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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 71 — Threads: 13
Signos: 335
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 22 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#1

A S P A R A

The handle of my knife hit the target with a soft thunk, then fell to the floor. Again. I frowned. There was no point in working a knife if I could not land a strike with the sharp end. I might as well be throwing stones. Or just lie down and wait to die.

Somewhere Furfur growled, intolerant of my angst, but he said nothing. But he was suffering too. I felt it in the bond between us, that slippery, inky-dark pain. It was all because of me and the choice I made.

I walked up to the target, picked up the knife, returned to the throwing line. Took a deep breath, tried to turn off my thoughts, flung the small bronze knife. My aim was decent, but I could not get the spin right. Again the handle hit the target, not the blade. The sounds of my failure (a soft thunk, a quiet clatter) the hung heavy in the open-air training pavilion. Outside, frozen trees held up the grey sky. My breath came slow and hot, a curtain of fog I wanted to disappear in.

I just needed to focus. My mind was elsewhere, and I knew it. I was thinking about my family sailing away and leaving me behind. I was thinking about my soul, and how fucked up it was that it would hurt more to be taken from this landscape than it would to be taken from my family.

I was thinking about how selfish and weak I was. And--

I was thinking of how I did not truly know the difference between love and rage, for when my mother looked at me I saw both in her eyes.

I threw the knife again. This time it missed the target completely. “Dang it.” At that time in my life I only swore in private. I had not yet gotten tired of being good. Or at least appearing it. I stomped up to the target, picked up the knife, returned to the throwing line. Tried again and again. I would stay there until I did it right.


@Darkrise for whomever you wish <3






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Played by Offline Darkrise [PM] Posts: 46 — Threads: 14
Signos: 95
Night Court Soldier
Female [She / Her / Hers] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 9 — Atk: 11 — Exp: 12 // Active Magic: Shapeshifting // Bonded: N/A
#2

She had been fighting for so long
that she did not know how to live in peace.

Restlessness painted the mare’s untamed movements, her breath culminating in a cloud of mist about her nares as she distractedly follows the cobbled paths that laced the Court like spider webs. Pillars rose all around her, flowers decorating neat little sections even near the training yard. Each day the picturesque little city felt more and more like home. Yet Castalla felt oddly ill at ease, bored perhaps. She’d never been stagnant for so long, as though peace did not agree with her. Once, perhaps, when things had been different she might have welcomed the monotony of peace, the quaint life of each day spent wandering and patrolling and getting to know the Court. But Castalla’s blood thrummed with the unquenchable desire for action; for battle. She had been fighting for so long that she did not know how to live in peace.

The whisper of a blade through air permeated Castalla’s enhanced senses, pulling her from the mire of her mind. The following thunk of wood against the target and then metal on stone told her someone was throwing knives. And that the thrower had missed. The Wolf approached the grey mare, who was dressed in the mist of her ice cold breath as she stared intently at the target. For a moment Castalla watched, silent and out of sight as she examined the young mare’s technique. Each throw was more irritated than the last, the thump of wood a symphony of frustration.

Allowing her hooves to sound on the cobble stones, Castalla emerges from the stone corridor bordering the pavilion.

“Breathe to a rhythm,” she offers, stepping up to the younger woman, “if you count it as you breathe it helps focus your mind. Try breathing in for four counts, hold for four counts, out for six counts and hold for four. And exhale as you release knife.” She gave the grey girl a kind smile, for the assassin saw something of herself in the equine, before the blood of others stained her hooves. It may have been many years ago that she had been a girl throwing daggers in anguish, thrusting her pent up anger into each distracted throw. Yet it felt like just yesterday.


“Speaking.”


@Aspara





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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 71 — Threads: 13
Signos: 335
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 22 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#3

A S P A R A

Each throw was worse and worse, my skills a downward spiral that reflected my state of mind. Furfur was pacing with increasing unease, ready for a brawl or a hunt, as I grew more agitated. We fed off each other’s energy, and as the winter air grew colder around us we only felt hotter and hotter, twin stars alight with rage and restlessness.

