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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
It was too bad that there was no competition for the title of the worst party ever, really, because this party? This party would have won in a landslide. That the sun court scum was present was bad enough on its own-- with them, there came the blinding opulence, so garish that Selene wanted to barf. (One didn't have to see it, you know? The grossness just crawled under your skin, as relentless as sun rays in the middle of a desert. Of course that she could imagine the smirks, the looks that she was getting, the conceited pleasure of everyone attending the cursed event. 'Look at her!' they must have whispered to each other. 'Oh, how the mighty have fallen-- once a princess, now a servant. Sad, sad, sad.) Anyway, as if all of that wasn't a convincing enough argument to conclude that, yes, this event was trash, Helia also apparently didn't bother to vet her guests. Did nobody see that the woman was bad news? Really? And they call me blind, the moon princess thought, with a deep sense of satisfaction. Their condition is much worse, for they couldn't recognize a murder if it slapped them in the face. Because that was what this was, wasn't it? A princess without her powers was but an empty husk, a vessel with no substance, and what happened to things that no longer served their purpose, hmm? You could guess thrice.)

"What? What is it that you're saying?" one of the maids panicked. "I... I am sure that such things aren't allowed, my lady. Had our most illustrious queen been fine with Sol's powers being stolen, I am certain one of her retainers would have done it already."

"Indeed, indeed! That would have been a fine ticket to the royal family. A friend of mine tried it once, but I don't think the queen approved. Like, I cannot be sure since she was in no condition to be answering questions, but that the queen fed her own eyes to her seems like a pretty obvious message to me."

"Well, you don't know that!" someone else protested. "It is said that eyes are the path to wisdom. Maybe she just intended for her to, uh, receive it in a non-traditional way?"

"By the moon," Selene exploded, "is anyone going to do anything about the obvious villain?" Not that Sol's fate interested her at all, of course-- as far as the moon princess was concerned, her counterpart could burn in the depths of hell. No, sympathy wasn't driving her actions here! It was Helia and her warped notions of responsibility, which could be summarized as 'Sol scrapes her knee and it's your fault, you mongrel.' What would have happened to her had her precious daughter been stripped of her magic, hmm? Again, that wasn't difficult to guess.

"R-right! I am going to--"

"You," the woman smiled, "aren't going to do anything, sweetheart. Sit back and watch." Dark winds swept them all back then, winds strong enough to steal Selene's breath-- her own hair was whipping her face, and she could taste cherries in her mouth, red and ripe and rotten, somehow. (The past and the future all at once, it seemed. Memories not yet made and memories that had already crumbled to dust, all caught up in this feverish madness, dancing, dying, and everything in between. What was real? Could that be said about anything, even? All of a sudden, Selene wasn't sure.)

"Awful manners for the ladies of a royal court, really," the woman tsk-ed. "When your betters are working, you shouldn't interrupt. Have your mothers not taught you?" Somehow, Selene managed to grasp one of the columns, but she was just hanging on to it helplessly, with that overwhelming power pulling her away, away, away, right into the death's open jaws--

"I'm just going to take back what is mine, my friends. Where do you think Helia got her abilities from, hmm? You must always pay your debts, I always told her, but she wouldn't believe me. You have her to thank, I suppose," she pinched Sol's cheek playfully. "Poor little thing. Having to carry your mother's sins... the load is heavy, isn't it? Let me lift it for you. You've never asked for it, after all-- never asked to be what you are, and what you must be." The light shone brighter and brighter, pulsating with the rhythm of Sol's very heart, and... well, in that moment? In that moment, Selene knew she would die. No metaphors, no fancy similes, no nothing, just nothingness! (...her smile gone, forever. Her stupid comments, too, but also the way she had looked at her from time to time, as if she meant something to someone. Why did that annoy her, anyway? Everything was screaming at her to stop, to let go, to let her perish like the filthy dog she was, but... well, Selene had never been all that good at following instructions.)

"Cease at once, you monster!" The silvery energy that had wrapped itself around her fists was news to the moon princess, but she didn't pause to think about it, nor did she wonder why she could suddenly face the onslaught standing. No, none of that was even remotely important. You know what was, though? Hitting the unwanted visitor right in her ugly, distorted face!
 

starboob

lover / leaver

You know what? She's right. This weird mysterious woman is right. Sol never asked for this. She never asked to be a goddess. She never asked to live in her mother’s shadow. She never asked for the guilt. (The primordial mothers were wrong. They should’ve never believed in Sol or Selene to be the ones to save the courts. The courts are cursed and doomed and damned. They should have known that all she is is a disappointment to her lineage—she can’t live up to her mom‘s expectations and even worse she cannot live up to her own.) What she did in that village will haunt her forever so maybe it is good to just let it go? Wouldn’t that be nice? She thinks it’d be peaceful and in a moment where she feels so freaking vulnerable and defeated, that's all she's asking for. Yeah, she’s a young goddess and that used to excite her––fill her with hope that maybe she really could make a difference. But now she sees that she’s not much different than her mom or the seven other Suns before her. Maybe she should be kind her to herself, because everyone makes mistakes, but a mistake of this magnitude? She cannot afford another one. She can’t, she can’t, she can’t! There’s no telling whether or not she’ll ever be able to control her power, either. What if this happens again? What if it keeps happening and then one day she looks in the mirror and it's her mom's face staring back at her? It’s too much for her and it’s too much for anyone to be honest. So she should let it go. Maybe this lady will know what to do with it all.

Basking in the elder's truth, she relaxes. The tension falls from her shoulders like rocks in a landslide and she loosens her grip on that fire in soul, relinquishing it to the woman. The edges of her vision begin to blur and the screams from before start to sound like a wayward song beckoning her join them. They chant, "Oh, mighty one join us! Join us! Here, you may rest your weary head." (There is another voice, too, though too weak and quiet for Sol to really pay attention to, that's screaming something else at her in an attempt to get her attention. She screams, "Fight like Hell, Sol! Do what I couldn't!")

As the world becomes grayer and her vision becomes double, then triple, a silver brilliance pulls her up from the river of death.

"S-selene?" she whispers, shock rattling her core enough that her fist closes and tugs on her inner flame once more. She has to see this––she has to see the moon daughter fighting for her. One part of her heart flutters and the other tells it to knock it, because she’s let Selene fill her with hope before and been burned. No, this is probably just whatever magic her mom used to trap her in the Sun court and bind her to Sol at work. That’s all. She’ll still say thank you, because she is a lady, but she won’t read into this because there isn't anything to read into.

Still, watching her fight for her in all her silver glory reminds Sol of something: giving up prevents the possibility of better. Yeah, she doesn’t know how to control her fire but that doesn’t mean it has to be this way forever. She can practice and get better! Maybe not tomorrow or the day after that, but someday… someday she’ll tackle this thing and she will be better. She won’t be like her mom. She won’t be like Helia. She just needs to be more careful. And she needs to start fighting like Hell...

Selene's fist collides into the woman's face with a thundering smack that echoes through the party; the woman's head and entire body are tossed to side with the force of impact and an imprint of Selene's silvery fist is left glowing on her face. (Before, it had seemed odd that Helia, the fire signs, and other constellations have done nothing to intervene but with this new interruption? One gets the idea this could have been staged with how the party melts away and suddenly, everyone is within an arena and Helia sits high above, watching with her four eyes. Is this a test?) Her eyes cut over to the moon princess, darkening until there is nothing but two black holes boring into the assailant. The winds don't stop, but they do become more concentrated around the princess turned servant. "Oh, so Luna's disgraced daughter wants to play? Alright, little one," she spits, her smile turning nasty as she kicks the moon princess away from her, "I shall be happy to rip open your eyes so that I am the last face you see, pathetic girl!"

Vortexes begin to open throughout the arena, throwing sand into the air, and pushing around the helpless maids in all sorts of directions. The woman, then, outstretches her palms and inky chains made of the night sky snake through the arena. They shoot into the vortexes, exiting out of others, creating a web thick enough to ensnare the moon daughter.

...Too bad for the woman that when she took her attention off of Sol, she forgot that there are two young goddesses she's messing with. She may have thought one was dying, but Sol has decided dying is for suckers. The guilt is still heavy on her chest, sure, but only cowards run and if there is one thing Sol isn't? It's a freaking coward. While the woman was focusing her energy on Selene, Sol mastered the blade (taking her powers back).

Her fist closes around the war hammer that had been "gifted" to her. It begins to pulse and glow, and carefully Sol blasts it with a bit of fire to clear its curse. She rises from the ground and even though she knows that her counterpart is only acting because of her mom's curse, she still believes she's gotta help her out too. "Hey, fart-face!" Sol shouts at the woman as golden light begins to emanate from her body, "Catch!" A ball of light then forms in front of the sunbeam and she hits it with the newly golden hammer, sending it flying towards the woman.

"Selene," Sol says, rushing over to the moon daughter, "Remember that thing we're not supposed to ever talk about?" as in, the Mothericorn incident, "Let's do something like that."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Many years from now on, Selene would probably ask herself what the hell she was thinking. Attacking an unknown entity of unknown power with no prior research was bad enough on its own, but to do it for Sol? Sol, the daughter of Helia? By the moon, she must have lost her mind and replaced it with an empty Cola can! Those thoughts, however, belonged to the Future!Selene-- the Current!Selene, on the other hand? Oh, that Selene was currently too busy trying to decide what to do with the monster that had tried to hurt her Sol. (Decapitation? Nice and stylish, but almost painless. Burning her alive? No, way too sun-like in its nature, which would have definitely cost her some precious PR points. Tearing her apart, limb from limb, and feeding the remains to the surviving moonicorns? Ah yes, that seemed like a fitting enough punishment! Cruel, unusual, and just terrifying enough to send a message to those who would dare to stand in her way. ...the thing about her Sol, by the way? Oh, Selene refused to think about that. Ellipsis was a valid literary technique, you see, and a whole bunch of words could have been hiding in there-- her enemy, her nemesis, the biggest pain in her ass. It was totally one of those, not, uh, anything sappy! Terror was Selene's second name, which meant she had no time for emotions that couldn't raze cities to ground.)

"Taste my wrath, wench!" the moob princess shouted, allowing the energy to pulse through her veins. (Was that the magic her mother had access to every time she decided to unleash her fury? Intoxicating, truly-- like a cup of wine far strong for you to drink, but so fragrant that you just had to. Her lips were drawn to it, you see? Inevitably, the same way magnets were drawn to steel, human eyes to the skies. 'Drink, drink, drink,' the voices urged her. 'This cup is yours, princess. It, and everything inside as well. Blessed you are, so don't throw it away.' And, really, why should she? Luna had inherited her powers through blood, but they had never truly belonged to her-- no more than she had, come to think of it. The magic was waiting for someone better, someone truly worthy, and Selene just knew that that woman was her! ...not the pathetic creature overcome by madness, searching for assassins in every shadow. Not the fraud who had been defeated by the Sun, that was for sure. Glory could only grow from glory, so from herself, the moon princess would call it forth. Luna deserved pity, not scorn, for being too blind to see that! ...had Helia taken that away from her, too, or had the loss just revealed her damage? Fate had a funny sense of humor, that much was obvious.)

