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    COTY

    Firion -- Year 217

    QOTY

    "She approaches the cave and there is nothing but that anticipation and her ever-present fire inside her. No fear, no flickering echoes of love. It’s all been consumed for now. She is a wildfire contained only by the thin layer of her flesh." --Mazikeen, written by Squirt


    [private]  When I talk to the night I can feel it stare
    #1

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

    She comes at night.

    The entities that Gale had shown her once will alert her presence but she doesn’t mind. She wants them to. Nashua would murder her if he knew she was here but after dying once and being split open multiple times now, the thought doesn’t bother her like it use to. There had only been so much scolding he could do this time when he had patched her up, considering who she had brought with her to the redwoods. To be fair Lilliana had done most of the work in the last leg of that trip, the empty void having started to  consume her as death began to siphon the strength from her rapidly beating heart. Once there had been a brotherly affection she had felt for the King of the North but now she can barely remember the summer shade of green his eyes turned to when he was being kind. Now she only knows his scowl and his glare which she had returned in ten-fold as she had spitted back at him. If he had wanted a Thane that would cower on the Isle and do nothing, then he could find someone else. She knows deep down that their anger is never truly directed at the other but with nobody else that seems to fully understand that rage, they seem to settle on each other.

    In the heat of their argument, she hadn’t gotten a chance to tell him exactly what the Curse had done to her this time. And when she had left him, burning with injustice and snarling with pent up aggression, her new recklessness drives her in a different direction. Her pupils remain hidden beneath the chaotic swirl of her starlit gaze as she lands in front of the remains of the wisteria tree she had once adored. A slight frown curves her mouth downwards, unable to tell on what scale she is bothered.

    Not that much, surprisingly. Ever since that electrical brightness cloaked in shadows had been placed in the eye of her storming anger, she had snagged the thread of hope that had been evading her for so long. The snarl on his lips had tasted like victory, leaving a sweetness even when blood filled her mouth as he had slammed her against the ground. Even now she reaches past the storm of her own making and brushes gently against it, receiving a jolt for her efforts that makes her jerk and grit her teeth. She doesn’t know how to remove it. She’s not sure if she even should. But she is curious of the image that he had unknowingly attached to that bright magic he had hidden inside her.

    A sound catches her attention and she slowly turns around, her mercury eyes finding exactly who she wanted to see. She settles in a tense stance with the burnt remains of the tree behind her, a cold smile on her lips as her wings remain flared and her crimson stars cast them both in their intimate sanguine haze. “Hello Mazikeen. Do you remember me?”

    -- Ciri

    Image by Phil Botha


    @ Mazikeen
    No rush since we both have a million threads on our to-do but this was in my head and needed to come out lol  Heart
    Reply
    #2

    There is no way to settle back into her life but some things stay the same. She still patrols even though she doesn’t need to, enjoying the excuse for movement. Now she seeks company almost every time, whether it is Firion or her children, and finds comfort in their presence. Soon she’ll need to go beyond Hyaline’s borders. The list of those she means to track down is long. But for now she stays in her home and tries to fill the spaces here with new memories, as though it is just that easy to write over the old ones.

    The alarm comes to her while she is beneath the lake, looking for Chasm, and Mazikeen-the-kelpie abandons her fruitless search to rise up to the surface of the lake. She’s expecting to need to walk for some time to find whoever it is but there is an unfamiliar, winged form near the wisteria tree. The frown in Mazikeen’s orange eyes is illuminated by the glow of her horns as she emerges from the lake nearby and approaches as her natural self. The white of her coat completely unmarked by scars.

    She takes in the cold smile, the flared wings and the crimson light of the stars that orbit this mare and her confusion only deepens when she’s greeted by name.

    The voice is familiar, but Mazikeen cannot place it. Even with the added bonus of her ignoring the boundaries of Hyaline just like she had last time. But Ciri had not had her wings, or stars, the last time they’d met.

    So Mazikeen shakes her head at this maybe-stranger, trying to place the voice and coming up with nothing, and feeling uneasy and tense because of it. “I don’t… think so, sorry.”






    mazikeen


    @ Ciri
    Reply
    #3

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

    As the white mare approaches, Ciri notices quickly that something is wrong. The orange eyes that find her are familiar to her but the horned mare looks at her with no recognition. When she speaks, her anger only flares and grows, a dark storm that swirls and rises in her breast as she sneers at the other. The hard silver of her eyes narrow on Mazikeen as she responds, cold words clipped in a harsh tone. “I’m not here to play games.” A step is taken towards her and as her crimson stars wash the other in their red haze, it clicks into place. The wrongness.

