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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 168 — Threads: 33
Signos: 50
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 32 // Active Magic: War Embodiment // Secondary Magic: N/A // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#1

tell me about the dream where we pull bodies out of the lake and dress them in warm clothes again, how it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running until they forget they are horses





Vercingtorix finds there is a cruel irony to his nightmares; it is one he begrudgingly laughs at, because there is no other choice. He dreams of seasickness. He dreams of his voyage to Novus and how the fear of the sea is so deeply ingrained in his being that he could not sleep for days at a time. He thinks of how the waves had bucked and kicked and made him wonder what it felt like to sink, and drown. He thinks again and again how humorous the irony is: the war leaders of his people believe they will become seafarers, voyagers, as they had once been. 

But their prodigal son cannot sleep because he dreams of rocking boats and high tide. In its own way, this is how he meets Al’Zahra. Vercingtorix wanders at night and in his wanderings he encounters a simple bay woman with an even simpler gold chain. She asks passage to an island. She has heard he has been seeking employment, and is only the Old Gods’ humour that ensures she asks for the most difficult thing he could imagine. 

He takes it as the Old Gods laughing. He takes it to mean that he must not fear this thing, or it will destroy him. 

Vercingtorix does not deny her request, however. There is something tantalising about the idea of adventure, and the simplicity of it! It is absurd to Vercingtorix that, in this foreign world, a man can travel to an island as if the water is not cursed! And perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps that is the only reason Locust’s ship docks in the harbour of Denocte, and he finds himself waiting at the end of that same dock with a rented vessel. Vercingtorix stares at the surrender-white sail and tries not to think of it torn and blood-stained; he tries not to imagine it capsized. In the very act of attempting not think of the thing, he is forced to think of it, and he stamps his hoof in exasperation. It is just large enough for the two of them and, perhaps, limited cargo. Vercingtorix has provisions for several days onboard already, and he has been up for nights relearning the art of sailing. It is not so difficult, and despite his innate fear, he picks it up as easily as he does most trades. 

He is there at daybreak, as they arranged. Vercingtorix waits patiently, quietly, observing as sailors emerge from their ships to begin the day’s routine.  Despite the discomfort his nearness to the sea brings, the early light is beautiful and crisp as mint. His homeland never possessed the clear, bright air he finds in Denocte, once the woodsmoke has blown out by the sea. There is a newness to it, a hesitant and fledgling promise, ecstatic and eager-eyed as if just waking up. It reminds him of what it feels like—

No, don’t think it

It reminds him of what it feels like—

No, stop—

It reminds him of what it feels like—

Why—? 

to be in love. 

The thought floods him with metallic bitterness. He feels sharp as a blade, rough as a goathead’s caltrop seed. It digs. It bites. It sticks. 

What would you look for in a lover he had breathed against Vercingtorix’s neck. 

Toughness, he replied. Toughness and brutal beauty. Passion; compassion. The ability to make me laugh. 

He thinks of, despite himself—

Brilliant crimson eyes; like blood in clear water. Bright, like this morning is bright. Do I make you feel those things? 

Yes

He inhales sharply as the saltwater sprays in a fine mist against his face. He jerks his head up, and in doing so he finds himself face-to-face with the bay mare. 

Al’Zahra. 

Vercingtorix’s expression softens; he offers a roguish, apologetic smile. “You caught me daydreaming.” 

That is one word for it. It is not the right word for it. "Are you ready, my lady..." he accentuates it, dramatically, moving aside so she has room in their boat. "... for adventure?" 

He wonders what they will find. 

But he can only think of all the beaches he has ever known. 

Bright red. The sea churning up with blood and bone. Black, and demanding a toll for life. 



look at the light through the windowpane. that means it's noon. that means we're inconsolable
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#2

The Illuminated

“both beauty and terror, without beginning, without end.”


Every time she blinks she can still see a spot of land rising from the sea. At night it's color-bright, stained with moonlight and so much hope she feels like she could choke on it. But now, with the dawn rising pink-cheeked and virgin pale, she can only see it in flashes of lighting white. Even now when she stands on the end of the dock it's there, electric and ready to drag her under.

