How light carries on, endlessly

POSTED: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:47 am

Flower gleam and glow,
let your power shine
See the Light, it's blinding

She couldn't quite explain how she knew, that the days had ceased to shorten and indeed, began to grow again. It was nothing so specific that the dear woman could point out, it was only a sense of feeling that gripped her. As night after night wheeled by, with drifting stars lounging lazily across the sky when not covered by cloud and mist, Lucia watched and she waited, it seemed her life was only a series of endless waiting. How she did dislike the waiting, truly.

In the grip of winter, a daughter came to visit. A bright-eyed youth who was now a grown female herself. Along with her, Isis brought a male, a man of copper and silver tones to meet the gentle woman he had heard so much about. His inner skepticism of Isis' fervent explanations of her mother had been kept internal for he thought the Amarok daughter a lovely female that he wanted for his own. Those jagged-edged thoughts were shattered upon meeting the real-life star of so many succinct stories.

Lucia was overjoyed, filled with a happiness that superseded all of her lonely waiting. The love she held for Sol had never waned in the years of separation. Mayhaps some part of her thought that he would return one day. With each passing sunrise she struggled to bury it deeper, even Lucia could see the futility of such lingering hope, how it drained her.

It was not so long though, before Isis and her mate said the goodbyes and returned to their own place of home. Lucia waved until they were swallowed by the trees and forest. Only once their pelts had disappeared did the tears come. That night, Lucia sobbed in her desolate solitude, the sharp pricks slicing like claws into her heart, one by one. Wrapped in the blankets, leaning against the walls of her tiny cottage, the stones were as cold and unfeeling as ever.

It was difficult to stay cheerful in times of such sorrow. The snow fell and fell, the winds shifted and swirled. Ice covered up the small pond, and froze it to stillness. Her mother had called it, the Little Death, for life appeared to almost stop in its tracks. The world suffered out its long exhale and readied itself to inhale the new branching of spring.

Her garden of organized chaos disappeared beneath the deepening snow. The trees shed their leaves, only the stately sentinels and persistent pines keeping their green coverings. The bare branches reminded Lucia of bones, reaching towards the sky, grasping for the warmth to return, a great opened cage of ribs.

A day dawned, cold but bright. From an iced blue sky did the sun shine brilliantly, though without much heat. It drew the Amarok princess out into the thin light, her body casting long shadows upon the undisturbed snow. Lucia extended fingers and watched the play of light and dark with her head tilted. Her petite paws crunched through the top crust and sunk into powder. There was remembered joy, from a time when she had been young and carefree, of bounding about on wobbly legs into the snow with her beloved mother. With Altair and Marrok and Leela.

Those old memories were filled with a bittersweet taste, for they would never be remade again. Lucia would not see her dearly missed family again, not until she ran in the next world. Her hands fell, then wrapped about herself. The tears were a crystalline wetness that froze into her fur. A sharp wind tugged fervently at her long tendrils of hair, they danced in the weak sunlight.

A single set of tracks carried her a short distance from her cottage, to a forest giant that had toppled from the weight of so much snow. There she sat, after clearing a patch free of powder. An imminently lonely figure, striking against the backdrop of green coniferous boughs.

Slim muzzle canted to the blue sky, watery eyes closing to the world. From beneath their lids the liquid sadness still seeped; And Lucia sang, not with words but with the gift of echoing melody given to all wolves. Melancholy tones billowed and soared, rebounding from the curve of the frost-dusted mountainside.

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Last edited by Lucia Amarok on Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Luperci The sun never truly sets
SUNSHINE GIRL

POSTED: Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:28 am

Broad foot-paws marched against the desolate, wintry plain of the Isthmus. Zetsubou had finally done it; and so, had added to his sentence. Not one, but three times he owed his father under the guise of Salsola, marred in name by indentured servitude and becoming nothing more than a punching bag when Shaamah had enough. The sight of the boy was enough to curl his hackles in fury, and he was tired of the sight of the slimey cur. Hopefully, with the death of his first, only, and forbidden litter, he'd think twice about making decisions without thought to the future.

If not? Well, he was to be the cause of a great deal more lost life.