    The Mazikeen she had seen in her mind when Gale had pressed his magic into her had been covered in scars, many scars. But this Mazikeen was pure and pristine like newly fallen snow. She halts mid-step, suddenly wary and uncertain of what new trick this was. Was it something the Curse had done to confuse her? Or was this something stirred up on the horned mare’s end?

    There is a memory, a distant one that’s been swallowed by recent events, of when she had returned to this world on the lake’s shore, starless, alone, and confused. Mazikeen had found her here and escorted her out of the lake into a dark and uncertain world, not unkindly, but it had stung none the less. Perhaps part of her was still angry at her for that, unfairly maybe and gods know so much had happened since then, but it festers just the same. It feeds the black storm swirling within her but still… she hesitates.

    Because that thing he had placed inside of her reminds her of empathy she had once had. If she had suffered at the Curse’s hands…. Then perhaps this mare had too. More than likely she had, remembering Gale telling her how close they had been. She doesn’t seem to be a monster like him but that’s how the Curse had killed her before. A wolf in sheep's clothing. So she remains cautious even as she tightens her grip on the rising bile of rage that burns the back of her throat and chest. “Your boyfriend put something inside of me.” She finally snaps, her voice hoarse and low as she stares at her, accusing. Looking for some sort of reaction to tell her what she was dealing with. “First he broke me. Then he killed me. And then he put something that belongs to you inside of me.” She’s still not certain what that thing is nor is she entirely sure that this had once actually resided in Mazikeen…. But she highly suspects it does. Why else would the image of this mare be tied so firmly to it?

    “I want to know why.”

    -- Ciri

    Image by Phil Botha


    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #4

    It is a strange thing, to be faced with someone else’s anger and feel nothing inside of her. Her fury had been mostly dormant since that last death. She is wary, though, and the clipped words put Mazikeen more on edge. She won’t have another loose cannon here in Hyaline again. The residents here deserve actual peace.

    Her confusion continues to grow as she stands her ground when the winged mare steps closer and then halts. When Mazikeen’s ears flick backwards at the hoarse and snapped words, it is with uncertainty rather than anger. She doesn’t understand why this stranger is so mad with her and she tries her best to avoid speculating or she’ll drown in her own memories. She doesn’t get that luxury, though, because after a brief conflicting moment where she isn’t sure who this mare means by her boyfriend, the next words clear things up.

    Gale. Gale is why this stranger is so mad. And while that doesn’t solve all the riddles, it certainly helps explain that seething rage. It's one she knows well. Mazikeen feels those memories she was avoiding, feels the weight of this stranger’s words, like a grip on her throat.

    It’s a silly thing to focus on, but she finds her voice first stumbling over an objection to the word boyfriend. “He’s not my… we’re not…” Only stopping when she realizes it doesn’t really matter. She doesn’t have to explain her relationship status to anyone. There are other things to focus on.

    Her grief is a tangible thing and even if she wanted to, she wouldn’t be able to hide the way it shines in her orange eyes as she stares back at another victim of the Curse.

    What Gale could have put inside this mare could be anything. Shadows? A baby? Those had been the only things he had placed inside of her. He had focused more on removing parts of Mazikeen than giving her more.

    But how do you say these things to a stranger? Or anyone at all?

    Before she can try to answer the why, Mazikeen tries to figure out just what they’re talking about. “I don't understand. What do you mean it belongs to me?”





    mazikeen
    Reply
    #5

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

    “Oh good.” She laughs coldly as Mazikeen trips over her words in the face of their relationship, the one that Gale had told her about when he had still been Gale. “I thought you would deny knowing him too.” The darkness he had placed around that brightness in her chest seems to merge with the toxic energy that had seeped from the tainted connection to her stars and there is something different in her craving for revenge. Something darker that turns the red of her stars into something almost black. “You never deserved Hyaline.” She hisses between gritted teeth, the glow of her shining eyes holding no mercy and only malice. “You’ve destroyed everything this place use to stand for, the two of you.” There is a vague thought, that she is being far too cruel and it was not like her, but it is swept away in the growing tidal wave of her fury that feeds on old hurts and ever newer, bigger, wounds. For so long she had been trying to hold back this sickness for the fear of unleashing it on someone who didn’t deserve it. But didn’t Mazikeen deserve it? Hadn’t she stood by his side, from what little Nashua could tell her, while Gale had wrecked havoc on the entire world around them. Had she not made him King and given him even more protection to fulfill his bloodlust fantasies? Didn’t she still hold Nash’s son hostage? How innocent could she really be?

