[P] lion's jaws
#1
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or should I say tiger's jaws amirite [404]



Days passed into weeks. She hadn't returned to her quaint Fiskebyn home, not to stay at least. It wasn't as warm as it had been in the winter, and the wooden bear on the windowsill only made her wary of its judgment. The forests didn't leer. It just watched.

The boars would huff and worry at her hands whenever she came back. Her visits were brief instances of practicality; gather rations, feed the bristled children, and then she left with as much duty to her preoccupations as she once spent on them. One by one they left her, even the stubborn Velazquez. He stayed the longest, but big as he was, as they all were, they were homegrown boars. The wilderness couldn't keep them, not like it kept her.

She spent the days working ropes at the river and practicing with the sling. Names cracked through the air as she loosed her pebbles; people that had abandoned her, people that had shamed her, people that she still loved. Her aim was truer, she found, with their invocation. This time, the Artist cut through a bending leaf. The rock bounced off the tree, and she loaded another.

"The Windswept One!" She called, aiming for a crooked branch. True to his name, he took to the breeze and shattered against a different one. It didn't matter. She loaded a misshapen rock that was meant to be the Wallflower, and let him wilt against the first target. The leather didn't grip her hand as poorly as it once did, and where it was raw, flesh had grown callous and scarred.

"The Captain!" The stone snapped across the air, and she took another. "The Gold Girl!" - "The Drowned Man!" - "The Storm!"

Panting, she whisked yet another rock from the suckling riverbed. Moss covered its surface. As she turned it, her fingers stained to green. She stared. The sun bore hotly upon her, ripening the anger that sat raw in her chest for far too long. Her hands trembled as she fit the stone to its leather bed. Slow was the first swing, and then it gained in momentum with each pass. Her eyes watched an old bent pine, hunting for a target. She did not hesitate when she saw it. Leather hummed as she struck - "SALSOLA!"

The stone bit deep into the ribs of the trunk, as if to pierce its heart.

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#2
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The wind was full of whispers, if one knew how to listen, and amongst these rumors some had struck more true than others.

That was not entirely why she went, but she came looking for answers anyway. Salvia was most trustful of her own eyes and ears. She had not gone truly alone, taking both her great black horse and sharp-eyed falcon. If she had been going with a purpose beyond this she would have brought her mate or her brother.

Atop her towering mount, Salvia rode with the relaxed ease of someone who was used to travel in such a manner. The clear sky encouraged her falcon, who had been following high above even the occasional hawks she spotted. None had been bold enough to try the little bird, if they became aware of him at all, and Salvia had been hunting birds since she was a girl. With the falcon, she was certain she could fell something from flight, though they had not tried on anything larger than geese.

It was only because she wasn't focused on guiding the horse—for she trusted Nacht to find his way to an easy path—that she heard the shouting. Most of it came in peaks of sound, along with stranger echoes.

Whoever was ahead was armed. Salvia knew this from experience, and her own sling slipped into her palm. With practiced ease she dropped a smoothed stone into the more pliable end and cupped it casually. She only needed one hand to guide the horse (and not even this, in truth) and felt more secured armed.

Salvia found a dog, in the end, with pale hair that reminded her (perhaps subconsciously, already guessing) of a slave-girl.

The wolf slowed her horse to a stop, almost by thought alone.

Was that you? She asked, not thinking to elaborate on what it was she was asking.


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#3
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why you little [465]



She had already loaded another rock and began to whirl it when the hooves came to her. Their pounding sent what seemed a fleet of animals back into the wilderness. They skittered into shadow and up tree trunks, bounded and fluttered away. The common loon that lingered for the fish suddenly dove into the river, but not before calling with its low, haunting voice. She watched for the rider that came. Her sling made slow, patient circles.

The steed was massive, and the one who mounted it was even greater. She hadn't come from the north or west like so many others, smaller travelers with meeker statures and feebler horses. The woman rode with power, like she was made to tower above all else, and the one hand guiding the reigns seemed more presentation than necessity. No doubt rider and mount were of one mind, Semini had seen their type in the pastures of an old home faraway.

In another time, the earthen woman would have made Semini afraid. But her chest felt like an abyss that could swallow anything, and in that darkness there was a strange sort of courage. More practically, no skill atop a horse could match the river's depth at this juncture, but a strong swimmer would find no difficulty in it. Caution lurked in her mind, even if her heart beat with recklessness.

Her tied ears lifted to catch the question. Her molten eyes wondered at the rider, who seemed more and more a hunter as the afternoon leaned on. Even that didn't seem quite right. A predator.

As she had banished all others, there could only be one answer. Semini glanced quickly over both shoulders, as if to wonder, who else? Her encampment was scattered in a small radius around her, abstractions of survival orbiting her isolation. A net laid half drowned in the river bank, and to its side were blood crusted knives and broken fish bones. In the shade of a tree was a slumped bag, beyond it the free ropes she was beginning to fashion into a new net. Finally at her waist was the moon to her person, the glinting steel dagger and a hilt that refracted the world into infinity.

