The Gathering

Take your Serians here to chat or just roam their homeland.
The sun glitters above vast fields ringed by verdant forests to the north, mountains to the south and east, and wide rivers to the west.

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Posting Elemental
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Post Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:08 am

Re: The Gathering

Chattering, chattering, chattering. All of them talking, all of them excited, none of them knowing if the two mates would join them with the Thunder Horse. Or if Kri'Kahli herself would come; their bonded had left the pair and wouldn't have them on their own. The three could continue to wander together with their realm guardian guarding them even here.

Frolic looked around as they began to settle on a new game, a new event, their next group challenge. The consensus seemed to be the copying game; she knew the game, although not as well as some others. Something of their bonded's lands, it seemed.

They were whole, as a group. They were a cohesive collection, a group made into a herd, as close as one could get to a Circle outside their own Circle.

But she was discontented. As she looked from face to face she thought of all she knew of each of them - and she found herself jealous. Sparkle had gone through a hard time, attempting to fit into his own skin as he grew and changed; but he made his peace with the help of his mate and had taken next to no time to adjust once he had. Path had met a mere few times with her own mate to repair their broken partnership - and already she had renewed faith. Flint had struggled continuously with needing to be in absolute control; until he met his mate and found his own sense of safety.

Where was her 'ah-hah' moment? When would she feel that click in her soul and have moments such as this touch her as deeply as it touched them? She looked at this group and she found herself glad for them - but she envied the peace gained as that last part of themselves snicked into place.

What be thy trouble, m'lady Tiger Lily?

Ah, Sun Dancer, why should there be trouble? This is a Gathering, and quite a lively one.

Think not to jest me, fair maiden, for thine eyes doth sparkle with thine own sorrows. What hath placed this front upon such a lovely face?

Frolic paused and considered for all of half a moment - but she liked Path, had come to respect her.

When will I find my own peace again?

Mayhaps thou searchest for the wrong thing, dear one.

Oh? How? Most here have had that moment come where they finally managed to fit themselves together. That one moment where things go right.

It may be, m'lady, that thou are meant for naught such a moment of revelation. Nay, I pray thee, do not frown so. List.

How can I possibly smile after you tell me I may never find my peace...

Thy peace shall come. But, perhaps, not as a moment of all such things aligning. Our bonded, she holds a saying - one which I have found is true. 'Tis simple in such truth; list. Hope is a black and deadly creature, luring one to such heights as to have the fall... Kill. Hush, now, maiden, list! 'Tis indeed in relation to thy plight. Upon hope's wings thou hath flown, unto such heights as to touch stars and paint yon galaxies unto the skies. Glorious is the flight, know ye this well. Intoxicating and unrivaled, it seems we need it. Before the fall, before we are dashed upon the rocks for our souls to shatter, we learn to truly live surrounded by the unique joy that is hope's flight.

But the fall, oh the shattering in the fall, Sun Dancer - how can we be such fools?!

'Tis a horrid fall, sweet maiden. Yet it seems we need to fly; even if it means falling. Whence our spirits are repaired we find ourselves lured, yet again, to soar upon yon wings of hope. But ponder, for a moment, dear Tiger Lily. Whence a bone is broken, can it be that one day it is simply quite healed again? Nay, 'tis a gradual thing, and subtle. Bit by bit one doth regain strength in the damaged bone, ever growing closer to such health as was lost without even realizing it. 'Tis nary a mis-begotten illness within thee that doth sit ill in thy heart, dear. 'Tis a shattering. Such things take time and heal without our knowledge - until, eventually, we doth find ourselves soaring once again, chasing the black creature as high as we can, higher than we dare, higher than we dreamed. Again, we hope.

We hope. We heal, little by little, and eventually we learn to hope again. That's what you're saying?

We hope. We fly. Fair Tiger Lily, though we have naught with which to stroke yonder skies as does our winged brethren, 'tis my sincerest wish for thy company in such a flight. Oh, Frolic - come fly with me. Trust in this black creature and fly with me again. 'Tis a glorious thing. And should we fall then we shall fall together; we shall mend each other. Come fly.

