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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 16 — Threads: 6
Signos: 50
Day Court Merchant
Male [He/Him/His] // 8 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 6 — Atk: 14 — Exp: 14 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: Nestor (Gyrfalcon)
#1




A prison. So the cuffs rising out of the waves carved onto the tombstone hadn't been symbolic. It had been literal.

Cautiously, Senna moved around the hollowed-out cavern and lowered his muzzle to the rusted iron bars of a cell. "Did you know about this place?" he asked absently, glancing over his shoulder at the spectral-pale form of Theodosia. 

Before he could meet her eyes, however, his gaze snared upon the two sets of hoof prints scored into the thick film of dust and ash. It looked recent, perhaps left just a few days before. 

He thought back to the skincrawling feeling of being watched when he'd stood over Santiago's upturned grave. He wondered, not for the first time, what sort of magic was required to make the dead walk again.

They moved further through the prison, peeking into every cell for scratches gouged into the wall, messages painted in blood. 

Sinister things, Senna thought, befitting of this ever darkening... hunt

It waited for them in the very last cell.

Another message—written in a dark, brackish liquid that looked suspiciously like yet strangely unlike blood—greeted them:
One great eye gazes out from the ocean.
Laid to waste by that which eats but has no mouth,
Always hungry, fed by those black of heart. 
Roman greensward west by south.

He read it over three times, silently, to himself. That which eats but has no mouth. The Solterran in him answered the riddle immediately: sand. How the sands of the Mors ate all that ventured within, bones and all, unless the traveller sated the desert's bloodthirst with a freshly killed sacrifice. A bird, a deer, an enemy. 

Or so the ancient legends said. He'd never tried it for himself, thinking it about as barbaric as he'd expect Solterran legends to go, and the Mors hadn't minded his transgression. 

The old man he'd bought the Halcyon scrolls off of had slipped a thin wedge of a book containing an account from a Deluminian explorer named Agreus, who had ventured to the abandoned Ager within the last few decades. In it, Agreus had recounted how the desiccated halls had been all but swamped with sand and choked through with invasive plants. Plants eat with no mouth, as well.

Turning back to the writing, he ignored the third line—black of heart could mean a vexingly many things—and read over the fourth and final line once more. Until—

"It's the Ager." The name had always struck him as vaguely familiar. 

["Ager Romanus: the old territory of the civilization who called themselves Romans. An ancient people believed to have originated far to the West of Scarab, though their existence has never been confirmed by scholars," read a passage he'd skimmed years ago, when he'd attempted to best Sova in tactics by studying the history of all the foreign nations he could unearth scrolls in the Great Library about.] 

Greensward—green field—west by south. The little island beneath Terrastella; which was, tellingly, the location of the Ager. 

There was no question about it. Like an ouroboros, the hunt was swallowing its own tail. 

Back to the beginning of all things.

♦︎

The remaining stretch of beach, once they'd squeezed their way out of the abandoned prison, led quickly towards a passageway leading into the Terrastellan citadel. From there, they set off towards the island skimming the horizon, reduced to a black, craggy mass by the brilliance of the rising sun.

As they flew, Senna glanced weightily towards the Halcyon pegasus. They hadn't explicitly agreed to work together, and he certainly wouldn't go so far as to call it that, but what was to happen when they arrived?

Ever since the beginning Senna had known, despite Theodosia's feigned restraint, that she would never let him take Prudence peaceably. He wondered briefly if she knew of his arrangement with her Commander. But even then, that was between him and Marisol, not the Halcyon unit in its entirety. 

If it came down to it, he would not fight her.

"How long will your surveillance of me last, Champion?" he asked instead, voice insouciant as his brow arched upwards in feigned amusement.

What will you do once we reach the Ager?


@redandblack @Theodosia | "senna" nestor | notes: try as I might senna's clue posts always go on FAR longer than necessary please excuse me
rallidae | art








AND TO A PLACE I COME
where nothing shines

♦︎  ♦︎

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Played by Offline bruiser [PM] Posts: 95 — Threads: 12
Signos: 10
Dusk Court Champion of Battle
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 5 [Year 499 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 20 — Atk: 20 — Exp: 27 // Active Magic: Storm Calling // Bonded: N/A
#2


let our eyes show the 
fire in our hearts tonight

There is something stirring within Terrastella, something as old as Prudence or perhaps even older, something that called to mind the legends of the Ilati and the history that had only been half-remembered throughout the court. “No,” she answers the lord, already stepping forward in order to investigate the prison, her tail curled upwards to avoid the pale hairs dragging across the filthy floor. Was there where Cicero and Seneca had been kept? No, they had been banished, not imprisoned, due to their immortality.