"I am not anybody's disgraced daughter," she revealed her teeth in a smile, white and perfect. (No longer would she allow herself to be defined by that, you see? That Luna drew shame from it was a good thing, indeed, but with her out of the earshot, she didn't have to take it into account.) "My name is Selene, so you better remember that! It would be... hmm, unfortunate, if they knew not what to write on your tomb stone. Have you picked a convenient spot yet, you disgusting pile of garbage?"

The silvery energy was flickering, like a candlelight in the wind, but... ah, indeed, that mattered very little when Sol showed up with a hammer. (It just had to be one, Selene figured. These weapons had... a specific type of aura surrounding them? Had she been someone as ridiculous as Sol, she would have described it as 'smash smash smashity smash,' but of course that the moon princess would never have been so stupid. Pffft!) "Are you sure?" she smirked. "The puny court might not be able to withstand that. What will your beloved mother do, hmm? Have you thought about that?" Of course, any sentence with 'Sol' and 'thinking' next to each other had to be dripping with sarcasm by definition, but for now, Selene decided to let it slide. Why destroy her own momentum, after all?

"Hahaha, alright, then!" the woman laughed, the sound of it about as pleasant as a cat being run over by a bulldozer. "I can take you on with my eyes closed, children. If you reject the gift of freedom, you must accept one of death!" ...too bad for her, though, because that just wasn't going to happen. Instinctively, Selene wrapped her fingers around Sol's, and the silver and gold bled into each other-- the energies swirled around like ribbons, flailing in the wind. (They tied themselves around their foe's throat, too, and tightened, tightened, tightened! Her eyes bulged out, but the pressure only increased, which... boom.)

Everything happened too swiftly, indeed, for Selene to realize it at the moment. Only later was she able to reconstruct the events as they happened, and this was it: 1) Their enemy exploded. So far, so good. 2) The palace exploded along with her for some godforsaken reason, which... wasn't very good. Well, maybe Helia had been crushed under the debris? (Something told her that, no, she could dream on.) 3) Something, most likely their combined powers, transported them into the middle of desert. Great, just great! This wasn't going to backfire on them at all.

"Ugh," Selene scoffed, kicking some sand, "I hope you realize this is your fault entirely. Had you not been so save-able, I would have happily let you die there! Why are you like this?!"
 
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starboob

lover / leaver

Obviously, Sol isn't thinking about what it'll mean to power-up and destroy the lady who tried to steal her powers––more importantly, her frigging life––using the same technique as the Mothericorn. Mostly, she just remembers that it was a super effective epic boss fight move and that it will totes work, since their win record is perfect when they team up. And while those might not be incredibly reassuring or fool-proof odds, since they have only teamed up once, she doesn't at all see the broken logic. Nope! She just sees another win! "Eh, mom will probs throw a hissy fit, but she does that about everything, so let's make like Beyblades and let it rip!" (What...)

And, wow, do they let it rip.

It all happens fast and slow at the same time. Her brain mostly remembers holding Selene’s hand and it being bittersweet, because her hand is really nice to hold and Sol knows she won’t really ever get to hold it for just fun. She also remembers how Ms. Terry woman's head exploded like the world’s most satisfying zit (whatever those are—being a goddess she has zero experience with the gross parts of puberty) and the wide eyed look of shock of everyone in the court. Especially when things continued to explode (less like zits though and more like her fifth grade science project) and the more powerful members of the court had to blow back debris from hitting others. (Lowkey, that was kind of cool.) Oh, and she won’t forget the look in her mom’s eyes when she rose from the debris, looking like she was going to heat vision them out of existence. Good thing they escapéd!

… And too bad Selene is back to being a sour pants. Ugh.

Sol rolls her eyes and slings her shiny new hammer over her shoulder, looking around the desert for anything familiar and momentarily ignoring her companion’s comment. Sand. Sand. A cloud. Sand. Cool. “You couldn’t have teleported us somewhere with a theme park?” because Sol definitely doesn’t know anything about teleporting, so this has got to be on Selene four shore. She sighs, “I really miss rollercoasters. Remember how I puked on you after we rode Mega Death Heart Attack Call Your Mommy Mountain? That was a good day. You were in a good mood. Why don’t you be more like that?” because Sol is tired of the ‘tude.

Still, it does occur to the sunbeam that Selene’s accusation… Well, she doesn’t want to read into it but clearly her counterpart must see some sort of value in her if she describes her as save-able. (This also bursts her theory that she had been acting out because of her mom’s curse. Hmm.) “I cannot help that I am so cute and play the role of damsel in distress so well. I guess the mighty Selene is not, uh, immune to tropes. Thanks, by the way… I was kinda having a moment, throwing a huge pity party and such,” she admits, but tries to keep it chill and cool because she knows Selene isn’t worthy enough to see her truly, truly vulnerable. “I guess we’re even?” she suggests, since Sol had been the one to pull Selene out of her despair with the Mothericorn.

“Anyway, idk where we are or how to get back to the palace,” that is destroyed and tbh she doesn’t think they should go back. Not yet, anyway. (Or maybe ever? Huh, an interesting thought... Could this be the moment she has been waiting for? A chance to run away for good?) “Actually, we should let Helia cool off… she looked like she was gonna laser vision us before you teleported us outta there.” She tilts her head up towards the starry night, looking for familiar constellations. “We need to make sure we get somewhere covered before the Sun comes up. I reckon we have a few hours,” she nods and looks around the desert again, hopeful that maybe a convenient structure has appeared for them to make camp. Still nothing. Big sigh.

“Let’s go north,” she points towards the north star. Then, realizing Selene, uh, may not have picked up on that direction—sewn eyes and all—she pulls her north. For a few meters, they walk in total silence. That's fine. Sol is content walking in silence. Totally fine with it. Talking with Selene isn’t super fun since she’s so judgy, so silence is best. Three second later, Sol bursts, “Did you know that the north stars tried to lead the courts when the Rift got super bad and everything was pandas?" She means pandemonium. "Yeah, they wanted to be like Bella, all Switzerland-like and stuff, then their ring leader got some big ideas and thought that perhaps they should take the whole guiding star thing to another level since the courts were splitting and stuff. Then, uh, their leader got totally obliterated. The remaining north stars started fighting with themselves, pointing fingers, some went into hiding, and now they’re all just a joke. They only got to keep their place in the sky on a technicality, but they have, like, zero influence,” she buzzes, recalling all the details Polaris told her once. Does it matter she had been severely stoned at the time and that Polaris could have been making this up? She doesn’t think so. A few of her lessons hint at this at least being true. "Don't you think that's kinda sad? What happened to them? I do. I read some of their earlier stuff and they seemed like a neat group of stars."

Though it's night, the heat from the day still wriggles up from the sands, creating a wavy effect in the air. In between this heat mirage, a spire flickers from the ground some distance ahead––appearing and disappearing every other second. (A buried monument? A light house? The possibilities are endless!) "Oh, sweet! A hiding spot." That also gives off mad haunted energy, but Sol ignores that.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Shut up, Selene wanted to say, shut up, shut up, shut up, but unlike certain someone, the moon princess had a semblance of self-control. Stomping her feet would only make her look like a petulant child, you see? And since they had that role covered, she wasn’t about to try and compete for it. Oh no, no, no! (…still, that didn’t mean that Selene would deprive herself of the joy that came with crushing a dumbass’s self-esteem. Sol had no business feeling as good about herself as she obviously did, now did she? There were criteria for that sort of thing, and her counterpart was so hilariously inadequate that she should have been ashamed to walk in the streets without wearing a mask. What do you mean, ‘self-worth shouldn’t depend on external circumstances?’ What a ridiculous philosophy to follow! Anyone spouting it deserved to have their head chopped off, honestly.) “Don’t misunderstand,” she smirked, putting her hand on her hip. "More than that, I’d say you’re like a fledgling that got pushed out of its nest. That, perhaps, or maybe a kitten that was only born with three legs. It is hard, seeing something this pathetic and resisting your instincts. I admit that this is most likely my fault, however-- my mother should have taught me not to pick up other women’s trash.” Hahaha, there, that ought to show her! Plus, hurting her kind of made up for that mindless rescue earlier, which meant that Selene could live with herself now. (Not saying that she kept scores, but she absolutely did. One instance of unconditional kindness = three insults, in case you were interested, so to erase her sins fully, the moon princess needed to be an asshole at least two more times.)

Selene, too, welcomed the silence. Not that she liked spending more time with her thoughts, mind you-- especially not when, inevitably, those very thoughts turned to questions such as ‘how will Helia like that I wrecked her palace?’ or ‘does it hurt too much to be burned alive?’ (‘Not very much’ and ‘extremely,’ those were the respective answers. The Queen Reason-Is-A-Slur-To-Me wouldn’t hold back, that much she knew, and for her… well, for her, this spelled bad news. I shall bear my scars with pride, the moon princess decided. They will be but a proof of my worthiness once I return home, victory in my hands. All the great rulers had suffered for their crown, hadn’t they? And through that suffering, wisdom was unlocked! You couldn’t get something for nothing, you see, so to receive the greatest of honors, you had to water that little seed with blood. Made sense, didn’t it? …even so, it sure would have been convenient had their powers come with a manual. Had Selene known their stunt would have destroyed the entire palace, she would have looked away, enjoying the music of Sol’s bones being crushed!)

Blah blah blah, more pointless words. This time, they… appeared to be some kind of history lesson? Pfft, as if the sun court could be trusted here! …or pretty much anyone, really, if she were to be honest with herself. “I hope you do realize,” Selene began, “that you’re most likely spewing nonsense. Truth is an endangered species at any court, Sol-- it is far too bitter for the cowards to swallow. I bet that they simply displeased Helia, and so she invented an acceptable enough reason for them to lose their standing. Don’t you know how these things work?” The most depressing thing about it was that she most likely didn’t, sheesh. (How had the girl even managed to survive in the court so far? Had she been born yesterday, perhaps hatching from a rainbow-colored egg? Selene could visualize that, mostly because ridiculousness clung to her like stench did to a corpse.)

The spire towered in the distance like a gravestone, like a shadow of a monster too large for them to comprehend-- Selene didn’t have to see it to know that to be true, for the atmosphere felt downright oppressive. (You know how it felt shortly before a thunder struck? The air was sizzling, charged with energy, and this… this was exactly the same. Surely Sol must have sensed it as well, right? …or not.) “For sure,” Selene nodded, barely restraining her rage. “My concern is that this spot isn’t quite dangerous enough, however. Pray tell, Sol, do you happen to know how to track down a tiger? I was thinking that we could let it tear us apart, and bury the pieces at different places. That way, your beloved mother should never be able to find us.” The official translation: “No, you dumbass, don’t even dare to think about that!