I will fly with you, dear Path, Frolic murmured, a tear in her eye as she brushed her nose over the other mare's neck, it seems it can't be helped. Some day, perhaps soon, I'll fly again. And we can mend each other when we fall.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:36 am

Re: The Gathering

It was a while in finding them; for a time it seemed they didn't want to be found. An adventure had begun, a new place with a new face. Yet, finally, Kri'Kahli had picked up on the trail of the two lovers; their adventure had grown stale and begun to lag.

She arrived, as she'd been warned, to the sight of their bonded circling the sky with them. It seemed they had wandered quite a ways - there wasn't another living creature in sight. There was a marvelous lake, however. Nova certainly seemed to approve.

For all the time spent in finding them it seemed next to nothing to return. No sooner had they landed, the winged pair and Thunder Horse, than the others closed in around them. Shine had veered off the moment Kri'Kahli approached, leaving her entirely responsible for their care.

I have received word of a true Gathering. Which event follows, then?

C'mon now, you bouncy lo', le's ge' on wi'h eh.

That earned a snort of a laugh from Darroch - it was a strange accent to his ears, to have the 't' softened so much. Such silly things that stallion came up with! Ah, but it would be so much more fun with the two of them there. But what of 'Kahli? She was standing entirely too still for his ease of mind. She was too calm in all this energy.

Hushaby and gather, Eternal commanded with all the authority of one who knows they'll be heeded, They're here, so we'll begin. As much talk as has passed, it seems only best that we move on with a tale.

Oh, stories! I do enjoy the trading of a good story. Who's to be first?

I'll go.

Two words and the happy murmurs that had picked up with the trading of tales were instantly hushed. Within moments they had settled on the grass as she stood over them, looking from face to face as they gathered 'round.

Look at you all, she smiled, her long tail twitching slightly as she shifted her weight and turned to take them in. You've taken on the true meaning of a herd. Moving together, perfectly content to carry on to the next task so long as you can share in it with the others. Even you, Lady Eternal, have melded into the herd mentality. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it? Helps make you more than you are on your own, more than you ever could be alone. So much like a storm; each snowflake so unique, and yet coming together to form a cloud just as unique in it's own right.

I've seen it before; I've lived it before, this unity of spirit. But not like this, not like the way y'all do it. It's different for my kind, when we wander. I can...
she paused, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes as she continued I can hear them still, in my mind. The voices of the lands I've seen. I feel them walking in me, smell their grass, taste their air. But I hear them, more than anything. Whispering through my mind, whispers of the past, a mere breath. There are so many things they could say. But tonight, I think instead my tale shall be of them. Not of what they say, not of where they lead. Just these things that whisper. Just the whispers themselves.

Enchanted, they completely forgot themselves at that point and began to fall into her tale.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:47 pm

Re: The Gathering

I said it's different; this is how. When y'all travel the lands you skim but the surface of reality. You skip over time and space to reach new worlds as a stone does the surface of a still pond. You walk the lands or swim the seas and know nothing more than they willingly reveal.

For my kind, we do not skip across the cosmos. We wrinkle. All of time, all of space, bent to bring one point to another. Where you skip from one point to the next we grasp all that is the land and embrace it, bring it towards us. In this way I become a part of every land I come across. I know their core, their essence, for I embrace it. And they in turn become a part of me; our energies mix.

In this way I don't move or wander the realms. Instead, they move around me, allow me to step from one to the next without displacement. And in this way some piece of my energies links me still to these places, even after I've gone.

I hear them. In my head I hear the worlds I've kissed, feel their skies, tastes their rain. All I need is close my eyes...

When our home was lost, the Bonded's and mine, we were all of us scattered. I wandered, taking the slower path, passing realm after realm. It was a strange sense of disconnect. Finally, beginning to return to myself, I came across a land of fire and rage. It was a place of sky drakes; great lizards who were distant kin of mine. Cliff faces were the only solitude from the inferno below the clouds, flames that the drakes maintained through their fierce battles. Fire bled to lava and ash as the land itself spewed forth destruction. Above, the drakes battled in massive displays of wind and lightning. Storms raged between, buffeting the cliffs and providing the few nutrients available for the climbing horns - odd little beasts with horns upon their legs used to anchor themselves to the stone.

Oh, but this was a great place to rest. My sense of disconnect wasn't greatly pushed, yet there were lightning storms aplenty for me to take comfort in, the after effects of the great fights. The air was ever in turmoil between the buffeting drakes and the heat soaring off the lightning scorched ground. Miles and miles of cliffs lay in all directions, shaped by fire and wind and molten slag as the earth shifted and ripped.

