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    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

    near, far, (never)where-ever you are?

    Now that little Fierte was loose in the world, Fiorina wanted a home. She wasn’t interested in going to Pangea after all, and quite liked the idea of Taiga but also Nerine. This was where her blood had spilt during the birthing of her little wretch, after all - it seemed like a good place to start. She eventually planned on going back to Taiga as well because that’s where Ruthless was and she wanted to keep the little bird safe.

    But the wide open spaces of this cliffside land called to her as well. Not good for hunting, but good for defending, and that satisfied something new within her heart.

    She encouraged Fierte to go run and terrorize whoever he could - he was small still so his terror would be proportional - while she wandered Nerine. She supposed she should have stayed on the borders but, well, the ins and outs of manners were foreign to her. Besides, she had given birth here already - and now, in the glinting sunlight of the afternoon she stood out quite obviously. Anyone who wanted to come say hello to her could very well come and do it.

    Which would be great because, honestly, she had no idea what the next steps were. How do you join a herd or a kingdom? Did she have to get permission? Prove her worth? She hoped it didn’t take too much effort on her part.

    There was a growing sense of duty in her but that didn’t mean she really wanted to work for it.

    She is not unaware of what has happened in her once empty home. She is not unaware that the mares here have brought new mares, and that they have all, inexplicably, ended up pregnant, but the experience is one that so disinterests her that she has maintained a distance from the bunch. It suits her, this distance, and soothes something in her that was feeling tired and overworn from a season full of tense interaction. Still, she has kept an eye on them from her windswept cliffsides, has noted the strange faces, the strange bodies.

    She has noted the strange screams, too.

    The near-black creature slips through Nerine like a hunter and Neverwhere has been slow to become accustomed to her - Lilli's favors did not warm her over, she has been too easy with them in the past, but Eurwen's lack of concern and Brazen's, too, had instilled a small hook of peace in her heart. Nonetheless, when her cloudy eyes fall upon it once again, and alone, too, she is alert and watchful, head and tail high. She stomps and snorts - once each - rolling her head before pinning her gaze upon the mare once again.

    Mare. She supposes that it must be one, for she had seen its swollen belly grow slim, and she had seen it talk to other horses, so it must be equine. Yet, it is alien too (and she has no idea how true that is, having no understanding of Xenomorphs,) and it moves like something dangerous, bold when it is peaceful, slinking and smooth when it is not. The tail is a sharp, dangerous point and the skin like plate armor gleams dully in the spring sun that warms their backs.

    She has watched other dangers come into her home with less concern, but no quick words leap to her lips as she draws attention to herself, rather she is cautious and wary. There is too much of a predator woven into the make-up on the unknown mare to put the screaming of her instincts at ease. Her tail twists, snapping against her flanks, and then, slowly, she draws closer. The horse hidden behind the armor becomes more obvious with less distance between them, but she cannot imagine what sort of beast has entwined itself into the other to corrupt it so fully. This is something beyond even Ghaul's reptilian blending.



    Fiorina does not play coy as soon as she notices the stranger grow closer - her hunter’s gaze snaps to the silver dapple form immediately. She understands the caution and it causes no regret or heartache in her. She is a creature born in blood, after all, and even if she were to plaster on a dazzling smile it would not alter a physique clearly made for killing. Once they become acquainted, perhaps, Fiorina can pass on the information that she has not feasted on the flesh of other horses.

    Quite unlike the rest of her family.

    Although it’s instinctual to say something to someone that approaches, the silence from the white-faced mare is, in an odd way, quite funny so Fiorina says nothing. There’s a feral sort of glint in her eye when she turns her attention to the mare, though, forgetting for a moment that she had been hoping someone would approach so she could ask some of the ridiculous questions in her mind. Right now she just blinks and smiles, her spined head tilting slightly to the side - her favourite impression of a curious puppy (if puppies had knives on their tails).

    For a moment, she does flick her eyes up to the stubs of ears - and wonders if the tips had been tasty for whoever had snatched them away.

