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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 saw the end in the mist of the river
    #1

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    His legs itch to escape, bitter memories shoved as far back as he can quell them. He’s not certain he would ever be able to look at these cliffs the same way. And yet, it is still as much a home as anything ever had been. Logic tells him he is not trapped, but instinct is such a hard beast to beat.

    So he does the only thing he can - he charges into it with all the reckless abandon he can muster.

    Though perhaps in this case charge is not the right word. More accurately, he walks with steadfast footfalls despite the itch raging along his skin demanding flight. Rune is near - an undeniable, if unacknowledged, comfort. He hadn’t been there then. His presence serves as irrefutable proof that he is no longer trapped in a nightmare.

    He might have laughed at that if his chest weren’t so heavy. If laughter didn’t feel like a world apart. But he would not let that nightmare win. Not when these wild moors are as much a part of him now as his bones.

    Instead he simply breathes in the salty tang of the air, the whispers of heather and peat tangling along the edges. There is a familiarity here that hadn’t been there then. It’s foolish to think his nightmare is domestication in this untameable land. And yet, it makes more sense than he had ever imagined. The brutality of sameness would always be the end of him.

    With slow steps, he finds the cliffs overlooking the narrow strait separating his brother’s lands from his. He would need to find him soon. With so much change - so much hanging on this dangerous precipice - he needs to. But today, this moment, this heartbeat of time, he focuses instead on conquering the fear in his heart. There is no room for such a dangerous emotion in his life. Not right now. Not ever, if he can help it.

    reave



    Nashua
    Reply
    #2

    Nashua has spent a great deal of time in the past.

    His last conversation with his mother had been about places gone and names that had long been forgotten. She had talked with him late into the night, like she had known that when it had ended, they might not be granted another like that one. So Lilliana had told him all she knew about the ancient lands, about the places his ancestors had come from and the stories that had accompanied them.

    She had recited every story, trying to trace them back to their last known origins. (’Your great-grandsire was a stallion by the name of Trystane. He came from a place from where the Mountains almost reached the sky, and his coat was as red as the blood he spilled from his rivals. He was cruel, Nashua, and it was that cruelty that eventually killed him. His death was barbarous, and there was none there to soften the blow of it.’ ‘I know you didn’t get along with your grandmother, Nash, but she has known much loss, and it makes it that much harder to be given anything after.’ ’Your grandfather was the kindest man I have ever known, and even when he had little to share, it never stopped him from giving what he had. Nothing in this life is worthless, and even when it feels like little to you, it might matter to another.’)

    She had gone to Tephra, he later learned, and then she had never come back.

    There had been too much anger in him after that. Gale was responsible for it. Nash knew that much. But after Lilliana had gone, Nash had become too angry over the loss of his twin and the theft of his son. There had been too much loss, and something in him had broken after that. He continued to break, break his relationship with Noel, break his bonds with his children and even Leilan. Until there was nothing left to break.

    He kept watch over the North and limited himself to the Isle.

    Cheri had not come. The Accord fell apart, like so many other things in his life. And he knows that things cannot continue like this. He can keep the Isle. He can watch over that lonely place. But the rest of this place is haunted to him, and he rarely leaves Beqanna’s most northern point anymore. Today is the first time in a long time, and when he soars over the proud ledges of Nerine, he almost feels something akin to pride for this place.

    His youngest brother on the ledges - daring, bold Reave - does not surprise him and the Northern lord lands swiftly on the edge of their world.

    ”Shame you don’t have a pair of these,” he’s quick to call out and stretches his speckled wings wide before snapping them sharply shut against his copper barrel as he approached Reave. ”I think you might have made a capable pegasus.”

    Reave

    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #3

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    There is no surprise in his masked features as he watches his brother’s approach. He hadn’t come here for him today, yet it is entirely expected. A small piece of the future tucked away in his mind that burgeoned into reality. He cannot say he had ventured here because he had known this would happen (it would be a lie), but neither can he say he hadn’t.

    The future has always been such a strange, fickle thing. He has long since given up trying to understand it.

    Nothing has gone the way they had imagined it would these last long months. Reave can see the weight of it in the weary lines of Nashua’s features. Unlike his winged brother, Reave has always been delighted by the unpredictable. Still, even he cannot fathom it all the time. Even he bears the weight of struggle on his bone-armored shoulders. Bone now etched with the tales of his hubris.

    Yet he pushes forward with the tenacity of his heritage. He would not bow beneath this.

    A faint grin quirks one corner of his mobile lips at his elder sibling’s words. His blue eyes glint beneath the glow of his mask, as vibrant as they are unrelenting. “Maybe.” He can’t quite seem to bite back the teasing rejoinder that falls from his lips in response. “But how could I deprive you of having at least one thing to be better than me at?”

    He falls silent for the barest heartbeat before a laugh bursts from his lips. Even heavy with the burdens of his own fault, he can’t seem to quell his familiar reckless abandon.

    When his laughter fades, he eyes Nashua carefully, expression shifting into something far more serious. Something edged with the decisions they must now make. After a moment, a soft sigh escapes Reave’s lips before he continues. “We have some important things to discuss, Nashua.” A heavy pause. "It's time for Nerine to step forward."

    reave



    Nashua
    Reply
    #4

    ”Just the one?”