    And yet…

    That grief in her eyes seems real enough. And so does her confusion as she asks what belongs to her. It’s not enough. It’s not enough to stop the torrential downpour of her anguish and pain, the sickness that had been eating at her core since the moment the Curse had snapped her legs and ripped her open. It's not enough to make up for her empty death. “I'M SICK OF THIS!” She roars at her, an explosive noise that jumps from her throat as she rears up, starlit wings flared around her as her hooves collide violently back to the ground. “This. THIS." She hisses and she reaches into herself to the shadows and lightning as she grabs the package of light wrapped in his dark magic with full force as if she might pull it from herself and throw it at Maze's feet. She tries at least. Lightning courses around her body as the shadows writhe from her nostrils, rising like smoke from her eyes and ears, but she doesn’t let go despite the brutal pain that courses through her body. She tries to yank that thing from her but the pain becomes too much, makes her fall to her knees and groan, and she releases it as the magic becomes too much.

    Shaking violently and sweat breaking across her back, the shadows and lighting retreating, she finds her footing again and staggers upright, feeling terribly unwell. Pain shoots behind her eyes and she winces at Mazikeen, that anger still swirling in her breast but momentarily forgotten. Because she knows now. She knows what it is. “It’s an emotion.” She gasps, sides heaving. “He ripped me open and put it inside of me. And I saw you before he put his magic around it.” Still panting and unable to look at her, she asks the question that had been plaguing her for months. “It’s yours isn’t it? He took it from you, didn’t he?”

    “But why me? Why did he give it to me?”

    -- Ciri

    Image by Phil Botha


    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #6

    Though the sharp remarks about Hyaline may be cruel, they don’t hook themselves into Mazikeen’s heart. Mostly she is still just confused - her frown deepening a little further. Is this mare talking about the Pack? She doesn’t know the history of this place before she had come to live here with Breach. If Hyaline had once stood for something other than shifters, it’s been lost to time.

    And as far as she knows, it’s only been her own blood and Sickle’s that have soaked these hills. She did her best to keep those living here as safe as she could. But like her relationship status, she does not think this stranger deserves that explanation out of her.

    Mazikeen’s wariness grows when her question elicits such a strong reaction, but she doesn’t move backwards when the mare roars and rears up. Her heart begins to hammer inside her chest, and maybe she already knows what it is Gale has given this stranger. It certainly feels like she recognizes it when it explodes. That fierce, wild, all-consuming emotion. She feels the control she has on herself slipping when she sees the lightning and the shadows, her breaths becoming ragged as she slips into unwanted memories - only half seeing the way the mare falls to her knees and then gets back up. Mazikeen shifts, becoming a white smilodon - not preparing to attack but ready to defend her home and those within it from whatever bomb Gale has sent her way.

    She is breathing just as heavily, their panting breaths filling the silence between questions, between words, and it is with a colossal effort that Mazikeen remains in the present and her orange eyes refocus.

    It takes a moment, but she finally finds her voice, barely more than a whisper. “Yes. He took it all from me.” Everything but her anger, filling all the empty places with his own magic, his shadows.

    Something clicks then. “You’re Ciri, aren’t you? When he was still… when he was still Gale he mentioned you were friends.” He hadn’t told her about the wings or stars, though, so Maze thinks it’s fair she hadn’t known who this was right away. And reflecting back on that brief summer when they had been happy was almost just as hard as dealing with everything that had happened in the years since. That was another lifetime ago.

    And as for why?

    “I don’t know for sure but... affection makes him weak. I'd bet it was because he didn’t want any part of me inside him anymore. Maybe it was to torture you for being friends with Gale, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered who he gave it to so long as it was out of him.” The Curse only had selfish motivations so Mazikeen can only imagine that it must have been either for his own entertainment or benefit.

