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Played by Offline griffin [PM] Posts: 20 — Threads: 2
Signos: 1,615
Vagabond Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 0 [Year 504 Spring] // 16.3 hh // Hth: 12 — Atk: 8 — Exp: 16 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: Teak (Cheetah)

I met a lady in the meads,
      Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
      And her eyes were wild.

How strange it is, to look at a shrine for her mother and father and uncle. A part of her wants to scream that they do not belong among the dead, that they are not missing, only away - 

But she holds onto it, their family secret, the way she bears a sliver of her mother’s dagger on a cord where it lies against her breast. Time-magic is in their blood, worlds are their inheritance, and Aster does not leave so much as a feather on that display, heavy with candles dripping white wax, and flowers that smell nothing like her mother’s. 

(Yet she closes her eyes, tight tight tight, for a long moment before turning away. Is there a tear caught there beneath her eye like a bit of broken glass? Aster has never cried).

Teak is trying his best to be good. He is only a cub, after all, with his mantle of silver-tipped fur and his little black spots like ink, and there are so many things here that a young cheetah could investigate. His tail is twitching and twining behind him, tickling against Aster’s knee as he winds between her legs; at last she laughs, and pushes him with her nose, and thinks go. Teak tears off at once, after a group of little dragons as bright and varied as a nest of gemstones, and she watches as they tumble and race out of view amid the wooden stalls and snapping flags and bonfires piled high for the onset of night. 

It is an odd feeling, to be alone among so many. The filly (young enough her golden fawn-spots are still faint and gleaming circles on her back and along her sides, young enough her wings are only a suggestion of what they will one day be) moves as slow and stately as a visiting dignitary, her wide eyes gold and wondrous, reflecting the firelight the way the cobblestones reflect the moon. Her hair is pale ivory spun at the edges into gold, half-tangled and half-plaited; she smells of pine and rich dark earth, a wild thing among these horses of the city. 

Everywhere there is something new to stop and watch. Best of all she likes the dancers, and stops before a group of them, strung with gypsy-coins that gleam as they spin and catch the firelight like her eyes do, watching them like Teak watches birds. A few mares are playing instruments, a violin and a tambourine and a kind of wooden pipe, though of course Aster knows the names of none of them. All she knows is the way the music sounds like the stars singing down to the sea, or like the moon bidding goodbye to the night, or like a white hind running through the trees and every limb and blade of grass reaching, reaching, just to be blessed by her shadow. 

It makes her want to run, too, or to dance as fierce as the wind whips up the white-caps on the sea, or to laugh and cry out until her voice is another instrument ringing out over the square. But for now she only stands, swaying a little with the music, devouring the dancers that whirl and leap and the bonfire whose sparks do the same. 

@open | to any!


Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 65 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,005
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/His] // 6 [Year 498 Summer] // 17 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 20 // Active Magic: Dream Illusion // Bonded: N/A

last year I abstained
this year I devour

without guilt
which is also an art

They won't do.

The bandages. They're too—Caine sucks in his cheeks, runs his eyes critically over the starched linen—white.

He discards them in a tangled pile at the foot of a weeping willow. But before he turns away, he catches his gaze lingering. Catches it skim along the wet, trampled grass, unhurried, innocent, devoid of purpose. Until grass gives to linen and innocence springs to urgency and a question receives its answer.

No blood on the discarded bandages. Not even a drop. His breath releases slowly, leaving palls of smoke in the apprehensive night. Of course there is none. The healers informed him last evening, smiles lit aglow by the moonlight streaming through the curtains, that his wounds had healed. Beautifully, one had added, when she hadn't found in his expression enough... joy. Relief. Like the others. He'd obliged her, finally, with a closelipped smile.

He doesn't know why he searches for it, the blood; only that it has become something like a compulsion. Like picking at a scab until it gives.

Every morning at the Hospital, after he'd manage to swallow his breakfast (a bland mix of "nutritious oats" that ran from his spoon like pond water, but grey, and therefore worse) a healer would enter to change his bandages.

He would push his bowl away and watch them peel the layers off, one by one, white linen and white linen until—finally—a shock of red. Robin's breast red. They often mistook his stare for worry. They would smile (a Terrastellan custom) and assure him, gently, that it was perfectly normal. "The bandages take off the scarring, you see. For wounds as deep as yours, the scars take longer to set."

He'd shrug. They would nod, half their role fulfilled, and throw the bloody bandages into a bucket bursting of bloody bandages. Some of them would hum as they rewrapped his withers with fresh, crisp linen, and he'd smile and inquire after their day.

Somewhere past the Steppe his hooves make the decision to turn south, instead of north, and he hasn't the heart to correct them. He can stop and rest in the city, stock up on food and canteens of water for the trek through the desert. The journey will be harder this time, because it will be made on foot.

The smell of Denocte envelopes him like warm bathwater. He tilts his head back, and inhales deeply. Smoke, spice, flowers. Children—and cats—weave circles around his legs. There's the Bakery, the Inn, the Tavern. Their names bob in the backwaters of Caine's memory. He hadn't used them with the other spies, they'd moved too often for that. Every night, a different Tavern. Every morning, another Bakery. To attach names was to attach sentiment, and that was one of the many things a spy wasn't allowed. Top of the contract, article number three.

He remembers to adjust his shadow cloak fully over his shoulders before moving further into Denocte's beating heart. Spare Lady Night from the sight, he thinks, snorting lightly. Wouldn't make a very good welcome. He pauses to slip a coin onto the Florist's table, dodges her curious eyes (she, the sole exception to every other anonymous face in this city, would likely recognize him), and requests four blue asters. She will like them, I think. He tucks them carefully into the leather strap binding his dagger to his front leg, and adjusts his cloak once more. A compulsion. Like picking at a scab until it gives.

He moves into the river of the crowd, and whispers for it to sweep him away.

It obeys. The moon swims slowly through the stars, keeping time. It is halfway between the nose of Ursa Minor and the claw of Ursa Major when Caine surfaces besides a troupe of gypsy-coin-strewn dancers. A child as white as a star (as starched bandages) stands before them, too, swaying a little to the music's pull. He does not often notice children; it is an enforced sort of ignoring.

But he notices her, because of her silence. A tangible thing, it is, held close to her chest like a cooing dove. She rocks forwards onto the tips of her hooves, a bird taking flight. 

Two, no—he narrows his eyes—three shadows accompany her. Borne from the nebulous matter of her dreams. He feels his magic siphon from him; normally, he would stop it. But tonight, his curiosity is insatiable. Golden antlers sprout from her skull, and the ends of her spectral hair, half of it plaited, bleeds like the sun. His own hair is not plaited. It spills over his neck like oil, skims his knees and curtains his eyes until he pushes it back behind an ear.

He does not turn to the child, and the shadows stand protectively between him and her, but his voice carries like the timbre of a cello through the distance his body cannot: "Did you know? Some nights, the dancers throw gypsy coins into the crowd. Most are fake—painted copper." His silver eyes seek hers, then. Bright, secretive, hollow, yearning. 

"Once, I picked up one that was real."

@Aster | what a lovely girl

but darkness was here yesterday

♠︎ ♤ ♠︎


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