She kept the sling spinning, catching it once in her hand. "Yes," she said at last, having waited with all the petty recalcitrance of an adolescent. She was no longer so young, but neither the question nor the answer were really important and an old impatience had been revived. She had always disliked words beneath words, her mother's weapons. Semini thought she understood the implication. In her naivety, she believed that Salvia's own sling was a tool and not a weapon.

"I hope I haven't disrupted your hunt."

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#4
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what a nice lady


River-crossing was something they did often in Salsola—at least, when they left it. Their home was practical, bordered by water on all but one end. The marshland had a tendency to become boggy in the summer and dangerously slick in winter, and it made for sure-footed things. Nacht was a horse who had been trained under such conditions, and before that, lived in the foothills of the great eastern mountains.

That she had raised the horse, and been riding him since able, was amongst the many reasons the stallion responded to her so well. Salvia had trained him, directly and subconsciously, through touch and shifting weight. His mouth had never known a bridle and was more responsive for it. Beyond that, the horse trusted her so completely that he could overcome fear when Salvia was on his back.

Sunlight radiated off her pale coat, warming it quickly where the fur turned dark. The leather slip covered her chest—enough, at least, to hide the true shape of her scar—but laced together at a low point on her back. Loose and layered around her thighs, the supple material betrayed its quality. Even the horse's tack looked oddly well-cared for, and the tooled shape above the hackamore's bosal was intricate.

Silver and gold, semi-precious and shining stones, they were scattered all over her. Salvia did not hide herself as fully as she once had. Not now, especially, when she was well into her prime and atop the black horse. She had come to find answers, that was all, and believed the influence of her Family reached very far.

The blonde woman smiled.

You sounded like you might have been in trouble, Salvia explained instead, and the hand holding the sling dropped to her thigh. The swell of muscle in her arm implied her strength (though perhaps not her true speed) that might be behind her cast.


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#5
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lil bb sem [420]



Semini had never known the kind of trust between rider and mount. She had been tossed from one of her mother's horses at an early age, and since then learned the very basics of the activity before dismissing it altogether. Boats and ships were not so willful as another creature, and she could tame ropes better than reigns. It wasn't until the boars came, rather without much choice, that she grew to believe there was something that could be shared between two species. The fingers of her free hand flexed, as if they might touch the rough hide of Velaz who had always stayed at her side. Suddenly her throat felt tight.

She felt bared to the sunlight, revealed for the slate and bone colors that she was and not the deep blues and moonlight of the night. She bleached herself day after day out there on the riverbank like she might find something pure inside all that rot.

She caught the whirling sling and emptied out the rock. She tied it to her belt. She was no fighter, no hunter, no creature of the wood. The woman in her supple leather and ornament was made for that afternoon gold, or for the forest, or for the world maybe. Some had clearer purposes than others, or perhaps wore their artifice until it fit. Semini had simply tried different ways, as a river might navigate its obstacles and dams. But her father's boat had bucked her as easily as her mother's horse, and it seemed that the only place that would ever willingly embrace her was the great wide ocean. And there, she had drowned.

The river was cool when she came to it. She was a restless person, and did not sit or stand for long. The rider spoke again.

"Oh. Yeah?" She couldn't help but laugh. There was relief in the sound as much as humor, for a callow Semini believed the shadow of threat and uncertainty had passed. The woman was intimidating, but it seemed to make sense if she had come to investigate conflict. The supposed misunderstanding made her soft again. "I guess it might've sounded that way. There's no trouble," It would be too difficult to explain how the anger made her focus, or how shouting had freed her of herself, if only for a moment. "I'm just noisy."

She crouched by her net, and began to pull it from the stream. "Were you coming to rescue me?"

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#6
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hide yo kids, hide yo wife


They might have been made from the cold winter day and summer night, were they not exposed by the high sun.

In her ancient, cultish upbringing, Salvia had known deities of light and dark and that place between. She had known them broken, reforged, and made more suitable to the situations at hand. A doomed woman had become a prophet—a living god, in all truth—and because of her Salvia's father had lived long enough to sire his children.

For reasons like this, Salvia believed in fate. From this particular encounter, her superstitions would be reinforced.

She did not know this now, watching the younger woman (whom she assessed as tall for a dog, and fit to boot. Salvia wondered how far she had strayed—there had not been settlers here before, when she and the coyote had hunted cattle. Whoever she was, this woman belonged somewhere.

Curious now for reasons beyond her own natural inclinations, Salvia's dark ears pricked forward.

The wolf dismounted in a smooth, sliding swing. She hit the ground softly, for her own size. She held Nacht's reins loosely, disclosing the ease at which she controlled the stallion. He was taller than she was. A stranger might not know his temperament for what it was, though he began grazing at the soft grass around the riverbed.