Worse than heat or angry clouds, the sounds predominated. The squeal of horned climbers would ring from time to time, either from a fall or else from a drake feasting. Rarely did any meal go unchallenged. Roaring thunder and striking up storms of lightning with every trash of their tails, the beasts would make such a terror of their spats. Occasionally the softer thunder of horned climbers in flight would ring out, fleeing either the climbing fires or the claws in the sky. They would shriek when caught, these little beasts. A warning to the others that death was neigh.

What there was to fuel the flames I can hardly comprehend. Settling there, I melded with that land as I do with all others - and so I sensed that the flames fed on some primordial ooze seeping through cracks in the ground. I don't know what it could have been, only that raging volcanoes unearthed the pits buried deep and that the land burned ever since. It was a horrid smell; thick and cloying, climbing all the way up to the clouds in swirls of ash. Clearly, underneath, was the scent of flesh the wind shifted just right; those that had fallen.

I hear it still, the shrieks and roars of that land. I smell their fires, I taste the ash if I let my mind wander back across that link. And I see them now, with my eyes closed; those great sky drakes gliding over a crimson sky, circling in search of a kill. The forked flames that would spring up from their claws hitting the hide of another as they battled for the meat. And their teeth flashing, flashing in the bloody light of flames, a macabre grin of war.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:58 am

Re: The Gathering

It was strange to think of traveling without taking your body with you, but that's what it sounded like Kri' had been saying. Somehow, she followed this link back instead of severing it once she left a place.

Without physically moving.

After a few moments of silence to contemplate such a thing - much less the weight of worlds tangling in a single mind - Eternal found herself speaking.

It gets heavy.

Just like that, they were all shifted around and focused on her. This was how the story portion went - they simply came out.

To have so much in your mind - it gets heavy, she clarified, and found herself lifting her head just a little bit higher, sitting a little straighter under their regard. There was a weight to her gaze as she looked back at them now; in that moment some of them understood for the first time what she was.

I should know all about that, about something so intangible having weight. It's time for me - but I suppose it's the same with you, Kri'. Looking back and seeing how much is behind you- But no. No, I won't talk of that.

But I will say this much: I know why we forget. When we're left behind, when our bonded and life-partner abandons us, I know why we forget. We have to. It's the only way we can move passed it; otherwise it would crush us, day by day.

When I first came - when I first stepped from the alter - it wasn't quite like that. Not really. Used to, we knew of many other lands where we'd go just to meet some of these other creatures to bond with. The fields were far from full, but not the way they are now - there just weren't many of us to start out with. Rhyandrithae was still in such a state that we had all we could manage just by living - and it was all we could do just to keep up. There were babies everywhere and all of us - every single one - looked a bit worse for the wear while we got this little haven of Sionayra settled. Until we had enough elementals to balance the weather we had to wander farther than was safe to find decent food. Warriors were badly needed to handle any encounters in those cases - and those that could manage both, that could help with stabilizing the land and give a second level of defense, they were like Gods.

Amid all that - the foals, searching for others to bond with and bring back to help strengthen our efforts at building a home out of these ruins, trying to find and hold a steady source of food and fresh water, battling off any dangers that tried to invade - we didn't have time to break down over a broken heart. There was still plenty of that going on, of course - more whirlwind romances than you can shake a stick at. But if we lost our extra strength because of a fickle bonded it was better to forget who had betrayed us and what we'd had exactly. Letting it incapacitate us while there was so much life going on just wasn't going to work. We needed everyone. And some simply couldn't handle the pain.

Then they speak truth whence they tell of your age. Thou art one of the first.

The very first. I saw Prophet himself, our appointed sentinel, step from his alter. There's one other mare who arrived after I did; but she seemed to appear out of nowhere, just as the bondeds have for some time now.

That, Breeze whickered, is insane.

Do you know of any Serians who didn't come from these lands?

None. Although I do know of a few creatures that have made their own havens. There's a type of feline that I find particularly... Full of life.

I don't know if it's even possible, Nova. We're all of this place, either by Alter or by mother. Why?

It stands to reason that if there is one mare who can come here without the Lady knowing of her origin that there may be others. We all know of at least one who has no alter nor parents to lay claim to.

