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    version 22: awakening


    LILLIANA -- Year 206


    "There is still something of himself - something of the Wolfbane who would always love her - that rallies against the slime. It says, 'lie in the bed you’ve made'. So he gathers the covers and tucks himself in." -- Wolfbane, written by Calcifer

    [private]  slipping through the cracks of your cold embrace, Atrox
    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.

    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.

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    here have some word vomit

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