Novus
Hello, Guest! Register

All Welcome  - ashes to ashes, dust to dust | fire

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)



Played by Online Syndicate [PM] Posts: 158 — Threads: 30
Signos: 1,035
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#1


You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

I
n my homeland, there are only two holidays. 

There is the Summer and the Winter Solstices, when we give offerings to the Old Gods. Lambs and doves; but mostly, Souls. 

I am reminded by this, above the laughter of children and the sweet words of lovers. I am reminded of this, by the smell of smoke and springtime. 

 A wide circular stone altar remains atop the cliffside closest to the village of Oresziah; the old church is built behind it, with stained glass enchanted to weather any storm, no matter how terrible. The church is wrought of old ships, brought by our ancestors when they were first stranded on Oresziah by magic. 

This is where I Bound the Souls of the last Khashran. It had been Bondike and I, shoulder-to-shoulder. I had to lean my weight into him in order to remain steady, as my fall from the cliffside had only been a handful of days before. 

The Last Prince of the Khashran, the Prince of a Thousand Tides, of the Lost People—he knelt in copper chains at the center of the axial stone circle, and we carried bowls of the paint used for Binding. The priests did not tell us what it was made of; only that it was sacred. The rumor was that it was the ichor of our oldest god, the one who died so that men might live—

I only knew that it burned, and smelled of horsehair on the fire. I only knew the sound it made when I pressed it carefully to the dark brow of Orestes, the Last Prince, and listened to him scream as I painted a sun between his eyes. 

It was the Winter Solstice; the holiday when our Souls are closet to the sky, and closest to the earth, and wily enough that they might escape. Legend has it that for a man to Bind another’s Soul, they must lose a piece of themself. The legends say that at Winter Solstice, the line between is thinner; our ability to err much larger.

I am reminded of it because of the bonfires and the way they seem to burn every color except for the color fires ought to be.

I am staring into the flames as the race begins somewhere in the middle-distance; a young child is leaping over a smaller fire, silhouetted so that they are faceless, nameless, and it is not so difficult to imagine them as myself, a lifetime ago.

I am reminded of the Solstice, because when your Soul breaks it feels like fire from within, like an ember lodged in your chest, like—

Like a burning, and then the absence of heat, the sudden snubbing of an ember.

And, anyways, I am thinking of it because—the air feels magical. The air feels thin. Perhaps it is the cool remainder of spring, the essence that says, winter was not so long ago.

I walk beyond the bonfires, to the edge of the trees. There is something there—

Another festivity.

Somewhere, a musician is singing. Their call is low in the night, almost somber; but they speak of growing, and being. There are more children, rushing between the trees as they sing in the nighttime wind. There are lanterns hung on posts; I walk down a long aisle of grass and leaves, overgrown. On the edge, toward the meadow where the fires are, there are buckets of paint and jewels that wink even in the dark. The fire of the lantern dances across them; there are couples here, painting one another; children playing games; and the poet continues to sing of an epic ballad. 

A story befitting those gods of the springs,

What does that even mean?

But before I can think better of it, I am delving into the paints and the jewels, and am decorating myself the only way I know how—

In red paint. 

Red brighter than red. Red like copper. Gleaming, and metallic, and ember-bright. First: twisting copper rosettes, all down the gold of my neck, and the rosettes bleed into spindles like roots that entwine my front legs; it does not take long for the spindles at my shoulders to become the old symbols of my homeland, symbols of elms and arrows, broad strokes and narrower ones—

The chaos of growing, and relenting; the light snubbed from the sky by a too-thick canopy of copper paint—and then, the undulating of gold-red-white, a combination of colors like the mottled light that shifts through the forest of becoming things—

War paint, I remind myself. I cannot finish it, myself. I glance around, unhurriedly, and begin to wait—until at last I see someone who does not appear so occupied, and approach. They look alone, like me—waiting. 

“I can’t do the last part myself,” I say, quietly. “It’s bad luck, you see.” 

My voice is quiet, and dark, made huskier by the lanterns, by the paint, by the chorus of poetry. 

I ask: “Could you help me?” 

I want to close my eyes, but—

I know what I will see if I do.

My warpaint, staring back. A brilliant copper sun, a sigil at my brow. 

To Bind a Soul, you must sacrifice a piece of your own. 

I had given the Last Prince my Mark. 

« r » | @any!





Reply




Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 398 — Threads: 80
Signos: 250
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 37 — Atk: 43 — Exp: 72 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#2



GENTLE LADY, DO NOT SING
sad songs about the end of love; / lay aside sadness and sing / how love that passes is enough.


She doesn’t want to be here.