Yet, Shaamah's inner turmoil had not settled. He was testy, ready to flip the switch and constantly looking for a fight. While the burden of aiming for Guardian made such things in good light, it was a tightrope walk in Salsola not to twit the heads of the 'Yotes that pestered him with their presence.

Armored to the gills, the soldier moved through the snow in a bee-line. Tekko braced his knuckles, leather covered him completely. Helena's repayment of Calla's stupidity, though the delight of Zetsu losing a finger with nothing to be returned was enough for the woman to enjoy. It seemed, however, that Zetsu wasn't entirely in the proper nature amid Helena. Was it paranoia or was she really up to something? The snake. A resilient memory of Miwa and her own corruption, so deep it sunk to the heart of Sapient, had him believing the latter.

Plains thickened into trees as he continued through the maze set before him, impeding his direction with new felled trees and drifts that cast their shoulders against anything in their way. Step by step he broke through the cap on the frosty earth, bit by bit he chewed away at the distance between the only thing he could think of in no ill light.

He still didn't understand it. At this point, he wasn't particularly trying to anymore. Letting it all happen, though so far against his grain that it seemed wrong, felt strangely not wrong.

The glistening of ice crystals on the roof of the cottage danced brightly in the clear sky as a shadow lingered back in the trees. A blue eye reached through the obscurity of the canopy, narrowing his gaze down the snow-blind path and tracing the memory of footsteps in the snow. The scents of others here plagued the area, but they weren't so fresh as to suspect. The trail was stale of the scent of two others, but of Lucia, it was strong.

Breaking through into the light, huge foot paws followed dainty steps, walking beside them as his eye rose to find where they ended. There, she sat, the cascade of her mane draping to the snow and her nose toward the skies. Zetsu was cleared from his mind at the sight of her, though he still reeled inside. The event at the Delta piled atop it all, but each note she uttered, she stole a thought from his mind.

On her lips, a song. A song that even Shaamah could sing.

To her mournful notes, a silver maw rose and black lips parted to the sky. A low, billowing note curled into the sky alongside her own, with the feral twist of a hoarse hymn that echoed from the mountains edge and outward into the world. Folding his arms over his chest, he dropped his chin, azure eye finding her again.

Foot paws stole the steps between them as he moved nearer to her, the frigid temperature easily contested by the warmth of the sun on the leather of his armor and the exposed fur that crept from it's seams. He thought to ask her who was here, and he thought to bid her sing, but for now, his lips did not part on his behalf.

“You mourn,” The sobering notes, graveled and rough against the softness of her features carried in a low hum. Glacier gaze looked down upon her, her features, wet at the corners of her eyes. Any other living soul would be weaker for it. Yet, not her. He couldn't understand why his perception was so diluted, his judgment lacking importance, and his patience with a woman that didn't deserve it from any sensible standpoint.

Yet, he gave it all to her, and she needn't even ask.

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POSTED: Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:46 am

Flower gleam and glow,
let your power shine
See the Light, it's blinding

Clenched within condensed grief for the things lost, the star-bright Amarok was ignorant of the approaching giant. The echoing of immense foot-falls were faded away with the rest of the world. Objectively held still as the sea of anguished heartache stole at her shores, tearing away at the beaches and cliffs and scattering boulders of fragmented memory to replay behind her closed eyes.

If she focused with enough concentration, she could relive their senses, feel the sun as it warmed her fur, scent the aromas of childhood, taste the endless kisses of her mother. To some it would be a curse, and others a blessing, that Lucia should love so easily and freely, hold so much brightness inside herself, to shine upon those around her. Names and faces that she still burned their soul-tethered torches for. Her mother and siblings, her pack-mates gone and scattered to the winds, her children, her long-gone mate. It tore pieces of her but still she poured shining tendrils out for them, for the cold snow and the frozen sky.

Sanguine Blues flickered open with surprise as another joined in on her sorrowful lament.

Not milliseconds it was before her heart fluttered, bird-fast. The sad song died upon her lips, their black expanse twisting instead from soft-lined misery to a brilliant smile. The dank smoky, choking feeling vanished to wisps and easily shifted fog; And for him the brightness of a sun emerging from behind clouded skies.

Lucia brushed at a yet unfrozen tear and held out a petite hand with greyed fingers, as though she could draw him nearer with only the suggestions.

