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  • Beqanna


    Reave -- Year 219


    "She did not wake up one day healed, she was simply moving and she realized that somewhere along the way grief had stopped stabbing her every motion. It’s a strange feeling. She is lighter and heavier at once. She doesn’t know what to do with the time that’s opened before her, what to do without wounds to claw open." --Cordis, written by Cassi

    [open quest]  Part Three: The Divergence
    yes i know that love is like ghosts,
    few have seen it but everybody talks —

    She watches as the various scenes before them play, her heart still a quick, uneasy beat in her chest—afraid of what bloodshed they will see next, afraid of finding out the truth even though it is necessary. They move backwards, the rage and bloodshed gradually decreasing the further they go, until they reach a point of neutral indifference; a point in time where Baltia and Stratos were aware of the others existence, but not terribly concerned with it. It reminds her of Beqanna in a way, the way the lands simply allowed each other to exist, although the residents of Beqanna were far more connected than these two kingdoms appeared to be—because while the lands here may have borders, everyone’s blood was too intertwined to be truly considered strangers.

    Everyone else around her seems to fade away as she watches, transfixed, as the story further unfolds before her. The Baltian colt and the Stratosian filly, strangers but not enemies, finding companionship in one another much the same way the children of Beqanna might in the playground. She can feel the fear and anxiety tighten in her chest when a shower of rocks cascades down the cliffside, her eyes flying to the large, winged figure that stalks the children from above.

    She wants to rush forward when the boy is struck, but it is as if something holds her fast to where she stands, some kind of invisible force that keeps her tethered and helpless and only allows her to watch, and not act.

    When the Baltians appear, and later the Stratosians, the grief and anger is palpable. It hangs like a fog in the air, thick and tangible, but when she manages to tear her gaze away from those that have crowded around the bodies of the two children, she sees them.

    It is always unnerving to see ghosts.
    She still has not learned to cope with it, and so freshly dead, neither have they.

    The Baltian boy moves urgently around the crowd, his voice becoming increasingly more frantic as they continue to ignore him, grieving and enraged.
    The Stratosian filly stands back, perfect and whole in death, her face anguished and confused.

    “They can’t hear you,” Narya says to them, softly, having now learned to recognize when the dead are not yet ready to accept that they are dead. And especially so young, how could they? Even in life they likely had not yet fully grasped the concept of death. She moves towards the filly first, her own face darkened by sorrow and that familiar helplessness of not being able to fix what they truly wanted to be fixed.

    She can hear them and see them, but she cannot make them alive.
    Ignoring the crowd for now, she focuses on the ghost of the children; learning their names and the stories of their adventure that day, and reassuring them that they had no reason to linger here—that she would make sure their spirits could rest in peace.

    “Who are you?” an angry voice spits at her, the words wet with tears, and Narya turns to face a Stratosian mare that stands with tears streaming over the lifeless body of the filly. “My name is Narya,” she says as she turns to them, trying to keep herself from seeming as timid as she feels. “You don’t know me, but I….I know your children. I can still see them, and hear them.” She pauses, watching the shock and doubt that registers on their faces—she hates telling anyone what she can do, hates the skepticism that always settles in their eyes.

    “It was an accident. The two of them were just playing, and it was that roc—” she stops now, gesturing to where the creature still lurks, no longer interested in what was happening below and entirely oblivious to the chaos it had caused. “—that sent rocks falling down, hitting both of them.” She looks from face to face, eyes pleading, continuing with an aching desperation in her voice, “Please, I promise you, bloodshed is not the legacy you want for them. No amount of blood spilled will bring them back, but I have had this…gift…for so long now that I can assure you, they will not be able to rest if you continue to wage war in their memory. That isn’t what Rushing Ocean Wave and Mystic Sky Dancer would want.”
    — spirits follow everywhere i go,
    they sing all day and they haunt me in the night

    The world shifts in and out, swirling in a haze that takes them – the group gathered by the Sprites – away from the Ruins. Lystra had never been overly familiar with the strange place, and it seemed even stranger without the markings of war and struggle written upon the stones. She shivered, feeling a phantom wind moving along her spine and that made her peer out through the fog, trying to make out some definition from the looming shapes. She gets her wish, because the obscure figures become shouts that eventually become skirmishes.

    These are the early meetings of Baltian and Stratosian.

    Lystra watches – both fascinated and alarmed – at how quickly both sides come to blows.

    And then it fades again, until it reveals a trio of ravens that feast on the corpse of (what she assumes) is one of the fallen. They discuss the feud and the food that it provides, but they are given nothing more. The scene changes again, revealing the slighter and smaller forms of foals. They are young, and whatever the dispute might be between their rival herds, it doesn’t exist between the young. They laugh and play and romp, seemingly oblivious to everything but the moment that they’ve claimed for themselves.