Perhaps it had been where Dalmatia had awaited her sentencing, after she had so brutally murdered her Commander. There is a chill in the air, one that seeped down into her very bones, and when they come across the writing she wouldn’t be entirely surprised it it were blood staining the walls. She considers the words carefully, running through them in her mind -- but Senna is the first to crack the code.

“Of course,” She breathes out, sparks beginning to flicker over her wings and illuminating the words, and she cannot help the way her eyes light up in anticipation. “After it was abandoned -- who would think to look for Prudence there?” She might only wish that she had been the first to solve the puzzle, but she’s never been very good at riddles, and either way -- for the moment, the two of them had a shaky, unspoken truce.

---

She glances over at the lord as they approached the island, her eyes shadowed by the rising sun behind them, and she almost smiles at his question. Even she isn’t so unaware of the question beneath, of the fact that their current truce will only last until they find the armor. “I suppose until we see this through,”  There is something sharp about her smile, the same electricity still crackling over her feathers and down along her spine, dissipating amongst the hair on her tail.

She doesn’t know the details about his arrangement with Marisol, only that the Halcyon were meant to aide him in the rediscovery of Prudence. There had been nothing said about how they would treat repossession, after all, and she had plans for that armor that involved her being the one to find it and bring it back to the barracks. If Senna got in her way, well … it would simply be unfortunate, as she was beginning to appreciate his dry wit.

credits


@Senna @redandblack





she wasn't looking for a knight,
she was looking for a sword.

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Played by Offline Everyone [PM] Posts: 38 — Threads: 7
Signos: 175
Official Novus Account
#3







From the moment you step onto the island, you know that you are being watched.

The Ager is still and haunted as a graveyard. Its buildings are dilapidated by decades of disuse. Overhead the sky is a stormy grey, as if Solis has chosen today to frown down upon you. Sand has risen to swallow up the doorways; knotted trees and vines carpet the walls in thick grey lattices, their leaves and vines breathing in the wind; dust and moss and dark, wet dirt carpet the paths underfoot, bearing the faintest curved suggestion of hoofprints.

Winding, winding, winding, from the beach deep into the forest.

And yet those hoofprints are the only sign of life at all. No scurrying rodents, no wing-beating birds. The air is totally thick and still. As you follow the path deeper into the woods, the sunlight seems to dim and dim until your eyes are struggling to adjust. You pass bones half-buried, dirty scrolls turned belly-side up, rosebushes rewilding the wet earth. You pass buildings crumbling to brick-red dust and beds rotting away into beds of leaves. You pass a place that was once something to be proud of and you see how it has fallen totally into ruin.

And then there comes a place you cannot pass, for Wrath blocks your way.

He is tall, too tall, and strangely gaunt, as though he has not been fed well in weeks; under the oil-slick black of his coat you can see the light’s suggestion of protruding hips and ribs. His wings are tucked against his sides, and they glitter in the not-light. Not a speck of white is found on his skin. Scars rib his shoulders faintly. And oh, when he looks at you, your body can’t help but tremble at the too-green true-green of his eyes, electric as envy, bright as new leaves, and how their verdant shine is uninterrupted by even the suggestion of a pupil.

Like the cloudy sameness of a blind man’s gaze, or the unwavering stare of a too-powerful god.

You realize with a ghostly chill that these are the eyes that have been watching you all along. At every turn. In sleep. From the upturned graves, above the cliffs, deep in the blackness of the salty cave-prisons. Always in the corner of your gaze, always watching as you unravel each clue. 

He smiles, and his teeth are far too sharp.

“Senna,” he says. “Theodosia.” His voice is smooth and silk, cold, pleased in a way that only sounds ominous. “One from Solterra given immediate rank, the true Terrastellan still struggling to break cadet. Your partnership is amusing.”