The Lonely Warrior approached, moving with the solidity of the earth on its ever turning slowness; Again the song burst into life between her ears, deep inside her thoughts. The one she dreamed of and sometimes caught herself singing in her daily life, straining tones and who's words she could only guess at sometimes. For now it was still just music in her mind.

As had the last times they met, Lucia was overwhelmed with the sense of great battles fought, blood spilled upon the muddy ground. A great, metallic crashing that made her ears ring. This time she could not hide from herself how the breath came a little faster to her chest. Lyrical voice reached out, light and frothing besides his grinding, endless crush,

"I did... no longer though." She peered up at his great mass, unafraid in her shy, gentle way. The dual spring-bright pools took in the measure of him, and she saw new stresses that pulled taut lines into his scarred face. It almost gave her cause to frown.

Lucia tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear, and then dared to reach the paw out to brush against his solidly-muscled leg. She felt him tense, but didn't withdraw her touch for several seconds after,

"I have missed you." Still looking up at him, she spoke with the earnest, innocent truth. She mourned after the feeling of safety that accompanied his visits. The fears of her past would fade away to irrelevance.

As before, Lucia only saw a man, not a monster that the rest of the world judged him to be.

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SUNSHINE GIRL

POSTED: Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:37 pm

He seemed to have a penchant to take her by surprise and it appeared that she had a predilection to favor him each time he did.

An awning of tawny wheaten threads rippled around her as she spun, the color of her wide, ocular jewels stretching deeper than the sky my at the sudden sight of him. The whisper of agony on her features was but a shadow when the ebon curl of her maw stretched into something he was unfamiliar with, still. Her beam radiated vividly in the de-saturated background of winter's cold clutch, while his expression remained of the same stone it had been chiseled despite the disarray he battled within.

After her start, their howls bounded off of the mountains one last time before they fell silently into the wind. As with all their meetings, she was the sun, warmth and innocence, and he was... something else.

Her gesture, alongside his mindless or seemingly independent feet, moved brought him to her. Her breath quickened, but barely, and her answer came as gentle as water over the stones in the bed of a stream.

It was a strange thing, being wanted to simple be. To be nothing other than himself, and here, if only to make her happy. The truth of it all was oil dripped into water. He was a poison that slowly snuffed out the light in the world, and it only seemed to be something of a curse when those bright blue eyes peered up at him. A curse that would never be spoken, could he help it.

His eye only found her hand as she brought it up to her hair, moving stray threads beyond her sight, but rather than maintain his gaze upon her, he lifted his brow to the sky she'd once gaze somberly into. Without the crash of the waves on Sapient's coast, the never ending sapphire blanket above them seemed all the more at peace.

Until the electric burn of touch coiled every muscle in his body.

Any relaxation within him, however rare, was stolen. An eye widened, the brow above an absent space rising with the soulless expression that such a wound could bring. The tendrils of her fingers moved through him, sprinting up his spine and flourishing the hackles at his nape. He wasn't ready for touch yet, by no means, and his mentality fought with every instance of it. Something in him however, sedated the instinct to give her dainty body a new resting place, and he found himself at a calm he couldn't describe. Not quiet at peace, but not beyond reason. His skin fit him just a little better now, but his eye remained on the skies above even as she looked at him with an open-heart and heavy honestly.

If everything evil were to be lifted from the world, wiped from it in a single stroke of some divine intention, he would be taken along with all of it. He wondered. Would she miss him then?

“There have been others here. Not long ago,” His tone rolled in it's usual hum, if not a bit more stiff than normal. The commitment of needing something wasn't a desire that he was willing to portray, and while he didn't echo her spoken thought with word, there wasn't any instance of denying it. The absence of anything negative might have been enough for her, but if it wasn't, it was all that he was willing to give. There were too many threads woven now, too much to balance, without adding anything more to the mix.

Of course, the temptation of being wanted was an addictive one. He waited for her to speak, to offer him insight or nothing. Neither mattered to him, as long as he wasn't about to be ridding the world of any pestering strangers in her midst. As his eye roamed the vista beyond the trees, his voice broke through her own,” How long has it been?”

Since I'd been here last.