She has never liked celebrations; and, in her death, she has grown even more averse to them. When she was queen, she had to attend plenty of them as a matter of obligation, and she tells herself that her present avoidance is a rebellion against that, not further evidence of her disappearance. Alshamtueur clinks softly at her hip, but she is unarmored, without even the soft golden wraps of her scarf to hide her face. (Her white hair is unbound, falling like the white curve of a waterfall to its full, copious length – her one attempt, as it were, to blend in with the crowd, which is too lax by measures for her tight braids.) The years have dampened her concerns of recognition. Most days, she is sure that the silver queen has disappeared entirely, slipped even from the grasp of her most beloved and closest allies. Slipped even from her own grasp. Most days, she doesn’t know what is left.

But she must do better. She must do better, and she does not have a choice in it, and that is why she is here. Diana has snuck off again, and she has come to retrieve her. She is not quite as worried as she could be, because her daughter is not quite as helpless as any girl of her age should be, but her concern still lingers at the back of her mind persistently, and it is that concern that leaves her wandering through the crowd, looking for the familiar patchwork of black and white and sun-god gold that makes up her daughter. She is too striking. That is what worries her most. She is too striking, too special, too bright – and she cannot imagine a world that does not try to take every striking and bright and special thing and ruin it, to crush it until all of its light has been snuffed out like a wayward candle. She wants better for her than that. She wants it, even if, most days, she cannot help but the wanting is futile.

When she stops to linger near the paints, it is because she has a feeling that they will attract the girl like a fly to honey. Ereshkigal is searching the rest of the party, a shadow that casts the wrong shadow flitting among the colorful smoke like a bad open, and she is better at searching than she will ever be – but Seraphina is her mother, and, she thinks, she knows her daughter best. She will come to the paints, and the jewels, surely-

It is a sign of preoccupation that she almost doesn’t notice the man approaching. It is because he is built like a warrior, because he is an obvious threat – all bulk and mass, long-horned, white and gold and dark in none of the ways that she is searching for. I can’t do the last part myself, he says, and she turns her head to watch him, not quite expressionless. It’s bad luck, you see. It strikes her that he seems just as solitary as she does, if not lonelier entire. (There is Ereshkigal, here, and, somewhere in the cacophony of the party, there is her daughter.) And, more than that – there is something solemn and very nearly painful in his voice, the sort of cadence that felt like an old wound. Can you help me?

If she were any other version of herself, she is almost certain that she would have said no.

In her mind’s eye, she can see Diana.

She is darting between her forelegs, light-footed, her wings too big for her birdlike body. Eyes too big for her statuesque face. (There is a way that a statue is never a child – a way that promptly dissipates when she curls her lips into a very profound pout.) Her little warbird wants to be painted, like a proper Solterran. Like you were, she says, when you were a queen, and it hurts to think of even a moment of that time, but, at her pleading, she finally nods her concession and finds those metallic golden paints that she’d put away for a lifetime. The ones she’d poured over for hours to learn how to make, the ones she’d researched in every historical tome in the library. She’d wanted her Solterra (her first child, as it were) to be the Solterra that she had imagined as a child. She wanted to be the kind of queen in the stories, the sort that were sung to her in her very earliest memories. She doesn’t remember her mother’s face, but she remembers the stories.

So she draws that paint onto her daughter. She draws the patterns underneath her eyes like the sharp ridge of twin dunes, the line down her spine like the edge of a horizon, the ornate suns – on her forehead, her flanks, the center of her chest like a second heart. And she draws the teryrs on her limbs, and the sandwyrms, and, although she does not want to remember the motions, she tries to love each stroke of the brush that decorates her daughter’s limbs.

When she is finished, Diana is disappointed. The paint is gold. (It almost always is, in Solterra, and it always is for royalty. Like a bit of the sun god.) She is already run through with it, and hers is much more precious. I look wrong, she says, her lips twisted into quiet shame. I don’t wear it right. She steps forward to stand beside of her, their reflections side-by-side in the mirror, and she brushes her lips to the space between her daughter’s ears. You’ve always been enough, Diana, she murmurs, through the carpet of her hair. It looks wrong because you do not need it.

She should be looking for her now. If she knows her daughter at all, and she does, she does, she knows that she is has already found some form of trouble or another. But Ereshkigal is already searching, and better than she ever could – sharp-eyed, mid-flight, searching for her soul through the smoke.

So, wordlessly, she dips a brush into the copper-red paint, turning the dark-haired tip in the bucket with a practiced edge. When she seems satisfied, she suspends it above the bucket, allowing the tip to drip back into the paint rather than onto the grass below, without wasting a drop. She settles in front of him, her eyes slowly running the length of all his other designs – the brilliance of the rosettes, the arrows, the elms, all symbols of places she does not know and never will. She wonders why they remind her of her daughter. (She wonders why she softens so easily at the simplest, most superficial resemblance.)