And it had been that ye would wonder about yourself.

You what?

Never you mind, Horsefeathers.

Why would you wonder about yourself, gorgeous? You have an Alter. We all do.

Most all.

Ah, yes, my handsome, mysterious romantic.

Too bad he prefers stallions.

I still blame Sarge. It's his own fault. He sees something soft and docile enough, it won't matter what else it is.

Ah theenk it eez a goot way to be, señor.

Horsefeathers, you got distracted again.

Oh, right. Thanks - best arrangement I ever made, gettin you ta keep tabs. So, my beautiful bundle of burning energy, why would ya wonder about yourself in a way that has ta do with mysterious Alter origins and maybe-first-ever-Serian-status?

You do realize it's one of those things you don't have a hope of understanding?

Does everyone get this but me?

Pretty much.

Jackal, Breeze accused, tossing out the old insult with a noticed increase in sulking.

Vulture, Caustic returned smoothly.

It was a weeks-old event between the two; they each knew their part. It was almost to the point of the insults being affectionate nicknames. Almost. For the time being, Breeze was still calling the warrior a brutal scavenger and Caustic was still calling the winged-wonder a wind-tossed bone-picker. Each was said so casually as to seem almost random in the middle of the conversation - making Path trade a look with Flint that clearly read of wonder. How they weren't trying to tear out each other's throats was more than they could grasp, much less the ease with which they had just traded insults.

Uneasy friendship, perhaps?

Or mere acceptance of their abrasions for one another.

That got a quirk of Flint's mouth - if ever there were two stallions more inclined to abrasive personality problems, it was these two. They were near opposite ends of the spectrum; not much of anything was agreed upon. At least there wasn't any animosity from it, and it was possible for the two to be alone together and remain civil. They just wouldn't seek one another out for company. Need of a specific skill, yes. Company? Never.

Breeze, know ye of whence I first made my home here?

Nay, wee lass, but Ah doonae see how-

Hist and ye might! It is relevant to thy mate's troubles, have nary a trouble over it. Leave off her now; words for such things as this are hard won while it is as yet ongoing.

Why does Pixie love you, again? Breeze sulked, sticking his tongue at her for snapping at him.

It could be I save myself the trouble to explain such matters to a feather head, just as easily.

Oi! Leave off. I get to be a bit cranky, blast it all. I'm one of the only ones out of the loop-

One of?

here about what's going on with my own mate, and before I get a chance to roll with that blow to my pride y'all talk over my head like I'm a colt and go for another story instead of giving me a straight answer.

Feeling rather highly insulted and no longer able to sneer at their poor (less than fun) attitudes before bolting for the sky, Breeze kicked out a leg where he lay - and sent a large clump of dirt flying, covering half the group.

He had a moment to reflect that life had been simpler before he had taken a mate, when he could still run away from everything - and then Path tore a large patch of fur off his right shoulder. Fur and skin and, if the sting of that cut was anything to go by, perhaps a good chunk of meat along with it all. He hadn't even seen her move - fourth in their bond-herd or not, she was still a dancer. If she wanted to that mare could flow until it was impossible to keep track of her. And she was still the one to hand out the most thwacks.

I am never, Breeze thought as he stifled a yelp and turned his head to eyeball the cut that ran along the length of his shoulder, never going to accuse Firefly of exaggerating again. Wind chimes, Mother Wind, and may the winter be merciful!


At least nobody else could hear his thoughts. He wasn't quite ready for anyone else to know that he swore by wind chimes. Not quite. Some swore by all that's Wild, other's by Hell's fire, others by their Guardians and Guides. Him? Wind chimes. It was worse than that annoying trend of using food. The next time he heard something like crackers instead of a good, proper oath, he might just puke.

This coming from the guy who swore by his wind chimes. He had certainly earned his nickname, that was for sure.

If thou art so bothered by being spoken around such as a colt would, then it is recommended that thou doth refrain from behaving as one.

And you know fits ain't about to be tolerated, sonny-jim.

Yet effective; your mate feels out of place, since she's learning how she best fits in the world again. I recognize the signs, but SunDancer's right - it's quite difficult to put into words without feeling inadequate, especially once it's been experienced.

Not everyone goes through it; it's mostly an acute discomfort while trying to adjust to growing up a little.

