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    Svedka -- Year 212


    “He only knows home in his dreams and even those dreams do not mimic large, centuries-old redwoods. Lio doesn't remember the last time he laid his head down and truly felt comfortable.” --Elio, written by Phaetra

    [private]  Kids with guns - REAVE

    The light that meets the dark

    Each day it seemed as if Cheri’s hair grew longer and so did her legs; she was growing as a young filly should, surrounded by her parents and siblings, even watched over from afar by a grandmother who loved her dearly. She had very little idea of the legacy flowing from one-half of her family bloodline or the curse flowing from the other, but she could feel the restless sides of both tugging at her nightmares and giving her wings during the light of day so she might escape the nameless pressure of so many generations boiling down to her, Reynard, her half sibling, and countless cousins all the same. On days like this one, where Pappa offered to watch them so that Mama and other momma (Memorie’s dam) could have some rest, she would slip away from the boring lessons her sire liked to teach and fly off into the woods in search of her cousins.

    They were, in fact, her aunt and uncle - but gramma Lilli looked so young and beautiful all the time that Cheri hardly ever thought of her as a grandmother ought to be thought of. Roselin and Oren were her elder relations by only a season or two, and their age was an impossible number Cheri was determined to match. She would always be younger than them, but in her own mind it didn’t mean she couldn’t try fitting in with their group despite the gap. Reynard and Memorie were always too busy with their Pappa’s training: he was always closing his eyes with them and doing ‘inner’ stuff, and though he encouraged Cheri to do the ‘inner’ stuff as well she found the task at hand boring. What ‘center’ was she supposed to find and anchor herself to?

    She was nothing like Memorie or Reynard, even though her twin brother was, well… her twin. The three of them had their picture game and more often than not Cheri was used as an unwilling guinea pig for their practice. Not today, though. Today she was off on her own, bounding over the springy moss and trotting deeper and deeper into the heart of the Redwoods in search of her distant family. She hadn’t seen them in some time, but Pappa Yan had said Lilli was going on a trip and that they would be close by, so what better time than now?

    “Rosey! Oren!” She called, and then she pitter-pattered down a little hillock where the trees thinned out. Neither Roselin or Oren was there, but another foal - one she’d entirely forgotten about until this very moment. “Oh!” The black-and-white girl paused, head up and eyes wide. “You’re, um, Reave... aren’t you?”

    His days so far have had none of the structure of the filly whose path he is about to cross. He has been left to do what whim and fancy directed him to, save the warnings Lilli had given to remain in Taiga. Of course, he had taken those warnings far more as suggestions than any type of order. After all, it does not take long for even the large woods of Taiga to seem small to a curious and energetic young colt.

    Today though, he has been doing his best to stay at least. After all, mama had only just left for her visit this morning, and he liked to imagine he could entertain himself for at least a day. He is loath to admit he couldn’t last even a day, but as the edges of Taiga seem to draw ever closer (all on their own, he might add), he’s beginning to suspect that maybe he shouldn’t have made any such promise, even if only to himself.

    As luck would have it, before the edges can come closer, he hears the excited trill of a girl’s voice not too far away. She sounds young, even to him, piquing his curiosity. Lilli had of course told him he has many siblings and cousins. Some he has met, but there are many he has not yet had the opportunity to meet. He had tried several times to steal sight of them through the many creatures inhabiting these woods, but he is still not very good at it. So the filly that tops the slight rise is unfamiliar. He racks his memories trying to place her even as she spies him and does the same. Much more quickly than him, much to his consternation.

    A moue twisting his lips, he hesitates before replying, “Yes.”

    Reluctant to admit he can’t place her, he does what any audacious boy of such a sensitive age would do (at least, one with his abilities). He digs briefly into her sight. To his disappointment, it doesn’t knock loose the memory of her name, instead telling him only that she is one of Yanhua’s daughters. Why hadn’t he paid more attention when Lilli was nattering at him about this?

    Finally, with a sigh, he asks a bit petulantly, “Which one are you?”



