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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening


    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

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    skin to bone, steel to rust. [popinjay]
    He is quiet, withdrawn – pensive, even. The hard gold of his eyes shutters the thoughts skipping through his mind, reflecting instead the deep blue of the south sea below, and the churn where freshwater meets salted at the river’s mouth. Sweat and water mingle in dirty rivulets as they track their way down his piebald skin, sinking into the shale he perches on. The climb had not been an easy one without the use of his magic – the slope barely that, alternating between joint-twisting outcroppings and moss-covered niches – but the bite of fatigue that yet lingers in the burn of muscles pushed to their limits is a satisfying one. It reminds him that he is yet alive. It has only been a few dozen years or so, since the bloody-shouldered queen had borne her favorite, her shark-eyed general’s son, but some days his soul drags with the weight of a dozen lifetimes.

    Time passes without mark. How much time, he does not notice, but when he finally blinks his coat is dry, itches and the eastern horizon is tinged pink and clearly defined.

    The obsidian-black dragon’s wings laid along his sides unfurl to greet the dawn. He loves the sound they make, stretching out several horse lengths to his left and right, the scales and thick skin stretched between bone glittering in the morning light. Tilting them up and back, they snap and tremble, full of ocean air, tugging wildly at the joint of wing and body. It is hard to remember a time before such things came to him so easily – though he takes care to keep himself in peak physical condition and is wary of relying too much on his magic, it is now just as much a part of him as the knotted scars on his shoulders from a cougar long ago. Almost reluctantly, he lowers his head and folds his wings, dropping off the face of the cliff and soaring out across the bay.

    He spends hours wheeling above the glittering water, occasionally shifting on the fly and diving beneath the surface to click and leap with the creatures drawn in by his presence. It is nearly midday when the ebb and flow of wildflowers in the breeze catches his attention. Brilliant in their variety, they nod and bob in happy agreement with whatever the wind has to say. Flight muscles aching, he finds an easy landing near a small copse of trees, the great wings melting away like smoke as he moves toward water. It is quiet, not just here, but across Beqanna. He has survived many a lull, but boredom festers beneath his scar-pocked coat, the desire and urge to do something a siren song he cannot ignore for long.


    She was not quite what you would call refined.

    The summer days do drag on.

    Normally the bright flowers of the Pampas would delight her, varied and wild, white and yellow and purple and orange and pink and red. The poppies in the field are like scarlet drops of blood warming in the sun, perfuming the air with their heady scent, and she drifts nearest those, as much for their name as for their color, but they do nothing to improve her mood. She is weary and irritated, and the sharp squeals of the twins do nothing to help, either. Manikin is laughing and Avocet is not, but she leaves them to run wild despite suspecting that her strange, pawed, daughter may be earnest in her attempts to eat her fully equine brother.

    The children grow without discipline, but there are few in the Pampas for them to bother. They would not even greatly bother their mother if it weren't for the weakness that fell over her following their birth, her nimble hooves suddenly too heavy for dancing, her wings too weak for flight - too weak even to fold away beneath her skin, so the great, glossy, black and red limbs droop low at her sides. She is moody and sleepy-eyed, curled into a nest of savaged flowers when the shadow passes over her and it makes the bird in her heart leap, but the little seal bay does not react nearly so quickly. Her head lifts slowly, cranes up to see what has passed overhead.

    Too slow.

    The shadow is gone, no darkness stains the sky, but there is a quiet thud not far away, the tell-tale sound of hooves landing, and her feral twins disappear in the tall vegetation like fawns, Manikin with a growl and a clatter of her beak. They are not used to strangers, and it occurs to Popinjay that she should warn the intruder that her daughter will bite and scratch like an insulted badger if they come too near, but she changes her mind.

    That's not her problem.

    Instead, she turns her head - reaching just above the lush tangle of wildflowers - to the shadowed copse where a bat-winged stallion lingers, herears tilted back and her capricious nature leaning heavily towards peevish.

    "You must be lost," the skin around her nostrils grows tight, curling her upper lip lightly, "Go be lost somewhere else."

