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Fantasy ☾ eclipse of the heart.| (syntra + starboob = synboob.)

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. LGTBQ
  4. Romance

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"Give up, Diana. Isn't that what you've been doing since you were born? Giving up your life, your dignity, even yourself. A wiser princess would have died, but you? You continue to live, not as yourself, but as a worm. A pathetic imitation of itself. Say, don't you think it would have been better to kick the bucket? Kinder? You could even do something useful for once." And, frankly? The words did strike a chord with Selene, for it was the same tune Luna had sung so often. (Her lullaby, the princess realized. Her lullaby, her anthem, and her funeral song at once, whispered into her for as long as she could comprehend words. 'That which cannot be used, my daughter, is worthless. And do you know what happens to worthless things? Why, pray that you never have to find out.' ...should it have been easy to cast the philosophy away, then? To forget about it, as if it was a pair of socks riddled with holes? Maybe, but it was kind of like a river, Selene supposed-- the ground had been shaped to expect all that water in a particular place, and moving it elsewhere was hard. Almost impossible, with all those chains holding her in place! Against her will, the argument started to sound... hmm, compelling. Smart, almost.)

Should I do it? the moon princess wondered, with the same amount of emotional involvement you would usually associate with picking your coffee for the day. (...coffee? What was that? Some type of weapon, Selene could only assume. From what she understood, the substance was vital to mortals, and for all their ridiculousness, they knew the importance of a good, clean kill. Indeed, erasing your enemy from all the records was the only reasonable response to a conflict! 'A peace treaty,' you say? Oh, do get lost, you spineless coward.) Maybe it would be easier. I'd die, be reborn as someone better than myself, and then--

--then Sol shouted her name, once again reminding her who she was. Who she was and who she wasn't, too. So what if Luna considered her to be a failure? Luna could look at a corpse and mistake it for a blooming garden, for all the wisdom she possessed! And Sol... Sol knew her as her, not the potential sleeping in her veins. Not the extension of her mother's ambition, either. (A mistake after a mistake after a mistake, such was her track record with the sun heiress. She should have cursed her very name a long ago, but instead of that? Instead of that, she let Selene bathe in her brilliance, and allowed her to shine. ...was that how the sun and the moon were supposed to work, before the feud had torn them apart? A heretical thought, but one that Selene couldn't help but follow to its natural conclusion. What had they been lied about? How long had they been dancing, like obedient puppets, to a melody their mothers had dreamt up?)

The shadow retreated, akin to a vampire who had been threatened with some garlic. Selene didn't need to look to know why it did so, but look she did-- her eyes lingered on Sol's sweet face, committing all the details to memory. "I, um. I think I am? But I can feel my heart beating now, even if I don't have it, a-and I'm fairly sure it's because of you." By the moon, by the moon, by the moon! Unless her Sol-to-Selene dictionary was very wrong, Sol had just called her beautiful, and Selene hadn't practiced how to deal with that. Ugh, where were manuals when a princess needed them? Manuals, or at least a Cosmo magazine!

"I'm sorry," Selene finally said, drowning in the sunbeam's eyes. (Too pretty for words, really. How was it legal to have pretty privilege this overwhelming?! One person shouldn't be hoarding all the cuteness in the universe, and yet Sol had somehow managed to get away with it!) "I don't know what the proper reaction would be here. I mean, you're too stunning for generic compliments. How am I to capture your beauty without composing you a poem? I need to look up some non-cliche nouns, too, because I'd die before comparing your eyes to something like orbs. The worst offense in the known universe, if you ask me." Ah, damn, damn, damn! Had she not used her thesaurus to murder the last leprechaun, maybe the moon princess could have... uh, done something? Look, she hadn't thought that far in advance.

The air around them shivered, like a woman suffering from fever, and then the circus melted, along with Lucretia and everyone else. What the...? The mystery was soon solved, though, when they found themselves standing before the pirate from earlier, who was kneeling on the floor and holding her head in her hands.

"Aughh!" she howled, in a way that almost woke some pity in Selene. "You aristocrats are so disgusting. Aren't you ashamed of yourselves? Not even the simulation could withstand your level of saccharine. Hell, I bet you fucking gave me diabetes as well. Won't you take any responsibility?! As it is, nobody will pay for my health insurance."

That was the moment the monitor behind her lit up, revealing none other than the trio of primordial mothers. "Oh, Selene! Sol!" Edith waved in the background, for some reason licking a large, Pikachu-shaped lollipop. "I was thinking I could hear your pleas in the background, but Oriana's signal here was interrupting them. My, it really was you! The universe for sure is small."

"What was it that you wanted?" Sarah asked, quick to the point. "Have you changed your mind about the reconciliation of the courts? If you go for it, we can throw in some food coupons."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Now, she can breathe a sigh of relief. Selene is okay. She's not been turned into the mothericorn; she's still Selene. (Or not Selene? Sol is still confused on her counterpart's family drama.) She cups her moon's cheek in her hand and strokes her thumb just under her eye, finally taking this moment to gaze into them. 'Wow. I knew I was right.' Gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe them. They sparkle like jewels under the surface of the ocean. Just staring into them could keep her full for eternity, she's pretty sure. The sight even causes her hearts to beat in this awkward staccato rhythm, maybe capturing both of their fuzzy feelings all at once. That thought is basically confirmed when Selene says that she can feel her heart beating because of the Sun princess. She grins and presses their foreheads together, placing her hand on the back of the other princess's neck. "That scared me, dude," she means dude romantically. "I'm mega glad you're okay. I would have been so emo if anything had happened to you."

If Sol thought that Selene were capable of evil, she might have thought that all these compliments were an attempt to break her face with a smile. No one has ever sung her praise like this. Well, okay, people have. She's Sol and she's really hot, duh––this is kind of an average Sunday for her. It's more accurate to say that no one she's cared about has sung her praise like this before. It means a lot coming from Selene. Even if her early memories of the moon princess aren't flattering, she's softened for her over time. (She thinks this started when she freed Selene back at that weird bird's nest.) "Would you really compose a poem about me, myself, and eyes?" she asks, not at all hiding her eagerness from her tone. It'd be pretty neat to have a poem written about her. Currently, she's the only one writing poems about herself and she'd really like to see how other people (Selene, specifically) might write about her. "Dude, if you did that I'd be so happy I could explode! But no worries if this is too high presh for you. I'd be happy if you simply invented a new word just for me."

She even has some word suggestions (e.g., megagorgetronic), but before she can offer them they're back on the pirate ship. Oh, right! Sol was getting romanced by a pirate for a pirate x princess x princess fanfic. Wait, no that's not quite right. This is the pirate who totally interrupted them when Selene tried to blip them over to the primordial mothers. She also made fun of them by calling them clowns! Now Sol remembers what had been happening before the mothericorn pt. 2 fiasco happened and she is back to being not pleased. "I told you that you would lose if you tried to go up against us," she shrugs. "We're the main characters. We either win or we get deus ex machina'd."

Speaking of deus ex machina? The primordial mothers cut in on the monitor. Neat. She didn't think they'd know how to use technology since they're a billion years old. (Then again, they did create everything.) "Wow, first Lucretia and now Oriana! What's up with all of these top tier NPC names and how did you three get stuck with Sarah, Edith, and Liv?"

"Please, don't talk to us about our names," Edith hisses, uncharacteristically hostile. She even (accidentally) bites into that weird cat/rabbit's head. (Nope! She doesn't remember pikachu at all, or any Pokémon for that matter.) "It was a clerical oversight. We weren't supposed to have recurring roles but we were just so fun and spunky that the audience demanded more of us. You know how it goes."

"Same thing happened with queen Liora getting her own story," Sarah adds, casually, "but keep that to yourself. She'll combust if she finds out and I really don't want to have to deal with her Inna-ness in the aftermath."

"Anyway, nevermind my sisters' drivel. I take it that you two rang because you want to save the universe?" Liv asks, a little too pleasantly for someone who is responsible for the current disaster that is the universe. "I advise you decide quickly, because Oriana over there looks like she's going to laser beam us. Oh, congrats, Sol, on the laser beam eyes btw! And Selene, we're so proud of you for finally being your own person. It's a great look on you. Just don't fuck up."

"Okay, first of all, lay off Selene. Also, Sarah, I don't know what food coupons are." For one, Sol isn't human and doesn't remember her human life anymore. Even if she did, she grew up in a truly depraved land where employers don't hand out 'food coupons.' "And we actually had some questions for you three. Questions we can't talk about in front of an NPC," she nods her head over towards Oriana (wow she does look ticked).

The three mothers look between each other and exchange glances, blinks, and shrugs. A few grunts are added in and then, finally, Sol feels a tug in her chest as they're ripped through the space time continuum and find themselves back in that dark dank cave. (A prison that Helia and Luna put them in. She won't say the primordial mothers deserved this, but they certainly didn't help their case by lying to their moms about their role in the universe.)

"Is it true?" Sol blurts out, not even waiting to exchange pleasantries. "Did you really lie to our moms? Did Helia and Luna really kill Haul and Diana? Are our entire lives/existences lies? Why? How could you? And, lastly, how dare you!"

"So I see Cyra did some meddling. She was such a troublemaker, that girl," Liv mutters and rubs her temples. "Look, we were going to tell you two the truth, but the truth is rather delicate as you saw in that pyramid. Honestly, we didn't know how."

"Yeah," Sarah starts, shrugging, "I mean, it's just not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Like, it happens. Cronos fucked up and so did we. It's the cycle of the pantheons. We thought about baking it onto a cake and throwing a little surprise party to make it less awkward. But, hey, now that you know, you know why you're responsible for reuniting the courts!"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
“Really?” Selene asked sheepishly, unwilling to meet Sol’s eyes for some reason. “I mean, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Selene deaths are a semi-common occurrence. Weird as it is, I always bounce back.” Previously, the moon princess had thought that she just couldn’t bring herself to deprive the galaxy of her Selene-ness-- meeting the great Selene was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it seemed cruel to take that option away from people. So what if the majority of them were worthless sacks of meat? Worthy candidates existed, just like roses sometimes grew among weeds! As she stood there, however, staring hard into the ground, Selene noticed one glaring flaw in her otherwise perfect theory. And, you know what it was? That she couldn’t care less about others’ well-being. Hmm, hmm. Why had she stuck around, then? Out of pure stubbornness, just like Luna had once suggested? ‘I bet you only exist to remind me of my own failure, you piece of filth. Newsflash, though! That doesn’t make you any less deficient, or any less incomplete.’ …no, that rang false as well. Selene never wanted to give Luna the privilege of being right, so she looked for other interpretations-- for the candlelight in the darkness, the cure to her disease. And, indeed, wasn’t the answer to the mystery simple? “I think I stayed for you,” the moon princess admitted. “You anchored me. I mean, this…” the touched Sol’s chest, “…is my heart. I couldn’t abandon it, and nor could I abandon you.”

Speaking of abandonment, though? Selene’s soul almost abandoned her own body as she watched Sol’s eyes light up with hope, reminiscent of the first flowers blooming in the snow. (Just as beautiful, and just as unexpected. Had anybody ever looked at her that way, as if she was more than trash burning on their porch? It was… kind of nice, Selene had to admit. Warm, but not in that searing, destructive way. Instead of lava coursing through her veins, it felt like sitting in a sunlit meadow-- like old wounds closing, like storm clouds dispersing. Still, wasn’t the feeling kind of fragile? A dream, shortly before it devolved into a terrible nightmare? Nooo, definitely not! No ominous foreshadowing or anything like that, nuh huh. Only pretentious English majors ever resorted to techniques like that, and Selene was fairly certain that those would not survive in the oxygen-free space. Heh, weaklings!) “Uh huh,” the moon princess nodded. “Just, give me some time. I need to study the poetic forms so that I can find the one that would suit you.” Translation: Selene had never composed a single poem in her life, and she was freaking out. What if Sol didn’t like it? What if she thought her phrases to be awkward? What if she accidentally compared her to a corpse? That was easier than it looked, aby the way, because ‘corpse’ rhymed with ‘forks,’ which was a super common poetic subject. Ah, dammit! If there was a panic button in her mind, the moon princess was pushing it super fast right now.

…of course, when it came to stress management, violence was usually the best answer. It was the theory of equilibrium, you know? When you felt bad, all you had to do was to transfer that feeling to others!

“Could you please speak to the point for once in your miserable lives?” Selene exploded. “We don’t care for your names, or your tragic backstory, or your preferred way of drinking coffee. If I wanted cheap product placement,” what, “I’d watch the TV.” (Double what. The TV? The knowledge that dwelled in her subconsciousness was powerful, indeed, and the moon princess herself was scared of what might emerge from its depths. You know, kind of like when you flushed a toilet after a particularly bad incident? But more poetic, because Selene obviously wasn’t plagued with such disgusting bodily functions.)

“Rude,” Liv sniffed. “This is why you will never find a girlfriend, Selene. You know, you should never take your gf situation for granted. In one moment, she’s making kissy faces, and in the other, she’s going through her demonic phase. Just ask her Liora-ness.” Ugh! What kind of totally-not-relevant drivel was that?!

Thankfully, some of Sol’s bluntness was able to cut through the primordial mothers’ armor of nonsense. “So you admit it?!” Selene cried out. “You caused the madness to take root in Helia and Luna’s minds, and now you expect us to clean your mess? We are princesses, not your personal servants.”

“Yes, yes,” Edith yawned, “and we are the creators of the universe, trapped in this pathetic little cell. Boo hoo, Selene! How tragic for you, that you have to lift your ass and do something remotely useful.”

“Come on, Edith!” Sarah cried. “What did I say about the power of positive reinforcement? You should have promised her, I don’t know, instant self-esteem. The girl could use it. Had she been a little healthier in that regard, she wouldn’t have had to derive it from putting others down!”

“But then this RP would have had no plot,” the other primordial mother complained. “You cannot just solve the main conflict with a MacGuffin, Sarah. Have you learned nothing in your creative writing courses?”

Question marks were floating above Selene’s head now, but she decided not to pursue them-- the deeper you went into the rabbit hole, the worse it generally got.

“How dare you speak to me like that?!” the moon princess huffed. “And besides, don’t act like this is some easy errand we don’t want to run out of laziness. I don’t know if you have noticed, but Luna and Helia are powerful. Powerful enough to lock you in this prison. How are we to beat them, then? I don’t know about Sol, but I haven’t received any Matricide 101 course.”

“Duh, it’s the main character factor!” Liv rolled her eyes, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Stop being so pessimistic about this. But, for your convenience, we actually have devised a self-destruct button for your favorite queens. Granted, we’ve kind of lost it--”

“Kind of?!”

“-- but I believe you’ll be able to find it. The last I’ve seen it, it was in the Freezetopia. Sarah, I think, promised to lend it to the ice panthers, and of course that they failed to return it. Nasty creatures.”

The flames of anger were burning bright in her chest, and Selene made no attempt to extinguish them. “Sarah?”

“I lost a bet!” the primordial mother cried. “It’s not my fault that they are this good at poker. Anyway, I believe I can teleport you near their gambling den.”

And, before Selene or Sol could voice their opinions on that? They found themselves standing in the middle of a snowstorm, shivering with cold. The wind howled, flinging shards of ice in their direction, and the moon princess wanted nothing more than to hide herself in the large, crystalline palace standing on the hill before them. ‘The game’s on tonight!’ the large, neon inscription beckoned, and--

“Oh my god,” a large panther dressed in a tuxedo facepalmed. “Newbies. I haven’t seen you guys around, have I? Anyway, if you want to gamble with us, you gotta bet something of value. I would accept… hmm, her,” she pointed at Selene, after a moment of deliberation. “Looks tasty enough, and I think I could make a nice perfume out of her hair. What do you say, Potential Gambling Partner?” Yeah, that was clearly addressed at Sol!
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Sol is going to pass out. No, that's not dramatic enough. She's going to full on pass away. Like, obviously this discovery had been the worst news ever when they stumbled upon that weird pyramid five hours ago; and her theatrics aren't even escalating because the primordial mothers are confirming everything. She expected this to be true. The thing that's causing her Sol to separate from her body? It's that they're being so cavalier about this colossal screw up that started because of an offhand comment and the desire to treat their creations as Tamagotchis??? Not only that, but they don't even say that they're sorry and they expect both herself and Selene to fix up their mess! While it's not untrue that Sol has always wanted to unify the courts, knowing the truth somehow complicates this for her. Actually, it doesn't really complicate anything but it does upset her that the primordial mothers are just giant mom disappointments like their real moms. Like, yeah, she's going to do it (provided that Selene is onboard this time around), but it's just. It's just not going to be the same. Especially knowing that everything she'd be fighting to preserve is a lie. A flipping, effing, freaking, lie.

Honestly, she's onboard with her companion's hostility for once because she's feeling the same way. The mutual dislike only increases as the primordial mothers continue to talk, continue to dig their prison hole even deeper, and then send them off to some place called Freezetopia.

