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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 439 — Threads: 47
Signos: 2,258
Vagabond Citizen
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 102 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#1

in sunshine and in shadow
Asterion thinks of all the times he’s walked this path before and how strange it feels to do so now, alone. 

Not that he is the only traveler this evening. There are groups scattered through the deepening night, clusters of silhouettes lit by lantern strung high in the pines. Fireflies blink between them like miniature constellations, and sometimes the quiet is pierced by laughter, or singing. But this time there is no Isra or Florentine beside him, no Eik or Moira waiting ahead. This time there is no disaster behind him, or trouble ahead. This time it is only himself, and the night, and the mountain that holds his memories like roots. 

Yet the once-king is not quite lonely. There are the stars for company, like old friends - he remembers how strange and new they’d seemed, when he first arrived in Novus. And there is the knowledge that, for once, there is a peace across the continent unmarred by gods or rulers. 

That alone is enough to keep his gait easy, his expression untroubled. And then the forest starts to thin, and the ground to grow more even, and there in the night like a lighthouse is the Eventide Arch. 

The bay stops walking, his breath catching. In the violet night the colors it casts are a dream-colored rainbow, purple and indigo, rose and soft orange. The last time he’d seen it, he and Katniss had been helping clear rubble from the recently destroyed gates; he remembers the sunshine warm on their backs, their quiet conversation. Asterion remembers when the gates had been locked, and why. He remembers, with Isra queen, walking through them together with his people behind him, refugees fleeing flooded Terrastella. In sorrow and hope he’s been here, in fear and fury and love. 

The beauty of the new structure is more than he could have dreamed. It feels somehow holy. 

For a long time Asterion stands at the base of the Eventide Arch and does not pass beneath. When he finally does, there are tears prickling in the corners of his dark eyes, and a faded, faraway smile on his mouth. 





@any








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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 62 — Threads: 13
Signos: 190
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 1 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#2

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

For a while I tried to keep everything exactly the same as it was when they left.

I carefully tended to the plants in my parents room, which they hoarded the way others collected books. Every morning I opened the heavy balcony curtains to let the sea breeze and the sunlight in, so it wouldn’t smell stale like someplace unlived in. I kept the nursery (where my sister and I grew up) in the exact disorganized chaos it was when Avesta left. Every time I crossed the doorway, I stepped over the scarf she had dropped on the floor in a rush to get to the pier. To move it would be irreverent.

These little rituals held my battered heart together. But when I saw the eventide arch, something changed in me. I don’t want to say it broke my heart, that would be too dramatic. It was more like... I was living in the past, in the very moment my family set out to sea, and the arch brought me crashing into the present. It didn’t matter, all the stupid things I was doing so that everything would be the same when my family returned. The plants would outgrow their pots. My parent’s room would still smell like someplace unlived. Avesta wouldn’t remember the frivolous blue scarf lying in the doorway.

They would come home, and they wouldn’t care about what their rooms were like-- there would be a giant rainbow arch where there once was charred ruins. Oh, I could spend every waking minute holding back the tides of time, but what kind of life was that? Time always won.

Time always won.

I didn’t really want to talk to the unassuming stranger who turned away from the arch and was about to walk past me. But my eyes narrowed discerningly as I noticed his expression. I took a side step so that I was in his way. In hindsight it was rather comedically thuggish of me. Physically I was, in a word, weedy. All long knobby legs and tangled mane (just grown in!). Furfur was on the hunt nearby and I felt half the size without him. But in the moment, I thought stepping in his path was a simpler way of getting his attention than clearing my throat. I had a question to ask, and I asked it with the urgency of a child with no concept of how very long a life could be. “Why are you smiling if you’re sad?"


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


A S P A R A


UNCLE @Asterion





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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 20
Signos: 60
Day Court Sovereign
Male [he/his/him] // 5 [Year 500 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 12 — Atk: 8 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Solar Transformation // Bonded: Ariel (Sun Lion)
#3

FIRE-LIT, HALF SILHOUETTE AND HALF MYTH, THE WOLF CIRCLES MY PAST, TREADING THE LEAVES INTO A BED TILL HE SLEEPS, BLACK SNOUT ON EXTENDED PAWS. BLACK SNOUT ON SULPHUR BODY, HE NUDGED HIS WAY INTO MY CONSCIOUSNESS. THERE IS NOTHING THAT WON'T BE LIT UP IN THE DARK TORCH OF HIS EYES.


