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elixir

Somnolent Nova

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The other woman wrenches out of the clutches of sleep with a hoarse gasp expelled from her throat, her fingers clasped to her chest in some small act of comfort. Looking onwards from where she sits beside the bonfire, Kestrel opts to say nothing; perhaps it is merely a bad dream that Andromeda is wrestling herself from.

She’s had plenty of those too, now moreso than before.

Her thoughts die a quick death when Andromeda’s mouth falls open, ready to speak but suddenly choking on air, and when the woman begins to retch onto the floor of the derelict cabin, Kestrel moves without thinking, shifting forward to stand a few paces away from Andromeda, her fingers hovering hesitantly in the space between them.

They are but strangers still, and she is not quite sure her touch will be welcomed. Her presence, however—the reassurance of someone being there for Andromeda; that, she can provide, at the very least.

After a while, the woman finishes, sitting up and trailing a finger over her mouth. Kestrel’s gaze flits down towards the dust that must have come out of Andromeda’s throat, and really—it’s none of her business.

“It appears I was at death’s door this whole time.”

Kestrel winces, but she does not otherwise deny it; Andromeda really had looked like death warmed over, the night prior. Her skin looks almost luminous right now, in comparison, but it makes the blonde a little queasy to think that the vomiting the other woman had partaken in earlier had anything to do with it. “Please don’t say that,” she chastices the woman lightly, moving back towards the fire. Her hand reaches for a stick bearing roasted meat, and she returns to Andromeda to offer her the food. “Here, take a bite. Maybe it’ll, uh, make you feel better.” Kestrel pointedly does not make mention of the retching episode that had just occurred.

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Please don’t say that.

Andromeda does not say anything after that. While she was not keen on being scolded for telling the truth, the nymph had to remind herself that mortal emotions were delicate and transparent. Perhaps it was rather impolite to empty out her demise on the floor especially since the matter was unfathomable to anyone else, only to appear good as new afterwards. However, Andromeda knew there was more meaning underneath those four words.

She watched as Kestrel plucked a stick with roasted meat from the fire and offered it to her not before long. When was the last time she had a meal? Naturally, Andromeda could not gain anything from eating what humans did because she was not structured to digest it. Only the taste and smell could be savoured, and it was something she had grown to be fond of; particularly when it came to tea.

Thank you,” Andromeda replies and takes the food into her own dainty fingers, although she does not take a bite. Instead, the nymph stands with little effort to straighten out her figure. She stands tall and somewhat proud, still pleased about her recovery and hoped this would not have to occur again for the next century or so.

She takes a look around the cabin anew, a hand glided over the rotten wood whilst stepping in the pile of dust on the ground. Her eyes closed and she listened to how the wind moaned outside, tickling leaves and branches each time it passed; how the water laughed and how the fire sang. The planet spoke to her and yet, some of its words were muffled. If she rested more then perhaps, they would become clearer.

A deep inhale. A soft exhale.

Andromeda removed the coat from her form without hurry, careful not to ruin it with the food still in her hand. Her brief nudity was exchanged with an airy, teal dress that materialized instantly once she handed back the coat to its rightful owner. Only her feet remained bare.

Your coat is quite comfortable, I must say,” the nymph says lightly but ever-monotone. “I should look into getting one for my sister once we reach Mageside.” She glances down at the pile of dust underneath her feet whilst taking a bite of the roasted meat. The dirt transforms into smoke and sizzles beneath her heels until it is no more.

Andromeda strolls away to sit on the bed and observes Kestrel with a thoughtful eye. “Did you sleep well?” she asks. “I would have hoped that a moment’s rest awakened your powers but given the sound of the fire, that is not the case.” Another bite of food.

Her head raises. “The waters here are very fresh and crisp. Perhaps it will make you feel better after you have eaten,” she pauses. “Especially after what you have been through.

Edited by elixir
rin if you're reading this i'll reply to you soon.

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Kestrel cannot help the faint smile that touches her lips at the other woman’s acceptance of the food; may it be through genuine hunger or mere courtesy, she does not quite know, but Andromeda does take what she has offered, and that speaks volumes to perhaps the burgeoning trust between them. As the woman rises to her feet and begins to make her way around the crumbling confines of the ruined cabin, the blonde girl shifts her attention to her own means of sustenance, taking her damned sweet time to enjoy the smoky tang of meat on her tongue.