Well, Breeze said wryly with a sideways look at his freshly cleaned shoulder - grass really was a marvelous thing if you rolled a bit - I think I'm experiencing some of that discomfort found while growing up, my own self.

With a few weak chuckles and more than a few smirks all around, they were all suddenly okay again.

Siblings, Eternal thought with more than a touch of fondness, they're nothing more than siblings, tugging at each other's tails. And what can I say? It works. Somehow, they seem to make it work.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:11 am

Re: The Gathering

I'm just glad to be passed my own growing pains. In fact, I'm ready to move on.

Move on?

There's room in my circle for two more males. I want to find another mate, start again. In fact, I'm about to the point of holding auditions, so long as they'll stick around and work with me.

What about the others?

What about them? I won't be going anywhere. If it gets to where they're ready to talk, to try to move on themselves, I'll help. We're still family.

Bu' now ye be takin on another mate for yourself.

I like it. Single-mating is nice in concept, yet for some it won't work.

Like us. We're each open to others, we just haven't found anyone of interest.

I find Whisper interesting, if I get to talk to her again. You'd like her.

Of course I would, you like her.

That is something I have wondered about, when it comes to mates and growing pains.

What troubles thy mind, son?

Well, no offense to Sushi, but I simply do not get you. Going into a rage, such as Sarge did - that I understand. Hiding away, like the Siren and Tigerlily, that I understand. Or taking time out to meditate, like the Dryad - that I can get. Even the Hermit, holing up in that haunted wood and snarling at life in general. But you, I do not get you.

Why not?

What sort of adjustment is... What was that word? Submission, you called it?

Oh, that has nothing to do with adjustment. I'm a romantic; I like the chase, I like to please. Sarge likes someone to look after. This way, I get to keep up that chase, keep romanticizing him to within an inch of his life, and he gets to stay in charge of things.

It works because the only thing that helped end my rages was turning that suffocating control on myself. It turned me into a bit of a control freak, truth be told. He gives me that control, I give him all the wooing potential to be found. It's part of the deal - he doesn't get to stop trying to win me, it isn't an optional flair. He keeps me happy, so I keep him.

Shiro was fun to train, too. It was one area of romance he wasn't familiar in - or at least he didn't know all the rules. Especially when it comes to rough housing.

Okay, I think I get it. It has nothing to do with settling in and adjusting and everything to do with lifestyle. But then, how did you settle in?

I didn't need to, of course. A new home was a lot like a new opportunity to romance someone special. I just set about trying to win everyone over. Even friendship is a relationship.

So no adjusting, no trying to fit yourself into a new place?

It sounds like there wasn't anything to adjust to, Oak Heart. He was simply doing what he always did.

I would be jealous if I wasn't passed all that, finally.

What changed things?

Time, mostly. And perspective. I tore myself in half, lost my mind and then lost myself in the darkest parts of a rain forest. After all that, I didn't have a problem of trying to figure out how to put myself back together or what parts were worth keeping. There comes a point where you finish wallowing and survival kicks in.

I like wallowing, personally. Mud is great for it. Snow is, too, but you don't get quite the same satisfaction from the looks on other's faces.

So once you let go of agonizing over the rest of it you decided- what exactly?

I didn't really decide, Frolic replied, tilting her head thoughtfully as her gaze turned inwards. I just started noticing stallions as, well, stallions once again. I want a male around, someone to play with and be a proper mate. I'm ready for that, Spin isn't. Why shouldn't I find it?

Who was it you first started noticing as a proper stallion? I haven't seen you around many others.


That gave them all pause as every eye turned towards Caustic. Him?

I started visiting. The Strangeling thought it was a good idea, so I went.

You knew. That whole time-

Of course I knew, I'm not a fool.

But... Why? I mean, why him?

I wouldn't have expected it. But sometimes, those are the pairings that work the best.

I haven't agreed to anything yet, Caustic snorted derisively.

And I haven't asked, Frolic returned just as harshly.

Again, that gave them pause.

He was mean, she huffed, tossing him the sort of glare you gave someone you were very familiar with, a long-suffering and tolerant sort. He was rude and abrasive and... And, well, caustic. He made me miserable.

I wouldn't let you whinge, he countered, his voice cracking with scold. I wouldn't pity you, wouldn't let you wallow, to use your words. You were pathetic. And I told you as much.