Orestes feels old. 

He chips away at the journey, thinking of Antiope’s nonchalance in arriving to Solterra. It had not been a difficult for her, with her immortality, with her magic that put the life back into him. Orestes wonders if it is his absence of immortality that makes the trek so arduous, so long, or if it his reason for venturing so far.

Every man has his ghosts.

Some men let them lay.

But Orestes hunts his, even as he forgets them. He pursues the one thread that ties him to his old life with the hallowed reverence of a man still praying, despite having forgotten the reason. 

That is what drives him to see Eventide arch. Wild rumours of an amorphous girl who lives by Denocte’s cliffs and hunts the forest with wild abandon, hunting but never killing. The rumours have not existed long, more fable than truth, but—there is an element to them that piques his curiosity, that blows air back into embers thought dead at the hollow of his Soul. 

Ariel leads with tender care. There is a paternal quality to the great and terrible cat tonight; it reminds Orestes of how kind nature can be, if it wants. 

Orestes hopes they are alone when he crests the final summit, when he sees the first graceful arc of the arch in the near distance—even as he thinks it he knows it isn’t true.

There is a girl and a man. 

Orestes’s narrows his eyes in the dark that is not quite dark. So far from Solterra and in the deep of night, his tattoos do not glow with the same feverish intensity as they do in his homeland. Yet they smoulder with golden light that always seems to pour from within him. Ariel leaves charred footprints where he walks; sensing Orestes’s discomfort, the Sun Lion begins to glow bright enough to illuminate the clearing and send bright reflections across the other two patrons. The light streams the stained glass arch and turns the forest on the other side to brilliant, jagged colours.

Orestes recognises the girl; and the memory is one fond enough he cannot help but smile. He catches the tail end of her question.

“Aspara.” The greeting is quiet, but kind. Orestes does not recognise the man and, when he goes to introduce himself, he finds his tongue strangely heavy. There is a part of him that wants to lie. There is a part of him that wants to relinquish the name. 

After a pregnant, awkward pause, Orestes relents to his duty. “Good evening, sir. I’m Orestes. I came to admire the arch. I apologise if I’m intruding..?”

Suddenly, the idea of being alone seems unbearable. 

Ariel, at that moment, turns off his power. They are plunged back into natural darkness, with Orestes's tattoos a soft golden glow. 

“Speech” || @Aspara @Asterion 
"THE WOLVES HAVE

BEEN SLAUGHTERED

NOW, A HEDGE OF

SMOKING GUN BARRELS

RINGS MY DAUGHTERS

DREAMS"
CREDITS






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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 439 — Threads: 47
Signos: 2,258
Vagabond Citizen
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 102 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#4

in sunshine and in shadow
When the figure steps in front of him, he almost steps away as smoothly, almost fades back into the night, leaving the dream-light from the colored windows behind. But then his attention falls to her, and he realizes that she is a child, and a unicorn, and her blue eyes are fastened on him with unmistakable intensity.

Every unicorn Asterion has known still holds a particular piece of his heart - Calliope, the lioness who challenged him to wake from his idle dreaming and become something more. Thana, feral and strange, who measured him with every glance. And Isra, storyteller-queen, who could remake the world with a thought and would not shy from the need to, and yet in whose heart bloomed kindness and mercy. It only takes him one look at this one and already he’s determined not to disappoint her.

Still, her question surprises him. It even draws his smile just a little wider, but before he can reply, daylight falls across them both.

The bay stallion turns at once, head high and dark eyes cautious; he keeps his magic close enough to beckon with a thought. The sight of the lion does little to make him let it go, even as he drinks in the wonder of it, and the way it adds a filagree of gold to the arch and a sunset’s intensity to its light. But it is the man his gaze follows through his approach, walking with the same dignity and gravity as the lion, and the man’s soft greeting to the girl that convinces Asterion to let the grip on his magic go.

