HELOVIA || The Way to the Sun
[P] Cold, dark and silent - Printable Version

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Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 04-07-2016

Veiled by creeping mist and with night draped around her body like a trailing gown she ghosted through the dripping forest. Restlessly she paced, haunted by memories and silence, seeking something to occupy her mind yet shying away from company all the same. It was one of those days. Cold and raw and damp, where no wind whispered through wilted grass and the bleak light made the previous days warmth seem like a lie. Spring had never actually arrived, it was just winter taking a break, playing a cruel trick on anyone longing for change. No birds sang in the trees, no elks or red deer bounded away from her path, nothing stirred in the underbrush amidst dry fern or decaying vines.

The world had come to a standstill, and Erthë rejected it. By dressing herself in the enchanted bracelet and donning all the glimmering trinkets she had acquired accidentally and through happenstance she withdrew from the rest of the herd, denied reality in favor of her own vivid daydreams, where the darkness was full of unseen things and the ever present mist welcomed her with gentle caresses wherever she went.

It was better than to stay awake, alert, aware of the fact that time was slipping away from her, bringing maturity and responsibility closer with every fading heartbeat. She wanted it, resented it, wallowed in her own indecisiveness whenever she failed to make up her mind, shied from memories of grief and loss and happy times too - they were all the same, a reminder of things she could never experience again.

So she roamed, dancing awkwardly along familiar paths until the forest disappeared behind her and the world ended in a wall of mist, where silence was swallowed by distant cries of gulls and clucking waves far, far below. No wind would move the fog bank that had settled over the cliffs and though she did not see it, Erthë knew that the sea below would lie calm, a vast gray mass of graphite interrupted only by the restless rocking back and forth, rippling but never frothing.

Another day she would have relished the eerie stillness, but today her mind was locked in a silent cry of longing for the storm, for something that could scatter the crowding emotions that roiled around inside her.

Any other day the lively, life-hungering girl would have laughed at her own anguish, relished the dramatic melancholy and savored every second of it... but for some reason she just couldn't laugh today. It wasn't very amusing, any of it, and as she stared blindly into the enchanted night Erthë found herself dwelling on dark, unusual thoughts that left her fearing for her own sanity.

Was it really just one of those days, or was something really wrong with her?

to the sound of a drum


RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 04-16-2016

The world was blank.


Dark gray and shapeless, formless, directionless, the distant outline of trees blurred into the uniform drab fog, even their closest kin hung behind a veil. Soft gray obscured their clarity even when he stood but a few feet away. At times like these he sometimes imagined he could see the water droplets suspended in the air, that he could see their small shapes, pick them out against their siblings, and the world would unravel like a crystal lattice and all would make sense...

But he couldn't. Of course he couldn't. He could just feel them sticking to his whiskers, his eyelashes, little droplets forming on the tips of his pale coat. His breath smoking white in the saturated air.

There was a certain kind of silence to foggy days (and nights)—the water veil swallowed sound, and if one strayed too far from the herd, things were simply.. silent, as if one was all alone.

Mauja didn't mind. He had always been a ghost anyway; being a pale specter in the fog suited him just fine. It was a bitter thought, a bitter sentiment, and it reeked of all the things left unsaid, undone, between him and a certain other member of the herd—explanations left to rot upon his tongue and filter down to choke him in his lungs.

He could pass within yards of someone and not know.

They could pass within yards of him and not know.

He turned his head, away, and bent his body to follow it, heading somewhere else, something his senses told him led to the ocean. No breeze rippled through the Edge as he moved, no sounds of waves breaking or gulls crying came to his ears; even the sound of his own hooves was muffled, distant. The only true indicator of him reaching his destination was that of the ghostly impressions of trees around him lessening, leaving him stranded in a grayed-out world where everything seemed a wall. Standing there, somewhere near the Edge, he actually felt a vague twinge of fear; for all that he knew, he was trapped in this fog, locked in between four, uniform walls which offered no distinction between heaven and earth.

But there was something—some sixth ghost-sense tingling, and as he carefully drew closer to the Edge, he realized that he was not alone. The faint cries of gulls could be heard, and the sigh of the calm seas, but below him the grayed-out ground fell away into more of the shapeless gray. Slowly, he tilted his head to peer at the one who stood near him. Normally she glittered, pearly and icy white, but now, she was just as dreary as he was.

Saying nothing, Mauja turned his head back to stare out into the blank nothingness ahead of him, thinking it was a rather fitting mirror of his soul.

[ Sorry for the wait.. @Erthë! <3 Lost my sanity and for once cba to proof read, enjoy any eventual grammar/spelling/word choice mistakes. ]
lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 04-25-2016

Footsteps approaching through the gloom raised no alarms with the cygnet. Where once she would have been on edge even within the creeping mists, a wild child haunted by shadows in a forest much the same as any throughout the wilderness, Erthë had come to trust in the illusion of safety this place provided. Herd, family, god and home - mere words that surely would come to ring hollow and empty one day. Yet she chose to believe in them, believe that this forest (so similar to all the others) was special, held in a protective embrace by a dark goddess. She chose to think that the guards did their duty in safeguarding the borders and driving off predators, opted to believe that no one who resided beneath the Moon's silver eye would wish to inflict injury upon her.