    The light that meets the dark

    Cheri believed that knowledge was a strange sort of gift. While she couldn’t cultivate the inborn powers her twin and half-sibling seemed to have manifested from birth, she could listen and learn. Much like Reave, she felt the boundaries of what Yanhua was teaching them were growing too close though. Too tight to contain her expanding mind and all the endless questions she had about the world around her. Cheri was naturally curious but dependent on the safety and security of this place, and while she preferred to learn on her own time, in her own unique way of trial-and-method, she was unlike Reave in the way that she never strayed too close to the borders of her birth home.

    Taiga was all that she ever needed right now, even if that would change sooner than she’d expected. She had the endless foggy woodlands, the sloping hills and fern-filled valleys, hundreds (if not thousands) of elder trees, and when she passed by the last few on her journey to peer down at Reave with expressive, happy eyes, Cheri was confused to find him not as receptive.

    His dour mood made her pause just long enough that she could feel the pressure building in her skull, none the wiser that it was Reave who was causing the phenomena. She blinked; “I’m Cheri - Yanhua’s daughter.” The blanket-spotted filly reiterated.

    For some reason his attitude made her nervous. Rosey and Oren weren’t always welcoming and warm, but they’d never been agitated at the very sight of her. Maybe annoyed as young foals tend to get, but not indignant. Cheri wondered what she could’ve possibly done to make Reave upset - had she interrupted something?

    “Sorry. I can go?” She felt the need to apologize without reason or rhyme, taking a step backwards from where the spotted chestnut was. Her eyes strayed, green and eerie, along the side of his pelt she could see best, and there Cheri beheld the unusual nature of his strange, bony skin. She swallowed dryly. “I was just looking for… nevermind. I didn’t mean to surprise you.”


    It hadn’t occurred to him that his agitation at his own shortcomings would translate into something his new companion would find unwelcoming. He had never truly had to stop and consider such things before, having grown inside the whirlwind of emotions (some his, but many more echoes of the world around him). To him, such chaos is normal, anger and welcome and happiness and grief all tangled into such a snarled knot he’s not certain he could loosen it.

    But her nervousness, a wave of hesitation that seems to slam straight into him, gives him pause. The faint echoes of how she had always felt with her closest companions make him wonder what it is about him that changed her.

    A frown tugs at his lips as his blue eyes fix on her with a suddenly quizzical stare. “You didn’t startle me,” he replies, his voice suddenly as uncertain as his features. And with his childish lack of caution, he asks, “Why are you scared?”

    Though he is frequently privy to things that a colt his age ought not be, his own youth and lack of experience has prevented him from fully understanding it all. Perhaps one day he would possess the self-reflection to understand what had brought about her sudden wariness, but today he is as confused as she.

    Almost as an afterthought, Reave adds, “Mom told me about you.”

    Which of course she had. Despite the frustration of being unable to pull the memory from thin air moments ago, when her name had passed her lips, it had clicked into place. Though Lilli thought he was her adopted son (Reave knows differently, but the vague memories that had belonged to Brazen are difficult for him to understand, much less vocalize in a way that would have made any sense to Lilli), she had considered him her own in all the other ways that mattered. But even so, when one is an impatient young boy, paying attention to one’s mother is not their strongest ability.



    The light that meets the dark

    Mother had often soothed Cheri and Reynard to sleep with her powers while Pappa Yan sang them lullabies, and those are some of the first memories Cheri has about coming into contact with the unseen arts of magic. Her family, albeit a weird sort of family, is talented like a mystic staring into their crystal ball, or reading tarot. They pass on the ability to see beyond outer appearances, even if those appearances are studded in gems or crowned with horns. So when Reave asks her plainly why she’s scared, Cheri gives a moment’s pause instead of leaving him to his own devices.

    Slowly, a confident smile bloomed.

    “I thought you were angry at me for some reason. Do you get the echoes too?” Cheri asked the colt, picking her way down the little hill to meet Reave face-to-face in the clearing. Moss carpeted the earth, giving spring to each of Cheri’s steps, and her small wings of light bounced with the motion.

    She knew all about the memories from her lessons with Memorie and Reynard, and while Cheri could not make them herself, Pappa Yan had said the teachings would ‘benefit’ her in the future anyways. He said that if she ever found herself in a bad place with horses who didn’t use their magic for good things, she might be able to keep them at bay or stop their hurting altogether if she just stayed calm, cool, and collected.

