"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
04-08-2020, 12:30 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2020, 12:32 PM by Lepis.)
i feel a bad moon rising
They’d fled via a bridge, Dracarys had told her. The roan mare had not known the architect or who had utilized, only that it existed and where it led. Castile had assured her that there had been no deaths, so the dun mare suspects that the residents (few as they might have been) would have made use of the bridge to flee. They’d have come to Nerine then, or at least through it, so it is to Nerine that Lepis travels.
The skies are clear, unlike her last visit. Summer sunshine is warm on her back and outspread wings as she travels through the cloudless sky. She lands where the Taigan redwoods grow less dense, in the no-man’s land between the two nations. Tucking her wings back against her golden sides, she settles to wait. When Castile had flown off – presumably to carry out a task she’d told him not to – Lepis had taken to the sky as well. There is movement elsewhere in Beqanna, though she cannot know it, others who take the matter she means to address into their own hands.
Though she looks for Neverwhere, any resident of Nerine will suit her purposes. She means to inquire after the well-being of the residents of the Isle, and to offer what aid she can. A gust of wind, smelling strongly of the sea, ruffles the blue and navy feathers of her wings and tangles her over-long mane. Lepis shakes it away from her eyes, and continues to wait.
cold in the violence after the war hope is a fire to keep us warm
Despite her youth, the armored mare had come to know every inch of her northern home very well. And now, thanks to the development of friendships, she had also grown familiar with the forested territory to the south. A byproduct of her inability to remain idle, but a useful one nonetheless.
She had not purposefully set herself up as de-facto patrol. Rather, she had realized the result in the midst of one of her innumerable laps along one of her many routes tracing the edges of the kingdom. It had become a deeply ingrained habit through pure accident rather than any deliberate intention of kingdom fealty. One that frequently saw her greeting strangers visiting her home.
Today, as with so many before, finds her loping along the thinning trees, the familiar beat of her hooves a soothing rhythm that tempers the suppressed ache of her soul. It is also how she comes upon the winged mare waiting with practiced patience. Curiosity piqued (it doesn’t take much), she slows her approach to a more moderate pace. Despite the clip of her previous gait, her breathing is steady, only the faintest trace of sweat darkening the lee of her neck and hips. More prominently accented against the pale ivory of bone and mottled hue of her coat are the bright smears of fresh blood, detailing their own story of pain and perseverance.
“Hello!” Brazen greets brightly as she draws near, a rare sort of open friendliness highlighting the lines of her animated form. Her blue eyes are bright behind the mask shrouding her features, the hint of a smile already curving her lips. “Are you looking for someone? Maybe I can help. I’m Brazen.”
Though she hears the hoofbeats moments after, it is the blood she smells first. Wary, Lepis shifts her weight just before the other woman appears. It’s fresh, and though the external bones are impossible to miss, it is to the other’s hooves and teeth that Lepis’ grey eyes go first.
There is nothing there, just summer mud and a faint smile. Not someone else’s blood then. That realization comes with no small amount of relief, though as the dun mare finds the true source that relief tastes a little bitter. Surely the other woman is suffering. Yet she’s smiling, and Lepis knows asking about it would be rather rude. Rude, and detracting from the purpose of her journey here as well, she thinks as the other mare introduces herself.
Lepis smiles in return, a well-ingrained habit. Brazen is not a familiar name to the pegasus, and nor is her face. She notes that this is at least one Nerenian who doesn’t seem to take pride in being as stony as their homeland. Perhaps that’s a requirement only for their leaders, she thinks.
"I was hoping to find Neverwhere," she tells the other woman. "I’ve only recently learned of the burning of the Icicle Isle, and that a bridge here was built for their safe escape. I know the place is not hospitable even in the warmest months, and Loess wishes to extend an offer of aid if they are in need of it." The dragon-kind she’s spoken to have given the impression that the isle was burnt thoroughly, and her brief flight over it before arriving here had revealed a seemingly lifeless place (at least in the south, where she has always seen most residents on her previous visits to the place). They must surely be all here, she thinks, sheltering in their Kingdom.
Relations between this kingdom and her own have not been easy in recent memory. A few years ago, she would have laid the blame for this entirely on the shoulders of another. But time has passed. She has changed. Now the blame is only mostly on someone else. Perhaps she was responsible for a very, very small bit of it, but it was a justified bit. Still, it was enough that she can swallow some of her pride for the common good, enough that she is willing to offer aid rather than take advantage in a moment of weakness.
Well, not the best to talk to or to play with, she guesses, but she is the best example of bravery and being generally cool that the girl has. More specifically, everything the roan mare does seems to be the awesomest thing in the world to the overo filly.
Perhaps she had noticed her already, but Fechín likes to pretend that she is a spy, tracking the guardian mare through the trees and the rocky landscape. So far she has only fallen three times today and scraped two of her knees on rocks when she had overestimated her balance skills, and she thinks it is progress compared to yesterday and the day before that.
