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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


    [open quest]  will you fight? or will you perish like a dog?; round III
    #11

    There had been a roaring in his ears as he fell. He remembers flaring his wings, twisting his body, angling himself away from the void. But he fell and fell, and even after he had stilled, the rushing sound continued. Bolder is suspended somewhere, caught between two worlds, and being the headstrong creature that he is, the young stallion twists and fights against it, realizing that something was happening without knowing what it was. Panic rises in his chest and it makes him jerk his moon-marked head up and back; the whites of his eyes flash angrily where nothing - except himself - exists.

    The sound remains - a booming echo that reverberates through him like a storm - and yet when the striped pegasus looks up, he is startled to find blue sky. It takes a moment for his vision to clear, but amidst the thundering noise, Bolder hears more. There is birdsong, and the clacking of bare branches as a crisp, autumn breeze moves through the trees. His golden-striped forelegs glint in the sunlight, and they (unknowingly) attract the notice of a sentry moving through these same woods. Still unaccustomed to this world (and everything that had happened; had he really been in the Dark? Had he really tried to dig to help a God?), Bolder doesn't know that he is being watched.

    That there had been eyes on him since that morning, when the first group patrolling had noticed the fallen pegasi among the leaf litter, where parts of him had gleamed and other parts had glowed, and they had stayed away.

    All but one.

    One of the younger Guards - an almost black pegasus, save for a single front sock and bi-colored eyes - had been granted permission to approach from their Commander. "Lovelace would not permit this. He is injured, and will need a Healer." There had been others who had disagreed. They were kept safe from the Outside. War wouldn't come here. There was no sickness; no famine or frailty in the young and old; no corruption in a place so harmonious that its very name in their language meant Paradise.

    They had all these things, and yet, as most deals made, it came with a price.
    There was no (or very little in those days) Magic, and there were certainly no outsiders.

    As Bolder attempted to stand, his ears snaked back in warning. His teeth clashed and bared as the other winged horse approached. He looked like a wild, feral thing compared to the other stallion who came to stand with his wings tucked neatly against his onyx sides. "Your wings," cautiously said the Guard, and Bolder attempted to flare them in warning only to curse out loud at the pain when he tried to raise them. "We have someone who can mend them, if you can follow us."

    "Why should I?" Bolder snarled back, to which the other replied coolly, "Why should you?"

    And then turned to leave him, turned back to the vanguard of other horses in various shades of gold, leaving Bolder to the chatter of the birds and the hum of something still ringing in his ears. He was a stranger here, with no Pack and no shelter and no ability to shift. When the last member of the group had turned away from him, he winced and his auburn wings sagged. Alone and injured, something was likely to kill him.

    Perhaps the party he very begrudgingly called out to "Wait" would be the culprit.

    ****


    True to their word, they healed him.

    ("Why?" Bolder asked the former Guard - then promoted to Captain during a Ceremony in which he learned the name of the black pegasus, Aurean. He simply shrugged and replied, "Why not?")

    (They attended a meeting together, a gathering at Guardian's Ledge. "That's Alvaro," Aurean explained. "The protector of this place. It's his Magic - granted by the Winds - that keeps up concealed. None may enter and none may leave," he continued, staring at Bolder a moment too long. As if he already knew that Bolder was thinking he had broken one of their laws, and would eventually have to break another one day.)

    (One night, Aurean's patrol ended early. He found Bolder awake, and the pair talked until nearly all the stars had faded from the sky. "I could shapeshift, once." Bolder admitted, "Well, too. You could blink, and I would be something else. A squirrel. A snail. A wolf." His friend laughed. "Why would you want to be anything than what you are?" He shrugged in return. "Why not?")

    A lifetime begins to pass.
    Bolder found lovers and sired children.
    He spent years on the edge of the herd, accepted and yet deemed somewhat strange (though not a stranger anymore).
    He joined their Guard, climbed their Ranks.
    Until the day that a patrol went out, and the Captain didn't come back.

    So Bolder went against orders, and went to search for Aurean.

    ****


    What he found was darkness. It was shadow and yet it moved like it had a tangible shape. As if Bolder could get close enough, there would be skin or feathers or fur beneath his touch. It was something, and yet nothing, and yet -

    Yet, the energy emanating from it was almost gleeful.

    It hovered between the trees, moving through them instead of around them. It mirrored his movements, like his own shadow had once done (until he and Sickle had discovered it could otherwise). Two steps left, three steps right, and when he spun around to spread his wings and quickly fly away, the Beast speared him through his thick neck with a talon (how quickly it changed!) Bolder had stood beneath the tree canopy, where the sunlight couldn't reach them, where the powers of the Beast were strongest, where it could create and therefore kill.

    "I made quick work of the others," it said in a voice that sounded like smoke. "I can't say it will be the same for you." Agony ripped through him as the Beast did. Bolder fought - for himself, for Aurean, for the family he left behind and for the life he had built here - before eventually falling into Death, and surrendering to a life well lived.

    ****


    And then it is bright again.

    Bolder finds himself on the Mountain, trying to chase away the thoughts of that past life like a bad dream. Trying to understand what has happened, what is real and what is not, and finding the now-desecrated ground beneath his hooves offer little certainty, so Bolder turns his silver gaze where it can not doubt: on Carnage, their God.


    Hello! Please scramble expressed, [Moon Halo]; for carried, [invisibility] and [infrared vision].
    and claiming shadows as his 0-space trait <3
    [Image: 37477440_mkk7ul7XODhpdJ7.png]
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