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  • Beqanna


    Assailant -- Year 226


    "But the dream, the echo, slips from him as quickly as he had found it and as consciousness comes to him (a slap and not the gentle waves of oceanic tides), it dissolves entirely. His muscles relax as the cold claims him again, as the numbness sets in, and when his grey eyes open, there’s nothing but the faint after burn of a dream often trod and never remembered." --Brigade, written by Laura

    [open]  this is the light that shines; any

    Eternal damnation.

    There is nothing but darkness. It cloaks him for days, months, decades – maybe more, he loses count. It swims in his vision until he cannot see anything else around him. It cloaks his mind so that he can hardly remember anything before the veil came down. He cannot move for the stone that enshrines him in a living tomb. He can breathe, but barely, as the unrelenting rock presses against his sides and juts into his chest.

    He shouldn’t be alive. Maybe he isn’t.

    There is only so long he fights his containment. There are only so many times he can scrape his feet the few inches he is allotted or shove his shoulders forward to push. His skin will not morph into its ghostly consistency, as much as he concentrates; if it were that easy, he would have floated away on his first exhale in this cramped place. Heart-racing panic had long ago been replaced by numb resignation. Why bother when he knows how time will stretch on for him, locked and forgotten in this lifeless womb? Why try when his prison is so perfect?

    Only the act of a god can release him, because one had put him here in the first place.

    Carnage swims often to the forefront of his mind, unbidden. He does try to stop this, at least, but the dark god is like a dormant disease that strikes at any sign of weakness. And if He had put him here to learn some semblance of a lesson, he is a rotten teacher. Because he feels more justified than ever for all that he has done. He finds deep satisfaction in those memories: sneaking away at His call, finding Gail, finding Gail again. He is more glad than ever that he had bent the rules because they shouldn’t have existed in the first place. If Carnage were to give him a choice to take it all back or spend the rest of his days here, he would spit in his face and lock himself away again. More likely, he is meant to rot here until he is nothing more than a small mark in history. By then, there will nobody left to consider finding him, saving him.

    As it turns out, the only thing that does free him is not a god but another worldly upheaval.

    Pangea rises again.

    His prison goes with it and with some deep fissure in the ground, splits open entirely.

    Ramiel blinks in the bright golden light, the first he’s seen in far too long. Rubble is strewn about from the rearranging of the canyon. Big boulders and smaller rocks funnel him in, and he is too exhausted to try to climb up and out – in fact, he’s sure his legs will not hold his weight. With the only bit of strength he has left that he dredges up from desperation, Ramiel becomes a ghost and passes through the pile. On the other side of it, he collapses, solid, but with a grim smile on his lips.


    Photo by Silviu Zidaru

    Margot is not necessarily immune to surprise; but she certainly has not been easily impressed since she was a filly. The sudden and third rending of Beqanna that she has experienced did not even stir her, save for the reappearance of Pangea. Perhaps it was being raised with monsters, seeing all of their rousing might, that taught her to be so collected; or perhaps Margot was born with an innate sense of steadfastness.

    Regardless, she is neither surprised nor impressed by the grinning ghoul collapsed in the dust of Pangea.

    The red canyons and bleak boulders reflect in Margot’s pastel eyes as she stares curiously at the gray heap bundled next to fresh rubble. Her head cocks ever so slightly to the side, one streak of dark mane flashing over and past her right eye to frame her cheek. Beqanna, full of wicked wonders—Pangea, full of even more. She smiles a specter’s smile, mirroring the very wonder curled so conveniently near her. Margot wonders of Jesper, of the man she fantasized a ghost merely days ago. Wonders if she discovered some true supernatural.

    Only a few moments pass between Margot’s thoughts and her decision to approach the stallion, but those few moments felt like an eternity. Her steps are quiet but her heart is so loud in her eyes, beating with the wish to find some old, monstrous Pangean.

    “You look exhausted,” Margot says by way of greeting. “More exhausted than everyone else, I mean,” she adds as an afterthought.

    “What’s got you smiling like that?” is the final thing Margot says, pale eyes glittering with curiosity. She reaches out a tendril of her magic, searching for any love that might live inside him. A smile like that comes with love, surely?


    An angel.

    He thinks, seeing the gilded silhouette approaching him. His eyes are not yet adjusted to the light, and he blinks up blearily at the stranger. Perhaps I haven’t escaped after all, he muses. Perhaps I am well and truly dead. Or mad. But the ground at his feet is silty and red, not soft like the sand of the Other Side. There is a dusty, slightly-burned scent to the air like grasses left to wilt under a hot summer drought. He remembers that smell, despite being nearly mad with plague the last time he walked through it. Pangea. The place he helped raise, once. The place where he had done his unwitting penance for a crime he would gladly commit again.

    His life has always been full of ironies.