Another knife clattered to the ground.

And then I wasn’t alone. Or at least, then I realized I wasn’t alone.

I turned to face the wise stranger. I never paid much attention to others, but if I had, I probably would have recognized the mare. She was certainly... different. It wasn’t her accessories or scars or even her eyes-- it was the caged tension in her body. Something about her was like a snake coiled and itching for something to strike. Like my mother. Too much war for one body. And her voice was a thick crimson; smooth as rose petals.

But that wasn’t here or there or anywhere. I nodded, terse, and turned back to the target. Breathed in, out, in again--

1-2-3-4--
Hold- 1-2-3-4--
Exhale- 1-2-3-4-5-6--
hold--1-2-3-4--
release--
release.

The knife, it sang in the air. It sounded like prayer should, done right. It hit.

I bit my lip to keep from smiling. Such was my pleasure- a secret thing, strangled or muffled or bitten off whenever I had the opportunity. So it could not be taken from me. So it could not leave. “Hmm.” I murmured, careful to be placid. Harboring depths that must not be seen. “It worked.” I looked at the stranger again. I wanted to know her name. I wanted to braid and unbraid her hair the way I did sister’s, once, over and over, silent messages coded in each gesture.

But she was not my sister, and I was not so lonely to go about replacing the irreplaceable-- not yet at least. Not yet. “I’m Aspara,” I offered quietly, like a handshake. “Who taught you?” And then I offered her one of the practice daggers, to do with what she wished. The target stood there like an open invitation.

@Castalla <3






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Played by Offline Darkrise [PM] Posts: 46 — Threads: 14
Signos: 95
Night Court Soldier
Female [She / Her / Hers] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 9 — Atk: 11 — Exp: 12 // Active Magic: Shapeshifting // Bonded: N/A
#4


THE WHITE WOLF
the horror you have committed
is not who you are


With patient interest Castalla watched the other mare as she steadied her breath, hearing the air leaving her lips and the solid beat of her heart thanks to enhanced hearing. And then the dagger whistled through the air, slicing the chilly day. A smile brightened Castalla’s face as the young mare’s knife landed solidly in the target and she turned to the filly- who was for her part remarkably unfazed by the success of her throw. “It worked indeed.” Castalla barked out a laugh, amused by the filly’s deadpan deliverance. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Aspara,” for the wolf now had a face to put to the name she had learnt when first hearing of those in the Court.

“I’m Castalla.” Her name was accompanied by a friendly dip of her head, pleased to be distracted from the restlessness of her mind.

“My father taught me- well… my father and the best experts money could buy in Alanaris.” She sighed ruefully, casting the younger woman a side-long smile before picking up the dagger between the fronds of her mind. It arched gracefully in the air as she tested its weight, spinning it a little. It was heavier than her own dagger, which was holstered to one leg, though far smaller in size. Nevertheless, she turned to face the target, letting out a breath and throwing the knife all in the same smooth, swift movement. In that moment her thoughts quietened, her breath steadied and her heart paused. It landed with a precise thud in the very centre of the target. The wolf got no satisfaction from it anymore, the perfect positioning of her knife in the ring, not like she used to. Not like the days where she stood shoulder to shoulder with General and soldiers, assassins and rogues and experts in all manner of weapons. And wiped the proverbial floor with them, even as a child. Then her heart had been lighter, unburdened by the faces that haunted her sleeping moments. Now she couldn’t help but see faces in the thatched target as she stared for a moment at the knife embedded in it. Then she turned back to Aspara, wondering whether it would be shock or fear or something else shining in her eyes.

n | r


@Aspara <3





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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 71 — Threads: 13
Signos: 335
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 22 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#5

A S P A R A

The joy of landing the throw faded quicker than I’d like. As it did I remembered my despair, and my shortcomings. I felt terribly, irrevocably flawed. One day, eventually, I would realize it was my birthright; some thoughts, feelings, even ways of experiencing the world, they were passed down from generation to generation. Coiled in the bloodstream, these little demons (or sometimes it was possible, though far less likely, they were angels), inherited along with the cheekbones and the eyes and all the other things much easier to recognize.