Finally, her odd eyes come to linger on his – and she finds them sharp green, like early spring. “What do you wish for me to paint?”




@Vercingtorix || me, stealing all your open threads: || james joyce, "gentle lady, do not sing"

"Speech!" || "Ereshkigal!"





@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself.


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence




Reply




Played by Online Syndicate [PM] Posts: 158 — Threads: 30
Signos: 1,035
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#3


You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

I
had met my son only once, but not as his father. It had been right before leaving Oresziah; he had been playing on the docks, the evening before my departure. He played alone, as children did in peacetime. I found I could not settle my unease, to see him so close to the water of the sea. I wanted to warn him against the beasts that would drag him in. A lifetime had prepared me for that consequence; a lifetime had told me, the water is where men die. The symbol of my triumph—my own bastard son, safe at the shore—ought to have been rewarding. It ought to have filled me with elation instead of strange, sick dread.

He had been all too-long limbs and too-wide eyes. He had a fake wooden sword and as I passed him by, to discuss with Locust the nature of her fare, I hesitated. He saw the hesitation and turned to me, only a little shyly. 

“You’re Vercingtorix! You won the war! I—I have never met a hero before. I’ve only seen you all from so far away, in the parades—can you tell me about it?” 

He looked at me with my own eyes, but brighter than mine had ever been. He looked at me with raw, childish optimism—and in that moment I thought of my own childhood, glancing at my own father in that way, and how quickly my spirit had been crushed by his responses. I knew I ought to have continued walking; I knew I ought to have ignored him. Instead, I lingered. Instead, I told him the stories that he wanted to hear of the war, the stories of nobility and sacrifice, of Bondike pulling me from the sea to save my life, of how ferocious the Last Prince had been. I did not mention anything of the white surrender flag that thad fallen from the cliffside with the Prince and I; I did not tell him Bondike had become Boudika the Betrayer, only that I had been saved by my most sacred companion; I did not tell him of how lonely it was to be a hero, how senseless, once the war had be won—

“And what is it you hope to do, when you are grown?” I had asked him, after he eagerly thanked me for my time. I found it unnerving, the guileless nature of his stare. He had some of the island’s older symbols tattooed onto his horn and cheeks, in the same way I wore my golden sun totem upon my horn. The slashes were for bravery, I knew—

“I want to be like you,” he said, brightly. 

I had said nothing to that. Only smiled. 

Now, I wish I had said: No. Choose anything else. 

Anything else, I think, as I am met by a woman with golden slashes on half her face. I do not expect to meet someone here that reminds me of the son I never claimed and fully abandoned, but I do. And when she asks me what I would like painted, I say in a too-soft voice, “A sun, please. Right between my brows.”  

I appreciate her quietude, but know that it cannot last. I close my eyes as she rises the brush she had dipped so carefully into the bowl; I feel the first cool press of the paint and in the darkness of my closed lids it only manages to evoke more somber memories. Bondike had always applied my war paint, and I his. It felt like a betrayal when I came to Novus and learned that Boudika had become a dancer, and each night some cheap entertainer had painted her anew—when it had been my right, as her companion.

Perhaps, however, this is penance for leaving a child. The branding ceremony, for his marks of bravery, would have been celebrated by my entire family, had I ever claimed him. But I never did. 

I never did. 

I open my eyes to regard her, quietly. I am not so lacking in superstition to deny fate her due, or the uninterpretable complexities of lives that collide with other lives. Something had brought the pair of us here, into this moment. I recognize the utilitarian make of her body; the scars; the way the marks on her cheek are something other, something that cannot be asked about. 

“Why are you here?” I ask, as she continues to complete the sun. It is so familiar to me, even years later—

And yes, I realize. 

It has been years. 

« r » | @any!





Reply




Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 398 — Threads: 80
Signos: 250
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 37 — Atk: 43 — Exp: 72 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#4



GENTLE LADY, DO NOT SING
sad songs about the end of love; / lay aside sadness and sing / how love that passes is enough.


Her brows raise, almost imperceptibly, when he asks for a sun.

A sun between his eyes. She can imagine the symbolism – though, from his foreign accent, she does not know if they truly speak of the same sun. Seraphina dabs the last blots of the brush away, and then she raises the brush to float between his eyes, even as they fall closed. Months ago, when pregnant, she had hated Solis more than she ever thought possible. She had hated him more than she did when she was a girl-soldier, or when she was struck down by Raum, or when her kingdom was made ash or smoke or statue. She had hated him more than she had when the court was consumed by ice and snow, more than she had when she was gathered to speak with him and forced to confront all the ways that he had known about their mortal sufferings and done nothing. She had hated him more than all of her prior hatreds combined.