Had it been up to Selene, they would have walked away, probably to find an oasis instead. It distinctly wasn’t up to Selene, however--and, to be quite fair? It wasn’t up to Sol, either. Before they could turn around and do the smart thing (ie., get the hell out of there), something grabbed both of them by the shoulder. Vrooom! Aaaand yes, of course that they found themselves standing right… uh, right in the vortex of the malevolent energies. Ah, awesome. “Let me guess,” Selene sighed, “it’s actually an ancient arena and we are expected to fight one another, right? I bet that there is going to be leather fetish clothes, too.”

The answer to that question, however, was ‘no, not quite.’ When Sol looked around, she could see that nobody had stepped inside of the building for ages-- the floor was covered by dust, the air stale. (It tasted of decay, and of failure, too. Of dreams forever broken.) Even the local spiders had died ages ago, it seemed, with their dried-out husks stuck in their own cobwebs, and… wait. Was that a message written in there, in the webs themselves? Written with what was most likely blood?

“Cast away your doubts,” it said. “Do it, or cast away your lives instead.”

And something was rushing towards them, Selene could sense it, this sudden burst of energy…!
 
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starboob

lover / leaver

"OMG!" Sol exclaims, not going to let Selene's sour attitude drag her down, because what's a sea anemone's sting to a Nemo? NOTHING! Haha, Sol is invincible and the best as per usual. (Ignore her most recent warcrimes, okay? She's... she's still processing those and figuring out how to make sense of them.) Continuing on... "Baby birbs and three legged kittens are totes magotes the cutest little things out there. I had no idea you thought so highly of my darling good looks and charming personality!" Fight fire with fire, baby. Sol won't let Selene's butthole personality get to her any longer, because she's finally McFreaking accepted the fact that they will never ever ever get along or be friends. Maybe they will have short stints of being okay with another, enough to destroy big baddies, but aside from those flukes? Well, they're two young goddesses from opposing courts. Of course they are going to clash, even the sunbeam would prefer they didn't. This banter will just become part of their epic rivalry when they're the sitting queens of the celestial heavens. "No need to beat yourself up about this, being a garbage lady is a very respectable profession. They make quite a bit of cash, so if being a queen doesn't work out at least you already have some experience picking up after others." Mhm, Sol is born of fire so is it surprising she can roast when needed?

That Selene doesn't believe her totally true history lesson or want to take cover in most likely the only cover they are going to find before sunrise, is not surprising. If Sol had to guess, Selene's brain probably has a tiny little gremlin whose job is solely to spit out rejections without considering anything else! (Because in Selene's land, as Sol has come to understand, if it does not sprout from her noggin then it isn't valid. There's a lot of flaws in that kind of thinking, but that's a Selene problem, really, and so Sol doesn't see the need to point that out. Not yet anyway.) Content to dash into hiding on her own and let Selene wander the desert alone, she takes a step forward and then...

Nyoom!

"Oh, nice, that's convenient," Sol smiles, "I didn't think you were interested in my totally awesome hiding spot suggestion, but thanks for the blip." Again, Sol knows it wasn't here because she's never successfully teleported in life! She's tried and mostly just ended up... exerting too much energy that exited out her butt, if you're catching her drift.

Anyway, now that they're actually inside the spire, it's much harder to ignore the mad haunted energy. It's downright oppressive. Chills crawl all over Sol's body that she's half convinced she's covered in spiders, or ghost spiders since everything in this place seems deader than dead. "Why didn't you say something about this place being bad news?" she whispers, trying to make a joke of the situation to lighten the mood. Just as she is about to search for the exit, she notices a great pair of yellow eyes rushing towards them. Yellow eyes that multiple into even more eyes. Then suddenly, this indistinguishable multi-eyed creature opens its wide mouth and Sol reasons to believe it's full of razor sharp teeth or something else they don't want to investigate!

"Run!" she screams, pulling on Selene's had and heading into any direction that does not have a weird multi-eyed-sharp-toothed beast that seems really, really hungry for young goddesses! "Freaking run like the frigging wind!" (If Selene wants to try to fight, she's more than welcome, but Sol believes this is an appropriate moment to employ the tried and true, strategic retreat!)

The sound a of a thousand screams rips through the spire, high pitched, blood curdling, and downright deafening. Sol has to skitter to a stop to cover her ears, hunching over onto the ground to try to escape from the sound, but it's almost as if... it's coming from inside her? It's inescapable. She tries to get up, tries to use her hammer to help stagger to her feet, but the atmosphere feels like lead and sooner than she'd like, the beast is standing over her. It puts its weird... paw/tentacle/claws over her chest, pinning her to the ground. 'Goddess powers activate??!!' Nothing happens. Its drool splashes next to her and from the sploshes, revenants emerge. "Cheese and rice, dude! P-please don't eat me––or my rival!"

"Punish!" the beast somehow both whispers and howls, "Punish, punish, punish!"

The revenants also join and chant, "Criminals! Guilty!"

Oh, and if Selene is thinking of escaping or doing anything? The revenants morph and split into gross ligament tentacles, reaching to grab the moon daughter. "Guilty! Pay!"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
To Selene, horror had always been an interesting concept. It just… existed outside of her sphere of being, you see? Because the moon was home to everything terrifying-- to all things discarded, deemed too horrible for the sun to know. (Hers were the creatures that crawled in the darkness, feeding on others’ blood. To her belonged the transformations of flesh, so grotesque that they bent the mind as well. The creatures that caused a shiver to run down your spine? Those found refuge with her, too, like the scapegoats they were. Humans simply needed an enemy, you know? Something to hate, to revile, to blame for all of their problems, and anything foreign enough would do! So, in short, Selene wasn’t afraid. In part, it was because she had seen the terrors from up-close, and with the mystique gone, most of the fear also went up in flames. The other part of the equation, though? Well… let’s just say that, with Luna as your mother, common horrors were but an appetizer-- an appetizer too bland for her taste buds, much like unseasoned food. No, such poor meals could no longer satisfy her!)

“Get away from me,” Selene growled. “Sheesh, if you are going to scare me, you should at least try and do it properly. Why should I cower from such half-assed efforts? I am a princess, you disgusting pile of slime! For me alone, you should play a symphony of horror, not this stupid, hackneyed song.” Seriously, though. If the moon princess were to review it, she would give their performance only about 5/10--terrifying enough to scare a halfwit like Sol, perhaps, but definitely not her.

“Snap out of this, Sol,” she recommended to the other heiress. “You are only bringing dishonor to your royal house. What would your mother think of you, if she were to see it?” That she was useless, most likely, and as much as Selene hated agreeing with Helia, she had to admit that the analysis was spot on. Just, ugh! Why did she have to be like this? Shouldn’t the blood in her veins have protected her from, as Sol would probably say, the weenie syndrome? It was downright pathetic! (Pathetic, and pitiful, and also… uh, strangely heartbreaking? In the sense that Selene considered her rival’s entire existence an insult to the universe at large, not that she was feeling sorry for her. Just, pfft! She didn’t do silly emotions, alright? There was absolutely no evolutionary advantage to wasting your energy on other people, so Selene had shed that instinct ages ago. Her heart’s only job was to deliver the oxygen right where it belonged, thank you very much!)

“Insolence!” the creature shrieked, so loud that Selene had to cover her ears. (And, spoiler alert? Because she had learned to rely mostly on hearing, it worked about as well as trying to stop a flood with a single teacup.) “Are you not ashamed of yourselves, royal daughters? Here you come, to the place of our humiliation, and you don’t even have the decency to blush!”

Ah, so that was what this was about. The spirits wanted to punish them for what their mothers did, most likely because they were too incompetent to target the real perpetrators, and they were supposed to… do what, exactly? Cry bitter tears to appease has-beens clinging to their past relevance? Yeah, no. “Are you not ashamed of yourself?” the moon princess countered. (She made no effort to get away from the spirits-- instead, Selene stood proud, like a lighthouse in the storm. That is how a princess faces these obstacles, she thought. Watch and learn, Sol.) “As in, perhaps you should consider that you were humiliated for a reason. You know what that reason was? That you were weak and pathetic, and should never have grasped the power that you weren’t able to hold in the first place. If you need someone to blame, then blame yourself!” Selene said, as charming as ever. “…and besides, we had nothing to do with the debacle. As far as I am concerned, I am an innocent.”

The spirit’s facial features were a mystery to her, but somehow, she could sense that it was fuming. Who would have thought, right? “An innocent? Oh, but nobody in this room is an innocent, and you know that just as well as I do. Why don’t we show your friend here…” ha, as if! “…the full extent of your sin? Why, yes, that might be a fitting punishment for your wrongdoings.”

The ground beneath Selene’s feet growled, growled and shrugged, and shortly afterwards? Shortly afterwards, the moon princess found herself lying on… on something cold, pressing against her naked back. (Why did it feel so familiar? And why, in this case, that familiarity provided absolutely no comfort? …the shackles that were holding her wrists above her head had something to do with it, most likely.)

“There you go, Helia’s daughter,” the spirit sneered. (Conveniently, a silver dagger appeared in Sol’s hand-- the symbol of the moon graced its hilt, elegant and slender. …it was cold to the touch, too, like a grave.) “Do you know how many times she has offered herself to others like that, hmm? Do it. Cut her up, just like she wants to. Feast on her organs. Deep down, you wish for this as well, don’t you? Otherwise, dearest Sol, the dagger wouldn’t have heard your calling.”
 
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starboob

lover / leaver

There's some dark freaking magic haunting this place. A huge duh dude, of course, but it's just so thick in the air that Sol's half worried she's going to be infected by whatever curse is holding this spire together. It's the very definition of cowardice to run in the face of fear, but Sol doesn't think she's running from fear, per se, but something much grander than either of them can comprehend. It's just math. When 1+1=2, you run. You can't always be brave and fight through everything, because sometimes the odds are mega-stacked and the spells you thought were hot stuff are peanuts in comparison to the elephant sized enemy. And everyone knows elephants love to eat peanuts! "Geez, as if I care about Helia's standards!" she grunts, trying to shimmy her way from under the beast's claws. "She's not exactly mom of the year, dumbhead! And can you shut your dumb" extremely pretty, "mouth?! Why are you like this!" In a situation like this, Sol's usual patience is gone and replaced with a sheer sense of urgency because somehow it hasn't crossed her counterpart's mind that even if they are young goddesses, there are still things older and much scarier than them out there! They haven't earned their full titles yet, so why does Selene keep acting like she's the baddest when she literally got herself McFreaking captured! (For someone who values her "logic," she really is freaking stupid.)