    The pale angel moves closer and he realizes that it is merely a woman. He is glad he hadn’t called out for his father. Even he knows that two miracles in a day would be impossible, though his heart was always more naïve than his head – it had always been a problem. Ramiel tries to stand out of politeness to address her, but sinks back down again when he knows that his legs will fail him still.

    “Being trapped in rock for decades will have that effect, apparently.” Even his breath is stunted, like he is not familiar with how to take a true draw of air. He tries then, almost choking on the dryness of the desert air as it fills his lungs. This discomfort is welcome at least. It makes him wants to take more in, to greedily take his fill in a way he hasn’t been allowed for too long. “I promise I am not usually so frail.”

    And it is true. All the muscles he’d worn scaling up and down the Dalean mountains had long ago sloughed off. He was sunken in in places that had once been filled out. His stormcloud coat was now drab and dull. But there was a spark in his golden eyes that had never left. They shift from the mare to take in the proper view now, to see exactly where he had resided all these years.

    “So things have changed again, am I to assume?” How else could he be here now? What new horrors have come through as well? Because Beqanna like her changes with a side of despair and a touch of suffering, usually. Ramiel looks back at the woman, wondering if and how it has affected her. But she asks about his smile and that is all it takes for it to reappear on his otherwise serious lips. “I didn’t think I would ever get a second chance. Once I can feel my legs again, I intend to take it.”


    Photo by Silviu Zidaru

    Margot has a mind both labyrinthine and simple. One could carve a path as straight as the narrowest arrow; or one could find themselves lingering wistfully amongst overgrown hedges, lost but not without the distant sensation of being in a childhood home. The little mare is capable of crafting the most safe spaces and the most dangerous. Such unpredictability has allowed her to climb both social and food chains, top dog and fierce predator, moody and yet terribly calculated.

    Survival, she says—and pleasure. So much pleasure.

    Merely a woman, he thinks, though Margot has no clue of his thoughts. Just as Ramiel has no clue of how much more than a woman Margot already is nor the monsters she hides within. She blinks at him—eyes so pale and beautiful they are nearly creepy—watching as the specter gathers his thoughts. Ever patient with her own curiosity, quiet and seeking. Persistent, despite her silence.

    “Frailty means nothing to me,” Margot states. So certain of this fact that she almost sounds offended. Though her skin gleams brilliant beneath all the dust, Margot does not offer quite how fragile her own body is. She only stares, solely focused on the metallic, withered ghost.

    “Hm,” the woman answers, contemplative. “Things are always changing.” She blinks again, slowly. “But yes, there are new and old lands, so I’ve heard. You’re in a Pangea that is only slightly different from the Pangea that was sunken, and even more different than the Pangea sunken before that.”

    A smile lifts Margot’s mouth, pantomiming Ramiel in its phantom, distant nature.

    “I’m Margot . . . Is there anything I can do to help you grab this . . . second chance that looks more like a fourth or fifth chance?” She pointedly looks over his bedraggled body, that supernatural smile turning into something more shark-like.


    He feels the weight of her gaze like the hare might feel that of a wolf. And though he knows what it is like to be hunted, her stare is not quite so violent or fraught with the possibility of his own end. She is searching for answers, it is only to be expected. He is a stranger far past the borders of her home, far beyond what had been considered prim and proper in his time. He is bedraggled and beaten and bruised by the containment. It is a wonder she meets with him at all in the state he is in, though he is sure glad she does. Because despite his prone, weakened form, he, too, intends to eliminate all of his lingering questions.

    She claims that she is immune to frailty and he merely presses his lips more tightly together. She might be, but it is almost unacceptable to Ramiel, in regards to his own body. He had been a protector, once, charged with so many souls, all of which he would have given his own up many times over to save. He had seen a foreign battlefield and defended his kingdom. He had saved a tired, pregnant mare and brought a child back from the Other Side. He had gone to the end of time and heard the monsters eating away reality and saw her –

    This time it is his turn to blink slowly, pushing down the memories that have been his ghostly entourage all this time.

    “Old lands?” The pale woman explains some of the changes and his ears prick forward. “Which old lands?” Impatient and not really considering, he adds, “Pangea could stand for another sinking.” It could only help the place, he wagers. Realization is slow to mix with his racing thoughts, but it finally does, and he looks back at Margot. He shrugs his shoulders half-heartedly. “Sorry. You probably love it, don’t you? This place and I do not leave our meetings on good terms.” It is perhaps the understatement of the year; he can’t wait to find out how this one will end.

    “Unless you can raise the dead or help me bring down a god, I think I’ll have to figure it out myself.” His grin falters then. It would be impossible for Ea to have been similarly trapped and freed by the changing of the lands again. Maybe he will be able to visit her on those eternal beaches of the afterlife now that he is back. Otherwise, he knows he will have to walk alone in this lifetime.

    He might have his second, but one’s heart only gets so many chances.

    “Well met, Margot.” He smiles a little at that, knowing how he must look. “I’m Ramiel.”


    Photo by Silviu Zidaru

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