Freezetopia does live up to its name. In fact, Sol thinks that it should be renamed Freaking Freezetopia, because her teeth are chattering so hard she's pretty sure that she'd be damaging her teeth if she were, you know, human and calcium deficient. Her cheeks and nose look like bright red lollipops, too, and she can't even summon enough fire to keep them both warm. This is so not like when she saw the moon court for the first time and got to marvel at the wonder of being cold and playing in the snow. (Not that Sol doesn't think the snow is pretty and it's not that she's not curious about experiencing her first ice storm either; it's just hard to have that same level of wonder when she's still upset about the primordial mothers being huge disappointments and that her entire existence is a lie.) Didn't Sarah say she could get them to the gambling den? So why the heck are they in the middle of nowhere!? 'Probably because they're all dinguses and Sarah is the biggest dingus of them all.' Just her totally not bitter guess.

Honestly, she's straight up about to ask Selene if she's recovered her teleporting powers and if they can just go literally any place else since she really doubts the existence of a button that can self-destruct their moms. Like, if it were real and if ice panthers have it, why wouldn't they have pressed it? Or why wouldn't anyone have pressed it? Like, even just on accident! It seems very unlikely that a button can just be kept somewhere or given to someone without there being the temptation to press it. Also, if the primordial mothers had this all along, why wouldn't they have pressed it when they first realized their creations were turning against them? Something smells fishy here and it's––

Probably the seal blubber and fish guts hanging off the ice panther's whiskers. "Lookin' sharp," Sol politely finger guns the bouncer, seeing no reason to take her bitter mood out on someone else. (Selene should take note!) "You have something on your whiskers, btw."

"Oh, bollocks!" she swirls her tongue around her maw, slurping up the bits. (Super yucky.) "That must have been there since this morning! I swear, it gets harder and harder to find good honest ice panthers in this world. Can you believe those supposed mates let me walk around all day with shit on my face?" She bristles and scowls over her shoulder before turning her attention back to the two princesses. "Anyway, are you in or are you out?"

"Well, Ms. Ice Panther," ("It's Panterra.") "You are correct in assuming that Selene is valuable to me, she is my most prized and cherished friend," nevermind that she's also her only friend, "And having eaten her once, I can say that she does taste... Fleshy? I dunno, it was kinda weird. Uh, but that's not the point! The point is, no," she wraps her arms around Selene and squeezes her. (Just like Selene wouldn't abandon Sol, Sol won't abandon Selene. She won't risk her life ever.) "I am not using her as my buy-in––sorry, bud. I'm actually not even trying to buy-in. We're here for a... button." Yeah, it sounds especially stupid coming out of her mouth. She honestly can't believe that they're following this lead––not that they were given a choice. (That little tidbit reminds Sol to reevaluate her alliance with the primordial mothers as she's starting to think they can't be trusted.) Obviously, she doesn't think they can take on Helia and Luna as they are––Sol only just figured out her fire powers and, while she assumes that Selene has a better grasp of her abilities (because she is the great Selene), the other princess admitted she still isn't strong enough to go after Luna. As outmatched as they might be, that doesn't mean she thinks they should be relying on a button to help them. A button devised by the primordial mothers who are, apparently, not that trustworthy. Can't they just do a training montage instead like all the other heroes? "It belonged to Sarah, the primo––"

"Oh, you're friends of Sarah! Why didn't you two just say so!" Panterra exclaims, clapping her hands together. "Follow me. Sarah is such a riot. She once revealed the meaning of life to us and then had to reset our brains before they melted. Ah, good times." She sighs wistfully, taking them inside the crystalline palace. Rather than be greeted by a nice warm gust of air, they're both slapped in the face with more cold. 'Freezetopia is sure living up to its name.' "I don't know anything about a button, but our bookkeeper might. Anyway, if you look to your left you'll see a rather dashing painting of moi and..."

While Panterra gives them a tour of the place, Sol leans over to whisper in Selene's ear, "Hey, I kinda think this is going to be bust. Like, really? A freaking self-destruct button?" she rolls her eyes, not even hiding her annoyance with this fetch quest mission. "Think you can blip around and search for that totally fake button while I distract them?"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
‘Eyes,’ Luna had said once to her, ‘shall blind you. Trust me, child. Never have I seen this world with greater clarity than I do now, after Helia has stolen mine. One day, you will be able to appreciate my gift.’ And, for all the nonsense that Luna had spouted? Selene could sort of see now what she meant-- mainly because it was so hard to focus on what Sol was saying when she was using those lips to do that. By the moon, she thought, her heart hammering wildly in her chest. How is this fair? Does she have a license for wielding them? Some sort of regulation should be involved here, because the moon princess couldn’t imagine others just… well, functioning around her. You know, acting as if nothing was out of ordinary when this grade-A goddess was breathing the same air as them! (Could one have heart palpitations without a heart? Asking for a friend. And, speaking of all the things that Selene’s strictly anonymous friend wanted to know: Was there a way to rewind a conversation? Because Selene kind of missed most if what was being said, due to her brain hyperfocusing on the sun heiress calling her ‘her most valued friend.’ On the one hand? Yay, friendship!!! Not that the moon princess needed something as juvenile as others’ approval, but she had already built around 50% of her identity around being liked by Sol, now that her royal blood was proving to be a little shaky as a foundation. Then again, did it mean she was being friendzoned? All the Cosmo magazines stressed the important of being friends with your partner, but they also drew a firm line between ‘friends’ and ‘lovers’. Ugh! Why did this have to be so confusing? Was the goddess of love targeting Selene specifically with her stupid jokes?!)

“Sol did eat me,” Selene confirmed, as if she was proud of that fact. “And I bet she liked it, too.” ‘Back off’ was the intended message here, and, indeed, it most likely worked as Panterra did give her a side eye.

“Congratulations, I suppose. It is always nice to see young love bloom. Still, don’t you think that it’s a little uncouth to speak about these things in public? Tryhard.”

“What?” the moon princess blinked, not believing her own ears. How come that this lesser creature dared to address her, the great Selene, with such an insulting title?! More than likely, the panther couldn’t even hold a fork! Given that she, you know, didn’t actually have opposable thumbs, or even the will to follow the sacred rules of etiquette. (How did these panthers even play poker? Did they straight up imagine the cards, or did they just fling excrements at each other and pretended that was it? Not to be bigoted about felids, but Selene had heard they were… hmm, particular… when it came to these things. Particular, as in ‘unhygienic.’)

“I said what I said. People whose relationships are secure don’t need to flaunt them like that, and they sure as hell don’t need to rely on cheap innuendos. You do you, though.” …who was Panterra, anyway? Her wisdom transcended the boundaries of Selene’s understanding, and so she could only assume that she had written a few issues of Cosmo herself. A worthy opponent, in other words. Damn, why haven’t I thought of this? I should have kept it cool, like the princess that I am! (Well, the princess that she maybe was. Considering how many things Luna and Helia had deceived them about already… No, no, no, Selene handwaved the concern, like any responsible adult would do. Clearly, I am still better than everyone else. Even if this is yet another lie, I must be a royal in spirit.)

“That sounds reasonable,” she whispered to Sol, nodding as she did so. “It wouldn’t shock me if Sarah hallucinated its entire existence.” Honestly, that Sarah had managed to survive at all was a testament to the lax policies of the primordial mothers club-- had it been up to Selene, the first major offense would have resulted in the moron losing her useless, empty head. And, you know what? The world would have been a much better, kinder place for it.

Anyway, time to investigate! Or time to put on her Sherlockia hat, had Selene known who that was. If I was an all-powerful button with the ability to rend galaxies apart, where would I hide? A stupid question, because had that been the case, the moon princess wouldn’t have felt the need to hide at all. No, no, no! The universe itself would tremble at the sound of her name being spoken, and… hmm. Was it just her, or was it getting colder? Cold enough to freeze the air, the underground currents, and, yes, even the cells in her own body.

“Do you know?” someone asked, and, curiously enough, the voice even managed to reach Sol’s ears. “Do you know, foolish princesses, who happens to those who refuse to play by the rules? No pain, no gain. And you two certainly aren’t going to gain anything.”

The whole palace shook, as if it had a will of its own. In every stone, in every window, Selene could feel a queer sort of tension-- a tension often found in muscles, shortly before their owner decided to squeeze gargantuan effort out of them. Uh oh.

“What has been lost in a bet cannot be reclaimed,” the palace boomed, standing up on it giant, giant legs. “Not without an honest game. Seeing that you are a bunch of filthy cheaters, though? I will make you play something that you cannot escape, no matter how hard you try. The game of life and death.”

“By Ysla’s beard,” Panterra howled, digging her claws into Sol’s shoulders. “What have you done?! Don’t you know whose bones this palace is built on? Foolish goddesses, you--”

Yeah, except that that was the moment a bomb rolled into the room, sizzling like an angry cat.

“The first game is the game of dodgeball!” the palace cheerfully announced. (All the doors shut at once, with rusty chains appearing out of thin air. Naturally, Selene’s blip privileges were revoked, forcing her to participate as well.) “The rules are simple: eliminate your opposition. The five surviving participants get to advance to the next round! The ultimate winner will claim the fabled button for herself.”
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Alright, with phase one of her brilliant plan underway, all Sol has to do is distract Panterra from noticing that Selene is missing. That shouldn't be too difficult since Aquila often says that, even for a princess, she takes up too much space. If the big cat does somehow notice that her companion is missing? She'll make a classic Sol excuse. It really shouldn't be that difficult to outsmart a cat. (She does regret not owning a 'laser pointer.' While she cannot recall what this legendary device is, it gives off 'cat kryptonite' vibes. ...Not that she remembers what kryptonite even refers to either, but it does sound right so she doesn't bother to investigate this further. Probably just one of those brilliant connections her very smart brain tends to make.) In the event her usual distraction tactics don't work, she always has her ultimate trump card: the gargantuan bag of space weed she stole from Polaris. That's definitely going to make her a lot of new friends and allies. It always does!

Unfortunately, the haunted McMansion does not seem like the kind of possessed entity who would care for space weed. (The thought to hotbox the entire palace does occur to Sol. It would need to be a group effort, of course, but she doesn't think it would be impossible. Panther lungs are probably pretty big and––) And she needs to reign in her focus, because this is probably something that requires at least 60 percent of her mental faculties. Ugh. She wishes she hadn't told Selene to blip somewhere else in the palace because now all she has in Panterra for company.

Panterra, who, by the way, is seriously digging into Sol's shoulder with her claws and it hurts, dude! Annoyed, she claps her hand over the panther's paw and squeezes it with an unnecessary amount of force. (It's somewhat accidental. Goddess strength is hard to control and all.) "Get your paws off me, pal. And I don't care about the bones this place was built on. Do you know what prison bones this entire existence was built on? Lies! Freaking lies, Panterra, so maybe try drinking a tall glass of perspective the next time you try to blame me for anything." This enchanted mansion thing and just generally everything never going to plan is going to get real tired, real fast. In fact, she's already annoyed with it. Haven't they reached their quota of random s-h-*-t for today? She would have thought so with the whole Oriana fiasco.

A bomb rolls towards Sol and she carelessly kicks it towards a table of cowering casino goers. Another flies towards her and she bats it back towards the assailant with her hammer. The explosions go off and Sol winces, pretending the limbs flying all over the place are... something else. Something not people or people-esque related. She turns towards Panterra. "Do you want to be part of the winning five or would you like, um, not be part of the winning five and probably get yourself exploded?"

"You are unbelievable, you know? Coming into our palace casino, demanding buttons, and then breaking the rules! And now you're threatening me?" The panther rolls her eyes. Sol just shrugs in response––as if she knows how to connect the dots in between any of her decisions. Panterra groans, but noticing that the other panthers have already teamed up, it's obvious what her choice ought to be. "Fine, fine––but you do realize the ice palace is only going to crown one winner right?"

"And," Sol tucks and rolls away from a bomb that's about to off, "don't you already know that we're rotten cheaters? Dude, come on, don't be such a nerd about this," now it's her turn to roll her eyes. She creates a light shield to protect them from another blast. "Sniff out Selene for me, will ya? I need to make sure she's alright. She should smell like your favorite scent ever. That's what she smells like to me at least." (Gay.)

"You're insufferable, you know that?"

"Aww, thanks! Now get sniffing," she grins, ambling towards one of the walls. She places her hand against it for balance and, gross, it feels all fleshy now. Probably because this is a haunted McMansion and they're probably inside it's... Actually, she doesn't really want to guess what part of the body they're in. (She's scared they're in the butt.) But it does give her an idea while they're searching for Selene. A classically bad and destructive idea and that just makes it classically Sol. With the bombs flying around the place and most opponents focused on exploding each other, Sol instead starts aiming hers towards important chandeliers, fragile architectural features, and the like. This earns her several disgruntled, "Watch it, bitch!" from Ms. McMansion herself and she can tell the glorified house is trying to knock her off her feet with how the place rocks from side to side. Too bad Sol has a lot of practice gaining her sea legs in preparation for securing a pirate wife. 'Pfft, challenge me, house.'

Um, and perhaps she should not have thought that so loudly, because the next thing that she knows is that the floor under her feet is splitting open only to reveal a vat of green acid. It's also probably not great that a bunch of ice chains reach for Sol and wrap around the princess before she can react. Naturally, she's dangling over the vat of acid when Panterra announces, "I have located Selene."

"Great, now––"

"Prepare to die, goddess of cheating!"

Uh oh.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Let it be known to all the old and new gods that, from the bottom of her heart, Selene hated Sarah. Losing the precious button was a proof of incompetence on its own, but losing it in a cursed castle? In a cursed castle that was now hellbent on murdering them? As a murder enthusiast herself, the moon princess did sort of appreciate the creativity that went into this subplot, but not that it was aimed against them! Such a boorish, boorish approach. (Once again, they were princesses. ‘Princess’ did not sound even remotely similar to ‘target,’ so what was their excuse here? Poor hearing? Pfft! As far as Selene was concerned, that was an excuse as poor as 'woah, didn't see you there' while you were wearing a reflective vest. 'Princess' just demanded one's attention, okay? You couldn't not hear it, the same way you couldn't not hear statements like 'you're fired' or 'Vasilisa here is going to explain to you why owing money to the mob is a bad idea.' Hmm. What was mob, anyway? A type of income tax? For that, it did sound appropriately villainous.)

"By the Moon," Selene rolled her eyes, enjoying the fact that they could be rolled properly now. (Wow! That alone increased the variety of her expressions by about 80%, mostly because Kat still sucks at describing this shit in English. Yeah, yeah, fucking sue her.) "When will you absolute buffoons understand that we are the main characters? Resistance is futile, seeing as you're just Random Subplot #224."

"Don't get ahead of yourself, daughter of Luna," the castle bristled. "If you think you could have had so many of those on page 10, you are in dire need of a reality check. Pacing doesn't work like that. And, besides! Don't you have better things to worry about? Things like, you know, all the bombs flying in your direction." Whoops! As much as Selene hated to admit it, she had to concede that the castle had a point-- especially with all those hateful, hateful gazes that were directed at her royal person. (Could they be jealous of her? Not everyone was destined to reach her level of magnificence, and while envy wasn't an attractive quality, the moon princess did understand where they were coming from.) "Worry not, peasants!" Selene waved at the audience. "You may never be as awesome as myself, but if you don't cause me any trouble, I shall give you an autograph."

Spoiler alert, though? They didn't appreciate it. Not one bit.

"Shut up, moon bitch!" one of the panthers growled, accompanying the cry with a bomb.

"Yeah, it's your fault that our party went so awry," her colleague frowned. "Now I'm going to have to kill my wife. Do you have any idea how much that sucks? I wanted to give her a ring for our anniversary, not a murder!"

"End the tyranny of the celestial court brats!"

Deftly, with the practice of someone who definitely had been targeted at her PE lessons, Selene dodged a blow after blow. What was more, she caught one of the bombs mid-flight (badass!) and threw it back, managing to take out three cats in the process. Ah, effectivity, the sweetest of drugs! Her Liora-ness would have been so, so proud. "That's what you get for defying my authority," Selene lifted her chin, feeling... well, good about herself. More than good, actually. Murder had always had that kind of effect on her-- it was something she accomplished with her own two hands, without Luna's commanding and nagging. (Ending lives was like poetry, except better because reading was for nerds.)

"No matter how many of us you kill, you shall lose in the end," one of the enemies managed to say, despite choking on her own blood. "Because your little friend will die. How do you think the castle will repay her for wrecking it, huh? That one really has worms for brains."

Oh no. Sol? And, indeed, there was a hint of annoyance attached to the realization-- after all, they had had a perfect score (???) before the sun heiress went and destroyed everything via letting herself get captured like that. Ugh, who even did that?! Damsels in distresses were so last century, and a total bid for attention in Selene's opinion. 'Ooh, look at how cute I am, with people wanting me for themselves!' Not wanting to fall for that, her first impulse was to walk away, but... well, she couldn't. (Not after memories flooded her mind, reminding her that Sol had saved her countless times. Reminding her that this was Sol, too. You know, the same Sol whose smile alone set her heart on fire? In Selene's eyes, that was a pretty good argument to save her.)

