"There is still something of himself - something of the Wolfbane who would always love her - that rallies against the slime. It says, 'lie in the bed you’ve made'. So he gathers the covers and tucks himself in." -- Wolfbane, written by Calcifer
She’s taken some time to become accustomed to the strange land, picking her way around the orange landscape and familiarizing herself with the nooks and crannies. Her own nature tells her to know her way around – the ins and outs, hiding places and best places to eat. But while the quiet beauty if refreshing, the girl eventually becomes lonely. Emerging from one of the sharp-walled canyon halls, the girl lifts her head to look for company.
The silver-eyed girl knows she cannot be alone. Krieos is in and out, and there are traces of several other mares in the valley. She has taken care so far not to find them – she wanted the time to herself. A part of her craves the isolation – a strange thing indeed for a herd animal, but Beqanna breeds the strange ones – but she is capable of loneliness. The question is – are they the companions that can content her?
Quietly, the grulla mare tracks her way to the sun-warmed oasis, the blue water a contrast against the orange sand. Even she after several months, has taken on a slightly orange-ish hue as the sand sticks to each part of her. She is standing, seriously contemplating a dip in the warm pooled water, when she lifts her head at the sound of hoof beats.
It's been some time since she returned to the herd.
She's kept to herself over the past year, trying to make sense of everything that's happened. It's been more than a little challenging - most days, she lives in her head. She keeps having flashbacks - being chewed on by the dog, being run over by the car, being set on fire, being chopped into pieces ...
Even now her legs still ache, though she doesn't know if it's really pain, or purely psychological.
And Lena ... oh Lena. She thinks of the poor girl every day, misses her. She hopes that the faerie helped her after he helped Syl. Such a sweet girl ... she hadn't deserved anything that had happened.
But, Syl needs to move on. Has to go on with her life. Somehow. She doesn't know how.
She drags herself into the main part of the herdland, hoping to perhaps see Kreios. He's been giving her space, which she's appreciated. She's needed it.
But, instead of Kreios, she sees a grullo mare standing by herself at the oasis. She doesn't recognize the creature, but the scent is familiar - she must be one of Kreios' other mares. She briefly contemplates turning away and heading back into the canyon to hide, but she forces herself forward. She's spent too long hiding.
She takes a few steps closer to the mare then stops, taking care to stay away from the oasis' glassy surface - she doesn't particularly want to see her own reflection. Her mane and tail have at least started to grow back from when Nerissa had burned her (her neck and rump itch painfully at the thought), but the ghastly colour that the faerie had turned her has not faded away. Not to mention his 'gift' ... but she refuses to think about that now.
Her dark eyes seek out the grullo's, but she can't help but shuffle uncomfortably. It's been so long since she last spoke to another. "H-hi. I'm Syl."
Others may have been startled by the cacophony of colors on the mare who has approached Sloene at the oasis. Others, but not the little mare who stands there today. Sloene was an orphan (no, not just an orphan…a killer. Killer. Killer. Always the first memories were the blood), but she was raised in a herd with many siblings, and those siblings were all of the colors of the universe. The result of a magician who played in space, though of course little Sloene didn’t know that. She only knew that she was the only somber color in a herd of little cosmos.
Once, she had resented it. Their colors and their powers. Thankfully, maturity had ended the resentment. She is able to smile at the bright stranger with no hint of anything except natural, if cautious, friendliness. “I’m Sloene,” she offers in return, shifting her own body to turn away from the water and towards the stranger. “This seems like a nice place. Have you lived here for long?” There are not many here – as Kreios had assured her in the Field. She thought it would be nice, the quiet, but Sloene is finding that it’s not all its cracked up to be.
Instead the long silence has grown oppressive. The force of her own dark memories is too strong to overcome without the chatter of so many adoptive siblings to drown them out. Syl has nightmares – so does Sloene. Perhaps Kreios is collecting them because he can sense they are broken.
The mare turns towards her, smiling and friendly, clearly pleased to see someone else. Knowing how quiet the little herd is, it's possibly been some time since she last spoke to anyone. Unfortunate for her that it's Syl.
The purple mare tries to return the smile, but it's awkward, uncomfortable. It's been so long since one last crossed her face. "Nice to meet you." Sloene. She rolls the name in her mind. Sloene, Sloene, Sloene. Lena probably would have called her something pretty like Dusk, for her grullo coat.