(Papa would probably call them little madnesses. He liked the word mad, I think because it implied that anger too was a kind of insanity. I wondered what this meant about my mother. What this meant about me.)

But it was easier to forget all that when there was someone else around. I could pour myself into their stories, try to look at myself from their eyes. I was always changing, depending on who I was talking to and how I thought they saw me. I still hadn’t decided who I wanted to be-- how could I know who I want to be, I thought to myself, without ever being someone else. So I was a little morphling, subtly different from one conversation to the next.

Sometimes I used my magic to pull out the stories hidden in rocks and stones, rugs and walls and knives. But I liked to hear stories spoken out loud too. They had more power, said out loud.

What’s your father like?” I was missing mine something fierce. It was the only question I got in before she picked up the knife and began to test its weight with a gentle roll forward and back. I knew better than to distract someone about to throw, so with a discerning eye I remained silent and watched her throw.

It hit the very center of the target, so quick and subtle I hardly saw it fly through the air. I let out a low whistle of admiration, grinning at the older mare with unrestrained glee. I felt a little like there must be stars in my eyes-- I was, certainly and undeniably, enamored with her, in the passionate way of a child.

I wanted to throw like that. But it was more than that. The way she moved reminded me of my dad-- slow and quiet, almost wolfish-- and also my mom-- something dangerous coiled beneath the surface of the skin. I wanted to move like that. Even her voice, her way of speaking… My voice still had the embarrassing shrill notes of youth, and I so admired the soft rumble of her voice. It was like warm velvet. I wanted to talk like that.

I played it cool, though. It was a strength of mine that I relied on often. I’m sure there was a dreamlike slant to my smile though-- I was never talented at controlling my expressions. “What’s that scar from, on your shoulder?” I peered at it with shameless curiosity. It looked like the claw of an animal, but not like any I recognized.

@Castalla






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Played by Offline Darkrise [PM] Posts: 46 — Threads: 14
Signos: 95
Night Court Soldier
Female [She / Her / Hers] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 16 hh // Hth: 9 — Atk: 11 — Exp: 12 // Active Magic: Shapeshifting // Bonded: N/A
#6


THE WHITE WOLF
the horror you have committed
is not who you are


Castalla silently released the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding as a grin spread across Aspara’s face. It was an infectious smile that the Wolf couldn’t help but return. She’d forgotten what it was like to feel pleasure at her accomplishments, to be proud of her honed abilities. To feel something other than cold satisfaction at her own deadly precision.

“He… huh,” she can’t help the soft, barked laugh that leaves her lips as she brings him to mind. How could one describe a man with so many facets, who had walls behind walls and shields behind shields. “He is a very serious man and very intimidating. I’ve seen other stallions practically wet themselves beneath his gaze. But he is the strongest, fairest King my kind have had for centuries. His loyalty knows no bounds and though he must always put the kingdom first, I know he loves my mother and I more than anything else in the world.” A nostalgic smile tugs at the corners of her mouth and warmth, tinged with just a little bit of sadness, spread through her chest.

“What made you stay in Denocte rather than travel with your family?” Though they were barely acquaintances, Castalla was still curious. Their positions were slightly reversed- Castalla being the one to go out exploring while her parents remained in Alanaris, whilst Aspara had stayed and her parents left. Yet here they both were, miles and miles away from their family.

Castalla could see the awe in Aspara’s smile, the way she stared and the intensity in her eyes. The Wolf couldn’t decide whether to be flattered or worried. Each of the scars that marred Castalla’s otherwise porcelain skin told a story. Some of heroics, some of loss- and others of events so horrific the recounting of them had made seasoned war veterans ill. Those such tales were little more than black holes in her memories, events that she relieved in her nightmares no matter how many years passed. Though the tale of the claw marks on her shoulder was not a particularly gruesome one, it was perhaps one of the saddest memories she bore upon her skin.