Time was a fickle creature and he had offered more than a fair share to Salsola. It seemed now that the suns that past, contrary to what winter might have him believe, felt a little longer in the day than he assumed. The snow hadn't been on the ground, that he knew. Yet, why did he need to know? What did it matter to him how long he was gone? The woman didn't own him. Folding his arms over his chest, he huffed a heavy breath as the warmth fogged the view ahead of him.

Or did she?

Saliva slid through in a labored gulp, the bone in his throat rolling over it before he was silent again. Was it a thought about to come out? Or a question? Maybe just a word? The soldier was unsure in this alien landscape lacking the aggression and the awakening fury that his true present life was composed of. A symphony that no one wanted to hear, and here, he wasn't convinced that it was an orchestra worth hearing at all.

The sudden rousing of his aversion for this open space gnawed through him. They'd howled like fools, position compromised in unclaimed territory, and were any of Elphaba's own near enough they would have heard it. Rather than ask anything of her, the squared shoulders that towered over her turned away. As he paced away, his direction didn't speak of any returning to where he'd come. His steps were intently on the cottage, tucked away neatly in the trees and sleeping through the winter with humble grace, and his eyes found the snow, where her small paws had trekked in solitude.

Anywhere else, he would be more than sure of himself. In any battle, against any foe, he would be prepared, but this? With a shake of his head in disbelief, his palm wrapped around the handle and without another word he was gone of the snowscape, taking shelter within her own walls without any permission given.


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POSTED: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:51 pm

Flower gleam and glow,
let your power shine
See the Light, it's blinding

He turned to stare at the sky, the ripples of his fur was a line that she followed, upwards, upwards. Precious moments stretched before she withdrew that precious touch. Maybe some unknowing other would have cringed from the tense of hard muscle; Not she, princess of the shining light, she, who was named Bright Wolf.

A wolfish gesture, the Amarok's head canted to the side and still, she watched him. He offered nothing to suggest he returned her affectionate sentiments. This did not discourage her in the slightest, Lucia had known those who spoke their inclinations with actions instead of words. Instead he questioned the fading scents, tracked his glacial aura about her small stretch of home with wariness. The smile she wore bent, just a little,

"My daughter... and... and her mate." It was only a gentle hiccup in her melodic voice, gasping fingers raised to fiddle with long strands of her hair. Lucia looked down, and away with briefness before returning to his form,

"Since before the snows had come. When the birds still sang their autumn songs." Each day that passed by, it was another ringing toll and she had all of them marked down in the ethereal calendar that her instincts provided. For all her small cottage and civil appearance, Lucia was very much a wild creature.

She had grown from puppy to adult watching the languages of those around her. The ones in body and tone and the fine bristling of fur, the twitch of whiskers. With these pieces she build herself a version of the world that was vibrant and alive without sound required. He was uncomfortable. A tinge of despair threaded intensely through the inner sanctum of herself. Lucia was a true Omega, existing to soothe the hurts of others, she brought peace and tranquility with her, to cause upset pained her grievously.

The solution did not present itself before he turned away from her. Despair rose to become anguish and her ears sunk back against her hair. Would he leave her now? Lucia stood, rising from her wooden perch, and watched anxiously, her fingers twisting together.

He did not slip away into the forests as she thought he might. Shaamah tailed her snow-steps towards the little cottage she called home and Lucia followed after him, a small bounce contained within her step.

Her small cottage only just contained him. It was absurd how he made the space smaller, and yet, as she peeked in through the doorway, it did not fill her with claustrophobia as it should have. She hid her smile behind her fingertips, he glared around as though he might be able to intimidate her kick-knacks and trappings of her life.

The small space was comforting, almost womb-like. Just the way Lucia had intended. It reminded her of the den she had been born in, of the den she had lived with her mother during their time in New Dawn. Her bed was little more than a pile of furs, and next to it a stump with several curious rocks and sea shells.

Lucia slipped in, navigating the space expertly. Embers from her small, warming night-fire still burned. It would be easy to awaken. Reaching, the gentle lady fiddled with her hair, using the two long fore pieces that framed her face to hold back the overwhelming length from her gaze, tying it into a deft knot.

"Are you hungry? I have elk, or.. rabbit if you would prefer...?" She tipped her head to him, jaws parted marginally in passive countenance, soft crinkles to the corners of her eyes.

