"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
The season felt all wrong. Yanhua couldn’t appreciate the world in bloom when his heart still felt trapped by winter. But he would do his very best to try; he knew that’s what his mother would want, after all. When the sun was well overhead and his afternoon meal was eaten, the growing colt decided that - for once - a change of scenery might suit him. He needed to get out of Taiga for a little while, to forget the sad memories he associated with its shadows and hidden places, and besides: a vigorous walk tended to ease his growing pains.
He was growing, rapidly. Like a weed he’d sprouted up overnight and the closer he crept towards his second year of life, the more he began to change into the shape his body would (eventually) settle on. He tried not to think about what his father had said when Wolfbane had appeared out of thin air months ago, radiating a terrifying energy and bringing horrible waves of memories with him, but the harder he tried not to think about the shapeshifter the harder it was to deny the one useful thing his sire had said that day. Don’t worry about Yan, the manipulative creature had proclaimed to his twin sibling, He’ll be plenty good at other stuff.
And even though Yanhua hated to admit that anything about his sire could be ‘correct’, it was hard to deny the truth when it started to physically manifest itself on the maturing colt’s body.
Now, at nearly a year-and-a-half, Yanhua’s hooves had developed deep cracks that were splitting them all in two. The source of his headaches had risen up as two separate lumps on his forehead, which quickly developed into short horn nubs. Nashua had laughed about that until Yan showed him exactly what those nubs were good for. His chin had begun to get a bit fuzzier too, but all of the above he could accept and even felt a growing sense of excitement from - all except one change, or really a lack of change.
His tail simply refused to grow. It’d turned into golden flax, a much more rich color than Nashua’s due to its gleaming qualities, (he was trying his best to control that as well, some things take time) but the damn thing stubbornly refused to grow! His twin’s had long since doubled in length, hanging down between his hind legs like a pale, lovely thing. His? Yanhua could slap his hide with short, quick bursts of action but it really did no good otherwise. It really irritated him, and that was the energy he radiated as his long, skinny legs brought him out from the northern edge of Taiga and onto the wide pathway that wound up to Nerine.
He sighed and cut immediately west, uninterested in drawing too much attention to himself now that the forest was thinning. After growing up looking over his shoulder and sensing his mother’s constant fears and memories, the habit of wanting to avoid large, open spaces was a hard one to break. Instead he drifted off the worn trail and through a light smattering of pines and mingled cedars, where the ground cover was soft and silent from a thick layer of brown needles. Birds sang in high, melodic pitches. The sun here was much more bright and his glowing hair (what little he had, thank you very much) dimmed underneath the brilliance of true, unfiltered light. Yanhua breathed in the scent of the world around him, filled his chest with all the air Nerine could spare, and exhaled deeply as a practiced art of subduing his irate emotions.
Perhaps a freezing dip in the gray-blue sea would help? He thought as he neared the true edge of the treeline. Ahead, he could see where the land dropped off into thin air, knowing that the end of the world was only an illusion. If he got closer, he’d be able to find the little footpath that wound down to the invisible shoreline below. There he could find serenity in the constant noise of the ocean, and the backdrop of the granite cliffs would shelter him from passersby. Amarine
05-28-2020, 03:34 PM (This post was last modified: 05-28-2020, 03:34 PM by Amarine.)
Tornados from a butterfly's wing
She stood on the sea worn rocks at the base of the cliffs, where the wind didn't blow so harshly. Living in Nerine had given her the gift of a thickly spun coat, that only now that spring was ending had begun to thin.
Ama looked hard at the ocean, her jewel tone eyes reflecting back the iron waters that crashed against the shore endlessly. She wanted to go and do something, anything, that would take away the feelings of uselessness she'd felt curling in her chest. Ever since Neverwhere had vanished into the snow and the creepy dragon man had come looking for her. Since aunt Lilli had played with fire, and gone away too. Suddenly their family of many parts had disintegrated, and she was left spinning in the undertow.
The ocean helped, a little. It was cold and harsh, like the kingdom it butted against, but the noise of it was soothing in her head. It drowned out the Sad that seemed to have infiltrated all their lives. The ocean didn't feel Sad, or Happy, or Angry or Scared. It just existed as it was, and that was a kind of simplicity that she needed today. Her lengthening mane and tail whipped about in the wind coming off of the water, tangled knots that she never managed to fully smooth out. There was always more wind to muss it again.
