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  • Beqanna


    Wolfbane -- Year 210


    "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]  hands that kiss hymns up your sides.
    i'll let you play the role. i'll be your animal.
    She had promised herself that she would never get attached again, that the males of her species were only ever good for a twenty-four hour period. It had been so easy with Ivar that she genuinely believed in herself for a flickering moment of time. But Tarnished couldn’t just leave her alone after their coupling and her little fawn heart had gotten so soft for him. Did the way she snapped her teeth and warn him to stay away only lure him deeper into her clutches? Or maybe it was the way she spat venom at his eyes when he stared at her for too long.
    These thoughts become a jumbled mess between her fingers when the first contraction settles into her hips. She swallows hard and pauses but the pain is brief, already gone by the time she braces herself for it. Meraki had woven a little den for her from the Tephran jungle vines and even adorned her nest with flowers like the ones their mother wore. Sabbath hurries to it, fearful of the next wave of aching pain to come smashing through her.
    The serpent woman lowers herself to the floor of dead leaves and grasses just as the next contraction sinks its ragged claws into her lower back. Her breath shudders and then she waits. Hours pass. The sun dips beneath the horizon when the ache becomes nearly continuous for her. It hardly takes as long for her mane to stick to her neck with sweat or her breaths to become deep and terrified. Sabbath closes her eyes and prays softly as their first child slips from her. When she opens them, the filly is crying quietly for her with little shadow wings fluttering in fear.
    She laughs and kisses her newborn daughter’s face eagerly from temple to nose. The tiny nub of a horn dots her forehead and Sabbath wonders at how her heart does not burst at the sight of her. “Reign. Reign because you are the princess of my life,” she explains gently before unleashing another shower of kisses across her cheeks.
    But she knew she was much too wide for just one child this size to grow within her, and she is reminded with another jolt of pain in her hips. Their son comes much easier, ink black with scaled wings to match his sister. She is exhausted but she pushes herself to show him the same adoration she gave to Reign just moments prior. Her lips find his small brow and she nuzzles him sweetly when he gives his first cries.
    Eucharist. My precious boy,” she whispers to him as she gathers the strength to stand. Her legs tremble for a moment before she steadies, lifting her head to find Tarnished standing before them at the opening to their den. The twins sniff at each other and test their newborn legs while she rushes forward with snapping jaws. These are her children, she reminds herself as venom pools across her tongue.
    Leave before I feed you to my sisters,” she warns as she spits the venom toward his face. She keeps her voice low in an effort to not startle the babies behind her, the words ultimately leave her in a hiss. “This place is for family, and you are not welcome here.
    She keeps her head lowered and poised to strike, legs splayed just enough to afford her a little balance as she remains between him and the shuffling newborns.
    burning cities and napalm skies,
    fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes

    Sabbath spoke to some primitive part of him. The remnants of some old instinct leftover from a time when the males of their species claimed females and forced them into a band. Like an evil little angel whose fingers deftly plucked at the strings of a harp, she struck that ancient chord within the shapeshifter the very moment she had the audacity to blind him.

    Sure, he couldn’t see clearly for a while and that led to him following her around this new Beqanna like a lost wolf cub, but he couldn’t find it in himself to leave her alone. She fascinated him and a singular word remained synonymous with her name from that point on.


    Of course, she spat in his face a few more times that spring until he saw it fit to follow her the remainder of the season and all of summer at a distance.

    Sometimes, the two of them would have a friendly conversation until she got fed up with his endless jabs and either spit at him again or tried to take a bite out of him.

    Still, wherever Sabbath went, her new-and-abused shadow followed.

    Nish was amused, often thinking about how he would have torn a lesser woman to pieces for even pettier crimes against him. He noticed that he found odd pleasure in the dappled mare’s tantrums.

    Sabbath thought herself so powerful and capable of destroying him at her leisure that he could not help indulging her. Whereas protecting Else from the rest of the world had given him purpose, making this woman feel so powerful over him left him feeling strangely… happy.

