural to him rising to the surface—driving him to simply relinquish any control he might wield over it. He cannot decide if he would prefer to take her now or see just how far her healing can stretch and instead he does nothing, yet, rather enjoying the tension that pulls taut beneath the surface.

    “And how would you know it is that I like?” he asks, his voice just a little sharper this time.

    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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