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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 277 — Threads: 28
Signos: 180
Dusk Court Soldier
Female [She/Her/Hers]  |  8 [Year 498 Fall]  |  16 hh  |  Hth: 26 — Atk: 34 — Exp: 56  |    Active Magic: N/A  |    Bonded: Anselm (Ibizian Hound)
#1

“Light came from the east,
bright guarantee of God,
and the waves went quiet;
I could see headlands
and buffeted cliffs.
Often, for undaunted courage,
fate spares the man
it has not already marked.”

Marisol dreams herself awake.

When she hits the ground, her body crumples like an accordion; it tears at the seams like a wet piece of paper.

When she hits the ground, she hears the noise it makes—a wet crunch—and if the blinding pain weren’t enough to knock her out, the sickening sound of it is, and her head goes perfect black.



Marisol dreams herself awake. Her soul rises from her body. She watches this from a place even higher in the sky, so high that she is looking down on both parts of her, and finds herself surprised—embarrassed?—by the insubstantiality of her own spirit, which from here looks like nothing more than a plume of breath in cold air. A silver ribbon dancing in the breeze. 

I am not dead, she reminds herself, though it feels like it. Her head buzzes like radio static as she tries to rationalize her aliveness. Vultures would be upon her already, their long beaks buried in between her ribs. I am not dead. The dull ache of pain, the insistent brag of her weak heart, says otherwise. No matter how much she wishes she were already asleep forever.

It’s impossible to know whether the sensation comes from her body or her soul whatever part of her that is watching all this unfold, but suddenly, Marisol feels the bright, sharp cold of a breeze against her cheek. It smells like rain; up-turned dirt; and the cool heaviness of the clouds coming down. The shock of it—how real the feeling is—startles her into sudden wakefulness. A shiver ripples through her. From a mile above, Marisol watches the dark brown statue of her body shiver, then fall still again. 

She sees now that her wing is bent at a terrible, crooked, unnatural angle. At the place it’s meant to bend, it has turned in on itself; a needle-thin white bone sticks straight out from a clump of dark feathers that has matted together with blood. Mari feels her stomach sink so fast and so deep that it makes her sick. And it is that sickness that sends her into another fainting spell, a dreamless sleep that will not last as long as it’s meant to.



Marisol dreams herself awake.

When she opens her gray eyes, the haze of the world comes half into focus. She sees that somehow—against all odds—she has made it to Terrastella’s hospital. The edges of her vision turn a foggy black; Marisol only manages to stand for a moment before her body gives out, and she falls to her knees in the dirt.

It is impossible to know whether the sight of the girl that comes toward her is real or a fever dream.


“Speaking.”
credits





[Image: ddg6quy-9d15dab5-339c-4b09-8b57-20a99fda...jvUop12efQ]

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Played by Offline Sam [PM] Posts: 306 — Threads: 50
Signos: 900
Inactive Character
#2


elena

I've hidden memories in boxes inside my head before. Sometimes it's the only way to deal with things.


She has dreamed of Dusk Court burning again. Flames licking at its citadel, ash building in the streets. Elena stands there, tall, over everything, on a pedestal of unyielding ice, panic in her blue eyes as her home turns to smoke. She screams, but no one hears, a shadow passes over. She can almost recall it now, here in the day, the heat against her face, but the cold beneath her feet. The shiver that ran through her as shadows moved over her. She nearly chokes on the smoke, as if it crosses over from her dream world. She blinks blue eyes, That heart-shaped marking made of ivory shows through on her golden forehead.

Elena wonders what she would do without Dusk, without her Court. She has learned again and again how to patch herself, to patch herself up again when the world seems so determined to keep her in pieces, scattered all over (a few beside the ocean, over mountains, bottoms of the lakes). Elena is longer whole. (She hasn't been since those carefree days in Windskeep where a decision between a blue flower or a purple flower in her hair seemed large. Or nap times seemed far too long.) Fractured, chipped, she is all those things, and she keeps giving herself away (and she would do so without question to those who needed it.) And she takes those empty places and fills it with healing those who need her, or the love of her daughter, the joy of her friends. She ties to fill it with as much happiness as she can find. The chip on her shoulder holds Marisol’s faith in her. The crack down her cheek, she places Elli’s goodnight kisses. The loose piece upon her knee is filled flower walks with Po. And Azrael, Anandi, Torix, Moira, Michael, they take the rest and fill her in until she can pretend as if sunlight is not leaking out of her and onto the floor, leaving shadows in her wake.