In any other forest the sensation of a presence closing in on her would have made the girl tense, reach for her weapons and turn to face impending danger... but not here. This was the World's Edge and she was safe, and so she only threw a short glance towards the stallion that stopped further off along the cliff to register his ghostly pallor, accented and amplified by black kisses strewn across a sturdy frame. A visage that was known to her, if perhaps not familiar, a presence as unsettling as it was comfortable. He was herd, therefore family, and yet... still.  A stranger.

He glanced in her direction and looked away again, staring out into the mist as though he could see something in the swirling mass, but Erthë let her gaze linger on his silhouette with an absent-minded expression on her youthful features.


He was a mystery, like a question left unanswered. She knew so little of this man, only trivial facts. He had been the king of this land when she came here. Then his daughter had died - she tried to remember her name but realized she had never known it - and he stepped down, appointing Tembou to lead in his place. After that he just... existed it seemed, like a spirit haunting these woods with no apparent purpose. Sometimes he appeared and acted brashly, rudely, like that time when Glacia had come to the herd and he refused to greet her - his own daughter - and at other times he was angry, only to become friendly, perhaps even protective? She still had no words to describe what had happened that time when they met by the Heart, and Mesec had appeared... had they been friends at that moment, as she hid behind him and he let her?

Probably not. Erthë had a feeling that it would be very difficult to get to know this person, and she was not entirely sure that she wanted to. It was much more comfortable to regard him from a distance, where she could allow herself to feel irritation, apprehension and jealousy without a guilty conscience. This stallion, with frost-coated horn and impassive face and eyes that revealed nothing of what went on inside his head... he had a way of stirring up stormy feelings within her that she was not ready to deal with. Anger, impatience, respect, admiration, inferiority... jealousy, because for some reason her beloved goddess had summoned him and excluded everyone else from their conversation. And when it was over he had disappeared off somewhere with Tembovu and no one had told her what was going on.

It was petty, it was selfish and egoistic and childish but it burned her to be left out like that. She was a part of this place too, was she not? She was a friend too, was she not? She might be young but she wasn't stupid, she could keep secrets, she could help, maybe, if she got the chance to try. She had been right there and yet... no one had paid her any heed. It hurt, it stung, it rankled her, and Erthë wished nothing more than to shout, to jump and flail and scream out her inner turmoil, throw it into their faces and force her presence, her affection and curiosity and willingness onto them until they had no choice but to accept it and return everything she longed to give in equal measure.

But though she looked at Mauja now, though one of the targets of her frustration stood within earshot of her, though the day was still and calm and time flowed past at a snails pace, fat and languid and overabundant, it was as though the mere sight of him caused some dark void to open up. Though she stood close enough that he might feel the rush of wind should she beat her wings, there was a mental distance there that consumed every raging emotion that dared raise its ugly head.

Because, after all. They were not close. Even though she knew his name and he knew hers, even though they had lived in the same place for nearly a year, though they had exchanged words more than once... he was a stranger to her, and she to him. Why should he tell her what he spoke of in a moon-lit clearing amidst flowering roses of ice? What right did she have to demand anything of him, when she had given him nothing but a few words in passing, hard and difficult to interpret?

Why, indeed.

But then again, why not. Erthë altered her position where she stood, shifting weight between legs that ached in the damp weather and looked away into the gray wall of nothingness, as bored of it as she was of the stillness within the forest. The silence was numbing, deafening, and she could endure it no longer.

"Mauja?" she inquired softly, quiet voice drifting towards him through the still air.

to the sound of a drum


RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 05-24-2016

He hadn't come here for company.

Nor had he come here to be alone—he was always alone these days. What had once been his paradise, his kingdom, his fortress and his haven, had become his grave. Hemmed in by ice and blocks of dark stone he withered, bit by bit, soft and slow, falling into decay.

How many times hadn't he stood upon this limestone edge? Hooves digging into soft stone, toying with the dangers of the world, as the fogs of his goddess curled around his legs like a false promise of wings and mysticism and glory... Once, he had stood here a King, safe and secure within that fortress, heart and mind guarded closely by his glacial walls. Then, it had lent him strength. At the time he had thought the glimpses of something darker beneath the pale light of his eyes was what had drawn others to him, but even as he became a spiteful beast hissing from the deepest corners of his abode he charmed others.

He had stood here as a Queen, up on the worn battlements of those walls; the fortress in a state of disrepair, the dust stirred by a handful of souls, and he had leaned heavily against the icy spires crowning the boundary of his heart. He had no longer been strong. He had yearned to come out, but he hadn't known how to.

And now, the entire thing had been blasted apart, and he lay buried in the rubble.

Erthë's presence was nothing to him.

