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  • Beqanna

    COTY

    None -- Year 218

    QOTY

    "He watches her, noticing first the way she moves beneath moonlight, and he is reminded of a time before magic ran rampant as it does now. How back then there were some that simply seemed to be magic without actually having it, the kind that could capture your attention and keep it." --Eadoin, written by Colby


    [private]  I'll be watching from the center of the hollow moon; Aislyn
    #1

    You twist, I turn, who's the first to burn?

    You sit and stay, I don't obey.

    The seasons here hold sway in a never-ending cycle, tossing them from one extreme to the other like flotsam. Only once had the cycle broken. He had not cared for that time. Darkness had fallen, clinging to the land with a fierce tenacity that had taken him by surprise. And then the monsters had risen, slavering and hungry, beasts held captive to an ancient need this world had forgotten.

    Voracious had not forgotten.

    For the first time since he had risen from the bowels of his birthplace, he had been forced to wet the tines of his antlers with blood. It had been years since he had trained, and yet, in the face of a new enemy who wanted only to taste his flesh, the training he had once endured brought old instincts roaring back to life.

    He should have been content to only fend off those who found him where he hid, but he had not. He had hunted them. Hunted them as he had been bred to do.

    Then the light had returned and a foul realization had begun to turn his gut to acid. He had become everything he once railed against. In those dark and tempestuous months, he had become the monster he always feared. And so he had fled. He had spread his wings and leapt into the skies across the ocean.

    He hadn’t meant to return, and yet, here he is. There is a sadness resonating inside his chest as he stares at the swaying grasses and gently rolling hills. This is the first place he had ever truly felt alive. The first place he had found meaning in his once meaningless life. He is a creature crafted for war, yet it is never war that he had wanted. He had found peace here, until that peace too had vanished. But out in the lands beyond, he had quickly discovered there is no such thing as escaping one’s own demons.

    The bloodlust woken by those dark monsters had followed him.

    Perhaps it is inevitable. Perhaps he was always meant to become everything his ancestors had promised him he would be.

    With his tired wings drooping over his blue ribs, Voracious peers at the place he had once imagined a paradise free from strife. Oh how very wrong he had been. And yet, as he stares at this place, he wonders if it might be the only place he can remember exactly who it was he had once fought so hard to be.
    Voracious


    Aislyn
    Reply
    #2
    BUT I HOPE I NEVER LOSE THE BRUISES THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND
    She is so different from the last time they had crossed paths.

    There is nothing in particular that had happened; nothing that she could pinpoint that hardened the light-heartedness of her youth, no significant trauma that had shadowed her sunshine. She just knows that she feels cold, almost indifferent. She watches the things happening around her with little interest, her vividly bright eyes somehow managing to appear flat, with none of the spark that had once burned there. She had thought finally being able to shift — finally being able to grasp that part of herself that always seemed so out of reach — would miraculously be the piece that allowed everything else to fall into place, but nothing had worked that way.

    Instead, it seemed to only throw into sharp relief how much bigger the picture truly was, and it was nowhere near being complete.

    She sees him in the meadow, and for the first time in she cannot even recall how long, something flickers to life in her chest.

    “Voro,” she says his name, but she can feel it turn to ash on her tongue. She is close enough now to see the desolation that reflected in his eyes, the way he seemed weighed by an overall tiredness. As if the dark of the eclipse had leaked into the pores of him, settling into his bones. Her heart twinges, just once, because isn’t she part of the reason he is here? Her memory is foggy, but she is sure she had promised something about how Beqanna would be everything he dreamed—that it would be different than where he had come from.

    She had been so focused on her own issues that she had not thought to seek him out in the eclipse, to see how he was fairing.

    The guilt that floods her veins extinguishes whatever flame had tried to ignite.

    She stops a few paces from him, worry clouding her face before she smooths it away with a small smile. “Do you remember me?” And she can’t help but to think that maybe it would be easier if he did not.
    A I S L Y N


    Voracious
    Reply
    #3

    You twist, I turn, who's the first to burn?

    You sit and stay, I don't obey.

    He had not truly expected to encounter anyone that would remember him. But of course it would be her that finds him now. Once, she might have caught him by surprise. In those early days, after he had fought so hard to leave his old life behind, he had become distracted and lax. Now, despite his weariness, he is neither of those things.

    The peryton sees her just as she sees him. He does not tense or otherwise display any aggression, but it isn’t until his name falls from her lips that he blinks. That he finally accepts it is truly her.

    A part of him wants to smile, to display that easy camaraderie they had once shared. Now though, he fears that part of him has died for good. Still, the familiarity of her voice twists something inside his chest, stirring the old flames of the friendship they had once shared. That they could, just maybe, still share. It takes him a moment to realize how badly he wants that.

    And for the first time in ages, he believes that perhaps there is still something left of what he had once tried so hard to be.

