SidetracksStarted by Mnemen Starstrider at Nov 26, 2019 7:06 pm
Falanna 77, 1 AOH
The forests were always calming to visit. The black padded softly through the trees, around the fallen branches and roots that pulled upward from the ground, and listened to the birds chirrup in the trees. The sunlight filtered through the leaves in dapples, sploches of bright and colour and then it was gone again. Times like this, it was easier to ignore the buzzing in the black's head that threatened to split the skull at times. It was still steadily getting stronger. That buzz wouldn't go away on its own, and Mnem knew that, just liked to pretend otherwise.
Jera didn't talk about it. Mnem didn't either. Most of the Ironscales also didn't mention it, and Mnem didn't intend to bring it up. There was no point. Maybe the black and gold would never find another rider. Most of the time, Mnem didn't want to, but then remembered that there were reasons to do so. Jera was one reason. Sethron was another. And then the little ball of floof was the other. Besides, if Mnem was gone, the Ironscales would be led by... actually, Mnem didn't recall offhand.
It wasn't like Mnem could magically summon a new rider at will. These things took time. Or, most of the time they did. For Mnem, bonding to Arren had been an obvious decision, and some other vasi in the Circle of Light were the same. Sometimes, you just knew that was the one you wanted. Mnem wasn't sure if such a thing could be found again. Sometimes what drew a vasi to a specific person was that they'd bonded before. It was difficult to find that kind of draw twice, but Mnem supposed it wasn't too far-fetched. That probably depended on how one chose to look at it.
Amid wandering through the forest, careful not to trip on the underbrush or do more damage than was necessary, Mnem spied a fruit up in one of the trees. It looked about ready to fall off. The other fruits Mnem could see were still a bit the wrong colour. Ah, this was a honeyberry tree! Honeyberries were tasty. It looked like the one that looked ready to fall off was out of Mnem's reach though. The black stretched out... and missed. And then stretched out again... and missed. Hmm. It'd seem the black was going to have to get a little more creative than this.
That in mind, Mnem's tail flickered gold, and formed Force scales. Mnem only needed one, so only fired one, right at the branch the honeyberry was on. Just barely, the Force scale clipped the branch, and the honeyberry fell. It was in something of an oval shape, not very big, coloured a bluish tint with gold marbling. They were very sweet, but had a little bit of a tart to them, and Mnem wanted it for the little floofball. Knowing which fruits were okay to eat was a necessary thing, when the dragon child started foraging for its own food, and getting floof familiar with these would be a good start. Besides, trying new things was also a good idea.
Mnem stretched out to pick the honeyberry off the forest floor, but then sensed someone else and sat upright, ears at attention. Thus far, the black didn't feel threatened at least, so simply held still and waited. Whatever it was would come out eventually, probably.
Zallahta's forest was peaceful, Bryaen found. Moving among the trees, they made an effort to keep quiet, not wanting to break the peaceful feeling of the moment. Bryaen had strayed relatively far from the nearest settlement, not being particularly in the mood to deal with people. Most of the time, they didn't particularly like to deal with people. They weren't terribly easy to get along with, and mostly Bryaen didn't care to be.
The war was over and with it the legacy of the Sparkling Cities. That was for the best though, it was hardly something good to be remembered for in their hubris. The Shades were gone, but so were the Necromancers. Bryaen had never learned to use that power if they had even gained it in the first place. Not everyone born of the cities did after all.
They were gone, his brother was gone. And they weren't coming back. Maybe one day Bryaen would be able to join them. But there was every chance that that day was very far away. This was a depressing train of thought. Bryaen pushed it away then, shaking their head slightly and concentrating outward for a moment on the trees themselves.
There was something else in the trees with Bryaen. That wasn't really surprising. The area was crawling with Sieral, after all. It wasn't Sieral, Bryaen realized after a few moments, no it was Vasi. There were so few of them left after the war that that was actually surprising.
Bryaen stilled for a moment, gaze traveling up the dark shadow of a Vasi. The black and gold was massive it seemed. "Uh... hello there." Sort of quietly, but it seemed polite to say something. "I'm sorry for intruding. I didn't mean to." No, Bryaen had had no intentions of running into anyone it just so happened that they'd managed to cross paths out here. Bryaen did hold still though, careful to keep their hands where the vasi could see them, that the Vasi would know that this one was not intending to be a threat.
Too many had threatened the Vasi over the years. And for what? The whole race was surprisingly gentle most of the time. And yet... no one would leave them be. It was sad.
Hmm. Well, that was a sentient creature, at least. Looked like maybe sieral, but they had the notable scent of razziek (for some reason, razziek always smelled strongly of smoke). That wasn't surprising, as there were a lot of sieral and sieral hybrids on this layer. That sort of happened when your race's nation was on this layer, after all, and maybe it felt a little more like home than most. Interestingly, the forests of Zallahta were the least damaged in the shade wars. The small glimmers of light in the waters and floating in the air around the trees were a bit less numerous, but hadn't gone away. Patches of the forest were damaged by fire or ice, but the forest still mostly stood, and was still as proud and strong.
Mnem spent a moment staring at the smaller creature, getting accustomed to the little one's force. If you wanted to know what someone was like, the vasi always believed listening to the other being's force was a good start. It called Mnem's force. That was weird, but it wasn't like Mnem was a little dragon child that hadn't ever experienced that before. Well, if the black wanted the smaller one to stay... the vasi looked up at the honeyberry tree, and then unceremoniously whacked another berry out of the tree with a second force scale. Slowly, so the movement wasn't taken as a threatening one, Mnem reached down and snagged the berry with a bonding tendril, holding it out for the smaller one.
"They're somewhat tart," Mnem said. "The sweetness balances it out, I think. We make a drink out of it, and use the skins as flavouring for other things, but they're just as good eaten right off the tree." Some liked to make pies and such out of them, too. They were rather prized for their flavour, because it managed not to be overwhelmingly tart or sweet, honeyberry was just right, and one of Mnem's favourite fruits.
"I'm Mnemen," the vasi mentioned. "A little far from home, but I like visiting the forests." Mnem made the probably strategically advantageous decision not to mention being wingleader of the Ironscales. If this one didn't know who the wingleader was, that was probably for the best, really.
Bryaen kept their attention on the large black Vasi. Now that he was here and thinking about it, he could feel a sort of interest in remaining nearby, and absolutely no interest in leaving. Despite the fact that he'd spent the last several days deliberately avoiding contact with anyone and everyone he'd come across. Why was this one different?
No, he knew the answer to that. What he didn't know is ... well. No one ever really knew what it was that drew a vasi and their rider together. It just was and perhaps that wasn't something that could be argued with, in the end. Or at least, not something that should be. The bond between vasi and rider could be considered sacred after all.
Hesitantly Bryaen took the berry from the vasi with a murmur of thanks, turning it in their fingers. It wasn't one they'd ever had the chance to eat before, but there was really no reason to mistrust the other. So... Bryaen would probably nibble on it soon enough. Tart but sweet sounded like it would be a pretty pleasant experience as long as the tart wasn't too strong. Vasi had different tastes than Sieral and Razziek, but not usually that different.
"I'm Bryaen." They responded after a second or two. "It's an honor to meet you, Mnemen." The name wanted to be familiar, but Bryaen was having a hard time remembering why the name felt important. They put it aside for the moment, it would come up, or it wouldn't. In the meantime, Bryaen would try not to worry about it too much.
"The forests are nice, so I can't really blame you." That was part of why Bryaen was here, too, to be fair. It was peaceful, and this was one of the places that had the least damage that had been done by the wars. ... Which, had still taken their toll, for sure. Bryaen wondered what this place had looked like before the wars, but likely they'd never know.
For now Bryaen left out how far they were from home, too. Then again, the fall of the Sparkling cities meant that they didn't really have a home anymore. It didn't matter, really.
Mnem couldn't help the slight snort of amusement. "An honour might be a bit much, lil dude," the vasi replied, flopping down onto the grass. "I'm just a vasi." Mnem wasn't exactly an important vasi. That, Mnem supposed, depended upon whom one asked, because maybe technically being a wingleader was a big deal, but Mnem didn't think it was. Wingleaders were just the oldest ones that hadn't died yet, that was all. And really, Mnem not being dead yet was likely more out of sheer stubborn than anything. Jera still needed Mnem. That was good enough a reason to stay.
Sure, maybe that wasn't quite how that worked, but only if one wasn't willing to open their mind a little bit.
"Yeah..." Mnem said, glancing up at the light filtering through the trees. "It's quieter, now. The fae came here, during the wars, to hide from the shades. Shade force works in terrible ways, and it impacted the natural order of the forests. There used to be hundreds, maybe thousands of them up there, little lights winking in and out of existence and giggling at some odd thing or another. Now, the only lights up there are the residual memories of fae magic, the echo they left behind. It's quieter. And not a good quieter."
Would anything go back to the way it was supposed to be? The way it was before? Probably not. These were memories that would eventually fade away, echoes of times gone. But that was how things were supposed to be, or so was said. Sometimes things went away so that better things could be found, but Mnem had a hard time imagining what was better than the fae. Yanan was going to suffer their loss. It hadn't just yet, only thought it had, but it would.
"Where you from, anyway?" Mnem was curious. "I was born at the House of the Stars. I learned to fight with the House, and then bonded a decade or two later. I live on Kai'non now, like most vasi." Kai'non was nice, Mnem thought. At least, Tihaanth and Arael, Tihaanth's mate and bonded, they were nice. Maybe not Kai'non itself. It needed more water.
Maybe it was, but Bryaen didn't think so. Then again Mnemen didn't know what they were yet. Maybe they'd still disagree if they understood what Bryaen had been a part of. "Vasi are special." Was what they said, with a slight shrug. Maybe if they'd been revered as they should have been, their entire race wouldn't have nearly been wiped out. That was a tragedy more than anything else.
Mm. Bryaen nodded slightly, looking interested in the story the Vasi had to tell, but a little sad, too. So much had been changed, and most of it wasn't good. So much had been lost thanks to the wars. Bryaen had never known the world before the war, not really. Before his people got ideas that were too big, too dangerous. Before they'd gone and made shades a reality. "It's sad how much was lost during the war."
"Oh. I'm from Nebaelen." Bryaen tried to keep their tone carefully under control. They didn't say where in Nebaelen. They didn't say they were from the Sparkling Cities. If Mnemen asked further, they would answer truthfully. Still, listening to Mnemen's answer to the same question... it was saddening. The other had been bonded, but they introduced themselves without the bonded ending of their name.
That meant nothing good for their rider, and it meant nothing good for Mnemen. After all, it wasn't their business what had happened to the rider. "What do you think of Kai'non?" Certainly, Kai'non wasn't home to Mnemen given where they'd been born and where they'd grown up. But... Bryaen had never made it all the way into Kai'non, and they were a little curious about the ninth layer.
Talk of the layers seemed a little safer than talk of the fact that Mnemen had lost a rider during the war. Though admittedly only a little given how much each layer had been warped by the very same.
Ooh, Nebaelen. "Are you old enough to remember Nebaelen's ocean? I used to play in it a lot. Got bit by a fish once. Sort of. You know, biting a vasi scale doesn't generally work out in one's favour." It tended to just hurt your teeth, apparently. Not to say Mnem was surprised by that. Vasi scale was the hardest material in the known universe, held the sharpest edge for the longest, and was also fairly malleable with the right treatments. The art of forging weapons and armour of vasi scale was a senha speciality. They liked using their shed scales for blades. It worked out. It meant the sieral didn't mind them wandering through their forest, though the kasvetli had once been... a bit less welcoming...
Mnem giggled a bit. "I think it's hot and needs more water," Mnem answered. "The Sovereign's pretty nice though. I see Sovereign Tihaanth and Arael fairly often. They're always talking to the Ironscales, asking opinions on this or that. It's strange to have someone listen to the vasi so intently, but then Arael is quarter vasi and Tihaanth over half. Maybe that's why." Besides that, Mnem had to admit, if people listened to the vasi more frequently, maybe shit like the shade wars wouldn't happen.
What a bloody crazy idea, right? It was almost like wars were pointless and stupid or something. That'd almost be too much. Of course, Mnem did leave out the part where Mnem led the Ironscales, and Tihaanth and Arael spoke to the black specifically, because that was extraneous information at the moment. Mnem could tell, though. Lil dude wasn't exactly telling the whole truth either, but most wouldn't. In times like these, it was hard to trust anymore, and Mnem knew that.
But maybe it was for the best, to get to know one another without anything else in the way, no pretenses or any such. It was kind of liberating, really.
Bryaen shook their head. "Not really, no." They admitted mildly. "...The image of a fish biting a vasi is rather amusing though." Because no, of course it wouldn't have done a lot. The Vasi had probably not even felt it nibbling, regardless of how big the fish was. Then again, he didn't really know how sensitive the scales might be for sensation. They couldn't be that much so though, he figured. Hm.
It didn't really matter, not the thing to focus on. "That probably does play a part in it." Carefully. "There's also the fact that everyone ignoring the Vasi is probably at least part of what got us all into this mess." Let's just, be realistic about that right there. "It's good to hear that the new Sovereign is listening to the advice given." That was something, at least.
Not that Asmodeus had been a poor sovereign. From Bryaen's understanding of everything, the real problem was that the Sovereign before hadn't done what needed to be done to slow or stop it, and Asmodeus was just caught with the war being dumped into his lap when he took control. That was no one's fault, really. It just was.
A dead rider meant Mnemen wouldn't necessarily live much longer, and that would be yet another fallen Vasi. The thought was more than a little sad, given how close to extinction the race had already been pushed - battered by more than just the Shade wars though, certainly that had threatened to deliver the last blow. If things went well, perhaps they could begin to recover now. but Bryaen wouldn't really hold their breath.
"So you approve of the new Sovereign then?" It was an easy enough jump to make from the conversation they were having, and he hadn't been sure what to say or ask next beyond that.