She had hated him because, though all those other things had been their own small evils, they had never seemed like a game. It had never felt as though he was playing with their lives, only that he was negligent, and then-

Seraphina had wondered if she could love her children, under the circumstances. She had never been good at loving anything. Now she wonders how she could not love them, and that is nearly worse. Every single thing that she has loved – and, worse still, every single thing that has loved her – she has failed, in one terrible way or another. She does not know if there is anything in her that could bear failing them, too. She longs for them to have better than she did, and she longs for them to remain fever-bright for their entire lives-

(Not only, she hopes, because they have become the only bright things in hers.)

So, when she paints the sun, she paints it like her daughter, which is to say she paints it proper Solterran. She does not know if it was the sun he was hoping for, or the one that he was imagining, but it is the only kind of sun that she knows. Each brushstroke is careful, nearly-caring, ornate; each brushstroke crafts one creeping fire after another until it seems to her life-bringer and light-bringer, until the very center of it seems bright enough to glow. It is only then that she is satisfied, and only then that she pulls the brush away, dipping it back into the bucket it came from and swirling it in the paint anew.

(She nearly puts some bright gemstone at the center of it, but she decides that would be too childish for his stern, warlike face.)

She is not quite prepared for him to open his eyes, although she is almost done with it, and she is not quite prepared for the question that he asks. She studies the shape of his face, the look in his eyes; and there is a part of her that does not want to answer, because she is so terribly afraid of the thought of the world getting its teeth into her children, and any mention of them to others means that more people might know of them to bite down. “I’m looking for my daughter,” she says, finally her voice gentling, somehow, around the mention of her child, “though my companion is searching for her, now. She seems to sneak off whenever I look away from her.” She is a wild thing like that. Sometimes it makes her ache.

(Somewhere in the smoke, she can feel the triumphant and half-vicious half-eager flutter of her bonded’s heart; she is probably excited to watch her scold her child. Seraphina only hopes that she hasn’t lost Ambrose while she was looking for Diana – he is too tender-hearted, and he knows nothing of what it means to navigate such a swelling crowd.)

Her eyes drift to meet his own, and she thinks that it is only proper to return his question. “Why are you here?” She wonders if he is on his own, and why - this festival of new-life and fire is not something that should be attended alone, and even she is sure of that.

Between his eyes, she completes the lick of the flames that border the sun, tapering the brush down to the end of each sharpened edge.





@Vercingtorix || <3 || james joyce, "gentle lady, do not sing"

"Speech!" || "Ereshkigal!"





@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself.


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence




Reply




Played by Online Syndicate [PM] Posts: 158 — Threads: 30
Signos: 1,035
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#5


You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

I
am ignorant to the ironies that bind us. It does not occur to me, of course, the many varied meanings of a sun sigil. Where I am from, the sigil belongs to the old gods; those that bestow life, and take it. More fundamentally, it is a sign given rarely, sometimes for luck but more often for decrees of fate. It is the mark of the chosen son, or so they say. 

The priests had given it to me, at my coming of age ceremony. I wish I had known why; I had never felt chosen in any way that mattered. No. Very little of my life had ever seemed to dictate choice. Everything had been preconceived. I had been given a narrow road to walk, with only one purpose. I have thought long and hard on the ironies of it, in my life—how the mark I bore would be the mark that Bound the soul of the Last Prince, how we were irrevocably tied in that way.

There is no way for me to discern that the same Prince would be touched by Solis after his banishment, and given a new purpose. There is no way for me to understand that the woman before me is not simply another battle-worn soldier, but the past Sovereign of Solterra. And even if I did know, I doubt it would mean anything of significance to me. It would only be another irony. Another lack of choice, another strong-fisted show of chance or fate or whatever it is best considered. 

She is deliberate, and the confident motions of her brush suggests she has done something similar in the past. War paint is not a new phenomenon; but I do not see the natives of Novus brandish it as we had, in Oresziah. I recognize the make of a warrior; the musculature; the scars. I do not ask about it, however; I only appreciate the time she takes to do it correctly. 

The effect of the gesture is intimate. There is no way to avoid it, in our close proximity, with the bonfires creating a plethora of dramatic shadows and even more dramatic light. She seems whetted like a blade before me; her eyes are dual colored, but in the relative darkness and the colored flames, I cannot decide what make they truly are. We are too close. This silver woman reminds me of someone, but I fear the recognization if I were to walk down that avenue of familiarity and ask, who and why? 

