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Private  - a hero's death

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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 62 — Threads: 10
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Night Court Entertainer
Female [She/her/hers] // 8 [Year 495 Winter] // 16.2 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A

my love, how was I to know
that they would make a myth of us? 
did we not die? are we not dead?
are your bones not my bones?

When Boudika arrives at the sea, she thinks: I don’t want to die.

The gnarling, oppressive limbs of the jungle give way to the fresher air of the beach, unpolluted by the dense rot of trees and earth. It is fresh, fresh, a bit shill against her cheek and sweaty skin. Breaking through the foliage, she ought to be relieved—the ocean is there, bright as a jewel even in the night. It whispers and hisses and moans, waves against soft sand, a surf that goes shush, shush, shush against the mottled rocks and kelp strung along the beach. There are shells that look like emeralds, sapphires, and hot embers. The ground opens like a galaxy on the strange island, and it is like no beach she has ever seen—but the ocean is the same, gaping, ominous, and whatever hesitation she feels departing the trees is short-lived. She breathes in the humidity, the salt, and feels it prick her skin with foam. Boudika runs harder when her hooves hit the sand; intimately aware that this is no longer her element. The beach does not belong to her. It belongs to him. The knowledge is condemning, but simultaneously, it does not matter. Because the run is sweet, and freeing, and her breaths burn with exertion and sweat foams at her haunches and the sea whispers shush, shush, shush. If she were a Khashran, she would already be halfway to wild, halfway to a shape that is not a horse or a woman but something beyond, something that is sea and foam and salt. 

Crashing down the beach, she continues to think: I don’t want to die. She cannot say why, but it feels as if she is looking at this scene for the last time: that she is breaking upon the beach at a sprint and, in doing so, condemning herself to something final, something permanent. 

How can she not feel that way? Boudika is dancing the most dangerous dance of time; the oldest dance; the most finale. Through the jungle she had heard his pursuit—at times it faded to a distant whisper, patient and wolfish. At other points, it became thunderous, so close she could feel the coolness of his strange magic and imagine the sharpness of his teeth in the dark. Her entire world has become pinpoint small. It is her hooves finding the earth with certainty and agility; it is the way her breath came in a rhythm, and her heart beat with the strength and consistency of war drums. Do not err. It is the oldest rule of Time. A mistake would end her. A mistake would end the chase. And already: she feels reverted to something primal, even primordial, with the etchings of her most ancient ancestors in her mind: 

You are prey, her instincts scream, as she hedges the water. You are prey and he is HUNTING you

But Boudika is not prey. She feels it in the strength of her limbs, in the way that each long stride seems to cover more and more ground. She could be flying. She is a warhorse, built and bred for it—but something about her stretched out on the beach at a headlong lope suggests otherwise. She is grace, and speed, and power. She is everything she ever trained to become, and more, more, more. 

Except she drifts nearer and nearer the sea, rather than running straight along its course. Is that not everything she has ever been? Boudika curves into it, and before she knows it the water splashes behind her, flayed open by her sharp and beating hooves. And still: she feels his pursuit, she knows he is close, and running to the sea will not save her.

For once, she feels the cool water and does not think of Orestes. She thinks of this: 

I don’t want to die, and I have never felt so alive. She thinks of what is next. She thinks of the aching question, the question that has filled her since awakening in Novus. How do I bring them back

And now, only now, she allows herself to consider: what if her story isn’t one of resurrection?

What if her story is one of becoming

Boudika stops. 

It is abrupt. Dangerously so. Boudika whirls on a haunch but her momentum throws her forward a few stuttering, jerky steps. She turns to face him, her pursuer, and it feels like fate clicking into place. It feels, to her, like a clock stopping: and she realises, with strange clarity, that every moment of her life lead her to this one.

Each lash the academy forced her to bear. Vercingtorix as he turned away. The way her father died, alone, but with her a hero. She thinks of how she never knew her mother, and love was nothing for years: love was the crash of the sea against the cliffside, again and again and again, never repelled, never relenting. She thinks of laughing, and war, and what it feels like to Bind a soul. She thinks of red water, and forces herself to look, to look at the ocean lapping her ankles, the way it is dark and deep and dangerous. But it is not blood. 

Boudika bares her teeth like a tigress. She thinks: I will not die. 

@Boudika "speaks"



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