The muscles in his back and hind legs coiled. Perhaps all she would be was a witness of self-destruction, of ghosts leaping soundlessly into the fog—who would believe her, anyway? Tembovu was the only one who had glimpsed the gulf of his despair, the only one who would believe that he had truly jumped off the Edge...

Tembovu would be the only one to know that he would come back. A day, a month, a year, a decade; he would come back. He couldn't not come back.

He knew that she watched him, and he wondered, briefly, what she saw. What anyone saw—what inspired such loyalty, such curiosity, pity and hate... Perhaps all he was was a focus for the lives of others; a narrow point channeling their own emotions and purposes, enhancing them.

And breaking him.

He had always been curious of what it would feel like to leap off the edge, to free-fall, the closest he could come to flying—


And he had always been ice around a core of chaos; rationality tempering his impulsivity. Of course he would not leap off the World's Edge, least of all with a witness, who might suffer disastrous mental consequences from witnessing it. He doubted she'd care much at all that he had, for all intents and purposes, seen fit to end himself, but it was that whole matter of him inevitably showing up again. Could he do that to her?

Ah, fuck it, who even cared anymore? His black-rimmed ears flicked belatedly, as if the fog had slowed the passage of his name from her lips into his brain, and after a moment his massive head swung upon his thick neck. Blue eyes, gray as the fog in the lack of light, settled on her lithe frame. He resisted the urge to crassly ask her what she wanted. "Hm?" he simply said instead, a puff of white smoke joining the fog in the over-saturated air. After a moment, one ear turned back.

Perhaps he was so caught up in his own misery that he failed to consider that of others. After all, why was she here, staring at the ocean neither of them could see? Wings she might have, but as far as Mauja knew, she still had a choice to keep them folded.

".. you're not going to jump, are you?" he asked after a moment. What did he know, anyway? She was a crippled orphan ravaged by a divine war. That sounded like enough to mess anyone up.

[ @Erthë! ]
lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 05-24-2016

Steeling herself, Erthë had been waiting for an answer, a sign of acknowledgement that he heard his own name, that he accepted her presence - anything really, that could be taken as a cue to continue. As silent moments continued to pass she felt the tension mount, dread and fret and all manner of doubt and cowardly hesitance accumulating within, so that when Mauja finally did answer, she nearly jumped in place. Like the frazzled fumbling for a phone one knew would ring, the girl parted lips to push out at least one of the many tumbling questions that crowded on her tongue, drew breath to give voice to curiosity -

It was just that he got it out first. And it was such an unexpected, dark and horrible question that the girl could only stare at the stallion for long, speechless moments.

Then she threw her head back and laughed, withheld breath shattering the stillness in an expression of mirth. If he'd asked she couldn't have told him what it was that amused her so. Erthë didn't know herself. She just laughed, a sound completely lacking mockery that went on and on, until she was able to breathe again.

Smiling she shook her head; "No, I'm not! And I really hope you won't either, because catching you would be very difficult."  

Lights of amusement danced in her eyes as she measured his bulk, so much greater than her own. Still, there was little doubt in her mind that if the man attempted to do something so foolish she would still try. It might mean the end to her life, an erasure of her existence - but wasn't that something you did for family? Strangers they might be, but as long as Mauja resided within the Edge and called the misty forest home, Erthë would still give up anything to help him, whether he wanted to or not.

Still, she thought with an inward shudder. What a gloomy thought. Perfectly suited for the weather, but to think Mauja's mind wandered such dark and dangerous paths! She would never have believed it, not by simply looking at him. Perhaps it was something she should pursue, attempt to pry answers about his state of mind from those ashen lips to see if there was a wound somewhere she would be able to mend. Alas, it was not really in her nature to do so. Should he volunteer tidbits on his internal struggles she would listen, but to press someone for their trust and confidence... No.

"I, um... " She hesitated a bit, attempting to gather her thoughts and decide how bold she could get away with being. "You've been living here a long time, right? Do you think you could tell me about it? The Edge, I mean, and how things were before. Lady Arah told us about some things a while ago, but there was so much else she didn't say."

Mysteries yet to be solved, riddles and half told tales that tickled the mind, frustrating a child so greedy for knowledge. Ears pinned hopefully onto the snow-pale ghost, a quiet prayer ascending that he would be in a reminiscent mood and willing to share what he knew of times past.

He was old after all, a living legend if Helovia ever had one - surely there must be something he knew that no one else could tell her.

to the sound of a drum


RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 05-25-2016

Well. That went well. Fog-gray eyes lingered upon her muted form, a faint thread of concern worming its way through his heart—her silence was ..disturbing. Had she asked him the very same question, his silence would've been damning. In it would've hung the "yes" whispered in his tensed muscles, the forlorn trajectory of an exhausted heart. But, as the moments lengthened between them—and the yards seemed to lengthen as well, unbridgeable, too long should that spindly form leap from her perch and crash into the waves below—he got the feeling that it was shock stilling her voice.