Without waiting for the castle to subject Sol to one of its depravities, Selene reached inside of herself. She'd never done that one before, but, surprisingly enough, still managed to pull out a silver lasso. The lasso wrapped itself around Sol's ankle, and sort of... uh, de-materialized her? Long enough for her to fall through the chains, but not long enough for her to actually end up in the acid. See, before that could happen, she became tangible once again, and Selene's lasso pulled her into her embrace. "There you are," the moon princess offered her a small smile. "Right where I need you to be, beautiful." (Was that cool? Please, pretty please, tell her that it was cool!!! Selene would die of embarrassment if Sol thought her to be cringe.) "Anyway, let's collect the un-detonated bombs and throw it at the castle's core? I bet it has one of those. Villainous structures always have them for some reason."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Noodles! This is so not how she imagined her great success turning out. She really thought that if she just started exploding the house from the inside out that this would all work out in her favor. That's what is supposed to happen in stories where she is the main character. (She also imagined this victory coming with a nice chaste kiss on the cheek from the Selene. She wouldn't mind her really just, you know, planting one on her but she does have several concerns regarding a certain jealous fiancée whose name rhymes with worstio. Scorpio. It's Scorpio in case you were confused about the great mystery.) Ugh, how lame, too! The one time she actually tries and she gets punished for it! This is the last time she ever tries to take a page from her Liora-ness's book. Her Inna-ness has a much better sense of strategy and responsibility.

Anyway, she guesses that having a smoking hot goddess rescue her isn't such a terrible outcome either. (Because she knows in both her hearts that Selene is going to save her; she said she'd never abandon her and Sol trusts that entirely.) Even before Selene reaches into her chest to pull out a silver lasso, Sol knows that her moon will come for her. Her moon promised and it's not like the moon is associated with deception or anything like that. Even as she falls through the chains and dips just a hair closer to the vat of acid, her chest is quiet of worry. She knows that she's in good hands. Um, literally as it turns out.

"A-ah," she breathes out, leaning into Selene's embrace and relishing in the safety of her strong arms wrapped firmly around her. 'Never let me go omg.' Even though this isn't the first time that her counterpart has had to save her––in fact, they do a lot of saving of one another––something about this particular instance feels especially, well, special. Maybe it's how she pulled a secret lasso from her chest. Maybe it's that she doesn't complain and kick up debris over Sol being so saveable. Maybe it's how this time around, the moon daughter actually seems to want to protect the sunbeam for no other reason than that she cares? Ah, she doesn't want to get too ahead of herself, but that's really hard since she has twice the amount of feelings as a normal goddess since she has two (2) hearts in her chest.

Tears gleam in her eyes like diamonds, a comfortable shade of pink skirts across her cheeks, and she mirrors her moon's small smile (though it quickly becomes a classic sunbeam grin). Her rich dark eyes peer into Selene's deep blue ones and she's pretty sure she knows what it means to drown in someone's eyes. She could stare at these ones forever and she would, were it not for the explosions in the background reminding them that they have a haunted McMansion to destroy. She clears her throat and tries to gather herself. "You need me here? I feel like I belong here, in your arms." (Something about Selene just turns all of her thoughts to gay mush. But that's okay! She's not embarrassed at all, because this is how she feels and there isn't any shame in being a sappy dope!) "I, um. I'd kiss you with tongue and stuff but it seems that's kind of dangerous right now, so please accept this coupon," she holds out her hand revealing an imaginary coupon, "for a kiss to receive later. It accrues interest," whatever that is, "so the kiss can be maximum mind-blowing when it's safe for you to receive it. I'll be doing kiss exercises to prep."

"Get a room!" several panthers chime in at once, hurling bombs at them.

While Sol doesn't appreciate the interruption, it does remind her (yet again) that they have chosen the worst moment to have a heart to heart. She pulls them away from the line of fire, temporarily ducking behind a column for protection."Right, right. Exploding the core sounds good to me. But I have the distinct feeling we're in Ms. McMansion's butt, so unless that could also serve as a core, we're gonna have to get closer to, uh, core-stuff." That's even assuming castle anatomy works the same as goddess anatomy. Whatever, they can just keep exploding castle stuff until it works. No way that same plan won't backfire twice! ...Actually, now that's thinking about it, she does see how that might not be the smartest idea she's ever had. Alright, alright, she can at least start by collecting the dud bombs in the folds of her dress.

"What!? Have you two learned nothing!" The house screeches, jumping up and down so that everything and everyone inside are jostled around. "What makes you think cheating again is going to help? I swear you have the same terrible brand of stupid as your mothers."

"Okay, that's not even close to true and you know it! There's no way you think we're that psychotic!"

"... Did you blackout when you exploded those ice panthers just to win a button that may or may not exist?"

"Lalala!" (Hmm, the sunbeam plugging her ears and ignoring valid criticism? That certainly will not contribute to a villainous arc later whatsoever.) "It's self defense and you started it, house." What isn't self-defense would be the sunbeam lighting and throwing several of the dud bombs at some buttresses and keystones, effectively collapsing the palace's great hall; this also crushes several panthers and traps the remaining ones inside of that room. Their pleas and cries of agony? Sol ignores that and focuses on following Selene through the palace.

"You will be eating proof pudding for the rest of your meals," the house seethes, saliva-like foam filling the corridor that they are running down. (Gross, gross, gross!) "I put so much thought into explosive death dodgeball, explosive death Jeopardy, and, lastly, explosive death chess! For this I will––"

"Ugh, boring." Sol rolls her eyes and starts tuning out the haunted palace just as she has done for her lessons with Aquila. As the two princesses descend towards the castle's cellar, it starts to shake more violently, most likely trying to knock the princesses down and prevent them from getting to the cellars. This only tells Sol that they're closer. She smirks and grabs Selene by the waist, "Here, I got us the rest of the way." Feathered wings made of flames sprout from her back and with Selene secured in her arms, she pushes off the steps and soars down the rest until they've discovered the core––a gleaming collection of bones, bursting with magical energy.

"Wait, wait, wait––please, not my bones! I'll give you the button!"

"Hey, Selene," Sol says, completely ignoring the house, her eyes shining in this curious way. Curious, but not necessarily good. There's something desperate in her eyes, too. "Are we able to absorb more magic?" Becoming more powerful is the only way they're going to be able to take down their mothers, right? Stealing some magic from a haunted house/dead entity, probably isn't bad. The button most likely isn't real and maybe the whole button quest was to bring them closer to this source of raw magic? The primordial mothers are confusing enough for this to kind of make sense.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
“You do,” she replied, looking at Sol with something that suspiciously resembled… well, non-contempt. One might even be tempted to use ‘l*ve’, had this been someone else than the great Selene who conceptualized that emotion as ‘the thing I feel when a person can be used, and, oh, happens to be hot at the same time.’ Not like that would ever come up later in the narrative, eh? In a universe where therapy didn’t exist, issues that could have been prevented by one surely wouldn’t rear their ugly head! “When we steal Helia and Luna’s thrones,” because that seemed like a foregone conclusion at that point, “I’ll carry you everywhere. The moment your feet touch the ground, I’ll consider myself a failure of a girlfriend.” Hehe! Smooth. With this one simple move, Selene expertly dodged the dreaded ‘what are we’ question-- because, see, by claiming the title of girlfriend, she effectively became one. Sol had exactly three (3) seconds to dispute this, and if she didn’t? Ahaha, yet another glorious victory for the moon princess! (Relying on tricks and mindgames to get into a relationship? Totally a good omen. The primordial mothers had suggested that they were bound by fate, anyway, and so Selene didn’t have to bother with stuff like ‘basic human decency.’ What difference would that make? Destiny had already tied their hands, meaning that playing at courtship would be like… like holding democratic elections with only one active party. And, no, Selene didn’t know what those were! Why was her brain so full of information that related to literally nothing? From reading all those YA novels, maybe? Ugh, perhaps she should have smashed some of her own memories as well.)

“Hmm,” she grinned, lowkey surprised that her lips were even capable of stretching that wide. (Hadn’t Luna disabled that function of hers during one of the re-stitchings? Selene had thought so, but… well, maybe she simply hadn’t had a lot of reasons to smile. Just, try growing up with her and then look for stuff to giggle at! ‘Do you know how laughs without restraint, Selene?’ her beloved mother had asked, while feeding the moon pigeons. ‘Monkeys. And do you think that monkeys awaken respect in the hearts of their subjects? They certainly don’t, because they don’t have any!’ And, yes, that had marked the beginning of her ‘no smile’ period. …this could mark the end of it, though. Maybe, just for that alone, the rebellion would be worth it.) “I’ll have you know that I’m a merciless debt collector, though. If you take too long, I may take more than just a kiss. Are you ready to face the consequences?” Selene batted her eyelashes, her lips teasingly close to Sol’s own. (Thump, thump, thump! Uhh, a question. Did Sol really feel both of the hearts at once? Because, if so, Selene didn’t see how her counterpart hadn’t succumbed to heart attack yet.)

Anyway, the panthers lived in irrelevance and, in irrelevance, they were also destined to die. How not? They stood in the way of the great Selene-- for that sin alone, they would suffer a fate worse than death. (Actually, no. The moon princess didn’t have the access to those types of punishments yet, you know? Something something, not enough work experience, something something, ‘reserved for the senior employees.’ It sounded more dramatic in her head to say that, though, and so that was the narrative she was sticking with.) The bombs were flying through the air, much like butterflies, except that about thousand times more deadly. And, as for the panthers? Why, they did what they were the best at! They died, with their only funeral song being their anguished screams.

The castle itself attempted to impart some precious nuggets of wisdom to them, but, thankfully, Selene happened to be allergic to good advice. (Yes, thankfully! Without that feature of hers, the entire plot would have fallen apart ten posts in.) “What, are you implying that rules aren’t for people stupid enough to follow them? Explain, then, why we keep winning.” They didn’t. “And why we’re so much better than anyone else for finding all those convenient loopholes.” They weren’t. “It is hardly our fault that you keep piling those unreasonable expectations on us! Royalty have never done anything that didn’t directly benefit them. Doing whatever you want is the whole point of being a princess.”

The flames living in Sol’s heart exploded in sparks, and before Selene could realize what was happening? She was being cradled by Phoenix!Sol, flying up, up, up to the sky! …or to the castle’s core, as it turned out.

“Securing more firepower is a sound plan to me,” the moon princess nodded, basically confirming that the plan was a load of nonsense. When had Selene ever been right about anything, after all? (Had literally everyone always done the opposite of what her moral compass pointed towards, utopia could be reached in, like, five business days. Fortunately, nobody was interested in plot-destroying shenanigans.) “I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen? That we will become too powerful? I say, let’s drain the last drop of energy from this thing’s old, brittle bones.”

“No! No! You have no idea what you are doing,” the palace wailed. “Please, I’ll even let you have some gummy bears if you--”

But, no, no gummy bears could possibly quiet the storm of Selene’s anger. “Shut up.” With her lasso, she grabbed the core, and squeezed it-- squeezed it like you might squeeze a lemon, hoping to get every bit of flavor out of the fruit. (The power was there, she knew. Something greater than a mere panther, but ultimately beast-like in nature. And, really, how could Selene not embrace it? The moon court was everything dark, everything lonely, everything rejected, and she sensed on some level that the spirit just wanted to belong! …yeah, except that princesses were not rehabilitation centers. Only rehabilitation centers were rehabilitation centers, and there were consequences to stealing that role away from them. So, the second Selene allowed the power in? Blip! She was, uh… turned into a wolf. A murderous wolf with bloodshot eyes, which immediately lunged at Sol!)

“Great job,” one of the dying panthers remarked. “Now you have a haunted gf. I hope you enjoy Halloween, because it will be trick or treating every day with her!”
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Girlfriend. Not gal pal. Not live-in roommate for life. Definitely not BFFL. G-i-r-l-f-r-i-e-n-d. Her two hearts become a rolling storm, sending lightning spikes through her chest. That Sol is still standing and has not spontaneously combust because Selene is casually calling herself her girlfriend is a heavenly miracle. And the way that Selene and her big blues look at her make her feel like she's home, and in so many ways she is. Selene is the reason she agreed to join Helia, after all. ('I knew you would see my side of things, darling,' Helia had said back then, combing her fingers through a distraught Sol's hair. Then she had frowned. 'As you are, you will not do but we can always do some pruning. That's the beauty of being a goddess! You can just erase what does not serve you or your purpose. We don't need that moon brat influencing you.') Selene is home, in every way that she can think of, and she wants so badly to be wrapped up in her forever. (The tiny childlike voice in her head telling her that this is a bad idea? Reminding her that she's supposed to be upset with her (girl)friend? The other part of her that is trying to remind her that Selene herself once said anyone who forces relationships on others is a sociopath? Those voices are whispers in comparison to the confetti cannons going off in her head.) "Y-yeah, I'll do anything you say if you say it with your hands," she breathes, totally not quoting one of the most tragic (and h*rny) songs written by Taylor Swift (who she unfortunately does not remember thanks to a certain not-villain gf). Selene is so close to her that she can practically taste her (super cute) grin on her lips. It takes every ounce of self-control that Sol has (and that isn't much to begin with) to keep herself from closing the distance. 'I don't mind getting poisoned. It wasn't that bad. She should kiss me. I should kiss her.'

Thankfully, before Sol can act on her many impulses, she is reminded of the core. Selene agreeing with one of her ideas does strike Sol as odd, and not because she takes it as a warning, but because it feels so nice! Usually the other princess regards Sol's ideas as inane and not worth it—- so this must be a really good idea if she's going along with it!!! (Although, to be honest, the palace's offer to trade its life for some gummy bears is tempting. Extremely so. It's probably a good thing that Selene is so quick with her lasso.)

...Or not.

Much to Sol's wide eyed horror, she watches helplessly as her moon is transformed into a freaking wolf! (Okay, okay, admittedly Sol would be lying if she said a werewolf gf is not something she's fantasized about––but for totally normal and not furry reasons. It just seems cool! The angst potential of having to help her werewolf gf navigate her urges; the possibility for her to lose control and attack Sol in the middle of a fight, leaving her with a cool scar (and cool story) and fracturing their trust... There's an appeal, okay?)

Anyway, fantasies aside, the reality? Not what Sol wants. (Not when she has a million more hours of staring at goddess!Selene to do! Staring and kissing and a lot of other stuff, if she's lucky.) She is especially not keen on werewolf!Selene attacking her. "Crap, crap, crap," she sings, jump up into the air to avoid the lunge attack. (She doesn't have time to address the dying NPC panther, but she does think the comment is super unhelpful.) "Selene, come on––snap out of it!"

"What happened to being the great Selene? Are you really going to let some house's power turn you into a wolf? You don't even like the mooncourt werewolves!" Sol assumes she doesn't, at least, since she was kind of flippant about all of those werewolf deaths five pages ago. Although, that could have just been because Selene believes that if people get killed then that it's their fault, actually, because they suck at staying alive. Anyway, now is not the time for her to be dissecting Selene's questionable ethics. Not when werewolf!Selene is chasing her through the palace and probably trying to eat her in a way that Sol does not want.

If she could, she’d totally run from Selene forever, rather than try to fight her, but she’s desperate for her moon back. Naturally, this means that she dive-bomb tackles Selene and holds onto her by wrapping her arms and legs around her friend. (The whole 'girlfriend' thing will take a while to fully catch on. Perhaps, had they had a meaningful and heartfelt conversation about their relationship status, she wouldn't have forgotten after a few paragraphs!) "Come on, Selene," she groans as a bruise blooms across her side. Yeah, Selene isn't going to go down easily––that makes sense. She should have guessed that––this is the great freaking Selene. "Fine, you asked for this," she mutters, growing vines from her hands (huh, that's new) that wrap around the wolf and bind her. Once she's secured, Sol slides off of the former moon princess and checks to make sure that the wrappings around Selene are tight; sparing no risk, she even makes sure to bind her maw. This is Selene.

Okay, what to do, what to do... Well, since this transformation happened when Selene absorbed the house's power, then this probably means she's looking for some sort of corruption? (This didn't happen when Sol absorbed the phoenix's essences, she doesn't think, but those circumstances had been different. Still, she tries to recall everything that happened when she became the phoenix's host.)

Turns out that Sol is right (because she’s a freaking genius) and the corruption is rather easy to spot as Sol doesn't think that werewolf!Selene naturally comes with a gaping, oozing chest wound. Over the spot where Selene's heart would have been resting, the wound spurts out a gross sticky green and orange liquid fluid that crawls over her body. What it’s doing, Sol cannot tell, but she guesses that it’s not great based on gross factor alone. "Well," she places her hands on her hips and looks directly into wolf!Selene's bloodshot eyes, "No wonder you're such a grump. That looks guh-narly." She purses her lips together and stares at the wolf for a few seconds in complete puzzlement. Her mind races to find a solution, but all of this seems way above her goddess pay grade—- like, she has no idea what to do and it’s kinda spooking her to think her friend might be stuck like this forever. (Because getting Luna or anyone of significant power to fix this is so far out of the question, it’s in the Andromeda galaxy. They’re on their own now.) "This is not anything like what happened to me when I let the phoenix move into my body."

