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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 91 — Threads: 14
Signos: 100
Night Court Entertainer
Female [She/her/hers] // 9 [Year 495 Winter] // 16.2 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#1

GIRL OF THE LAUREL WITH THE CHOICE TO BE ENCASED OR DEFY EVERYTHING, THERE IS SOMETHING YOU MUST DO: STOP. GIRL WITH THE LEADEN HEART, BURN DOWN YOUR TRAPPINGS AND DANCE IN THE ASHES; GONE ARE YOUR FLOWERS--REJOICE
There is something very strange about approaching the castle for the first time with the intent of entering. Her hoof-steps sound too loud, resounding in the garden, clicking off the moonstone-struck cobblestones. Boudika feels small. 

The closet thing Oresziah had to a castle had been the Old Town, a collection of three or four buildings with two stories and dark, large stone architecture. There had been a library, and a Great Hall for occasions of state and politics. Boudika knows her sentence had been decided in the flame-lit alcoves of the Great Hall, with a number of stallions standing her judges and executioners, men she had served with and for, men she had known her entire life. 

However, the Great Hall was only a shadow of the Night Court’s castle. The keep is grand, but not in the way that the Great Hall had been grand. The Great Hall of her old life was dark, very dark, and abandoned by the gods that had once imbued it with magic—the stones had risen as though cutting at the sky, savage, glorious. An affront. A challenge. Defiance, in the form of architecture that did not bow.

 In contrast, the Night Court cuts a sharp silhouette, but not an unfriendly one. The warmth of firelight flickers along the stone from large torches, and flocks of small dragons take flight from the ramparts. The castle is the silent and watchful vigil of the Court itself; the solemn guardian that rises above the other buildings to stand protective watch. There are small intricacies that bely the building as Isra’s own; rubies where there ought to be flowers and beds of gleaming copper where there ought to be grass. Boudika walks into the magic, bare of all belongings save her trident. It is all she has

There are pearls on trees and crystalline formations budding from the roots where they rise and bump along the surface of the earth. A pathway weaves toward the entrance, with stones shined to the iridescence of nacre—or perhaps it is nacre? The path leads through tangles of night jasmine and evening primrose. There are moonflowers and gardenia Augusta and Japanese wisteria, blooming in the languid summer heat, and Boudika walks through the flowers as though she herself has bloomed from them. The scents—sweet, summertime—show her a world she has never known. 

There are trees with leaves that glint the colours of ammolite, gleaming like dragon-scales in the firelight. Boudika marvels at them, and their heavy fruits. She has never seen the castle look the same twice, even from a distance, and tonight is no exception. There are fireflies and luna moths, and a dusting of stars far, far above. In these tender, quiet moments, as she steels her courage… Boudika thinks of everything Caligo is. She thinks of the stories she has been told of a kind goddess, a fierce goddess, and she marvels at the land that worships a woman of darkness. She thinks of what Caligo’s siblings had feared, that the darkness over which she resided would consume her, and Boudika wonders if some kind of darkness had threatened her in the same way.

Boudika contemplates the goddess’ anguish, how she launched her world into years of night and turmoil. How her pain was so great, it afflicted all of Novus. Boudika thinks of how it was only for the wellbeing of her brothers—the very ones who caused her such great pain—that she agreed to end that everlasting night. 

It terrifies her to take another step. 

To do it, means she is letting go.

The night is silent around her. The weight of her trident is familiar, and comforting—but the thing she faces is not. It is the acceptance that she can never go back. To take another step, to reach the door of the great castle… means Boudika must acknowledge that she has moved on, that there will be no turning back toward her old life. This is it. She is staring forward. 

It is to say: Orestes is gone.

It is to say: I will never go home.

It is to say: This is my future.

And Boudika’s future, stretching out in front of her—with her new obligations, with her new community, her new family—is overwhelming. It is too much. It is unbelievable. This is never where she expected to be. No… she was meant to be in Oresziah… a captain, or a major, and now… she is in a world of magic and monsters and men she had never imagined, never even contemplated. But you never belonged there, a thought whispers to her. And it sounds like Orestes, as though he is beside her again, whispering through the bars of their shared prison. You were never meant to spend a lifetime caged. A lifetime in a lie. You were meant to be so much more. 

He’s right.

Boudika takes another step forward. And another. 

Then she is pushing open the castle doors, and stepping inside. 

