"He will inevitably decide that it all fell apart because he had orchestrated it and he will carry the blame like a stone in his chest, too. He will add it to the pile and perhaps, someday when there are enough stones to weigh him down, he will walk into the sea and let them drown him" -- Kensley, written by Savage
What he'd done was wrong. Well intentioned, but dumb. That was the gist of the lecture momma had given him when he'd found his way back to Loess after his adventure after Al. It was true, probably, and he did feel bad about making them worry. But Al had needed him too.
Those weird grown ups in the other kingdom hadn't been nice. Well, the lady dragon had been, but she'd also lied and said she was Al's mom and that wasn't true. In that way, she was worse than the horny eyed stallion. He and the bird horse had at least been honest in their meanness. They hadn't wanted the sea colt though, for some reason. Which made no sense, and he was honestly a little miffed over it. Not that he wanted to be held captive by the grumpy stallion and the weepy mare, just they should still want to keep him captive. It was only fair.
And then Al had come back! There was a beautiful mare who had helped. She was like solid sunshine and she had brought his friend home. Things had seemed good, momma had talked about them finally going home. Until miss Oceane got taken. By the same horses in that dusty old kingdom. Al had family here, but it still felt wrong to leave him without his momma.
"Hey Al," the oceanic colt said as he approached his friend. The broad rudder of his tail swept side to side as he stepped closer. The grass tickled his legs, the sharp stones cut beautiful shapes against the sky. It really was pretty here, even if he knew momma missed home. He missed it too, but maybe not as much. His sea colored lips bent in a quiet smile. "How's it going?" He asked, a little bit of worry making its way into his voice.
Alcinder lay on his back in the salty, prickly grasses of Loess with his wings unfurled to press their topsides to the earth and his lanky legs pulled into his body. He watches a vulture circle overhead, a black silhouette against the stark cloudless blue sky. The avian paints its shadow against Alcinder's face whenever it reaches the top of its circle and continues this predictable pattern for as long as the blue-and-white colt watches it.
"Don't you get bored, flying in circles all day?" the young boy calls to the bird with a tone akin to angry curiosity ─ his Mama had shared her secret with him, that he had inherited her special power, but now it hurts his tiny chest to think about her and it manifests as anger.
Don't you get bored watching? the vulture calls back in return.
Alcinder pins his small ears to the crest of his head and promptly pulls his wings back to his sides before barrel-rolling onto his legs. He lay here, legs curled beneath his small body, as Cormorant reveals himself from behind the crest of a nearby foothill.
"Hey Mo," he returns his friend's greeting with a smile that is both genuine and forced, "I'm doing... okay." He pauses, but finds what he considers to be an appropriate explanation. The blue-and-white colt closes the distance between he and his finned friend before wrapping his head around Cormorant's aqua-striped neck.
If there is one thing he has inherited that his mother wonders about, its his desire to show affection whenever possible.
"I'm glad you made it back safe, Mo. I didn't like it there."
It had been the wrong question. He knew it as soon as it left his lips, but there was no returning the words once they flew. Al seemed a dimmer version of his usual self, the bold light shuttered by the events that had hit his family so recently. While the sea born colt didn't understand all of what had been happening, he knew it was a lot. He'd be sad too if his own family was so scattered.
Al said things were ok, but it seemed like sort of thing people said when they didn't know what else to say. Like the right words didn't exist, so you just went with "okay". The finned boy blinked a few times, not sure what to do with the heaviness that hung over them. It was good then, that his friend took matters into his own power.
The hug was a warm thing, and Cormorant let himself soak up the sensation. His own family had never been shy about their affections either, and at this point Al seemed like another brother. "I'm glad you're back too." He said after a moment, bare muzzle pressed into the lengthening strands of Al's mane.
He'd been lucky, it seemed. His trip had been an adventure. His winged friend's abduction had been a political move. The rapid taking of his mother was another one. Cormorant had been struggling with the why's of the situation. He was an islander, his mother had worked that they would stay outside the clashes of kings and princes that his friend was so ensnarled in. It was a frightening revelation that he was coming into.
As frightening as it was to him, though, it was Alcinder who was living it.
"I think... I think mom wants to go home soon," he mumbled, pulling away a little. Maybe "want" had been the wrong word. They'd been gone much longer than she'd meant them to be, though she'd been been patient about it. Still, he'd noticed her looking west more and more often, worry creasing her brow. She was caught, as they all were, between friendship and duty.
Alcinder settles comfortably into Cormorant, letting the warmth of their embrace settle the ragged nerves in his head and heart. He is not meant to be without his mother, but to know that he has the support from this finned-colt-turned-brother and his Aunts Aquaria and Lepis means more to the young colt than he knows how to express. So all he can do is hold Mo close for a time.
They break apart eventually and, Mo's eyes turned away, Alcinder's brother mumbles about needing to go home soon. To Ischia. This knowledge, though the thought had been lying dormant in the back of the blue-and-white colt's mind, forms a sad cloud in his mind. He knows, however, that the decision is not Cormorant's (and, further, he knows that Aquaria would only be making the decision because of her loyalty for her island home; he may be young, but Aunt Lepis had taught Alcinder as much about politics already as his insatiable mind wanted to know).
He smiles at his friend, thought the expression doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I had a feeling you might have to go home soon," he says before nudging his friend's shoulder with his own warm muzzle, "But as soon as Mama is home, I know she'll want to go visit you and Halcyon and Aunt Aquaria. She kept talking about it before ─"
Alcinder pauses. Before everything happened? Before he was taken?
"You just have to make sure that you find all of the cool places in Ischia to show me before we get there!"
The hug was a long one, each boy taking from it borrowed strength and courage. When Alcinder pulled away at last, his oceanic friend breathed a feather-light sigh at the sudden cold filling the spaces where they'd pressed together.
It was never going to be easy to say goodbye. He knew that, but it didn't lessen the ache of the words. Who knew, really, when they'd meet again. When the words catch in the feathered colt's mouth, they make Cormorant's mouth tighten miserably. He nodded though, smiling weakly when Al picked up again in a different vein. Maybe, despite everything, phony confidence would get them through.
"Yeah," he nodded, smiling wider as he did. "Yeah, of course! It won't be long, you'll see." He whistled a cheery note to emphasize the optimistic words, the absolute certainty that things had to go back to normal soon, because what else could they do? The colts had not been around long enough to know not to ask "what else can go wrong?".
His sea glass eyes went a little distant when he realized that he would have to go exploring when he got back to Ischia. How old had he been on the journey to Loess, one moon? Two? Still very much attached to his mother's side, until adventure had drawn him away at last. Now, almost a year old and beginning to grow into himself, the sea child realized that he knew very little of what was meant to be home. That he was far more familiar with the hide outs and hidden treasures of the stoney Loess than with island Ischia. A queer feeling twisted his stomach at the realization.
Home. Was he really going home? Or just to mom's home. The rocky, wild coast of Loess, the steaming springs and icy snow-melt streams were all more familiar to him. The blue on blue boy standing in front of him was more real than the blurred memories of sand and greenery that momma was so keen to return to. It struck him hard how very unfair it all was.
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