“Your daughter?” I repeat, mostly because she did not impress upon me motherhood. I feel the smile that is instinctive flit across my lips; it meets my eyes, bright, but it does not meet my soul. “I have heard children have a penchant for such mischief.” It is what Cillian had told me of Khier, the first time she begged I claim him. I push the thought from my mind and refocus on the situation before me. I think I would offer to help her look; but somehow, I think that might toe a line I do not want to cross. So I do not; I simply make a noncommital sound of acknowledgment and add, almost as an afterthought: "I am sure you will find her." I think of Elena, briefly, and her daughter. I remember my own father, and the kind of parent he had been. 

No, I think. I am not made for knowing children. Why are you here? she asks, as she finishes the definitive mark. It feels severe, and familiar, and—

It should feel as if it is restoring a piece of me back to myself, returning it. Instead, it feels borrowed; I can feel the tightening of the paint on my skin, the way it is already drying.

I realize I do not know how to answer. Finally, because it is a somber type of evening—beneath the festivity, beneath the poems of new life, the joining of two courts—I tell the truth. “I suppose I was looking for someone. But I did not expect to find them.” 

I wonder if I will ever quit looking for her; glimpses, through the crowd, like a myth. I wonder if I will ever quit feeling the sudden, elated jump of excitement at the slightest glimpse of her face. I hate the way it makes me feel and yet, sickly, I cannot end my obsession. I know it is an obsession, and yet—I cannot let it go. I cannot let her go, and anyways—

This is a place she would go. To the bonfires and the gems and the paint. To the race in the distance. I am here, to find her—but I do not look.

I do not smile. “Would you like me to return the favor?” I ask, at last. “Do your people have any customs, any paints? I am sure your daughter would be impressed by the sight, if she has never seen it before.” 

The first time I had seen my father in his warpaint as a boy, I had been frightened; I had thought he was not my father at all, but a god. This truth belongs to a life I can barely remember, but the moral remains: there is a brief moment where parents are more to their children than they will ever be again. 
« r » | @Seraphina





Reply




Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 398 — Threads: 80
Signos: 250
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 37 — Atk: 43 — Exp: 72 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#6



GENTLE LADY, DO NOT SING
sad songs about the end of love; / lay aside sadness and sing / how love that passes is enough.


She almost doesn’t feel like herself, standing here among the multicolored flames of the festival, which seem to dye the metallic silver of her coat every which way as they dance and sway. She almost doesn’t feel like herself, because she is so sure that she died that night on the Steppe, her grave in flowers instead of flames (ill-fitting for a Solterran, least of all a Solterran queen); but now some part of her feels like she has been pulled back from the ground, that she is not quite a ghost any longer. There are people here, and she has a daughter, and she is speaking to a stranger not in the way of a hellbent Fury on a quest for justice, or revenge, or salvation. She is not speaking as a queen, or an emissary, or even as a soldier.

Tonight, she is simply a woman, her white hair dribbling to her ankles, painting the face of a stranger. She wonders if it isn’t the first time in her life that she has been herself, not something defined by the will and whims of her people and her homeland.

She cannot remember the last time she stood so close to a stranger without flinching.

“They certainly do,” she says, a half-laugh lingering on the edges of her upturned lips, “and she is especially prone to it, I think.” Unlike her twin, she thinks, though she does not say it. (They both worry her, but in very different ways.) Diana is always searching for something, always running, always pulled by forces that, even as her mother, she cannot understand at all – and she isn’t sure if that breaks her heart or not. But she does not think of that too much, not now. Instead, she keeps that half-gentle and mostly unused smile. “Thank you. I just hope that she hasn’t managed to find too much trouble in the meantime.” She thinks that her hope is probably futile, however.

She can’t say that she is surprised by the somber tones of his answer to her inquiry; what she expects less, probably, is to empathize with it.

I suppose I was looking for someone. But I did not expect to find them.

His words bring her back to the island full of mirrors, her search for the specter of her mother. (All she found was the sharp and golden reflection of her own eye, which was nearly enough.)

If she is wondering who he is looking for, or why he cannot find them, she does not prod at the bruise. “I’m sorry,” she says, and, for once in her life, she thinks that her voice might be proper consolation, because she knows that she understands it. There are nights – most nights – where she swears that she knows more ghosts than she does living beings, and, even among the living, she always finds herself looking for versions of people that no longer exist, ones that she loved and can never return to. She can remember walking through sandstone hallways with smiling faces, waiting eagerly for the arrival of letters (even, once, in the face of tragedy), a gentle touch here and there, a kindness.

And then there is always the picking yourself back up again, even on your own.

(At least she has her children, now.)

He asks her, unsmiling, if she would like him to return the favor – to paint her. She pauses, and there is a certain rigidity that floods into her stance, quick as a bolt of lightning. She forces herself to settle just as quickly.