Halfway through a bite, the faint sounds of rustling fabric reaches her ears, and when Kestrel turns her gaze to Andromeda just in time to see her form uncovered once more, she does not have enough time to feel embarrassed over gaping openly at the woman’s sudden nudity before a dress appears to veil skin once more. She wordlessly receives her coat back, tucks it under her arm as she pointedly returns to her food, humming quietly at Andromeda’s comment pertaining to her sister, which stirs curiosity but not enough to push her to ask further.

“Did you sleep well? I would have hoped that a moment’s rest awakened your powers but given the sound of the fire, that is not the case.”

Kestrel purses her lips at the statement, bites straight to the bone to keep her mouth occupied lest she blathers without thinking. There is a reason she does not pluck the sunstrings despite them situated so easily within her reach. To be fair, Andromeda does not know, but the statement still stings, like salt over a freshly opened wound.

“The waters here are very fresh and crisp. Perhaps it will make you feel better after you have eaten. Especially after what you have been through.”

Indignation altogether irrational claws up Kestrel’s throat—and what does she know about what Kestrel has been through?—but she swallows it down, opts to take Andromeda’s words for the friendly suggestion that they spell out. “That’s a good idea, thanks,” she murmurs, polishing off the last of fowl from her stick. A moment of hesitation, and then she continues, “would you like to join me? In, uh, not in a weird way, but like—cool water. Bathing. Yes.” Kestrel slaps a hand over her mouth to stop the rambling sprawl of words spilling out unbidden. Gods, what a nightmare. She is most definitely not blushing, no way. “You know what I mean.”

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It goes without saying that Andromeda was not a mind reader. While she did not know of the events that transpired during her absence, it was not difficult to feel the tragedy. Kestrel, unfortunately, did not hide it very well. Did the woman assume that pursed lips and rippling annoyance would go unnoticed? Perhaps Andromeda’s perceptional skill was a flaw in itself.

She did not smile at the extended invitation to take a dip in the waters and looked away after the other’s flustered remark. “Your blush suits you,” she whispered. Paris said the same to her once. “You have my thanks. However, I do not wish to taint these waters with what still lingers in me.” Besides, one of them had to be aware of their surroundings in case anyone else dared to tread these lands.

Andromeda stood up and nodded. “I shall accompany you and sit along the waterside, at least,” she said, taking another bite of the fowl. “This should prove to be an excellent opportunity to get to know one another. After all, we are not much help to each other if we do not have an inkling about what makes us who we are.” 

Edited by elixir
this is short for good reason.

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When Andromeda’s face does not change in response to her query, cool water to her fiery spark—well. She just feels silly now, is what she does; here she is getting distressed and discomposed, a far cry from the other woman’s stoic poise, and never before has she felt more like a child beside her companion than she has in this very moment.

When Andromeda looks away, Kestrel chooses to stare.

“Your blush suits you. You have my thanks. However, I do not wish to taint these waters with what still lingers in me.”

Confused doesn’t even begin to describe what Kestrel feels, and she grimaces in reply, ruminating over Andromeda’s words for a moment. Something lingering within her—a sickness, perhaps? Something that can spread beyond the confines of her body in such a way that it taints others? It can’t possibly be dramatic enough to mean something emotional, can it? She does not know the other woman enough to put it past her. While Kestrel continues mentally wracking her brain for possible answers that make sense, Andromeda rises to her feet.

“I shall accompany you and sit along the waterside, at least. This should prove to be an excellent opportunity to get to know one another. After all, we are not much help to each other if we do not have an inkling about what makes us who we are.” 

She purses her lips, but does not otherwise argue. Andromeda does make a good point there, but does it really have to be Kestrel agrees to it, however.

 

True to form, the stream is cool against her skin, refreshing cold to quell the burgeoning fire in her veins. Kestrel sinks deeper into the water, submerging her body up until the edges of her collarbones; it proves to be a suitable distraction from the embarrassment threatening to rise in her throat, laid bare under her companion’s weighty gaze. She imagines her clothes are watching in amusement from where they lie neatly folded by the river’s edge.

She knows she has the higher ground here when it comes to privacy; she had first met Andromeda when the woman had been stark naked and wandering cold in a field, for crying out loud. Nudity, however, is not exactly what she had been thinking about when Andromeda had suggested that they get to know each other.