    He doesn’t say anything as she closes the distance between them. Neither does he try to stop her approach. It isn’t until she asks if he remembers her that it occurs to him his silence may have been misinterpreted. The ache in his ribs twists harder. “Of course,” he breathes finally, sea-blue gaze falling to find those petal-bright eyes of hers. “Aislyn.” His eyes hold hers for a long moment, shadows twisting behind the vibrant surface. “I could never forget you.”

    He blinks, gaze breaking from hers abruptly. He surveys the shapely curves of her form, comforted to find her appearing whole. Glad that at least one bit of goodness had escaped the beasts, even if his had not. Breathing out a soft sigh, Voracious adds softly, “I’m glad you survived the darkness.”
    Voracious


    Aislyn
    Reply
    #4
    BUT I HOPE I NEVER LOSE THE BRUISES THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND
    When he says her name she can feel the knot in her chest start to loosen, and a cool relief wash over her to know that he, at the very least, remembers her. She is not sure why she had expected him to forget, when their history was so entangled with each other. Nearly every defining moment in her life had involved him—or a version of him, she reminds herself, because the guilt that eats at her when she remembers how she had fought with him on the battlefield could only be soothed by remembering it had not really been him. The sound their antlers had made when they collided and locked together echoes in her mind, and she tightens her jaw in frustration as she wills the memory away.

    “I would be heartbroken if you did,” she teases gently, forcing a lightness to her tone, and another small smile onto her face. She realizes belatedly that he might take her words literally, recalling how he sometimes struggled with context and tones, since the world he came from was drastically different than the one he is in now. And under normal circumstances she would have been prepared to explain, but now all she can do is stare at the shadows that seem to linger in his blue eyes, and wonder why they were there.

    “I did,” her head nods just once as she says this, thinking back on how she had mostly hid and kept to herself during the eclipse. Her run-ins with the creatures had been few, but it was during one such confrontation that she discovered her panther shifting. Grateful as she is, she would have preferred to find it a different way. “That dark was not normal,” she finds herself explaining to him, almost afraid that he now would find that Beqanna is a place he did not want to be— a place no different than the one he had tried to escape. “I don’t think it will ever happen again.”

    She searches his face again, and she takes a hesitant step closer to him. “You survived the darkness, too,” she begins carefully, afraid of upsetting him, but also unable to keep herself from digging for answers—to find out why he seemed so different. “Did it change you?” she asks, thinking of how because of the dark she could shift into a panther, only that is not what she is asking him at all.
    A I S L Y N


    Voracious
    Reply
    #5

    You twist, I turn, who's the first to burn?

    You sit and stay, I don't obey.

    He doesn’t know of the demons that still chase her, but he would have been sorry to learn of them. Despite the memories that now plague him, he finds himself caring that she is well. He’s not quite certain why, but he hopes it means he is not as far gone as he had believed. He had not been created to care about others. War and obedience are all he had been born for, all that had been drummed into him his entire life. His brothers had succumbed so easily, but he, strange outlier that he had been, had refused.

    Yet, he cares for her, even though he shouldn’t. There is hope in that.

    Her voice is light when she responds, but the words bring a faint frown to his lips. His eyes drift to her chest - to the place where her heart beats behind her ribs. He can hear the steady thrum of it, strong and certain and alive. Whole. He isn’t certain how failing to remember her could cause her a muscle to break. He is certain however, that he would never want to be the cause of it. “Then I will endeavor to remember you always.”

    As the conversation turns, death recaptures his attention. He had meted out so much of it in those bleak months. But she is still living, so he focuses on that. Focuses on her.

    Though it had not been a conscious thought, hearing her say that the endless eclipse had not been a normal occurrence eases something inside of him. A subconscious part of him had feared there was more to the cycle than simple seasons. That the monsters come and go like the snows do. It is, in part, why he had fled.

    He could not battle the monsters again without losing what remains of him.

    He nods when she says that, though there is no relief in his expression. Perhaps it would come, with time. Or perhaps he has already lost too much of himself. He looks quickly away, unable to hold her gaze at that thought. Would she still want his friendship, even knowing he is as much a beast as the things that had crawled from the night?

    Her careful words seem to dig beneath that tiny chink in his armor, as though she had known his thoughts somehow. It is all he can do to keep from flinching beneath her unwitting assault. His gaze slides back to her. Even if he had wanted to, he could not have kept the truth out of those aqua eyes.

    Something hollow opens up inside his chest.