If you had needed it, Salvia offered. Her smile turned languid, mismatched with her pent-up-tiger's gaze. Maybe she had expected a fight. Have you been using that long? She indicated the sling with her eyes.

Since she had dismounted, she had not moved.


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#7
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oh [474]



She smiled, light as sadness would allow. "I likely would have, so you have my thanks, anyway." Strange and short of word as the rider was, Semini thought it was a good thing there were people such as her in the woods. There were thieves and murderers and slavers out there. She heard her share of stories at the Mullen's and the docks, and skirted a few encounters herself. It had been enough to make her wary, but not enough to abolish the easy trust she seemed to lend to others. These aberrations hadn't truly come for her yet; she wouldn't know it if she had met one anyway.

The rider dismounted, but most of the action was lost on Semini. She was working the net free from a tangle it had made somewhere beyond the shallows.

"Could you tell? Not very long," she said, smiling through her exertion. "Not as long as this," Her arms were not so formidable as the rider's, but they had a strength of their own. Muscles bunched as she dislodged the net from the river. Water scattered beads across the bank, and the droplets evaporated quickly where they fell. She wrapped the line in her hand the way she had done many times before, and sparing a moment to adjust her stance, she launched the net back out into the river. Where the net scrunched and pulled, the current splashed around like a charge of leaping frothy deer. She dragged it back to the pebbled and earthy shore. A few glimmering whitefish struggled within the ropes, their greenish backs dark as the water, but their undersides a beacon of blinding white.

"I suppose it's a good thing I'm part of a trading pack and not a fighting one," she spoke again, though not without briefly casting her gaze aside for guilt. She still recalled the disappointment in Hazel's face when she could not muster the strength to care for her bristled children. What Magnate abandoned their duties and slept outside the territory? Her heart was a hole, and she was the first to fall into it.

"I'm Semini," she told the rider. Her hands were busy, and this made her comfortable. "I come from Krokar, a little west of here." It wasn't a secret. Secrets did not bode well for traders, or so the young woman thought.

The smaller fish were returned and one large was kept. She looked toward the rider again, thinking to offer it to her for her trouble, and nearly gasped. The color of her eyes were such a lurid green. Much like someone else's. She hadn't noticed from the height of the horse. Her own blinked as if dispelling sunlight, and her expression turned soft and wan. "Where do you come from?"

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#8
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did i mention sometimes when i write i get really weird oops


In some cases, the use of naivety could be made into armor. Simple minds did not always survive the hard truths of the world—that some were meant to rule, and some were meant to serve, and harsher things beyond this.

The truth of sickness, when it came for her life half-starved and driven mad with envy.

The truth of hate, when brigadiers raided her home in the name of their false-god.

The truth of mortality, when they burned her father's corpse.

She didn't think about these lessons, but they were tattooed deep in her memories. They, like the way her pupils swelled when she caught the girl looking at her face, were simply translated into those barely-there reactions.

Salvia's hunger for information rivaled only her interest in horses, and she was quick to stick her claws in when these things were bared. The girl confirmed what Artemisia had already told her; Krokar was a place for traders. Salsola too, was full of traders. They worked closest with Inferni, though these dealings had been scarce as of late. Bad blood lingered between the two places and time was doing nothing but wear thing what had been forged out of necessity. Convenience, Salvia thought privately, because even now she would not speak ill of her once-King.

Oh, south of here, the blonde woman offered casually, quick to move on. Did your pack teach you how to use it? I suppose even traders should be able to defend themselves, though.

A dark shape took to circling above them, so high it cast no shadow.

Or are your lot more the fishing sort? She asked, and smiled to show the blithe intent that was not in her voice. A pack which traded in raw materials would suffer for equally talentless competition. Her questions, sounding far more simple than they truly were, continued on. Do you have a boat?


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#9
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party on also sorry I didn't mean to write a thousand books here [553]



She hoped against the hard truths, like a river churned rough stones. Blood was thicker than water, that was what they had always said. Even as her family betrayed her in ways that the ocean never did, she believed in a reality where their mistakes could be forgiven. For what was more true than change? In herself and in others, and in the hard truths that might turn smooth and small as sand, given enough time.

Until then, she carried these weights. No matter how many she threw at the woods, her heart would continue to sink.

Her arms felt heavy out in the sun. She glanced back to the fish in her hand, which suddenly seemed much too small to offer to the rider. She threw it to the common loon waiting by the bank, its beady eyes moist with hunger. South rang in her ears. She watched the bird bite the eyes from the whitefish first.

"Yes." She said, a little quietly. "It's a bit different on land than it is at sea." The laws of the world had changed when she wrecked ashore. She had never learned to fight properly, not the way wolves did. In her narrow-sighted ambitions as a young sailor, she had not seen the use in fighting beyond throwing fists and biting. Her desire for peace had always seemed enough to make it true.