The dark green girl likes to pretend she’s part of the landscape, a green bush with light pink flowers, but she gets spotted too easily with her glimmering mane. So, she tactfully waits behind boulders and such before Brazen moves again.
Only, she doesn’t move. Instead, her aunt or cousin -several times removed- speaks with someone, and this means the wild filly is going to have to wait an infinite amount of time for her to move again. As well as that this seems extremely boring, she would also have to listen to that whole conversation being about… well, she doesn’t know.
She leaves her hiding place with the drag in her step and the disappointment in her eyes, but not for long. The mare who is new to her, has wings, and those are beyond fascinating. She walks up to them to investigate, forgetting her manners, then stopping short just a few inches from touching them, only breathing on the feathers softly and studying the wing layout before looking back to the mare. What’s she talking about? Brazen probably knows, but it is beyond confusing. ”Who is Loess?”
cold in the violence after the war hope is a fire to keep us warm
While Brazen would’ve had to be entirely inept not to notice the little filly following her (do all children sneak that obviously? she has to wonder. She is definitely no expert, so maybe they do. Either way, she would have to teach her how to do it properly at some point), she can pretend, for the moment, that she hasn’t noticed her. She seemed to be having a great deal of fun, and Brazen certainly wouldn’t be the one to discourage her from it. If anything, she’d do the very opposite. Hopefully Eurwen didn’t mind (she’s still not entirely sure she’d been forgiven for the walrus comments yet).
But then she is distracted by the presence of the stranger, her attention shifting into this entirely new direction as they greet one another. The winged mare’s initial concern is a reaction so commonplace Brazen barely registers it anymore. She is well aware of the impression she first makes and the hesitance that comes with it. After all, a lifetime of agony displayed so openly on one’s skin is hardly possible to forget. But she has grown so accustomed to it that the constant pain and blood serves only as a brief distraction akin to what others might feel when bitten by a horsefly.
She would have been highly amused to know her wry opinions on the stoniness of Nerine’s leaders though, given her and Eurwen’s less obvious but equally stony abilities (and even more especially given her relationship to one of those alluded leaders). But, regrettably, she is to be denied that humor, thanks to her inability to read thoughts. Instead she is left to frown towards the north as she peers in the direction of Icicle Isle in the wake of the other woman’s offer.
Though she had been somewhat distracted by worry over Lilliana’s pregnancy, she would’ve had to have been blind, deaf, and dumb not to know of everything that had happened in their northern-most territory. She also knows Leilan had responded quickly and no one had been truly hurt. And, considering how freely the residents had already moved in Nerine, it had been no great trouble for them to absorb the population while the island regrows.
Of course, she is no diplomat, so perhaps the offer is more a thing of diplomacy than anything else. Otherwise she’s not entirely certain why Loess might assume they would need aid. The appearance of the young Fechin distracts her for a moment before she can formulate a response however. Her grin is immediate as she drops an amused glance to the filly where she sidles up to Lepis, childish question upon her lips.
“Not who. What,” she replies almost absently before returning her attention to the more immediate matter at hand. “Neverwhere is around. I’m sure I could run her down in no time,” she continues, answering the winged mare then. “But before I do, why would Loess wish to extend aid to one of Nerine’s territories? It’s not exactly a secret Loess and Nerine aren’t on the friendliest of terms.”
For just a moment, there is something about the girl that looks familiar. It vanishes when she blinks, leaving behind a young green and pink filly that she knows she’s not met before. Whatever it had been, Lepis pushes it away, watching with a neutral expression as the child comes exceptionally close to a stranger.
She says nothing, does not raise a brow. Mild bemusement does rise on her blazed face, and a single questioning look is given to Brazen. Is she the adult in charge of this youngling, the look asks? Rather than wait for a reply she glances back down at the overo, who is asking about Loess. For the first time, Lepis wonders if perhaps she expected too much of her children at this age. No, she decides almost instantly. She wouldn’t have done that. It would have been a mistake.
Brazen does answer the girl’s question. Is she her mother, Lepis wonders? They look dissimilar, and there’s naught maternal there. An aunt perhaps, or a friend of the girl’s mother? It doesn’t really matter, the dun mare thinks, and pushes aside that curiosity to listen Brazen’s answer.
"Our previous leadership might have had a hand to play in it," she says coolly, a nearly inaudible emphasis on the second word. "And tt is not the fault of the Icicle Isle that there is a less than cordial relationship between our lands." It is Nerine’s fault, she doesn’t say. Perhaps the very smallest part her fault as well but there’s no need to admit that. Not when it would come with no benefit. Lepis is as likely to spontaneously apologize for her hand in it as Neverwhere is to give Taiga to Loess as a territory, after all.
Fechín rapidly finds the amount of boredom increasing, due to the topic at hand. She is not so easily dismissed however, and while she decides touching the stranger without asking, might be something her mother doesn’t agree with, that doesn’t mean that her two steps back indicate her leaving or being happy with her answers. ”Whats can’t give stuff,” she protests. She shakes her head, and grins her fangs at Auntie Brazen and then flashes them to the dun mare. Silly people they are, to think that!