And still, sometimes those frayed, fractured ends, they burn as if those bonfires no longer flicker outside her, but within her. (She stares at those flames sometimes and she is so terrified, because what if they spread, what if they break loose? She is not so strong to keep them contained.)

Since becoming a mother, her sense have sharpened, grown more acute, her daydreaming is not so carefree anymore when she has another life to look after, to watch for. And her daughter, well, she is far better than any day dream she could possibly conjure. It is why she so quickly turns when she hears the sounds of small feet coming her way.

“Mom,” Elliana looks at her, blue eyes meet together and she can feel the worry that pours from her daughter. The worry, the concern, the fear. “Elli,” she says, walking closer to her, but she says nothing more, she doesn't need to, the empath can sense enough. “Someone, in the hospital, I think they need your help,” her daughter says with tragic blue eyes that poets like to write about and singers picture when singing sad ballads. “They’re close, Mom.”

So very close.
Close to what?

Elli knows.
Elena knows.

You know too, don’t you?

Years ago, on a cold day, Elena had ran until her legs gave out.

Today she runs faster and harder still.

The Hospital is not so far, at least for someone who knows the way. The swamp, she likes to think, is kind to her, after all she has given it, after all the blood she has kept from washing in its waters. It has to be kind to her, it has to know, because today there are no vines, it is like running on a sandy beach rather than a tangled marsh. Elena will tell newer generations, if she lives to see it, she will tell them that the swamp that day granted her wings and took her where she needed to be. How else would she have made it, how else could she have arrived at the exact right moment? She will tell them she grew wings from swamp grass and twisting trees, with flowers for feathers.

And she landed right before the Commander, her entire body shuddering in Marisol’s agony, her betrayal, her fight, her confusion. She watches her fall to her knees as if in prayer and not in pain. Elena is beside her in an instant, like in a flash of gold so quick, she would look more like a sword than a girl, glinting in the dying light.

“No, no no.” She wants to weep beside her. “Oh gods, oh gods,” she says instead. A single diamond tear slips from her eyes, it falls onto her lips, it tastes like salt. It falls from her eyes, her single release—and then she goes to work.

*****The palomino assess, running blue eyes over her body, like a hand runs through silk. Her glances are smooth as she dives and dips over all the damage inflicted upon her. Cuts and bruises line her body, gashes have torn her skin open and Elena is all to aware that the armor Marisol always seemed to wear was no more than an illusion constructed of her quiet strength and resilience. The realization that Marisol is as mortal as the rest of them, it sits in the back of her throat with more burn and more heat than any dream smoke ever could.

There is a bump on her head that concerns Elena. She has no way to know if she bleeds from there, hidden beneath her skin. Elena gathers water to wash over the wounds, to clear the dirt and the debris. Her limbs, Elena glances at as she cleans pouring water over wounds as if they were no more than the red tulips over her gardens, are sound, nothing broken, there may be sprains, but she wouldn't know now. She is grateful in this one mercy she finds before—

Her wing. Oh her wing. Elena watches the way an ivory bone makes its presence over the dark feathers that Elena has so beloved of her queen and her leader. She continues patching the open sores as she thinks, until the other hospital workers come and make light of sewing them together, and bandaging those that need it. A salve the hospital has is put over to prevent infection. They are diligent and quiet, the small crew, and Elena is grateful for the silence as she thinks.

Carefully, gently, she begins to stretch her wing out slightly to better see where the bone should rest. She wants to sob there and then once more, but she chokes it back with the steadfast resolve she learned when training. She applies some pressure to the wound, to keep any blood from running. She cleans away dirt and debris, dried blood, until it is clean, ruby red, no longer running.