There are some disgraces (tragedies) that can never be walked back from, no matter how much you would like to escape them. The request dies and rots like a dead thing on the tip of her tongue, and she exhales sharply, the gold glint of her scar catching in the fire-light like the drip of an open wound, like blood.

“There is,” she says. (She doesn’t say that she once wore the rarest of them all, dredged-up relics of warrior-queens of old.) “There is, but I…can no longer wear it. I fell in battle, and my people suffered for it. I can never wear our paint again.” She looks at him, spring-green eyes with a warrior’s glint, and she wonders if he knows all the ways that living on can be a greater disgrace than death. Seraphina presses her tongue to the back of her teeth, swallowing, and she finds herself asking, to her faint surprise, “but…if there is something else you might paint, I would appreciate it.”

Seraphina has never allowed anyone else to paint her before. There is something foreign – a bitter taste in her mouth – about asking it of a perfect stranger.

Regardless.

When she looks at him, she is not entirely sure what her stare is asking for.




@Vercingtorix || <3 || james joyce, "gentle lady, do not sing"

"Speech!" || "Ereshkigal!"





@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself.


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence




Reply




Played by Online Syndicate [PM] Posts: 158 — Threads: 30
Signos: 1,035
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#7


You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

I
t is this stranger, speaking of her child, that makes me realize I cannot remember my mother’s face. It has been months since I have last thought of her; and perhaps even years since I tried to recollect something specific, something more than words or the feeling within the memory, her voice when I left. I can still remember in nearly perfect clarity when she placed the sun charm on my horn; it had been one of the rare occasions I had felt as if she had loved me, and one of the rarer occasions still I felt connected to her. And yet—I cannot remember her face, the shape of her laughter, or even the exact color of her eyes. I think, perhaps, they had looked like mine.

They certainly do and she is especially prone to it, I think. It is my imagination that makes me want to ask what sort of daughter she has. Elena’s little girl looks just like her, I remember; and by the cliffside where I met her, she showed herself to be wise beyond her years. I almost cannot imagine this woman, full of scars and the same color as a swords, to be a mother at all. There is some strange kinship to her, however: and perhaps it is because of her scars, or the patient way that she paints my face. 

But I do not ask. In the end, it doesn’t matter. There are people we are meant to know only for a night; only for a moment. Perhaps she is one of mine.

I smile politely and not in agreement. “These festivities are tame enough. She’d have to make the trouble herself.” The comment is playful and lighthearted, juxtaposing the otherwise somber nature of our conversation. 

It is easier, I think, to talk of her daughter than to talk of myself. Of searches that are aimless; of wants that are mere fantasy, and besides, what if they had been actualized? I have glimpsed Boudika enough from afar to understand what she is now; the thing we once, together, detested.

I’m sorry. 

I do not expect the depth of emotion in her voice; and briefly (in a way I am unfamiliar with: in a way that is a firs time experience) I think she understands what I mean. I hold her eye longer than might be appropriate; I am appraising her; those scars; the hard face and the long hair. 

“In the end, it’s just life.” I do not say it’s okay or there is nothing to apologize for, which are more appropriate. There is a severity to my voice, one I meant to be lighthearted: but it seems to suggest you understand?, a question and a statement all at once.

Because, in the end, it is just life. There is no staying, not for anyone. There is a long corridor full of doors; and on the long walk down it, some of the doors open. People enter our lives and exit them at some other junction; some, we hardly notice leaving. Then, for others, it is as if when they depart they take with them something essential. The walk, which we began alone, feels much heavier, much more difficult, with the absence of their company. But we begin and end the walk alone, always, and those interlopers who join us on our journey—none of them stay. 

Not daughters, not sons. Not lovers or friends. Not mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. All the doors close, eventually.

There is, but… I can no longer wear it. I fell in battle, and my people suffered for it. I can never wear our paint again. 

I say nothing in the face of her admission. I only choose to open a door. 

I am quiet, and contemplative; after a long pause I turn to retrieve paints of copper and rich indigo. When I return, I begin with a delicate line down the center of her face in bright, metallic copper. But the design itself quickly becomes asymmetric. It branches out on her cheek opposite the scar. The shapes are swirling, like vines; and the indigo comes in to highlight certain upward facing arches or spires. “My people,” I say softly, as I reapply paint to the brush. “Give this paint to those who fell in battle and have the courage to return. Ardu o luaithreach. ‘To rise from ashes.’” 

Perhaps it will offend her; perhaps the gesture is poorly timed, or ill-placed. But she does not strike me as a woman who does not deserve to rise; and besides, the paint without action is meaningless. “The paint, and what it symbolizes, is meaningless without action. Or so my people believe. The action ignites the magic within the symbols; It gives them power they might not otherwise have.” The night is cool against my skin; and my voice, somber and measured, sounds nearly prophetic. The last time I had seen this design, it had been on myself. It had been the last time I had been painted, and the first time I had been painted after my literal fall from the cliffside. 