The loon was working out strips of deep red from the fish. She hadn't noticed the falcon yet, but if she had, she might have chased the weaker bird back into the water where it could dive to safety. "Some of us are." She said of her fishing companions, but didn't elaborate any further.

Though the rider had dismounted, she hadn't made any motions to come closer. Semini lifted her gaze to the other woman, her eyes like liquid amber in the afternoon sun. She thought it strange that she had not given her name, since it was the custom of so many to offer it straight away. Perhaps southern people were more mistrusting, and it made her wonder if she should be the same.

"I do," she lied easily, because as she elaborated the vision she became more committed to its realization. "A lovely boat with one white sail. It's a bit small, but the hull's well made and there's room enough for two. We've got other boats for taking product down to the Outpost. Rivers are faster than horses, sometimes." Many of the boats and rafts that they did have were simple rowboats and canoes, and repairs were being done for those that survived the floods. It did not serve to mention these facts, however. She ordinarily promoted her pack's prosperity for the sake of trade, but some smaller feeling told her that it was more important to do so to this rider, and perhaps for different reasons. Her eyes weren't green as spring, but hot and ravenous like a wildfire. How they seemed to hunger.

She looked down to the net she had gathered. She began to unwind it idly, her fingers picking at the weighted metal pieces around the rim. "Did you want to learn how to sail? I'll trade you. A lesson for a lesson."

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#10
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pls write me moar


The wolf stood in the sunlight as if she belonged there. She stood as if the very ground on which she walked became empowering, as if she drew her force from it. A shadow had once taught her how to stand when she fought, and so engrained in her practice had this become that Salvia slipped into it subconsciously. It was simple to do—she had done it the moment her pale feet had touched the ground.

A cautious breeze moved her hair, and only then did she herself break from stillness. It was so casual that it might have been planned.

Her smile tightened. It curled her dark whiskers.

I have no boat, she said, bluntly. The sling dropped from her palm and hung, like an unwound pendulum or a dead snake, parallel to her thigh. But perhaps we can trade something else, if you truly wish to learn.

Behind her, the black horse became a looming shadow again, as if responding to some unspoken signal. Dark tipped ears pricked forward and she cocked her head a little against the wind. This small motion sent a cascade of blonde hair over the woman's shoulder, further hiding her scar. She had an instinctive need to hide and something about the dog—something about her free offerings, perhaps—was off.

I won't mind if you're noisy, Salvia added, plucking the woman's word and inserting it as her own intentionally.

It was a trick she had used for many years now.


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#11
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i cant quit you [305]



Perhaps the smile had done it. As quickly as Semini had thrown the rider her trust, she reeled it back again. Nothing changed on the surface, but the wind seemed to touch her differently. It aided her for once, blowing the moonlight curls off her dusky shoulders and giving her an uninterrupted view of the rider. Her molten eyes took light from the shadow of her bent head, burning on the mountain of darkness that trotted back to its commander. She was feeling the parts of herself she had let lax in the company of safety - her fingers, her legs, the strength of her back. An awareness moved through her, water through the trees.

South. And such fine leather, and golden hair that hid a terrible scar.

The motion of the sling struck her like a loud clap. It was too jarring and too sudden to miss, and her chest began to fill with an uncomfortable heat. Only then did her eyes glance up to the sky and did she see the unmistakable silhouette of a predatory bird. It had flown countless circles around their gathering before she had noticed. Did the water bird even have a chance? She let her elbow hit a knife toward the loon in an attempt to send it away, but it did little more than flap to the other side of the fish. "Sorry." she said, smiling as if to say, I am terribly noisy. No one rescued the quiet ones. No one rescued anyone, she was beginning to understand now.

"What would you have from me, then?" Her eyelashes fluttered out the sunlight, and might have been the only sign of her rapidly beating heart. She kept the net in her hands, perpetuating the image of idle interest but preparing for what might come. She didn't know.

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#12
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ummm salvia u weird


For all their blood-toil and merciless lifestyles, they were living things that spent brief moments spreading their light. There were those amongst them that spilled color over this instead, spoiling the truth of the matter.

Depending on where one stood, the light looked very different.

The girl seemed to sense the very real danger she was in. It was the sort of thing that Salvia expected—she was a predatory creature, and despite her lackluster attempts to hide this, it seeped up. She was a creature of black-marsh and shore, and tall pine forests that were nothing more than killing grounds.

She set children on the right path, so they might spread her light to the world.

Her smile might have been threatening, if one were to read it that way. She could feel the wind on her lips. Mostly, though, it was a smile that was meant to reassure in the way her strong arms and stance did not. If not for the wind, she might not have moved at all.

The would-be pendulum began to swing, very slightly.

Perhaps some information, if you are privy to it, she suggested, then added: A favor, aye? Stannis' voice. Stannis' words. Her eyes glittered. She had not pretended for a very long time and it excited Salvia much in the way her drawn weapon did.