    And that doesn’t help the mare standing before her, carrying around a wound that isn’t her own. She feels the way her heart aches for someone she barely knows and has to remind herself that this pain is better than the emptiness. “I’m sorry, Ciri. I don’t know how to help you.”






    mazikeen


    @ Ciri
    Reply
    #7

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

    Mazikeen thinks she is not owed an explanation. But she is owed one and the Queen of Hyaline owed many of them. Perhaps she was low on that totem pole on the long list of their wrongs but regardless if Maze had been a willing participant or not, there was still plenty of blood on her hands. As she shakily regains her bearings, she notices that the white mare is gone and a large cat of sorts stands before her, wariness in its orange eyes. She almost laughs again, that harsh bitter sound, except the whisper reaches her before she can. Is it the thing Gale had placed inside of her that responds to her words, that sudden ache amongst the anger, or is it her own heart that stirs with empathy?

    She is caught off guard when Mazikeen says her name and it is her turn to become wary, tensing as she gives a small nod of acknowledgment that she was correct. “Yes.” She finally says and that residual bitterness lingers even as she glances away from her. Finding it hard to look at her face even in the shape of a long extinct creature. “We were friends..” Her tone grows cold, hard, because the alternative is grief and she is done with that. Done with the tears and the regret and the weakness that had allowed her to become so broken to begin with. The Curse had placed his own anger inside of Mazikeen but the one he had stirred inside of Ciri when he had murdered her had always been there, dormant and waiting. He had only breathed it to life, coaxed it to the surface when he had revived her and left her there, broken and bleeding.

    Her ears had been laced back against her skull but they rise now, pivoting to her as she finally speaks on what she had come here looking for. “Affection makes him weak.” Weak. Weak. What was it with men and their inability to handle emotions? She nods again at the explanation, brushing against that brightness inside of her again and realizing, as she jolts with electricity, that the shadows are no longer there. They are gone as if she had squeezed them free with her vice grip. While it still physical hurts to touch it, this thing that is both Gale and Mazikeen’s, she is aware now. Aware that it is more than just emotion that lays in her chest next to her own overwhelmed heart.

    Maze begins to say she is sorry, that she doesn’t know how to help,  but she is quick to cut her off if she can. “Don’t know how or unwilling to?” She asks quietly but sharply. Her frustration is building again, still unsure of her and the part she was playing in all this. It takes all her effort to not explode again and her teeth are gritted when she finally finds her voice once more. “You know him Mazikeen. You know him better than anyone. After everything he has done, everything you both have done… Help me make this right.”

    She steps closer to her, not threatening as she had been before but her metallic gaze is probing, searching for something in her face. Looking for that regret that she had thought she had seen. “If we can weaken him... Help me figure out how to put this back inside of him.” She follows her request with only one strained word and she cannot help the grimace that accompanies it.

    “Please.”

    -- Ciri

    Image by Phil Botha


    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #8

    Mazikeen watches Ciri carefully, finding that she doesn’t trust the other mare. Maybe it is simply the fact that there is something from the Curse inside of her, a piece of him brought back into Hyaline. Just thinking about that makes her skin crawl and she wishes she wasn’t alone by the lake with this near-stranger anymore. How much of Ciri’s coldness was her, and how much of it was him? Either way, the winged mare could be a threat to the shaky peace that has settled on the mountains over the last season. The shaky peace that Mazikeen had found for herself.

    So she holds onto the smilodon shape, feeling a little better for it, and her lips curl back in a brief display of annoyance when Ciri cuts her off and sharply asks if she’s just unwilling to help. Her ears twitch at the accusation as well, hurt flashing across her expression before she can get a handle on it. She will not fall apart right now, even though she’s painfully aware that Ciri likely doesn’t even know the full extent of what crimes Mazikeen believes she’s made.

    She steps to the side when the other mare moves closer, not quite away but keeping something of a distance between her and Ciri (or her and that thing inside of Ciri). Mazikeen would sit, pretend to be at ease, but her body is so tense right now she’s not entirely sure she’d be able to.

