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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)
#1


do not weep, maiden, for war is kind
because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
and the affrighted steed ran on alone
do not weep, for war is kind.


Orestes lays awake at night and tries not to remember the journal of Alaksi, the head hunter under Zolin’s reign. 

The man had led the persecution of the Davke. His methods had been extremely successful, but his talents lay not only in the systematic, “open desert” hunting, but a much more brutal genre. Torture. Oh, Alaksi detailed it often enough in the diary he kept. Orestes purchased it from a travelling caravan; many pages were torn out, and worn. The gypsy who sold it—Leksis?— shrugged. “It was only a diary, but we decided it would eventually be of some worth. My grandmother knew of him, when she lived in Solterra, but had never met him. Most of us haven’t even been bothered to read it. ” 

Orestes had. The phrase that stuck with him most brutally, barbed like a Goat’s head thorn in the flesh, was: the screaming sands.

He lays awake at night, in his chambers, and thinks of how the suffering Zolin had caused stretched out in the whole wide desert of Solterra, and no gods had acted, no other Court had intervened. It roils within him like a storm. It boils, even, until he feels a bitterness so deep it is a wonder he is not a native Solterran after all. Orestes cannot sleep and so he rises from his overly luxurious quarters—the servants insist, although he more often than not falls asleep in his cluttered study—and exits the sandstone palace. It walks out into the torch-lit streets and wanders to the entrance of the catacombs. The way has been fenced off but, knowing his people, this deters very few from exploration. Including their king.

Steeling himself, Orestes stares down into the darkness. 

He is not alone long, however. He hears the telltale sound of hooves against sandstone and looks in the direction of the noise. The king almost smiles, but the excursion seems too somber for that. “Would you care to join me?” Orestes asks. 

"Orestes." ||  "Ariel." || 

swift, blazing flag of the regiment
lion with crest of red and gold
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Played by Offline nestle [PM] Posts: 380 — Threads: 40
Signos: 55
Night Court Citizen
Female [she/her/hers] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 106 // Active Magic: Transformation // Bonded: Fable (Sea Dragon)
#2


Isra between the restless bones
“it is fervor and agony; it is temper and zeal.””
E
ven across the sea the desert has followed me. There is still grit beneath my teeth and bits of desert weed tangled into my tail that even the tides could not take from me. It chases me through my dreams-- miles and miles of golden dunes that open up their mouths full of teeth and nip as my heels as I race over them. Even when I wake I can still feel it, the sand in my soul calling me to come back home.

The sea is in my blood but the desert is in my soul (the one below this one, the mortal one).

So it does not surprise me to find myself walking through the streets of Solterra and listening to the whispers racing through the crowd like lions through a flock. Some gazes linger on me as I pass, following the place where my shadow tangles with Fable's as he flies overhead. Some of them surely remember the wall collapsing into a pile of diamonds (or maybe they remember the second time I came here with death draped across my heart like a crown).

And perhaps they can see the traces of war in the scars across my hip, or in the darkness of my eyes as I look forward and nowhere else.

I follow the trail of the whispers still racing like lions. I follow the sound of old death, and remembered agony, and the memories of evil mean I was not there to end. My heart breaks even as I promise myself that It will not happen again, not while there is air in my lungs and blood in my heart. Eik loves the desert too much for me to ever hate it, or let it die when I have all the power to save it.

The sight of Orestes breaks up the darkness of my gaze, his form glimmering both before me and in memory. My ocean heart starts to roar, and snarl, and tremble in my chest with something black and dangerous. I want to smile with teeth instead of gentleness when I step closer to join him before the catacombs. My teeth ache beneath the almost-kind curl of my lips when I say, “lead on”, as if my soul is not bellowing for the dark chasm looming beyond us.

The sand rises up around as Fable lands on the rooftop of a nearby building and settles into guard just as had during the time of the last king when I came to set free the suffering. I wonder if it makes this king angry to see the bones waiting for us to walk among their altars; I wonder if he remembers the feeling of being so close to death.

I wonder.



@Orestes | "speaks" | notes: <3
rallidae






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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


do not weep, maiden, for war is kind
because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
and the affrighted steed ran on alone
do not weep, for war is kind.



Perhaps, at another time, Orestes would have met Isra’s eyes and seen the sea still in them. Perhaps, if he were younger—if not so many lives had gone on without him—he would have smiled a sad sort of smile and said, I know what it feels like. 

But they are opposites. The sea is his Bound—and nearly forgotten—soul. The desert is his godlike boiling, tumultuous blood. The desert is everything he had meant to do in another life, and never had the ability, the power, to complete. The light that pours from the half-arcane, half-forgotten tattoos is the rage of a half-finished life.

But Orestes does not possess the same sensitivities he once had. Those loved-by-the-sea no longer speak his language, nor he theirs. He recognises only enough of it so that when he levels his gaze and smiles a smile gleaming and brilliant he is not surprised to see the lost queen of Denocte, the queen who left to wage a foreign war. 