She needed to stabilize first the internal component. She has fixed wings before, but only one pegasus, and not to this extent. The obsidian unicorn who trained her comes to mind, trying to imagine what Lovelace would do, how she would mend this. She needs something to hold the bone in place inside. She has made splints before, but this would need to be made of stronger than any sticks she has found. And then she remembers Marisol’s eyes, the strength within them. Stone, she needed stone. No, not stone. Iron. They melt it, make it malleable enough to form to the bone as Elena arranges it just so, back to what it once was. “You will fly again,” she whispers to her. She should know better than to make promises, but she has to believe this. Life has taken much from Elena, but she cannot allow it to take from Marisol. Outside, she places another splint, one she is more familiar with, created by wood delicate carved, strong enough to hold, but flexible enough that she can still move slightly without causing damage once she begins to heal. Elena takes her wing again and nestles it against her dark side, wrapping a bandage around her neck and down around the wing, securing it next to her to keep it from moving.

“Go now,” she says to the rest of the hospital workers as she turns to them. “There is nothing more we can do except wait, let her sleep, so that her body may fight,” she says and blue eyes rest against Marisol once more. “You all do great work today. Rest, but speak of this to no one,” The Champion of Community says. The workers nod their heads and depart, the healing creatures that inhabit the hospital move to go on their own way too, and attend to other patients that reside there.

Elena takes the petals she had been keeping here from the flowers Po had given her, the petals of the passionfruit and chamomile. She crushes them together and mixes in peppermint and poppy, for any pain of the head and pain of the body. She mixes it with water and gently pours it down the commander’s throat. “Sleep,” she says, and rests her golden head against. “Sleep without dreams, banish nightmares before they enter,” she says, pressing her head further into her. And for long hours, she stays just so, unwilling to move, as she presses feelings of calm and peace into her. Ocean waves. Owls in the night. Children, their children, laughing together. There was nothing to do now but wait. “Marisol,” Elena breathes into her dark skin, before she too, slumbers. *****

« r » | @Marisol ; notes: I'm not crying...you are




[Image: ddvotwe-59302ba6-6a81-47bf-9846-30c5a5db...0iFb4PvyXE]

let's light this house on fire
we'll dance in the warmth of its blaze
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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 277 — Threads: 28
Signos: 180
Dusk Court Soldier
Female [She/Her/Hers]  |  8 [Year 498 Fall]  |  16 hh  |  Hth: 26 — Atk: 34 — Exp: 56  |    Active Magic: N/A  |    Bonded: Anselm (Ibizian Hound)
#3

“Light came from the east,
bright guarantee of God,
and the waves went quiet;
I could see headlands
and buffeted cliffs.
Often, for undaunted courage,
fate spares the man
it has not already marked.”

It seems almost impossible to believe in love after the life Marisol has lived. 

But if she could see—past the black fog in her eyes, past the pulse of pain in her chest, past the cool, slick feeling of blood pouring down her shoulders—the way Elena bolts toward her, pure panic and prayer and adrenaline, she might believe in it again.

As it is, pain blinds her. Elena is invisible, a shooting star lightyears away; the comet-trail she leaves is nowhere close to meeting the hospital yet. Her bright gold body is still an echo, a far-away suggestion, of what it should be. Perhaps, even worse than knowing Elena is too far away to hear her scream, Marisol does not even know she is coming.

For all she knows—she is dying. And alone.

Her head is filled with the black hum of honeybees: a hundred stingers, Two hundred wings. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, she thinks. Buzzzz. Isn’t it always the queen who suffers the most?

A thousand stingers, now—two thousand wings. The swarm of them weighs more than she can possibly stand. When she falls to her knees in the cold, soft, dirt, Marisol’s dark head comes crashing down too. She falls against the marsh ground like a stone into a well. For far too many long, painful minutes, she lays in the grass and mud, her body as heavy as something already dead. Listening: 

The buzz of the bees. The cool, dark wind as it rushes through the trees. The quiet bustle of the hospital, too far away to be of any use to a girl who can’t walk, much less fly. Marisol lays in the grass and mud and listens. Her not-quite-living body is a statue too realistic to be comfortable.