Al'Zahra, the last of her kind, knows that she should pause and wonder. Maybe it's better that she's the last. Maybe it's better than her bones have forgotten their fire and her skin it's incorporeal wonder.

Maybe it's better that she is the last....

The last to know what wickedness lingers below mortal hearts, like blackness lingering beneath the tropic sea.

But today she has forgotten how to be angry, or anything but hopeful and soft beneath the rising sun. The dock feels like a suggestion of hardness beneath her hooves. It feels a little as if the sea is already roiling underneath her and the wind is already blowing a chanting dirge though her tangled hair and her gleaming gold. Ahead she can see the Vercingtorix waiting by his rented vessel and she knows she should hurry before the harbor gets busy with ships heading out to so many places (each of them hurts her heart to think about).

With an inhale, heavy and bloated with that fist of hope wrapped against her throat, she moves through the pink dawn towards the glass-sea. And she hopes, oh she hopes, that all that calmness is nothing more than a promise of something vicious waiting for her. Storm, or sea, or island she wants it all. All. Of. It.

His smile is full of dark promise (just enough to hide all that blackness lingering, she knows) so she smiles back just enough to let her new mortal darkness say a welcome to his. “Wicked ones I hope.” If there is any chivalry to the way he moves aside for her to board she does not see it-- not when it's framed by the young day and the endless sea. With all the space before her, open and wide and waiting, it's almost easy to pretend he said nothing to her but, come.

The rest of the world trickles in, slowly, like molasses and fermented wine. She remembers that he said more than a sigh of come against the curl of her hip as she passes. “Always.” She says around the fist of thorns wrapped tightly around her throat. It comes out like a sigh, like a prayer to the sea where that island waits, colored only in her moonlit dreams. The dock sounds hollow as she walks across it-- hollow enough that a horse closer to the mortal coil might wonder at what things lie beneath such a hungry skin.

But then the wind comes rushing in again, salted mist and brine and wind almost cold enough to howl. It feels like she is running down the shore with a storm gathering deep-bellied and hungry in the distance.

It feels, it feels, it feels--

It feels like so much living that she hardly notices when the ship pulls away from the dock. But the moment she does, the moment she feels the deck roll and sway beneath her--

Al'Zahra, the last of her kind, walks up to the prow, lifts her head into that damp, salted dawn and starts to sing.

And sing. And sing. And sing.




art credit

@Vercingtorix









Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 168 — Threads: 33
Signos: 50
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 32 // Active Magic: War Embodiment // Secondary Magic: N/A // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#3

hubris is deadly, yet you wore it like armour. it chafed your skin and you declared it your mark as the favourite of a god. perhaps you hoped to equal achilles and his countless splendid songs. the scholars laughed; achilles died for this war. you merely won it.



Wicked ones I hope.

“Of course.” If only she knew.

Once I’ve started thinking of it, it is often impossible to forget. 

The sterility of hospitals; him sitting at my bedside, reading, talking, sharing battle stories, reminiscing our days as cadets. The way he would fall asleep standing up next to me. The soft scent of leather, and oil, and the wild mint that grew by his cabin. 

The way his touch ignited my blood like it was fuel for his fingers.

Wicked ones, I hope.

The way he would sigh against my ear, and always had a reason for why we couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t and now, only now, do I know it is because his entire life was a lie. Our intimacy would have revealed that.

The bitterness is a sea in and of itself, welling within me. I untie our vessel and cast us from the dock; I am busy with the tying and untying of the small masts, and as I rest at the back of the sailboat, steering the tiller, I listen to her sing.

It sounds hungry to me.

A pack of wolves; or, no, no,

one wolf alone, howling, howling, howling.

Endless because it waits, and waits, and waits 

for an answer.

There isn’t one.

I know, because the same kind of singing fills me. I say, “Al’Zahra. You are not from these lands.” 

It is obvious in her golden chain; the way her eyes dance. I know what other looks like. I know how other sings. “Tell me about yourself. Tell me what you hope to find on those distant shores.” 