“That,” she twists her head, indicating the fours slashes across her shoulder, “was from a wolf. My kind are able to turn into giant wolves and sometimes we get into fights.” Her story is unfinished, but she does not go on. Years of practice and training allowed her to school her features into something nonchalant, but deep down her heart ached as she recalled the truth behind the pink-grey slashes. She moves on with appropriate speed, drawing attention away from her shoulder to two long slashes across her left hind leg. “These were from a stallion who decided he wanted to challenge me for the throne because I am a female and apparently in his book that makes me unfit to rule alone.” Castalla grinned conspiratorially, her teeth slowly extending into sharp canines as her eyes lit up with glee.

She saw the admiration in the flick of Aspara’s smile, as though she couldn’t quite keep it small.  And for a moment she sobered, the smile falling from her face like fresh winter snow from the skies. “You don’t want to end up like me, kid.”


n | r


@Aspara <3





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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 71 — Threads: 13
Signos: 335
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 22 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#7

The way grief needs oxygen.
The way every once in a while,
it catches the light and starts smoking.

I liked hearing others talk about what they loved. Be it people, places, things. I would happily give up my body, my life, to live in cherished memories. Despite the differences between me and Castalla, I felt we were really very similar. It was mostly just time and circumstance that separated us; I born in her place, might very well have made the same choices she had, ended up with the same scars and the same stories. When she was finished speaking, I smiled in understanding.

Your father kind of sounds like mine.” Except Eik’s loyalties were to Isra and me and my sister before the court, I was absolutely sure of it. I don’t know if there was a single place he loved. Maybe the sea? Probably not Denocte. He didn’t seem to distinguish one place from another the way most people did. But sometimes he stood with the wind at his back, just… looking at the horizon. Or past it, maybe-- those moments seemed private, so I never asked. But I didn’t linger on those thoughts too long. I was struck by Castalla’s nostalgic expression. It was the kind of sad smile I had seen on uncle Asterion. I took a stab at its source.  “You miss them?

I hated that question. Each time it was asked, my response was different, and I hated that even more than the question itself. The truest answer would be to say “I don’t know”-- because even though I had my reasons, none of them seemed good enough. But not knowing was also not good enough. So you can see how that question made me all tangled up and full of doubt.

Of course, I didn’t blame Castalla for asking me. I would have asked the same if I was in her position-- probably even sooner in the conversation. My pain only showed for a moment before I swallowed it and smoothly gave the first answer that came to mind: “This is our home.” The winter chill pressed up greedily against my body and I shivered. “Someone had to stay and protect it.” Oh, there was Antiope and Aunty Morr, Moira and Katniss. Fine fighters and healers, and in comparison I was just a girl with a wolf pup, a drop in the water. But I was born here, unlike the rest of them. And whether because of that reason or my fledgling magic or something else entirely unknown, this place spoke to me. I had to believe there was power in that.

I had to choose in something to believe in, or I would always let uncertainty get the best of me.

When she told me I didn’t want to be like her, I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Someone telling me what not to want, what not to do, only made me lean into it more. Especially after sharing scar stories, which absolutely enchanted me. “Okay,” I said dismissively, knowing what battles to pick and when to fold. My tone was clear- “You’re so right. I don’t want to be a beautiful, badass, wolf-shifting warrior princess. Of course.

Will you teach me more? Tomorrow, same time?” I tried to keep the hope from my voice. And as I asked the question I picked up the knives, placing them one by one in the training chest for the next person who would come here to practice. It was an opportunity to avert my gaze from Castalla, which I desperately needed so that she would not see how much her answer meant to me. “I won’t become too much like you. Promise.” My grin was green-apple tart, and there was no lack of playful teasing in the corners of my eyes.


The way my grief will die with me.
The way it will cleave and grow
like antlers.


A S P A R A


@Castalla I suppose I will close it here but I would absolutely LOVE another thread with them <3





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