Now his curiosity is awake; he wants to know of both these strangers, and watch the tattoos that glow and fade and change like cinders. Certainly his sorrow has receded, a tide drawn back to wait for another moon, but he has not forgotten the girl’s question. Not even when he wrinkles his nose at being called sir. “Not if the lady says you aren’t,” he answers with a smile, and then it is dark again. He is grateful for that cover of darkness, the privacy and soft beauty of it, even if he will never forget how it looked in the light.

At last he looks back to the unicorn.

“Aspara,” he says, trying the name out, and it rolls like soft waves on his tongue. It feels like a name he already knows the weight of, and it makes him forget to be self-conscious in front of these strangers. “To your question - there are some kinds of happiness that are heavier than sorrow. And sometimes sadness, especially an old sadness, can be covered by joy, or by beauty. Even if you still feel the memory of it.” He nods toward the arch, half-smiling now, wondering how much more eloquently Eik would put it. Sometimes it had felt like a game between them, finding the words to put to their feelings to give them the truest form - though if it was then Eik had always won, and in the end the words hadn’t been necessary, anyway.

“But I’ve never been good at feeling only one thing at a time,” he finishes, and the curve of his mouth turns wry as he looks between them both. “Well met, both of you. My name is Asterion.”





@Aspara @Orestes








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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 62 — Threads: 13
Signos: 190
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 1 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#5

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

The trees around us flickered with glints of gemlike color. Torchlight, reflected off the rainbow arch, and its poor attempt at penetrating the night. It all reminded me of the church-tree, the dream-tree near the Vitreus, where not so long ago my sister and I were born. As foals we spent countless hours playing in the dancing light beneath its stained-glass leaves, and when we pushed ourselves to exhaustion we fell asleep in the rainbow shade to the lullaby of glass chiming in the lakeside breeze.

But the arch was far, far bigger. And it did not have my mother’s touch, which she left, whether or not she realized it, in everything she transformed. The arch was shrine-like in its beauty, but I did not particularly like it. I was no longer impressed by colored glass, no matter how big and grand it was. I’d rather pass through a tunnel of trees, canopies outstretched toward each other like lovers hands. Or, even better, nothing at all. Why was anything more needed than what was already there: the view of Denocte over one shoulder, the rest of Novus over the other. But I often did not understand the things most others did. Society had not yet molded me to its expectations, no doubt in part because at every turn I stubbornly resisted any suggestion of what I should do or say or be.

I had not expected to be interrupted so soon into my interrogation, but the intruder brought a bright smile to my face. “Orestes!” I won’t deny the sight of him stirred butterflies in my stomach. I had often recalled our first meeting with fondness. The sand dollar, the stories. The alluring glow of his golden tattoos had burned that memory into my mind.

I caught the happy-sad man’s response to being called sir, the wrinkle of his nose, and I found it quite endearing. When he said “not if the lady says you aren’t,” it was hard to keep a straight face. I took a step to the side, inviting Orestes into our circle with an exaggerated curtsy. I kept my gaze locked on his hooves, an excess of formality (I noticed they were quite pretty, like the rest of him) “Please, good sir, it would be an honor” I intoned loftily with a heavy Denoctan accent, a fine imitation of the way some nobles tried to speak to my mother, if I say so myself.

Finally I lifted my mischievous gaze to him with a laughing smile, my shoulders relaxing into their usual at-ease slump. “How have you been?” I asked it with the tenderness of an old friend, then immediately felt a flush of embarrassment tickle my cheeks. Surely it was inappropriate for me to feel as fond of him as I did after just one conversation. But I let the question sit there, with all my vulnerabilities behind it. I was not one to take things back once spoken.

I had not forgotten the bay stallion, not by a long shot, although the luminous Orestes quite captivated my attention. The stranger spoke with the quiet ease of someone who had seen many things, thought many more. Just the sound of his voice put me at ease, and the words brought a smile to my face. I was thinking of father.

My name is Asterion.

Asterion?” I glanced to Orestes, unsure if he was familiar with the former Terrastellan king who went missing. “But that’s… you’re…dead was the widely circulated rumor, although no bodies had been found. It happened before I was born but I knew the story well. It was a very short one: one day my godfather, and a few others, disappeared. They were never seen again.

My parents were certain he was not dead, although until that moment I had my doubts. I looked at him a little more closely now, sizing him up as I racked my memory for stories I’ve heard of him. “You left.

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


A S P A R A


@Asterion @Orestes <3





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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 20
Signos: 60
Day Court Sovereign
Male [he/his/him] // 5 [Year 500 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 12 — Atk: 8 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Solar Transformation // Bonded: Ariel (Sun Lion)
#6

The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.

The meeting seems suggestive of an old fable. Inexplicably, a list of stories run through Orestes’s mind like a number of screenplays: The Wolf and the Crane, The Lion and the Mouse, the Fox and the Grapes, the Man and the Wood, the Ant and the Grasshopper, the Sun and… the Wind.

Here, The Sun King and The Lion meets the Lost King meets the Sea Queen’s Daughter. 

Please, good sir, it would be an honor.” 

Orestes finds himself embarrassed at his formality; but in a fable, everyone must speak so. When Aspara jokingly follows his lead, Orestes cannot help but smile. Beneath the Eventide Arch and with his tattoos a radiant mess, Orestes finds it difficult to believe they haven’t stepped straight through to some other dimension. Ariel slinks back around; he pauses by the girl, either because she is magical or because she is a child, and extends a paw.

The gesture is an offer of experience. A member of a nearly dead breed, they say to touch a Sun Lion grants one inexplicable insight. If she chooses to do so, it is likely she has never felt a fur so soft, so dense, softer even than the down of rabbits or kittens.

Orestes shakes his head; the lion bounds away, now to appraise the star-bay man. “I have been well enough.” Orestes replicates her tenderness; his memory of the sand-dollar, the conversation, remains one of his fondest in Novus. “I haven’t yet run Solterra into the sands, so I suppose that’s a victory. And you, dear Aspara?” Orestes is almost struck by the fact this is the second time he has seen the young girl without her parents; and the rumours of Isra’s absence across the sea return to him, and his heart pangs to know it.

Aspara, to your question - there are some kinds of happiness that are heavier than sorrow. And sometimes sadness, especially an old sadness, can be covered by joy, or by beauty. Even if you still feel the memory of it.

Ariel continues to take stock of the stallion; his eyes are small, luminous suns and he does not shy from meeting Asterion’s gaze; there is something quizzical there, something almost knowing but not quite. Ariel, stop, Orestes begs through their bond. Reluctantly, the Sun Lion draws away from their two companions to lay heavily on the ground at Orestes’s hooves. 

Asterion’s words continue to resound within him. There is a knowing there Orestes is familiar with. 

And sometimes sadness, especially an old sadness, can be covered by joy… or by beauty… even if you still feel the memory of it… 

“How do you know?” Orestes asks, and he cannot keep his tone from being confrontational. Luckily, Aspara’s reacting to the man’s other confession. 

My name is Asterion.

Here, The Sun King and The Lion meets the Lost King meets the Sea Queen’s Daughter. 

Orestes knows if he were a proper Sovereign, he would feel only curiosity, the sort of curiosity one feels about the culture surrounding their country. But he is not a proper Sovereign. No. Orestes has made the fatal mistake of any man.

He has allowed himself to fall in love with someone he should not be allowed to love. 

“Well met, Asterion.” His voice comes out more stiffly than he intends. Orestes glances at Aspara, and recognises the girl’s excitement and confusion. She summarises his role in Novus’s history by stating, You left

Orestes cannot help but add, “And you left Marisol. It was hard for her.” 

The gambit is one he should not have taken. He has never been a man capable of hiding his sentiments, and they are exposed rawly in the tone of his voice. 