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Luperci The sun never truly sets
SUNSHINE GIRL

POSTED: Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:16 am

An answer like that left little for the soldier to do, save slip his eye downward just long enough to take a glimpse of how she shifted. As her glance cast down and her fingers were woven into her locks, the change in her tune wasn't looked over as nothing. A mind, calculating each step before it was taken, could assume the pieces fit with her somber call to the wind. Assuming never brought what was true justice, however, and just as quickly as he stole the sight of her, his gaze returned to the distant blanket of snow. The instance of this small glance just out of her sight, as he appeared a stone-still soldier even through her moment of fracture.

He wasn't of sound enough volition to venture that deep to solve a problem that wasn't his, to cure something he didn't cause. For all he knew, he could easily be mistaken. After all, the heart's influence on the mind was not something that plagued him.

Why was his stomach turning? Was he sick again? Had he eaten anything Helena had made recently? That woman could kill a horse with hay if she had to cook it, judging by the sour stomach she'd given him on more than one occasion. Of course, the thought of her and his lack of knowledge on where exactly she stood didn't ease his gut any, either.

Lucia had dropped any notion of her daughter's mention when she forged the answer to his inquiry. So, it had been some time. He couldn't recall if the world had been green, or brown, but autumn made more sense of it all. Why was he here in the first place?

Zetsubou. How could he have forgotten that thorn in his side. He'd have to look into laws of servant branding, considering how big of a head that mahogany cure had gotten in a poor attempt to save his precious little ones. The bad taste in his mouth didn't end their, either. Perhaps, rather than branding, he should look into pine boxes.

What was initially an attempt to move from a situation he couldn't lead, under the self convincing guise that their location was a free for all, he grew more tense. Passing the threshold to the small cabin didn't offer any respite, either. As he was accustom, the beast lurched forward with one hand at the keystone of the door frame. More narrow than he was used to, he twisted his torso at his waist simply to fit his shoulders inside. The leather pauldron that reached out from his blind side grazed the frame and roughened at it's edge.

Inside, it was more apparent than ever that this world and these things were not made for him. A giant among tiny trinkets and scavenged sparkly pieces, his glare rolled over the room as he took it in. He made mind not to take in the woman who watched from the doorway, who had followed through the snow after him. A bed of furs on the ground, none unlike his own, and items of furniture here and there. There was a natural look in the interior of this natural building, but it all fleshed out as the delicate woman slipped into the room despite his presence there. Her small steps, well measured, had her floating in the minuscule space that she had left despite him.

The place was palindrome, without any great weapons in view and had an essence of whimsical nostalgia around it that couldn't meet him. It wasn't a violent place, but a cozy place that still lingered with the crinkling whisper of a fire that slept beneath red charcoal. Shaamah found himself in the farthest place in the cottage from the door, which wasn't that far which his size, but it would do. When his back was finally to the corner and the track of heavy nails relented on her floor, her warm voice rose in the silence he had kept.

Still, he did not meet her gaze, resisting the urge to watch her every movement as her dexterous hands freed her features from the silky curtain that once masked them from the winter sun. Cold gaze settled on a stone that lived upon the stump at her bedside through the dust motes that breathed within the walls. A quiet shake of his head was barely there, but not a moment after he had turned down her offer did his stomach roil. It curled over, marking him as disregarding of his baser needs, and groaned with a baritone growl that stretched longer than he was tall. Intense glare could have lit that stone on fire as he exhaled deeply, pallid tongue reaching out as he swallowed the dryness that settled in his mouth.

His patience fissured, this time, with his organs. First his daughter, then his father, Sapient and his sons. Now his body even opposed his demands. It was about time, considering how little he regarded his body's constant demands for food and water, losing out only to rigorous training regimes and patrol in his free time. The only time he even gave himself the option of down-time was when his health teetered on a finer edge and he'd made it home from the fight. If he wasn't dead on a battlefield, he wasn't going to die. He'd see to that, whether it was a conscious decision or not.