As close as she was to the churning water, she's still felt him before she saw him. Feelings as grey and turbulent as the waves rolled across her, followed by the tap tap tapping of hooves on the worn stone path she herself had taken to get here. A little frown carved the corners of her mouth. She'd wanted to be alone today, but fate seemed to have other plans. And she couldn't fault whoever it was for seeking out the waves to sooth their troubled heart. She'd done the exact same thing.
So when a coppery face not much older than hers emerged from the path, she didn't jump or startle. Didn't even turn to look at him. Just blinked her stone cast eyes and waited for him to notice he wasn't alone.
05-28-2020, 10:29 PM (This post was last modified: 05-28-2020, 10:29 PM by Yanhua.)
Clattering down the rocky path, Yanhua’s hooves echoed off the stony bluff beside him. To his right a cliff grew and grew the further he descended, adorned with clinging moss and trickling water that gave the hard stone a greenish sort of beauty. Wet algae hung down and occasionally brushed against his shoulder, staining the chestnut to a ruddier brown than it already was, and he made his way carefully without slipping too often. He’d expected to be alone here, but upon reaching the section of beach that blended into the pathway he looked up to find Amarine standing sentinel a few yards away and he paused, raising his newly-horned head.
The Taigan yearling knew he should probably say something to break the silence, but it was her posture that kept him quietly waiting. She stood out among the rock and sea like a sore thumb, covered in a black coat that was studded here and there with turquoise spots. When the wind shifted and the clouds blew out of the sun's way she glinted, and Yanhua had to blink away the bright spots in his eyes.
Should I leave? He wondered to himself, surprised at not sensing her before now. Normally he was so attuned to the world and its inhabitants that nothing took him by surprise, but Amarine and her eyes that never turned to look at him made the sensitive colt reconsider his plans. He waited, and then decided if she wanted him gone she would’ve said so. The gray waves rolled up the shore and broke against boulders long-detached from withering cliff sides, and Yanhua lifted his legs into a steady walk again.
“Good day.” He greeted the strange Nerinian, politely passing behind her with every intention of leaving her to her own solitude, expecting no greeting in return aside from a head bob or perhaps a word or two of the same expression. But when he passed her, he still felt nothing. No residual images or hint as to what she might be feeling. It was enough of an absence that he found himself looking over his flat, narrow shoulder with curiosity.
He stumbled over a rock poking out of the sand with an audible “Oof!” And clambered around to steady his awkwardly long legs again as embarrassment warmed his face. Amarine
06-02-2020, 03:13 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2020, 03:13 PM by Amarine.)
Tornados from a butterfly's wing
Ama watched the boy in her peripheral vision, saw the gleam of him reflect on the water glossed stone. In her strange blue eyes, he was more green than gold, but pretty nonetheless. More importantly though, he needed the solitude as well.
Her smile was a vague thing as he approached to pass, distracted from the knowledge that she ought to return his greeting by the increasing confusion rolling from him. The smile turned into a perplexed frown as he stumbled and recovered before her. "Do you want me to leave?" She asked softly, expecting the affirmative.
Even if they didn't say it, she was learning that others found her offputting. If not by her otherworldly eyes, then by her too accurate reactions to their unspoken feelings. It was easy to assume that someone felt one way or another about you. The little black filly didn't have to guess.
She couldn't hold it against them, though.
Her weight shifted, preparation for the trek back up the cliffside trail, the wind catching at her vivid mane and tail. "It's okay," she commented, blinking at the glowing colt. "Everyone stumbles sometimes. It's nothing to be embarrassed about." The uncomfortably warm sensation seeped through her, making her own gut twist.
She looked away, wishing he'd get over the feeling quickly. It was never a pleasant thing to feel, especially not second hand. And it wasn't like he'd actually some anything worth the feeling.
Funny. He’d asked the strange mare in Taiga if he should leave, too. This time it felt more awkward hearing it rather than saying it, and he understood the roan mare’s reaction a bit better now. He wanted to find the strength to say what she’d said - Should I want you to leave? To the jeweled horse, but he couldn’t find it within himself to be the confrontational type. Especially not when he’d intruded into this mare’s home and disturbed her peaceful solitude. The longer it took him to come to this conclusion, the more his silence sounded like unspoken affirmation and the leggy chestnut blew a gust of defeated air from his nostrils when he saw Amarine flutter and twist her dark legs as if to escape the ordeal.