“Speech” || @Aspara @Asterion 
""Let us agree,"

said the Sun,

"that he is the stronger

 who can strip that

Traveler of his cloak.""
CREDITS






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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 439 — Threads: 47
Signos: 2,258
Vagabond Citizen
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 102 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#7

in sunshine and in shadow
It is easy to watch the three of them - the golden man, the girl, the impossible lion. Asterion lacks the context for who they are; he should know, of course would know, if things were different. But he can sense the fondness between them, and watches dark-eyed as the lion approaches Aspara, and lets his gaze linger on Orestes’ glowing tattoos. Written on his skin are eagles, and towering pines, and the mountains and the sea, and over and over the sun. Even with these clues the bay does not put together the evident, not until the palomino says I haven’t yet run Solterra into the sands.

Of course. Now the look he gives the man is sharper, more thoughtful; questions stir and rise like a flock of starlings in his mind but the timing isn’t right, and anyway guilt weighs his tongue heavy. If he’d been here, he would know each answer.

He wishes then that he didn’t have to speak at all; that he could simply observe the others. But he does, and Orestes - King Orestes - answers first. At the sharpness of his words, the almost urgency, Asterion meets his gaze, saying nothing, but the look in his eyes and the curve of his brow says because I have lived it, because I am living it now.

The bay would have explained more thoroughly if he’d known it would forestall what comes next.

There is familiarity and incredulity in the way she says his name that almost makes him wince. Perhaps he should have braced for it, but he had hoped - well, it would just have been better, easier, if they could stay strangers. The stallion looks at her and dips his head, that sad and faraway smile returned, until she says you left.

Asterion wonders if this will always be his legacy - another king who vanished. But I came back. It is a boyish impulse to defend himself, and in a way (a terrible way) it is funny, after all the little decisions he agonized over, all the choices he had to make for his people, and then something happened out of his control and now…

He is not smiling any longer. He is not doing anything accept breathing in the soft, sweet, slightly decaying scent of the night forest, and looking at the archway and the way firelight makes the colors tremble and glow, and the way the light down here makes the stars seem further away. Even when Orestes adds another accusation (another truth) there is a long moment before he looks between the two of them, from the king to the unicorn.

“I went to meet my father - but everything I loved was here. That day on the island…before my sister’s magic failed…I was so happy, but there was still so much to be done. I never would have left on purpose.” His sigh is a wave rolling softly out to sea, but within there is that familiar Charybdis, guilt and shame and sorrow, and a fear that whispers and now you have nothing.

Then he turns to Orestes, weighing him, already wondering.“Marisol has always been strong, and has survived worse than my absence. She belongs to Terrastella and it to her in a way I never could.” Asterion’s words are not stony; they are the calm of a glass-surfaced lake that reaches deep. Nothing in his expression betrays the way the words wound him, the way her frigid stare has imprinted him. And Orestes should know, after the aftermath of Raum, that no leader ever had an easy path. But the question Asterion is asking, as he meets the golden king’s gaze in the soft and shifting light, is and what is she to you? He can guess already; there are so few that the Commander would share her true feelings with, especially if they could be interpreted as weakness.

He hopes Orestes is deserving.



@Aspara @Orestes








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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 62 — Threads: 13
Signos: 190
Night Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 1 [Year 503 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Psychometry // Bonded: Furfur (Wraith Wolf)
#8

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

It did not escape my attention that I stood between two very celestial men. One embodied the sun. It shone from within, illuminating the golden tattoos that ran all along his body like a message I did not know how to interpret. The other wore the stars on his skin. They shimmered gently, seemingly content beneath the colored light reflected off the eventide arch.

I liked to think that, at least on that night, in that company, I embodied the moon. My skin milky blue, knees cratered with scars from all the times I’d fallen down. And I did feel a kindred bond with the queen of night– its delicate form, like my own, betrayed an inner strength that went unseen. In each breath I took I channeled its grace.

And then there was a lion among us– how had I not noticed him sooner?– and for a moment all breath left me. He extended a paw, all regal and kinglike, and with only a heartbeat of hesitation I brushed my muzzle gently across the silken fur. It was the stuff of dreams, remarkably soft, and I met the sun lion’s gaze with an awestruck expression and a comically huge smile. “Hello,” I murmured quietly, a greeting that sat privately between us.

I was honestly a little disappointed to return to the conversation at hand– I could have happily spent the rest of the evening in the lion’s silent company. I think he would have been impressed by how quickly I could stalk through the forest, how I moved like water. Furfur had taught me well, but surely there was even more to be learned from the lion.

It didn’t take Orestes long to recapture my attention– the words dear Aspara turned my stomach over. I did my best to ignore the butterflies. “That doesn’t surprise me.” I grinned. It seemed to me like it would take far worse than Orestes to run Solterra to the ground. “But good. My father would be very upset otherwise.” We had not discussed my father and his ties to the desert, so maybe this comment came out of left field. I didn’t realize this until later that night– often I couldn’t fall asleep, for I was too busy agonizing over the things I said and (worse) didn’t say that day.

Now, this Marisol– I didn’t know her, except in title, but I was instantly intrigued by the protectiveness in Oreste’s voice when he said her name. I admit- I was jealous. I did not need protecting and I surely never thought I wanted it, but– I don’t know– maybe I had been wrong. Maybe it would be nice, to have someone outside my family care for me like that.

But Asterion didn’t mean to leave, right? He didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I found myself biting my lip as my attention returned to the former sovereign. “Did you find him? Your father?” I was overcome by the urge to embrace him, this godfather I had never met. But that’s just the thing– we had never met. And I was sure he didn’t want to be smothered in the embrace of some wild child. But more than that I was afraid he wouldn’t care at all, wouldn’t want to be associated with me even after knowing who my parents were. I did not think I was unlovable. But the possibility of it was there, and it terrified me more than I could express.

I blinked, wide-eyed, overcome with questions. “Where will you go now?” A pause, too brief for the question to be answered. “Are you going to stay in Denocte?” The thought excited me– I would love to see my parents faces when they returned home to an old friend. (Maybe I felt I was not enough to return home to? But this was not a thought I wanted to linger on.)

And you,” I turned to Orestes with a small but not very serious frown. “What took you so long to visit me?” It felt to me like a lifetime since we first met. Too long. I glanced from one stallion to the other and pictured them here in Denocte, always, close to hand. I was not ashamed to admit that despite how little I knew of each, I deeply liked them both and did not want them to leave.

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


A S P A R A


@Asterion @Orestes <3





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Played by Offline Syndicate [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 20
Signos: 60
Day Court Sovereign
Male [he/his/him] // 5 [Year 500 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 12 — Atk: 8 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Solar Transformation // Bonded: Ariel (Sun Lion)
#9

"Very well," growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler. With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler's body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.


Aspara is a small blessing when she says, that doesn’t surprise me. But good. My father would be very upset otherwise. It reminds Orestes, inexplicably, of his one and only encounter with Isra when she had said, the father of my children will always love the desert. 

That had seemed like a lifetime ago when he, still naive and fresh from the sea, had sought to save what did not need saving. He remembers Isra’s black rage from that night—before he had learned to love Solterra, and give it his everything—and now Orestes almost understands it. Then Asterion says: 

I went to meet my father—but everything I loved was here. That day on the island… before my sister’s magic failed… I was so happy, but there was still so much to be done. I never would have left on purpose.

Ariel has made a circle around them all before returning to Orestes’s side to lay, majestic and leonine, at the Sovereign’s hooves. Asterion’s words are heavy and sad and they strike within Orestes something familiar. I never would have left on purpose, he repeats in his own mind. 

That is the crux of it, isn’t it? Orestes never would have left on purpose, either. It’s only by chance he arrived at Novus at all—or if not chance, then Fate. But now the Sun King cannot remember what it is he has left, or the many lives he has lived before this one, and when he tries a great emptiness opens up within him like a cavern of who he used to be yawning, yawning, yawning. Orestes opens his mouth to say something, but there is nothing to say. Asterion’s struggle is at once utterly relatable and completely distant. Orestes wonders, to himself, what those people he had abandoned—what people? who had they been—what they had thought, of his leaving. Had they felt betrayed?