"Speaking." @Isra
credits






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Played by Offline nestle [PM] Posts: 367 — Threads: 37
Signos: 130
Night Court Sovereign
Female [she/her/hers] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 101 // Active Magic: Transformation // Bonded: Fable (Sea Dragon)
#2

Isra who is only just

“You can want one thing and have a secret wish for its opposite.”



Among the wisteria and rippling copper grasses Isra is waiting. There is darkness around her, a blackness the flickering lanterns have yet to discover. And perhaps, had she known what thoughts were dancing like sickness through her new champion, she would have shed her secret blackness and walked with her (shoulder to shoulder like chambers of the same heart) across the gleaming moonstones. But she doesn't know that their thoughts are running through them like two birds who haven't yet realized they are flying into the same fog thick horizon.

Isra is thinking of night-black, of darkness, of shadows thick and cloying like fermented fruit. She is thinking of bitterness and magic.

She is thinking, always, of how it would be an easy thing to change the world if she wanted too.

When she licks the back of her teeth there is still the metallic zing of blood long gone and the grit of sand (sea-sand, desert-sand, dust-sand). It all feels like a small death in her throat, all the things that are leeching each drop of sorrow and softness for her. Boudika passes by her with arrow-straight eyes and a trident catching light at her side like a comet blazing against the darkness. For a moment Isra thinks about interrupting her stride and saying, come linger in the darkness with me, if only for a while.

But she knows why the only-a-dancer has come, and she knows that tonight she's supposed to be a queen (not a once killer in the night-garden). So she walks in the wake of Boudika and the copper grasses turn to gold and platinum as she walks towards her castle gleaming in the moonlight. She walks though the doorway behind the champion and her lips curl into a smile over her teeth that still taste like blood.

It's not until the birch and oak doors sigh shut that Isra inhales sharply as if she's only just realized that coming home doesn't really feel like it always has. It feels like walking through fog on the shoreline, like finding a wave that gleams brighter than all the others in the black sea. It feels like a secret just out of reach, like bird-song in the summer thicket.

It feels right.

So she swallows down the metal taste, and dust, and dusty butterfly wings. Her magic, terrible and wonderful and dangerous, sighs like a blade pulling free. A hanging on the wall changes to bone-white ivy climbing over the old brick walls. “Welcome home.” Isra wants to ask her how it feels, how it tastes, if it makes her skin tingle like ash drifting down like snow. Instead all she does is step closer to the bone-white ivy and say, “Would you like a tour?” Like a lion she tosses her head towards a yawning black hallway.

And she does not pause to wonder if Boudika is brave enough to follow before she steps towards the darkness.


@Boudika

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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 91 — Threads: 14
Signos: 100
Night Court Entertainer
Female [She/her/hers] // 9 [Year 495 Winter] // 16.2 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#3

PEEL BACK MY SKIN, REVEAL HARD FIBRES, BITE MARKS, SCARS FROM WIND AND RAIN. LIFE IS PAIN—I WON’T TELL YOU ANY DIFFERENT. JUST THAT SOMETIMES, AVOIDING WHAT YOU FEAR ISN’T THE ANSWER. SEE? ALL THESE YEARS MY BRANCHES SANG WITH BIRDS AND MY LEAVES DRANK SUNLIGHT—I HAVEN’T MISSED MUCH. MY HEARTWOOD HARDENS SLOWLY OVER TIME—FIRST TO THE MUSIC, THEN, TO THE LIGHT.

Welcome home.
 
There are two almost-monster girls meeting in the darkness of a pariah goddess. 

There is an excommunicated soldier turned champion, a once-slave turned queen, held together in the foyer of a dark castle. 

Outside metal forms leaves of grass and inside white ivy crawls up the wall like so much lace. 

And Boudika thinks: 

Yes

Something within her breaks, something inconsequential and sad. There is a feeling within her chest like a growing pain, and as the Night Queen tosses her head like a lioness Boudika bows hers like a bull. Yes. More fiercely this time. Boudika recognises the break within her is the last barrier, the final stand. Yes, this is home. And admitting it has the same effect as releasing a great and terrible burden. Boudika sighs, and that great weight is gone. Her head lifts and she says, quietly: ”I would like a tour very much." 

Isra has not waited for her; but Boudika’s legs are already carrying her forward into the dark hallway of which Isra speaks. Boudika’s eyes search for magic, for transformation. She does not know when the magic became so holy to her, but it has, and within her there is a desperate urge to see more. For now, Boudika is met with darkness and an intimacy like the womb. She hears Isra’s steps and her own echo across the stones and, together, they sound like many instead of two. The silence is at once profound and foreign; Boudika, when straining, can hear the steady draw of Isra’s breaths.

It has been a very long time since she has been so close to another. Her mind briefly thinks of the dangerous temptation of Amoraq’s proximity, how his body sings to hear like the sea, and Boudika pushes the thought away. Different. That is different. That pull was like gravity. This was easier, the familiar caress of a river around a stone. 

It is even darker within the castle than the night outside; Boudika finds herself sticking closer and closer to Isra's side, unfamiliar with the castle that will become her home. Surprisingly, there is no melancholy or malice within the shadows. Instead, the darkness provides a quiet blanket, a protective cocoon. It strips from Boudika her earlier contemplations. In this moment, there is only Isra, only Boudika, and the dark pitch of night. 

”How much of the castle have you transformed?" Boudika wonders, aloud. She remembers the ivy from mere moments ago, and feels a hope within her chest as fragile as a songbird. It amazes her that Isra is capable of changing objects into other things; in breathing life into the inanimate; with sheer will, altering the image of the living. It is something she wished she could learn, but Boudika knows little of magic. “I know we talked about your magic once, but I can’t remember. Were you born with it?” 

Boudika’s voice sounds strange to her own ears and after a moment, she realises why: there is no false depth, no masculine roughness. Her voice is light, nearly singsong, and Boudika hardly recognises it. There is a girlish hope within it, one she has not heard… in all her life. 

"Speaking." @Isra
credits






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Played by Offline nestle [PM] Posts: 367 — Threads: 37
Signos: 130
Night Court Sovereign
Female [she/her/hers] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 101 // Active Magic: Transformation // Bonded: Fable (Sea Dragon)
#4

Isra who loves the water, always

“But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.”



The darkness is a weight in this hallway that travels down into the belly of the castle. It presses into Isra's spine like lead, like touches leading her away into the forest. There is too, in the blackness, a wetness, like jasmine petals dripping dew onto a moonstone pathway. When Isra swallows down the darkness, as if it's wine instead of color, she can taste what moonlight is leaking through the thick stone walls.

It tastes like a memory, like before, like it always has.

Their shoulders are almost brushing by the time Boudika breaks the silence with something more than the soft ring of their hooves on the floor. Isra smiles without teeth softly, quietly, like the autumn breeze rolling against her birch jungle. For a moment, between one step and the next, she brushes her nose against her champion's shoulder. She does not wonder how her magic feels trapped between her skin; but she thinks sometimes, that it's electricity running aimlessly without direction in the gap between sinew and bone.

“For every place that I've changed there are a hundred more secrets the castle has yet to show me. But no, I have not always had my magic. I was born a slave with only mortality running through my blood.” The weight in the darkness changes her voice. It makes it strange, older and dripping with black ink instead of sounds. There is always ink in her voice now-- ink, blood, and black magic. Isra almost says more but there is light creeping through the black and a humidity that starts to pool against her teeth like dew (always like dew).

She pauses at the edge of the darkness where the dusky, twilight of small hanging fires begins. The scales dusting her belly reflect the light and turn to something more violet and lilac than sea-stained. Isra inhales all the jasmine and oak heat that's blended in with the humid air. The desert starts to seem so very far away. When takes the first step into the hot-spring fed pool, she sighs when the water chases away the last of the black-coldness of the heavy hallway. She smiles and it's fierce and storm wild.

Isra looks at Boudika like a lion, like a wolf, like a dragon that has only just learned it has become a god.

“This pool was one of the first places I discovered. No one knows who created it.” There is no brine on her tongue when she pauses, only the lingering metallic tang of fresh-water filtered through stones she cannot name. “Very few know it's even here.” Isra walks deeper, until the water covers her dusting of scales and makes the chain running around her leg look small and silent below the surface.

She does not look at Boudika when she speaks again with her lips resting just above the water. Each word is muffled by it like the blackness muffled their steps (how it made them secrets in the dark).  “I think my magic came from drowning.” Her voice makes ripples in the water, small stretches of movement that reflect the light and make strange things out of it.

“If you could choose, would you choose to have magic?”Isra does know what she would have chosen. Even now, with power enough to change the world, she does not know.




@Boudika

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