    Popinjay's daughter is not the only one who bites.

    Image by Ratty

    He swings around to meet her less than friendly greeting, his black wings melting back into nothingness as the magic thrums in his veins. She is small; but that is only an observation, not a detriment. The smallest of creatures are typically the most tenacious. It is a smile that welcomes her, lips drawn up into the mismatched black and white of his face, bright eyes dancing with the mischief that he was only just missing.

    Rather than answer her, he studies her, moving off to her side in a roundabout way, scarred muzzle dipping into the mess of wildflowers as he goes. When he moves, it is predatory and confident through no conscious thought of his; certainly, he is not stalking her – he can feel the thekwane under her skin, the little hippogriff mutt, even the little equine whose laughter is now adrift at sea. The hum of insects lies thick and heavy in his ears and he pauses, as if her invitation for him to get lost is one that demands profound thought.

    Smacking his lips together suddenly, he looks back up at her, watching her expression carefully. “Can one be lost if they don’t belong any-particular-where in the first place?” He tilts his head, brow furrowed, the taste of her suggestion spiced and perfumed. His chest trembles with a bark of laughter and he moves again, nosing through the blooms.

    Set has never been one to be idle and that particular characteristic manifests itself in his oft demonstrated inability to stand still. He drifts around her, eyes rolling over the scars that cover her left flank. His own itch at the sight, his knotted ropes of scar tissue lining his shoulders. He snaps his tail and shifts, a tawny mountain lion with his bright eyes stretching in his place. He takes a moment to roll in a particularly fragrant clump of blood-red poppies before sitting up and finding her gaze, whiskers twitching with ill-disguised amusement. “Are you always so disagreeable?”


    She was not quite what you would call refined.

    The children have gone quiet, but their bodies give them away, untrained, unused to stillness. The grasses tremble when they breathe, when they move, and in that strange way of motherhood, Poppy knows where they are without looking, so she does not. They draw attention enough to themselves, she does not need to add to it with her own gaze. Instead her eye follows the stallion as he drifts around her. The way his wings ripple and disappear makes her angry, she longs to be rid of the tired feathers clinging to her shoulders, or else to spread them wide and leave the Pampas - it's a lovely place, yet she hates it, Popinjay was not meant to be still.

    No, not meant to be still, but she considers remaining bedded down in her nest while he circles and circles in his predatory way because there is a feeling of power in it, but the smooth shift of his muscles makes her own scream in agony. They want to run again. The little bay mare bares her teeth at him in reply, blowing air between them like a spitting llama, and gives in to the twitching in her haunch that drives her to stand.

    She stands leisurely and stretches backward into a shake that throws dust and grass and fine powder-down into the air around her. A black feather drifts through the air, loosened by molt. He has changed while she found her feet and the cat shape elicits another growl from the shivering grasses.

    Is she always disagreeable? Poppy is never disagreeable, she's quite certain of that.

    "Did you come all this way just to ask me riddles?" she counters, curling her neck and shoulders to awaken weary muscles and blinking slowly, dismissively, "'Cuz I've heard better than that."

    She tests her wings, lifting them upwards, their tips reaching hungrily to the sky, and feeling the faint shiver of atrophied muscle. There is less of it than before. Every day that rushes them headlong towards the coolness of fall adds the smallest tease of returning strength. It makes her more impatient to have the scent of freedom in her nose, makes her mood sourer. With a dissatisfied ruffle, the wings resettle loosely at her sides and she swings her head to bite irritably at her own chest before at last approaching the seated cougar with laughing eyes, both annoyed by and drawn into the amusement within them as a moth is drawn to the flame. And like a moth, and also rather like her old self, she is heedless of the space the magician might seek to keep around himself and steps close enough to thrust her muzzle into his thick fur, teeth bared to tug at it, to taste the rough hairs on her tongue. Shifting is no special trick, he seems completely ordinary.

    "I suppose that isn't your fault - you're not a Sphynx. And not everyone can be clever."

    Image by Ratty


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