    “I killed.” His voice is soft, but it is made no less brutal for it. He would not hide the thing he had to become. Not from her. She had seen his brothers, after all. Fought them. She already knows what he could have become. What he could still become. “Not on purpose, at first,” he continues. His jaw clenches briefly, forcing him to loosen it to continue. He can’t look at her now though. “Afterwards, I… hunted them.” He pulls his wings tighter against his sides, but still he doesn’t turn his gaze to her. He doesn’t want to see the rejection he knows must be written through every line of body. “I thought I could be different, if I got away. But I’m not. I’m still…” He sucks in a breath, steeling himself against the truth. His expression hardens, his voice growing brittle. “I’m still a monster, just like them.”
    Voracious


    Aislyn
    Reply
    #6
    BUT I HOPE I NEVER LOSE THE BRUISES THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND
    His comment about remembering her brings a small smile to her lips, and she can feel a strange kind of warmth spreading inside of her chest. He strikes her as almost innocent, in a way that she cannot really articulate; not because she thinks he has never wronged, but maybe that he has never done anything with a truly malicious intent. There were no hidden motives to why he did things, and perhaps that is why she had always enjoyed his company so much.

    But there is a shift in his demeanor, a clouding in his bright blue eyes, and the warmth is ushered away by an icy tightening as she listens to what he says.

    “You are not a monster,” she corrects him, the words coming out harder than she had intended, but only so that she might somehow force him to believe her. But she sees the way he is still refusing to look at her, and she steps around to the other side of him, linking his gaze with hers and allowing her voice to soften as she says, “You’re nothing like those creatures, Voracious. I promise. Not the ones from where you came from, or the ones that came with the eclipse.”

    She watches him for a long moment, waiting to see if he registers what she has said, or if he will be able to find any truth in her words.. Before he can respond, though, she adds, “Monsters don’t feel remorse.” Hesitantly, she reaches over to gently touch her nose to his shoulder, a brief brush of her warm skin against his, before pulling away. She has never touched anyone before, and she is suddenly overcome with a flush of embarrassment that she does her best to hurry away.  “The eclipse is over, so you don’t have to worry about those things anymore,” she says as she diverts her eyes away from him, looking instead to the rolling meadowlands beyond so that she does not have to think about how her lips feel electric from touching him.
    A I S L Y N


    Voracious
    Reply
    #7

    You twist, I turn, who's the first to burn?

    You sit and stay, I don't obey.

    It is a vicious guilt to live with, that of taking life. Even if it had been life that deserved taking, how much farther is it to fall to take one that does not deserve it? His brothers had never hesitated to do so. And now, he fears the numbness that grows in the wake of such violence. He fears the shift that has taken place inside him.

    She is far too good for him. He knows it without doubt. She had given so much to bring him here, and he has been selfish in their friendship. What has she gained from it? Nothing but a poor friend who could so easily turn into a beast.

    At first her words don’t quite cut through the miasma of despair that threatens him. The words are sharp enough to slice, but he has spent a lifetime resisting. She refuses to allow him to keep it however, her body shifting in his peripheral until she forces his eyes to meet hers. His skin feels too tight across his bones, but he doesn’t drop her gaze. He would give her this honor at least.

    But he can only blink when her words finally register. He wants to step back, but his legs don’t move. There is steel in her voice despite the softness of her words. Still, he can only shake his head. He has spent his entire life believing in something better, yet somehow her belief in him defies all logic.

    Monsters don’t feel remorse, she declares, and he wonders if that is what this is. He has always felt so much, and in a world where emotions are beaten out of one in childhood, he had made sure to never express them. But they had remained, confusing and defiant. Is the heaviness in his chest, the chill in his bones, remorse?

    “How can you be so certain?” he replies, his voice thick, almost inaudible.

    He startles at her touch. Not because it is unwelcome, but because he is so unused to it. He looks at her, surprised, only to find that she is now avoiding his gaze. She insists the eclipse is over and he has nothing to worry about, but he is hardly paying attention. After a moment, he reaches out and brushes his nose against her neck in return. There is something almost comforting in such a simple touch. Touch not filled with violence. It sends a shiver racing along his skin, as though he is doing something illicit.

    Pulling away, Voracious peers at her with a troubled gaze. She had been his first friend. Perhaps his only friend. “Why do you believe in me so much?” he asks abruptly, unable to keep his baffled curiosity to himself. His wings wilt slightly when he adds, “I have done nothing to deserve it.”
    Voracious


    Aislyn
    Reply
    #8
    BUT I HOPE I NEVER LOSE THE BRUISES THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND
    She is treading into unfamiliar territory, and she finds herself wishing she had someone here to guide her. Someone to tell her what she should say and do in order to bring him some kind of solace, if such a thing is even possible. Because she is awkward and stumbling as she tries to find a way to console him, and she can’t help but to think that anyone besides her would be better suited for this.

    She thinks the younger version of herself might have known how to handle this.
    That young, bold girl that had aided in his escape without a moment’s hesitation; the girl that had always been so quick to laugh despite whatever darkness may linger. Being born in the middle of a war had made her resilient, but she had been determined that it would not make her hard. But as much as she had tried to avoid it, life had still done that for her. She had erected walls without even meaning to, had taught herself that softness meant weakness—that letting herself care about anyone, much less actually showing them, was only going to set herself up for disappointment and hurt.