As miserable as he made me, whenever he came I wasn't thinking of what had been haunting me. And then he started making me angry on top of it all. By the time he'd leave, I was so busy fuming at him I couldn't be bothered to fall apart. I wouldn't even realize it until the next day, when I finally finished plotting his horrible, pain filled death.

Daydreams and fancies. You want to try it, just let me know. Or don't - try an ambush, see if that helps you any. Grinning, ears flicking back with a feral gleam in his eye, he added It won't.

Eventually, I just... Stopped. Stopped being in pain, stopped worrying, stopped railing against fate, stopped beating myself up, tearing myself in different directions. He'd still make me angry, but I started thinking of him differently.

Like how all that frustration would translate into a hard kiss.

Shut up.

Make me, sweet cheeks, Caustic crooned dangerously, and everyone but Eternal and Frolic shrank back from him, just a little.

Try me, babe, and I will, Frolic returned sweetly.

Next thing anyone knew, Frolic was laying prone on the ground with Caustic standing directly over her. That lasted for all of a second before she kicked out, hooked his leg with the spike on her back hock and twisted - promptly knocking him to the ground. A moment later and she had flipped around, stepped on his mane to keep him from popping right back up, and kissed him. Hard.

It shut him up.

It shut up the rest of them, too.

This, Flint thought grimly, could be a problem.
Last edited by Songhue on Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Gathering

Does Songhue know?

Kri's question got the others to stop staring at the couple - were they a couple now? Caustic was still glaring challenge and looking like he was about to tackle the mare, and Frolic was looking rather smug. They'd all been holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen now.

It was Caustic that first answered.

She's our bonded, he snorted, and his voice was so cold it made half of them blink in surprise. Even those of Arctic Winds would be hard-pressed to match so cold a tone, and their realm was that of ice. She knows everything that has to do with us. Every blasted thing.

She knew first, Frolic informed their realm guardian, before either of us were aware of it. She saw it forming, I think.

If you disapprove so heavily, why did you wish to rebond? Because that's how it goes, Caustic. It's a choice, and when we rebond we choose who we go to - even when we're newly bonded we go to those who align with our Alters.

I don't disapprove, he growled, mocking her just a bit, I don't even resent it. She's earned my respect. I just don't have to like it.

He's a warrior, Shiro said helpfully, adding in his unique talent of prying apart the minds of those around him. Warriors typically don't like to have anyone else in charge.

Worse, in a battlefield he would be one of the leaders in the fight, Darroch added. He does not need the acid aura or any of the rest of it for that gaze to be the last thing his enemy sees. Look at the spikes there - his eyes are literally deadly on their own. That is not the sort of stallion that would be happy about honestly having to defer to another.

So he was willing to bond, but not obey, is that what you're sayin, Greenhorn?

Darroch winced a little at the old nickname - he'd grown out of it by now, and put it behind him with his challenge to Flint. It was an insult at this point, still referring to him as a foal. But it served as the reminder it was meant to - he was newly grown, after all, and still gangly in the legs - not quite yet a proper adult. He had to be careful not to get too big for himself - he hadn't yet earned the right of having his word respected. No matter how sure he was, he couldn't say what he pleased the same way his mother could. He still had to prove himself. Wisdom and respect were earned.

In as much as I have seen, Dryad, that is what he has done. And to be honest, you have earned your name among us, Caustic - Death, we call you. You are used to being strong, right? The biggest, baddest, meanest? You would not like anyone being tougher than you, much less to the point that you have to listen to them. You have always humored them.

You're curious, Caustic grumbled, sounding just short of honestly annoyed, The curious sort tend to be troublesome. See too much, is what happens; seems to be just as true with you. Always paying attention, even when you don't seem to be.

So our bonded knows, Eternal summarized, TigerLily and Death have a hot affair building that may or may not lead to anything later on, and the only thing keeping our resident warrior from attempting to flatten me is the sour knowledge that he doesn't stand a chance against a Rogue.

To be fair, Caelum said as he trotted over the hill, I think if he hadn't already been forced to adjust getting his tail handed to him by our bonded, he would have made more of an attempt to shrug off your authority.

Caelum! I thought you were detained in the realm of Vinny and her get?