Glacial eye moved across the room slowly, finally meeting her tilted countenance with a defeat so internal that it would bury easier than be brought to light,” Elk,” He voiced, the low hum of his words somehow became more loud in this small space, despite it barely being spoken at all. If his stomach was going to make and honest man of him, he was going to take the opportunity fully. Not only that, but the more work the food needed doing, the more of a chance he'd have to get a good look at her in here. Where her eyes roamed. What her hands did. Her manners within her own den, compared to them outside of it.


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POSTED: Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:10 am

Flower gleam and glow,
let your power shine
See the Light, it's blinding

She did think, just then, that the timbre of his lilting howl was so beautiful, a savage, wild beauty. The absurdness of her thoughts startling herself, as she peered at him, appearing so preciously conscious of himself inside her tiny home. The keen lines of her gentle face, weathered by the trials of life and motherhood, smoothed into the smallest of smiles. She did not wish for him to judge her laughing at him.

Again the dancing song came to her, and for just a fraction of an instant, she saw the young boy that he must once have been. Before the Warrior had been created, before the trials of life had hurt him, had put those terrible rents into his skin; And, oh, that little boy looked so innocent and full of adoring hope, such promises for the future that had all been stolen away. Life was so cruel.

Lucia blinked, peering downward briefly to hide the sudden dampness in her eyes. Such terrible things must have happened to him. In the recesses of her mind, a broken sobbing, a mother's grief for her damaged son. Lucia's fingers curled together, the deep-bone pull to fix the things that were wrong churned slowly.

She brought up her gaze in time to catch the small shake of his head, and then the rumbling groan of his stomach served to make a liar of him with an endless seeming growl. This time her smile blossomed more freely, a curious blush coming to pale cheeks as she withheld the dainty laughter that threatened to break free. Catching her lip upon teeth to stifle herself.

Finally he did alight his gaze upon her, and the Amarok princess appeared to brighten all the more, exuding a sunshine all her own. A flower suddenly graced with life-giving light. The deepness of his tone, the apparent weariness of his own bodies demands, and the frustration were not things she saw and heard but made up the pieces of him she felt. Empathic, and vibrant.

When alone, Lucia would mostly eat the fresh catches that she made herself, with tooth and claw. Her daughters however, were something more civilized than herself. They insisted to bring her dried meats that would store for moons and moons in case she found herself within famine. A small assortment of cookware and pottery also accompanied the dried meats. For company, they told her - when they were the only company she received. This had been the truth until he had begun to visit.

"Sit, if you would like." She gestured, there was room enough to seat himself upon the floor. Lucia's small place held no tables or chairs. The Amarok would seat herself upon the bed of furs or sit outside when she was disposed to stillness. Whilst he pondered with himself whether to sit or stand, Lucia busied herself gathering up the things she would need.

When the things for a quick stew were assembled, Lucia drew herself down to her knees and woke up the embers.

A rush of heat and light filled the room, giving illumination to the stone walls. Upon them, the years of Lucia's solitude were revealed. Every spare inch of the walls as far up as a woman of her stature could reach was filled with artistic drawings. Most prominent was flowers, bursting to life in all colors. Carefully sketched ivy trailed about, entwining itself here and there, white flowers promising secrets. Deer and elk ran amongst the giant blossoms, and other creatures of the woods could be found if one looked close enough.

Even in the dead of winter, Lucia's world was filled with color and echoed with the strength of life.

The woman, preoccupied with her work, did not take notice to his reaction of her self-made beauty. A small knife, barely the length of her paw, she produced and began to slice the chunks of dried meat into manageable pieces. Her movements precise and unhurried.

Almost unknowingly, her desire of music manifested, the long-haired lady began to hum, quietly at first and then growing louder as the time ticked away. The hymns helped quell some, but not all, of her loneliness. It was a balm yet not a cure, the only solution for such disparate solitude was the presence of others.

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SUNSHINE GIRL

POSTED: Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:53 am

In the soldier's survey of her quarters and his purposeful avoidance of her own gaze, he'd not seen the brief moment of pain that she suffered without her own doing. The beast hadn't caught the glimpse of welled eyes, would never ear the mournful lament in her ears, nor find the sight of her dainty, curled fingers that wound with a determination she didn't quiet understand. A whisper that hid beneath the crackling coals. A past revealed to her that she, on any corporeal terms, could have no true understanding of.