His eyes fall down and stare blankly into the dirt. For a moment he stands utterly still, like a corpse or a statue, unfocused, unfeeling, and then without breaking the odd stare, his lips start to move.

“You are not done.” His eyes start to shake back and forth. “How strange, too, that you have not managed to decide which one of you will take the prize. If you can get to Her. If I decide that I will speak to Her for you.” And his voice trembles, but not in fear. It vibrates with excitement, so hot it becomes manic, pushing at the corners of his teeth. The rapid movement of his eyes has started to increase both in speed and ferocity—now it is nearly impossible to tell where he is looking, or why. 

Then abruptly it stops. He stills, and meets their eyes.

“You are standing on an island where live three kinds of mortals.” (You cannot help thinking that he is talking about this island.) “Messengers who are truthful, fighters who lie, and healers, who, like men, may decide for themselves whether they will use their candor. Upon your arrival to the island one of each comes to greet you.”

On either side of the man, another vision of him, identical to the first, shimmers into existence. They are all tall, and black, and still. All their green eyes stare at you with missing pupils.

“I’m Seneca,” says the first one.

“No, I’m Seneca,” says the third.

“No, I-

“You have two questions,” the one in the middle interrupts. (You think he is the original, but it’s hard to tell; they’re all sort of bleeding into each other, mixing at the edges, moving back and forth and back again.) “Each one of us will answer, but only in ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

“Who—” cackles the third.

“Is who,” the first taunts.



On your way into the depths of the Ager, you run into a black pegasus who claims he will lead you to Prudence--if you're worthy. He poses to you a riddle to test if you deserve Her...

You may not fight, injure, or use any kind of active magic on Seneca, nor is there a way to find Prudence that does not require finding the answer to this riddle. Nothing will happen to your character if they pose the wrong question, but Seneca will disappear for a cool down period before you can come back and try again. As always, tag my OOC account (@redandblack) when you post. You may choose to use both of your questions in one post or pose one, wait for the Senecas to respond, and post again. Either way, they will respond once you have used both questions to tell you whether you are correct.

Let me know if you have any questions!
x






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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 16 — Threads: 6
Signos: 50
Day Court Merchant
Male [He/Him/His] // 8 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 6 — Atk: 14 — Exp: 14 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: Nestor (Gyrfalcon)
#4




"I suppose until we see this through," Theodosia says, lightning in her smile, but for Senna her concession is enough. He turns away, eyes thoughtful, and nods. "Fair." And it is. 

The scruffy sliver of the abandoned isle sits upon the brightening horizon like a scab. A curtain of opaque mist slicks their coats and feathers as they fly through a gathering raincloud, and when they emerge on the other side, it is not really like emerging at all.

The Ager's island is slathered in clouds of heavy, drizzling grey. The beach is little more than a narrow, pale stripe segmenting ocean and treetop, its sand wave-churned and littered with dark bodies of driftwood. Cautiously, they land where the beach seems widest—fifteen meters across compared to a scant five—and droplets of water condense down their bodies like dew off a dragonfly's wings. 

Little white crabs no bigger than woodlice skitter away in droves from their hooves, and Senna's jaw clenches in momentary disgust. Never has he missed Solterra's lifeless dunes with such sudden ferocity. Besides the insect-like crabs, however, (who swiftly bury themselves back into their sandy graves) Senna soon realizes that there seems to be no other life—at all—left upon the receding shore. 

They seem to be the first ones to arrive. The first hunters, he corrects, when his eyes narrow upon the hoofprints left purposefully in a trail leading to the edge of the beach.

The passage of time becomes less like fact and more like illusion the deeper they press into the silent forest. Bird-less, lizard-less, mosquito-less. He surveys the ruins they pass with cultivated impassivity; they are the only sights that unnerve him the least, if only because abandoned things are about as common as cacti in Raum's Solterra.

His right wing flares out to press against Theodosia's chest in warning when a shadow separates itself from the trees and steps nimbly in their way. "It seems we have reached the end of this hunt." His wing withdraws. He does not seem altogether aware of the action (both the flaring and the withdrawing), absorbed as he is in narrowing his eyes critically at the stallion made of shadows.