And, as she listens, she hears the ominous hum of the insects turn into staticky, not quite words: Oh gods. Oh gods.

If she were any more awake, she might say the same thing. She might have even thought earlier, in those minutes-that-might-be-hours pressed up against the dirt, of sending a prayer up to Vespera. If a Goddess is made for anything, isn’t it for hearing people beg Her for mercy? But Marisol is so dazed and so pained that the only thing she can come up with in response is, I’m not sure there are any. 

A beat passes, and the voice does not come again. 

If there are, Mari thinks blurrily, they aren’t listening. 

Bloods pulses in her ear. The sound of it, like creeks rushing over a rocky bank, briefly overshadows the buzzing of the bees. And for one brief, incandescent moment, the sound of her that blood-rush convinces her, fully, that she is alive. Alive, alive, alive; Marisol’s gray eyes flutter stubbornly open, and—



“You can’t leave her here, Marisol.”

The woman in the doorway is staring at her. Her face is a mask of fury and concern—brows furrowed, her eyes alight, ears pinned to her neck.

The girl on the doorstep is staring at her, too. She has a gaze made of blue silk; her skin is like stone, and one of her legs is dipped to the heel in white. 

“I have to,” Marisol says, but she has the voice of a child still, and it breaks with effort. The girl on the doorstep looks up at her, and her face is eager, unbearably sweet. Pain washes over her. It crashes into her in one long wave; it leaves gashes and cuts all over her dark skin; it rips the joint of her wing clean in half, and she screams.

“You can’t—“



Marisol’s gray eyes flutter stubbornly open, and Elena is sleeping against her shoulder.

For a split second, she is more confused that intrigued, more startled than in pain. Where are they? The sky is so dark, and Elena’s cheek is a sunbeam on her skin. There are no clouds, but Marisol swears she can feel the weight of the sky falling down, down, down; can feel the rain and the mist seeping over her body; there are snowflakes cluttering her eyelashes, but she hasn’t seen snow in months.

Then everything comes flooding in, one nightmare crashing into the next, and Marisol’s pain—full-body, in some places dull, in others sharp or burning—is nothing compared to the lightning of her panic.

It slashes through her in one ice-cold, sword-sharp moment, and she struggles to sit up as fast as she can manage. There is a flash of pain as one bruise compounds—a terrible noise as a new stitch pops. Overwhelmed by dread and fear, Marisol heaves. She glances around in quick panic, but there is nothing here, not even another bed, no one but her and Elena. The room smells clean and terrible, like ash and cotton. And the bile that rises in her throat, when she coughs in pain, tastes like poppy seeds and passionfruit. It burns a long trail down her tongue and through her nose.

“Elena,” she rasps. It hurts to speak; blood runs from the corners of her mouth; still, though, she sounds like someone else. An alien. A demon inhabiting the wrong body. “Listen. For just a minute. Please—“

Marisol coughs again, and the floor rushes up to meet her in a line of dark fog.

“Speaking.”
credits





[Image: ddg6quy-9d15dab5-339c-4b09-8b57-20a99fda...jvUop12efQ]

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Played by Offline Sam [PM] Posts: 306 — Threads: 50
Signos: 900
Inactive Character
#4


elena

I've hidden memories in boxes inside my head before. Sometimes it's the only way to deal with things.


In the beginning, life was simple - she with her youth and the world with its endless possibilities. Elena had been bright-eyed and happy as a child, and those memories of her time as a filly were held close to her heart. Her parents had filled her life with happiness and never ending love. A simple, if not overly large family, and loving. The memories of her parents, cousins, and many aunts and uncles were fond.

It had been simple.

“This is something my father, you know the tales of Ichiro the fierce, told me, and now I am telling you,” Cherish told her one day as they sat at the banks of Windskeep on one of Elena’s returns there. She was no longer that little girl Cherish knew, on the outside, but inside, she still watched her with something akin to awe. "Trust your heart, Elena. For even though the winds will change, as will the world around you, your heart will always carry you to where you are destined to be. If you listen to your heart, know that you cannot fail.” Such a simple thing, easier said, much easier said, then done, Elena would argue if she saw Cherish again.

She has changed.