And after a moment, she laughed—and not as he would've laughed, either, bitter and cynical and full of self-damnation. No: her laugh was full of life, of mirth, of shaking ice shattering and glittering in the sunlight. Suffice to say, jumping seemed to have been the farthest thing from on her mind.

Mauja's ears fell back softly, and with a grunt of acknowledgment he turned his gaze into the gray wall of nothing again. So he'd tipped his hand. For all the good his carefully schooled gaze and cryptic little smiles could do, he'd just hung a sign around his neck stating "HI I THINK DARK AND DEPRESSIVE THINGS". For if not you, then me..?

"No, I'm not! And I really hope you won't either, because catching you would be very difficult."

Waitwhat? Why did she think she had to catch him if he took a leap? What was he to her? (Nothing, nothing, nothing—) The 'brow over his nearest eye arched questioningly as he peered at her. Did she care? (Probably not.) Did she just want to seem good? (Maybe.) Would she actually do it? (Only one way to find out.) The tension returned to his hindquarters, little snakes curling up beneath the skin, drawing his muscles taut as his eyes tried to gauge the milky distance to the actual edge—

"I, um... " Unreadable eyes slid sideways again, a mass of blue-tinged gray focusing on the little sprite. He waited, heart pounding rebelliously. Perhaps she was going to follow it up with I really don't think you should jump, it seems like a stupid idea, but .. no. She hadn't reflected the question back at him; maybe not even the assumption. "You've been living here a long time, right?" He breathed out, white smoke coiling slowly from dark nostrils, and again the tension fell like a cloak from his body and he rocked forward ever so subtly, centering his off-set weight again. In all his years in Helovia, this was probably the first time someone had asked him for a history lesson.

Most Helovians were so obsessed about the future—their future, their glory—that they forgot about the past.

A long, bloodied past, with victories won upon the graves of others—as was the way with war and hatred. But here was one, a young one, thinking that maybe there was something to be had in the past. Arah had come to Helovia after Mauja's unicorns had been cast out. What did she know of those first early, dark years?

Who knew of them at all, but Deimos? Ulrik? Who else was left? Lena had stayed out of it all, after all.

It was an icy claw curling around his heart, a sudden lurch and his knees nearly buckled with the crushing sense of isolation crashing down upon his back (—around his heart). Was there no one else left..? He wracked his brains, but they all turned up dead. Some of the opposition was left alive, but the majority of them were dead or gone as well.

His slightly widened eyes focused again, and his black-rimmed ears swept forward as he once again turned his pale head to look at her. "So what did our most esteemed lady tell you..?"

[ @Erthë! ]
lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 05-25-2016

He didn't ignore her, nor did he turn and leave in disgust. That was a good sign, right? Something in the air between them was changing, transforming. A tension releasing, or at least shifting focus. Whatever the case, Erthë found it was easier to breathe now, as though the stillness was not quite as dense, not quite so sticky as it tried to leave and enter her lungs. But perhaps that was just her imagination - gods knew she had a lively one!

The filly peered thoughtfully into the swirling fog as she recalled what Arah had told them, compacting and summarizing in her mind so that she could provide Mauja with a general idea.

"Well... she told us that the leaders Kahlua and Kaj and Archibald invaded the Hidden Falls because they no longer wanted to live here in the Edge, that someone called Midas had been kidnapped and Lord Thranduil had taken his place... There was a battle, the Falls lost and new leaders were chosen for the Edge."

Returning her gaze to the spotted unicorn, Erthë watched him intently as she spoke, feet shifting on the damp rock to accommodate her smarting legs.

"But she didn't say anything about why they weren't happy here or why they lived here to begin with, nothing of what was before, and none of what happened after. I think there was much detail she left out because there were children there," said the yearling foal, with a tone that made her sound far older than she really was, "but... I don't know, there are just too many holes in it, too much that I don't know! "

On her slender shoulders, feathers ruffled in open frustration. Her curiosity, her greedy craving for knowledge was nearly palpable as she stared at the seasoned man, silently pressing him to fill in her blanks. Maybe he couldn't tell her everything, but at this point it felt as though any crumb, any sliver of information would be better than none.

"When did you come to the Edge?" Erthë asked, with a tilt of her head. "Or were you born here?"

to the sound of a drum

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 05-29-2016

It was easier this way—easier to hide, to sink into the depths of his past but with a thin film of ice between him and the emotions. (Wasn't that how it had always been? He'd been detached. He had always been detached.)

Breath continued to smoke from immortal lungs, making it so easy to lie, as plain a truth as the blood still coursing red through his aching veins. He was curious—tempted—to what would happen if his body was bled dry, or hacked to pieces. Would his presence linger like a spirit? Would he, finally, become the ghost he had been his entire life?

Memories flickered at the forefront of his mind. The Basin on a cold, dark night, full of shadows which had nothing to do with blocked light. And.. dead things walking. Rotting flesh, rotting lips, dry voices creaking up from open throats and punctured lungs; was that what the future had in store for him?