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#13
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i like it weird [306]



The forest was a different place in the day. Paths she had known so well by darkness could lead her astray. As moonlight unified the midnight world into one, the sunlight would pick it all apart. She felt heat in the unflinching gaze of the rider, who seemed intent on doing just the same with her.

Her chest swelled with an inhale. At a certain point, even the great sun could not penetrate the depth of the ocean. She had never felt so acutely alone, but neither had she ever felt so replete.

The request seemed modest to a point. She thought there was a certain misfortune in the rider finding her that day and not someone else. Semini had very little knowledge outside her trades and pack, and most of it she had already freely given to her. But it seemed like the rider believed that there was more to give, and there was danger in absence as much as presence. She was scarcely aware of the threat that lay in the vague unknowns, and how they tried to piece themselves together in the shadows of her mind. South, it rang still.

Her eyes did not miss the motion of the sling. She felt the weights of her net, one by one. The river continued to stir, and the loon had not yet finished its meal.

"A favor, then." She consented. "But I'll have your name first. I like to do favors for friends." Her sound was amicable enough. It was followed by a sea shell smile, pearly and jagged and tenuous as the tide. They were no more friends than they were true, either of them. A name would do little for her, but if there was to be trouble, Semini wanted to have it. She was making a collection, as it were.

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#14
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The ocean was deep and cold at heart, but there were still colder places in the world.

Salvia's smile returned.

Within Salsola, her name was a sacred thing. They did not speak it to her face unless allowed, and she used this privilege the way it was intended. Her name was worth something, and trading it was done with intent. She did not always give it. Inferni knew her name, as was their right by blood and trade.

Krokar traded. They surely had to have more than fish and sling-hunters.

The sun beat down on her back, half-shadowed by the horse. Nacht was a mass of heat and she did not wish to leave him in the sun longer than needed in his tack. If this was to stall her, she had more to do than worry about a fishing net. A breeze ran across the river, hard enough to spray mist in their direction and blow Salvia's long hair from her shoulders.

More trinkets glittered around her throat. A gilded, feathered serpent curved an s between her breasts. Shiny skin cut across the swell of the left one, too well-defined to be a scar made by accident.

Friends, then? She echoed, but her mouth looked hungry when she said it. Indeed, soon enough, Semini of Krokar, the blonde woman spoke deliberately, twisting the half-promise as she had the original trade.

My name is Salvia, she answered truthfully, and looked for a reaction.


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#15
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hhhnNNnnNN[---]




"Salvia." she said as the mist was falling. "Of the South."

Her recognition came late. Much too late.

First there was was nothing but the beat of the river and the hot sun. The falling wind settled a gleam at Salvia's neck, something strange and serpentine. She followed it with her eyes.

She knew the scar, but not the sight of it. Her fingers flexed for the feel of the memory; the scarred flesh she had uncovered with hands painted in red, so quiet in the snowfall of twilight, beside a beating heart and the bronze key. Venomous green blazed an inferno in her mind's eye. South. He had always come from the South. How often had she looked South hoping to see antlers and only saw branches?

She would not soon forget the handsome blade he first offered to her with blood still on her lips, nor the fine leather garments she had to open for his wounds. Neither would she forget his warnings, for they had blackened her heart. My Queen. She had thrown that stone hard as she could, not even thinking of a target. Salsola.

She stood so suddenly that the water bird dove into the water and disappeared. It did not come back.

She shook out the net, spraying droplets into the gusts that hummed low across the river top. It was no weapon. It was meant to catch things, like fish. Or rocks.

If anyone could cage a dragon, it would be this rider, Semini decided. She looked as though she were always mounted, as if the world was her steed and the ground she stood its saddle. There were too many coincidences for her to reasonably overlook. Life had a distinct current, things flowed toward their destiny - be it the open ocean or a over a great precipice. This encounter felt much the same. Something would change. And when she saw the hardness in Salvia and felt the softness in herself, she knew.

Vile water surged through her veins. She remembered the storm suddenly and the moments before her mind was ink. Drowning had a strange feeling. Her mouth had opened to breathe and it was filled with liquid that felt as fire.

"What do you want to know?"

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#16
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The woman flinched at her name, and Salvia knew.

Who? She thought, watching the sunlight play off moonlit hair. A thought came, half-formed, but was ignored for the moment. The origin of this did not matter yet—she could impress her might upon strangers by name alone because of it.

No weapon was more important than fear.

Her mask fell away in part. It was sharp-toothed, like her smile.

You answer to someone, don't you? She had too, Salvia thought. A part of a place was not its leader. I think we ought to meet your leaders properly, sometime—if we are friends, the wolf paused deliberately. Where I come from, we trade too.

There could be profit made, surely, if it was to be had. Perhaps now, early, before the vile tongues of savages and false-saviors spread. If this woman already knew her by name, she surely knew something of Salsola.

Her hands moved, and she closed the free one around the heavy end of the sling. With this held below her hips, she looked no less dangerous—if anything, the motion seemed unusual after her intentional stillness.