Oh wait!

"It totally is, omg," she gasps, her eyes going wide as she reaches to grab Selene’s face excitedly. She totally forgot about the part where the phoenix nearly usurped her body thanks to her fake friends, the birdies! "Selene, if you can hear me, and I really hope you can and that I'm not just talking to a wolf, I know how to un-screw this," she beams. Without waiting to explain, she places a now glowing hand over the wound and focusing on the rupture, the cursed blood, the throbs of pain coming from the gash. She closes her eyes to help exaggerate the feeling of the wound and once she has a solid enough idea of how far this has spread, she starts using her light to attract the corrupted power as a way to drag it out. "Okay, I’m gonna try to separate you from the wolf so you can redo your bond. Once you’re separated you're gonna have to hug it out if you want to claim her—- idk how to explain it, but that worked for me and Felix," the phoenix. "Uh, really hope you heard all that because you're gonna need to act fast, Selene," and that's when Sol plunges her arm into the wound and ends up pulling… Selene out? Oh. Interesting. (Though not as interesting as the red eyed wolfie spirit eyeing them like they’re prey. Zoinks! That's not good!)
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
So, yet another advantage of being a goddess? Selene knew not the pangs of hunger-- her stomach always remained pleasantly full, but not full enough for her to feel the need to seek out the nearest couch and die there. (Ah, how it must have sucked to be a mortal, indeed! Most of their waking hours were wasted on managing the finicky hunger-to-gluttony scale, a mechanism unreliable enough to even put the average printer (???) to shame. Had Selene been familiar with the concept of ‘pity,’ she might have spared some of it on the poor creatures!) The transformation into a badass wolf must have caused some priority shift in her divine ecosystem, though, because now? Now she wanted to eat, eat, eat, with every fiber of her body! And given that there was nobody but Sol around… well. Selene hadn’t exactly planned it to pan out like this, but her plans had included something similar at some point. Flexibility, right? The one who wasn’t afraid to adjust their agenda won in the end, because, if it changed like a river, you never truly lost. Not if you moved the goalposts fast enough, anyway. Selene happened to be an expert at that, so, checkmate! Checkmate to everyone unlucky enough not to be the great Selene, which happened to be most of the population. RIP to them, but she was different.

Time to unleash her sociopathic tendencies, then! Sol had wormed her way into her missing heart, but it wasn’t like a) Selene possessed it now, b) the curse gave her literally any amount of free will. For once in her life, the moon princess was… kinda sorta innocent? Or at least as innocent as a serial murderer could get, given all the blood on her hands. No matter, no matter, though! When you viewed the narrative from a purely Selene-centric standpoint, you found out that she had been the heroine all along, actually. Anyway, the moon princess prepared to pounce. Eager to sink her teeth into fresh meat, she reached for her sun counterpart, and… found that she couldn’t? The tragedy! The blasphemy! Had Selene not been Selene, but a forty-year-old Karen, she definitely would have sued. Given that the celestial courts weren’t exactly litigation-cracy, though? The princess-turned-wolf was reduced to snarls, growling, and pitiful whining. “Release me,” she commanded, somehow capable of pronouncing actual words despite her non-human maw. (Another goddess privilege? Either that, or plot-related contrivance. Either way, the audience loved to hear Selene speak, so there was no way anyone would dare to question that particular plot hole.) “I thought that you wanted me to eat your organs, Sol. How can I possibly consume them if you are being this uncooperative?” If she thought that the vines were helpful in helping her to achieve the goal, then no, they surely weren’t!

Except, it turned out that Sol's expertise on ghosts and absorbing them wasn't as unfounded as most of the things that left her lips. All of a sudden, Selene... found herself staring at a large wolf? (A large wolf that was and wasn't a part of her, in the same way the moon reflecting on the surface of the sea was and wasn't inside.)

Sooo, would it be enough to hug it?

"Don't you dare," the wolf growled. "I am the one who ate the world, and then another and another, and drank all the rivers to wash it down. My hunger cannot be quenched, foolish princesses. See, my name is Devourer!" Way more metal than Felix, Selene had to admit, even if she wasn't sure whether that was good news in the context of... well, literally anything that was going on here. But surely, Kat and Sof wouldn't throw an unsolvable problem at them? Seeing as they were ultimately meant to prevail, like the main characters they were. "I ate your precious button, too." What!!! Alright, taking all of that back now, because such a gross betrayal on the side of the Divine Creators was truly unprecedented."Why are you looking at me like that?" Devourer flicked her tail, as if to mock their grief. "It is my right, as I bear the burden of cleaning the dimensions. What would the daughters of Luna and Helia want to do with it, anyway? Destroy it? See, power should never be concentrated in the hands of a privileged elite. This is why I am..." the beast checked her notes,"...uhhh, a communist sjw. The political test compass I took last Thursday says so, anyway. Do any of you know what that means?"

Selene, as so many times before, shook her head. "Doesn't ring a bell. Still, what I do know is that people's political beliefs only remain valid as long as they don't receive an offer that is simply too good for them to refuse." That was everyone's modus opedandi, right? Especially if their beliefs were as misguided as, say, thinking that the wonderful Selene shouldn't be worshiped wherever she went based on her birthright alone. "Could you maybe throw it back up if we gave you a delicacy greater than that?"

"Hmm," the wolf's eyes narrowed, "perhaps. Hey, sun girl. I have heard that a blessed celestial antelope lives in your lands, and that her hooves are made of sunshine. Slay her, feed her to me, and you will have your precious button. Sounds like a deal?" ...uh, the celestial antelope? The one who was rumored to be the source of hope for at least seven alternative world? Eh, Selene saw no problem with that-- the idiots shouldn't rely on external sources of happiness, anyway.

"I do agree. What do you say, Sol?"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Devourer? What kind of name even is that? It doesn't even have a nice ring to it––at least not one that Sol finds pleasing. Felix the phoenix is the perfect name for her inner bird, because it rhymes and is fun to say. That should be the point of all words. (Certain languages need to take note. Certain languages where all of the words take the same effort as hocking a loogie to pronounce, specifically, should take note.) Devourer the wolf is just not as fun to say. Personally, she might suggest something like Rolfe! Anyway, she keeps this to herself for now as she's much more focused on Selene not being part of that bitch (literally) anymore. It's a relief that she won't have to bring a wolf home to... well, she supposes she wouldn't bring anyone home to meet Helia seeing as she's kinda sorta already engaged. Yeah, she would have had to keep her wolf gf a secret and that probably would have caused sooo many issues for their relationship later. (That Sol already has to keep their relationship a secret has not occurred to the sunbeam at all.)

Anyway, as her attention moves from Selene back to Devourer, she does have to roll her eyes about the supposed button getting supposedly eaten. (It's not lost on Sol that Selene actually believes it's real and that is shocking, since she usually is the one calling bull on everything. Either Sol has been Selene-ified or Selene has been Sol-ified... If both are true, that means this is a classic role reversal situation and that would mean that Selene is still right, somehow. Ugh, why does Sol always get stuck with being wrong all the time? This blows, dude. She understands most intimately her Liora-ness's pain and suffering now.) She chews the inside of her cheek as she contemplates this new piece of information. "Or, like, can you at least throw it up and show it to us? Because I'm not really convinced that button is real." Though, to be honest, even seeing the button probably wouldn't convince Sol that it's real. The only thing that would convince her that it's real would be actually pressing it and seeing what happens. This just seems too convenient and she does think there's merit to a good ol' fashion training montage! But she also gets they don't really have time for that with how the war is escalating. If they wait too long, there might not even be an existence to fix. Fine, fine, shortcuts win, she guesses. (Wow, Selene-ification must be real if that's what Sol is thinking.)

In response to her question Devourer just gives her a look that says, 'You wouldn't believe it if you saw it anyway,' probably because she's reading her thoughts or something. Or perhaps... devouring them hehehe. (The second look she gives Sol more or less confirms her hypothesis and now she is making sure to think of nothing. 'Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.')

Though Sol isn't finding anything to laugh about when the wolf asks about the celestial antelope. In fact, she's suddenly very still as if the mere mention of that creature is reminding her of a ghost. She wrings her hands together, eyes shifting from side to side as she tries to figure out what to say about this. "Are you sure you don't want a, uh, cow?" Wow, Sol willing to sacrifice one of her precious cows? Something must be up with the sunbeam's mental faculties and someone should def do a wellness check. "Kopfschmerzen is a real Kopfschmerz sometimes so..."

"No one wants a Helios cosplayer's cows, princess Sol." Devourer scoffs and sticks her nose up in the air. "Come up with your own motifs and perhaps I will consider your request. As it is, I do not take knock-offs."

Super rude and Sol won't even pretend that she isn't hurt that Devourer has insulted her herd (though she is glad they will all be spared––even Kopfschmerzen the Kopfschmerz). Still, focusing on that won't help their situation. The situation that definitely makes this mission impossible. She steels herself and turns to Selene, finding her easier to address than the mean looking wolf. "So, here's the thing... I would be one hundred percent against this idea and I am––that's, like, super messed up. I'd never dream of taking away the hope of seven alternate worlds." Even in her most desperate state, she doesn't think she would sink so low. Plus, she wants to be a beacon of hope in the universe. She cannot do that if she m-words the source of all hope. "But it's not an option."

"What!?"

"My reaction exactly, Devourer," she nods, still not taking her eyes off of Selene. "Helia had Leo and her pride kill it several years ago." That really shouldn't be surprising to learn or even outlandish given when they were back on Earth, the world had devolved to making Smeyer the leader of a bizarre cult of twi-hards. That is for sure a hopeless world. "I... I tried to stop it," her brow wrinkles together and now she looks down at her shoes, not wanting anyone to see her. Ugh, shame is not a cute look and she almost wants to apologize to Selene since she has to see her like this. (She's whatever about the talking magic wolf seeing her like this.) "But what's done is done. The bones are somewhere in the catacombs and..."

"I suppose I could appreciate some bones to chew on," the wolf contemplates, starting to drool at the thought. "Alright, fetch me the bones and I'll give you that button."

Whether or not Sol even agrees with this (as Selene seems fairly set on doing whatever it takes to get that maybe fake button), ice winds wrap around the princesses and when it clears, they're in the catacombs. They're in the Sun court catacombs. Sol grabs onto Selene's hand and pulls her close. "Don't let go," and while maybe she'd want that to sound cute, she's clearly worried. It's easy to get lost in the catacombs. They're lit with nothing more than torches and the walls are lined with bones of the Suns' enemies. (More like, Helia's enemies, since there aren't other Suns and she suspects the ones she learned about were other daughters Helia used for sacrifice. ...Is that her fate, too?) While there are many different offshoots and forks, not all of the pathways are lit. "Don't go where it's dark or you will lose yourself. It almost happened to me once when I was kid." Although she guesses that isn't her memory as she now knows she never grew up in the Sun court. She had an earth life with Selene, but she hardly remembers that. She only has vague memories of them killing their girl gang (on accident) and most everything else is a blur. "Well, someone almost got lost in here when she was a kid and now I get her memories and panic. That's neat," she laughs, trying to distract herself. "But everything from that memory tells me we have to stay on the lit paths and so long as we focus on those bones, the catacombs will take us there."

For Sol, thinking of those bones aren't easy, however. She still has a clear memory of seeing the dead corpse hauled into the throne room, Leo standing triumphant with the prize over her shoulder. Helia, almost smiling her approval. The dead-eyed gaze of the antelope and how the color leaked from her body. The feast that evening. ("Is her flesh not divine, Sol?" Helia had pointedly asked when it became clear Sol wasn't eating. "I really could not imagine a better way to celebrate your birthday.")

The crime is hers to bear, even if she didn't commit the sin. 'I should have done more to stop Leo than tie all her shoelaces together.' She clutches Selene's hand tighter and hugs it close to her chest as they follow the lights. "Remember that night we first met? Like, the second time?" That night isn't particularly happy for the sunbeam, but since she recently reviewed the first page of the rp, it's on her mind. "You said something about how being Helia's daughter must be hard and I brushed it off. I just wanna say, you were right," because, duh, she's the great Selene. "It blows being her daughter and being blamed for all her crimes and being seen as an easy target for other people to seek revenge. Sometimes... sometimes I wish my Earth moms had been my real moms. I don't even remember anything about them, I just know I had them and I feel like I was a lot happier on Earth. Being a goddess kinda blows and we're apparently not even legit."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Wow, to think that Helia had just killed the antelope! Doubtlessly for the cheap villain points alone, because Selene could kind of imagine doing that herself. What? Reputation was an important thing to uphold, otherwise people would think you were... uh, weak and stuff. Horrible, horrible stuff. (Death was better than weakness, Selene knew that. After all, she had died many times by now, and it had always turned out to be okay! Pieces of her may have been missing, but that didn't impact the overall quantities of Selene-ness. She hoped for that, anyway.) "Ugh," the moon princess rolled her eyes. "Does rebelling against our mothers mean we are going to become every mythical being's errand girls? Somehow, I thought there would be more legendary weapons and drama. You know, things like having to sacrifice your one and only love for the good of the realm, instead of... well, this." Not that Selene was complaining-- having to sacrifice literally anything would have been a grave injustice, because she shouldn't be expected to actually give up things. Indeed, the fact that she had to exercise any effort at all was scandalous! Why weren't her wishes granted automatically, again? One would have thought that her goddess status was actually good for something, but nooo! The only thing she received for it was a permanent 5% off in that one store with edgy clothes. (What was it, again? Hot Tonic? Yes, sounded familiar enough.)

"I suppose it's not the worst things we've done." The competition for that was quite steep, after all, and Selene honestly didn't even think it would make the top five. It would probably place somewhere beneath destroying the sun palace, and... wait, wait, wait! Had she heard correctly? Because, if her ears hadn't deceived her, they were to go to the sun court. You know, to the one place where she was a persona non grata! Anything even remotely Selene-shaped would get vaporized on sight, the moon princess was sure, and she wasn't all too eager to find out what turning into fog felt like. (Its molecules just seemed too loose for her tastes! Plus, fog couldn't wear clothing-- something that had become of great importance to Selene since, like, an hour ago when she'd regained her sight. No, really. The world of fashion had existed for far too long without her presence, and now she was excited to catch up to all the trends... for, uh, reasons. Sol-related reasons. It wasn't a crime to want to look hot for your girlfriend, was it? Maybe I should visit one of those Hot Tonic shops, Selene decided. Does Sol even like the edgy look, though? Ugh, no, not the time! Now, she should be negotiating the terms and conditions of her setting a foot in that nasty place again... unless it made her look weak. Hmm. What a predicament! Safety vs. her girlfriend's approval? The answer was actually rather obvious once you thought of it, the moon princess concluded. Following the path of wisdom it was!) "Great," she nodded. "I cannot wait to wander into the enemy territory. After all, only in endangering my life can I prove that I'm worth something." Whew! Smooth. Good thing that she was so well-adjusted, knowing exactly what was okay to say and what wasn't. Normalcy was practically oozing from her words!

The catacombs... well, they didn't look that different from the dark world Selene had navigated with her eyes sewn shut. (The familiarity felt soothing, in a way-- kind of like breaking your leg in the exact same spot you'd broken before. Even so, she squeezed Sol's hand tighter. Who was she to throw away the opportunity to touch her girlfriend some more? According to Cosmo, hand holding was basically the epilogue to the... ah, more exciting things. Hehe.) "I won't let go even if it kills me," Selene promised. "Although I hope it won't. I mean, if you think about it, it would be terribly impractical." Right, right, stay on the lit paths. Nothing too difficult! The moon princess was certain that nothing had would happen, and that those shifting shadows around them were nothing but a figment of her imagination. "We can even pretend this is another date," she proposed. "Candles are supposed to be romantic, I've heard."

(Were random whispers romantic as well? Cosmo hadn't mentioned that, but to Selene's ears, the raspy sounding 'Seeeleeeneee' coming from the corners sounded creepy more than anything else. Oh well? Beggars couldn't be choosers, and this was their date. No supernatural phenomenon could possibly spoil it!)

"Ah," she looked at Sol, somewhat shocked by the admission. (Damn! How were her eyes this pretty? Selene had to always remind herself to breathe whenever she looked into them, otherwise their romance would reach a very anticlimactic end.) "It's fine," the moon princess finally said. "I... know firsthand that admitting these things can be difficult. How do you think I knew? My Luna experience hasn't been smooth sailing, either. What I mean to say is, I suppose, is that I understand what it's like." Wow, Selene and empathy? Stranger things had happened, though, admittedly, not by much. A pang of guilt struck her when Sol admitted to not remembering her earth moms, too, but, haha, she'd done that for her good, hadn't she? Not like they were actually worth anything. Memories, as everyone knew, were just worthless pictures of things that no longer mattered. Wasn't it better not to archive useless nostalgia bait?