Much to Sol's dismay her hammer, that fell from her hand when that terrible scream tore through her very core, is not one of those cool magic weapons that can be called back to its user. The next best option are her trusty plants, but before she can even concentrate enough to search for them, Selene's big dumb mouth has gotten them into even more trouble. Naturally. (At least when Sol gets them into trouble it's on accident and not because the fibers of her being are made of insults and buttheadedness.)

She falls face first onto the ground with a grunt. As she regains her bearings, she pushes herself up from the floor to assess their newest mess. The monster is gone. Cool. The monster's eyes, however, are lining every inch of the walls and ceiling. Not cool. Selene is bound in shackles and Sol has a silver knife. A silver knife that's freaking burning her hand! Though she cannot see it, she can smell the bursting blisters popping underneath the hilt of the silver blade and as much as Sol is trying to let go, her hand is fused to the weapon. "I think McFreaking not! Tell the silver knife I must have butt-dialed, because this is sooo not what I want," she protests, shaking her hand up and down frantically to release the weapon, even though she knows it's hopeless. And. Shoot, the burn is starting to spread beyond her palm, covering her hand, and slowly creeping up her forearm. While her healing factor is at work, the silvery poison spreads faster than she can heal herself. 'Crap, crap, crap!'

"Do it! Make her pay!"
the beast screams, "Impudence must be punished, for how will she learn?"

Whether Sol wants to or not, the dagger starts to pull her forward, as if it has a mind and will of its own. That's bad news and the sunbeam can only imagine what it's going to do once it forces its way over to the moon daughter. She shifts her weight backwards, pulls against the dagger's might, stretching out her arm until she's certain it's going to be ripped from her shoulder. "I'm not going to hurt her!" she cries out.

"Oh, but you have! You have! Poisoned blood, poisoned heart––there is no escaping your fate, little Sun."

Vines bearing thorns shoot up from the ground at Sol's calling, wrapping around her legs and digging into her calves to hold her into place. Sweat forms at her brow, while she grits her teeth together and lets out a strained cry. "No, no, no! I won't hurt her!"

"A rotten woman emptied that promise once and now look who lost her eyes."

Revenants once again manifest from nothing and grab onto her wrists, yanking her from her plant anchors, and drag the sunbeam forward. She struggles, twists and turns in their grip, tries to remind herself that she is a young goddess and that nothing can stop her, but then... it sort of her occurs to her, again, she's not a full goddess. Whatever is haunting this place... 'A ghost of a vengeful goddess?' or a collection of them, she guesses, for something to be so powerful that she actually feels powerless it has to be more extraordinary than a mothericorn or a mystery woman. Plus, it's haunting a freaking spire. 'Crap. What did you do this time, Mom??'

Sooner than she'd like, she's standing in front of Selene. Her heart hikes in her chest and she continues to struggle with her captors, but they don't even seem bothered. Easily, they raise her arms above her head and plunge the silver dagger into the moon princess's abdomen. Blood oozes from the wound, warm, and stinging Sol's blistered hand (she wants to gag). "Crap," she mutters, "S-sorry, I swear, I'm not really in charge here." On some level, she knows that her apology and excuse won't matter. Especially when the revenants force her to drag the dagger across her counterpart's belly. Or when they force her hands inside the other princess, raking out her insides. "I-I can fix this!" But the thing is? She can't and the revenants are definitely trying to feed her Selene's intestines.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
The chains holding her wrists? They were cold, colder than a cruel woman’s heart, but to Selene, they felt sizzling. (The smell of burned flesh filled her nose, just like so many times before. Was it the world itself that was burning, or perhaps herself? Made little to no difference, really, all things considered. …she was the world, you see, and everything in it. Pandora’s box, with a pretty bow wrapped around it. Within her belly, a whole cosmos was sleeping, and her veins were rivers, and, from time to time, all of that had to be cleansed, didn’t it? Cleansed by fire, that was. By the kiss of death. Incense, too, could only be brought to life with flames-- with that caress that burned away the weak, and revealed that which was strong. With fire, there was no place for filler. Selene knew that, had known that for ages, so really, what was there to be afraid of? This, too, is like returning home, the moon princess thought. Except that I’m welcome here.)

Memories flickered behind her sewn eyelids, one by one. They blended together strangely, in the same way milk might get lost in coffee if you stirred it-- it was hard to tell where one scene ended, and where other began. Of course, trying to do that in the first place would have been pointless. The scenario had always been the same, hadn’t it? It had to be, by its very nature. (A lone goddess, dressed in a robe made of webs. They shone against her skin, as silvery as the moonlight in her hair, and everyone else? Everyone else was bowing, so deeply that their foreheads were touching the ground. ‘Selene,’ they murmured. ‘Blessed we are, indeed. Come. Walk with us.’ Seas and seas of faces, most of which she didn’t recognize, and none of them dared to look at her! Which, good. They weren’t allowed to do so, for she was holy. Not a single one of them deserved so much as to breathe the same air as she did, except for… except for the one. A shiver ran down her spine, but was it terror or excitement? That much Selene couldn’t tell, honestly. They both wear the same colors, she reminded herself. It must be that way, as they come from the same place. Happiness is just disguised sorrow, too. That’s why chasing one over the other makes no sense.)

Back in the spire, Selene didn’t struggle. In fact, she made no noise at all-- if not for her beating heart, and for the wet, slightly parted lips, you might guess that you were looking at a doll, pretty albeit lifeless. All fight had left her, it seemed.

(In the darkness, an altar was shining. My place, the moon princess thought, my crown and my chain. She had still had her eyes at that point, and for that, Selene was thankful-- the altar was breathtaking with the fireflies dancing around it, their lights blinking like myriads of stars. Without wavering, she walked. Clank, clank, clank, her shoes sang, and in the otherwise perfect silence? The sound was deafening, like the crashing of waves against a shore. Be still, my heart, she told herself, but that was easier said than done. How to calm down a pulse that raced against time itself, after all? Against everything it had ever known, and those things it didn’t? Slowly, Selene sat on the altar, and allowed the priestess to put a blindfold over her eyes. ‘Your highness,’ she murmured. ‘Will you share your gift with us?’ The moon princess couldn’t see it anymore, of course, but the presence of the dagger was still felt keenly-- it was calling out to her, so, so sweetly, and in that moment? In that moment, she knew that this is was she had been born for.)

The blade touched her belly, gently, like the hands of a lover, and Selene shivered. “Yes,” she moaned. “Do it.”

(The blood spilled from her veins, red and dark. Ah, what a wonderful sight that must have been! A pure princess, finally stained by color, lying in the middle of that overwhelming, blinding whiteness. …not being able to see herself was her greatest regret, indeed. Her only regret. Shock waves of pain were running across her skin, across her flesh, across her everything, but when a stranger’s footsteps echoed in the distance? Selene sat up, despite everything.)

It was frustrating, really, that she couldn’t move her hands at all. Why had they bound her like that?! Had they thought that she’d just abandon her altar? Pfft, how utterly stupid. “Good,” the princess breathed out nonetheless, “finally. Oh, how I missed this feeling.” The woman was blathering something, ceaselessly, but was this any time for words? …her legs were free, more or less, so she hooked them behind the stranger’s back. A little push was all it took to bring her closer, and all of a sudden, their faces were almost touching. (…oh, how nice. Warm, like the fire in her veins.) “Shut up,” Selene demanded, a shadow of annoyance in her voice. The bleeding gash on her belly? Now that didn’t seem to concern her at all. “Don’t you know what to do? Seriously, you people get worse and worse with each passing second.” And, with that, she closed the gap between their lips.
 

starboob

lover / leaver

"Ew, ew, ew!" Sol protests, moving her head from side to side to avoid being fed intestines. Selene's intestines no less! Like, Sol is no anatomy expert and, yes, goddesses are built different, but she's pretty friggin' sure they still need their organs! But the revenants holding her don't seem to care about what Sol wants or what Sol thinks it best for her rival, because they grab onto her head with an iron grip. When she refuses to open her mouth, they punch her ribs so that she screams and use that as opportunity to shove organs into her mouth. 'I can't be here, I can't be here, I can't be here,' she repeats to herself, feeling both so intimately in tune with her body and yet so far away from it. It both is and isn't her jaw that is being made to bite. It both is and isn't her that has to swallow. She tries to find some other place to go and finds herself concentrating on the stone wall directly past all of this. They're gray, she notices. They have cracks. There are larger boulders at the bottom and the stone gets smaller and more uniform higher up. Her cheeks feel wet, too, and it takes her a minute to realize that she's crying, but it doesn't really feel like her who is crying. Crying is just something that is happening to her.

She's mumbling too, apology after apology, because this is so not what she wanted––it's bad enough her day started by wiping the map of a small village but to also do this? Even if technically out of her control, she still feels like the vehicle for destruction. 'I am not her, I am not! Stop making me like her!' Her shoulders are shaking and she's pretty sure she would have crumbled to her knees were she not being literally held up. "I-I wanna go home," she whines, closing her eyes tightly and maybe hoping that when she opens them up again she'll be home. Though not at the palace, that's for certain. It's destroyed, for one, and two, it's never ever ever felt like home to her. She wants to go back to that place where she grew up, the place she knows wasn't the palace even if her memories tell her otherwise.

It might have helped Sol to notice that Selene doesn't seem particularly bothered that she's been, you know, stabbed. But Sol doesn't notice that and she doesn't even register that her counterpart even seems to be relishing in her own demise. What she does notice? Selene's legs looping around her waist and pulling her forward, so close that they're within kissing frame of each other. That forces her eyes open and she stares into Selene's sewn ones with absolute confusion. "Selene, I––" 'don't understand,' would have been how she'd end that sentence if, um... Well, if Selene's soft, plush lips hadn't collided with her own. For a brief moment, Sol forgets she's the world's biggest murderer. It's not like the heaven and earth colliding, because those are not the roles they embodied. It's a total eclipse.

The twin hearts inside of Sol's chest burst and they're even glowing, like two binary stars, and she doesn't realize that the revenants have let her go but that hardly matters because she's leaning into the kiss. Automatically, one hand cups her jaw and the other wraps around the woman who does, oddly, feel like home. Her lips part to welcome the moon goddess, bits of her own light seeping into Selene's mouth, like how the Sun helps the moon shine its fullest. The smallest moan escapes her lips and she wants to drink from this well for the rest of her life. Her breathing hitches, heartbeats drumming wildly inside of her, and then fire. The entire room is lit aflame, the shackles disappear in smoke from Selene's wrists, but Sol hardly registers what's happening not until––

"Now you've done it, little Sun. Little Moon," the million eyed beast chuckles, its voice echoing as it gets chased away by the flames.