    Summer was fast coming to a close, but his presence never wavered. He even stood guard over the temperamental, scaly witch while she slept—whether she liked it or not.

    But then came autumn.

    After the first time, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

    Even while he was with the others.

    She stayed on his mind and as soon as he was done with them, he came rushing back to her each time. Whether she knew or not what he’d went and done, Nish had no idea—but she never brought it up and he supposed she would have no qualms about it anyway.

    As much as he had grown to love her, she still appeared to hate him. He was used to that, though, and every so often when Sabbath would lash out during her pregnancy, he would feel the scar Caius left on his body start to itch and he would start to remember Else.

    Unrequited love was certainly not unfamiliar territory to him.

    Nish knows the time is drawing near and while Sabbath saw it fit to run him off several days ago, he has lingered near the nest undetected in various forms.

    The day she arrives in a huff, she doesn’t seem to notice the colorful little parrot zipping off into the jungle; he finds a safe spot to land and begins shifting, from innocent little bird to disheveled stallion, and returns to her with a concerned look on his scarred face.

    He knows better than to disturb her, of course, and simply stands outside and waits, listening—baring his fangs and sneering at even the slightest hint of approach.

    It’s hours before he hears anything besides the pained sounds of her labor and then… then something else. Something soft and sweet to his ears. He isn’t familiar with the sound (as far as he knows, anyway), but he knows he will never forget hearing it.

    Sighing in relief, he decides to give her more time—but he’s utterly perplexed when a second cry comes from the den. ‘Twins,’ he realizes after a while, a half-smirk pulling at one side of his mouth. The stallion turns then, lowering his massive head so that he didn’t bump it against the ceiling of the den.

    The twins are sniffing at one another, Reign flapping her wispy little wings in delight when her brother accepts her offer to touch noses. Nish thinks it’s a trick of the light, certainly, when her sudden display of happiness and affection causes the wings to become… less, but—

    “Leave before I feed you to my sisters,” Sabbath warns, spitting her venom. He’s spent months dealing with her antics and is quick to jerk his head to the right to avoid being blinded again.

    “This place is for family, and you are not welcome here.”

    For whatever reason, the words cause an angry ache to start forming in his chest. His initial reaction, of course, is to hurt her just as much as her words have hurt him. His skin ripples unnaturally and thick black scales start to form across his body. The hairs of his tail draw back up into his flesh and his tail itself splits at the end, forking in opposite directions.

    The children are busy testing their legs when he turns to face their mother again, his face decidedly more canine-like. Two large horns break the skin of his head, they grow long and audibly crack as they bend themselves to point down towards his back.

    His lip curls into a quiet snarl; he could hurt her now, if he really wants to. He could rip her apart. He could take the children away from here and just—

    Just no.

    “I am yours,” he states, his body slowly reverting back to its equine shape. “If anyone tried to hurt you, I’d lay waste to their entire line or I would die trying, do you understand that?” Nish growls, his voice caught between what it should sound like and the low-grumbling tones of the beast he had shifted into.

    “I love you, regardless.”

    careful creature, made friends with time
    he left her lonely with a diamond mind

    Vanquish x Nocturnal
    equus mutatio, immortality, disease manipulation, trait immunity
    i'll let you play the role. i'll be your animal.
    Sabbath hates her softness, that last dying ember that always finds a way to roar back to life when she least wants it to. She allows it to bloom for her children and it leaves her vulnerable when Tarnished reveals himself in the den. The sweet ache of her ribs makes her grit her teeth as she imagines ripping her own heart out for a while. But that awful little muscle just keeps beating and bleeding, drunk on the hormones of giving birth that make her head spin.

    She turns her head when Eucharist coughs and she hurries to him, nudging his cheek and kissing at his nose until she’s convinced it was just a one time thing. It’s easy to forget how furious she is with Nish when she thinks the twins need her. Sabbath sighs in relief and begins to fuss with Reign’s fluff of mane for a moment before looking back to their father. For all the warmth and kindness she reserves for the newborns, it’s almost surprising how little there is for him. But then his form twists and changes, making her bristle and bare her teeth.