"That's where you're wrong, though," Selene protested. "The only thing that blows about it is that we're related to those two. Once we get rid of them? Divinity will be amazing. We'll get to do whatever we want, and we will never have to deal with aging and farts and all those things mortals need to grapple with. I don't even think our legit-ness depends on them. We can... we can build our own courts once the old ones burn in a cleansing fire." Which, by the way, was a totally not-psycho thing to say! "But Sol, I'm curious," she stole another careful glance at her girlfriend. "After we topple this rotten regime, what do you want to do? Just, generally. How do you envision your life? I, um, would like to get to know your dreams." Her dating manual advised for her to do so, for one, and maybe, maybe Selene was a little bit curious as well.
 

starboob

lover / leaver
"You know," she starts, brushing her lips across Selene's knuckles. "I think you're pretty great even when you aren't endangering your life. In fact, when you aren't in danger, that's my favorite Selene. I still like you when you're about to die and you're asking me to keep your pinky finger (do you want that back, btw?), but it's very stressful. I worry about you, you know." Indeed, the sunbeam spent many hours pacing in her room wondering whether or not Selene was okay and if she'd ever get to see her again. She wondered if she accidentally forgot about Sol and maybe fell in love with Scorpio (silly, she knows, because Sol is Sol and how could anyone ever forget about her?). She once even pictured her hanging from the moon palace rafters by her toes. It had been such a relief to see her again on the battlefield––not super romantic, she knows––such a relief to know she was safe. Getting poisoned was lowkey worth it for that alone.

(The shadows dance on the walls and smile at the two lovebirds making their way into territory uncharted. Spirits worm into Sol's head and ask, 'Come on, Sol, don't you want to free us?' (Not really.) 'You know we don't deserve this.')

"Oh, don't mind the whispers," she waves her hand through the air and shrugs, "Those are just the ghosts of Helia's enemies who are trapped down here. They're just tryna get you to join them." Then, as if that is not a terrifying prospect, she starts swinging their arms back and forth as they walk along the path, just short of breaking into an all out skip. For a haunted date, this isn't so bad! Not when she's with Selene, but Selene could probably take her on a date watching paint dry and Sol would find it charming. Still, those voices are hard to ignore––it's like they're in her head. 'If only Selene and I could make out. That would for sure clear my mind.'

(The voices whisper to Selene, 'Come and get what you seek.' 'What you sought.' 'We're waiting for you.' 'Please deliver us to Luna, Selene.')

"Hmm?" Sol is stunned by Selene's question––like, she knows they're girlfriends (she thinks? Was Selene just kidding about that?), but Selene has never really shown an interest in her like this before. (Sighs. Yes, she does think that those red flags are just decorative.) The attention and care causes her to blush, because people don't really ask Sol about her dreams––they usually tell her that they're stupid. "You wanna know that?" The last time she volunteered this information, the moon princess had reacted the same as anyone else and more or less called her delusional, but that recollection doesn't even cause Sol to shy away. She'd never to pretend to be someone she isn't (mostly). "Well, before I always thought I'd be, like, a sheep herder. That life seems peaceful and I figured that everyone can just self govern, lazy-fair style." She sighs, "But that seems unrealistic to me now. After everything we've seen, I think it's going to take more effort post viva la revolution. So I'd like to be a sheep herder at least once a month to de-stress. The rest of the time, I'll be the Sun goddess and I think the first thing I want to do, is make amends with the ocean and the rain. I dream of making peace and... well, I still dream of making everyone smile, too. If I can, I know it's pretty ambitious, but a lesser goal would bore me." She rests her head on Selene's shoulder as they walk. (This lighting ain't so bad. She totally gets how this could be romantic candlelight––just ignore the creepy shadows. Instead focus on how the flickering light shines off the flecks of gold in Sol's otherwise black eyes, making them look like they're sparkling. Helia is nothing if not flashy when it comes to daughter design.)

"I do like the idea of being able to have a do-over, but maybe we don't need to burn everything..." That kind of sounds like a lot murders and she thinks they have a high enough body count as it is. Like, they're already basically going to need to stage a hostile takeover of the courts to purge everything and to do a complete overhaul on top of that? That's a lot more crimes than Sol ever planned on committing in her immortal life. "But if there's one goddess I'd want to co-rule the heavens with, it's you." The thought of ruling with Selene is comforting––before, the thought of being a monarch on her own terrified her, and maybe that's why she wanted to be a lazy (and fair) ruler. Knowing that she has the other goddess to lean on makes this all seem possible and not like a childhood fantasy. Yeah, getting there isn't going to be like gathering around a campfire and sharing stories so that both sides can understand each other better. (Yes, at one point Sol legitimately hoped she could organize that with Selene's help.) It's going to take some considerable force and she finally has a reason to justify such measures (a future with Selene). "What kind of life do you dream of? Do I get to be in it?"

"I'm sorry I never came for you like I promised. I did a pretty lousy job of being a Selene-defender when I got to the courts." Not that it was her fault, Helia literally suppressed her memories. (She tried to outright erase them, but for some odd and heart-shaped reason she couldn't.) That doesn't mean she feels okay about what happened to Selene. (Those decorative Selenes still flash in her mind when she lets it wander. Sometimes she dreams of those Selenes waking up and devouring her organs. It's not sexy.) "I was supposed to come get you and, in the end, you had to get me. I mean, you were trying to steal from Helia and just happened to run into me, but idk something about felt... blessed. Meant to be. Serendipitous." (She hopes the big word impresses Selene!! She also hopes she used it correctly.) "In any case, I'm glad we got to meet again. You're the best."

(A voice, strangely familiar, whispers to Selene, 'Having fun manipulating my sister?')
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
“A-am I?” Selene stuttered, wondering whether someone had stolen her stomach and sent it down the stream. It did feel kind of floaty, you know? This realization that maybe, just maybe there were people who could appreciate her for herself, and not for the things she could do for others. (Why, though? It made no sense! Perhaps Sol was suffering from a particular brain disorder that caused her to be susceptible to Selene-ness, but there was no way anyone else could ever see it that way! Luna had always told her that… uhh, wait. Wait, wait, wait. Why was she building her understanding of the world on the rotten foundations of that which her mother had provided? That would have been akin to planting a sword, and expecting it to bear peaches! Both delusional and a waste of a good sword, as far as Selene was concerned.) “But I have a feeling that I’ll have to risk my life many times before this comes to an end. Does it mean that you will like me less as long as the fires of rebellion rage on?” Distressing! Was it too late to call the whole thing off? ‘It was just a prank, bro’ was a golden, all-justifying excuse for literally everything, if the internet was to be believed, but the moon princess did have her doubts. The stitches had been removed, the cat was out of the bag! Just imagining Luna’s expression upon realizing that Selene could see now… no, no, no. The intensity of her rage alone could raze cities to the ground, she was fairly sure. “Oh well! I suppose you will just have to make it up to me when we topple their rule.” ‘When,’ not ‘if.’ Yeah, yeah, their mothers literally held the power of creation in their hands, but so what? They’d stolen it. Like common burglars, they’d broken into the metaphorical house when the primordial mothers had been asleep, taken their belongings, and then shot all the hostages! Who said they couldn’t do the same? A precedent was a mighty, mighty thing-- full of inspiration, as well as delicious poetic justice.

“Understandable,” Selene nodded, not at all disturbed. (Luna did things much worse than that, undoubtedly. While her mother had prepared a few nasty surprises for her, there was one thing the moon princess was 100% sure about-- namely, Luna being engaged in a perpetual ‘who is literally the worst’ competition with Helia. If she thought about it, it… almost struck her as romantic? No, ewww! There were few things grosser than imagining your parent doing these distinctly non-parental things, and Selene chose to wash that mental image away via picturing Luna getting stabbed instead. Ahh, the soothing images of death!) “I mean, I can see why they’d want to do that. There is nothing too awful about wanting to spend more time with the great Selene.” (Of course, the great Selene herself wasn’t obligated to actually go out and fulfill those wishes. Nuh uh! There was a distinct lack of Selene-ness in the world, and it wasn’t her responsibility to deliver it to anyone daring enough to ask. They were free to admire her from a safe distance, though! From a distance that wouldn’t interfere with her focusing all her attention on Sol. …also, those whispers? Selene really, really thought they should have asked for a permission before wandering into her head like that! Asking to be delivered to Luna of all people also didn’t indicate that those… persons… found themselves in good mental health. More than endearing themselves to her, they only managed to put on the Selene repellant.)

“Hmm,” the moon princess nodded approvingly, admiring the way the shadows danced across Sol’s face. “I can respect that. A ruler does need some leisure time, otherwise she will experience what I have begun to call Luna-ification. Just, I swear that my mother has no hobbies. Burning your enemies alive is all fine and dandy,” what, “but you ought to also burn other things in your spare time. Without that, I feel that you lose the sight of what is truly important.” Which, of course, was the beauty of destruction! Coopting it for your political goals while failing to appreciate the sheer beauty was, in Selene’s book, the source of all sin. (What do you mean, ‘violence isn’t therapy?’ She would like a source for that questionable claim, thank you very much.) “You’d… you’d like to rule with me?” the moon princess asked, her eyes wide. It shouldn’t have been that surprising considering the fact there was nobody more suitable for sitting the throne, but she still liked the sentiment. It, uh, proved that Sol trusted her. That she was really, really worth something! It was said that you couldn’t quantify love, but Selene personally thought that was a bunch of hogwash-- one’s regard for another could be measured by the number of meaningless titles of you thought they deserved! The question did startle her somewhat, though. “I… don’t think I have ever dreamed of any life,” Selene admitted. “Not beyond getting rid of Luna. That seemed like such a grand task, though, that I haven’t bothered to come up with the details of anything else.” Yes, and some part of her had also assumed that her defeat was inevitable-- akin to the sun rising in the east every morning. No point in dreaming a fool’s dream, right? Except maybe it wasn’t so foolish after all. “I will figure it out as we go, I suppose. You being in it, however? That’s the one constant that I’m set on.”

“It’s fine,” Selene said, her eyes set forward. “You tried.” Which was honestly more than what she could say about literally anyone else, and… what? The rest of Sol’s words went right in one ear and out the other, mostly because she was too focused on deciphering what Cyra’s babbling meant.

‘Manipulating her? I’m only being my best self. That is still a version of myself, in case you haven’t noticed.’

‘Blah blah blah,’
Cyra smirked. ‘Why do you need more versions of yourself if you are so great? Let’s play a little game together, Selene.’

Wha--

Wha was an appropriate reaction, actually, because a gust of wind flew right past them. How, when they were underground? Where had it come from? The torches flickered ominously, and all of a sudden… all of a sudden, she was alone, surrounded by pitch-black darkness. Uh oh.

‘Hello, Sol,’ Cyra greeted her sister, ‘I just decided to get rid of your stupid girlfriend for you for free. You know, whole woman disposal services. If you still want her, then use your LoVe to locate her! I bet that the pureness of your precious, precious feelings will fix the problem with her being a piece of shit.’
 

starboob

lover / leaver
It strikes her as odd that Selene doesn't have a very specific daydream about her future. The moon princess seems to take after her Liora-ness when it comes to advanced preparation, so it seems entirely out of character for her to not have a plan or even a hint of an idea. (Briefly, it does cross Sol's mind that perhaps she is dealing with an imposter. Perhaps the catacombs have already swallowed Selene and this is some paltry projection? But, no, the sunbeam doesn't think that's likely because Selene's personality is too specific to be captured by shadows and there have been no other slip-ups. That just makes the reality all the more jarring. Selene not having a plan? Weird.) The only logical explanation would be that she doesn't plan to succeed and that's equally as startling, because she's the great Selene. She even makes sure to remind everyone of that at least once per post! So that cannot be it either and Sol honestly doesn't want to spend more brainpower on trying to figure out why Selene never came up with an immortal year plan. It's also somewhat hard to continue spinning theories when, um, she affirms that Sol is going to be a guaranteed part of her plan. "Oooh, maybe you can pick up bread baking as a hobby? That's supposed to be the vogue trend down under," by that she means on Earth, "ever since the humans got trapped inside for an entire year." She hums on this thought and chews the inside of her cheek. She supposes bread baking doesn't strike her as a Selene-task. "Maybe you could trying butchering? Since you like carving people up so much, maybe you would like this? It's, like, a transferrable skill or something. Oh! I know! Perhaps being a torture sommelier would suit you?" Sol cannot believe she's suggesting that of all things, but she is trying to accept her gf (can someone please confirm that this is a thing?) for who she is and she supposes some people might deserve it. (Like their mothers, no doubt. Not that she can see them ever getting tortured. No, the heavens and Earth will be much safer if they are given a firm, defined death. Allowing them to live for some flimsy revenge would be pointless, especially if they end up escaping. Besides, she's pretty sure that Helia realizing she's been defeated, even if it only is for her last second, will be torture enough for the Sun tyrant.)

A great wind blows through the tunnel and Sol momentarily lets go of Selene's hand to cover her face with her arm. Bleh. There is a lot of dust down here and if Sol were physically capable of being affected by debris, she would be coughing and sneezing so much right now. When the breeze passes, she continues on as if nothing has happened. (The flickering torchlight isn't that concerning to her. This is just the catacombs being the catacombs.) "We should have a co-ruler hobby, too, so that our leadership and teamwork are strong. What do you think, Selene?" she asks, turning to look at her partner, who is not beside her. "Selene?"

That's about when the torches all go out and a spirit starts talking to her. (The voice is oddly familiar to her, but she cannot place where she has heard it before.) Well, this seems like a steaming load of hooey and Sol isn't going to follow the instructions of a voice from the catacombs. Even she knows that is a certifiable bad idea. In fact, fearing she might accidentally lose her spot in the catacombs and wander off into elsewhere, she pops a squat on the ground and is careful to not even move an inch in either direction. (In the catacombs even an inch of movement in the wrong direction can mean bad news.) "Are you the ghost of Walta Disney?" Because using the power of pure love to find Selene does seem like a Disney trope to her. Plus, it would make sense if the bones of Walta Disney were imprisoned in the catacombs. "I do know Helia hates her specifically for being the source material for the Disney Adult phenomena."

'Focus, Sol. You're not here to converse.' Figuring out the identity of the spirit is not important. Not when Selene is missing. In the catacombs. Literally the worst place to go missing, because what is stuffed down here is not meant to be found again. Despite this, she doesn't panic. There is no reason to panic just yet. This could just be a weird puzzle to solve to keep them from getting to their destination. For all she knows, Selene is still right beside her, in some pocket reality, and experiencing her own version of this puzzle. (Ahh, she really hopes the other goddess hasn't moved!) "My..." she hesitates, still unsure on their status. (What if Selene meant gf in the same way that those demonic heterosexual women mean gf?????) "Selene isn't stupid, btw. She is very smart and I don't appreciate you getting rid of her. I didn't ask for that and, you know, it's really unhealthy and maladaptive to try to anticipate someone's needs. I can handle my Selene myself, thank you very much, spirit."

Sol interlocks her fingers and stretches out her arms, cracking her knuckles as she sets to do some serious thinking. Well, the lights are out. The spirit mentioned using love to locate her and while that does seem rather bogus (like that button), she's willing to at least follow the thread of logic and try something similar since she refuses to move from her spot. She has one connection to Selene that she trusts above all else (especially random spirits!). She closes her eyes and focuses on the double beat in her chest. "Boom, boom, boom," goes one and, "Thump, thump, thump," goes the other. The hearts in her chest begin to glow, one golden and the other silver. She focuses on the silver heart, encouraging it to find its true home.

***

Just as Sol has been plunged into darkness, Cyra has offered the same kindness to the moon brat. 'Comfortable, Selene? I figured you must be used to the dark since you've lived in it your entire life.' Though Cyra is not physically present, it does seem as though something is circling around the moon princess like she is prey. That something even brushes against her legs; it's more tangible than a breeze and still too delicate to be a person or thing. 'Anyway, no need to worry,' she says in a tone implying that Selene would take the title of idiot princess away from Sol if she were to believe this, 'I just want to chat. Don't worry about your idiot girlfriend, she's... occupied.'

'Anyway, I want to help,'
??? 'Whatever you're plotting against Helia and the Sun court, I want in. I have to say, I was surprised you were using my idiot sister to access the court, but now I must admit it is quite brilliant. She is definitely a weak link and vulnerable point of entry.'

(Distantly, the faint sound of a boom, boom, boom can be heard. It comes from in front of Selene at first, then from beneath her. Flashes of silver, like will-o-the-wisps, also start to blink in the dark. What the...?)