“Are—are you sure you don’t wanna test the waters even a little?” She waves a hand in Andromeda’s direction, gazing over the sun-speckled ground near the woman’s chosen perch. “I don’t know what it is that’s in you that could taint this, but surely it can’t be that bad?” Kestrel shrugs to show her confusion, waiting to see if the other woman is up for a little explanation on her part.

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Sat at the water’s edge, Andromeda kept her cool gaze fixated on Kestrel for quite some time. Her legs were tucked in, feet hidden beneath the abandoned clothes belonging to her companion whilst she propped on her side, relaxed. She did not mean to stare, truly she did not. Curiosity was her nature; and to be accompanied by a comely, fascinating individual was as if a light were brought to a moth. 

Andromeda has met many who wields the cosmos’ quintessence but very few who controlled it respectfully. Perhaps she was drawn to Kestrel in such a way out of concern—a rightful worry that the connection to the sun was a gracious one; and if there was little to no relationship, how she might help to strengthen it properly. 

Just the thought caused warmth to shimmer upon her skin. Deep down, she felt as though this was her central purpose: to establish links from the given to the giver. Andromeda descended to the ground, on her side and hanged a hand from the edge. She was asked about testing the waters and listened to more vocalized confusion not before long. She sighed.

I have heard various narratives about other heavenly realms,” the nymph shared, turning onto her back. She closed her eyes, lids heavy with exhaustion, as she listened peacefully to the laps of water and the rustles between flora. “Some sound gorgeous, where glorified heroes roam whilst others sound like nothing at all and those who expire merely linger.

Her voice was monotonously soft, seemingly carried by the wind and fitted as words only Kestrel could hear. “I never had the luxury to visit and see them with my own eyes, however. I only know of my own domain. Do you know what happens to those who lose their lives and ends up in our holy sphere?

Fingertips from her suspended hand touched the water, its liquid form redecorated with a shimmering haze and sand-like texture. “Most are welcomed, at first,” Andromeda continued. “Then judged whether or not they are worthy enough. If you are not welcomed, you’re instantly pulled into a chasm. Your physical manifestation will decompose rapidly and your soul will return to dust.” She paused for a moment as past memories were unforgivably stirred up.

That dust is gradually deposited into the universe—my universe, my soul.” Her fingers swayed slightly and the glistened liquid sand transformed into coagulative, black matter. “Death of this sort is a pollutant and restless souls haunts the vastness… but it is beautiful all the same.

The substance shifted and changed into humanoid figures, trying to claw their way to the muck’s surface. Their groans were in unison, sporadic moans of plea horrific and despairing; a few of them imploring at Kestrel. Andromeda opened her eyes and retracted her hand, the water returning back to its own refreshing form.

The ones who did this to me knows that and they do not want me to forget,” the nymph said. “You ask and I have answered. Unless you want to swim with the deceased for a while, I am perfectly fine listening to our surroundings on dry land.

Edited by elixir
there's nothing like being denied bath time with a chick by having her turn the water into some men in black thing

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It’s peculiar, that heaviness in her companion’s gaze; it feels almost tangible against her skin. There is a weight, a knowing, a feeling that knows no mortal bounds in those eyes, and Kestrel finds herself unnerved despite her best efforts not to be. The fact that she is unclothed under that gaze does not help matters one bit, even when she sinks on lower to let the water ripple gently against the flesh above her upper lip.

The woman pivots, pulls her focus away behind closed eyelids, begins to speak of heavenly realms beyond the reach of human knowledge as if they were common matters to her sphere of experience. Does this mean, Kestrel wonders, that Andromeda is from a higher form of existence altogether? She is still pondering on this very thought when the woman’s fingers descend to the surface of the river, and it becomes all too distracting, the sight of the water turned luminous, the touch of liquid turned coarse against her skin. Strange, yet interesting, but then—

Kestrel cannot help the startled yelp that takes flight from her lips when the waters turn dark as the void of night, little humanoid figures reaching for her with no small measure of desperation. Just as she gives the thought of flinging herself out of the water some attention, Andromeda pulls her hand away and the river returns to normal.

Gods, but really, had all of that been necessary to get her point across?