Sol pulls away, dazed and confused, half dizzy and entirely uncomprehending of what's just happened. "Woah," is all she can muster as she looks at Selene. Then her eyes widen so large that she's certain they take up her entire face as reality catches up with all at once. "You kissed me," she says, not sounding accusatory or upset, just surprised. (Honestly, Sol doesn't know what to make of it. That kiss had been life changing, for sure, but that just makes it all the more confusing because of who she shared it with. Like, Selene doesn't like her. She doesn't like Selene. Yet, they kissed and she really felt the entire world melt away. The phrase "sparks fly" has nothing on what they just accomplished.) Part of her wants to tell Selene how amazing it'd been for her and maybe ask for another, but she silences that part, knowing it will only result in her disappointment. She may have the best freakin' lips in the world, but that mouth is still attached to Selene and she kinda already has an idea of who that person is. It's just not worth the heartbreak. Maybe this is just what kissing goddesses is like? Yeah, she'll go with that. For sure.

"Uh, so, are you okay?" she asks, deciding to change topics and probably place this experience in the box of experiences that don't ever need to be talked about again. Nope. (If she reviews this experience before bedtime, that is between her and herself, thank you very much!) She looks down at Selene's stomach, where she had been sliced open, but she looks... fine? 'Figures. She's a young goddess.' Too bad Sol isn't spared the memories of cutting her open or how... She shakes those thoughts before they can stomp onto her shores. Instead, she turns to look at their surroundings, noticing they aren't in the spire. It doesn't appear that way at first at least. Upon first inspection, they seem to be in a forest full of dead trees, but when Sol looks through the branches, she can spot the stone walls. 'Dang.' "Let's never talk about this again and just get out of here. This place is major creepy."

She picks up her hammer from the ground and looks at the path that curves deeper into the spire. There is no option to go up. Sighing, she lets her hammer drag behind her as she walks through the spire of terror. Again, it's silent and Sol can't even find a suitable topic to babble about. Her mind is just alternating between blood and guts and kisses. 'Oh freaking my.'

The powers that be must have heard Sol's desire to not be thinking of these things, because soon they are disturbed once more! The sound of wings flapping echo through the faux forest and––

"Duck!"

(They're actually swans.)
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
...ah. Ah, alright. So, that had kind of happened? The moon princess would have preferred being fed to tigers, but hey, you didn't always get what you wanted out of life! (More like 'never,' if your name happened to be Selene. Her life at the moon court? A trainwreck, from start to finish. Her future rule? Forever marred by failure. Her existence in general? A long, long string of disappointments, each greater than the one before. In a way, she supposed, that was a gift on its own-- to fail, fail, and fail, each and every day, and keep finding the new rock bottom every single time. Kept things fresh, didn't it? ...still, even among all the other failures, kissing Sol stood out like a sore thumb. Just!!! How had it happened? How, and why? She was Selene, the princess of the moon court, and everything about her counterpart should have repulsed her. Which, of course, it did! The lips pressed so adamantly against her own felt like a pair of worms, defiling the most sacred of her places. The hands pulling her closer? Those were electric wires, burning her from the inside. It was disgusting, disgusting, disgusting! The worst thing that had ever happened to her, or to anyone ever, possibly, so why... why did she want more? Why was her head so light, her heart beating so fast? Her mouth was dry, too, so dry and eager, and she could imagine just the thing to rectify that.)

(...Sol, resting on her bed, her skin glistening with sweat. Her mouth would be open, too, but instead of speaking? Oh, she would be making much sweeter sounds, Selene would bet. Under her skillful touch, she would be mewling, shaking, begging her for more... Wait, what?)

The thread snapped and the moon princess jolted awake, panting loudly. (Madness! Madness must have possessed her, there was no other explanation. Why else would she been feeling like this, with her veins of fire? With everything, everything about her so sore, as they if they had cut her apart and then put the pieces together wrong? The desire couldn't have been hers-- Selene was immune to the failings of common women, so there was no way that this was actually her fault. Nothing ever was! She did it somehow, the moon princess decided. Via some nefarious magic, she must have tampered with my mind. The culprit is obvious here. Truly, how had she sunk so low? Did she not have enough concubines vying for her attention? A princess's attention was more precious than diamonds, after all-- with it, you could buy fame, wealth, happiness. A future for your family, too. How pathetic did you have to be if you failed to get a lover despite that, hmm? Sol, the queen of dumbasses, was also apparently the queen of losers.)

...except that, for some reason, her counterpart acted completely unaffected. 'Let's never talk about this again?' What? Selene wasn't a common wench, to be used and discarded at Sol's whims. Nobody touched a princess like that with no consequences at all, dammit! (No, this had nothing at all to do with Selene feeling insulted. Pfff, why would she even feel that way? Of course that she wouldn't. Sol was worse than shit that got stuck to your shoe-- not as smelly, perhaps, but as difficult to get rid of, and feeling jealous of that would be just ridiculous. Sad, even. No, Selene just... wanted her respect? Yes, yes! This totally was about respect, not about any hurt feelings. The vengeance will be mine, the moon princess decided. Someone like her won't get to treat me like... like her side piece. Like her dirty little secret. For the damage to my honor, she will pay!)

The spire they left behind, but the bitter aftertaste in her mouth? Oh, that lingered. How dare she? It was the best kiss of her life, it must have been, because duh, she was Selene, and yet she's acting like it's an everyday thing for her. As if... as if her world wasn't rocked. Aaargh, nothing about this made a modicum of sense! Sol had all the self-respect of an overly eager puppy, so how come she wasn't totally over her now?! How come she wasn't worshiping her?

So, yes, it was safe to say that the stupid swans didn't concern her at all. Instead of paying any mind to them, Selene turned to Sol-- pressing her against one of the trees was the easiest thing in the world, and so she did exactly that.

"Never talk about this again, huh?" she repeated, her lips so close to her ear that they were almost touching. (Gently, the moon princess sucked on her earlobe, giving her a little... hmm, preview... of what she could do with her tongue.) "Do you often just... not take care of your unfinished business? Disappointing. I was hoping to find out more about you. You wanted to be my friend, didn't you? Friends don't leave one another hanging." Ugh, what was she doing, even? Her mouth-to-brain connection must have gotten severed... along with her body-to-brain connection, considering where her hands tried to wander.
 

starboob

lover / leaver

While whatever is going on in Selene-land, Sol is laser focused on the swans bounding towards them. They look pretty pissed and she's almost certain she sees that they have teeth, super weird if you ask Sol (no one's asking). But before she can even think of a strategy (ranging from running to defense mode), she finds herself pressed up against one of those dead oaks. Not only that, but Selene is pressing their bodies together and saying words, but that's kind of hard to focus on when her lips are wrapped around her earlobe, turning her head to cotton candy and knees to jelly. She totally would have fallen over had she not been sandwiched between the tree and Selene. While her stomach does somersaults and her hearts flutter, her fists go to automatically grip Selene's top for support. A gasp leaves her lips, but all of this only lasts a few seconds because Sol's brain does finally catch up to what her counterpart is doing and saying. She snaps out of it.

"What the hell, Selene?" Sol exclaims, both slapping the moon daughter's hands away from her and in the next breath shoving her backwards. Hard. Harder than she meant, but she's so caught off guard that she doesn't think she can be blamed. Her lip curls, brows knitting together while she just stares at her counterpart unable to find words to accurately pinpoint everything that's going on inside of her head. Beyond just thinking what the hell was that? Honestly, the sunbeam is freakin' offended that Selene thinks she has any right to Sol's personal space like that. The kiss was one thing––and, tbh, she isn't sure how she feels about it, because it took her by surprise from how it transpired to how it felt and made her feel. But to try to demand more from her? To try to lord potential friendship in exchange for... more from her? Wow. Sol knows that Selene has a low opinion of her, but she didn't know it's so low that it sinks to the bottom of the endless frickin' universe. Major flippin' turn-off. (But at least this clears up a lot of Sol's feelings about Selene. Yeah, no way she can even entertain the idea of someone like that being so close to her hearts. Her hearts are special and precious and deserve way more tlc than whatever the moon brat is trying to get away with. Like, yeesh, didn't even offer to wine or dine before sixty-nine.) And what even makes her think this is an appropriate moment to get some action?! Sol is still recovering from a lot of murder-murder-stabby-stabby and is soooo not in the mood––plus, they're still lost!

(If Selene got her jollies off on that kiss, then good for her! But she can explore those feelings later in the privacy of her bedroom. As far as Sol knows, Selene only lost her eyesight. She still has two perfectly functioning hands and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take two to tango!)

"Where do you get off thinking you can just––you can just!!!" Sol throws her hands up in the air, at a complete loss for words. Selene is the most frustrating person in the entire universe, she is quite certain of this. The speed at which this... this a-s-s-hole changes her mind about what she thinks of Sol is just too much and she's tired of it. Tired of feeding off of scraps like a dog. She's not a dog. She's a Sol and she knows what she's worth and she's worth a lot more than Selene. "You're literally the worst. But you know what? You frickin' win, okay? I'm done with your weird little games. I'm sick of it. Sick!"

The swans that are fast approaching? Sol doesn't give them a chance. She bats one away with her hammer and then turns back to Selene, a ring of fire lighting up in her irises. "I can't believe I ever wanted to be your friend. I can't believe I ever was your friend," she huffs, swatting away another stupid bird. 'Let's just get this frickin' over with so that I can get home and send her home, too.'

Naturally, a little blow-out isn't going to stop the evils of this forest, for the swans continue to flock and, tbh, she's pretty sure they're forming into a mega-bird but Sol is just not having it. "For crying out loud! Can you not see we're in the middle of something?! Give me a god-dang break!"

Oddly enough... that does appear to disperse the angry swans. Sol turns back to Selene. "Fight me. I'm serious. Fight me, Selene. You've had it out for me since we first met at my mom's ball and I don't really blame you. So just stop being a coward and do it already. Enough of the games."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Heh, heh, heh! Indeed, there was no way that Sol would manage to resist her seduction. Absolutely no way, okay? The girl had the impulse control of a starved dog, and the intellect of one as well-- just dangling a treat in front of her should be more than enough for her to forget her own name, really. Selene had seen that unfold, more times than she cared to count! ('Ah, princess,' they moaned, 'let me drink from you. Without you, we are nothing.' Which, you know what? That they damn were, the maggots and leeches and worms, not a single one of them good enough to kiss her feet! And, no, Sol wasn't different just because she was a fellow princess. Oh, not at all. The crown on her head meant less than nothing, with the seed of cowardice taking root in her heart! I'll make her beg, Selene promised herself. She will cry for mercy, the disgusting little--)

--ah. Wait, what? The other princess's words did travel into Selene's brain, but somewhere along the way, there must have been a time-space continuum glitch. If she understood correctly, you see, then Sol was actually rejecting her? And pretty violently at that. (Clearly, there must have been some sort of mistake. Selene, the goddess's gift to humanity, had never tasted the bitterness of rejection-- just like peons thanked their heavenly overlords for the life-giving rain, the lesser divines prayed for her. No other mindset made sense. Was she not beautiful, with her slender form and silken hair? Did her bronze skin not invite touch, her full lips kisses? And the power flowing through her veins... oh, that power was ancient, indeed, and older than the bloodlines binding this universe together, and anyone who so much as sampled it should be dropping to their knees. So, again, this was a misunderstanding, right?)