It would certainly let the Moon have a good laugh at him thirty years down the line.

Kahlua. (Ouch.) Kaj. (Hate.) Archibald. (Hate.) Midas. (Irritation.) Thranduil. (A stranger.) Helovia made for good stories. And how sweet wouldn't it be, for it to just be stories to him, as well? Names and faces unknown, snippets of deeds pulled from the mists of time and not carved into his bones like a painful reminder of age. He himself probably didn't feature in any stories but perhaps the earliest (and who was around to tell them, anyway?), but he had been a grayed-out shadow in them all: watching, waiting, living. Where another could speak of an age of darkness, he could still recall the storm sweeping the Gods from their land and the profound, silent blackness superseding it.

"It's as good a place as any to start," he mused after she voiced her frustration, watching the subtle, slow shift of the fog. "It's about, mh, three years ago now?" Long before she was born. He still remembered her little form, asking her mother to wake up from the puddle of blood she slept in; she was still a child, still spindly and thin and awkward in the way of youth. She had seen much already. She had witnessed the cruelty and haphazard, violent chaos of the world. She did not want stories padded with lies and fluff when the truth was dark and gritty.

She wanted that dark, gritty truth, and as she flung her next question at Mauja he realized that she deserved the truth—anyone did, honestly, and whatever child-like innocence Erthë had once possessed had been taken from her. There was nothing left to shield.

Slowly, he let his gaze return to the sea he couldn't see. "I came here a little over six years ago," he said, quietly. He had been six years old, three years a soldier, three years an arrogant, albeit powerful, idiot. That made for more than half his life spent in Helovia, though not all of it in the Edge—and not all of it in Helovia, either. He had come and gone a few times, but he supposed with his acceptance of the Moon's gift his wandering days were over. Who knew, perhaps he would drop dead the moment he set his hoof outside of the borders?

".. and six years ago, was when Helovia as we know it today began to take form. It was a land rebuilding, ravaged by a war spurred by two gods—Sun and Earth. The unicorns of the Edge had long since fled into the sea, and those who stayed were slaughtered in the crossfire. It only ended when mostly everyone was dead, and marked the start of a new era. Those, like me, who came as strangers to this land mingled with those who had survived, and forged the future." His snowy shoulders heaved in a small shrug. It felt like an eternity ago—a lifetime ago, a thousand different futures laid out before him, and none of them had come to pass. Made out of ice, shadow, and memory, he turned his head back to fix his gaze upon her. "There are many points in time where I could start the story of the Edge. I leave it up to you to decide."

lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Blu - 08-07-2016

unarchived per request

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 08-07-2016

She hovered on the edge of the cliff with bated breath, eyes glued to the lonesome figure of the stallion as she waited or him to begin his tale - or tell her to go jump into the sea and leave him alone. Either option was likely, she had no frame of reference upon which to build expectations when it came to Mauja. Maybe that would change with this conversation, maybe nothing would ever change and he would remain a familiar stranger to her, a living ghost in their midst. She didn't know, she didn't know, and oh how she desired to change that!

Ah, but the deciding moment had arrived, and to her apparent delight the man began to peel back the pages of history, revealing to her snippets of his own past - and the past of her homeland, one that was foreign and strange and tantalizingly different from what she had come to love. The barely perceptible silences between words, as he drew for breath, were engulfed by the thrumming of her own heart, loud and violent in her ears.

This. This was what she loved more than anything in this world. To listen and learn, explore hidden truths and discover depths in the world and in her own self she could never have imagined before. Mauja told her to decide from where he should begin the story but that was a dangerous thing to do, because how could she not crave all of it, from the beginning - even if that meant going back to the very creation of the world itself. The look she gave him was impatient, teetering and only just on the right side of polite as she replied.

"Then, tell me everything you know from the time you arrived here the first time. Please? I think I need to know, if I am to be of use as a Seer some day."

It was a slip of the tongue, the accidental revelation of a dream she had not been aware that she had. But even as she words rolled off her tongue Erthë knew them to be true; she did wish to take up Alune's mantle one day, wanted to stand next to the King and convey the words of their Goddess. It was a realization that almost took her attention away from the waiting history lesson, so suddenly had it come to her... Almost, but the surprise did not linger for long, and soon the pale eyes were focused on Mauja once more, curious to hear what he was about to tell her.  

to the sound of a drum

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 09-11-2016

Of course.

The hunger for knowledge was like any other hunger; it demands the grandest, most satisfying of meals, frolics into the buffet when unleashed.

There was one marked difference, though: where food sates hunger, knowledge simply breeds more hunger. When your view of the world expands you start to notice all the holes in the patterns, the flaws in the logic, the shadowed areas of the timeline your eyes trail—then you dive deeper, delve deeper, ever deeper.

And thus, the hunger consumes you; burns you out, leaves you a hollow husk as you lose sight of the world. You can't eat knowledge. You can't eat history—it eats you.