    One wrong move and she’ll destroy him, pluck his teeth from his jaw like daisies in a field. Except he speaks and the words make her jaw shut quick with a snap.


    No one had ever sworn to belong to her or even hinted at being able to love something as awful as her. He goes on and she finds herself shrinking back from the promise, closer to Reign and Eucharist. Sabbath swallows hard and tries to make sense of everything but it makes her dizzy to think too hard. Nish says he loves her and she wonders if she’s going to vomit right here in the den.

    Stop. Stop talking,” she slurs as she tries to steady herself. There is a long pause before she lifts her eyes to meet his again. “I can’t.. You don’t mean that.

    But is she trying to convince him or herself? Her brows furrow and suddenly her anger is consumed by a raw kind of fear that she has not known before. She had wanted to hear something like that for so long that she has no idea how to accept it. Sabbath had tried to drink the words from Eight’s blood or Bethlehem’s empty kisses but it had only given her a new layer of hatred. When Adna swore that she loved her sister, it had nearly driven the serpent girl mad. Now he offers it up on a silver platter without her ever trying for it.

    You come to me in the dead of night, stinking of other women, and I still let you kiss me. I could taste them on your skin, and you claim to love me?” she laughs, but the sound is crooked and pained. Her tears feel so hot as they run down her cheeks that they surprise her. “If that is your love then keep it. I can only give my whole entire heart and I won’t settle for less in return.

    It disgusts her to admit that she could give it all up to him but the words come tumbling from her lips before she realizes what she’s said. She used to cower from the idea of exposing all the delicate pieces of herself but it seems they’ve found their way free from their prison in the pit of her stomach. Sabbath spent the past year choking them down and shoving him away that she really thought she stood a chance at crippling her feelings for him. Such a beautiful fool.
    burning cities and napalm skies,
    fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes

    “I mean that—”

    Nish snaps his mouth shut when she gives him the order, shifting his weight from one side to the other for… well, lack of knowing what else to do, really. That insistent ache in his chest hasn’t subsided, though it grows duller until he realizes he doesn’t know what he will do if she turns him away now.

    Leave? Of course not.

    Stay? He supposes he could do that, continue to hide under her nose and keep the three of them safe. It isn’t ideal but at least he knows they will be secure. Sabbath will come to her senses, eventually, and if she doesn’t? Well. It isn’t as if he has anything better to do besides follow her around anyway.

    The children are oblivious to their parents’ squabbling, or they at least pretend to be. Reign presses her nose against Eucharist’s shoulder, staring over his back up at their father while their mother goes about trying to tame her mane. Nish stares right back at the girl, mesmerized by Sabbath’s affection towards their children; it hurts to think he might miss out on this or even have to watch it from a distance.

    Sabbath’s whole attitude shifts as fluidly as he does when she turns back to him, baring her teeth and spitting venom (figuratively, for once). She mentions the other lovers he has entertained over the last season or so, and though he tries, he cannot stop the bark of a laugh that escapes his throat. Each of his ‘encounters’ with Sabbath had been violent. If someone who didn’t know them had stumbled across their coupling, they might have thought it was forced. He was always covered in wounds and bleeding afterward, honestly believing she had only allowed him to touch her due to a need rather than a want.

    “I did not think you cared,” Nish snorts, his ears pressing forwards as the horns protruding from his head begin to shrink—retracting back into his skull. He struggles to not let his expression soften but it does. Especially when he starts to recognize the hurt in her voice. “I won’t have another, Sabbath.” It’s a promise, though coming out of Nish’s mouth, it sounds more like a threat. “And if you do, well…”

    The second half is definitely a threat, emphasized by the way his mouth stretches into an unnaturally wide smile to bare row after row of shark-like teeth. He’d be lying if he said the thought didn’t haunt him all autumn long. Another reason he was always so eager to get back to her each time, worried that someone else might take his place. Someone she actually cared about.