Except that it wasn't. Sol talked and talked and talked, because that was what she did, and you know what her words accomplished? Well, they removed any ambiguity. (They illustrated how much of a dumbass she truly was, too, but at that point, that conclusion was about as fresh as three weeks old milk. Yuck!) "What?" Selene smirked, not upset at all. Of course that Sol wasn't able to appreciate her-- those used to chugging dirty water couldn't see the value in fine wine. Yes, the fault lay in her! ...now she just had to make her realize that.

"Oh, please. Did you not want me when we met for the first time? You were all too happy to bring me to your bed then, so don't pretend that you aren't desperate. I was in the mood for some charity, alright? I was thinking that maybe, if you got rid of some of that tension, it would stop pressing so hard against your brain. What can I say? I'm an eternal optimist." There, that proved that Selene was above petty drama, and also infinitely better than Sol. That was how arguments worked, right? Whoever got the biggest slice of the humiliation pie was automatically deemed the loser! (Just, don't question it. The moon princess had had top-tier teachers, and so she also had the exclusive rights to truth.)

"You were never my friend," she corrected, the silver claws covering her hands. (If that was how she wanted to do this, then sure, Selene would deliver! Ah, the prospect of fight made her blood boil.) "The delusions that you've grown in your pretty little head do not count, sunny. I'm sorry that I have to be the one to bury that idea of yours, but it needs to be done. Say, should I bury you as well?" And, no, Selene did not wait for an answer. Why do that when you could go for a surprise attack instead, hmm? That was basically 'How to win a duel 101!' Faster than light itself, the moon princess moved. The claws glistened in the moonlight, beautiful enough to make one's heart pause, and then, as precise as ever, they flew towards Sol's neck...!

Drip, drip, drip. The droplets of blood falling down her hands, shiny like rubies? They belonged to her, Selene realized. Heh. So Helia had put a safeguard in place, huh? Not shocking, all things considered, though still, still she hadn't thought of that. Oh well! (The swans sang in the background, but to the moon princess, the sound screamed mockery. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid,' they laughed. 'What is it like, to be married to failure like that?') She must have been bleeding rivers, oceans, even, except that that only made her grip her weapon tighter. What a great way to go, right? Rather than dying of boredom on her throne, the moon princess would... eh, no matter. No point in trying to invent a justification when her consciousness would shatter soon, anyway.

"Is that how it is?" Selene laughed, oh so humorlessly. "Very well, then. Before falling to you, I shall die by my own hand. Prepare yourself, Sol! If you're too weak to earn your own victory, then I will hand it to you. You can go thank your beloved mommy."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Why is Sol even surprised? Time and time again Selene has proven who she is and for whatever reason, Sol has tried to see something worthwhile in her counterpart. Partly, because she knows that it is their job to change the old ways and lead the courts into the future before they are destroyed by pointless fighting for territory. (Or she wants to believe that it is.) She can't accomplish that goal on her own. She needs Selene to participate, but the moon daughter is bent on being a puppet to the past as far as Sol can tell. How sad, right? So maybe she keeps trying to give her chances because she's so hopeful. As it turns out, she really is going to have to figure out a different way to lead her half of the luminary throne. Then, there's this other part of Sol that feels connected to Selene, somehow; that she knows her even though her counterpart hasn't opened up to her. It probably has everything to do with those few distant memories that belonged to some version of her––plus, there are the implications from their old time capsule. But all of her hope is just hurting her. For the sake of her own survival, she has to let go and look forward and stop looking backwards. Those days are freaking over.

Her chest tightens as Selene throws their first encounter in her face like that. It hurt back then that she was using her and it hurts now that she's not only cutting open that wound but rubbing salt into it as well. Just, how dare she! As if acting on desire is any proof of her self-worth. "Puh-lease," Sol grits, feeling the anger flare up inside of her like a volcano mounting for an eruption, "I may have been interested once upon a time, but just now? That was all you. You kissed me. You tried to take it further––cosmos knows why, but I'd say the desperado between the two of us can be found in your reflection." The ground beneath their feet starts to shake and tremble as roots make their way up towards their mother. "In fact, I was perfectly fine leaving it at that dumb kiss. I know you've suffered some blood loss today, so I don't blame you for misinterpreting, let's never talk about this again."

Again, her hearts feel stabbed when the moon daughter says they'd never been friends and it takes almost every ounce of her concentration to not even let her eyes mist. She won't let Selene see her like that. It just hurts she'd deny that stupid picture she drew when they were kids, or the friendship bracelets that Sol made, and all those Polaroids and other knick-knacks they buried in the ground. (First thing she's doing when she gets back to the palace, is make sure that old shoe-box got destroyed in the their earlier wreckage. If it got restored, because undoubtedly her mom has restored everything, she will make sure to toss it the lava pits.) In fact, she takes off the friendship bracelet she'd been wearing since their trip to Earth and tosses it to the side. Stupid? Maybe, but Sol doesn't care. She needs it off her body. She needs all proof of the once-Selene gone.

That Selene is coward enough to go for a surprise attack (and probably call it strategy) is not surprising. What is, however? That Sol is left unharmed––the claws hit her neck, she felt them, but it's her counterpart who bears the wounds and bleeds. The hearts in her chest lurch, try to pull Sol back into Selene's orbit and help her, but she goes against that urge. "If you think you're landing more than a sucker punch, tough luck! That's the wound you're dying by, you insecure princess of nothing." Beneath her feet, the ground cracks open as thick roots shoot up from the splits and charge at the moon daughter. More and more rise––some lifting up the sunbeam to dodge those silver claws and others to slap the moon daughter down. The fire in her veins demands escape, but she's not going to give into it. She can do just fine with her plants. "And, like, whatever! This loss is yours because you were arrogant enough to march into enemy territory with only dumb luck as your plan! You freakin' earned it!"

The pair clash and the sound of their collisions echo like thunder through the desert. To Sol's credit, she doesn't let Selene land another hit. She won't. Yeah, she's going down. Yeah, it's not really a win for the sunbeam since she didn't have to really do anything, but she hadn't been aiming to win anyway. She doesn't know what she's aiming for other than trying to rid herself of all the anger she harbors. (All the hurt.) It doesn't really work, not the way Sol wants it to, and it just makes her angrier that she cannot escape all the swirls of emotion in her chest. In her frustration, she sends a shockwave through the ground with the roots, and yells, "Just give up already!"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
...oof. If words could cut, Selene would have looked like a Swiss cheese by now, but you know what? Good. Very good. This was how things were supposed to be between them, after all-- the sun and the moon, standing in eternal opposition. Two implacable enemies. Nemeses, even, not... not whatever Sol had once wanted, in her dumbassery-fueled haze. Everything about this was fine and good and natural, and Selene had never wished for anything else! Could you see how happy she was? Could you?! (Some of it did hurt, but the moon princess figured that was normal as well. When you broke your bone, you see, it could grow back all wrong-- like a parasite, it sometimes attached itself to places it had no business invading. So, what did you do when that happened? You broke it, simply enough. Afterwards, the true healing could finally begin! ...and, in Selene's world, the metaphor translated into breaking Sol. She, too, had tried to invade her heart, and that was a crime that deserved no pardon. Friends? Pffft! As if princesses needed those. No, friendship was but a remnant of a bygone era, drenched in ignorance and sin. Tribe mentality was so last century! Calling it something else didn't turn it something else, contrary to the popular opinion.)

"Shut up," Selene recommended to her, ignoring the steady stream of blood. (What was some bleeding when compared to death, anyway? And since it would come for her soon, there was no point to... well, to trying not to damage herself. Heh. From that standpoint, it was kind of freeing, wasn't it? Finally, Selene could throw away her restraint!) "Do you think that anyone actually wants to be friends with you?" she tilted her head aside. "I'm genuinely asking here. It almost seems to me that you think people might like you for being yourself! Let me say, a pretty wild assumption for someone who is the divine version of a mosquito buzzing around one's ear. Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz!" ...not the most dignified of insults, but give her a break, alright? Selene's head felt heavy, and the pool of blood growing beneath her feet could not have been great for maintaining concentration. Hell, it wasn't great for existing in general!

The plants wrapped themselves around her wrists, around her wrists and ankles, too, but the only Selene she could think about? All that red hot fury, choking her like a chain. (As if it had been her choice to waltz in there, completely alone, with no advantages at all. Just, seriously? The brain parasites in Sol's head must have been starving to death! ...beneath it all, she was just another spoiled kid. Her mother hadn't sent her on a glorified suicide mission, for one-- she was allowed to do whatever she wanted, too, once you really examined it. 'Boo hoo, mommy doesn't like me!' Yeah, and? Never once had she had to deal with any consequences of that, so Selene found it hard to empathize with.)

"Give up?" A cough ripped through her through, but Selene paid it no mind. So what if she couldn't breathe? Breathing, too, was for weaklings, and it wasn't like she would need her lungs in the future, anyway. (The benefits of having lost already were immense, once you embraced the mindset fully. 10/10, indeed!) "Oh no, no, no. You can forget all about that, darling. For too long, you've reaped the fruits without taking care of the trees, you know? You snapped your pretty little fingers and you got everything you wanted, served on the silver platter. Well, not so much here. You want me to give up?" Selene flashed her a smile, bright and charming-- within it, you could glimpse entire constellations, bending themselves to her whims.

Defiantly, the moon princess raised her head. (The fact that she was technically Sol's prisoner? You'd guess it was the other way around, given the confident aura.) "Kill me, then. Come on, do it, you coward. For once in your pathetic life, work for the thing that you want. You will end me, won't you? Because, if not, I swear to everything that is holy that I will find a way to destroy you." Darkness was eating away from her field of vision, so, so insistent, but Selene held onto her consciousness. This felt important, you see? Important enough for her to struggle against the vines, causing them to bruise her delicate skin. (Ah, yes, yes! A little pain could keep her awake, most likely.)

"Give me a chance to bounce back, you little bitch, and you will regret it. That is my vow to you." And, to be honest? The moon princess did want her counterpart to kill her in that moment, right where she stood. Since... well, since she knew it to be true, every single word that she had uttered. Every threat, every promise. If both of them lived, Sol would just sign her own death sentence!
 