My mother always warned me against asking questions in the form of statements; leaving little room for discussion. I lean back, ducking as the boom swings to catch the wind. The sail fills with wind and we begin to gain speed, cutting through the choppy sea full of as many secret’s as a stranger.

It unsettles me; it unsettles me in the way the lingering silence after a battle would. The quiet, quiet that fills in the air after utter destruction. It unnerves me as something wrong does, but my expression does not show it. A gull careens above us, diving low to investigate our vessel; then it wheels away. 

It ought to be beautiful, the way the ocean stretches before us, virgin and ready for discovery. She is enticing, today; full of jewel-bright water and the distant peak of the island. The wind is high in my ears, and Al’Zahra’s singing echos within me, a resonant call that tries to fill every empty edge of my soul.

It only magnifies the emptiness.

Something wicked, I hope.

My teeth work against my cheek. I know beneath us teems every nightmare imaginable; beneath us there are beasts we are vulnerable to, there are unknowns that stretch and reach and threaten to consume us.

Yet the sailboat cuts through the waves. And the gulls careen overhead. And the day seems bright and new and willing to take us. 


@Al'Zahra



nobody gave you the right to wound the children of gods. (you did it anyway). you wanted to live forever; but didn't you realise? you had to die to be truly immortalised. oh, cunning odysseus, i do not think you would have paid such a price to be remembered.
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#4

The Illuminated

“both beauty and terror, without beginning, without end.”


The last of her kind does not turn to look at him when he speaks. Rather she only looks out to the horizon with her song rolling over the sound of him like wave. Once she would have sung until mortals walked into the edge of her armageddon. Maybe it's in the way her voice rises to a fever pitch when he talks, maybe it's in the way her words are nothing more than the hum of a thunder too far off to feel--

And maybe it's all in the look she gives him when the silence calls, the way her eyes seem to whisper, fall, fall, fall.

“You would be wrong.” There is ire in her gaze, ire and iron, and a hundred other flickering flames that promise to be harsher than the sea below their bellies. She turns towards him with her teeth aching beneath her feral smile, aching to pluck the sound of a question from his lips. A breeze whips through her hair and chains, and it sings a lament that there is no thunder rolling of her tongue like magic anymore. Her hooves sing a drum on the hollow belly of his ship when she goes to Torix. She wonders if he can hear the war in it, the want, the way she's more than a girl from a another land.

And when she presses her lips to his neck, she doesn't tell him that she's from more than this world. She doesn't tell him that she remembers when the gods were young. She do anything but hum that far off thunder melody to the pulse rushing too mortal, too weak, too full of everything she hates, below the sheen of his skin. Below the humming are the words, more storm than girl, “but we could trade secrets, if you're brave enough.”

Her eyes are blazing in the bright shine of her smile when she pulls away. They are are wildfire roaring across the virgin sea, all soot and ember that know it belongs to the wind and never the waves. She can feel the echo of his pulse against her lips when she looks at the island drawing closer, closer, closer. To her it looks like a beast on the horizon, a dragon, a hydra, a creature almost older than her fragile soul.

Al'Zahra does not ask him for a secret, nor does she offer one. She only has eyes for the island now that it has appeared. Beneath her skin her heart, her soul, her mortal organs are screaming for her to turn back. But she only laughs at the feeling of a lightning running below her skin (it feels like touching Morrighan, like watching her run from their touches like a doe instead of a wolf). It feels like freedom.

Freedom or death. Once she had thought the words, over and over again between the bars of her cage. Once she had wanted death.

But now, now, now

Oh now, when she looks back at Torix with that siren, sea-foam laughter tumbling from her like blades,  she is more than a girl, more than a wolf, more than a dancer. She is more than other, more than godly. She is the sea, the flames, the stone and root given flesh and form. She is all of it-- everything.

“Are you brave?” She says it like the answer matters at all to her. It's too late for him, too late for both of them. Because the island has already swum across the horizon to greet them.



art credit

@Vercingtorix










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