    “I’ll eat them.”

    Reign, who hasn’t stopped staring at her father, perks her ears up.

    Nish realizes the filly hasn’t made much of a move for quite a while, not until she begins to step forwards and away from her mother and her brother to stand meekly in the middle between them. He narrows his eyes suspiciously, noting the visible shiver that runs down their daughter’s spine; it takes but a moment for her hair and soft baby flesh to morph into hard scales.

    The scales darken, rapidly turning black as her small body starts to grow longer and more snake-like still—there’s a ghoulishly green tint to her yellow eyes now, he cannot stop staring into them. Something beckons him to look, whispers promises of sweeter things into his ear. He doesn’t know the danger, doesn’t know what she is—

    Reign squeals, unsure of what’s happening to her, and just like that the process reverses itself.

    Nish shakes his head roughly, trying to snap out of whatever stupor the girl has seemingly put him under, and he watches her scramble to hide behind her brother. Trembling, a black forked tongue slips out from between her teeth to taste the air for danger. She doesn’t seem to notice, it comes as naturally to her as breathing.

    “Well that’s certainly interesting,” Nish smirks, turning his attention to Eucharist. He’s suddenly curious as to what the boy himself can do.

    careful creature, made friends with time
    he left her lonely with a diamond mind

    Vanquish x Nocturnal
    equus mutatio, immortality, disease manipulation, trait immunity
    i'll let you play the role. i'll be your animal.
    It seemed like every time he came to her, she imagined what a life with him could be like. She built a little house for him there in the aching, barren wasteland of her heart. But each time he left, all she could do was burn it to the ground and curse herself for ever being so hopeful. It made her bare her teeth and reach for his throat with hunger instead of adoration. If she could not have him wholly then she would turn it all to ash and dust, she thought.

    Beautiful fool, she could never foresee what the ashes built for her. The fires laid the foundation for the forest she feels bursting into life within the pit of her soul. And now it threatens to consume her, this entire aching wilderness that bears his name across every inch of it. It would take at least a lifetime to turn it all to smoldering embers now. And she trembles at the sight of it.

    He laughs. I did not think you cared, he says.
    Her breath quivers with rage and she lights the match anyway.

    Sabbath can’t help the way her eyes narrow when he swears to her that he will not take another lover. Loyalty had always seemed like a fairy tale for children and anyone too stubborn to accept the reality of their life. Could she ever take another after this awful reckoning? The thought alone revolts her worse than when he said he loved her, so she brushes the thought from her mind. Instead she wonders if he would try to harm Prayer or Dacre, still children themselves. They are the spoils of past failures but she loves them as dearly as the stirring twins behind her.

    Take another and I’ll eat you both,” she counters, watching him closely before she turns to watch Reign step away from her side. She admires the way her scales ripple across her coat and she remembers the first day Chronos showed his scales. But his had been different, smaller. Her head tilts curiously until she cries out in fear. Sabbath is quick to pull her daughter to her chest as she coos sweetly to her.

    Don’t be afraid, Reign. I’m right here. Everything is okay.

    Eucharist, meanwhile, observes with wide eyes that lift to meet his father’s. He gives a soft snort when Nish’s thought echoes across his young mind. What can he do? Well, he can mind his own business, for starters. And while he doesn’t mean for the thought to mingle with his sire’s, they do anyway. Sabbath simply goes on comforting the young basilisk with delicate whispers and soft caresses, unaware of the struggle between the other two.
    burning cities and napalm skies,
    fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes

    The voice is small, but loud and precocious enough to interrupt Nish’s own inner monologue. He might have paid it little to no attention if not for the ‘lessons’ from his own mother. “Do you remember asking me how I got this scar?” He sighs softly, directing his question at Sabbath though his eyes never leave Eucharist. There is a point to this, after all. He wonders if the boy knows what he’s going to say before he even says it.