Ultimately, after his stomach had made a fool of him and yielded to her offer, his eye met her once more. Her features were alight with jocund delight and in the thinnest frames of the edges of her countenance, her cheeks flushed and her ears turned rosy with stifled revelry. It seemed she knew better than to tease the giant that stood within her walls, but the soldier would never deduce on his own if it were more respect than a judgment call.

Lyrical articulation was granted him, but rather than take the moment to find a decent place to take respite, his eye turned away again with a stiff lip to accompany it. Was it some form of rebellion to choose to disregard her offer? It couldn't be. That was a child's naivety. A soldier had to keep his post, his position, in order to better defend himself and in this place he only had to defend himself. Straightening his posture, he puffed up. He was a sentinel. There was no time for sitting.

In the midst of his inner motivational dialogue, the din of a house wife filled the space. With casual delicacy, she arranged ingredients and a pot, and leaned to ignite the coals that waited patiently for her.

In a burst of warmth, an amber ambiance filled the room to it's farthest reaches. The flare rolled and roared upon it's first lighting, and Shaamah took the opportunity to see her world in a more precise light. Where a cold, blue glare sought the flash of metal, the play of flames on armor, or anything he could find to accuse her of less innocence than she presented herself with, he found something far different.

Artworks plagued the walls of the cottage.

Their verdant curls and vivid swirls littered the walls. Representations of animals of all kind filtered through the invented foliage. It was, least to say, uncanny. The woman was clearly and adult, but still decorated her walls as if she were a child. Was the white of bare walls her prison? He'd never understand the need for decoration of this level, with little function over how she painted graffiti on her own walls. Was it her sanity? He recalled her mention of a daughter and mate? Were they young? Had they been raised here? Very likely that these drawings, though well done, were performed by a child. Elsewise, the very question stood. Why?

Before he could make any further sense of anything he'd seen or done since arriving here, he returned his eye to rest on her. When he came to silently inquire of where her mental health might stand, he immediately became aggressive.

The shine of a blade in her hand danced in the warm, golden light.

It was what caught Shaamah in a piercing, threatening glare. Hackles raised. Lip curled. Yet, he dare not let a growl slip. Not yet. If there was an element of surprise he needed, he would have it over her. His eye impatiently watched the knife as she whittled away at the food in her hand, waiting for it to be given flight. He waited for it to leave her hand, for it to strike him. His blood heated in a way no fire could boil it. The soldier waited for the black-out of combat to take him in this small place.

He waited to find himself with the cold, still body of a soul he dared find on terms as close to amiable as he was capable of becoming.

In his malevolent thoughts, his calculating and his scrutiny, through the strategy he created in his head to end her and the fists that clenched to meet her, she begun to sing.

Softly, at first, it lilted just above the growl of the hearth. The warrior's eyes narrowed in protest. A ploy? Yet, as her reserved anthem found confidence in the quiet of the small space, the vocal melody lifted with a greater life in each breath she took to create them. Even as his eye remained on the tool, the utensil in her hand that could do nothing more than pare meat, the ringing of blood in his ears waned.

It wasn't submission. It wasn't trust. In her notes, a carillon of harmony against his abrasive nature, and a fugitive feeling of something fought for his mind as his ears acceded to her involuntary onset of sweet, soothing song. Attuned to the notes that hung from her lips, delivered from the breath of her chest and turned into an incantation, his eye bore into the blade but his sight moved far beyond it.

In his mind's eye, he found darkness. In the darkness, a whisper.

“If they are not gone next I come, then I will remove them for you.”

The darkness was broken by a light, intense, but encompassed. The mouth of a den.

“And I will not be as forgiving.”

A shadow poured into the illumination, casting rays toward toward him until it had vanished. A woman's cries pierced him, deep within his core, and even his walls mortared by an impregnable design shifted. A blur of monotone hues, dripping with a red river that cascaded from it's crest and down to the floor, peer at him with a sapphire gaze he couldn't yet recall.

Within the cottage his shoulders drooped. His edges, if ever so slightly, softened. Brows, undulating between peace and confusion. Breath caught in his chest and his back now leaning against the wall, he sat upon the floor. Eyes persistent on the blade in her hand.

Mind in another world.


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Salsola
The Family
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