I figured it was time to pop around again. Coal is and will always be there; same with SunSparkle. Although I hear tell that our Gypsy mare has given my daughter the nickname of being the Land Sailor, or just Sailor for short. I figure, with as close as our groups are, I'll be hard pressed to shake them at times. But, Lady, did I hear you claim that our good Warrior of Death is sharing an attraction with the fair TigerLily?

Ya sure did, laddy, and missed out on Darroch's coming-of-age challenge, at that.

I seem to have missed a lot then, he whickered, comfortably settling between BlackIce and Thyme. I shouldn't be away for so long next time.

Oh, I don't know, Frolic grinned, It seems to have done you good.

Ya do seem less of an airhead, Breeze added helpfully - only to get nipped by his mate.

You were drifting before, Kri'Kahli admitted. It reminded me of a vast, empty sky. Now, I look at you and see life instead - the difference of adding clouds to see the wind, or watching the stars come out.

That got a few smirks. Come on - Eternal Would be the one to make a star reference. Lady of the Night, indeed.

Well, if I had to hazard a guess I might say that all I really needed was an anchor, he mused.

And what is it that anchors the sky? Kri'Kahli asked with a tone that perfectly carried the impression of a raised brow. She was, after all, a Thunder Horse.

Anything. Rain, which brings the sky outside itself, linking the cold, higher layers back to the earth. Mountains, stretching so high that even the wind has to make allowances. Clouds, that make the wind visible. Stars, to fill the emptiness with light. Anything can anchor the sky, eventually.

You were alone - an empty sky - for far too long, to need reminding of such things.

Mmh. It's about time I had a good hard storm to shake things up, you mean?

She grinned and he returned it, appreciating the levity. Just two creatures of the sky, sharing a moment.

Speaking of creatures of the sky...

Ohh, that should be our next game.

What should, Flint asked, narrowing his gaze suspiciously. Breeze was known to be a little... Extreme, at times. Although lately, Thorn was trying his best to make the winged wonder look fairly tame in his antics.

Sky tag! And don't look at me like that, it doesn't matter that we don't all have wings. that makes it harder. The ones with wings have to dive - further, at least - and the ones on the ground have to look out for an attack from an extra direction.

That doth sound rather intriguing.

Will it keep these two apart, a while? Thyme asked, tilting his head to where Frolic and Caustic were sitting. I'm not sure rather they're more likely to kill each other or go back to kissing.

That earned him a glare from each of them - to which he grinned, unrepentant. Apparently, they weren't entirely clear on the topic themselves. He foresaw a lot of 'catch me if you can' games in their future.

Dryad, come to think of it, I have can not recall having heard you suggest a game for as long as I have known you. Which do you favor?

Ah, I think Caustic may have been onto something, when he said ya notice everything. No, dear colt, I haven't made a game suggestion yet.

Then pray tell, sweet Dryad, what wouldst thou wish for our next activity? For surely the time of talking hath passed, as my body doth weary of being still.

She had a point. You could only shift position so many times when you've sat for too long before it turned into flat out squirming.

I've nothing against sky tag, he said with a nod to Breeze, grinning a little as a slight twinkle entered the stallion's eye, but if there was a game I'd pick, it might be that of a treasure hunt.

He'd almost said hide-and-seek, but that wouldn't have been quite right. The way he enjoyed himself was by walking through his overgrown woods. He loved to see what he could find - which creatures, which flowers, which herbs and vines. He adored all those bits of undergrowth and hidden treasures. It was all rather quiet and made his heart fill warm and heavy - and there wasn't anything like the mad rush in a game of hide-and-seek once you found someone. No, that was similar to a proper hunt, more than anything; predator and prey. Thyme didn't do chasing.

The trouble of it is, Eternal frowned, what are we to seek for our treasure?

That can be the hunt, itself BlackIce answered brightly. We'll wander about hither and yon - that got a few grins and a snort - they did adore the way the too-grown-up stallion spoke, but they didn't dare laugh openly since he still had plenty of heat in his gaze - just to see what we can find that might be treasure worthy. We find our own trinkets and share 'em!

That, Kri'Kahli grinned and she unfolded her legs and stretched out a few kinks, sounds like a plan. Let's go!

So they went - with Nova and BlackIce making certain that Frolic and Caustic didn't wander off together. They were all still rather uncertain as to how volatile those particular sparks may turn out to be and the Gathering was not the time to find out.

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