    “I carved it into my own face to remind me of my mother—she had one just like it, and I am the only child she has that looks just like her.” Nish smiles, though there’s something empty and haunting about it now. He briefly glances at Reign who hides her face against Sabbath, as if she is too afraid to look at him—somehow painting him as the culprit, the one who’d caused her to start turning. With each word her mother coos, her trembling starts to wane.

    “She was a queen and made a deal with an old king: If she gave him an heir, his kingdom would be bound to protect her family. A blood oath.” The stallion shifts his weight a second time, considering moving towards them but then dismissing the thought entirely. Sabbath is too tense and he doesn’t want to risk sparking her ire again. “Once I was born—well, my dear old mother knew she wasn’t long for this world, you see. She decided she was going to… end it, and didn’t want to waste time teaching me what I needed to know.”  Nish grows rather still, locking eyes with Eucharist once more. “She was a telepath, so she sunk her claws into my impressionable little mind and… showed me everything.”

    What is everything?
    He leaves that for her to wonder.

    “Our son is like her,” he seems to shrug at that, there’s nothing he can do to change it and he isn’t ashamed of the scaly winged foal at all. If anything, he’s even more proud of him. Eucharist is something to be feared and not in the same way he imagines Reign will be feared. Whereas, from what he’s seen, she will possess brute strength, their son will be cunning and that is a very dangerous thing to be in Beqanna. “So you may want to be careful around that one.”

    “But anyway, if I ever touch another, eat us both. They’re boring and should I stoop so low again, I deserve it.”

    careful creature, made friends with time
    he left her lonely with a diamond mind

    Vanquish x Nocturnal
    equus mutatio, immortality, disease manipulation, trait immunity
    i'll let you play the role. i'll be your animal.
    Sabbath had bombarded her grandfather with questions the moment she found him alone. Was everyone in their family some form of serpent? Were any of them beautiful like her mother? Or were they all hungry for the rust flavor of blood like her father? To most of these questions, he simply shrugged and said he had no idea. Vulgaris was equally unaware of the siblings he had roaming the world, leaving Sabbath only with a ravenous curiosity that knew no answers.

    She lifts her gaze to him when he speaks and she does not reply. Instead, she tilts her head and listens as he continues on to explain just how he got his scar. But his focus remains entirely on their small son who remains defiant in the way he returns the unblinking stare. Eucharist has her family’s eyes and she wonders if he holds some secret like his sister but she does not interrupt.

    Sabbath tries to imagine what Nish’s mother must have looked like but squinting doesn’t soften the angle of his jaw. He talks of blood oaths and she wonders if the old king made good on his promise or if there was betrayal somewhere in the story. For her, there is always a chapter about betrayal and why trust is a fool’s errand. The lessons are unkind and she has learned them all the hard way, but it has shown her the depths of depravity and despair. She survived it all, didn’t she? She wonders what it’s like to have all those lessons force fed to you at once, though.

    But then he says Eucharist is like his mother and she looks to him as he snorts softly in protest. He doesn’t mean to, but he’s already picking apart his father’s memories and devouring them so fast it makes his head hurt. Sabbath watches as he pretends not to care for the conversation at hand, choosing instead to trace his nose along his mother’s belly for the scent of milk.

    I was born in plague snow,” she finally says to break the silence. “Down by the river, far from home. My father had a mistress who wanted to eat me before I’d even taken my first breath.” She meets his eyes once more as she remembers listening to her parents talk while they thought she was asleep.

    They were worried the winter would get me first. I was sickly and weak, always lost in my sister’s shadow. I tried to eat a magician just to prove I wasn’t that ugly little thing anymore.” And then she laughs, remembering the first taste of blood she had smeared across her mouth and how she felt so invincible. Sabbath would give anything to finish the job but she’s learned to be more realistic these days.

    I didn’t say it earlier but.. I love you too, Tarnished.

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