Who is your friend? She asked, softly.


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#17
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D8 [---]



There was fear there, as much as there was rage, as much as there was sorrow. Semini did not go quietly. She was a noisy thing, a ceaseless din of crashing waves.

Molten eyes glared against the sun and her. The flakes of gold had chipped away with a little time and heat, and she saw stripes of the tiger as one might glimpse it through the trees. A mask removed entirely did not invoke the same terror as one taken in part, for the first showed separation and the other reveled in the similarities. If a mask was no different than a face, then all things were just as easily false and true. There would be no warning in the transition.

"If it's a trade with Krokar you want, that can be arranged well enough," she said. It was not her place to deny a trade. Better that they profited than suffer an attack, which had been her fear. "What do they trade in Salsola?" Her eyes followed Nacht and the curve of his great neck. If it was a boat Salvia desired, that could be done. Perhaps all she had wanted were sailing lessons, after all.

Her eyes drew back to the sling with Salvia's movement. She realized what the Queen really wanted, which was information, after all.

"My friend? Oh, I have lots of friends," Semini said, searching for a precision to the rider's query. A hand lifted to rub at the dip between the swells of breast, where seaglass and ocean tears used to rest. It was no longer there but lost in the bramble of dark claws. She let it fall away. "They come and they go."

Why would any of it matter, most of all to this woman? She did not understand the politics of the place; Salsola was but a name to her. A name that had been offered as a reason to her separation from the hunter. All that Semini knew was that she could not have Lokr, not when he was shackled in thistle and thorn. Her face darkened, deep and cold as the ocean.

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#18
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Twice, now, she heard names spoken aloud by a stranger.

It was inconsequential now, but the sensation of exposure was very real. The code of silence that her Family followed belayed such slips. Nothing was prevented, and talk was sometimes encouraged...when it suited her needs, of course.

What whispers had she, this sea-dog of Krokar, heard in the wind?

Her eyes traced the motion of Semini's hand, a mindless reaction, but she read its implication well enough. She too, wore charms and sigils, and knew where they fell.

Salvia's eyes narrowed, however slightly.

We trade many fine things, she offered in that same, low tone. This was the truth. The truth was also that Salvia had another woman who ran such operations and she, as Boss, often left these matters to Isabella.

I think you might know this friend, if you know who I am, Semini. The name, repeated, became etched in her mind. She looked as placid as a sky about to storm.

Behind her, the black horse snorted noisily. He had sensed the mood of his owner shift and was warier for it.


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#19
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how I have imagined every smile from Salvia if not for these gifs I would be having heart palpitations right now [---]



Salvia was a Queen. She could only be one for the way she spoke and stood. She commanded an empire of danger, Salsola, whose shadow cast long and far though the selkie had never seen it in truth. She believed in it, anyway.

Yet there were no Queens at sea. Semini looked into that spoiled green, insolent and brave by nothing but her immeasurable sorrow. She had lived in the shadow of greater things her whole life, and she had seen many of them undone by the great waters. These experiences terrified and haunted her still, but they had not stopped her. I was drowned and I live now. She let her hands twist the net and set it on the rock behind her. Let there be bullets, she decided. There were worse pains than broken bones. "Just so," she said of their trade, and left it behind for the time being.

"I actually know very little of you, Salvia, and your home," she admitted. "I'm sure we'll get to know each other."

Her hand rubbed at her collarbone, traced the line to the dip in her chest. The other lay at her side now, letting the wind drag the leather sling across her knuckles. "I don't know if I have met your friend. I met a traveler in these woods, intended for Salsola, but whether he made it there...." She didn't hate to lie. Some selfish instinct warned her to keep Lokr to herself. She paused as if to reflect, though it was more to calm her racing heart.

"But that was some time ago, and I haven't seen him since." There was an edge to her voice, a faint bitterness. She cast her gaze at the river and lingered on their last meeting. "As I've said, these hunters, they come and they go."

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#20
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well basically (fff i am having so much fun sorry she is being all psycho that is her life)


Salvia had grown up on the edge of the ocean her entire life. She knew the endless waters stretched on forever, or so Stannis had told her, and she knew that people could lose themselves out there.

She knew that people could drown, and she knew that it was not a fate she desired. For something as simple as that she could go without ever knowing the sensation of a boat beneath her, and live a life without seeing a world full of stars.

The earth was very solid beneath her feet, and older and more terrible gods lived at its heart. She was the daughter of mountain-prophets and once-terrible beasts, a child of children who had been cast away and so resolved to build a new place in the world. Salsola, for its secrets and its terrible ways, was built on the back of all those misplaced people. It was more than a pack, or an empire.

It was a Family.

This was something she could never hope to articulate. This woman of the Others, who lied and spoke the truth in one breath, would never understand what omertà meant.

Salvia's pupils swelled, swallowing more of that nuclear green surrounding them. A strange smile appeared on her face.