Eyes almost as green as his daughter's stare unblinkingly back at him. (Pupilless, however; the Weaver, for his credit, had kept her pupils.) It is not until the stallion smiles, like he is unfamiliar with the action, that Senna notices the fangs peeping menacingly out from his muzzle. Thicker and more wolf-like than his own—they remind him of his mother's. 

He speaks, and Senna listens, before—without warning—the man goes utterly still, expression slackening. Like a corpse. Haltingly, Senna roves his gaze across his black coat and searches for smudges of dirt. The words he'd whispered over Santiago's empty grave cling like cobwebs to the edges of his mind: "If only the dead can speak." 

Words he'd made in jest; now, he wonders if he shouldn't have been so flippant.

With a spasming shudder, the man reanimates. His pupilless eyes begin to shake like loose marbles in their sockets. Electricity—magic, Senna realizes—crackles through the air as the man speaks a riddle, pauses thoughtfully, and then, like scratching an itch, clones himself once and once again. 

Three men with coats of pitch, six eyes (almost) as green as Sol's, three mouths curling into madness. Each one claiming the name of Seneca. "I'm Seneca," they babble, back and forth, like seagulls fighting over a mackerel. No. I'm Seneca, he thinks, drily.

"You have two questions," the middle one cackles. "Each one of us will answer, but only in 'yes' or 'no'." Frowning, Senna thinks back to the specifications given earlier. Messengers, fighters, and healers. "Who—is who?"

Who is who, Sokar? whispers a silken voice in his mind he has not heard in a long, long time. His mouth ghosts into a smile.

"A moment, if you gentlemen will." He picks up a stick laying on the ground and strides to a part of the clearing covered with a layer of undisturbed dirt. 

And begins to scratch a series of symbols into the soft ground. 

Solovey, the only totem prince who'd shown any interest in Senna's existence, and therefore the brother he was the most fond of, had been the one to teach him the language of logic. Not patiently—Senna remembered with sourness how the trickster prince had once locked him in a crypt and vowed to let him out only if he could solve the riddle.

A nightingale had flown in through the bars of the vault come morning to find his little falcon brother huddled in a ball in the farthest corner, the floor and walls covered in frost and lines of symbols. The bird transformed right before the parchment hurled at him smacked him in the face, laughed uproariously at Seneca's blue-lipped snarl, and unfurled the parchment to find his answer waiting for him.

Two questions. A fighter whose answer is always opposite of what's true, a messenger who's always honest, and a healer who can do both. The key was to force the fighter to tell the truth, along with the messenger; from then on, all his second question had to do was ask either messenger or fighter—whichever one revealed themselves first—who the healer was. 

The stick snaps in half just as the last symbol scores deeply into the ground. Senna tosses the broken halves into the underbrush, surveys his work once more, and turns back to the waiting Senecas.

"If I were to ask you if you were the messenger," he says, moving his gaze from Seneca to Seneca, "would you say yes?" He thought back to his symbols. The fighter, when asked if he was the messenger, would lie and answer yes. But when asked if he would say yes to that question, he would lie again and say no, unwittingly telling the truth—that he was not, in fact, the messenger. 

Solovey's melodic laughter rang like bells in his mind.


@redandblack @Theodosia | "senna" nestor | notes: posting one question at a time!
rallidae | art








AND TO A PLACE I COME
where nothing shines

♦︎  ♦︎

Reply




Played by Offline Everyone [PM] Posts: 38 — Threads: 7
Signos: 175
Official Novus Account
#5







A moment, if you will. The Senecas smile. It could almost be a laugh. The noise it makes in their throats, the moon-bright flash of white teeth.

Then they go still again, like statues. If you look closely you can see that they’re not breathing. There is no rise or fall in their chests. No blinks, no subtle movements. In the moving dark of the island they are nearly ghosts.

When Senna speaks, they watch, their eyes fixed on him unmovingly. It’s possible that they’re not even aware of each other’s existence; their ignorance, if feigned, is unnervingly accurate.

In a voice sweet as syrup the first one says: “No.”

In a voice mild and cold, like wind across the water, the first one says: “Yes.”

And in a voice made of birdsong the third one says: “No.”

x






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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 16 — Threads: 6
Signos: 50
Day Court Merchant
Male [He/Him/His] // 8 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 6 — Atk: 14 — Exp: 14 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: Nestor (Gyrfalcon)
#6




Senna rocks back on his heels as the Senecas divulge their answers, one by one. "No." "Yes." "No." His mouth pulls into a brooding line, and he strides a step closer, until his eyes drill crimson holes into unrelenting emeralds. The emeralds of Seneca the Second.