But part of him had wanted her to respond as she did: "Then, tell me everything—"

He would tell her much, but not everything—never everything. Some secrets ought to remain buried, some promises never gone back on. Loyalties to be upheld, even though the rest of the world had forgotten. Mauja's eyes closed, his face serene as his depths shuddered with the power of remembering. Those first, early days with a world ripe for the taking, and powerful allies at his side... His first meeting with the gods; being crowned by the Moon; accompanying d'Artagnan to the Veins to meet Earth and learn about poison; making love to Psyche to seal their future, drunk on life and dreams of glory.

His fire had sputtered and gone out, and now, he, too, was but a memory.

"Seer?" he rumbled, eyes still closed, voice managing to sound vaguely amused. Sightless, his head turned to her, and he gave the distinct impression of peering at her through his closed lids. "My, such aspirations."

As if he had been any less ambitious in his youth.

"But, the first time, then."

And his eyes pressed closer, conjuring up memory upon memory as his voice said nothing; frozen flashes of the north, of grief and guilt and shame driving him from his precious glacial homeland, and the world around him turned to blood and ash and acrid smoke, burning flesh. Leaving, as it would soon be remembered that he, too, was a witch.

And then: "Helovia," he said, voice a quiet rumble as his tail flicked in the still, fog-moist air. "A realm rent by grief and loss and senseless violence. It was not the same as it was today. The Ancient Rotunda had not been ..found, and the dead lands at the southwestern tip was a place known as the Spectral Marsh. In the far north, the entrance to the Aurora Basin was hidden, and there was no way to access the caves beneath the Heart. The God of the Spark was not known; we all thought we had three Gods."

How wrong we were, about so many things.

His eyes opened, but he looked at the horizon, not at her, and his voice was calm; steadfast as the mountains, as his brain ran ahead to filter the story of Mauja from the story of the Edge.

But sometimes, they were hard to tell apart.

"The native population was but a shadow of what it had once been; scattered, few and far between, for all intents and purposes forgotten by their Gods as the three siblings sought to rebuild all that had been destroyed. Their three realms were leaderless, no different from the Wilds in all but memory. Earth's land was known as the Windtossed Foothills then, and was neither more nor less than its name.

"Then, one day, not too long after I came to Helovia, the three Gods returned, and each announced a leader for their realm. Ra the Sun Emissary—"
(A name all but forgotten, a name he had not spoken for years and years.) "—was chosen to lead the Dragon's Throat, and ruled his lands alone. He was the head of the Order of the Sun, accepting any who claimed to worship the Sun God. Gossamer the Benevolent was chosen as Chieftess of the Foothills; she picked Indy the Righteous to lead by her side. And, finally, the Moon appointed as King of the Edge, one Mauja the Frostheart."

And in the same vein, it was hard to tell the history of Helovia apart from the one of the Edge.

"Outside forces gathered in the Wilds of Helovia. A band of moon-worshipers known as the Qian followed their leader, Mirage, and the wandering Pegasus came under the guidance of Kri and her Tuuli. The Edge was spared from the first of the renewed waves of violence; Kri became known as the Resolute after she drove Ra from his throne in the Throat, and the Sun Emissary fell to one of her warriors.

"The Sun, angered by the death of Ra, cursed Helovia with sweltering heat. He appeared in the Edge, burning the forest and the herd; light rains eventually doused the fires, and I went to the other leaders, asking them to come to the Veins with me. Together we approached the two less angry Gods, and they agreed to heal the Edge, for all the good that it did—shortly thereafter, the forests were set on fire again, done by a vindictive mare. I found no time to beseech the Gods again, for Helovia was stirring. Paladin the Valiant rose up against Gossamer, and took the title of Chieftain from her. And after that... We were then a reclusive herd of unicorns, and our tenuous peaces and pacts were not upheld. Promises were broken as the Qian brought both Kri's and Paladin's forces in against us; we fought, we lost, and the Edge entered into a new era.

"While the ousted unicorns fled into the north, and were taken in by the newly appeared Spark and given sanctuary in the Aurora Basin—"
(.. but the sentence was already too wrecked for him to fit Psyche the Dark Empress into it, so the name of his once beloved went unsaid) "—the Edge changed. Mirage took the title of Dragonheart, and declared the Edge be a place of peace and acceptance while building a glass wall to keep us out. She placed the dragon glass statue here. She burned pyres in the forest at all times, heedless of its history of burning and the suffering flames had caused. And this, this is the Edge I know the least of. Mirage eventually led together with Thor the Gentle Heart. They remained as they were for a long time, while Helovia changed around them. Ophelia and Ktulu led their mercenary band The Grey to victory in the Foothills, taking it from the absent King of Thieves. Torasin, one of the Moon Doctors, died. Soon thereafter, darkness descended on Helovia.

"The Gods disappeared and left the realm in complete darkness. Nothing worked as it should; magic was erratic at best, dangerous at worst. Why and how the darkness ended I do not know, for I had briefly returned to my homeland."
(To fight a war everyone else was too cowardly, too stubborn, to win.)