Nice going, casanova. He thought to himself, turning his ears down. The wind crept up from the waves and blew the wetness against his skin, dampening Yanhua and dripping from the ends of his dull, golden hair. He was willing to let her go peacefully but at the last second his audience paused and spoke up.
She… comforted him.
That’s a first, he thought, seeing her blink and turn her head away as if he’d reached across the empty space between them and physically struck her. The expression tormented him - that he could’ve caused it! Then suddenly the realization struck him: he felt the reflection of his own embarrassment, just a snippet of the memory of his earlier stumble, but it was being mirrored back at him through Amarine. She was the vessel, and she’d known I was embarrassed, not irritated or otherwise, Yanhua pondered silently.
He closed his eyes. “Wait a moment, please.” He spoke up above the gentle noise of Nerine’s ocean, knowing exactly what he was asking of her but hoping that the result would be worth her discomfort. Yanhua breathed in the smell of salt and stone, letting the sounds and the scents wash over him as he searched for focus and a center of peace, and gradually (as he exhaled) he found it. Memories of hazy lovers who’d walked this path, visions of the ocean at its calmest - when it was like a gray sheet of unbroken glass. They came to him and left the young stallion wholly at one with happiness.
He opened his eyes again, illuminated by the fuzzy glow of his brightly gleaming mane and tail, and asked “Is this better?” in a rich, smooth tenor.
Her face, her reactions, her desire for solitude… he knew them well. Yanhua smiled as gently as he could and took in the sight of the strange, beautiful mare once more. He’d try harder to control himself now, for both their sake, but he most certainly did not want her to disappear just as he was beginning to suspect they might be so similar. “Thanks for the words of encouragement. Most of the time I’m the one doing the encouraging… that was unexpected.” He dropped his head briefly, nodding. “I’m Yanhua, from Taiga.” He told her.
06-14-2020, 03:42 PM (This post was last modified: 06-14-2020, 03:42 PM by Amarine.)
Tornados from a butterfly's wing
Ama waited for him to dismiss her, to say that he would prefer the shoreline to himself for a while. She was feeling agreeable enough to comply. His response was quite the opposite to her expectation. One slender leg had already lifted to begin her ascent back to the headland, before his meaning registered properly.
Her finely sculpted head dipped uncertainly at his request. "Alright." She spoke, hardly louder than the waves on the beach. Like gems hidden deep in the belly of the earth, her eyes gleamed against her black velvet face, blinking in gentle confusion. Only a moment though, until knowing illuminated her face.
It was partly his influence, the smile she bestowed on the gold laced colt, but mostly it was the sensation of not being alone. Even surrounded by a herd of horses, the crystaline girl almost always felt that she stood apart. If it wasn't her insectine eyes that warded others off, her too-shrewd knowledge of their true feelings tended to do the trick. But here was a boy who had turned the sensations of embarrassment and worry into calm and peace.
Her tail swished against her hocks like a curious cat's as she regarded the horned colt with new intrigue. "Either you've got a better grip on your feelings than most horses do, or you're more talented than most horses are." She murmured, almost to herself. Two short steps brought her closer to the boy in question, expression alive with curiosity.
A rough laugh tipped from her lips at the flavor of gratitude he spilt to her. "It was selfish, I promise," she admitted with an impish grin. "Embarrassment is one of the worst feelings. Almost as bad as Guilt. The sooner others stop feeling them, the better. Otherwise, it's usually easier for me to just leave." She shrugged her narrow shoulders.
There was another option, though. One she suspected more than knew with any certainty. It would damn her for sure, if others thought she could force emotions onto them as well as feel what was already there. Ama didn't feel quite ready to experiment with that kind of control yet. Not when she was still learning about how emotions worked in the first place.
Her pretty little nose with it's singular patch of stark white bumped politely towards his coppery face. "I'm Amarine. From here, I suppose." She returned his introduction, tossing locks of vibrant hair from her eyes once again. A gusting sigh puffed past her lips, spinning away in a miniature dervish. "Lilliana is your momma, isn't she?" She asked, more for confirmation than actual curiosity. He looked like her, and like the boy Nashua who visited sometimes. Not as much as he used to, now, but Ama remembered him well enough.
Over the gentle sound of water tumbling onto the shore, Yanhua nearly missed her answer to his question. He caught it faintly, pleased by the bits he did hear and, smiling, closed his eyes to humbly nod. She moved closer and the white-legged chestnut spoke on, reassured that Amarine would stay here. With him. A grin tugged at his lip but he bit it, reminding himself to stay focused for their own good.