Like the earth after a massive quake or a valley after a millennia of river running through and carving out its sides. She has changed—evolved, devolved, perhaps—and she is not the same. But the walls of her are the same. The cliffside of her heart remains steady, despite the battered and bruised nature of it under it all. She can still feel love, despite all of it, maybe because of him, her shed-star, and him alone. (‘I am yours for as long as you will have me.’ Her shed-star said.)

Though some things have stayed the same. Elena is a compassionate girl, through and through, so compassionate that she is reckless. Elena has never never burned for constellations beyond her grasp; had not ached for worlds she could not see. She was more pragmatic, focused on the hurts of the world before her, her mind turning toward the bruises that flourish on the horizon, on the cries of the injured. There was too much to do here, too much to consume her mind, for her to think of anything else. Elena goes where she is needed, and Terrastella, Novus, her friends here, they need her.

Marisol needs her. (And it nearly kills Elena to know this.)
Elena, for all her bravery, finds, she fears this.

Marisol has always been unlike anyone Elena has ever met. Her company was always heavy, weighted, but rich, as if it had and endless bounty within it. “A leader is revealed through the love of their people.” Brynn once told Elena on a lazy afternoon in Murmuring Rivers. “The people here, they love Aletta. That is what makes her a queen, not the title—but the love.” And the people here, in Dusk, gods they love her. Elena loves her. Marisol is everything that a leader embodies, brave, strong, beautiful, though stoic, she was caring, passionate. Marisol is the image you find when you think of a kingdom charging into battle, at the front of the line. When she thinks of Dusk, it is not long till her mind finds Marisol at the center of it.

It had been simple.
Painfully, simple.

And now the golden girl cannot help but wonder when everything had gotten so complicated in her life. Still, she plunges herself headfirst into what is asked of her, despite the way Alvaro’s voice still rises from the background. (“Slow down, Elena. Stop. Think.”)

Everything must rise and fall. It is the way of things. Aletta told her once. And it is what she had thought when she saw Marisol fall to her knees, until she felt herself biting back at those words with the gritted teeth of a warrior and the steady hands of a healer. ‘Not Marisol,’ she thought, ‘you cannot fall when there is so much love ready to catch you.’

There is a feeling inside her, like ancient cities crumbling. Pompeii once felt a rumbling, once witnessed a sky turning black and the air turning to ash. Buildings collapsed and walls fall to pieces.

She is ancient. She is collapsing.

She is supposed to be a structured thing, and there is never supposed to be a rumbling or a sky turned black. She is supposed to keep cities up and skies clear. Her mother would have wanted her daughter to do as much.

But Elena cannot do it, cannot do it.

She lets the things crumble. Lets the world end. Because maybe it was always supposed to be this way. She stitches up wounds, mends broken wings, all because she cannot stop the world from plunging into destruction, and she can fall with it screaming ‘I tried, I tried,’ all while choking on ash.

Elena thinks for a heartbeat, was it ash? Piling up now? Why else would she be coughing? No, she realizes, it is not her who is coughing, and Elena springs awake, as blue meets grey. Clear summer skies meet a stormy autumn, and the changing of the seasons in that moment is so beautiful that hearts of winter and spring shatter. “Someone’s eyes are the closest you will ever be to seeing inside them, Elena.” Cherish told her once. ”Marisol,” she says, and it is not so much a sound as it is an exhale, as it is all the life escaping through her lips in the shape of her name. She is dabbing the corners of her mouth with a clean rag, wiping away the blood. Elena wonders if this is more for her than for Marisol, that blood looks too crimson on her lips, and Elena, she hates it.

“Shhh, shhh,” she says to comfort Marisol, to comfort herself. She says it over and over, the only thing that keeps herself from crying in this moment. (Her grandmother used to say that if you don't let the tears out of you—that they can turn to poison behind your eyes.)

(And Elena takes that poison and swallows it down—is this what it means to be brave?)

Just as Marisol slips once more.

