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  • Beqanna

    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]  the clock is ticking and we can't stop
    #1
    Myrna watches the sun rise. It climbs slowly over the western mountains, heralded by the colorful sky. The young filly looks up at the streaks of red and pink and gold in the sky, and a smile turns up the edges of her mouth.

    A gust of wind blows in from the north, smelling of salt and cold. Narrowing her blue-grey eyes, the filly wonders how long she might have before the snow begins to fall. Half a day at least, she decides, long enough that she might have time to reach the lake and return.

    Wearing the shape of a colorful young goat, the girl that has only ever known the name Myrna makes her way down the mountainside. She is nearly as pale as the coming snow, white with the palest touch of gold. Her eyes are the same shade as the blue-shadowed granite she climbs down, deep and dark and far too knowing for a girl so young.

    But she is more than just a girl, and that is clear when between one rock and the next she grows a pair of wings. Myrna had been thinking of the birds that circled overhead, wondering if one of them might be a shifter, and her body had changed of its own accord. She stops, turning to look at the unexpected new limbs.

    In her equine shape, Myrna has wings, but they are not wings like these. These are wings that could carry her in flight, not the downy feathered baby wings of her true shape. Most of the feathers are the same palest palomino of her coat, but at the shoulder they are slashed in shades of blue. This is what her wings might look like someday, she realizes, when she is a grown up and ready to fly.

    She quickly loses her grip on the manifestation, the limbs disappearing into her sides and leaving her as unremarkable as any of the doelings that might linger in this rocky Hyaline meadow. She isn’t ready to fly yet, that much is clear. Huffing at this confirmation of what she has been told, Myrna resumes her trek down toward the lake shore, doing her best to remain aware of her surroundings but quite often distracted by something exciting.

    Playing tag and-bump-the-head with a pair of rock lambs, sampling some colorful yellow flowers and tucking a few more into the mane that grows down the length of her back, soft and still upright. The snow grows shallower as she makes her way down to the valley, and she remembers Malik telling her that in summer it would be gone entirely. That seems impossible to a girl who has known only one season - snowy spring - but her brother does know quite a lot and he hadn’t looked like he was lying when he told her.

    By the time she stands beside the lake, the mid-morning sun is high and bright, and its reflection glitters in the water ahead of her. Should she jump in, she thinks? Malik had shown her the shape of a seal once; Myrna thinks she might be able to imitate it. But what if she loses control underwater? Alone, she might not be able to swim to the surface. Deciding against such a shift, the filly instead begins to meander along the shore, nosing curiously at the rocks along the water’s edge.
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    #2

    m a z i k e e n .


    Sometimes, she knows, she doesn’t manage to get her face under control. Sometimes when she looks at Myrna and Malik, her heartbreak is there shining in her eyes and takes a moment to remind herself to smile. Other times it takes the gentle nudge from a golden nose or a frown on her children’s face to snap her back into the present, to bury thoughts of Gale again. It is good to feel, she tells herself this constantly, but it is better to do it some places instead of others.

    This morning, as she watches Myrna meander along the shore of the lake from a short distance away, all Mazikeen can hear is the Curse telling her he’d come for her. For Vizsla. Their bond has been quiet - she knew when he woke in the mountains, knew when he left, and she’s been trying to stop the stray thought from entering her mind.

    His cruel voice echoes in her mind now, punctuated by the sound of the bones in her legs snapping, but she has to believe it is only a memory and not him willfully taunting her.

    Only one thing ever seems to banish these thoughts, even temporarily, and that is company. So Mazikeen shakes off her hesitation and trots over to Myrna, a small smile in her orange eyes. Her coat remains as unblemished as the snow in the high mountains, and today she wears her horns as two small fawn cones that just barely peek out of her mane. She draws close, reaching out to adjust one of the yellow flowers in the girl’s spinal mane so that it won’t fall out, and asks curiously “What are you looking for, Myrna?”

     


    @ Viszla
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    #3
    “Oh hey Mama,” Myrna says, looking up only long enough to identify Mazikeen before returning her attention to the rocky shoreline. “I’m lookin’ for a frog. They’re really hoppy and are about that color.”

    With one downy limb, she points toward the ever green pines that make up the high altitude forests, a deep rich shade like Malik has told her the frogs of the river wear. They’re all the same color, too, her brother had said: small and hairless and slimey. Myrna has never seen a reptile before; it is too cold here in her home for such things to survive. Naturally, she is fascinated.

    “Have you ever seen a frog, Mama? What are they like?”

    Her mother has seen everything, Myrna is sure, so the anticipation is bright in her storm blue eyes. Perhaps Mazikeen has even caught one, like Malik said he had. But he couldn’t tell her what it tasted like, and the palomino filly is morbidly curious about such things.

    Looking at her mother more closely now as she waits for a story, Myrna notices that her horns are smaller today. More like Myrna’s, the girl thinks, and smiles. She likes when they match. They match in other ways today too, both stocky and pale in their equine shapes, and with a soft noise of contentment the filly nestles her head against her mother’s shoulder.

    It is warm here, tucked under her mother’s wing, and once she is settled in most comfortably she looks up expectantly, waiting for her story.

    @ Mazikeen
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    #4

    m a z i k e e n .



    Mazikeen’s heart seizes a little bit when Myrna calls her mama, just like it always does. A flush of happiness and grief mix inside of her as she watches the filly gesture to the green pines while continuing to check out the shore. She sees more of actual Gale in the young filly. the one who had asked her questions after their alliance fight and the one who had shown her around Islandres.

    Maybe this is what Sickle and Malik would’ve been like if the pair who had spent that day together ever stood a chance.

    Fortunately, the subject of frogs doesn’t allow for much wallowing - and it is so easy for Mazikeen to find a smile when Myrna nestles her head against her shoulder.

    She drapes a white wing over the girl, squeezing lightly as she replies. “I have seen a frog. They are very hoppy and very fun to chase. When you’re a little older we’ll go to the river to find some.” It is tempting to try to keep both Malik and Myrna in this kingdom forever but Mazikeen knows that isn’t practical. Malik simply wouldn’t allow her to and she couldn’t try to shut away her daughter. It would only make her want to roam more.

    So first Myrna would be taught out to defend herself, what shapes she could choose for a fast getaway. And, hopefully, Mazikeen would be able to mend some bridges that would give her daughter somewhere safe to go if she ever needed to.

    “When I was your age and I was learning to shift I liked to try to catch them. I’d become a little cat go splashing around. It was fun just to chase them, but once I actually caught one and tried to bite it and my tongue got all coated in slime.” Mazikeen makes an exaggerated disgusted face, sticking out her tongue a little bit as she says this last bit - though she can’t stop smiling while she does. “So I spat him back out and he just hopped away with two little tooth marks in him like no big deal. Which worked out well because my mom told me later that day that some frogs are poisonous and it could've made me sick.” Agetta had probably learned that from someone else but it was entertaining to imagine her mother as a snow leopard, pouncing through ponds to catch frogs.


     


    @ Viszla
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    #5
    Tucked tightly against her mother’s side, Myrna breathes in the familiar scent of fur and feathers. She feels safe and warm and happy, and all across her body, a pattern of light begins to appear. Glowing markings like those of both her parents. Hidden under her mother’s wing, Myrna doesn’t notice the change, which is good because I haven’t yet decided what it will be.

    She is too focused on what her mother has to say on the subject of frogs to feel the difference. They’re fun to chase, Mazikeen says, and then dangles the possibility of being able to catch one herself in front of Myrna. The girl’s blue-grey eyes grow very wide with excitement. She is much more enamored with the possibility of catching a frog than of leaving Hyaline, being too young yet to feel confined by her mountainous home.

    “Oh yes!” She says, “I would like that very much!”

    Myrna has mastered only two types of shifting: the small goat and the color teal. Her mother talks of shifting into a cat to chase frogs, so Myrna decides that she will master a cat before she gets very much older. She doesn’t know what slime tastes like, but her mother’s expression makes it very clear. Myrna mimics her face as best she can, reconsidering the prospect of eating one. Perhaps Malik had been telling the truth.

    When her mother continues, Myrna misses the importance of poison, too distracted by what else she has revealed.

    You have a mom too?!” Her disbelief is nearly palpable, from her open mouth to the incredulous way her wide eyes narrow as she struggles to digest this strange fact. She knows that there are other horses in the world, but they are not her family. Family has always been a very small group. Her mother, her brother, and the Searcher (who despite her efforts to attract their watchful eye, never seems to notice her, but is as frequent a presence as her brother’s companion, and about whom she has never spoken).

    “Are you sure?” She is not ready to believe that her mother would lie to her - or even that she could lie at all. But surely if her mother had a mother, she would be here, just like Mazikeen is here for Myrna? The girl tries to picture the mysterious woman. She must be at least a thousand feet tall, she imagines, since she would surely be taller than Mazikeen just like Mazikeen is taller than Myrna.

    @ Mazikeen
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    #6

    m a z i k e e n .



    Mazikeen’s grin brightens further when Myrna mimics her face, a soft chuckle escaping her. And there’s another when Myrna’s disbelief over the existence of Agetta is so obvious. But even though she laughs, a little bit of guilt seizes her. The little fact of her parents existing probably could’ve come up a little sooner, right?

    Not that Mazikeen had seen either of them in a while but maybe it was time to start telling Myrna of all those that were part of her family - blood and otherwise. All those faces she hoped would be friendly again one day.

    “Of course I have a mom, you silly goat.” She reaches down to brush her muzzle against Myrna’s forehead and the little horns nestled next to the filly’s short mane. “Her name is Agetta. She lives somewhere else though... the last time she was here I wasn’t very nice to her.” Mazikeen had wanted to make sure Agetta wouldn’t come back, and it would seem she had done that job very effectively. For a moment she frowns, looking out across the lake. The sensation of missing her mom isn’t one that she has experienced often. Her parents had raised her until Maze started wandering and then she had found a new, different family with Daye and Sochi and Breach. And though she had visited with her mom and dad up until things started to unravel, it's only now that she begins to want to see them again.

    She finds a smile when she looks back down at Myrna and squeezes lightly with her wing again. “I bet she’d like to meet you, though. She's who taught me how to shapeshift.” And then, after a small pause. “Your eyes are almost the same dark blue as hers.”


     


    @ Viszla
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    #7
    Myrna giggles at the nickname - she is a silly goat sometimes, isn’t she?! - and at the flutter of excitement that her mother’s revelation has brought to life. The golden filly considers her family to be her very favorites, so the prospect of even more is thrilling! Her name is Agetta, Mazikeen says, and Myrna repeats it happily to herself.

    That she lives somewhere else does make sense, because surely she would have come to see Myrna if she had lived in the mountains. How not nice had the things she had said been, Mazikeen wonders, that Agetta had never come back?

    If Myrna is not nice to her mother, will she leave too?

    Worry is not a familiar emotion to the girl, and she looks up to find her mother frowning across the lake. Is she thinking of not nice things that Myrna had said? Myrna does try to be good but sometimes Malik just needs a little goatling’s headbutt, and the flowers on the high ledges she’s not supposed to climb are sometimes too tasty to resist.

    Eventually Mazikeen looks back down at her with a smile, but Myrna still makes a promise to herself to be nicer, just in case.

    Agetta would like to meet her, her mother says, and she is a shifter. This news banishes the brief cloud of worry that has crossed her face. Her smile returns, as bright as the summer sunshine against her stormy blue eyes. These she blinks, as though she might be able to see the color of them herself if she looks hard enough.

    “When can I meet her? My...” she trails off, not sure exactly what to refer to Agetta as, because surely she has a family name - like Mom or Brother. “My mom-mom?”

    @ Mazikeen
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    #8

    m a z i k e e n .



    For about the thousandth time, Mazikeen is so grateful for the return of her emotions as she stands with Myrna. Although Malik had not seemed to suffer greatly for being raised by her uncaring self, this was better - wasn’t it? Feeling the way the filly’s smile banishes her doubt and grief, the beyond wonderful joy of having her choose to be close to Mazikeen rather than forced into it. These moments are precious and sweet and mean everything to the white mare who once again laughs with warmth as Myrna asks when she can meet her mom-mom.

    “Your grandma. But you can call her mom-mom if you want.” Mazikeen teases the filly’s ears a little before answering. “Soon, I hope. When we’re hunting for frogs we’ll see if we can find her.” Beqanna was a big place and she was not sure where Agetta might be. They could go to Ischia and ask Mazikeen’s sister, but she had never sought Beyza out before and it was far too close to Tephra and Islandres for her liking. So she just had to hope to see a glimpse of her mom whenever she found the desire to leave Hyaline again.

    “And my dad too, if we’re lucky.” Bringing up the subject of dads was always a little bit like shouting in the mountains - the potential of it starting an avalanche that would bury her under less-pleasant emotions was always there. With stubbornness, Mazikeen focuses on her own rather than Myrna's father - thinking of the sad, kind stallion who had helped raise her. “Your grandpa.” It entertains Mazikeen to think of her parents with these names - though she’s sure they’ve both been called them before. Or, at least, have had grandchildren before.


     


    @ Viszla
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    #9
    Soon, her mother promises. Soon is not right now, which is not fun, but it might also mean tomorrow or the day after, so Myrna’s expression remains bright. It’s the mention of frogs that threatens it again, because frogs are for ‘when she’s a little older’, and that is definitely longer away than the day after tomorrow.

    When she’s older, is when she’ll have feathers on her wings
    When she’s older is forever away.

    “Or maybe sooner.” She adds to her mother’s words, nodding her head at this reasonable amendment to their plans. Myrna feels even more certain of this when her mother names yet another family member - a grandpa - and Myrna looks up to meet Mazikeen’s gaze.

    “I’ve been practicing getting bigger,” she tells Mazikeen, “Malik said I couldn’t go with him on ‘ventures till I was bigger, so I can almost do it. Maybe I’m big enough now?” Her words are hopeful, as earnest as her expression. If her mother forgets she’d said ‘older’ and not ‘bigger’, perhaps she can pull it off, and if she can keep the hand of height that she’s added to herself just now.

    She looks older too, a teenager like her brother rather than the nursling she’d been a moment before. Her horns are bigger (her favorite part of this manipulation!) and have begun to twist, demonstrating an unmistakable likeness to her mother’s.

    “What do you think?” Is she big enough to chase down frogs, her hopeful expression says, is she tall enough to meet her grandparents?

    @ Mazikeen
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    #10

    m a z i k e e n .



    Her smile grows a little when Myrna amends ‘when we’re looking for frogs’ to sooner than that. She would like for it to be sooner, so she plans on agreeing with this adjustment when her daughter continues to talk. Talking about how she’s been practicing getting bigger - and then Mazikeen can feel the change beneath her wing as she sees it take place.

    She tries to fight it but her expression crumples as she watches Myrna become older (at least visibly) right before her eyes. Like all those precious moments she never got with Sickle, all the ones she did not have the ability to care about with Malik and the ones she loved so much with Myrna, are just wiped away and she’s failed at being a mother yet again.

    She should be proud - it is an impressive manipulation - but all she feels is horror and grief.

    And she knows these reactions are shining with tears in her eyes so she’s quick to reach down again, a soft touch against her too-tall daughter’s cheek. It takes a second to get her voice to come out in a way that isn’t strangled, but it is softer than it had been a moment ago. “We’ll start looking for them tomorrow.” Mazikeen promises and means it.

    Being honest about her emotions has been a terrifying (and freeing) change - but Mazikeen does not think her children need to carry the full burden of her honesty. It still doesn’t feel right, falling apart in front of them, and she does her best not to.

    “I'm sorry.” She apologizes for her tears first and then offers an explanation, a sad smile in her orange eyes as she pulls back enough to look at Myrna again. “Just… just don’t try to grow up too fast, okay?”


     


    @ Viszla
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