“You should try depression.” The leggy yearling said sarcastically, leveling his voice and his eyes where she could appreciate both… if she wanted. He looked down at her penetrative stare, seeing it for the reality of what it was in the moment: open, faceted, a lovely shade of teal, and thought nothing of it or the rest of her. He wanted to think about it very much, but knew he shouldn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t. “Amarine.” He repeated after her, quick to return the open gesture of her offered nose. His greeting was brief but not unkind. A bit hairy, maybe.
“Mhm. She is. Nashua’s my twin." He stated factually as his head rose. He twisted an ear and considered what he should say to that sort of inquiry, given he didn’t know a fig about Amarine before meeting her just now. Fact, he hadn’t even considered that his relation to Lilliana might be a bad thing. Was it? Wasn’t Neverwhere one of his mother’s closest confidants? “Have you… heard anything about her?” The Capra-blended stallion inquired, just the hint of concern giving the question an edge as he asked it.
Sarcasm was such an odd sensation. It was almost like deceit, almost like humor, and she could never quite decide what it was more of. Her brow creased lightly, until she shook her head and decided to simply take the words at face value.
"No, thank you," she grimaced. "There's quite enough of that going around as it is." The tip of her pink tongue stuck out impishly. There were far better things to feel, and she was partial to the warmth of companionship that was slowly filling the spaces between them. She breathed him in lightly, her own velvety muzzle brushing just so against his own coarser whiskers. They tickled her nose and made her smile faintly.
Niceties observed, she rocked back on her heels, letting the air flow between them again. For all that her world was forever tinted in shades of blue, she could still tell that he was golden, and she liked him for that. Pity was kept out of her voice when she spoke again, but only just. "Not really. I know my Auntie Wen had visited her, but they don't tell me much..." What they felt was another matter, but Ama didn't want to tell him that her spotted aunt had been reeling with disbelief and sorrow when she'd returned from her trip east. That the mare had radiated worry. Instead, she bit her lip.
Amarine found little point in lying. It was so easy to see through, when you knew what you were looking for, even without the emotional cues. Just then though, she wanted to lie, and tell this gleaming goat boy that she was sure his mother would be alright. That she would return whole and healthy, and it would be like she'd never left. It wasn't true though. Neverwhere had left, and she still didn't know when or even if she'd return. She knew she'd lost something when she'd lost that rugged mare. And they weren't even really related.
She wouldn't lie to him, but maybe... Maybe she could help, just a little. Just enough. Her eyes glowed softly from within as she sought the right emotions inside herself. Hope. Bravery. And just a touch of Love. Love was what drove most creatures, she'd been learning, in one way or another. The cocktail of feelings emanted from her like a twirling skirt, contained with care. He could touch it, or not, as he wished.
"Damn." He thought, but did his best not to overly fixate on the disappointment. Amarine’s excuse for having no information at all about Lilliana was a valid one, and he let her sympathy wash over him without sticking, allowing common sense to take away his feelings like the sea dragging jetsam off the shore. Washed clean of emotion as quickly as he could manage, Yanhua nodded stiffly. At the last second he caught her lip moving, but he held off suspicion and watched her carefully instead.
He counted the gemstones dotting her face, twinkling aqua blue. They were so bright against her black skin that from farther away they’d looked like spots, and up close they stood out in the overhead sun. Offset by her equally colorful mane, Amarine was anything but plain, yet underneath it all were the finer markings of a beautiful nerinian mare. Up until this moment, Yan hadn’t known that he had a preference for anything at all aside from Taiga (and the quiet there), but looking at Amarine had him discovering revelations anyways.
He smiled, warmth coloring his expression, when her oddly-entracing gaze rose to catch his attention.
“That’s a very nice feeling.” He complimented her gift, aware of its warmth and soft pressure flowing through him. Yanhua could almost taste it on his tongue; in his head was the image of a butter yellow sunbeam, warming the fragrant petals of a blooming flower. “How do you make it go out from you like that? Share it?” He asked smoothly, a bit light-headed. He was confident in receiving, containing his own, and blocking emotions thrown at him (since everything around him echoed), but he’d never been able to reflect those ripples back onto other horses. Not yet.
Though maybe if he could do it the way Amarine had just done, with kindness and good intentions, he’d might try more often.
Disclaimer: All images used in this site are copyrighted to their original owner. No copyright infringement is intended. If you are the copyrighted owner of any material on this site and wish for it to be removed, please let us know.