“I understand it a little better now, thank you,” Kestrel places her hands on her hips, not caring that she is beginning to sound a little indignant, “but you could’ve done without the excitable exhibition with the river I am bathing in.” With a little huff and a mumbled unbelievable under her breath, she quickly cleans herself up and strides out of the water, uncaring of her nakedness at this point. Fishing her clothes from where they lay on Andromeda’s feet, Kestrel clothes herself and looks towards her companion sprawled on the ground.

Her next words are suddenly hesitant. “So, I must make sure—does this mean you have been judged unworthy by—those who have done this to you? They’ve cast you out from this holy sphere you consider your domain?”

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Kestrel’s response was one Andromeda had expected but it offended her regardless. What occurred in the river was no mere spectacle for petty amusement. It was a real side effect, and hopefully, a temporary one. If she touched a body of water—big or small—it would turn into those things or a dark, sticky substance. Andromeda reckoned it was a poetic blight, in a way. Water was life, and what better way than to eclipse that with what was death.

Truthfully, the nymph did not mean to scare Kestrel but rather to let her see the reason why her invitations were declined. Was there not a saying of ‘seeing is believing’ amongst them? She pondered about this for a bit whilst her companion got dressed—; only, it was the questions that brought back the coldness in her heart.

Yes,” replied Andromeda, closing her eyes once more. She reclined back onto the ground with a woeful sigh. “I do not condemn them for doing so. After all, I did have a hand in… a hand in neutralizing the One who ruled us all—my father.” 

It was strange. Andromeda had thought about the cruel act after her beloved had died and felt vexation. When the act was done and over with, she felt nothing; not even sadness. Yet, now after time has passed (how long had she been away?) and she was in a situation where it was better just to come clean on her sins, the nymph felt an overwhelming wave of regret and sorrow.

It had to be done, she told herself. It needed to be done.
But was it all worth it just for her own heart’s sake? 

She caressed the grass apologetically. “My father created a law that forbade us to marry a mortal or someone who does not possess divinity,” the nymph explained. “I’ve always hated that law, thought it was silly but I understood and respected it. Until I met a remarkable human on this very planet, that is. Perhaps I was a fool to let him charm me but I will always cherish that he did.

I did not lie about my origins to him and made it perfectly clear that he would die if he chose to marry me. However, he was a carefree soul who saw me beyond what I am. It was then that I made a promise to keep him from harm,” Andromeda paused. “I did everything I could but I should have known better than nothing goes over my father’s head.” 

Another pause; a pregnant one. “It happened so quickly and when I let my guard down. Before I knew it, I was cradling his lifeless, bloody body against me and I held him for hours until I knew I had to let him go. Out of grief and anger towards my father, I vowed to get rid of him without thinking of the consequences.

She opened her eyes and looked up at Kestrel. “Now that the deed is done, it has upset the Order and everyone has their claws trained on me. Those who are after me are not only doing their jobs but they’re making way for a new, dreadful ruler to take over.” Her eyes glanced up at the sky.

And what a better way than to take out the apparent heir to the throne, do you not agree?

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Refreshed enough for her mood to quickly let bygones be bygones and allow the sourness of the earlier event to slip from her mind, Kestrel slumps down into the grass beside her companion and hugs her knees to her chest, stray river water dripping from her golden curls.

Listening to Andromeda’s words seem almost like a story straight out of a fairytale. The sun-girl had been born in an urban landscape where the divinity held little sway; it is to magic and the arcane arts that people put their faith in. When one is scraping in the streets with the sewer rats trying to gather up what could be their only meal for the week, one tends not to give any mind towards the dealings amongst the gods, and most certainly not a love story between an immortal and a mortal.

However, she is curious of this woman’s story and the divinity she claims to possess, and so Kestrel sits patiently throughout the unraveling of the tragic tale from the nymph’s lips, imagining crimson against pale lifeless flesh and a firefly love that transcends all common sense.

“And what a better way than to take out the apparent heir to the throne, do you not agree?”

That statement puts a halt to Kestrel’s train of thought, and she gazes at the other woman for a few stunned moments before her mind finally starts back up again. “You are the heir to your father’s throne? A princess of the gods, almost, then?” The thought of such a prominent heritage is almost unthinkable to the girl who had grown up a dirty street rat in Antigua. The sun-girl hums, not really expecting a reply to her question, and then continues on. “Who is this Order that is hunting you down?” Should I be worried for our safety, Kestrel does not ask, but the unspoken query is there simmering beneath her words.

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