Maybe she knew then, or thought she knew.

A hunter, she repeated. She pulled her sling taunt, then dropped the end where the stone was held. It fell through the air only to be caught, quickly, by the sudden motions she had begun to make. It sent Nacht away from her, though he did not go far. He had seen her use the sling before and did not fear it. Salvia swung the weapon mindlessly, as if she wasn't paying attention to it at all.

He was a hunter, you said? The blonde woman's voice sounded far-away, as if she wasn't even talking to someone else now. What was the name he gave you, then?

The whirling sling had begun to make faint noises in the air as its speed increased.


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#21
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salvia brings out the best in all of us, sem's just gotta accept it (i luv u i luv dis) [---]



Hunter had been a slip of the tongue, and she knew it as the wind whisked it from her mouth. She watched Salvia, and sure as sunrise the rider changed. She changed. She was a beast of the old world, striped with war and the promise of blood, dark as Lokr had warned. The earth stood behind her and the sun did too. It glared into Semini, leaving but two great shadows in her sight line. The giant horse melted back, offering the Queen before all.

Give him to me, she commanded. The sling hissed.

Her chest swelled with molten anger, each breath giving a defiant rise to her hackles. The ocean that had turned peacefully on her coat became furious riptides, rippling with the wind and adrenaline. Her fingers snatched the sling at her waist, but she did not arm it.

"Cuélebre," she stormed, "You understand? Cuélebre."

Lips of sea foam lashed around her jagged sea shell teeth. "Y él nunca volará a Mar Cuajada o a través del cielo de la noche, mantenerlo como lo haces." The trench was wrenched wider in her chest, baring what could have been if not for these shadows of thorn. "You have what you want. I want mine."

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#22
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She had lured the woman into a trap. It was as simple as that.

These things happened, she supposed, watching the dog's face turn. If she had not known before, she knew now. The answer was in the curve of white tooth and lashing of pink tongue. Of course this woman—this exotic looking woman with her moon-colored hair—might have been the thing which kept the Lord Commander from his duties and from his bed.

Her watchers in the dark saw.

Salvia, one way or another, came to know everything.

That was true power.

Si, entiendo. she said, speaking in a clear voice. Her dark ears became a scorched crown, high and pointed in her loose hair. A dragon, she called him. Could a tiger best a dragon, she thought?

Her fingers slipped, released the sling. The stone flew, but did not make contact. She heard it rip into a tree beyond them. The sun beat down on her back, catching her pale hair. Reflected in the running water, it cast strange lights on her face. Salvia looked exceptionally calm, but pent-up-violence lingered in her eyes.

Who was this woman, to speak as if she knew him?

Salvia's lip curled away from her teeth. She was still smiling, as if she had forgotten about the expression.

His blood called him home. He would have had it no other way, the Boss went on, meaning to reinforce her claim. Then, because she meant to blacken Lokr's name, to save him from this selkie, her words went on. Las únicas cadenas que él lleva se su propia ambición.


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#23
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yess [---]



The sound of home was corrupted by her mouth. Molten eyes ignited with rage.

It was a heartbeat and then a shot. She jerked her nose away, letting the stone cut past. It was a tiger's claw, raking a single taunting line across her folded ear. Though its hum ended in the belly of the trees, she heard the violent music long after. It rang in warning - a cat that first played with its meal.

In the crossfire, she had tugged the sling from her belt.

Semini did not hear her words, but felt them as if the stone had hit. The hunter had come to her both true, truer than I have ever been, the words echoed...and false. Semini had sent him home because of it. She believed in Salvia, as much as she refused her.

Did ambition make a man ride far north, far from his blood soaked home, to wait by a river for the chance of seeing her? What way would he have it, if he could truly have it? Semini could not say. She did not know or trust a man's heart as much as she did her own, and that sunken thing beat violently for her ideals and her love. These, she protected from the jade tiger.

"Volverá a mí." She promised.

She snatched a rock from the riverbed as she had done much earlier. The sling whirled only once, fast, before it was released. Around the Queen it sailed, spinning in a wicked arc for the mass of darkness and muscle behind her, a comet into night.

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#24
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The world was a smaller place than she thought—or perhaps not. Salvia had seen very little of the world, but touched upon it vicariously. Where might she go, that would offer her what she had now? A trees roots drove deep, and in the once-glacial marshland she called home, its name was Eternity.

How easily it could have been one of those amber eyes, her smile taunted.

She did not think to arm herself again, though her hand drifted towards her hip and the stones she carried.

It surprised her that this woman would risk the wrath of her terrible home over a man sick at mind. Now, too, with a siren who might drown him in the wilderness. It was a weakness. What good was a dragon when its heart became exposed? What would she do when that illness returned, when the darkness which had once sought to consume his mind returned?

A stone flew.

Semini, perhaps herself sick a heart, swore to the sun and the wind. She compromised her position, her home (though Salvia did not think in this term yet, it would later come to mind), all for what?