And does he even have a right for his anger, his discomfort, for the way Asterion’s words strike too close to home, or against a flint prepared to strike to embers? He comments, then, on Marisol. Orestes’s brows pinch in a gesture that is almost imperceivable. “Strength can be its own kind of weakness.” It is all he will say. Belonging to something, Orestes thinks, only means one must carve pieces of themselves out to satisfy it. Is that not what he told the girl beside him now? We give pieces of ourselves away to what we love. Orestes feels heavy and he wonders if Asterion leaves him feeling so raw, so weighted, because the man is wearing Orestes's crown of thorns. He relates on a deep level with leaving. The difference had been... well, the difference had been that Orestes had never returned. He swallows, and glances away. 

Orestes is relieved when Aspara draws them away from such somber topics, and Orestes glances at her with affectionate gratitude. The Sovereign manages to look properly chastised and leaves Asterion to answer the more serious questions. “M’lady, I have no excuse. It is simply difficult to get away from the Court, you see, but I will be sure it doesn’t happen again.” He winks in a playful gesture, before adding, a bit more seriously: “And of course Solterra is always open to you, Aspara. Just ask for me. Ariel would be glad to be your guide.” The Sun Lion glances at Orestes and then the girl, before reclining into a more comfortable position. 

“Speech” || @Aspara @Asterion 
Then the Sun began to shine

 At first his beams

were gentle, and in

the pleasant warmth

 after the bitter cold

of the North Wind,

the Traveler 

unfastened his cloak
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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 439 — Threads: 47
Signos: 2,258
Vagabond Citizen
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 102 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#10

in sunshine and in shadow
He listens with one ear turned to their conversation, his gaze politely averted; but when Aspara says my father Asterion’s dark eyes settle on her again. Once more he feels a nudge of familiarity, and now he searches for other signs of recognition: the way her horn twists, so like Isra’s; the moon-color of her coat, as Eik’s must have been when he was a boy, the very way she holds herself, so comfortable as a child among kings. The bay looks at her and thinks of the last conversation he’d had with his friend, a year ago -

“Oh, he says softly, a little slip of breath in the darkness. At once his heart feels both impossibly full and broken wide, another cup of joy and sorrow. Perhaps none of them notice, which he would be grateful as he does his best to push away you should have been here, you should have been here.

It is enough, he tells himself, to be here now.

At the Sun King’s comment Asterion meets his gaze, dropping his chin in the barest of nods. “Yes.” What else is there to say? It is a truth he knows, and a facet of the Commander’s he is well familiar with. Each of them had always felt the firm press of duty grounding them, but Marisol’s resolve had always been the cliffside to Asterion’s soft and changing sea. The bay holds Orestes’s eye for a moment longer, the look in his own complicated and considering; it isn’t without a little relief that he turns to Aspara again when she speaks.

Surely his new knowing has changed in his expression when he faces her following her question, though maybe it is lost in the darkness where only the edges of him are touched by moonlight. “I did,” he says, and almost asks about her own then, though he has been told where Eik and Isra have gone, and why. But Aspara continues with her questions, and they draw a smile from him. “For a while,” he says, glad for her second question when he has no answer to the first. “Your city has always had my favorite festivals.”

His smile still lingers when his companions turn back to each other, though his attention returns to the archway and the horses that pass beneath in singles and small groups, some laughing, some reverent. Lanternlight dances between the trees, a string of fireflies leading down to the city. Asterion has not been in a crowd, or a city, since he returned to Novus; the apprehension he feels at the thought now surprises him.

When there is a lull in the pairs’ conversation, the bay stallion turns back to them. They look like something out of a storybook, the golden king and the unicorn girl and the lion between them; it’s easy to think of a dozen adventures they might go on. Asterion feels like what he is - a stranger observing. He drinks deeply of the night, tells himself it tastes like home.

“I’m glad to have met you both,” he says, caught between formality and earnestness, “but I’m going to continue on. Though if you are too…I’d be honored to have your company, and your stories.” His smile turns wry. “I have a lot to catch up on.”



@Aspara @Orestes








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