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All Welcome  - The Dawning of Solterra [SOVEREIGN AUDITIONS]

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Played by Offline Seraphina [PM] Posts: 1 — Threads: 1
Signos: 5
#1

YOU HAVE UNTIL 11:59PM EST ON 09/27/19 TO POST YOUR APPLICATION!

searching the void







Two Months in the Future:




Solterra’s King is gone.

In the city the castle stands empty as a ruin. Its windows are dark. Across the face of the fortress are painted slurs directed at a violent, hated king. 

Yet all through Solterra whispers are spreading. They speak of the signs that have been appearing. One above the palace door that asks if any are strong enough to stand up and rule. And the other, in Mors Desert, where the sand swells and gathers like the waves of the sea. It swells and falls as though a great monster swims beneath. It tracks every creature that passes and rises before them, behind them, beside them, crowding them in upon every side. It traps them as it rises, great and monstrous. Its maw asks every traveller in a voice of slithering sand, ‘Are you brave enough to swallow the sand, sinking a peasant and rising a Sovereign?' The message is found spattered in blood across the arena of the Colosseum. Every time they clear the message it floods back as if all Solterra’s dead gladiators are pooling their spilled blood into one crimson question,‘The Solterran Seat is empty. Who is brave enough to fill it now?’

The pool in Vitae Oasis is restless. Water laps with sighs upon the banks, it hisses and bubbles and invites all to come and wash the dust from their skin. But harken, that water sounds as if a siren lurks within its depths, ready to drag down any who are foolish enough to step into the water. The Oasis pool watches those who come and gather and asks each one, just who might be brave enough to die a peasant and rise a Sovereign?

In the heart of the Canyon a teryr screams into the sky, day and night, over and over. Its cry forms the same questions, the same words: ‘is it you? Is it you? Is it you?’ You can search the whole of Elatus Canyon and never find the teryr that screams its gurgled cry. Its disembodied voice simply echoes and echoes and echoes off each and every wall.

Every single message is a call for all Solterrans and the whole of Novus. But no message is more striking than that within the heart of Solterra's Palace itself. For those brave enough to step within the black, emptiness of the castle’s keep, they will hear the lick and hiss of flame. Flames that make the throne room's windows glow an ominous flickering red-gold. It is a fire that lures all to where they consume the doorway into the throne room. The throne sits beyond them, vacant and still, illuminated by the flames that roar in open archway. The fire rises like a door, blocking all from entering into the throne room.

Guarding the blazing doorway a lion lies forged of raging sunlight. It’s burning eyes watch for any brave enough to heed the summons of water, sand and stone. It speaks to those who come, it laughs like a god and speaks like sand and water and stone. It is deafening and yet altogether silent. It asks in the mind of its beholder and throughout the whole court, “Solterra will burn the unrighteous. This fire is Solterra. Do you really believe you are called by Solterra? What makes you think that her fires will not burn you? Fools!'

And how those flames cackle and roar like the leonine sun until the throne beyond is obscured by fire and justice and vengeance.




That neither schools nor priests, 

Nor Kings may build again
A people with the heart of beasts

Made wise concerning men
Whereby our dead shall sleep

In honour, unbetrayed,  
And we in faith and honour keep
That peace for which they paid.

~Rudyard Kipling



The very earth of Solterra is calling for a new kind of monarch. Its throne has been tainted but Solterra is rising to reclaim its throne and its name. Stand up and prove yourself before the lion of Justice and walk through the fire if you dare. You will either become ash, or claim and throne and rise a mighty monarch appointed by Solterra herself.


Rules to Apply


Before filling out the form found at the bottom of the page, you must read the rules and guidelines below, as well as everything posted on this page! Please ask us if you have any questions or concerns at all!

  • Character Requirements:

    • You can audition both existing characters and brand new characters, however both are required to make an IC post responding to this post! This thread has been temporarily opened so that both OOC, pending, and accepted IC accounts may make their replies for the audition.

    • Anyone from any Court can apply.

    • Your character must be at least three years old.

    • You do not have to create a character account unless you are chosen. In the event that you are chosen as Sovereign, you will have 2 weeks to create your character's profile (it should be easy, since all of the information is already required to fill out the audition form).

    • You can try out with as many characters as you'd like! However, each needs a fully separate post and application in this thread.

  • General rules and requirements regarding Sovereigns:

    • Regarding Sovereign vulnerability: Sovereigns will be deemed Vulnerable if you make 10 IC posts or less per month (this means that it will be extremely easy for anyone to win a Challenge against you), and posted absences only make you immune for 2 weeks.

    • Sovereign activity requirements: To promote activity within their respective Courts, the Sovereign must setup 1 IC event every other season.

    • Once you are selected and your profile approved, your first duty will be to create a Court Rules thread in your respective Court forum. Read this thread for things you can do as Sovereign.

  • Regarding this audition:

    • All auditions are due by 11:59PM EST on 09/27/19. Novus-standard time is listed in the sidebar.

    • You must make an IC post replying to this post AND post the OOC audition form! Both must be included in the same post, with the IC post first and the OOC audition form underneath it.

    • Please, only reply to this thread if you are auditioning for Sovereign.

    • The IC post can have your own personal coding and art - but that will not affect the outcome.

    • All responses to this thread will be considered complete, whether they are actually finished or not. Please do not post Work in Progress auditions!

    • Please do not alter the OOC audition form itself. Although we love to see special coding and pretty pictures, we want to be as impartial as possible - and as much as we'd like to say we're fairly objective, special coding and pretty pictures can impress us! We want these to be bare-bones.

    • As you're filling out the audition form, pretend you're filling out an actual profile. Make sure you adhere to all Character Rules set out here.

    • We'll be judging on writing quality and how well your character fits into Solterran ideals.

If you have read through the rules, understand the requirements, and still want to audition for Sovereign, please make an IC reply to this post and put your completed OOC audition form (below) underneath it!

Code:
<button class="acc_ctrl"><h2>Click here to see this character's OOC audition form!</h2></button><div class="acc_panel">


<div class="tcat"><font style="font-size:20px; font-weight:bold;">About the RPer</font></div><blockquote><blockquote>

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">Thanks for auditioning! Let's start with your name.</span>
What is your OOC name?

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">Great! How old are you?</span>
How old are you?

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">Have you ever held a Position of Power before?</span>
Have you ever had any characters in a leading position, on or off-site? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">Have you read the Sovereign Rules?</span>
Yes/No - if No, please read the rules above and follow the links to the rules regarding Sovereigns and Courts

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">What aspect of Novus are you most excited about?</span>
Tell us something that stood out to you when you read the Guidebook, or something about the site in general.

</blockquote></blockquote>


<div class="tcat"><font style="font-size:20px; font-weight:bold;">Sovereign Questions</font></div><blockquote><blockquote>

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">Why would your character be a good candidate to lead Solterra?</span>
Tell us why your character would be a good choice to be Sovereign of this Court. Match up their ideals and values with Solterra and Solis. 

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">What would be their goals as Sovereign? What would they do with their new power?</span>
What are your plans for the Court? Do you have a vision for Solterra? What rules would your character set? Would they hold any events to garnish activity? If so, what?

<span class="sidebarheaders" style="font-size:12px;">You've got us convinced. Is there anything else you'd like to add?</span>
Here's your chance to add anything else at all!

</blockquote></blockquote></div>








Reply




Played by Offline Chaosy [PM] Posts: 4 — Threads: 1
Signos: 0
Day Court Solider
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 6 [Year 497 Fall] // 17 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#2

Queen of Seduction
Baphomet slid into the castle, staring at the massive golden lion that seemed to be calling to those within the realm. She had missed the chance to meet with the former sovereign, though his deeds were tails that seemed whispered by the winds. Raum... He was unworthy to hold power. The striking chimera mare tossed her head and smiled at the feeling of her golden crown settling back into place. The golden tooth ran down the center of her face in an almost painful scrape and made her shudder. Golden bangles on her forelegs clinked and glowed in the light of the flames.

"I may be new to the realm, but I desire to make our home better and erase the stains of Raum. Let Solis and the realm herself judge me for either good, or ill. I desire to take your challenge. She murmured to the lion, Baphomet's voice soft and reverent as she spoke of her chosen god. Deep within her, a love for him that almost bordered upon lust roiled and begged to be freed. Taking a deep breath, she turned to the flames.

A tremor of fear spiked in her stomach as she gazed at the flames. Baphomet loved the seductive heat, but the idea of stepping into the fire was one that made her pause. On one hand, she risked ruining her beautiful pelt and even her golden jewelry that she was so fond of. On the other... Well, death could ruin her as well. Taking a few cleansing breaths, she stepped closer to the seductive heat and closed her golden eyes.

"Solis. Hear my plea. If I am the one you feel best suited to the throne, let me move through the flames without harm. Let me prove my loyalty to you. Please, dont let me die... Her words were for the god himself, nearly inaudible over the crackling hisses of the flames before her. Taking a few moments to listen for a response, she opened her eyes and stared at the dancing oranges and yellows before her. A few swallows cleared the lump in her throat as she tried to make her hooves work to step forward. Once the fit of nerves passed, she began her trek to the flames and hopefully through...

"Speaking."

@ - Notes:
credits















About the RPer

Thanks for auditioning! Let's start with your name.
Chaosy

Great! How old are you?
29 (until the end of November lol)

Have you ever held a Position of Power before?
off site yes. I loved the challenge of it and it gave me so much drive to post and be active.

Have you read the Sovereign Rules?
yes

What aspect of Novus are you most excited about?
I am excited mostly about the community and the people here, but the fun swp stuff and keeping the site very hands on rather than characters just rping threads randomly.


Sovereign Questions

Why would your character be a good candidate to lead Solterra?
Baphomet is strong and proud, both of where she belongs and her own strengths. She has a tendency to study battle tactics and try to figure out the best way to win any possible battle that is thrown her way. While she is admittedly power-hungry, she also has a moral compass that is just and honest. She wants to better her realm and those in it in any way that she can. She might not be the most playful, but she does have kindness buried within if you are able to win her trust and she will use that hidden kindness to rule the realm as well as she possibly can.

What would be their goals as Sovereign? What would they do with their new power?
Her first goal would be to try to make connections with the other courts, for good or ill. She wants to know where Solterra stands with the rest and what she can do to make their political standing stronger. Baph will hold meetings where the members of her court can bring forth issues that need the sovereign's attention and will make note and plan what to do about them as it fits the realm and helps it. This is not to say that she will be overly kind and allow everything, nor overly cruel and dismiss them all. They will be looked at on a case by case basis and decided upon from there. While she is the sovereign, she will listen to council and try to make decisions that help the entire realm. She is not always bad. She is a vain creature at heart, so the largest way to try to connect with her subjects would be balls and the like. Times when those that wish to can come to the court and mingle while dressing their best and feeling good about how they appear.

You've got us convinced. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I would love the chance to push Baphomet to become more than the power hungry seductress that she is and try to do something good for the realm.






Reply




Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 1 — Threads: 0
Signos: 205
Pending Approval
#3



About the RPer

Thanks for auditioning! Let's start with your name.
Syndicate

Great! How old are you?
22

Have you ever held a Position of Power before?
Yes! Years and years ago. I like that it gives you a bit more ability to affect the momentum of the site, and share ideas!

Have you read the Sovereign Rules?
Yes!

What aspect of Novus are you most excited about?
I really love the intricacy of Novus’ lore, but how it still allows characters to interpret it how they would like, and also allows a ton of creative freedom.


Sovereign Questions

Why would your character be a good candidate to lead Solterra?

Orestes is prideful, stubborn, and extremely passionate about the wellbeing of his people. It’s his vocation: the sacrifice of himself for others, or those he intends to lead. He has an intense passion for the history and memories of peoples as a whole, and is both extremely empathetic and vengeful. He does not believe in coincidence, and although he has come from another land and another god he sees his arrival at Novus as a sign that he is meant to be here, especially considering the loss of his old people and magic. 

I intend for Orestes to develop solar magic, which will be a “blessing” from Solis and a replacement of his old magic from his old world. It will be very directly tied with ideas of the sun and Solis himself. By “solar magic” I mean general ability to use and manipulate the energy of the sun; in early stages, it completely requires the presence of the sun and is mostly responsible for increasing his energy, making him extremely hot to the touch. In the future, it will result in the ability to become blindly bright, have control over miniature “solar flares” and wind/heat manipulation. This in general will be important for Orestes’ character development in him viewing himself as attached to his old world versus this new world. 

He is extremely humble, insightful, and wants the best for those he cares for. But he is strongly based on nature: both beautiful and terrible, both nurturing and vicious. Through his development, he will shift from representing the sometimes bipolar and unpredictable ideals of the “mother sea” to the virtues of Solis and the sun, being very prideful and unforgiving like the desert. 

I think he would be excellent in representing a shift in Solterra from old Solterra and the tragedy they have recently suffered, into a new more unified

What would be their goals as Sovereign? What would they do with their new power?
What are your plans for the Court? Do you have a vision for Solterra? What rules would your character set? Would they hold any events to garnish activity? If so, what?

The vision I have for Solterra is returning it to “older values”, in that Orestes will try very, very hard to repair the damage of the last 100+ years of slavery and tyranny. He is an outsider looking in with fresh eyes, having recently experienced an entire genocide of people. He feels very strongly about the equality of those who follow the same beliefs, or religion, and that they should all be united under their belief in their deity. Because of this, he would push for a greater inclusion of the remnants of the “surviving tribes” outside of the capitol, to include the Davke and the remnants of other tribes. I personally would love to develop the lore surrounding potential survivors in the desert, as well as lore surrounding what has happened with the families since Zolin’s demise and the reign of Seraphina. 

I honestly picture some pretty drastic changes: a levelling of all of Solterra’s wealth, so that those who descend from slaveholders and those who descend from slaves are not so unevenly split, something that may initially make him rather unpopular. To garner IC activity, I would love to do some OOC events where members contribute ideas to the introduction of new sub-cultures in Solterra and “ethnicities” of equines that descend from various tribes.

Other potential ideas: 

It could be very neat to have some large-scale natural event (like a drought) that affects Solterra enough they have to expand outward for more resources, so potentially a plot involving land-grabbing of some kind? Like their land literally cannot support their numbers, and in order to feed their people they either need to A. Start a war or B. Start a more interactive trading network with the other Courts, or something along those lines. I’d love to open up diplomatic interactions between characters, and set up some sort of basis for multi-court interaction! 

Another IC event on a smaller scale would be some series of rely races/challenges where members can enter OOC and have their characters randomly chosen to be a “team” that has to overcome some kind of obstacle to accomplish a task, to force Solterrans of all different backgrounds and castes to work together.

I would very much like Solterra to become a very diverse court that has overcome their differences, united a bit by their suffering under Raum, to move strongly into the future. Orestes is a leader that is fluid and adaptable; extremely empathetic/passionate/kindhearted and also very, very brutal. The rules of Solterra would stay very much the same, although one drastic change I can see happening is that Orestes would very much encourage the court to remain “Solterran” and basically close themselves off from outsiders aside from political interactions. More than ever, it will become “the strongest survive” sort of vibe, but with the idea that Solterrans are collectively the strongest. “The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack of is the wolf” kind of ideology. Ultimately, the rules would stay very much the same, with perhaps stricter punishment of traitors or those suspected of being disloyal to Solterra. 


You've got us convinced. Is there anything else you'd like to add?


I have a lot of other ideas, just that are a lot vaguer! Additionally, let me know if anything in the application isn't okay in that... I got a little too creative xD





I HAVE TRANSFORMED FROM THE SEA TO A STAR

SIX MONTHS AGO 

He awakes on the Solterran coast and does not know where he is. 

He does not know when the sea, the one true love of his life, decided she is done with him. He remembers very little. Only darkness like the womb, and tumbling, tumbling, tumbling. He does not know how long she has kept him swallowed, tonguing at his body as though he were a sore. It must have been eons. 

He only knows that when he emerges, his lungs burn. 

He only knows that when he attempts to run back into the waves and dive beneath the surface, taking a lungful of water would have killed him. His gills are gone. After another attempt, he comes to realise that so is his transience: he cannot change shape. The water will not take him. He strains his ears, listening, listening: and she does not speak to him. There is nothing but the crash of the waves and once, once, that had meant everything. He reemerges coughing and sputtering. The salt burns him for the first time in his life.

Orestes’ heart breaks.

He stares out at the ocean for many days, it seems. In reality, he stares for only a summable number of hours. Orestes waits from dawn to dusk, as the sun begins to shutter on the horizon, the reflection wavering far out where the water begins to curve on the distant edge of the world. How far he wonders. How far have I gone? He waits for his magic to stir; for the sea to speak to him in all her sweet viciousness. He waits for the weight of his body to become less, less, less, until he can transform

It is not quite darkness when they find him.

There are only two. They brandish sharp weapons and sharper teeth. They speak a language he does not understand, and looks like a shape he could once become; something draconic, with arching wings and razor-lined tails. He will later hear them name themselves kirins. He snarls and clicks his teeth at them; but where once he would have brandished fangs, he discovers the blunted incisors of an equine. They laugh at his bravado, and Orestes’ soul cries it is not bravado, but it is, it is, because the Prince of a Thousand Tides cannot change shape. They skirmish. The two gaunt desert horses force him to submit, and loop ropes about his neck. They drag him unceremoniously behind them and Orestes goes, because there is no choice.

Behind him, the sea goes: shush, shush, shush and he feels the salt water drip from his eyes. 

— — 

Orestes comes to learn the two horses are remnants of an ancient tribe called the Are’htai. It is difficult for him to understand them at first, or what any of that means, but he gradually learns there were once many such tribes in Solterra—and that is the name of the place he now inhabits, Solterra. They whisper to him that the land is in anguish and their god has awoken them from a deep slumber to rectify the wrongs. They say there are many gods in the land called Novus, but only one true god, and that is the Sun. At first, Orestes argues. There is the Mother Sea, and they do not understand. There is no god of the sea they tell him, in their strange, sharp language. There is only the Solar Gods and among them, only Solis. 

The longer the sea stays silent, the more Orestes is inclined to believe them in this desert-land. He does not hear from the mother sea and try as he may, he cannot change shape. He feels fatigue he has never known before, and the tiredness of a body too heavy for him, a body without the softness of water. They force him to eat, and drink, and still he cannot change shape. 

The two desert horses cannot change shape either, but they do not treat him with the same disdain as the old horses of Oresziah. Their names are Rah and Tut. He comes to understand they are outcasts, not unlike himself, and that an older emperor decimated their herds. Zolin Tut admits, with disdain, and spits upon the earth. But Orestes does not see the kingdom of which they speak; there is only desert, endless and fathomless. Orestes has no word for “desert” in his language, and they laugh at him as he fumbles to understand the heat and the sand. They detail a fragmented story of emperors and gods and sand, sand, sand. Everything is sand. And Orestes listens by firelight and moonlight and sunlight. The blubber that once kept the cold of the sea from penetrating the warmth of his core becomes sweat, sweat, sweat. 

He measures the days in the growing gauntness of his body. He has never thought himself capable of this complete transformation, from the sea to land, but as the days pass there is less and less magic in his veins. He feels it wearing him. 

One day he watches Rah conjure water from the air. Orestes does not understand. It is magic—almost the same magic of his old land… and he asks about the magic and Rah tells him he was blessed by Solis. It has made life possible for them in the desert, so far from the oasis the Solterran’s claim. As their understanding of one another grows, Tut confesses he has the power to put himself and others to sleep for very long periods of time, where they will suffer neither harm nor hunger. It is how he and his brother have survived for so long. 

And Orestes asks how old they are, 

And the two brothers answer: eons. 

“We can take you to be blessed,” Tut says. “Or rather, we will try.” 

And Orestes does not understand, but he goes, because he cannot change shape and his heart aches for the mother sea, who has abandoned him. On their journey they tell Orestes stories of Solis, and their lives in this strange land, and it simultaneously reminds Orestes of his old life and also becomes something he never could have imagined. 

They eventually lead him to a deep desert canyon and they search deeper and deeper inside of it. When storm clouds gather overhead, Orestes fears a flood; but Rah dismisses the notion jovially. He says: the rain will evaporate before it hits the ground. They lead Orestes to a shrine; an ancient, uncertain shrine. There are suns carved and painted into the stone, and there is the head of some great beasts that the twins say breathes fire when alive. There are quartz crystals and scenic runes on the walls of the deep canyon, and they say, “It is here. It is here. Now, pray to Solis.” 

And Orestes cannot fathom praying to another god. But he does. Because his life—and many lives before it—have always been one long string of religion. He is a priest in the most basic sense; a keeper of memories; and separated from the sea, from his magic, he feels that old identity fade every day.

So he prays. 

He prays that it is returned to him.

And Solis answers. 

THREE MONTHS AGO 

There are many remnants of older times in the desert. In their travels they discover a half-buried library. They cannot enter the building easily, and instead stare forlornly from outside.

It is there they meet the Takun. She is the last remnant of an even older tribe.  A desert owl sits astride her shoulders and gawks at them, unceremoniously. She is young. She says, “I am the keeper of this library, I am the Takun.” 

“What do you mean?” They ask.

And she admits: “I am the last of them.” 

There are many others like her, in the desert. Half-dead tribesmen who survived Zolin’s annihilation program. There are others, like Rah and Tut, who have slept for many eons. She shows them the library, inscribed with symbols of the sun. They stay for many days, and she shows them books and scripts and scrolls, and Orestes wonders: 

“Do you have any on the sea god?” 

But the Takun shakes her head. There is no sea god, she tells him. And Orestes begins to forget, as he opens scroll after scroll in languages he does not know how to read. Rah and Tut help him. And they read him stories of a great many people; there are diaries of the Solar Courts, of Day and Dawn and Dusk and Night at their inceptions with dynasties long past. There are forgotten wars and chance encounters with gods, and the name comes to him again and again: SOLIS.

“How can you believe in this god?” Orestes asks them. And they are taken back; they are furious.

But they recover from their rage. “He is the most present of all the Solar deities.” 

“How can that be? He simply watches. He haunts you overhead and punishes you in this desert, in this—“ And Orestes almost says hell, but doesn’t.

“We do not ask for empathy or compassion, Orestes. We ask for light. To see righteously and to never stray into the darkness.”

“But what about this emperor? What about Zolin, and this new one you have mentioned, Raum?”

And the Takun, young and fragile and wise, says: “Is the sun not responsible for casting the deepest of shadows?” 

They leave. When they leave, there is a horrendous windstorm. Rah and Tut find shelter in what was once some sort of caravan wagon. The next day they backtrack toward the library, but it is gone, and they cannot seem to discern whether or not their encounter had been some heat dream. 

TWO MONTHS AGO 

Rah returns from the city. He says: the people have forgotten his tribesmen. They have forgotten the looks of kirins, and they looked at him with the gaunt, haunted eyes of those who had survived a tragedy. They told the story of a madman and a basilisk, a queen who changed the desert into a forest and an ex-queen as silver as starlight. They whisper of a black stallion with his wings removed, dripping crimson blood now white marble and laughing manically. They mention men and women frozen in the form of stone; orphans; prisoners. They do not go into the city. Orestes does not tell them, I have seen souls Bound. He does not tell them of chains or gold or iron, only that: this sounds like a tragedy.

They return to the desert. They continue to tell him of the Old People, and Tut also tells him of Queen Sol and the monarchy. There is so much suffering. Orestes’ hearts break with it, and through it he remembers his own people: he was too late to save them from suffering.

The voices begin to follow him. 

Are you brave enough to swallow the sand, sinking a peasant and rising a Sovereign?’

No. He is not a creature of the sand. He is of the sea, the sea, the sea—

and now, whispers his new magic, the sun

The Solterran Seat is empty. Who is brave enough to fill it now?’

He is not a lion. 

who might be brave enough to die a peasant and rise a Sovereign?

He has already died once. 

‘is it you? Is it you? Is it you?’

No. 

NOW 

But why are his legs moving? Why do Rah and Tut not follow him? He enters the city and it is the first city he has been in since Oresziah. It is nothing like Oresziah. 

It is blinding and brilliant and gold, gold, gold. Why does it not burn me? he wonders in the searing heat. He walks down the center of the streets leading toward the main keep and it is empty. His walk, long and silent and lonely, is cruelly reminiscent of his walk down the stone streets of Oresziah—were both not a type of sentencing, a type of condemnation? He lifts his face toward the sky and closes his eyes against the brightness, feeling the warmth. The city is a carcass, rotted in the sun. Faces fill the window; sharp, gleaming eyes follow him in his echoing passage. His hooves go click, click, click and he thinks, for some reason he does not understand, 

shush, shush, shush.

The castle is black when he reaches it. He steps inside to the gaping maw and is reminded of the darkest depths of the sea. His eyes adjust and he feels the stifling heat of the flames. There is a crackling like laughter; a crackling like consumption. He moves toward it; it does not take him long to discover the throne room.

He stares into the flames and he sees a thousand lives: 

He sees the depths of the ocean just barely penetrated by light, with the shapeless forms of his brethren, dancing in the stabbing, brilliant rays. He sees the shifting, transient, raging beds of kelp. He thinks of the burning oil the soldiers of Oresziah spilled in his beautiful sea. He thinks of emerging through them, gasping for breath through the smoke, wishing he were another shape, another shape. He thinks of his oldest memory, the memory of his people, as they met Oresziah’s first men over the stone bed of a fire. “We will teach you to love our island,” and the flames laughed then, too.

This fire is different.

We ask for light. To see righteously and to never stray into the darkness. 

Already, the memories of his people are faint and fading. His lack of magic makes them a dream. He had always been their keeper. The firelight licks his skin, turns him gold, gold, gold, and he thinks: I was the last Prince of my people. He failed them. He allowed them to become smoke and memory. 

The voice of the fire is challenging him, raging at him. 

He is not worthy; he has failed so many times in his short, long life. 

He is not worthy. But there is a nagging insistence he stay, a need that fills him greater than any lust or hunger he has ever known. You must try and it is a chorus of a thousand voices, the voices of his people. You can help them, don’t you see? With everything you have ever been. You were always meant to be a king— 

“Solterra will burn the unrighteous. This fire is Solterra. Do you really believe you are called by Solterra? What makes you think that her fires will not burn you? Fools!'

Orestes bows his head; and then all the way to his knees. He lays a supple cheek upon the stone before the flames, and the heat burns the soft flesh of his nose. He closes his eyes and sees the sun above the sea and he thinks of how all the places his mother could have brought him, she had chosen this place, beneath this sun, before this god. For a reason. Always for a reason. 

“They will burn me.” he says, and his voice is a prayer. “They will burn me and that is my duty to bear, for her people, and mine. For the people who have suffered the insufferable. It is only by burning that the world is purged; it is only by burning that there is chance for regrowth, for life.” He stays bowed for many long moments. 

After a small eternity, Orestes rises. His legs tremble and his knees ache from bearing his weight. He stands for a moment longer, staring toward the throne room, and he thinks of the story of Atlas: the curse of bearing the world upon his shoulders. Has that not always been my duty? For all people? Do I not bear that suffering better than any? He thinks of the golden chains. He thinks of Boudika for the first time since he arrived to Novus; and it hits him brutally, like a blow.

It is in your nature, he had always told her. 

Now, he hears the words. And he repeats them. “It is in my nature to burn, to sacrifice.” 

Orestes steps toward the flames. 


09-15-2019, 11:08 PM
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