we are stardust, we are golden

POSTED: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:15 am

Grief had a funny way of coming back.

It was the sort of thing that happened like the tide, and each time she felt herself steadying there came from beneath a current whose strength knocked her feet out from under her. Gaia could keep her head above the water, and she could keep breathing, but she felt tired and she felt herself struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy.

How could she, when her mother was dead and her father losing himself? No one could give her the answers she wanted. No one could make things different. Time moved in one direction, and she was powerless to do anything but wait.

She found some comfort (if this was what it could be called) in things which made her feel different. It was hard to sneak alcohol out of the stores, but she did so every once and a while. A loner from the city had traded her some for a blanket. It was this that she now stowed away in her bag, a patchwork thing she had stitched together and carried over one shoulder.

The lands around her home were large and mostly unclaimed. Exploring was fine and well, especially when she had company. Dove was nice enough, and neither woman wanted to talk about the things really bothering them. It was light talk which carried them west, talk about things to make and gather, and things to look forward to seeing.

What they found was the most unearthly, beautiful, horrible thing Gaia had ever seen.

From a distance, they might have been an illusion. Her senses could not register that something so large was truly real (not when it looked otherwise familiar) and though some part of her feared this unknown, she had never known flowers to be dangerous.

The closer they came, however, the less she thought about this. Instead, compelled by a scent she could not identify (but how good it smelled!) they moved closer, compelled as the singing birds and other animals around the area had been. She could see a deer further ahead, sleepwalking through the massive stalks, and thought it unusual the doe seemed so unaffected by Luperci approaching.

Her head began to spin.

New Caledonia
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Mel
Luperci
A new day, a new way
and new eyes to see the dawn

POSTED: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:14 pm

When they did not find Inferni, it woke new fears in the party. Pazuzu demanded they spend enough time in the territory for him to investigate the places which had once been occupied, but they found no one and the ravens which remained were unfamiliar and unfriendly, harassing them in the forest until they were deeper into the Dampwoods. Here they found no strange flora, but many a needed meal.

They did not want to risk alarming packs without warrant and so avoided the two they could smell on the wind, moving with direction more in line with their original destination. It took longer than they had liked, delayed by things like rain and ill weather, but the days were getting warmer and longer.

When they found the scent on the wind again, they prepared as best able. This meant leaving Artoo behind, though the monkey protested this – he listened, in any case. The incident near Freetown had left him spooked, and there were more interesting things to be found in the unfamiliar forest.

From a distance, Lotan and Pazuzu watched the strange plants. They talked about what to do, if anything.

It might have been left at the latter if not for the two women who wandered into that hostile, alien place.

I can't get you out, Pazuzu had reminded him with urgency. If you can't get yourself out I can't save you.

I know, but we can't leave them—

Come back or your sister will kill me, and then I'll find you after and make sure you suffer.

Lotan laughed despite the jackal's awfully serious tone, and pulled his shirt over his head. He wrapped this around his face, muffling his mouth as best he was able. The desert had taught him the trick, though sand was far different than these strange plants.

He took a deep breath and began to count. With long, measured strides, he hurried after the women. They were further ahead of him than he realized, and beyond this was nothing but a great expanse of sky.

He started to run. The girls were windswept things, one dark and one light. His muscles were burning.

One of them fell.


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Mel
Luperci

POSTED: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:16 pm

Except she didn't fall, not really. She didn't jump either. She just walked off the edge of the world and down, down, so fast that Gaia could hardly make sense of what she saw.

Someone grabbed her and she began screaming.

It was a huge force, a pair of hands and strong arms that wrapped around her waist and chest as if to restrain her. The content, drugged feeling of the flowers fell at odds with what was happening. This was bad. Something terrible had happened, oh where was Dove? What was happening?

Dove! She shrieked, twisting against the man holding her. He was tall, like her father, but smelled strange and had his face covered. A bandit, she thought in a daze. A kidnapper.

Worse, a fearful voice said, and she screamed.

When she took her next breath all she could smell were the flowers, and her eyes rolled. Why was she fighting? She just wanted to stay here, that was it, she could just stay in this yellow-gold world and never think about her family or her dead mother or the woman her half-sister had killed, or even about her twin sister who hated her or the friends who didn't deserve to deal with her sorrows, or—

Dove! Gaia called again, and tried to escape the arms holding her.

New Caledonia
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User avatar
Mel
Luperci
A new day, a new way
and new eyes to see the dawn

POSTED: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:18 pm

He wouldn't have believed it if someone else had told the story, but he saw it happen now and would never forget the moment.

She was there, bright and glistening, and then gone without a sound.

Lotan didn't hesitate to yank the other one back, even though he expected her to fight. She did not do this as much as he expected, but his body felt strange too. Little by little, as he exhaled, he knew he was losing what little time he had left. It was impossible to hold his breath for very long once she started twisting in his arms, but Lotan was stronger than the boxy she-wolf and manhandled her to safety even as she began screaming for her lost companion.

When he saw Pazuzu ahead, Lotan ran again – the sooner he could get them both out of that hellish place, the better.

The jackal was equally unforgiving in the way he handled the girl. He yanked Pazuzu's sleeve to help guide him, and shoved sharp-smelling plants in their faces as he ranted in his foreign tongue. The words were all curses, some meant to protect them, others casting evil onto the flowers left swaying in the wind behind them.

Don't hurt me anymore, the girl was crying, swaying on her feet. Her eyes were wide and unseeing.

Pazuzu curled his lip. He said a word that Lotan knew related to this condition, but so quietly the wolfdog did not hear.

You're okay, Lotan told her. He hoped she was. We won't hurt you.

The girl didn't look like she could hear him.


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Mel
Luperci

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