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starboob

lover / leaver
All she has ever wanted, all she has ever wanted to be is to be the Sun that makes people smile. All she wanted was to see Selene smile and maybe be that reason for it. To be her slice of sunshine in her twisted circumstances. Now Selene wears a she-wolf’s grin and it’s ugly. It confirms what Selene has been saying this whole time, however––that Sol is fool. A damn fool. She sees that now. She thought she could maybe change the narrative, play hero, but that’s not her role. She’s a goddess and goddesses are not heroes; they may be heroic but they are so much more.

Honestly? With this revelation she doesn’t blame her counterpart for her anger because she can see how she insulted the other heiress. Fine. But she won’t apologize. For any of this. Selene is deader than dead to her. She doesn’t exist and Sol will do everything in her power to make sure the moon daughter never makes it back into her orbit. ‘It’s time to grow up, Sol.’ (Maybe this is what her mom wanted all along. Maybe that’s why she forced them together. So that Sol can finally see what a rotten lineage rules the moon court. That the moon is cold for a reason and it’s not because the Sun claimed her eyes, they're just plain vile.)

(No, she can’t let herself think like that. She can’t let Helia or Selene win. Those are not her thoughts and deep, deep down she doesn’t believe it. This is her anger poisoning her and she won’t let it or them win. Her hearts are hers before they are anyone else's. She decides what to do and how she feels.)

Sol doesn’t respond to Selene. There’s no winning with words (there’s hardly winning with action). Not when the moon daughter’s mind is a poison well and anything poured in turns to poison too. Sol won’t add to it. She also doesn’t lift a hand to end her opponent. Neither does she help her. She lets her bleed and choke on her own blood. (The threat? She takes it seriously but she also just doesn’t have it in her to tear her limb from limb and scatter her pieces.) When all is done? She waits for the Sun and with it, her mom's goons to pick up both defeated princesses.

The following weeks are surprisingly… fine. Sol doesn’t talk to Selene or acknowledge her presence more than she has to. Helia removed Selene as her tutor after her stunt collapsing the palace and for a while she was MIA. Now that she's back, she still shadows Sol, as her bodyguard, and Sol figures that’s just because her mom is still figuring out what to do with the displaced princess. She’s heard whispers about what’s going to happen to her, none of it good news, and Sol hasn't mentioned it or warned her companion. Why should she? The "great" Selene should be able to handle anything.

Two weeks ago Sol was introduced to her fiancée––well, nothing is official but they are supposed to be courting each other and it's pretty well known that no matter what Sol is ending up with her. She is disappointed that there is a complete lack of butterflies and sparks. (Not like that stupid kiss that never should have happened.) Helia tells her that butterflies and sparks are fake and she should think of this more as a business arrangement, so as long as they can work together it’s fine. Besides, they’ll both be allowed to explore extramarital affairs. (Mars Jr. definitely has been––Sol’s heard it from her bedroom, in fact. She can’t find it in herself to think much of it other than wondering if she should be doing the same? The thing is is that she just isn’t interested.) She guesses that Mars’s daughter is nice enough. She listens. She's mean, but less so than certain heiresses (SELENE). She’s pretty. She’s mischievous, too, and Sol likes that.

Anyway, yadda yadda, lots of things changing and staying the same! Sol’s mostly recovered from her blow out with Selene, even if she doesn’t feel totally the same. She is trying to enjoy herself. Even when her mom tells her that her and Mars Jr. are to lead a small cluster of troops (that includes Selene, ugh) on a mission of some sort in the Sun court’s last remaining jungle.

“My other fungi fact,” Sol prattles on happily, much to the annoyance of pretty much everyone in the party, “is that they are probably one of the most complex and misunderstood living thing out there! I thought I could poof some with my magic, but they aren’t, uh, planty enough I guess! There’s also one that tastes like fried chicken and an––“

“Sol, honey,” Mars smiles, “as much as we all adore these facts," she rolls her eyes, curls her lip and sticks out her tongue, because her dripping sarcasm isn't enough, apparently, "focus. The artifact your mother sent us to retrieve hasn't been seen for eons and we need you to focus your attention on sensing its energy."

"I am a great multitasker," so debatable that scholars of the future will have fist fights over this claim, "but I really don't feel anything. If this relic is so great I thi––"

It's hard to describe exactly what happens, but to put it succinctly, some of the vines of the forest wrapped around Sol and pulled her... somewhere. Mars Jr. does not seem concerned. She just runs a hand through her thick, wavy mane, and turns to the rest of the group. "I do believe this is a sign we should continue without princess Sol. It's not as though her help was worth anything. Come. Someone mark this spot on your map; we probably should comeback for the princess later. I am sure she can handle herself or perish. Either way, move out."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Why couldn't have I died instead? In death, you see, there was glory to be found-- the seedlings of legends, just waiting to sprout. The future generations would have remembered her as a heroine, a martyr, even, and in addition to that? Luna would have lost her heiress, through nothing but her own stupidity! Spilling her blood for that, Selene thought, would have been worth it. Entirely so. (Well, yes, and also maybe for avoiding all the embarrassment. Let's just say that she had let herself get a bit... hmmm, carried away? Indeed, indeed! It is still that brat's fault, the moon princess thought, occasionally, when the silence filled her mind with memories. ...it just tended to do that, okay?! Regret didn't plague her thoughts, for that was an emotion reserved for weaklings. Selene simply didn't make mistakes, so why would she ever be sorry for anything? Pfft, how ridiculous. Had she just given me all I wanted without complaint, I wouldn't have had to tell her the ugly truth. Because, duh! Everyone knew that social interactions were about power, and in brushing her off like that, Sol had essentially declared: "I'm better than you, bitch." What else should she have done, really? Ignored the insult? Striking back, as hard as you could, had been the only option. A commoner might could have afforded herself the luxury of oblivion, but Selene? Selene had a reputation to uphold, thank you very much!)

Days passed, as fast as water in a river. Just like that water, they'd started to feel monotonous, too-- Selene had stopped counting them, for nothing important ever happened. (That Sol had gotten a fiance? Ha, the moon princess didn't at all care about that! She'd only fantasized about Mars' gruesome death about sixty four times in the past two days, and considering that she was an enemy, that was a fairly low number. So, no, nothing to see here! All the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in the world couldn't possibly express just how over the situation Selene was. A note to self, the princess thought at one point, when Mars' (super mega annoying) laughter once again pierced her ears, when you crush the sun court scum, cut that one's tongue out first. Feeding it to Sol afterwards would be fun, right? Hahaha, yes, she'd cry and scream and beg, but nothing, nothing could sway Selene by then. Her fate had been sealed the moment her counterpart had disgraced her, so like, too bad for her! Maybe she should have taken the gift that was being offered, instead of confirming her status as an absolute dumbass. Enjoy yourselves while you can, you cretins. The clock is ticking, and my revenge draws near!)

Anyway, blah blah blah, another super important mission. Couldn't Helia get a crew of delivery girls instead? No? It just seemed like a ridiculous waste of womanpower to Selene, but hey, it wasn't like she had a say in... well, pretty much anything. Sigh. "Mushrooms are mushrooms," she rolled her eyes, annoyed. "It's not that deep, princess. Are you always going to..." be such an insufferable little cow, "...act like such a distraction? We're in the enemy territory here, so maybe, I don't know, focus. When an anaconda swallows you, it will already be too late." Ah, divinities, if only that happened! Briefly, Selene considered converting to whatever religion that revolved around worshiping goddess-devouring snakes, but in the end, she discarded the thought. Would it not be that much more satisfying, after all, to murder her with her own hands? To wrap them around her throat, and feel the tears dripping down her cheeks? Hmm, what a delicious prospect!

...a prospect that was snatched away from her, though, because Sol decided to go and get herself into trouble. (Also, her fiance's love for her seemed totally boundless, didn't it? For reasons Selene didn't truly wish to explore, that thought warmed up her dark, shrivelled heart.) "Are you for real?" she asked, not even attempting to hide her contempt. "That's your wife-to-be. Your ticket to power. Shouldn't you at least pretend to be worried? I swear, not even nobles these days have manners! I don't know about you," she smirked, "but I am going to go look for her. Unlike someone here, I have a sense of duty." Now, now, don't get all misty-eyed. The reason that Selene made a grand speech like that, in front of the entire court? Why, it was because an opportunity was rearing its head, and she wasn't one not to take it. Wouldn't it be oh so convenient, after all, if nobody followed her? If they served her an escape route on a silver platter? And if someone did... oh, Selene knew just how to deal with her, alright.

***

Meanwhile, Sol found herself sitting in a... uhh, large nest? A nest made of feathers, golden and silver and bronze, and all the shades in between. Aesthetically, it was actually rather pleasant to look at, but the way those feathers attached themselves to her skin? The way they pierced it, burrowing deeper and deeper? That, uh, might have caused some concerns. Hell, it should have caused them!

"Princess Sol," a strange creature, half-bird, half-human, nodded in her general direction. (Was it... wearing jeans? Huh, the world truly was getting more and more unhinged by the second.) "Greetings. I realize the circumstances are unfortunate, but welcome to our flock! Yes, you are becoming one of us. No, there are no refunds. People keep asking me about that, and every time, I have to disappoint," the birdie sighed. "Anyway, this is your fault as well. Your mother decided to genocide us, you see, and we figured that capturing you and turning you into a monster is the only logical course of action here. If we tie your life to our existence, I'm sure she will change her mind! ...come on, it's not too bad. If you aren't too iffy about cannibalism, being able to pop out your own eggs has some serious advantages."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
"Don't be silly! There's no way you're gonna be the made-of-honor at my wedding, Selene," some young version of Sol says, smiling and showing off her lack of front teeth. "First, you're made of way more than honor––like brains, blood, and guts––and second, we're totally gonna get married someday. My moms' psychic told me!"

The edges of the dream or memory start to catch fire and a new one takes its place.

"This is our Queendom, C̸̛͈͜ȳ̸͇̂r̴̳͠a̸̗̓͘," Helia says, waving her arm over the horizon as the Sun breaks through the east and shines over lush jungle, tropic forests. Without needing to bend, she looks her daughter in the the eye. All the warmth a Sun and mother can provide are concentrated in her gaze. "Soon, it shall be yours, my rising Sun."

The memory starts to crack, then it shatters. (Sometimes this happens.)


It starts over.

"This is our Queendom, Sol," Helia says, waving her arm over the horizon as the Sun breaks through the east and shines over the vast desert. Bending, she looks her daughter in the eye, "Soon, it shall be yours, my darling."

***​

Sol rouses from her weird dreams, crinkling her nose and stretching her arms as she yawns. "Gee, what the heck ha––"

Her eyes widen as she finds herself staring at a bird-woman, in some kind of a bird nest. Okaaaay. She rubs her eyes. Still there. She pinches herself. Yup, totally real. Last she recalls, she had been giving a passionate lecture on mushrooms and how cool they are and pretty much everyone in the group had been rolling their eyes at her. (Ugh.) So she's pretty freaking confused how she ended up here––not that she's complaining necessarily. She's happy to be away from all those killjoys who just don't know anything about fun and are always trying to bring the rain to her parades. (Like, who doesn't want to hear about all of her mushroom facts?)