Sometimes, I think, there are different ways to rise. The rising itself does not contain power; the intent of the stand, of the shaking from oneself the debris, the way they turn and measure the new and irrevocably altered life before them—

These are things I cannot express. And instead, I attempt not to stare too heavily. Instead, I paint down her front leg an unfurling of leaves that become stars. Instead, I line under her eyes with copper, and the rim of her ears. The runic symbols unfold on her ribs, spiraling up, up, like embers from a flame.

It feels too intimate for strangers.

But when I draw away at last, my own paint dried, it is to say aloud: “Those who wear scars as you do ought to have the opportunity to rise.” 

My mouth is dry, metallic; I realize I am speaking less to her and more to the woman I am looking for, who is gone, who has closed the door. 

« r » | @Seraphina





Reply




Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 398 — Threads: 80
Signos: 250
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 37 — Atk: 43 — Exp: 72 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#8



GENTLE LADY, DO NOT SING
sad songs about the end of love; / lay aside sadness and sing / how love that passes is enough.



She knows why Isra made her scars golden, when she pulled her from her grave of upturned dirt and moonflowers.

She knows – though sometimes she would rather not think of it. She knows that she would have been unable to forget them – or what they meant – even if they were not metallic, and she knows that she would likely have resented them more if they were plain and bare, because then they would have been nothing more than a product of Raum; but instead they were filled in with the touch of the night queen, enchanted into something else. She knows what she meant then. There is nothing especially beautiful about her pain, or any other pains that came about because of it, but perhaps, eventually-

Perhaps, eventually, she can be something else. Perhaps, eventually, the scars on her cheek can mean something else, she can be made and remade and be something more than a tortured child or a failed emissary or a dead queen. Perhaps, eventually, she can be something more than a gaping hole, a weeping wound, an empty space, a ghost. Perhaps, eventually-

She has given up on happy endings.

Seraphina stands perfectly still as he takes the brush, retrieves the paint; she has never worn copper before, or indigo, and she is not sure what to expect of him. She is not sure what she expected, when she spoke. (There is always the preemptive expectation of condemnation, of course – but she must remind herself that he is a perfect stranger, and he knows nothing of what it meant when she fell.) She stands still, too, when he begins to paint; her eyes flicker closed as he touches the feather-light tip of the brush to her face, white lashes dipping low over her eyes. My people, he says, in a voice as soft as the press of the brush, give this paint to those who fell in battle and have the courage to return. Ardu o luaithreach. ‘To rise from ashes.’”

She has given up on happy endings. Unblemished ones, like the kind in stories – ones where finally, in the end, the hero is incandescently happy, in spite of everything they have been through. They fall in love, and they have children, and the story ends.

She has given up on happy endings.

(She has given up on endings at all.)

The paint takes the form of branches that spread like new growth across her cheek, spreads into the budding form of vine after vine; nothing, she thinks, that befits a desert creature, a Solterran. She cannot find it in her, however, to reject the paint taking form across the canvas of her face, to dislike it or to find it unbearable. She will always be Solterran, always desert-born, always more at home in the cruelty of the Mors than a field of roses – but, she thinks, perhaps it is not such a bad thing to wear vines instead of dunes, the spreading roots of a tree in the place of a rising sun.

The difference is that she has never been anything but Solterran – and lately, drifting through crowd after crowd, chasing her wayward children across the dunes (Solis-blessed though they may be), and lost, lost, lost, so terribly lost and unrecognizable and lonely, she thinks that she might be able to become something else.

“The paint, and what it symbolizes, is meaningless without action. Or so my people believe. The action ignites the magic within the symbols; It gives them power they might not otherwise have.”

His voice is quiet as an oracle’s. She wonders how long it has been since she spoke with a stranger like this, owing and knowing nothing. His words make something catch in her throat, and, if she were speaking, she is sure that she might have choked on it trying to swallow it down.

In Solterra, the paint is the action. Or – it represents the action, something past and gone. Her eyes flicker open, equal parts fire and ice, and, without moving, she studies his face. She thinks that she might prefer what his people think of the paint to hers; she thinks that the motion might be better than simple memory. Still, she remains silent, and she remains still as a statue, even as he draws the cold strips of paint along her ribs, in ornate pattern and ornate pattern up her legs; and if she knew all the ways that they grew from leaves to stars, if she could see her own reflection from where she was standing, she might have laughed at the irony of it, or she might have simply smiled in some quiet and not-quite-cynical way, aware, as it were, that she could not resent the crescent mouth of the night sky forever. If she could see her own reflection, she might have asked him what the runic symbols, drawn across her ribcage like flecks of ember and ash, meant. Instead, she must trust him. She barely knows him, and this is intimate in a way that she has forgotten how to feel (or feel properly), but she must trust him, and the work of his brush.