    It’s why something inside of her tenses when he returns her touch. Perhaps because she had not expected the action to be reciprocated, or perhaps because that same warmth is spreading beneath her skin and her chest is constricting with a feeling she is unfamiliar with. When he pulls away she feels a mixture of relief and disappointment, and trying to untangle the meaning behind either of those emotions was not something she had been prepared for. There is a not so secret part of her that wanted to know what it might have felt like had he kept touching her, that wants to know if he felt anything at all when his skin touched hers. But her fear overpowers everything else, and she can only spare him a searching stare, and she lets that distance continue to exist between them.

    After considering his question, she finally says, “because I know you.” She offers him a small smile, her guarded face softening. “I was there when you left the place you came from. I know that you wanted to be different—that you are different.” She finds herself stepping towards him again, and while she does not close the distance entirely she is close enough to need to tilt her head to ensure she doesn’t catch him with the tips of her antlers. “And I’m glad that you’re here,” the sincerity makes her voice feel tight, and while there are more things that she wishes she could say she finds that she is still struggling with putting it all into words, and so instead she only falls quiet.
    A I S L Y N


    Voracious
    Reply
    #9

    You twist, I turn, who's the first to burn?

    You sit and stay, I don't obey.

    If she is awkward and stumbling in her attempts to console him, he does not know. To his inexperienced and undeniably naive gaze, there is nothing that could have been more right in that moment. Nothing that could have touched him quite like the quiet steel of her resolve. He is neither sweet nor soft despite the touch of innocence that remains when he peers at matters of the soul, nor is it likely he could understand it if offered to him. But the sincerity and implacability of her tone? Those he knows well.

    Even if he does not quite wish to believe it.

    Yet he feels the tug of it all the same, and he cannot help the brief, melancholic smile that pulls at his lips. “I’m not certain I even know myself,” he replies after a thoughtful moment, aqua eyes searching the bright pink of hers. In that breathless, eternal heartbeat of time, the smallest piece of who he’d once tried to be returns, bringing a genuine, if fleeting, smile with it. “Perhaps you will have to stay here and remind me so I cannot forget.”

    Words are not necessary then, and he doesn’t notice that she cannot seem to find them. He has never been a great wordsmith, and it’s impossible to miss what one has never known. But everything she wants to tell him is right there in the impossible depth of her gaze, spoken in the soft lines of her body.

    In nearly equal measure, he too cannot conjure the words to express what he feels. If such words even exist, he doesn’t know them. Instead he can only hope she can find them in the perpetual hopefulness of his expression, or read them between the lines of the wholly inadequate words that tumble from his lips.

    “Do you know,” he begins, unable to keep the musing question from spilling forth. “I never knew what caring meant until I met you?” There is a wryness in his open expression, one that borders on embarrassment. “I thought I did because I didn’t wish to be what I was born to be, but you proved me so very wrong.”
    Voracious


    Aislyn
    Reply
    #10
    BUT I HOPE I NEVER LOSE THE BRUISES THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND
    “I’ll remind you as often as needed,” she says, and while she says it in a light-hearted and almost teasing way there is still a genuineness to it that she cannot entirely hide. Outside of her family she has never been close with anyone. She did not have a childhood friend or anyone else that had been constant in any way save for Voracious, and she still did not really know what that meant, if anything.

    She was too realistic to be considered a dreamer, had never much believed in fairytales or romance, but at the same time she did not believe in coincidences. Voracious had appeared in her life too many times for it all to be happenstance, but every time she felt that strange fluttering in her gut she told herself she was being foolish.

    Their paths were constantly crossing, but subconsciously, she always kept them from merging.

    Having something to lose seemed risky, and while she had never been the kind to play it safe, something told her to tread carefully into this territory.

    It’s why when he first mentions caring about her that she can feel something inside of her begin to wall up; a reflexive hardening of her heart, a warning to herself to pull back. But she thinks of her mother, of how she had never been afraid to love anyone and almost immediately her face softens once again. Her vibrant gaze searches his with a cautious smile, and with a careful step forward she once again brushes her nose against his shoulder. “I care about you too. It’s why I don’t like seeing you be hard on yourself.”

    Her touch lingers longer than it had last time, and when she does at last withdraw she does not pull as far away. Instead she stands there in the heat that radiates from his skin, becoming more and more aware of the electric humming taking place beneath her own skin. “Do you live anywhere?” she asks him suddenly, though it was not the question she had originally planned on asking. This was the safer version of what has been buzzing at the back of her mind for the last several minutes—Will you stay with me?—because it gave her the out she still felt like she needed.
    A I S L Y N


    Voracious
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