    Nashua quips back, and for a moment, it was almost easy to forget their earlier conversation. It was almost easy to forget that Reave had given him pause. There was still some dark part of him that wondered if his youngest brother had anything to do with the disappearance of another, Yanhua.

    But no, he chided himself.

    Reave had proven himself over the last few months. Nerine had been quiet, but remained strong. Steadfast and resilient, as Nash knew the Northerners to be. The Isle had been quiet, as Taiga had been. But unlike the South, it still existed. His thoughts turned to worry again; the striped pegasus had flown many times over the landbridge (the last piece of Loess still standing), searching for a trace of Cheri or any other Loessians.

    Nothing had turned up over the months, and just as Nashua expanded his border patrols well into Tephra and the Common Lands, his niece became one more face that he looked for.

    And there was only so much searching he could do as King.

    His expression turned somber as their joking faded. The cold salt air blew past him and Nash tightened his wings, walking slowly as he approached Reave. ”I know,” he said with a firm nod of his blazed face. ”That's why I’m here.” He told his youngest sibling. ”The North should have never been moved from Nerine,” Nashua quietly confided to Reave, ”I would have one thing I ask of you, though, before it is restored.” The old Northerner lilt - a clipped tone - gave a hint of warning at the edge of his words. ”Gale might still be out there.” He continued on grimly.

    There had been no news of his death. But that had been the problem: there had been no news about his half-brother at all.

    ”Under no circumstances is he to be allowed in the North.”

    Reave

    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #5

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    Humor shades the blue depths of his gaze, a smile stretching his lips at Nashua’s quick rejoinder. It seems grim worry had not stolen all of his brother’s good humor after all. He says nothing in return however, instead allowing a raised brow and easy grin to be his response. As much as they might like to fall into banter and forget their true reasons for being here, Reave is as incapable as Nashua of doing so.

    Unlike his brother though, Reave is far less worried over Cheri’s fate. She has more talent even than she once knew, and her future had not ended in a saltwater grave. He has little doubt that they’ll find one another again someday.

    Of the remaining Loessian’s, he can’t say he is particularly worried about any of their fates (with perhaps one exception, though given her penchant for swimming with sharks, he would be very surprised if she hadn’t survived). If Rune were paying attention, he would have scolded him for the lack of moral fortitude in his thoughts. Fortunately for Reave however, the large bird is currently distracted.

    Perhaps Nash does have a right to be worried about Reave’s motives, though not for the reasons he is.

    As his brother’s expression fades into sobriety, Reave tilts his head, considering the pegasus openly. Nashua’s words elicit little more than a twitch of his lips in response. His remaining council he keeps to himself until his elder sibling has made his request. It’s easy enough to read the warning in Nash’s tone, though it is hardly one Reave needs.

    Truthfully, Reave does not have strong feelings towards their cursed relation one way or the other (another moral failing, no doubt). Still, he is not blind. Reave might be a lover of chaos, but he also enjoys his life. Death walks in Gale’s wake, and Reave is not eager to find out if the curse would bring his with it. The future is so heavily predicated on choice that despite how much he might wish to see that particular thread, he cannot. He cannot simply because it is a choice he will never make.

    “Easily done,” he replies after a moment of thoughtful silence, lips slipping briefly into a grimace before resuming a familiar, faintly amused half-smile. He doubts Nashua would appreciate his reasons for agreeing, but the end result is the same. “I have no more desire to invite him here than you.”

    He pauses a moment, gaze darkening as it fixes carefully on his brother’s familiar features. “Will you keep the Isle, or pass it on to another?”

    reave



    Nashua
    Reply
    #6

    Perhaps it was because of Reave’s love of chaos that Nashua was never entirely certain where his younger brother stood. Whatever path he might take was bound to be erratic.

    The last few years in Beqanna had been quiet, apart from the sinking of the South. No kingdoms had declared on each other; in fact, none that he knew of even offered aid to those escaping the devastation and ruin. Tephra was as quiet as Hyaline and the Isle had no more of a presence than either of them.

    In any other era, that quiet might have been taken as peace and Beqanna might have thrived under it. But in this one, Nashua thought they were all drowning under a weight of silent grief. If not from losing a loved one in the floods, then from the Darkness or some ailment, or perhaps through their own penchant for ruin, like him.

    Maybe something would be better than the silence.

    ”It’s more than inviting,” Nashua told Lilliana’s youngest son. ”No deals, no alliances, nothing. Gale is volatile and dangerous and the North must have nothing to do with him.” His Cursed half-sibling had once been King in Hyaline, and then in Tephra. That had been some time ago, but Nashua knew better now. He once thought by following the lead his mother and twin had set for him - that they were to never speak of the Curse - would be the thing to erase it from living memory.

    But an evil like that doesn’t just fade, and the former leader of the North didn’t doubt that the brindled stallion was out there somewhere, biding his time. The Isle, Taiga, and Nerine would have nothing to do with the accursed creature. Not until the very end, whenever that came. An end that Nashua was convinced would involve the Mountain.