She catches her head before it hits the floor and Elena holds her there, the same way she has held Elliana when she woke up with nightmares, kisses the top of her head and brushes back her dark hair, saying ‘I’m here, I’m here.’ “Tea, please, peppermint, with a touch of poppy,” she says to one of the hospital creatures, and they are quick to bring her some, and she sets it beside Marisol as the steam rises. And like the steam, Elena sends Marisol feelings of strength, courage, and wakefulness. “Blessed be the fight, Marisol,” she says with another kiss atop her head. “Because without you, how can we keep that fight going?”

« r » | @Marisol <3




[Image: ddvotwe-59302ba6-6a81-47bf-9846-30c5a5db...0iFb4PvyXE]

let's light this house on fire
we'll dance in the warmth of its blaze
pixel made by the amazing star

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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 277 — Threads: 28
Signos: 180
Dusk Court Soldier
Female [She/Her/Hers]  |  8 [Year 498 Fall]  |  16 hh  |  Hth: 26 — Atk: 34 — Exp: 56  |    Active Magic: N/A  |    Bonded: Anselm (Ibizian Hound)
#5

“Light came from the east,
bright guarantee of God,
and the waves went quiet;
I could see headlands
and buffeted cliffs.
Often, for undaunted courage,
fate spares the man
it has not already marked.”

If it’s true that everything must rise and fall—

Marisol began falling a long time ago.

There was the fall itself, a shock so cold and pure she could not quite remember how to use the wings that had been her constant companion since birth. A shock so huge that the bright, high whistle of the wind as it shot past her, as she tumbled like a rock toward the ground, was too loud to think over.

There was the morning she woke up with her children but not her husband, in a pile of blankets that still smelled like him, and her stomach sank straight out of her body because she knew, intimately, instantly, that he would not be coming back.

There was Asterion’s leaving, too (how many of her loved ones will leave before she dies?). He had left a still-warm throne seat and a kingdom that was too hurt to do anything but want him back; years later, just as Marisol is starting to feel like a queen worthy of her title, she has been thrown from it and into the dirt.

Some graves are dug on time. Others come far too early.

Everything must rise and fall. She has seen it in her own eyes, over her own years of living—Eustace, Asterion, even Florentine. And from a distance, the sovereigns of the other courts have always had their arcs. Marisol began falling a long time ago, and she has finally hit the ground: here in the cool darkness of the hospital, tears forming in her eyes just from breathing, her heart a wreck in every inch.

The hurt in her wing is a sharp, pulsing thing. It ebbs and flows—sometimes worse, sometimes better, but never close to gone. When Marisol shifts, sitting up in her wakefulness, the pain that stabs through her instantly is fiery enough that the Commander has to bite back a whimper. Her vision blurs. She closes her eyes, forces herself to breathe deep: in, hold, out; in, hold, out.

Elena is awake now. Marisol sees it through the thicket of her heavy lashes. The golden girl leans forward, the white heart on her forehead coming into focus as she does so, and Mari feels a rag dabbing at the corner of her mouth; she sees, though hazily, that the fabric comes back dotted with deep-red blood. 

With some effort, the queen swallows, then nearly gags. Her mouth tastes like dirt and lost time and old, rotted iron. Marisol thinks with some mixture of desperation and wonderment: against all odds, I have grown old.

Shh, shh, Elena says. But Marisol cannot keep quiet. She cannot not come clean. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she sees, really sees, that time is fleeting. She sees that her children are already growing up. That the clean shear of her dark mane is starting to be shot through by silver. That her time, in particular, might be coming to its end, and that all the years she spent thinking she was invincible have hit an abrupt stopping point.

Now she sees: the titles, the history, the invisible armor, mean nothing in the yawning, fang-toothed face of time.

Blessed be the fight—

Tears stream from Marisol’s gray eyes, coursing down her cheeks, settling in the corners of her mouth until the whole world feels like it might be made of salt underneath all the magics and glamours.

—because without you, how can we keep that fight going?

Marisol wants to say: I don’t deserve you.

Marisol wants to say: They don’t deserve me, fool that I am.

Marisol wants to say: You must already know what is the right choice.