Lead on she says with an almost-smile. Her mythic dragon lands atop a nearby rooftop and Orestes glances at the great beast, a beast he can vaguely—as if through many dreams—remember once having the magic to become. Ariel looks on, too, before sliding into the darkness before the Sovereigns of past and present. The glow of the Sun Lion reflects across the chasm and illuminates the depth of the catacombs within. They stretch so far that one cannot see where they end—only darkness, and more darkness, so readily swallowing the light.

Orestes wonders what has brought her back. The story, of course, had reached him—the queen of Denocte sailing away with her close family to fight a war. He wonders if she will ever tire of fighting such fights. He wonders, too, if she has visited Solterra if only to ensure he is not, in fact, another monster. 

For one of the few times in his life, Orestes has a lack of things to say. It may very well be due to their distance, and the haunted encounter that remains in his mind, as she transformed a maze of flowers and grass into a maze of terrors; as he witnessed the anger welling in her soul like a storm at sea, all lightening and hate and reckoning.

Eventually, Orestes settles on discussing the catacombs.

“An earthquake revealed them.” He gestures to the rows of tombs to either wall as they walk into a more open chamber. They are narrow, more like shelves than a proper place of rest. Considering the Solterrans burn their dead, the ghastly and cobwebbed bones seem particularly haunting. “There was an entire group of soldiers imprisoned down here, during Zolin’s reign. One of them had time magic that kept them from ageing, growing thirsty, starving. While time moved on above the catacombs undisturbed, down here it remained a perpetual loop. They emerged and believed we were still warring with Denocte over precious metals.” He smiles a sad kind of smile, one that recognises the scars on her hips and remembers in a way that is all feeling and no fact the way it felt to war, and war, and war for a hundred lives.

“Anyways, this first chamber of the catacombs appears to be entirely within the last few decades. Our scholars are discovering many of those who went missing during Zolin’s reign and identifying them. They are being returned to their families so they may burn the bodies properly. But… the deeper one ventures, the less recognisable the chambers become. They are saying doors and tunnels have been revealed everywhere from Elatus, to the Mors, to the edge of the sea.” He thinks of his own experience in them. He remembers the crystal sarcophagus and bones so old they turned to dust.

“Although, I must admit, I have yet to venture very far. They’ve only been recently revealed.” Ariel continues to pad before them, bright enough it hurts the eyes to look directly at him. The rows of shelf-like tombs seem endless. “Strange, isn’t it, all the things that are dormant beneath us? Things we might never discover.” 

Orestes, in the caverns where Solis does not reach, is cool gold and silver. The ornate tattoos do not gleam so brightly, here, but there is that consistent glow of his magic from within that burns like an ember beneath his skin, in his center. At long last he glances at her, with eyes that are old in a young man’s face, with an almost-smile at their edge. He asks, “Tell me, Isra. Do you love the sea?” 

The longer he looks, the more he sees it in her. The more she reminds him of it. 

And the longer he is here, the less it becomes him, with his ornately braided hair and desert-toned skin. He is Solterra, now.

Yes. 

He is Solterra, and Solterra is him.

Ariel glances over his shoulder with sun-bright eyes, knowing. If that is what Isra is here to learn, Orestes hopes she sees it. 

"Orestes." ||  "Ariel." || @Isra || ooc: please excuse my characters who are incapable of short replies

swift, blazing flag of the regiment
lion with crest of red and gold
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Played by Offline nestle [PM] Posts: 380 — Threads: 40
Signos: 55
Night Court Citizen
Female [she/her/hers] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 106 // Active Magic: Transformation // Bonded: Fable (Sea Dragon)
#4


Isra with ten promises
“Then it floats away like a paper boat, taken from her by the water licking at her ankles.”
P
erhaps there was a time, once long ago with a skin of sunshine instead of loam, I did not intimately know the way a skull still gleams white in the almost-blackness. If there was I have forgotten it by route of chains, and winter-fire, and evil. Now I only feel a grim understanding blossom up in my soul at the sight of tomb, after tomb, after lonely bones, rising out of darkness. The petals of it feather against my soul like wings caught in a breeze that comes from somewhere terrible buried deep in the cracks of me.

I can feel them. Like kisses.

As we walk on, I do not look at the king who does not smell like the sea anymore. My focus is a sharp, hard living thing on the bones and the tombs (coated in dust without the gleam of well loved things). Each step kiss that furious thing in my cracked, brittle soul. I wonder how he can walk among the forgotten dead, and tell me a story of warriors trapped in this blackness for years, and not feel rage devouring the last smooth edges of his heart.

He smiles, sad and softly golden, and my teeth ache because I want to snarl, and snarl, and roar like a lion among all this forgotten death.

“Strange,” I echo him and my voice is a trembling arrow in a storm. “is not the word I would have chosen for this.” The earth trembles with me as if it's only a dying thing leaking secrets instead of sorrow. I do not flinch as a rock tumbles down from the ceiling between us.