'I can help––just help get my body back. Wouldn't you rather have a competent Sun princess on your side?'
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Sol wandered through the dark corridors, the heart beating in the background. Thump, thump, thump! It was kind of like one of those metal detectors, except, you know, the thing being detected was Selene… hopefully. Could she trust those weird instructions, after all? If her human experiences hadn’t been shattered by SomeoneTM, maybe Sol could have compared them to, like, those weird ads on the internet. ‘With this one simple trick, you will become eligible to acquiring one Selene!’ The darkness crawled all around her, somehow watching her despite not possessing any eyes. ‘Princess. Princess. Princess Sol! Don’t you know? Don’t you know how we suffered because of you?’ Just outside of her periphery, something flickered faintly, like the last gasp of a dying star. ‘Aren’t you ashamed? The legacy you’re continuing on was built on bloodshed-- bloodshed and shattered bones. It will not last. You will not last. And that? That is a good thing, you spoiled brat.’

‘A good thing, a good thing!’
a thousand of different voices cried out at once.

‘Did you know what was happening down there, when you were frolicking with your cows? Did you, did you?’

‘The sun is evil. Scorching. There is no mercy, no respite. Not even a cross to mark our grave.’

‘How can you look yourself in the mirror? Helia made you in your own image. Inevitably, you will end up the same as her! …if you aren’t already, that is. Think about it, Sol. Think, I say.’

‘Annoying, isn’t it?’
the person from before smirked. ‘The thing is, they aren’t even wrong. You inherited the pattern of mistakes, Sollie. You cannot separate yourself from them, and your precious SeLEnE will only bury you further. Mark my words.’

But, hahaha! Surely, that was just filler? You know, a pointlessly ominous monologue that preceded this chick’s epic fall? It had to be, because there was no way that Kat and Sof would plan for a villainous descent arc this meticulously! The two were famous for winging literally everything, in case you weren’t aware. Anyway, as Sol walked forward, ghostly, ephemeral hands grabbed her around the waist. (Their touch was a feather, yes, but also a leaden leash. No further step could be taken, oh no. For all intents and purposes, her feet might as well have frozen to the ground.)

‘Not so fast, little princess. So you’re listening to your hearts now, huh? Good, good! Let me ask you this, then: What is the real reason you l-word Selene? I don’t want to hear about the depth of her pretty eyes, or the silkiness of her hair, or all those fantasies of your shared life that you have fabricated. What is it about her that makes you feel so strongly?’

***

Meanwhile, Selene found herself… uh, in a predicament. A predicament that made her feel small and lost, for the first time in a very, very, very long time. (The darkness was everywhere-- around her, yes, but also inside her, gnawing at her organs with little mouths. ‘Selene, Selene. Why won’t you give yourself to us, hmm? Given that you’ve done this so many times before, I don’t even think it a sacrifice. No, no, no! More than that, it’s a… hmm, a privilege. Something for you to do. You weren’t planning on accomplishing anything anyway, were you?’ Selene tried to shake her head no, to deny all of the accusations in one fell swoop, but, for some reason, her body didn’t obey her will. Not entirely, at the very least. ’Oh, don’t even try! Haven’t you admitted it yourself, after all? You have no plans. No plans, and no idea how to change it. Expecting anything else from a fragment, I suppose, would have been pure foolishness.’ And while the moon princess would have loved to delve into her ‘I’m the great Selene’ speeches, she couldn’t. Not when it was true, kind of.)

That Cyra of all people had to strike up a conversation, doubtlessly to ruin her day, was just the cherry on top of the rotten, rotten cake. “Hahaha! Very funny. You can tell how funny it is by the fact that I am not laughing,” Selene frowned. Of course, the ridiculousness only intensified when Cyra… claimed she was there to help? And that Sol was a liability? (The latter wasn’t necessarily wrong, mind you. In truth, she would sooner entrust the safety of her queendom to a talking jellyfish, but Sol’s obliviousness did have certain advantages to it-- never would she have to worry about being betrayed, for one, and you also had to take into account the fact that she was cute. Yes. A very important quality in a ruler! At least if the ruler in question happened to be your girlfriend.)

“Let me think about it,” Selene said. “Do I believe Sol, who is chronically incapable of lying, or you, a shady… hmm, what are you, even? A memory? A ghost? A cheesy personification of envy? Either way, get lost! I do not want to replace her and especially not by you."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
As Sol sits in the darkness, she thinks only of the two hearts in her chest. The one that thumps and the one that booms and how they sing a perfect song together. There are plenty of reasons for her to have fear in this situation, and most concerning is the lack of Selene. Second most concerning are the voices, because even while she does not listen she can feel them on all sides of her and she cannot tell if they trying to push her over or push her forward. The distinction doesn’t matter, she supposes. She presses her eyes shut and uses all the force she can muster to keep them closed.

The voices. Hmm. They strike Sol as embodiments of grief—-of all the potential that was taken from them and she gets it. She really, really does. But what she’s not going to do? She’s not going to let others define her. She never has before so why start now in the catacombs of all places? The place from which despair and misery were born? Stupid may have her picture next to it in the dictionary (thanks to Leo and her “hilarious” prank), and that doesn’t mean that she is going to act that way. She may only have one brain, and with her double the hearts she might as well have twice the processing power that she can use to solve 99 problems (‘and a b*tch ain’t one,’ her mind unhelpfully supplies for some reason).

Since ignoring them isn’t bringing her any closer to Selene, she switches gears, momentarily, to concentrate on the spirits and maybe try to figure out what they’re feeling. A degree on the brain isn’t required to know how to access empathy, after all. Again, she picks up on their sorrow and she doesn’t miss their anger either; though, just as with everyone else who she has come across, they blame her for things that are not her fault (even if they are to become her responsibility someday). It’s irritating and makes her want to explode, but she doubts that will solve her problems. The least she can do is address their hurt, but she does not think she can fix this. Trying would be like when she tried to make Selene her BFFL before she was ready for that—-that only resulted in a whole lot of frustration on both sides. Never again will she put effort into something so one sided. So while she cannot fix this, she can at least acknowledge it as her responsibility someday. “I may be an easy target for you to pick on, but that does not mean I am the one you should be using your weapon against. That’s like getting angry at a poor person for being poor when minimum wage is three dollars and bananas cost five and rent is, like, a million dollars,” she has no clue what any of this means. Classic Sol. “This is misdirected, and I do feel for your cause.” Why else would she be in the catacombs looking for magic bones to get a button that may or may not help?

Anyway, the whole part about “continuing a legacy” is something she ignores because angry spirits are usually pretty unreasonable and the truth never reaches them. In fact, she doesn’t defend her position more than she has because there isn’t a point in changing the minds of those who are already set. At least not with words, she tried that with Selene and it never worked out the way she hoped. Action will speak louder and she’ll use these criticisms to guide herself in the future; to make sure she doesn’t fulfill the prophecies they seem to have read on her life.

‘Misdirected? Oh, but Princess, we see exactly who you are and in your heart, not the diseased one you protect, you know the truth.’

‘Gold runs in your veins and it will weigh you down.’

‘Do not forget the victims you have already laid to waste, lest you ignore the pattern. Who were they again?’

‘Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, those moonicorns, the village, those werewolves, countless starlets, priestesses of the moon court, ice panthers… Your golden heart is dead, darling, and your hands are stained red.’

‘Hope you know how to swim.’


Okay. Okay, so she hadn’t expected this to turn into a guilt trip and now the heart that goes thump, thump, thump is not even beating at all as it drops into the abyss. The ghosts don’t need to hold her in place, because she’s already frozen. The chilly air grips her shoulders and pinches her nose and cheeks but the sunbeam doesn’t feel that or anything at all. Nothing aside from the guilt eating her alive. “I did do all those things,” she admits and were it not for the echo in the catacomb, her voice would have been lost. “Some on accident, others on purpose… And I’ve…”

She doesn’t finish and maybe she never will, because the final spirit brings up Selene again and insinuates that they believe her feelings for the moon are superficial. This is at least one thing she knows she can answer with unshakeable confidence. “Selene’s an admirable goddess. She always tries. She probably tries harder than anyone I’ve ever known. Sometimes she’s a bit stubborn—-actually, she’s hella stubborn all the time and I like that about her. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t listen, she does and the day you prove all her biggest fears wrong, she starts to consider all you’ve ever said or done. She doesn’t let many people in, and I think she makes it hard on purpose, but it is worth it if you have the patience, because when you get a Selene on your side... It's like you have a whole army of friends in one and you know you don't have to be alone anymore. She hypes me up when I'm down and reminds me that I'm worth it––even before she warmed up to me, she was always encouraging my strengths. I also appreciate her honesty and how blunt she is, because I never have to doubt her. She likes me for me and doesn't even try to change me like everyone else has. She's even a closet dork and that makes her the Best2 in my book. In conclusion, aside from her butt, I don’t think she’s perfect but I do think she’s perfect for me.”

***

The silver flashes around Selene begin to shine brighter and with each flash, parts of Sol’s speech come through in faint whispers. Yes, if the moon princess listens closely she might even hear the review of her butt!

Unfortunately, Cyra is not interested in bonding with her possible future sister-in-law or listening to how Sol has made Selene out to be a guarded angel with minor trust issues (it's both impressive and delusional, one must admit). Clearly, she is here for a purpose and whether or not she is being transparent with her intentions is open to interpretation. 'It would not surprise me to learn that you peaked in middle school, Selene,' the spirit rolls her eyes at the moon princess's attempt to make light of her situation. Even if she doesn't have eyes to roll... The vibes in the air suggest that she is metaphorically rolling them.

They roll even harder when Selene rejects her perfectly generous offer, too! Rude. 'What even is she to you then? Just a fancy sentient briefcase to carry around that poisonous heart of yours? A living weapon that you can manipulate into firing off whenever you so much as pretend to scrape your knee because some big, how you say, meanie pants pushed you over?' Because, really, the former Sun heiress cannot figure out the moonbeam's angle. 'The stupidest explanation would be that you actually love her or something, but love isn't going to earn you revenge. It is going to get in your way.'

'Tell me, Selene. What happens when Helia finds out about all of this and destroys Sol?'
For the first time since they crossed paths, Cyra sounds... genuine. Whether or not to trust that, is up to one's own judgment. 'What happens to your plan then? Can it still work without help from the inside? More importantly, while you are not wrong that Sol is chronically incapable of lying, have you forgotten that she also cannot shut the fuck up? What are you going to do about those loose lips of hers? She's more a liability than you're letting on. I have even seen her future and she will destroy you, Selene. Why trust a Sun heiress?' Interesting and damning if her plan is to get Selene to help her! But whatever––Cyra is either a ghost or a memory or a cheesy personification of envy. She doesn't have to make sense!

The spirit of the former heiress sighs. 'What even is there for you to like about Sol? Genuinely––aside from the fact that she's easy on the eyes. Do you even care enough to save her from the curse all sunbeams are born with? Because she's doomed to supernova.'
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
The spirits swirled around Sol, as formless as fog. (In the corner of her eye, she could almost see them-- shapes that were not quite shapes, but thoughts, ideas, dreams. Nightmares, more specifically. Being Helia's prisoner sure did a number on you, huh? Because those must have been people at some point. Actual individuals with personalities, rather than just creepy decorations.) 'Oh,' one of them gasped, teetering somewhere between amusement and disappointment. 'It seems she really believes all the hogwash. What a dumbass. Do you think that Helia chose that name for her because it rhymes with fool?'

'Sol doesn't rhyme with fool.'

'In Helia's ears, it might! I bet that being a villain this one-dimensional makes you completely shit at poetry.'

'That's... um, an interesting conspiracy theory.'
The spirits discussing the pitfalls of villainy were pushed back into the obscurity, though, because another, much stronger voice, filled the sun princess's ears.

'Hmm, how curious,' the entity laughed. 'It is you who carries both of your hearts, and yet it seems like Selene already owns yours. I wonder what Helia was thinking when she made you, really. Don't you ever think about that? About how she made you a weakling on purpose, solely so that you might be usurped later?' The spirit wasn't looking at her per se, mainly because it didn't have eyes, but if it could do that... well, it was safe to say that the gaze it would have given her would have been most unimpressed. The gaze of a historian who had just judged that the painting her client had bought was, indeed, a fake. 'Just food for thought. You know, in case that there aren't enough things keeping you up at night!' Yeah, because war crimes were something you just proceeded to make up an excuse for and forget about, in favor of dreaming about Selene in a bikini. A Chaotic Good character like Sol would never! ...right? Right? 'Anyway, knowing that someone out there still believes in ~true love~,' why did that sound so condescending, 'does warm my old bones. Gotta get my popcorn ready because this is bound to get fun. You may proceed, of course. Before you do, though? I want you to... hmm, have this. As a present to celebrate your wholesome and not at all suspicious-sounding union. Consider it our wedding gift.' For only a second, the darkness was cut in half-- cut in half by a flaming sword, so bright that it made even Sol close her eyes. (...it also might have been caused by the sight the prison had to offer, though. Skeletons, skeletons everywhere! And not the funny, spooky ones humans picked for their H*lloween decorations, but charred, blackened bones. Remnants of cooked flesh, stuck to the walls. Someone had feasted on those poor souls-- someone whose appetite knew no bounds, and respected no rules. But, haha! Surely, this adventure would stay family friendly? The foreboding hints were, like, totally meaningless when confronted with the power of their True LoveTM.) Anyway, when the darkness embraced the catacombs again, Sol discovered that she was clutching something in her hands. A... ring? It was ring-shaped, if nothing else, and the metal felt cold against her skin.

'Wear it, princess. It will... hmm, symbolize your commitment to Selene. Should you perhaps change your mind later, or come to the conclusion she's actually a traitorous bitch,' how oddly specific, 'all you have to do is take it off. No side effects here! We will rush to your aid to comfort you, and maybe offer you a shady deal or two. After all, everyone knows that the best deals are done when the other party is emotionally unstable.' It seemed that the spirit wanted to add something, but... hmm. What was that? Could it be Selene's voice, coming through the creaks?

'I will have you know that never in my life have I attended middle school! The mortals were so amazed by my intellectual prowess that they sent me straight to university. I won several awards there, too.' Yep, classic Selene! Who knew these communication thingies went both ways?

***

Had Selene been able to actually see Cyra, she definitely would have glared. Part of it had to do with the fact she hadn't used her eyes for a while, and didn't want their glaring potential to go to waste anymore-- nobody could pull it off quite like the moon princess, with the murderous intent and everything. The other reason? That Cyra dared to doubt her! Her, the great Selene, who had never given anyone any reason to think poorly of her. (Aside from, you know, all the legitimate reasons. Her protagonist privilege meant that that was going to get swept under the rug, of course! At least in Selene-land, and that was the only country that mattered. Hmm, hmm. Could she rename her queendom to Selene-land? Asking for a friend!)

Cyra continued asking questions, as if she had any right to interrogate her, and the moon princess... well, most of it genuinely didn't register to her. How could it? Sol was just typing out her Selene review, meaning she had to listen! (Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Hearing all of that about herself felt... nice? Not that she was addicted to the validation juice, but maybe, maybe sipping it from time to time wasn't so bad. It really did seem as if Sol liked her for herself. Not for all the things she could do for her, but herself! A mystery for the ages to be sure, because the moon princess didn't really see anything appealing about her person. What was it that Sol saw in her, anyway? ...she didn't know, though she wanted to see it as well. Perhaps, if Selene stayed for long enough, she'd be able to glimpse that version of herself as well.)

"Not that it's any of your business," Selene snarled, "but she is not a sentient briefcase. She's..." Well, what was she? A key to power? A portable validation device? Someone to feast on, for as long as her lips seemed as tasty as they did? (All of that, and yet none of that at once. To her great surprise, Selene didn't know. All the things she'd told her might not have been the naked, non-GMO truth, but they also hadn't been lies! Not really. You know how you couldn't live without the sun, but it was also really annoying when it shone directly in your eyes? The sun heiress herself was kind of like that-- vaguely annoying, but necessary. Someone who she wanted to like, even if she might not have been fully capable of it as things were. Perhaps in the future, though? Perhaps, once this mess was over and the shadow of Luna wouldn't loom over her anymore, Selene could explore all those confusing feelings in her own pace. ...perhaps she could be someone Sol needed, too. It did sound pleasant, to have someone bound to her in that way. Of course, only for, uh, domination reasons! Right. True love would earn her the most faithful thrall there could be, the moon princess was sure. That was all there was to it.) "Sol is important to me," Selene finally concluded. "And I won't let Helia kill her. I am not contractually obligated to dissect my feelings for you, so that's all you're getting." Smooth! Now she could shut her mouth and pretend to be too cool for school, instead of being forced to examine all those inconvenient, inconvenient emotions. At least until...