The only time he had been any kind of honest hero, and it still left a bad taste in his mouth, like ash and rot and foul waste.

"I returned, finding the Edge under the care of Mirage and Lace the Silverthorn, but there was someone else there, too: Kahlua, serving them as Glazier." (It was impossible to keep the pain and the fondness out of his voice.) "The glass wall they begun so long ago was finished—but Helovia was not to be at peace. Darkness swept across the realm again, devouring land after land after land, and almost all caught in the embrace of it were turned into decaying monsters, capable of nothing but vicious blood-lust and savage violence. All the herds fled underground, into the caves by the Heart. The passage to them had opened but recently, and some.. some of us didn't quite make it there in time." Absently, his head turned, black nose brushing against scars lining his flank and back. "I had been gifted with immunity to the curse, but how it was ultimately lifted, I do not know. I left Helovia again, and returned to find it ..saved, but changed.

"Kahlua, now the Sunshower, had been elected to lead the Edge, together with Kaj, the Stormbringer. Deimos the Reaper remained as Lord of the Basin, together with Illynx the Gilded Blade. Africa the Starry-Eyed and Ampere, the Mother of Companions—"
(whatever the hell that means) "—were chosen to lead the Dragon's Throat. The Foothills had been sundered, becoming the Hidden Falls, and placed under the care of Midas the Gallant and Seele the Necromancer. The Ancient Rotunda appeared; the Marsh remained dead, screened by shadows.

"And then, the murders began."

He had drifted, in and out, but hadn't firmly returned until he found Tolio dead in the Frozen Arch. His eyes closed again, lids pressed together. "The Gods had, as a sign of unity and peace, made a floating island—Caela Insula, the Sky Island." He paused, again, thinking of the black body laid out for all to see upon it. "Helovia chased itself trying to figure out who left the trail of bodies behind—at one point, Kahlua accused me of having done it, threatening to drag me back to the Edge in chains. I talked her out of it, and shortly thereafter, the truth came to light: the God of the Moon had done it, using Gaucho as her proxy. In a final act of defiance she attempted to destroy those who accused Gaucho, but Hototo the Earthsinger, the child of Ktulu and Earth, threw himself between them.. and died for his valiance."

(And his sister had fled, crying and broken, with only Mauja to witness her grief.)

"Kaj and Kahlua elevated Archibald the Dauntless to lead with them. They were uncomfortable to remain in the Edge—Moon had simply been banished to it, confined, and if her siblings ever punished her, I do not know of it. So, the Edge allied with both the Basin and the Throat, and made short work of the Falls, where Seele had passed on and been replaced by Ghost the Cadaverous. It was a disgusting thing hardly worthy of being called a 'battle'. Midas had been, as noted, taken prisoner, and as I understood it, he died in the north. Archibald and Kaj became the new leaders, and a handful of the minds behind the invasion's planning let it be known the Edge would need new leaders.

"And so, I found myself there, unimpressed with the others who sought to rule. Ophelia, then Lady of the Basin, called for those who sought to lead the warriors. Kahlua, caught between two herds, called for diplomats. The diplomats departed with Kahlua for the Throat, and somehow, I found myself entering the fray with them.

"Ophelia had chosen Torleik the Bloodskald as King; Kahlua chose me, and I named myself Queen. We agreed to not rebuild the wall, which fell into ruin at the same time that the Hidden Falls were made, by the way. Elsa was declared our General, and at some point, I found myself being referred to as 'the Frozen Light'."
Slowly, he shook his head. "We began to grow. Rebuild. Tembovu came to us as a Glazier. Lace returned, but in a fit of true male pigheadedness on both our parts it ended up with me beating him senseless and nearly killing him—I heard he died later, for some other reason, in the Deep Forest." (Where everyone goes to die.) "And then—the Rifts opened. New lands were found, old Gods destroyed, and lives lost."

He paused, again, thinking of Shadow's death.

"I saved your mother's life once. I could not save her again."

He opened his eyes, and blinked.

"My eldest daughter died in the final battle. I abdicated on the spot, promoting Tembovu in my stead. You know what happened after that, how Torleik was stripped of his position, and Elsa made Queen. Shortly thereafter, Mirage came to the Edge's borders to die."

He shifted, subtly, the tiniest of shudders—or was it just the wind, ruffling his mane?—passing through his body. Time was such a long and damned thing, remembering a curse as much as a blessing. After a moment, he snorted.

"I probably forgot a lot, and there's gaps in my knowledge, too."

lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Erthë - 10-16-2016

He set of, and Erthë found herself clinging tight to every dropped name, every swift and sudden change as though loosing track of what Mauja was talking about would be the same as death. Instinctively the girl felt that these were names and places she shouldn't try to ask for again, that she might ask for clarification but never repetition. But how! Committing everything Mauja said to memory would be a massive task, never mind attempting to understand and accept all the twists and turns of politics and happenstance that was made apparent.