He lines her eyes, the tips of her ears. And then, he draws back-

Her gaze settles on the sharp green of his eyes, and she finds that her mouth feels – empty. Strange. “Those who wear scars as you do ought to have the opportunity to rise.”

His words settle on her chest like a heavy weight, and somehow – somehow she finds herself wondering how long she has been wanting to hear them, how long she has been silently and desperately begging for someone, anyone to tell her that she could try again. That she could put the world down, and the scars down, and Raum and the statues and all her murdered and mournful dead into the grave where they belong, that she was alive, still alive, and that she could still be – something, not a collection of parts and people that were already long gone. She is tired of being nothing but grief and guilt and ash, a trail of smoke in the aftermath of some terrible destruction.

She is tired of feeling like she deserves to be dead, like she should be dead, like she owes it to her people to die.

Perhaps – perhaps she owes something else.

When her lips settle into some sort of motion, it isn’t quite a smile. It isn’t quite anything; she doesn’t know how to feel. She settles on the bright green of his eyes, and the paint drying on her skin, and she says, “Thank you.” There is something profoundly genuine in the softness of her tone, something not-quite-tender; something with a hard edge, but not a sharp one. She remains close to him for a moment, not entirely sure what to say, or how to find the words to say it. (For once, it does not quite bother her that she cannot think of how to put it.) But there is the press of Ereshkigal in the back of her mind, and her children, and there is so much to do – and she would like to be home before dawn.

She holds his stare for just a moment longer. “I hope,” she says, “that you can find what you’re looking for.” What, not who, because she knows there is no sense in looking for those who are already lost; because there is something to him that makes her think that perhaps he needs to rise, too. Something in the lonely beckoning of his eyes when he called out to her, or the solitary air of his posture. Something to the way that he wears his own scars, carries his own, horn-crowned head.

She is gone, then, like a serpent shed free of her skin, something inside the soul gone free; and for a moment, she is a blade dancing on the edge of the crowd, disappearing into it like a shade.




@Vercingtorix || <3 || james joyce, "gentle lady, do not sing"

"Speech!" || "Ereshkigal!"





@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself.


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence




Reply




Played by Online Syndicate [PM] Posts: 158 — Threads: 30
Signos: 1,035
Vagabond Soldier
Male [He/his/him] // 9 [Year 496 Fall] // 18 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Damascus (Tartarosian Dragon)
#9


You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

T
here is a difference, I think, between falling in battle and falling in life. 

I had fallen in both. 

If Bondike had not pulled my head from the water, I would have died; if he had not dragged both myself and the Last Prince from the sea, that would have been the end to my story. He, for his gallant actions, received secondary medals of commendation. They celebrated him. But they celebrated me, more, for having fallen. For having dove from the cliffside with the Last Prince. For having fought him end-over-end as we plummeted toward the sea, he a man, then a bird, then a seal, then a man again. 

Another man would have resented this. Bondike never did. 

I fell again, of course, when I betrayed him as I did.

There would never be a recovery from that mistake. There is no paint among my people. There is no forgiveness for betrayal. As I finish her paint, I marvel at that contradiction: that we allow fallen warriors to rise, but betrayal is so unforgivable that those who perform it have their names struck from our history books, their tombstones torn down, their lineage slandered. 

The paint is catching the firelight; and with it, the symbols come alive. They are nearly dancing on her skin, where they flicker and gleam. Thank you, she tells me, as in my own mind I wrestle with all the demons that tell me there is no way to recover from falling in life.

I hope, she goes on to add. You can find what you’re looking for. 

I do not smile. I might have, even a month ago. It would be the polite thing to do; and the gesture would also be the ingenuine thing to do. I measure her with my eyes as she measures me; I take note of their strange duality, blue and amber. I have never seen anything quite like it. But she must be going; I know it before she even turns to leave and, when she does, I nod politely and turn away. I walk back into the festivities and firelight; past children playing with bowls of gemstones and adolescents painting one another in flowers and vines and leaves; a girl wears the sea on one flank and the forest on another. Something builds within me. 

That woman, she is looking for someone, and someone is waiting to be found by her. 

I am looking for someone who does not want to be found by me. I am looking to rewrite history. To open a chapter of a book I have read and read again.

There is a difference.

There is a difference, between falling in battle and falling in life.

« r » | @Seraphina





Reply





Forum Jump: