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    Firion -- Year 217


    "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]  my heart has started to separate, atrox


    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    She had forgotten how warm Tephra could be. After years spent living in the mountains of Hyaline, the humid jungles of the volcanic kingdom felt heavy, like a warm weight that she couldn’t quite shake. She didn’t steal away from the kingdom often—mostly because she is afraid Savior would think she is unhappy with her decision to live there again, which is not the case—but ever since she had felt the first fluttering of new life inside of her, she was certain the sun had moved closer to the earth. The only semblance of relief she could find was to leave the kingdom for a few hours in favor of a cooler climate, usually favoring the forest.

    Here, where the shadows of the trees stretched on for infinity, she could finally breathe a sigh of almost relief. Almost, because there did not seem to be anything that could displace the sorrow that rooted itself inside of her chest ever since her mother had been killed. Even though the winter air was cool against her skin—she felt a shiver travel down the length of her spine, chased by an armor of white scales—it did nothing to ease the ache in her heart.

    Today she had landed along the river at the northernmost part of the forest, and she cannot help but to seek out the large mountain range that she knew just beyond laid her previous home. And when she feels a pang in her chest at the thought of it it is not so much because she misses the land itself (Savior, she had learned, was home, and returning to Hyaline never crosses her mind anymore), but because she knows that inside of it is where her mother rests, guarded always by her brother’s magic. 

    She wonders if she will ever find it in herself to return, but because running is the only thing she has ever known, she is almost certain she will not.

    Adjusting the dragon wings at her side she turns her back on the mountains, surprised at how quickly she had decided she would rather return home, heat and all. But from the corner of her eye the faint afternoon sunlight reflects off something yellow, and in a blink her ice-blue eyes shift to something sharp and draconic, piercing the dark to find what she thinks are a pair of familiar eyes. “Atrox?” she says his name softly, almost hesitantly, and she feels her chest constrict at the thought of having to face maybe the only one that could lay claim to the same grief that she was drowning under.

    @ atrox

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    He cannot outrun his pain.

    He cannot outhunt his fury.

    He carries it with him, day and night, and he feels himself changed by the weight of it. It is different from the kind of bloodlust that once brought him to rain down his fury on kingdoms and slit the throats of any who would oppose him. It is different from the pain of being rejected by the Chamber. It is different from the loneliness of being forgotten, the panther-king wasting away in the shadows of that pine kingdom.

    This is eternal, and heavy, and he would break under it if he did not carry the hope of reversing it.

    If he did not think he could find a solution to bring her back.

    (He has to bring her back. He has to make this right.)

    He has grown tired of terrorizing the prey population of Hyaline though and so his black mood carries him to the forest where he slaughters a different herd. His feline mouth is painted red with the lifeblood of the deer, but his belly is empty—he has no hunger for the things that he kills these days.

    It is only when he sees the flash of blue and white that he pauses, shifting back into his equine self. He stalks forward, unafraid of the young dragon (maybe she would kill him and he could find Ryatah in the afterlife, heaven knows he is familiar with it). If the pain in her own face is a mirror, he ignores it. Instead he focuses on how the lines of her look so familiar to Ryatah that his throat constricts.

    She is not his own, but she may as well be.

    “Casi,” he says her name softly, unsure of where they stood but the thought of being close to someone so familiar nearly breaking him. His voice is thick with unshed tears, and he steps forward again.

    “How have—“ he starts before stopping, shaking his head.

    It was a silly question to ask.

    He knew exactly how she had been.


    @ Casimira
    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes



    dragon-shifting daughter of ashhal and ryatah

    The way he says her name feels as though someone is trying to wring her heart in their hands, because while she knew he was grieving it was still so unlike Atrox to ever let any kind of emotion slip. But she hears it in his voice, sees it raw on his face, and she finds that now she has to bite back her own tears, swallowing them away before they can darken the ice-blue of her eyes. She had never met her own father, and growing up there had never been a man in her mother’s life long enough to pass as a stand-in. Until Atrox, of course, and though Casimira was fully grown by that point he had still filled a space she hadn’t realized she was bothered by being vacant.

    Leaving Hyaline had felt a little like abandoning him during the worst possible moment, but she also knew he likely wanted to be alone in handling his grief.

    She had lost her mother, but Atrox had lost his other half, and while they were both a different kind of heartbreak, she didn't think she would survive losing Savior.

    “I’m okay,” she answers his half-spoken question anyway, forcing a wan smile. She can smell the dried blood that still clings to him, and while it causes her draconic eyes to briefly sharpen she pushes that hunger away. She tried to avoid hunting, especially since it was only in the last few years she had managed to gain any kind of control of her dragon form at all. But she cannot blame Atrox for the way he chooses to assuage whatever pain he might be feeling; she can’t say that she wouldn’t do the same.

    “I went back to Tephra,” and she recalls how that was actually the first place she had ever seen him; the lone panther that stalked the jungle, who would later become the father to her half-sister, Aislyn. She doesn’t know the full story of why Atrox had chosen Tephra in the first place, or why he had decided to leave, but she knows enough that she feels as though she needs to tread with caution when mentioning the jungle kingdom. “Savior and I rule it together, but it still doesn’t seem right to call myself a queen. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wish my—” I wish my mom was here, is what she almost starts to say but she quickly stops herself, though not before her eyes catch his apologetically. “Everything is just hard right now,” she finishes softly, turning her face away from his.

    @ atrox

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    He has never grieved in front of anyone before, except Ryatah, and it is a foreign sensation. There is no small part of him that tries to tamp it down. That tries to swallow it whole. But his grief is too large, too vast, too all-consuming and it pours out of him, radiating out of every inch of him.

    His eyes sharpen on her as she lies, knowing that she’s not okay—could anyone be right now—but he doesn’t comment further on it. He may not be able to control his own sorrow but that did not mean he didn’t respect her right to her privacy. If she wanted to grieve in private, then he’d give her the chance.

    Instead he waits quietly, feeling that non-existent heart of his squeeze painfully when she mentions Tephra. It’s been years since he ventured back there. Years since he forced himself to look for the sight of sun-dappled gold and the flecked eyes looking back at him vacantly. He’d take Magnus’ fury and hate over the bland pleasantries that he is sure he would see now—that emptiness where history should live.

    But, regardless, it feels right that Ryatah’s daughter would be there.

    That Magnus’ home would be in such safe hands.

    “You are every bit a Queen,” he says with the barest curve to his scarred mouth and the emotions that flicker in his yellow eyes is unreadable. “I have seen more than my fair share of rulers, both very good and very bad, and trust me when I say that I know a good one when I see one.” He takes a chance to breach the distance between them, touching his muzzle to her cheek briefly. “The good ones worry.”

    At what she doesn’t say, he swallows, his face hardening and mouth growing tight.

    “It is hard,” his voice is roughened on the edges, “but she would be proud of you.”

    He bites back the emotion in his throat.

    “I’m proud of you.”

    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes


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