    “You’ve got a really interesting way of asking for my help.” She can’t help but remark after the obvious grimace that accompanies the word please. With a sigh, her gaze drifts out over the lake - though she still watches Ciri in her periphery. “The only advantage I ever had over the Curse now lives in you. And even when he had it, I still couldn’t make him stay dead no matter how many times I tried.” Well, once she had regretted it, the second time had been an accident, but the third time she had actually been trying. And even after trying to shove every good feeling through their bond and dropping him on the mountainside like a bird trying to open a clam on sharp rocks, he still didn’t stay dead.

    Mazikeen turns her head back to Ciri and her eyes are shining with tears as she tries to get the other mare to understand that she wasn’t downplaying her limitations. Even the fights she had won against the Curse had still been losses. “I can shapeshift and I glow when I’m angry. That’s it, Ciri. That’s the extent of my talents. It’s enough for a lot but… but not for this. I can’t… take that out of you.”

    And there was a part of Mazikeen that didn’t want this to be her fight anymore. Hadn’t she devoted enough of her life to it? Hadn’t she given up enough of herself, how much more would be asked of her? Was it so unreasonable to want it to be someone else’s problem now?

    But, of course, that part was small. She would do what she could, and she hoped that with help this time she might manage not to lose herself in the process.

    “If you can find a way to put… to put that back into him, I’ll help bring him down.” Probably, though she keeps that thought inside. There’s no telling whether Gale’s affection for her would still be a weakness after their last interaction, but it might be their best shot. She still had a promise to keep, after all.







    mazikeen



    @ Ciri
    Reply
    #9

    all of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, every star that ever was

    The old Ciri would have been hurt to be seen as a threat. She had always wanted to be a protector, had wanted to be looked at as something good and respected. This new one though, she rather relishes it. Being considered a threat was a far cry to being seen as weak. Perhaps it was better to be feared by those that didn’t deserve her kindness. When it came to Mazikeen though, she was still on the fence on what exactly she deserved from her.

    Something close to amusement flashes in her silvery eyes when the smilodon moves away as she tries to close the distance between them. When the beast speaks, Ciri let’s out another rush of bitter laughter. “You were the last person I expected to ask for help.” Comes her rather honest reply. She had expected the fiery horned mare she had seen wrapped in the brightness that had been placed inside of her. She had expected some sort of fight, some sort of release when her anger had found the one raging in the heavily scarred Mazikeen’s orange eyes as well as the answer to what lay in wait inside of her. What she had found was completely different and it confused her, made her just as wary as Hyaline’s Queen was of the Isle's Thane.

    It is the statement on how many times Mazikeen had tried to kill Gale that makes her pause and look at her with a tilt of her dark head. It is the tears that find something in chest but it is not the Curse’s heart that responds to them. She inhales deeply, exhales slowly, and some of that anger smoldering across her own hard features softens. Just for a moment. She says nothing else as the cat like creature continues, admits her own weaknesses. And then agrees to help if she can.

    The silence stretches between them for awhile, her red stars blinking with a mix of anger and confusion. And then finally, glancing at the lake where so many of her memories were tied to, she looks back to her and says quietly, “If I had known…” It feels foreign on her tongue, this apology a struggle just as it had been to Lilliana who hadn’t deserved her anger either. Not really. “I didn’t know what he was. I'm sorry Mazikeen.” She admits to her and she shifts her weight, uncomfortable with the tension that thrums through her. Would she have come to Hyaline sooner if she had known? Would she have tried to help Mazikeen, a stranger in all ways except for what she had meant to Gale when he had still been her friend? She thinks she would have… for that reason alone.

    “All I have is everything you see. The only magic I had… He ruined it. I can’t stop him either.” The grimace is back, this admittance to her own failure. “But I still want to try.” She whispers and looks away from the white creature, not wanting her to see the pain that spins behind that roaring rage. When she turns her head back to Maze, she is under control once more and that simmering anger flickers in the molten silver of her eyes. “I’ll try.” Comes the promise she makes to Mazikeen. That she makes to herself and everyone else she hadn’t been able to protect or save.

    With a small nod, she turns to go. Her wings are still flared and they rise to take flight but she pauses as her gaze lands on the destroyed remains of the wisteria tree, the one that had once meant so much to her and signified everything she had lost in her previous life. “Nashua misses his son.” She says over her shoulder, her expression unreadable with her face cloaked in shadow. “Make that right at least.” And then she takes to the sky, a flurry of starlit raven feathers and sanguine light.

    -- Ciri

    Image by Phil Botha


    @ Mazikeen
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