Nacht screamed.

He was more spooked than he was hurt, and it was the sort of hurt which surprised him because it was so unexpected. The horse reared up, hooves flailing, and ran.

Salvia's outrage became immeasurable. She whirled on the dog, fangs bared and fur bristling.

Das feiglings den weg! she roared, and cast one hand out as if meaning to curse the dog with it. By then, the overwhelming concern for her horse became unbearable. Salvia turned and ran into forest where the stallion had galloped off. Her form was swallowed up by the trees, though the echos of the horse became softer and eventually faded.

The falcon continued to circle, and to wait.


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#25
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*HOLDS BREATH* [---]



The stone made contact. She thought her heart might stop. The Queen was furious, and rightly so. It was a coward's way, perhaps, a selfish way certainly, and it had been her only chance. She could not best Salvia in combat, she had known this before she knew the rider's true face.

There was no time to waste.

She dove into the river with the grace of the water bird. Her dagger dragged in the current, but her legs and arms were powerful enough to propel her through to the other side. She shook off droplets of scent as she came up on the opposite bank, those that marked her for canines with better noses. She grabbed handfuls of mud and silt, rubbing them up her arms and legs and staining her fur. She hoped the river's cleanse would be enough to keep her hidden. The tiger would be back.

Her eyes flicked to the circling shadow above. There were so many shadows that day, too many with hooks and claws and terrible acid eyes. She darted into the cover of the forest, moving where it was thickest and covered most by a leafy canopy.

It would have been a lie to say that her heart was not in terrible pain. Every step she took was made with fear and regret and guilt over what she had done. She knew that she had jeopardized Krokar. She knew that it had all been selfish and foolish and yet she could not have changed it, she was jealous and angry and so despicably sad. Her mouth gasped for air. When it was at last that she could not run any longer, she slipped up into the tangled arms of a hornbeam tree, and then passed from its branches to the next, and the next. It took much longer than she would have liked, given her exhaustion, but it would make it more difficult for a tracker without a visible trail.

Then she saw it - the curling patch of thorny vines in bloom. It had sprung around a half-fallen tree, whose trunk had collided with another, making a wall of branches and vine. She came through the way of the upright tree, until she saw that there was a small enclave between the two. She slipped into it from above, landing softly on the bed of leaf matter and mud. Her hand retracted with a sharp pain - she had nicked herself in the process. She sucked on her fingers quietly, and thanked the skies for it. If she hadn't a need to close her mouth, she might have sobbed.

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#26
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It did not take long to find the noisy animal, and it took longer for her to catch him. When she did, she examined the flesh that had been struck—it was a solid blow, and one that was hot and beginning to swell under her hand.

Someone who truly loved a pet as an equal might have stopped there, to focus on the animal.

Salvia's love was corrupted by her own desires and drives, and her concerns for the horse were secondary to them. Righteous fury filled her blood, and in this rage she was focused only on one thing. Within Salsola, one was held to The Law and it demanded retribution. Semini of Krokar was simply a woman of the Others. She had no value to Salvia as such.

When she had satisfied to her own ends that the horse was not seriously wounded, she remounted him. Though Nacht was nervous, she drove him onward. He was hot underneath her and covered in sweat. Under his shaggy mane, his eyes were wide and rolling. Still, Salvia's persistence and fury were more palpable than the shock of the stone had been. By surrendering to her commands he avoided these, and though he was a good-natured horse, his fear made him unwieldy and aggressive in his steps.

When she came to the river, the dog was gone. The falcon had remained, and she signaled to it by means of her flashing ring. It came low, gave a single cry, and swooped towards the forest across the water.

It was too wide to cross, so she rode along the shore until a better spot was found. There she and the horse crossed, and rode back to where the bird was waiting. There, she signaled it again—it descended and came to land, gingerly, on her outstretched arm.

The bird could not speak well—it was one of the faults with raptors they did not have with the corvids—but managed to indicate that it had seen no one leave the woods again.

Satisfied the dog had to be nearby, she released the bird towards the woods. Salvia spurred her horse after the falcon. Though the bird had done its job well and kept an eye on the woman, there was little it could do from between the trees except follow the trail Salvia herself could make out. They lost her, somewhere in the trees, and Salvia could make out no obvious trail after that.

Frustrated, the blonde woman rode in zig-zagging circles. She had armed her sling again, and whirled it as she went, hoping to spook the dog out of hiding. When this failed, her patience left her.

TWACK!

A stone bore itself deep into a treetrunk, carving a gash.

Salvia made another signal with her hand and the bird returned to her. She lowered it to the saddlehorn and turned the horse.

It was enough she had come to know the truth of the matter. Her pride was not so great as to delay herself any further.

The Boss rode back the way she had come, and after a time, even the sound of the horse faded. When the falcon returned to the skies, it was further upriver. Eventually, though, this too was gone.


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