    But she feels happy now to know that Reave is something like her twin and half-sibling. It makes him seem less-scary to the dark filly, more understandable. Nearly approachable, though she stops a few lengths away to flick her ears in his direction and bob her head with a smile.

    “Mmhm, she met me n’ Rey when we were just babies.” Cheri confirmed Reave’s statement. “I only know about you ‘cuz Pappa Yan said he was keeping an eye on you while grandma Lilli traveled for a little while. Have you seen my Pappa before?” She was curious to know, tilting her head.


    He blinks, the frown returning to his lips as she asks if he too gets the echoes. He had never considered them echoes, but he supposes it fits. Though they had been difficult to understand at first, it hadn’t taken him long to learn that most of them were not his own. That what others have seen and felt lay open like a novel before him, long and twisting and not entirely made of sense. Perhaps that is a little like the way his voice seems to echo off the cliffs of Nerine. A repeat of the things others have shouted. Metaphorically, of course.

    “Yes,” he replies slowly, his vibrant blue gaze now curious as he watches her come closer.

    Undoubtedly, if he had asked, Lilli would have told him more. Would have taught him where they came from. But he had never slowed down long enough to wonder. He had always taken them as simple fact, not something unusual or uncommon. After all, something never appears too much of a gift when seemingly everyone can do it. And by that same token, it does not even occur to him to ask her whether or not she has them. Not when she already knows and the erroneous logic of youth dictates that therefore she must.

    Returning her smile with one of his own, his ears flick atop his skull as he digs back through his memories. Though they are faded (he had been barely days old), he realizes he had met him. Only briefly, with no words spoken before he had been sent off in the company of Rosey and Oren to play while mama chatted. So he nods, brows furrowing as he tries to remember more.

    “It was only for a minute,” he clarifies after a moment before continuing, “but mom told me about you guys.” He shifts then, glancing into the distance where Taiga would soon begin to fade into bare hills. “She’s gone for a few days,” he continues distractedly, gaze growing distant. “I was, uh, just going to check… the borders.”

    At the last, he brightens visibly, turning back to Cheri with a sudden grin on lips, delighted by the way inspiration had so easily struck. That certainly sounded much better than that he had been bored out of his mind.



    The light that meets the dark

    Words she knows are those handed down to her from the elder horses, and because there’s no method of writing for them (Cheri doesn’t know that word in particular anyways - writing) she can only parrot what she’s learned. Someday, she’ll leave these woods. Perhaps not permanently but she will leave them, and after that she might expand her thoughtful library of how others perceived their gifts. For now, Reave only confirmed her suspicions. In the same way, he simultaneously confirmed what Cheri thought she knew - that Pappa Yan had said they were ‘echoes’ and therefore, Pappa Yan was wise. Problem solved; Cheri considered herself smart.

    Reave doesn’t think to ask about her involvement (or lack thereof) with the echoes, he only studied her with familiar eyes. They were a blue Cheri knew well from looking up into the faces of her ancestors, and something about them felt homely. Even if the rest of him seemed wild and reminded her of Reynard.

    Yan had said she was more like her mother - like Amarine - which saddened the blanket-spotted filly now and then. She wondered why she was touched with velvet black and outlined in garish green when her twin and half-sibling carried on the burnt copper and gold that ran so strongly through Lilliana’s bloodline. She sighed.

    “Well I’m glad I caught you.” Cheri smiled. Reave had been about to escape, which was what Cheri had been looking for all along. “I was so bored with morning lessons. I’ll come with!” She admitted before inserting herself into Reave’s plans, not expecting a refusal given his smile and sudden animation over the matter. Once in a while she could convince Pappa or Ama to take her on a walk to the borders, and then on a singular occasion she and Reave had gone to the stony-gray beach to the West, but every excursion had been supervised, safe.

    This is more her style - taking off into the foggy day on an adventure with “cousin Reave”.

    “C’mon!” She flipped her tail in excitement, buzzed on the feeling of doing something she’d never done before. Cheri picked up her heels and pushed off the springy earth into a quick little canter, unsure of which direction they were headed but certain that they should be going somewhere, anywhere, rather than here.


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