"What?" Selene raised her eyebrow, clearly startled. "Supernova?" The word echoed in her head again and again, tasting of ash and ruin. No, it couldn't be true. Couldn't, couldn't, couldn't! Her Sol, going up in flames... Impossible. Incompatible with reality. She'd just recently seen her smile, and to think it could be taken away from the world like that? Just, no. All the storytelling conventions would frown upon such a development! "But why? How? Helia has ruled since forever and hasn't gone supernova. You're lying to me. What are you hoping to gain from this, fiend?!"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Sol doesn't really notice the shape of the spirits, in part because she's too busy picturing Selene wearing a sexy leather number that leaves very little to the imagination and in part because she doesn't really care what they look like. They cannot scare her, because she knows that they cannot touch her. They are only spirits who can play their little tricks, but at the end of the day they are just talking air. (Does Sol feel for them? Of course. She imagines they used to have really nice physical forms once––some maybe had forms even uglier than the ones dancing on the wall––but she cannot do anything for them now. The only thing she can do is show that she accepts them just as they are. She'll come back for them when she has the power to free them and they can return to their former selves. Even if they are being mean to her and insulting her intelligence, she'll make sure they have actual reasons to believe in her goodness because that's what it means to be good. At least to Sol anyway.)

The sunbeam sighs as they try to make themselves feel better by bullying her, shrugging off what they say because only she can define herself. And she already knows that she is both smart and strong and nothing, least of all the words of strangers, can change that. (Besides, the entity is wrong that Sol is the one to be usurped. If Helia really had made her weak, and she doesn't believe that, it would have been so that Helia doesn't get usurped. Why would her mom want to usurp Sol? There nothing to be 'surped.) "That won't keep me up at night, but nice try," she shrugs. The war crimes that were previously mentioned, however? Those do keep her up at night if she doesn't playback fantasy number 69 fast enough. (Although even that tried and true fantasy hasn't been working as of late because it just ends up reminding her of Selene and then she gets worried. Total mood killer.) Anyway, the entity continues on about true love and then mentions a wedding? That's, like, skipping so many important relationship steps that once more Sol finds herself confused. 'These spirits must be tripping on mold or something.' Though there isn't time for her to really ponder that further when the flaming sword (metal af) cuts through the darkness and pulls on her attention.

The charred skeletons really only remind Sol of the village she burned, filling her up with a new swell of guilt that sits on top of the old one. Even when darkness envelops her, she can still see the carnage imprinted perfectly in her mind. In fact, she doesn't even notice the ring until the entity mentions it and then gives Sol a thousand and one different reasons not to wear it. Like, the last time Sol just went along with someone she nearly got turned into a bird and died. Yeah, fool her once and all that jazz. 'And they call me the idiot?' That all sounded suspicious as heck and she distinctly remembers her Inna-ness telling her not to go demonic on gfs who betray her; so wearing a ring that guarantees both demonification and unmentionable crimes against someone she cares about? Doesn't seem smart. "Right, okay..." She kneads the ring with her thumb until it's warm to the touch and slips it into her dress pocket. "Thanks, I guess? You guys are pretty weird, but I definitely won't forget about y'all. Uh, it was nice to meet you!"

Because at that moment not only does Selene's voice reach her, but the torch lights restore themselves.

***
'Smashing Sol's memories of your middle school years doesn't mean they didn't happen, Selene. We all know about your bangs and that you unironically listened to Evanescence.' Cyra sounds so beyond herself with exasperation that one can hear the inner debate waging in her head––the one that will determine whether or not she leaves Selene here to be lost forever. (Entertaining as that might be... she knows her dumbass sister would just get herself lost forever trying to look for the moon bitch. For reasons known only to Cyra, she cannot have that happening.) The idea becomes all the more tempting when she leaves that lackluster review of her sister. It's not even that the former Sun heiress loves knowing all the details of Sol's romantic life––in fact, were Selene being genuine in her desire to keep her feelings to herself, she could have respected that. But she suspects that this might have more to do with the moonbeam not actually caring about Sol and only liking the idea of her. Again, why that bothers Cyra is for her alone to know.

However, when the former Sun heiress observes the moon daughter's distress, she decides to give her one final chance. The worry couldn't be faked––at least, she doesn't think Selene is capable of this level of acting. (Not even the great Meryl Streep could accomplish this level of sincerity for the role.) A chill brushes through the catacombs like a distressed sigh and Cyra almost feels sympathy for Selene. Must be difficult to find out this way. Well, she imagines that the most difficult way to find out would be watching it happen... 'Ah, so she really hasn't figured it out yet. I tried to give her hints, but... Sol doesn't really pick up on hints,' and Cyra would have been direct, but being that she has only been able to communicate with Sol through dreams, everything has had to be left to interpretation. (So why Cyra doesn't try to contact Sol directly? Well, because Sol is in her extra dumbass era and isn't listening to anyone who isn't Selene. It's as simple as that.) 'Selene, I hate to admit this, but you're a reasonably smart goddess. Can you not think of a reason why Helia doesn't supernova but her daughters do? Because that is her design. That is her way of holding onto power forever and turning our gilded bones to the fuel that sustains her.' The air stiffens and for a minute there is only silence for company, like Cyra needs to figure out how to explain this in a way a pea brain like Selene can understand.'The primordial mothers, as you may have noticed, did not exactly build our mothers to be strong on their own. Like, they took their eyes to keep them docile, but there were other several other failsafes. Helia, for example, cannot regenerate her own magic––her magic is finite and thus she has to steal it from others to keep herself going. She thought taking Luna's eyes would remedy this, but it only increased how much power she can hold at any given time. So she needs a source to supply that magic and that is where we come in, Selene. Are you following?

'As beams of sunshine, you see, we are pure magic and as we age we ripen and become potent fuel cells for her. When we supernova, it creates an overflow of magic for her to absorb; and because we are made from her rage, that is our trigger. Sol––'
There's more for Cyra to say, but with the others no longer able to distract Sol, she's bound to appear soon. 'We aren't finished here.'

Though it seems that they are because Cyra's presence disappears and the torch lights all flicker back on.

***​

With the torches lighting the path again, Sol actually finds that Selene is... right next to her? Okay, sure, the catacombs are great big mystery so she just rolls with this and doesn't question it. "What was that all about?" she asks, continuing to follow the path and trying to ignore how the shadows all seem to be looking at them expectantly. "I got held up by the ghost of Walta Disney," the entity technically never denied it, "and she was about as annoying as you could imagine. She kept talking about true love and asked me a lot of questions about you, for some reason. And I guess you must have heard what I said, because I heard what you said," she says, trying to hide the disappointment from her tone. (Like, that's all Selene has to say about her? That she's not a briefcase and she'll protect her from Helia? That's nice, but it's not gf-level nice.) Against her better judgment, she's hoping that maybe Selene wants to say how she feels to her face but she is prepping for the worst. (She is starting to think that the whole 'girlfriend' comment had been meant more as 'friend who is a girl' and not 'girlfriend.' It'll sting if true, but she won't count on it just yet.) Oddly, the ring starts to heat up in her pocket and suddenly, she is very aware of its weight. It's almost like it's encouraging her to put it on so that she can take it off and sic an army of ghosts onto Selene specifically. 'Why don't they pick on Mars? She's a bigger jerk.' "What kind of test do you think that was supposed to be? Think it got us any closer to those bones?"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
“I will have you know,” Selene looked at Cyra as if she was nothing but a fly that had somehow found its way into her soup, “that Evanescence haters are weak and won’t survive the winter. They are legit good, and it’s not my fault if you are too blinded by the memes to see the truth. Wake me up inside? You should wake up inside, because anyone who refuses to acknowledge the beauty of that music is effectively dead.” Alright, so the moon princess may have had some pretty strong opinions about this band she had never heard of, but that didn’t really mean anything. Just, brains were weird! The fact that she had kinda sorta fallen in l*ve with Sol proved it, as far as she was concerned. (…fallen in l*ve with her? Really? Strong words, but in the privacy of her mind, Selene didn’t discount them. After all, she didn’t really know what love was! Luna had skipped that in her curriculum, instead choosing to focus on stuff like ‘torture’ and ‘heinous rituals’ and ‘mass murderers to be inspired by.’ Maybe she could, uh, borrow the relevant literature from a library and study the topic for a bit? Then the moon princess would know, really know, what her heart did and did not feel.) “But listen, this is no proof. Being the ultimate good taste haver that I am, I bet I listened to Evanescence even when I was going for my PhD. There’s no way that someone like me would have succumbed to peer pressure.” Indeed, indeed! It wasn’t like she, the great Selene, had allowed Luna to design her personality from scratch. She definitely hadn’t let her literally sew her eyes shut, either! That was just nasty propaganda, concocted by the lunar queen.

(…she’d had no choice. Back then, Selene had been just a fragment. Diana’s memory, distorted beyond recognition. Now, she was… well, she didn’t know what she was, exactly. Maybe still nothing. The choice to defect was hers, though, wasn’t it? Luna, ever the control freak, would never have programmed the possibility into her mind, into her heart, into her anything. A single rebellious whisper was enough to cost any maid her head, and Selene sincerely doubted that she’d treat her differently just because she was technically her daughter. If anything, a daughter had to obey more! Unlike a servant, she wasn’t an invisible NPC-- all the eyes in the court turned to her, and searched, searched, searched, for any weakness she was stupid enough to reveal itself. Had they caught a whiff of disloyalty, the whole dynasty would have been eaten alive. No, there was no other interpretation. Finally, the moon princess walked on her own, without Luna’s shadow looming over her. It was… uh, definitely not scary! Because the great Selene had never felt a hint of fear in her entire life, of course. If a non-coward version of it existed, though? Something like Fear Lite? Then, yes, she could admit some of it was in the equation as well.)

The rare emotional introspection was interrupted quite brutally, though, when Cyra began explaining all of the details to her. Details that, to her utter horror, actually made sense. “I suppose I can,” the moon princess admitted. “It’s some sort of powerplay, isn’t it?” Luna for sure would have done that. She could already hear her mother’s sweet, sweet voice: “Oh, so you think you are better than me? Let’s see what kind of opinion you hold when you literally explode, my dear. And, no, that for sure isn’t going to happen to me! I’ll watch from afar and much on some popcorn. …what? Some of the mortals’ inventions are quite appetizing, I must say.” But, no, the narrative that Cyra choose to paint was quite different. (‘Power’ did play a role in that, yes, but the right word to blend it with was ‘hungry.’ Power-hungry, yes.) “Curse the primordial mothers,” Selene uttered, with hatred that was caustic enough to melt glass. “What you’re saying is that Helia is a faulty prototype and she’s trying to remedy that via… via sacrificing others?” When you put it that way, it sounded almost reasonable. After all, if you had to choose between saving yourself and not killing some rando, what kind of deranged Samaritan would go with the latter? Selene could almost, almost sympathize with Helia here, if not for the fact that her Sol was to become the celestial battery in that scenario. Which, no, no, no! The moon princess had just been able to admit to herself that she did not, in fact, hate her, and to find out their relationship had an expiration date on it was far too cruel. (Was that what being worried for someone felt like? How odd. It had always seemed to her that those sentiments were for the sufferers of the weakling syndrome, but obviously, that couldn’t be true. Not when she had been visited by them as well.)

“I would say that I cannot believe this, but that would have been a lie. This solves a great many mysteries, actually.” Such as, you know, why Helia had been so surprisingly on board with tolerating Sol’s excesses. “Rage is a trigger?” Selene repeated, her brows furrowed. “Does that mean Sol cannot get angry? If so, then we are safe. I think she is clinically incapable of producing emotions that aren’t sugary sweet. It used to bother me back when I thought her an enemy, but I think I like it no--"

Vrooom!

Light, usually so gentle, exploded behind her eyelids, and Selene found herself standing by Sol’s side. “By the moon, you are alright!” the moon princess smiled, ignoring all the vibes that suggested that maybe not everything was rainbows and sunshine in the land of Sol and Selene. As long as it didn’t get acknowledged, it wasn’t real, right? That was how healthy relationship worked. An issue of Cosmo had claimed so once, meaning that it couldn’t be anything but the crystal-clear truth. “I’m not certain it had anything at all to do with the bones, though. More like with the two of us. Listen, Sol,” she grabbed her counterpart’s hand, “I… discovered something. This is going to sound suspicious, but you have a medical condition. If you ever get angry, you are going to perish and fuel Helia’s rule for thousands and thousands of years. So, I think the solution is to suppress your feelings forever? I was fine with that before I met you, so I can give you some pointers. Biting the insides of your mouth really works wonders, for example!” …yay for healthy emotion management, right?
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Well, at least she's happy that she's okay? But honestly, that's setting the bar on the floor. If Sol were going to be impressed with that, that would be like being dazzled by how elegantly Selene manages to spring across it. As in, it would be totally and majorly pathetic and Sol would deserve an evil girlfriend if she settled for the bare minimum. So this just cements in her head that they are, in fact, friends. She doesn't even know if they qualify as best friends, because best friends are usually in an adjacent category as the coveted "girlfriend" role. (She supposes she could also ask Selene if that's all she feels for her. But, then, what if the moon princess just laughs at her? Laughs at her, because she was silly enough to think that she might have been someone special to someone who she considers special... Perhaps that's actually why she should ask her. Rather than live in this state where everything is unknown and confusing and ambiguous, she should ask and get clarity. Then her hearts can move on... or probably not, since Selene seems to have a literal permanent residence in her chest. Bleh everything is confusing.)

Sol hugs her arms around her body for comfort and trains her eyes forward. "The two of us?" she repeats, lifting both her brows in surprise. Why would anything in the catacombs want to talk to them? Then again, they are main characters, so everyone wants to talk to them and give them ridiculous side quests and ominous messages. She looks at Selene through her peripheries, refusing to look at her directly, as she listens. Her hand stiffens in Selene's and she gently pulls it away to return to hugging herself. (Yeah, she doesn't want to trick herself into thinking that could have been anything like intimacy. Best to keep her distance so her hearts don't completely shatter.) When she finally processes what Selene has just said, she can't help herself and she turns to face her, "What? Ex-squeeze me?"

A medical condition? Being Helia's fuel for thousands and thousands of years? Emotional suppression? All of these words make sense on their own, but stringing them together like that makes her wonder what Selene is trying to tell her. "Were you forced to lick catacomb mold?" she asks, obviously skeptical. It's not that she doesn't trust Selene, but she's not making any sense. "Emotional suppression is really unhealthy. That's how you develop ulcers. I know that we cannot technically get ulcers, but whatever our goddess equivalent is, I don't want to find out." Being a huge b-word might be the goddess equivalent, now that she's thinking about it. Like, all the emotionally repressed goddesses she knows are admiral B-words. Just look at their mothers, the queen of the Bs. "Besides, I don't get angry. Like, I know you don't like me that much, but you have met me. Sure, I get upset," and burn down villages, destroy palaces, kill ice panthers, etc. "but anger is usually a cover emotion. It's protective energy and so acting on my anger doesn't really serve me and doesn't properly address my hurt." She braces herself for Selene to inevitably call her a hippie.

"Also, no offense, Selene, but someone needs to say it," she meets her gaze, "You were not fine suppressing your emotions. As someone who has interacted with that version of you, you were unpleasant. You were really mean to me back then. I'm totes over it, of course," she clarifies. "Just saying, it's not sustainable, so I'm going to feel my feelings and give each one a little kiss." That said, she cannot ignore that Selene seems genuinely worried about this possibility that she'll become Helia fuel, so she considers it for a bit longer. For Selene. She taps her chin and then concludes, "I'll start smoking more pot to really mellow me out, then you def won't have to worry your pretty little head. Like, have you ever heard of a stoner murdering anyone?"

However, worrying about Sol's future as a fuel cell will have to be put on hold as they reach their destination––a cell at the end of the passageway. Though, to be fair to actual cells, this one is more of a hole that's been carved into the wall. It doesn't even have bars. (Why would it? No one escapes from the catacombs.) In the center of the cell lies the skeleton of the celestial antelope, curled up as if she had died in her sleep. The bones themselves are made of night skies––shooting stars even skirt across the skeleton's skull. Sol holds her breath, her steps getting smaller and smaller. She doesn't want to do this. Hasn't she already done enough to desecrate this creature? Stealing her bones so that the giant wolf can have a fancy chew toy seems wrong. Violently wrong, even. "Not to be a wuss, but I think we should turn back. This is giving me bad vibes. This entire thing was a bad idea. L-let's just go?"

"Go?" The antelope's skeleton shivers and the knobs in her neck all crack as she lifts her skull to look at the two princess. (Though whether or not she can see them is unknown. She doesn't have eyes after all. Helia made Sol eat them.) "But you have just arrived, princess, and I thought you liked parties? Stay, have some fun! Dance for me so that I don't feel so left out this time, hmm? You even have yourself a pretty little partner."

"I... what?"