The exchange between the two adult mares continues without much of a comment on her however. The words sound both boring and simultaneously get kind of interesting when she puts two and two together - she talks about the land of Nerine as if it is a living entity too, after all, so finally she gets that Loess must also be a land.
It sounds like she is offering a gift for all of them, right? Right. So, the semi-smartass girl tilts her head at the dun and navy mare with an amused gleam in her eye. ”Are you gonna make it... core... core-deel again? With presents, yeah?” At this idea, she makes a small bounce. Maybe they can request something really cool! Like gleamy shells for her momma, or fruits that taste bad to give to Nash, or maybe she’ll want something pretty for herself, or maybe she can make the Isle pretty again (she looked at it and thought it was not attractive)? Honestly, she doesn’t know why anyone would want to go there, now that it stinks.
”Flowers! Can you make flowers? It stinks!”
In the girl’s mind, putting back the flowers on the Isle would be the best gift ever - at least, that way maybe Fechín and Brienna might finally go and visit. She’s been told she has a bit of family up there, after all.
cold in the violence after the war hope is a fire to keep us warm
It occurs to her about midway through the other mare’s reply that she is possibly the last horse who should be here dealing with this. Not that this has ever stopped her before of course. But it is made abundantly clear when her response to the other woman’s placement of blame is abrupt amusement rather than any other more appropriate emotion. Of course, she hadn’t had much interest in politics at the time either, but even she knows how clumsily Loess had handled things.
Fechin, upon realizing the implications of the offer, butts in eagerly, saving Brazen from saying something probably inappropriate. Her eager questions do make her laugh, a short burst filled with untempered amusement. “Now that’s a thought,” she quips, blue eyes bright behind the ivory mask. Lips twitching, she continues, “Flowers on Icicle Isle. I’d be impressed if Loess could conjure that.”
Gaze returning to the winged mare as her wry amusement fades slowly, she eyes her for a minute. Unlike her mother, the weight of her skepticism is clearly visible as she shifts restless limbs, not quite sure what to make of the offer. Finally she offers rather blandly, “I’ll let Neverwhere know, uh… who are you anyway?”
The filly pipes up again, seemingly unabashed by the soft correction from the armored mare. Lepis’ curious eyes flick toward her again, her brows raising into the dun striped cobwebbing of her forehead. “With flowers?” She repeats, a catch in her voice. It’s the barest hint of amusement, of her fondness for children and the hole in her heart that the absence of them has revealed.
“You know, I think I could manage that. Do you have a favorite kind of flower? I’ll make sure some end up here in Nerine for you. Just to be cordial.” The age lines around her eyes deepen for just a moment, flashing a brief and friendly smile to the girl before meeting Brazen’s gaze once more.
The smile does not fade, but the playfulness does. Lepis shrugs her barred shoulders casually, as though the revival of flora is a simple thing. Noah will do it, Lepis is sure. Either as a favor for a friend or as the leader of a territory ensuring protection, it will be done. She does hope it’s the former, but she has not made it so far in life by only hoping for the best.
“Lepis.” The dun mare says. “When you do, tell her I’ve had reason to suspect Wolfbane is prowling the north again as well.” Lepis assumes that the name will be recognized, that Neverwhere has taken the appropriate precautions to avoid any nasty surprises. The dun doesn’t add how she knows, only shakes her dark head and glances toward the dark spot on the horizon that is the distant Isle. She does not say how she knows; betraying Celina when the relationship between them is just now starting to mend is never an option she’d considered.
Taking a deep breath of the salt air, Lepis shakes out her feathers. “I’ll send someone to the Isle soon,” The pegasus says. “If Neverwhere doesn’t want our help, she knows where to find me.”
The girl dances a bit more in place when it seems that her best idea ever is actually going to take place! Ohmywordohmywordohmyword! Her big silvery eyes sparkle with renewed enthusiasm (you hadn't thought they could, but they do), looking from one mare to the other. At the question of which flowers she likes best, she finally stills - abruptly so - and twists her face into a deep, deep frown.
"White ones and pink! Just like Momma!" she decides. Really, she doesn't know the names of many, or any, flowers - she never pays attention to any of her lessons. Brienna might know the names of them - snowdrops, daisies, coneflowers - but definitely not Fechín. In fact, had she paid any attention, she might have known of Loess as well, but even now, the information is not actually stored in her head as the name of a kingdom, oh no.
Lepis. That's the name she will remember. The name of the nice old mare who called herself Loess and then not, who will make flowers for Icicle Isle. It doesn't bother Fechín that she won't be doing it herself, and that it will take some time for whoever will come, to arrive and make the magic. Really all she knows is that they were offered something, so she asked, and she was given.
Best. Day. Ever.
BrazenLepis Not sure if you wanted to continue this or wrap it up here?
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