    It’s easy for her to believe she’d be interesting to watch, and she’s in no hurry to interrupt the moment because she finds the dappled mare interesting to look at as well - as her black eyes blatantly wander from head to hoof. Besides, she now wants to see how long they can just stand here staring at each other.

    At least, though, Fiorina does her best to maintain a non-threatening pose. Her prehensile tail is limp and lays upon the ground and her manner is relaxed as the silence stretches on for another few moments at least. 


    Silence reigns between them, and Neverwhere recognizes a challenge when she doesn't hear it. Her approach slows to a halt at a cautious distance, her body angled slightly away. Of course a predator such as this can afford the relaxed stance, but the dappled mare does not copy it, haunches bunched and ice blue eyes running over that slick black body as if memorizing each distorted detail.

    There have been many strange horses entering her world lately and this may be one of the strangest to see. Still, as with Ghaul, she feels some relief in seeing a creature with its magic so openly displayed across its body. Something has made this one Other, but it is obvious, and though the earth-brown mare still has difficulty accepting magic, she finds this sort more acceptable, no matter how badly contorted and misshapen. At least it's honest.

    (That those other magics hidden away are frequently not in and of themselves harmful is cold comfort. Neverwhere prefers to know what she is up against from the outset, she does not want to poke and prod and tease the secrets out.)

    They seem to try to out-wait one another, each mare boldly examining the other, one with a head tilted like a puppy built by a mad-man, and the other scowling softly as if the puppy had gifted her something unpleasant. Although Neverwhere had spent several years on her own wandering blindly, she has learned that most of those she runs into will fall into the usual habits of conversation when in the company of others, and she has, at times, attempted poorly to mimic that behavior like a parrot. That this mare keeps her tongue is at once relieving and perplexing, and reminds her of earlier days, staring out at the ocean with Heartfire when it was only the two of them in Nerine.

    And she wonders, briefly, how Heartfire would feel about that comparison.

    Most likely, she would not be offended.

    At last, the silver dapple relents. Her posture changes - her tail dropping, her head lowering from its wary height - she comes closer, wordlessly, close enough to reach out and touch, and if there is hesitation written plainly across her face, there should be little wonder in it. Whatever has influenced the alien-mare's shape is one made purely for the kill, and though that hard gem of curiousity Neverwhere keeps buried deep under layers of cynicism and arrogance is burning brightly, she is not foolish enough to forget it.

    She is not afraid of death, but she would prefer to avoid it.

    Image by Ratty


    It is, perhaps, a good thing that Fiorina does not possess wings because whenever someone else’s gaze was upon her (with or without a scowl) she would surely fluff the feathers up and peacock a little for her admirers. As it is, she can only continue to smile - perhaps in a little bit of a predatory fashion, though that is hard to avoid.

    Her smile does brighten a little when she sees the posture of the dappled mare change, become more relaxed, and then some steps are taken forward and the gap between them closes. This feels like a victory of the funny little game they’ve been sharing - enough that she considers being the one to break the silence first.

    She takes the opportunity to shift her head forward just a little bit - not enough to touch (though she would not mind caressing this scowling mare and seeing if there is a purr hidden under the stony exterior) but just a little before she inhales, taking in the other’s scent as she does. It does not, thankfully, elicit any feelings of hunger in her stomach and it is familiar in the sense that Fiorina has been living in this land for a while now and she recognizes this as a scent she has shared space with.

    And then, slowly, she lowers her head to the ground and grazes on the grass there. It is not as satisfying as rabbit or even wolverine but it is a part of her diet. Fiorina is still thinking about whether or not she should say something - maybe just a few moments more. Even while her head is lowered she keeps a black eye on her new friend, wondering if she’ll take this action as a dismissal or further demonstration that horse is not on the menu for today.

    Fio could work with both, though mostly she is just curious about how long the silence can stretch before she annoys this stranger. She’s still enjoying this game immensely and she supposes it must end eventually.

    Just not quite yet.


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