"Dance!" The antelope insists. In fact, soon the choice is taken from them as dead roots drop down from the ceiling and wrap around the princesses limbs, holding them like marionettes. The antelope taps her hooves to the ground and the roots stiffen and force their bodies together. There's even music playing in the background, but the mood it's setting is not romantic. It warns danger. "I want to know how you celebrated, brat!"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
“Don’t like you that much?” Selene repeated, incredulous. Just, what was that supposed to be? Some esoteric, Sol-flavored flirting technique? Indeed, that had to be it-- the sun heiress was the ‘in touch with everyone’s emotions’ type, and there was no way she had missed all of her incredibly obvious signals. As far as Selene was concerned, she might as well have written ‘I may l*ve Sol’ on her gorgeous forehead! What a strange tradition, she thought. Doubtlessly a sun court thing. The old Selene would have dismissed it on those grounds alone, but the new Selene? The new and improved Selene? Well, that Selene understood that maybe not everything was black and white, and that playing along would cost her exactly zero dollars. (Whatever it was that dollars were. Seriously, how was it possible that the celestial courts worked without their version of Google? Because the moon princess was dying to receive her answers to the endless flood of questions! Omniscience really was an underrated part of godhood that Kat and Sof shouldn’t have slept on.) Regardless, if Sol wanted to be courted, then Selene supposed she could provide some sappiness. Maybe it could even become genuine in time? It did seem somewhat pleasant, she had to admit-- being able to like people and be liked in return, that was. Perhaps her scorn had been sour grapes all this time, despite the fervent denial. “Please, Sol. How could I not like you?” Selene batted her eyelashes. Aaargh, what should I say now? Quick, brain, give me some pointers here! Except that the lump of meat in her head must have gone on strike, because all it was coming up was ‘hehe, Sol pretty.’ Ugh, how undignified. And she was paying it for that? “You are too beautiful to be disliked,” the moon princess finally stammered out, feeling more and more embarrassed with each word. “A-and too bro-adjacent. Also, yes, I do know that you don’t get angry, but now it’s very important that it doesn’t happen. Do you think putting a bubble wrap around you would help?” Because, according to many, many ideologies, the body and the mind were connected-- that could only mean that protecting Sol physically would increase her mental well-being. A fool-proof plan!

…a plan that the crypts wanted to thwart, because Selene could never have nice things. Of course, of course! Calling it a ‘plot twist’ would have been the most bitter of sarcasms at this point. “What?” she raised her eyebrow, oblivious to the bad vibes. “We haven’t come all this way to turn around and not claim those bones, Sol. Besides, what is the worst thing that can happen?” Had Selene been at least a little wiser, that phrase would never have left her lips-- literally everyone with a smidgeon of common sense knew that that was just tempting fate. And, no, fate never played without rigged cards! So, naturally, the heap of bones spoke. (Somehow, Selene felt that the bones had fingers, its nails hadn’t been cut for weeks. They scraped against her skull, dug into the soft flesh, and… ah. What was this? This bittersweet sensation, falling all over her the same way sunset fell over the earth every day? She could hear the words, could and couldn’t, and the meanings… the meanings were distorted, like a photograph ruined by rain. Celebrated? Celebrated… what? Something must have been hiding behind the statement, Selene knew, but everything, everything was shrouded in fog. Mindlessly, her body moved, too. Heh. The symbolism was strong, wasn’t it? Her entire life had been like that-- always dancing to her mother’s tune, ever the obedient marionette. The pretty little puppet. To drive that point home, it seemed that the hand of fate had gone for the heaviest metaphor imaginable! Selene would have laughed had it not been so damn sad instead.)

“What is it that you are talking about? Let go of me, vile creature. There is no blame to be laid at my feet, so you have no right!”

“No right?” If it was possible to pack more contempt into the animal’s tone, surely it would have burned a hole through the floor by now. “You know not what you speak about, daughter of Luna. Your cursed bloodline was involved as well. Who do you think gave Helia the idea, hmm? They made a contest of slaughtering me, and your mother only lost through her own incompetence. No, I don’T think she deserves a hint of forgiveness for that! The intent is what matters here.”

“Uh, a question. Have any of you dimwits noticed that we are not Luna or Helia? You seem to have, as you explicitly call us their daughters, but, somehow, you treat us as their stand-ins. Are you not ashamed for using such a convenient shortcut? If you want to claim revenge for yourself, you should aim it at Helia herself! And, besides, we are not even affiliated with them anymore. Considering we are trying to run a rebellion happen here, you are actually helping them by hindering us.”

“…oh. Oh, so you have no idea,” the antelope smirked. “Well, sun princess? Won’t you confess to your crime? I imagine you don’t like talking about it, but, let me tell you, I liked being eaten even less.”

The strings that were holding them in air? Something yanked at them, and with a ‘poof,’ the floor under their feet disappeared-- the music gained a dramatic edge to it, which Selene would later describe as a ‘maiden running away from a monster’ kind of tune. Very stylish! You know what wasn’t stylish, though? The open maws waiting for them in the pit, their teeth gleaming in the darkness. Ah, damn! Why couldn’t she access her magic? There was a lock around her core, a shining golden one, and--

“A meal for a meal. It only seems fair, doesn’t it?” the antelope flicked its tail. “Tell me why I shouldn’t absorb your essence and make myself alive again, princess. Convince me. Perhaps,” the strings began to sway wildly, “if you make me laugh. After all, celebrations are supposed to be about fun, fun, fun!”
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Too beautiful to be disliked. Bro-adjacent. Okay, so those are the most disappointing compliments in the world––like, don’t get Sol wrong, she does appreciate the effort (if those attempts can even be qualified as such), but they just don’t land anywhere near her hearts. They’re so lackluster and dull, and they also clearly indicate that Selene is not at all interested in her in any romantic capacity. Like, while she can totally see how “dude” is a term of endearment if said in the right tone, calling someone a “bro” obviously means that they are just that. Bros. Nothing more and nothing less. (Or maybe she is less than a bro, since Selene called her “bro-adjacent” and didn’t even grant her full bro status.) Sol supposes that she can live with this––like, she’s not a weirdo who unironically believes in the friend-zone and feels entitled to Selene’s heart (even if she literally has it). If she thinks about it for a second longer, she even realizes that herself and Selene are an ill-suited pair anyway. Selene likes murder and torture and Sol likes farming and agriculture and even though it is said that opposites attract, Sol doesn’t think their attraction is supposed to be anything more than physical. There’s nothing written in the stars about them.

(A tiny childlike voice in her head tells her that this is for the best. That Selene doesn’t actually like her for who she is and even reminds her of all the times Selene has tried to get her to murder something; the voice even pushes forward memories of all the times Selene has hurt her feelings and, when presented with that evidence, she realizes that Selene is not relationship material. If only she had more evidence of her sweetness to hold onto, but those memories are non-existent, because Selene has barely ever been sweet to her. ...Even so, she’s still the sweetest person in Sol’s life because everyone else lacks sugar in their personality.)

Unfortunately, there’s never enough time for Sol to think about her love life and there is certainly never enough time to discuss her feelings with Selene––seeing as they're interrupted any time that they get a moment to themselves. The current disruption being this drawn out fetch quest that she honestly wishes they could ditch, but since they are quite literally tied up there is not much she can do other than endure the (deserved) taunts.

Before Sol can say anything, Selene interjects and while she does wish that her companion was right to point out that they are not their moms, Sol actually is culpable in this. (Also, how come every time Helia and Luna are mentioned together it almost sounds like they're flirting? Sol definitely doesn't want to think about her mom's romantic endeavors, but this sounds like twisted flirting.)

When the antelope skeleton turns her attention towards Sol, the sunbeam deflates against her bonds and lets herself hang limply from the ceiling, ready to admit the truth. It’s literally the least she can do to right this. "Selene, she actually has every right to be upset with me. Helia had Leo and her pride hunt and kill the celestial antelope for my birthday dinner. She... she was the main course." She leaves out the part where Helia forced her to eat the antelope’s flesh, because Sol doesn’t think the distinction matters. She still made that choice. She could have swallowed her fear and refused, but at the time she was still trying to make things work with her mom and so she choked down the portion served to her. (It took her all night.)

“See! She is just like her wicked mother––she cannot even be bothered to hide her shame. Look at how she is bursting with pride regaling us with her sinister crimes against my flesh. Do you even dare to try and defend your life after that, princess of rot and corruption?”

The sunbeam sighs, knowing this is a question with no right answer because words never work on these vengeful types. This is just another way for the antelope to mess with her food before eating it. The antelope doesn’t care what Sol says; she just wants to see her squirm so there isn't really a point in coming up with an impassioned speech detailing all the reasons that they should be let go. Sol knows that if she does that in earnest she's just going to end up laughed at like she always does when she tries to right her (and Helia's) wrongs. She knows talking isn't going to save them, but she can use it to stall for more time while she tries to figure out how to get them out of this pickle. The sunbeam adjusts herself as much as she can and channels her inner Meryl Streep. "I mean, do whatever you want––it's not like we can stop you, but I only see this ending in your death again. Maybe this time Looney Mooney will get you. Or maybe Helia will kill you again, and I'm sure she'll be real nice about killing the antelope who murdered her Sol heir." Helia, for all her faults and flaws, has always emphasized Sol's safety––even before Sol started "proving" herself in her mom's four eyes, she always made sure that her daughter was protected. It's why the fire signs usually accompany her on her missions or are sent to spy on her from afar. (Nope she doesn’t connect the dots between what Selene revealed earlier and her mom’s supposed devotion for her safety.) She's a total helia-copter mom in that regard, and that has only made Sol a million times sneakier. "I'd think about those repercussions, dude. Like, I get that the revenge will be ice cream but I'm pretty sure this isn't going to work out the way you're hoping. Besides, didn't you hear Selene? We're not with them anymore and we're your best bet at defeating them."

As she buys them time by chattering away, their bonds continue to swing them back and forth over the gaping pit. Every so often they're dropped an inch closer to the snapping maw that is desperate to taste them. It even sticks out its tongue to try to lick the princesses' shoes, causing Sol to pull her knees up to her chest. ('Narsty!')

“Pah!” the antelope scoffs, “You goddesses are always the same with your big ideas and want for change, but you only ever produce the same sick cycle as before just with a different flavor of shit to cover up all the other shit.”

At first it seems like their only hope is going to be a deus ex machina of some sort, but as they swing more violently over the pit and as they get more reach each time they are dropped closer, she realizes that she'll probably be able to reach the antelope after a few more swings. Given the circumstances, she can't warn Selene about her brilliant plan, so she waits for the opportunity to come and then wraps her legs around the antelope's neck, dragging her so that she is also hovering dangerously over the gnashing, snapping teeth.

"Ack!" she squeaks, struggling against Sol's grip (thankfully she never misses leg day!), "Let me go you stupid goddess! How is this supposed to prove to me that you are not the same fucking filth as your mothers!?"

"Dude, what did you think we'd do? We're goddesses, like, yeah, I feel for you but that doesn't mean I'm going to––ow!" Because, yes! The antelope has just bitten into Sol's abdomen and she’s trying to gnaw off a chunk. (Antelope teeth are not meant for meat!!) "Mother ffff–––" she bites her lip before she can finish the swear; pain causes her vision to spot while she continues to struggle against the antelope. The antelope clamps down harder in response and starts jerking her head back and forth, trying to tear a piece off. Probably not concerning or worth mentioning at all, but wherever Sol's blood leaks, the antelope's muscles, sinew, skin, and fur begin to grow back. This, naturally, encourages the antelope to redouble her efforts.

"Oh, I knew you would taste sweet, princess!” the antelope moans against Sol.

Sol, however, doesn’t respond with more than a cry as sharp, blunted pain explodes from her stomach. Okay, so this didn’t help. Like at all. Whoops! “S-Selene,” she coughs, weakly reaching for the other goddess’s hand, “Goddess m-mode?” (That should have been her first response as a literal walking deus ex machina.) Interestingly, when Sol’s fingers interlock with Selene’s? The lock around Selene’s core bursts and, despite not being physical, sparks shower over the pit below them. Huh. Guess Sol can undo magic blocks now?
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Sol... had actually eaten her? Out of all things that didn't compute, this was the one that failed to compute the most. (No, Selene didn't actually judge her for it. Devouring sentient beings, as tacky as it was, was a time-honored tradition-- most just couldn't complain about it, as their communication style hadn't evolved to accommodate goddesses. What, you think that cows liked being eaten? Certainly not! They just couldn't voice their complaints, and so many defaulted to 'well, they haven't ComMMuNIcATED' type of excuse-fest. Again, Selene didn't necessarily disapprove. Some creatures only existed for the convenience of others-- their flesh was to be eaten, their skins worn. If they didn't like that, then maybe, just maybe, they shouldn't have been born as life forms that unironically considered grass to be a gift from the goddesses. Grass, of all things! Could you imagine sinking lower? Stuff that was green and icky and, according to Selene's highly esteemed opinion, bleugh. ...anyway, back to the point. She did know Sol, you see? And the Sol she knew was too much of an animal rights activist to even look at a herbivore the wrong way, let alone eat her. Just, that was like hearing that a ladybug slaughtered a pack of elephants and believing it! ...no, never again would Selene swallow lies. Luna had served enough of them at her table to make her thoroughly sick of that particular meal.) "So what I'm hearing," the moon princess said, "is that Helia ordered the kill and Leo did it. Aren't you barking up the wrong tree, then? Reminds me of the people who complain about others receiving government assistance when they should be pointing their accusing finger at the horrors of capitalism." ...okay, okay, okay. One day, Selene would cease to be in denial regarding where all of that knowledge had come from, but that day would not be today! Not when she had to dedicate her considerable brainpower to untangling the threads of this mystery.

"What I'm saying is, the fact that Sol feels guilty doesn't actually mean that she is. She always feels guilty for everything. Just like that one time when Helia captured me and she was nothing but helpful and I still blamed her..." Whopsie! What was that, accidental self-awareness? In Selene-land? Practically unheard of, but... well, let's just say that maybe, maybe seeing the world with her own eyes did put things into a fresh perspective. (And, yes, the perspective was about 85% centered around being the great Selene. Given that it had previously been like 110% Selene-focused, though? Definite progress! ...too bad that this kind of pace probably wasn't enough to nip the Dark!Sol thing in the bud, though. That for sure would have saved them a lot of grief.) "Have I ever apologized for that, btw?" Selene turned to her companion, as much as the strings allowed. "Because I think I am sorry. I was too cowardly to aim my anger at the one who deserved it, just like... like that thing over there. You were never supposed to suffer from the collateral damage." Because, in a way? They'd done nothing but that, back when they'd still been caught up in the web of their mothers' conspiracies. They'd never gotten to be themselves-- just their daughters, their princesses, their precious vessels. Always 'their,' not just 'them.' (Had Selene been crude enough to use 'fuck,' this would have been when she'd say it was 'fucking annoying.' It truly, truly was!)

It could have been a sweet moment, really-- just her and her girlfriend, bonding over the shared burden of trauma. That was the next best thing to a rose petal trail leading them to their bed, right? At least in terms of emotional engagement! That would have required for the antelope to conveniently die of heart attack, however, and that was rather difficult to pull off when you didn't have one. Ugh! Stupid bones full of stupid, indestructible calcium. Had they had the decency to shatter, Selene wouldn't have had to witness her girlfriend getting eaten alive. Wait, what???

"Sol!" she shouted, something suspiciously similar to panic leaking into her voice. (So, um. That thesis about the moon princess simply not having feelings? You could say it was officially debunked, because a) fear settled in her missing heart, and b) the rage of a thousand burning suns was injected straight into her veins. Just, Sol was not for eating!!! Not like that, and definitely not by a fossil so ugly they would even reject it in The Br*tish Museum. Yes, The Br*tish Museum! The place famous for stealing literally everything that wasn't nailed down, and, in some cases, even stuff that was.)

"Accept that you're dead and move on already, you pathetic imitation of a horse! And I'm saying that as someone who thinks horses are pathetic enough on their own already." Selene struggled against her bonds, desperately trying to reach her magic-- it was locked away, she knew, but it had to be there! You didn't lock a safe that contained no valuables, that was a nobrainer. Ah, curses. Work, work, work! If the stupid thing ate Sol, she'd never get to apologize to her for everything she'd made her go through, and the list was already long enough to span the entire galaxy! How could she justify adding 'letting her be devoured' to it, hm? The moon princess already had to book an entire year in her busy, busy schedule to cover it all! (...and, um, maybe she didn't want Sol to hurt anymore. Just maybe, though. For reasons.)

So, when the lock burst? She interlocked her fingers with that of Sol's, allowing herself to be bathed in the blinding white light. Ah, yes! Pure power was coursing through her veins now, not of the sun or the moon, but a strange fusion of both. Silver and gold united. "You have no right to taste a lady until she's given you her explicit consent, villain!" The shockwave the statement created sent the antelope into a wall, breaking some of those delicate bones.

"Aaargh!" the animal shouted. "Do you know no restraint, wretched goddeses? Must I suffer even after death has claimed me? You have no idea what it's like, being bound to a form this rotten!" ...which, indeed, may have been a good point. A far better point than Selene expected, even.

The moon princess put her arm around her counterpart, trying her hardest to support her. (The complaints that she was weak, and should be able to stand on her own? For some reason, they didn't even begin to form in Selene's mind this time around. Huh! Probably because they were really busy, or something mundane like that.) "The path is clear now. What we must do is to extract her spirit from her body," she said, pulling her even closer. "I know a ritual. Can you distract her for a bit?"

And Selene really hoped she did, because incorporeal arms began emerging from the walls, reaching for them, reaching for their souls--
 

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