And I do not smile as every pile of dust, and decay, and agony turns to flowers heavy with diamond-dust instead of pollen. I wish I could give them more than flowers, these piles of bones with no stories left to remember them by but this endless maze of suffering.

I wonder if I will ever smile, really smile, again.

How many times will I need to shred myself to save the world? How many times will my soul crack and bleed?

“Where are the soldiers now?” I will find them and beg them for forgiveness for all those mortals that watched their world fall to pieces and did nothing to stop it. And then I will find the gods that did not care to save them. I will devour their idols in stone and turn their mountains into meadows thick with  ruby flowers.

My bones ache and bellow at me to turn back, turn back, turn back. There are a million more things in this darkness that I know will break and shatter the last unbroken bits of me. I want to run back to the church-tree and listen to the glass and stone sing a song to me in a autumn storm. I want Eik, and my daughters, and Fable curling his wings around us like shelter given flesh and form. I want, I want, I want--

To raise this Zolin from his grave and pluck his bones loose like weeds from a garden.

Brine leaks from my pores like tears when I finally turn back to Orestes and his lion with their eyes on me like blades I am too hard to feel. My lungs rasp as if I am drowning in this sentient black air so far from the sea. I wonder if I should lie to him.

“Sometimes I hate the sea.” The truth rings like steel on my lips. Another truth for this golden king who smiles and dreams of things I cannot believe in anymore. And I wonder if he will be cut by the blade or learn to brandish one of his own.



@Orestes | "speaks" | notes: <3
rallidae






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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)
#5


Two Travelers were walking along the seashore. Far out they saw something riding on the waves.

"Look," said one, "a great ship rides in from distant lands, bearing rich treasures!"

The object they saw came ever nearer the shore.

"No," said the other, "that is not a treasure ship. That is some fisherman's skiff, with the day's catch of savoury fish."

Orestes mind is not on the death around them; it is on the way that as they enter the catacombs, the light abandons them. It drains from his tattoos like an animal slaughtered; it drains from his being as if it has never existed, at all. Ariel, more omnipotent than he will ever be, keeps the absolute at bay—but barely, just so, with a throbbing ember-like glow that pulsates and pools around them against bones and decay and rusted weapons. He watches the fringes of the light against the dark rather than Isra—but perhaps watching that is the same as watching her. 


A battle older than time. The stars against the endless abyss. Beating, fragile hearts against the finite world around them. Live, live, live says the echo of their blood. And the skulls around them say, I am coming, and I will always be sooner than you expect. Isra’s voice breaks the silence Orestes’s allowed to grow, after his introduction to the catacombs. 

Strange is not the word I would have chosen for this. 

Her fury is nearly palpable; but rather than transform the catacombs around her into something even more dangerous, they bloom with flowers dusted in diamond. It is to Asterion Orestes said, Strength is its own kind of weakness. It is with Asterion and Isra’s own daughter he had thought, we all give pieces of ourselves until there is nothing left to give.

He bears witness to Isra as she carves another pound of flesh out of her heart, an offering to a world that will never stop bleeding. Where are the soldiers now?

Orestes wants to ask, does it matter? 

He doesn’t. The question is cruel; edged with Solterra’s hard pride, and tendency toward apathy. Perhaps it is Ariel who taught Orestes that, the first time Orestes felt him kill a fawn through their bond.

It was my teeth at the soft thing’s throat.

Except it hadn’t been.

Does it matter? 

“Some awoke disoriented. Many are unaccounted for. A handful awoke with their mind’s gone. Many more will never wake up at all.” 

They are hard, pragmatic truths.

This woman makes him feel heavier than any he has ever known before; she makes him feel as heavy as the see had, so many years ago. In this body, Orestes thinks, he had almost been in Novus longer than he had been in his homeland. But he remembers, in the way one remembers a phantom limb: all the Souls he had been meant to save, all the Souls who were in his charge and were not lost not to the sea, but to violent men. The sun at his brow aches. The sun at his brow is a vivid reminder that he, too, is Bound.

“And why is that, Isra?” She smells like salt and a little like death. After all, the sea always smells a little like death. Then: 

“Did you defeat the monster you sailed across it to find?” 

The rumours always fly far and wide. Even when they sound like stories, Orestes believes them. Even when they sound like long-lost fables, or fairytales, or things too like myth to be real.

How can he not, in a world where he is a star and she is the sea, and there is a lion older than the desert leading them through the agony of men?

Perhaps he is naive for being reminded of something of himself, in her. In her fury. In her bloodied desire for justice. It reminds him of a hundred lifetimes ago, when his land was first punished by the arrival of foreigner.

He had lived a hundred more fighting that same foreigner. 

And now he knows the story because he reads what he had written in half-mad haze months and months ago, and it reads as if it belongs to another man. Orestes walks past her, nearly brushing shoulders, pressing deeper into the tunnel. 

"Orestes." ||  "Ariel." || @Isra

Still nearer came the object. The waves washed it up on shore.
"It is a chest of gold lost from some wreck," they cried. Both Travelers rushed to the beach, but there they found nothing but a water-soaked log.
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