Instead, she steels herself. She sits up straight, against the nagging pain all up her body, and pulls in a deep, shaky breath. She looks at Elena more seriously than she has ever looked at anyone, which, for her, is saying something; with her gaze clear, her face tight with knowledge and pain, blood and sweat matting her coat, Marisol says: 

“With you as its sovereign.”

A terrible, terrible pause. 

“I cannot lead like this. They need you, Elena. And I will be your pillar, your brace, I will always do my duty, but it is you they need now. You.”

“Speaking.”
credits





[Image: ddg6quy-9d15dab5-339c-4b09-8b57-20a99fda...jvUop12efQ]

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Played by Offline Sam [PM] Posts: 306 — Threads: 50
Signos: 900
Inactive Character
#6


elena

I've hidden memories in boxes inside my head before. Sometimes it's the only way to deal with things.


She once stared into a city, and the city stared back at her. So maybe, the abyss everyone keeps peering into like some god forsaken realm, is not an abyss at all, but a city, with a castle at its center.

Why do you think we want the thing most likely to hurt us? He had asked her.

Her answer—it will change after today, when she emerges from the hospital, knees bruised from kneeling, blood on her brow, and a crown perched atop her head.

History is a mirror and everyone is just older versions of themselves; children shaking inside adult skins, children crying behind tired, adult eyes. She is still that little girl next to her mother, thinking if she just wished hard enough, she could keep drawing heart beats inside her chest. She is still that little girl watching in horror as her father fell, the way his amber eyes whispered how much he loved her even as he knew he would die protecting her. She is still that little girl Marcelo found, feet cold in the snow. She is still that little girl crying besides rivers and waterfalls.

She is still that little girl— and little girls shouldn't wear crowns. And so she has to try to shed this skin and leave that little girl behind.

She is tired.
For perhaps the first time in her life, she is bone-tired.
And now is not the time to be.

Marisol’s eyes open, but Elena wonders if she is truly seeing her. Elena feels small against her, and it is something that makes her her shake, and want to curl up next to her commander. But it does not cloud her judgment nor her intelligence. She inhales fear, but breathes out admiration for her leader. “Rest, Marisol, please,” she tells her with that soft, quiet smile, eyes still blue like summer days, no matter how hard it is to smile in this moment, no matter how hard it is to keep those eyes free of fear. Marisol has given her much, Elena can offer her this.

She is reminded in this moment, the first time she realized that life was not infinite. She remembers her mother dying, her father, the soldiers on the battlefield. But, memories can't hurt anyone, unless they are shared. So Elena stays quiet as she watches Marisol, watches her tears, pretends not to notice. (“it’s just the rain,” she would say if she was asked.)

“With you as its sovereign.”

She hadn't realized it was possible to feel this cold.She could feel it like a cold wind sweeping through her, rushing through the edges of her so that she felt nothing but the bitter bite of all she has seen, experienced here in Novus.

She takes a steadying breath and rights her shoulders.

There’s a moment where she feels the space between her breaths. She feels herself floating away, but suddenly, it is Terrastella that anchors her. This feeling of weight responsibility sits inside her, it has taken up residence in a valley between her ribs. “Marisol…” she says. And, not for the first time, she resents her weakness. Not for the first time, she wishes she were someone stronger. She shouldn't be this, she couldn't do this. She wouldn't— but Elena is Elena, through and through.

So she would.

“Do more giving than taking. Power can corrupt those who have everything and those who have nothing.” The once sterling regent had told her so long ago when Elena ventured on a patrol with her. She calls to Aletta know, her heart reaches out to her, she wishes she were here. “You’re right,” she says, feeling her pulse begin to steady slightly. Her breathing more even. Another swallow as she feels her head clear, her thoughts beginning to settle. There’s a pause and a muscle in her jaw jumps before it settles into a smile. “Marisol, I can do this,” she says, she doesn't say it is because she has to, even though the words still stand unsaid between them. Elena plants a kiss on her dark cheek. “You will always be my commander, I hope you know this.”

Find what you love and let it kill you. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Because it is better to be killed by a lover than anything else?

But with this decision, it is decided, Elena will not be killed by a lover—but by her country.

« r » | @Marisol




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let's light this house on fire
we'll dance in the warmth of its blaze
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