He nudges his head towards Seneca the First. His gaze trails slowly behind. "My final question, gentlemen." He blinks when he feels Nestor's awareness bob slyly at the edge of his. She has decided to acknowledge his existence again, because she is curious. There is not one creature in this world who takes after my heart more than she, Senna thinks. The lines of his mouth crinkle in suppressed amusement.

"Is he, the first among you who spoke, the healer?" He pauses, and draws a whistling breath between lightly sealed teeth. "Of course, if that is yourself, please answer my question as a personal one."

He settles back, and awaits their final answers.

Solovey taught you well, Nestor muses. Well enough, he replies, but his lips are just shy of grinning.


@redandblack @Theodosia | "senna" nestor
rallidae | art








AND TO A PLACE I COME
where nothing shines

♦︎  ♦︎

Reply




Played by Offline bruiser [PM] Posts: 95 — Threads: 12
Signos: 10
Dusk Court Champion of Battle
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 5 [Year 499 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 20 — Atk: 20 — Exp: 27 // Active Magic: Storm Calling // Bonded: N/A
#7


let our eyes show the 
fire in our hearts tonight

The sight of the Ager in ruins stirs something primal and visceral in her breast, something close to choking, and she can’t help but wonder what it might have looked like in its prime, when the Halcyon still operated from the island and Prudence sat in her place of honor. Around them, the jungle is hauntingly empty except for their quiet footsteps, the soft scuffle of hooves against sand, and it sets her nerves on edge enough that when Senna’s wing extends against her chest, she very nearly calls down a bolt of lightning on him out of misguided reflex.

(She manages to just barely redirect the bolt into the nearby foliage, leaving a scorch mark that she hopes Seneca’s sudden appearance will mask -- and if asked, she’ll vehemently deny she was so easily startled.)

And of course, the ghost comes armed with more riddles that make her head ache as she tries to puzzle her way through them, her pale eyes narrowing and meeting Seneca’s verdant green with a grimace. Perhaps it is for the best she had decided to pair up with Senna, she thinks -- at least he seemed to grasp what the shadow was asking of them.

Uselessness has never been a good look on her, has never sat well on a woman who needed to solve every problem that confronted her, who had always been able to fix things with brute force or common sense. Riddles required neither of these things, however -- they required logic, and an education far beyond the one she had pieced together over the years from scraps of knowledge shared with her.

They make her teeth itch, truth be told, and she finds herself wondering what might if she were to simply extend her magic and zap the ghost out of their way, if they might be able to find Prudence that way. She has a feeling, however, that Seneca would not take kindly to a sudden bolt of lightning, no matter how tempting the thought may be -- so she grits her teeth against that infernal, damning itch and watches the way Senna uses a stick to scribble down a series of symbols in a patch of undisturbed dirt nearby.

They seem to make sense to him, at least, because he poses the first question to the trio, and she watches between them as a spectator, curious to see where this line of logic might lead them, if it will lead them on the path to Prudence or if it will prove the ruin of them all.

She finds herself waiting with baited breath, eyes pivoting between a trio of ghosts and the lord of Solterra, and she wonders when she had begun to feel a quiet sort of admiration for the winged man.

credits


@Senna @redandblack this si awful im sorry





she wasn't looking for a knight,
she was looking for a sword.

Reply




Played by Offline Everyone [PM] Posts: 38 — Threads: 7
Signos: 175
Official Novus Account
#8








The Senecas seem strangely calmer now. Still they look past you, not at you, but without pupils who can blame them? Their heads are high, their shoulders proud and chests still unmoved by the regular human desire to breathe. 

They only stand there, and look at each other when Senna speaks.

It’s hard to tell what sponsors the movement. Fear that the question is right, smug satisfaction that it’s wrong—their expressions are cool and only a little tremulous, the eyes unmoving brightly, the spines long and proud. Their acknowledgement of the pair is trivial at best.

But, of course, they still answer.

“No,” smirks the third Seneca.

“No,” giggles the second.

“Yes,” smiles the first.
x






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