On he went, and on, and the filly found herself shrinking in the face of the years upon years of turmoil, of suffering and conflict this man had lived through. How short her own life was in comparison! How much she had yet to learn, yet to see and do and experience before she could stand beside him as something close to an equal! No wonder there was a rift between them as they stood side by side on the cliffs - it was time that separated, and suffering and joy and life...

A gust of wind blew in from the west and brushed against her skin, stirring the mist in its wake and made her shiver from the damp chill. Rarely did the cold bother her, but right now Erthë felt a pang of longing for her father, to stand close to him and feel his warmth wash over her. The darkness she had relished became oppressive; fumbling lips sought out the cold metal of the bracelet around her leg and removed it, so that light could come rushing back in over them and perhaps remove some of the clammy sensations that crawled down her spine. It barely made a difference though. The day was still misty and gray, without shadow or light; maybe it was growing dark for real already, the afternoon creeping closer to evening as they spoke.

Mauja quieted, and the silence that commenced was of the kind that seemed to ring in the ears, louder than any scream. It called for comments, questions, anything at all to show that she had been listening and paying attention - but Erthë had no idea what to say. It was too much to absorb, too many facts and turns and points to inquire about for her to pick just one.

Instead, she found herself dwelling on that time when Glacia had come to the Edge, looking for her father. Recalling the words she had thrown after the fleeing stallion, they suddenly seemed cruel and thoughtless.

"I'm sorry" she heard herself say, and blinked in surprise. Had she meant that? Yes, it appeared she did. "For what I said, back then - with Glacia and all." He couldn't read minds, she reminded herself. Better to be clear, to be precise. "I didn't mean for it to come out that way... to make it sound as if you were weak. You're not, you know? I don't think anyone thinks that..."

Why was she apologizing now? Water under the bridge, was it not, it happened so long ago. Well, long in her perspective at least - to him it might be like yesterday. Maybe it still hurt him, if he took those careless words as they were said, and not the way they had been meant.

No one think's you're weak but you. You're the only one who thinks you're weak... But then again what do we know. What do you know? What does anyone even know, anyway.

"Thank you for telling me all this, Mauja. It's really a lot, isn't it... all that really happened in just six years?"

The girl looked at the unicorn for a moment then shook her head, still not quite able to take it in.

to the sound of a drum

RE: Cold, dark and silent - Mauja - 10-16-2016

The wind blew, but even it seemed tired, too slow somehow—the dying breath of a world long since sunken into the sea. It tugged at his long forelock, spun it about his face, tangled it against his frost-covered horn and strung it awkwardly over one ear. It tipped back beneath the uncomfortable sensation of hair sliding across it, spilling the pale strands back where they belonged.

Every thing in the physical world had its place, it seemed, but did all things know their place? The only way his forelock could truly move from its place where it grew from his head was if it let go but hair decomposed, it had to, otherwise the world would be full of hair, and frankly, Mauja wasn't blind enough to not notice such a thing. He exhaled, a long and tired sound, and his head lowered beneath the weight of memory, crowns no longer there; Erthë stood silent next to him, but he didn't look at her. He could feel her, and that was enough, and in the silence he could hear her think.

That, too, was enough. With all that he had dredged up, all the memories condensed into something as intangible and flighty as words, he suddenly wanted to be alone—to finally take flight from the edge of the world and soar towards the sea, where there would be nothing but the ocean to whisper in his haunted ears.

"I'm sorry," she said as he shuddered out another sigh, eyelids closing over blue eyes again to keep the tears at bay as all the names spun like snow in a snowstorm in his mind—all their faces, a blur, a trail of things dropped but never buried. Sorry for what? he thought in the darkness of his head, listening to the distant hush-hush of the ocean's waves and the much closer breathing of the child. With Glacia? What was it with Glacia?

Perfect memory never lasts. (It's a thunderclap, a heartbeat dark as sin, an arrow of fear striking true.) But one word, one word was all he needed: weak.

"Oh," he simply said, shining eyes slipping open again. "—but I am, I'm just too good at lying."

Too good at pretending. Too good at making things up. Too good at smiling even though he buried his heart. "Thank you for telling me all this, Mauja. It's really a lot, isn't it... all that really happened in just six years?" To her, it seemed a lot in a short time; to him, it seemed forever. His eyes closed again, black muzzle dropping towards the sea until it brushed the air where the limestone cliff ended and death began. "Yes. So much death and despair, and just six years." The eye nearest to her, pale as glacier ice, cracked open and peered up at her. "Think of me in six years, will you? When you look at where you are, what you've done..." His tail moved through the dreary air, but it was hardly even worthy of being called a lash, the mellow way in which it rippled against his hocks.

"I'll leave you to your thoughts," he said as he turned and walked away, drifting into the fog, a ghost falling back into the void of memory.

[ The end. <3 ]
lord, the demands you're making-
help the monster on two feet
walk him down the hall, repeat
and when he's strong enough to stand alone
you'll notice what big teeth . . .