    (And Lystra feels a sense of gladness for them. Take what you can, she might have said, if they could have spoken those glimpses of the past. There would be so much sadness to come.)

    Then, the world spins again, enveloping the group in fog.

    Another scene appears, and this time, they arrive on a beach. The waves crash and Lystra can hear each crashing wave seemingly match the rhythm of her heart, as she tries to fight off the sense of foreboding that begins to swell within her spotted chest. Baltia and Stratos only have a vague understanding of each other. They keep to their own kind and their own borders, in an existence that Lystra fully understands.

    Before the Great Shift, she had never left Taiga.

    Dread continues to fill Lystra and it only rises as the Statosian filly lands, beaming and full of bright, youthful energy. A Baltian colt emerges from the ocean waves, and as the day proceeds, it becomes full of coltish antics. The sight is sweet, and as the pair begin to explore a narrow strip of beach, Lystra grows more and more concerned. A blood feud can have no good beginning, and as she watches the two younglings move down the shore, she waits.

    First, when she sees the great raptor, Lystra is afraid that it means to make a meal of them.
    And then, the rocks begin to tumble down.

    It strikes the colt first. His new companion is brave in the face of danger – braver than Lystra would ever be – and doesn’t hesitate to jump in after him. More rocks fall, descending in a cavalcade of death. She wants to look away, because as each stone thunders down and then crashes into the murk of the ocean, the Shadow doesn’t think she can bare anymore of tragedy. The stones eventually stop, and eventually, the only thing to look at is the swirling of blood against a changing tide.

    Lystra stares, and stares, trying to make sense of what she has just seen.

    Oblivious to time, she doesn’t realize what the Sprites have done at first. She doesn’t know that while the deaths of the two children cannot be undone, what might happen – the wars that devastated both kingdoms and would eventually bring that same threat to Beqanna – or what she could even do.

    Her silver eyes are wet, and that is when she realizes the dampness on her cheeks is chilled. The sea air is brisk, and when she looks up, it is to more than those who had originally gathered with them. The bodies are the children are splayed on the beach, and that is where she looks, remembering the sound of their laughter. It echoes in her mind still when she glances, turning to look into the furious faces mingled with the raw lines of loss.

    "I'm so sorry," she murmurs. A Stratosian near her glares with death in his eyes and when she steps back, the hurling words stop. That is when she realizes that they can see her, hear her, and Lystra stares at them all, dumbfounded. What could she possibly say to them? They had just lost their children, and though this event would be the harbinger of what was to come to Beqanna, would they even care? What was Beqanna to them while their foals laid here? They might even want blood, relish it as retribution for what had been lost on this beach. "It was the Roc," she says, "when it perched on the ledge. The stones that fell hit them both and...," it was not easy to speak of Death. "They were laughing together, before -" she tries to explain against the sea of anguish surrounding her, doing her best to to explain that what had happened here was an accident, not an act of murder.
    Animus watches the Sprite with a pensive glare. His ears flick back and forth rapidly, the only indication that the scenes before him affect his emotions. He sees so much of his father in the violence, so much of the Pangea he no longer knows.

    Why would I care for these children? he thinks to himself between flashes of the foals playing. He sees himself in their elation like cuts of videotape: a boy in the dust of Pangea like the boy in the sand of the ocean, some random filly where the Stratosian girl plays. It’s a different world entirely, but Animus feels the vaguely familiar racing pulse of his childhood—feels his scales rustle and stand on end, feels a hiss press from his tightly pressed fangs.

    A flick of Animus’ tail indicates a brief glimpse of alarm at the appearance of the giant rocs. He blinks slowly, eyelids clicking together for one quick second. He expects to see the bird pluck one of them from their joy, the source of the two societies’ strife—typical, emotional war. What he doesn’t expect, is the crash of rock atop the the colt, and the following two atop the filly. Animus’ whole body tenses, even the tip of his tail curved all the way toward his rump does not move an inch. Slowly, he turns his head to return his furious 
    gaze upon the Sprites. A sneer curls his lips.

    “All this power and you can’t change it?” Animus hisses as the discovery of the mangled children plays out 
    on the beach. “All this power and you leave it to—” He’s cut off as he’s thrust into the midst of the chaos.

    Animus stares from one desperate, grieving Baltian to one desperate, grieving Stratosian. His heart pounds with that age-old anxiety as all the animosity leaves his gaze. There’s several beats of silence as the strangers stare at him, several beats for him to realize they are looking at him for answers.

    “The roc,” he stutters, “it—” more stumbling. He feels the failure of his childhood, the weight of his parents, the quiet solitude of finding his own understanding. All that quiet suffering boiling down to this one moment and all Animus can do is clamp his jaw tightly shut. He breaths in and out, in and out—

    “It was an accident,” he whispers.

    “But I don’t think you’ll believe me.”

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