"I ... yes. Yes it is." This is pathetic, she's almost forgotten how to make conversation. How long has it been since she last talked to someone? "Not that long. Over a year." She thinks that's right, though the faerie's game has played with her sense of time. It had felt like years that she'd spent in that world ... though she's fairly certain it hadn't been anywhere near that long. "Yourself?"
Her mind wanders, showing her a face that she's thought about m ore and more often lately. Her mother's. What would Sand think of her 'disappointing' daughter now? She's not sure what would be worse - disappointing her still, or making her proud.
Ugh. She forces herself back to the present, trying to return her attention back to whatever Sloene is saying next. She needs to get a hold of herself. "How did you meet Kreios?"
Whatever it is that she wants from life, Sloene hasn’t found it yet. And a part of her begins to doubt she will find it in a herd at all – but she is willing to give it some more time. It’s safe here, after all, and there is some company. Better here than out there alone, especially with Fall quickly coming to bear. If she is surprised that they have lived here for months together and not once passed ways, the girl doesn’t let it show on her face. She was not exactly social, after all, and it’s certainly not a small place. “It hasn’t quite been a year, for me. I came in the spring.” If autumn nearly here, winter will follow. Her last winter she spent alone, and it’s not an experience she would care to repeat. For the winter, at least, Sloene will stay. She doesn’t let her mind wander – there are too many dark places for it to go – but when she lived amongst the space hoard she perfected the ability to say nothing, simply wait patiently and look interested. Somehow, even the only normal color in the group, she had excelled at blending and so that is what they had set her to practicing. There had been games, and fun, and Nera and Branka made excellent surrogate parents, but every game had had a purpose. Every visitor had told a story.
Nera hadn’t been raising children to go live content to do nothing in herds. They were meant for greater things. She’d said they all had a destiny – but she’d conveniently left out how they were to find it. Many of Sloene’s foster siblings could trade on their traits for favors, or on their heritage. The gray girl was nobody. Her father was a mystery to her, and her mother was dead. There is family who would take her in in a heartbeat, but she knows nothing of them. But then Syl speaks, and the girl’s ears flick to catch the words as if her attention never wandered. “Kreios found me in the Field. I was too old to stay with my foster family, but I didn’t know where else to go.” She smiles as if that wasn’t a traumatizing experience. As if the nightmares of being alone aren’t nearly as bad as the ones of waking beside a dead mother in a pool of blood. “He….um….” she shifts now, uncomfortable, flickering her gaze to Syl’s face and then away. “He’s not the kind of stallion that expects a foal every season, is he?”
She doesn’t know if she can be a mother. What if killing her family is something that wasn’t a one-time thing?
She notes with both surprise and comfort that the mare does not seem at all shocked by her riotous appearance. She rather detests the multicoloured coat that the faerie has cursed her with - it reminds her too much of the stories her mother had told her of Elite. The Valley queen had been burned by Carnage’s fire and when her hair had grown back it had all been pink. Syl does not like to think that, with her own change in coat colour, she is becoming more like her grandmother.
Speaking of which … her colour isn’t the only way that the faerie changed her. She’d tried to avoid thinking of it, but now that she’s thinking about her coat colour, her mind can’t help but wander to it …
She hadn’t really understood what Grumblesnakes had meant, when he had mentioned a ‘gift.’ She hadn’t figured it out until she’d been dropped back in Orange Country and had accidentally stumbled into a small boulder in a shocked haze. The rock had exploded on impact, shattering into thousands of tiny pieces, and scratching up her legs with the shrapnel.
Shattering, he had called it. So like Elite’s disintegration.
The mare is asking her a question now and she drags her mind through the fog back to the present. What was it Sloene had said? The mare must think her off in the head. “Oh, umm.” She hasn’t even really thought about foals since coming here. He hasn’t even brought up the subject with her, though she supposes she should give him a child at some point. He’s been so kind to her, he deserves that much. But what kind of parent would she even be? She doesn’t know the first thing about raising a child. But she shouldn’t think of that now. “Not at all. I’ve been here through two autumns, and he’s never even talked about it with me.”
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