    Reave’s half-smile distracted him from those darker thoughts, and Nashua nodded his blazed head. Good. That was settled, and it allowed them to move their conversation to other important topics. ”I’ll remain on the Isle for a while,” the Freyr replied. He cast a side-long look to his youngest sibling and then smirked slightly, ”Keep an eye on things.” He teased Reave before his expression sobered again.

    Turning his face to the sea, Nashua sighed.

    ”Then I might, I don’t know. Explore the Beyond. Perhaps try to find some of the lands Mother used to speak of.” Windskeep, Paraiso, places that Nashua hadn’t even believed in until Ori had shown up, proving that they really existed. Maybe that really was where Yanhua and Amarine had gone. ”Do you… Can you see anything out there?”

    Reave

    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #7

    i am the mace, the map, the fall and the high

    In some silences, there is peace. In others however, it is merely the breath before the storm. This is the latter. Tragedy has already struck, but it is not the kind that brings peace in its wake. Strife would undoubtedly rise once the breath has been released, and Reave would be ready for it. He has little other choice.

    And perhaps he even looks forward to it.

    Nashua on the other hand, would not. That is, in a way, their greatest difference. In times of peace, his brother would be the ideal leader for the Northern kingdom. In times of lawlessness however? Reave is undeniably better equipped to handle it.

    Despite his insistence on beating a dead horse, Reave knows Nashua is aware of that fact. Lips quirking in a wry smirk, the armored stallion eyes his brother with exasperated amusement. “Your confidence in my ability to understand is inspiring,” he comments dryly, blue eyes gleaming. “But you can rest assured I have no desire to have my heart eaten, here or anywhere else.”

    Shifting restlessly, Reave watches his brother closely as the conversation continues. He nods in return at Nash’s assertion he would remain on the Isle for a time, lips twitching at his teasing prod. There is a moment of silence then before the pegasus continues, gaze shifting out to sea as a strange sort of wistfulness settles over his features. Reave’s gaze doesn’t leave his brother, curious instead at what he sees there.

    His question isn’t unexpected, given his line of thought. It is a difficult one to answer, however. The silence stretches for several long heartbeats as Reave’s gaze flicks over Nashua’s familiar features. When he finally does reply, his answer is blunt. “No.” He pauses, then adds, “I can only see the results of your decisions.” His lips quirk slightly upwards. “And those are muddled.” With a laugh - a light, quick burst of humor despite the heaviness of the topic - he clarifies, “Make up your mind first, and perhaps I could tell you more.”

    reave



    Nashua
    Reply
    #8

    There is silence between the brothers, and in that moment, Nashua heard that louder than anything else. They banter along as siblings might, an ease which can only come from years of close proximity and contact, but as the striped stallion stood there, he wondered when things between them had gone so quiet. Was it when Yan had first gone missing and Nash – suddenly a sole sibling where had been always part of pair – had pushed everyone away?

    Had it been after Lilliana’s mysterious death? Bolder being won over by Gale and Mazikeen with their promises of power?

    Reave quirks his lips and it would seem that it reaches his blue, gleaming eyes. When Nashua looks to meet them, there is nothing shining on his face. Even the little humor he had summoned for this meeting fails him and vanishes; all that remains is a torment that he has refused to let anyone else carry. "It’s not your inability to understand that I worry about Reave,” the former King of the North said quietly. "I worry about how well I make myself understood,” he continued quietly. ”Maybe it will be easier for you.”

    Nashua certainly hoped it would. For Reave’s sake, as well as the North. He sighed then, and tore his tired face away from his youngest sibling.

    "There was so much darkness here when I was growing up,” the striped horse murmured just barely above the Nerinian breeze that came gusting from a gray, choppy sea. ”And then it felt like everybody was just holding their breath, waiting for the next horrible thing to happen.” The North had experienced many changes and upheaval over the past decade of Nashua’s life (some even taking place before it), and for a moment, he remembers what life had been for him as a young colt in Taiga struggling to find his wings beneath those colossal trees. He remembers meeting Elio and Pteron, remembers that ”Gale was the only sibling on my father’s side that didn’t make feel ashamed. I thought that -,” Nashua stopped himself as he felt those old emotions rise up in him – the anger and the hurt –  “I once thought that, with his help, we might have made sense of all that madness. Find a way to overcome it for the good of Beqanna.”

    (That old dream lingers in his memory, and Nashua struggles against his bitterness as it rises up in him like bile. It had been so close to becoming a reality. The three of them – he, Reave, and Yanhua – in the North. Gale, alongside Mazikeen, ruling the West. Cheri to the South. That was Nash’s dream of an empire, a founding that would have started with family.)

    And now it was all gone.

    He was rambling. He was lamenting. He was doing nothing that would do any of them any good.

    "Just be careful, alright?” Nashua finally said, forcing himself back into the present, and turned to look at Reave again. Then, at last, a hint of a smile quirked against his pale lips, attempting to reciprocate his brother’s jest. ”And maybe I’ll eventually make up my mind about something.”

    Reave

    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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