"Welcome to the flock?" Sol repeats, entirely uncomprehending. That is, until she raises her arm again and notices the plumes sticking out of her arm! Her freaking arm! The pain catches up with her all at once, too, as she realizes the feathers are needling into her skin and trying to make a home there––and that's so not where they belong! "Well, thanks I guess, but I don't know if..." Oh. Of course this naturally is about her mom and her mom's many crimes against humanity. "So, if I am understanding this correctly... I'm going to become a bird lady so that you can exact revenge on my mom?" Sol can think of several reasons why this is a bad idea (for the bird lady, not for herself), but she chooses to remain quiet. Mostly because maybe this is a blessing in disguise? Like, she doesn't really like being a princess. The idea of becoming a goddess becomes less and less exciting everyday, so why not become a bird!? She can't think of a single reason why embracing these feathers is such a bad idea. (Plus, she wouldn't have to deal with Helia, Mars, or Selene! Or the fire signs, the constellations, her tutors, and pretty much everyone who makes her life anti-fun. This really could be her ticket to freedom.) "I mean, I accidentally ate my frie––my... someone's intestines before so, like, once you cross that bridge it's like trying to put worms back into the tube of toothpaste, you know? Does it hurt though? Pooping out eggs? What if one gets stuck? I read once that chickens die from that. Am I going to die if I get constipated? Is there, like, an egg laxatives or something because one of my biggest fears is dying 'cause of some constipation. It just seems not very dignified, you know?"

So to say that Sol does not at all mind this development is an understatement! Tbh, the longer she thinks about it, the more excited she becomes. She even starts picking out some feathers from the nest and helps put them into place. It hurts, but her life's most recent disappointments have hurt more so whatever, you know? "Are you going to teach me how to fly? I always thought that would be a really cool superpower and I think it would help me understand this one song I used to know––it went like, I'M LIKE A BIRD I WANNA FLY AWAY!! DON'T KNOW WHERE MY HOME IS––" not only is Sol singing incredibly loudly, she is singing incredibly poorly, and butchering the lyrics. However, she is just so passionate about it that it's hard to know whether or not she realizes how awful she is being. Eventually she finishes and flops onto her back. "Yeah, I think I'll like being a bird. I already wake up pretty early on my own and I've always been curious about worms. Really, I've only ever had gummy worms before and while I like those lots, I haven't been able to eat a real worm. Every time I try, someone catches me and slaps the worm from my hand. At this point, I've just resigned to being a worm protector. Hey, did you know that worms can self-procreate? They're so cool. I kinda wish I could be a worm sometimes. Just eating dirt and pooping and fertilerizing the soil. I think that would be much more useful than being a goddess. Like, so far all my field experience has told me that they suck," she half expects Helia to smite her right then and there, but nothing happens. Sigh. "Anyway, all this worm and egg talk on top of my metamorphizing are making me hungry! So do you have any food around here? Are we birds of prey? Oh, and I like your jeans! I have been begging the court seamster to make me some overalls, but she refuses. Do you have overalls? I'd love to get out this dress."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"Oooh!" the birdie clapped her wings. "Why, you are much more enthusiastic than what we're used to around here. Most people tend to be terribly prejudiced when it comes to matters such as this one-- they're all 'please, I want to keep my arms' or 'noooo, having to eat worms is a fate worse than death.' Which, seriously? They haven't even tasted them yet, and they're already complaining. Talk about being short-sighted! Eating insects is actually very fashionable on the Earth right now, I'll have you know. Something about, uhhh... sociability?" The woman frowned, numerous wrinkles popping up on her forehead. "No, no, sustainability. Apparently, cows poison the atmosphere with their farts. Just, would you believe? I'm not even making fun of you here-- apparently, the atmosphere just wasn't made to withstand the concentrated power of cow gases. Not to diss your mother, but her design sure was shoddy. What was she thinking, anyway?" It was a good thing that nobody from her entourage was around, really, because it seemed like Sol had finally found her match! The bird just wouldn't shut up, and her thoughts seemed to be running in the same circle as the sun princess's own.

"Anyway, I do appreciate the cooperation," she offered her a big, shiny smile. (Wait, how come that this bird had teeth? Man, this was going against all the biology lessons ever taught! ...somehow, it felt ominous, too. You know, kind of like taking a nice stroll in an old graveyard and realizing that one of those tombstones had your name on it? Yeah, that kind of ominous.) "This could have been very awkward, but I am happy our newest member is accepting her fate so happily. I wouldn't want another Prudence incident," she cringed. "Prudence, you see, didn't want to understand what kind of blessing this actually was! We had to throw her fragile, flightless body off a cliff like eight separate times before she even acknowledged that having wings was, in fact, an advantage. Some people, I swear!" ...fine, that was dark, but let's not judge them, okay? The monsters technically weren't human, so forcing them to adhere to the usual ethical standards would have been terribly insensitive. Surely they had, uh, their own framework for these things?

"Anyway, don't worry!" her captor waved her wing. "That only happens to chickens, and you aren't going to be a chicken. You are to turn into a phoenix, Sol. Isn't that wonderful? I just don't think anything else would fit your heritage half as well! You see, we are big on following thematic parallels here. Your bloodline was born in fire, so it only makes sense that the element would keep you company in your next life, too. Plus, maybe you don't know, but phoenixes can't actually die! Which means you are not trading immortality for mortality-- you are only getting a different flavor of it, so to speak. A better one." The bird talked and talked and talked, and really, did she not need to breathe? So far, the answer seemed to be a resounding 'nope'. (The feathers burrowed themselves deeper, so much that Sol could feel them in her stomach. What was going on, even? No scholars had confirmed that feathers grew in birds' organs, god damn it!)

"No need to worry about your wardrobe, either. Once your transformation is complete, we'll take care of it! You will be able to wear whatever you want, too, because being a bird = freedom. Indeed, there are no creatures more free than us, and nobody will dare to police you here. Your only duty will be your own happiness." Wow, sounded like a dream, right? ...maybe a little too good to be true, just like everyone with a vaguely functioning brain would realize. Eh, though! There was no way that this creature actually meant her harm, right? Because, obviously, mysterious kidnappers were the most trustworthy sources of information ever.

"In other words, you're like, super lucky to be picked by us. Will you sign the contract? It's a formality, meant to protect us from... uhh, legal consequences of something and something else. Don't sweat it. Lawyers are just uptight that way, you see?" A neat stash of documents poofed into existence right before Sol's eyes, and it proceeded to... sign itself? With her name? Wow, what an advanced technique! (Briefly, the sun princess was able to glimpse phrases such as 'loss of humanity,' 'unimaginable pain' and, finally, 'incontinence.' Whoever had written this contract, she must have been super thorough!)

"Alright, that's it. Henrietta, Patty, would you bring the gasoline?" And, sure enough, two more mutants appeared out of nowhere, carrying a large canister. Uh oh. "For you to become a phoenix, we must first burn you alive," the birdie said, in a voice that almost sounded sorrowful. "Well, what can I say? You did agree to it. Trust me, this will hurt me more than it will hurt you, little princess. You can thank your mommy!"

And, in the resulting silence? Selene's voice cracked like a whip. "What on earth is happening here, you bunch of degenerates?!"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Ah, the way that Sol looks at the birdie? It's like her eyes have turned to stars with how they shine and sparkle. There is just nothing, absolutely nothing, more exciting than turning into a real live bird and never having to look back at her mom's stupid court with all those stupid rules and stupid fiancées and stupid Selenes! Finally, finally, finally she will be free. Dude, she could tear up just thinking about how happy this prospect makes her, but she holds back if only so that she can take note everything her savior is telling her.

She nods rapidly, "Got it, I won't die of constipation. That's so important. Like I read a story about a lady who had a heart attack on her toilet and she was found moon side up, if you're catching my drift. I mean, I don't care too much about image or reputation," it's already in the tank and probably has been since her third day of life, "but I always thought I'd go down in a blaze of glory. Or maybe peacefully in my sleep with my pirate wife and seven hundred adopted children by my side. But you should know, it's really not the cows' fault! It's how they're raised––all clustered together and just no room to graze. Really sad stuff. I mean, you're totally right though. My mom definitely invented industrialized farming. She said something about them being prophetic and that's why it was important to have too many. My cows, however, are really good girls and while they do have the worst farts ever, I make sure they graze the grasslands and that their poops can fertilerize the soil. It's all about praxis. Hey do you know what they say praxis? I don't get it. Are they mispronouncing practice? Am I even using it right? These are the questions that plague my con-science." (Well, among other things. Like her warcrimes. Haha, but there is no need to focus on those. Ahem!)

When the birdie reveals her birdsona to her? Sol could just explode from excitement! She squinches up her face, clenches her fist, and begins doing little stomps from excitement. "A freaking phoenix?! That's so perfect! I love them! I once saw one flying around the palace once, but no one believed me. Aries told me the phoenix hasn't been seen for centuries, but I swear my eyes wouldn't deceive me like that. Like, how can you mix up a fiery birdie-bird like that?" she rolls her eyes and when the contract is presented to her, well, to say that Sol would have read it had she been given the time is rather hopeful. Instead, she just shrugs and doesn't even question the random phrases she did catch. She assumes that the larger paragraph had probably said stuff like, "there is definitely no loss of humanity," "this is unimaginably painless," and "here is a fun SAT word as a bonus, incontinence." Nope, Sol definitely won't question the bad vibes that are starting to creep up in her stomach. No matter what happens, this just has to be better than her current position! Like, at worse she might die but that is an inevitability for anyone so, like, whatever. No fear and stuff.

"Light it up, light it up!" she encourages, spreading out her arms as the gasoline douses her skin. She isn't scared of it hurting. She's literally fire proof, and it makes sense that a phoenix would need to be lit up and burnt to a crisp to fully transform. The logic is right there and not even that hard to understand. "Once my mom turned my blood into lava, so I have experience in the burned alive department. Like, I mean, I didn't burn alive but it sure felt bad. Plus, lava is hotter than fire pretty frickin' sure. Anyway, I'd light myself up to save you the matches, but, uh, this is kinda embarrassing but I'm not that good with fi––"

Of course. Of freaking course. Ugh. Leave it to the worst killjoy in her life showing up to ruin the party. Part of her wants to ignore the moon daughter as she has been doing over the past few weeks, but she thinks better of it. Mostly because she can easily see Selene chopping up her bird friends if she doesn't offer a sound explanation for what's going on. She doesn't want to make such a terrible first impression with her new homies! Especially since they have been getting along so well. She gestures to her new friends/family that she'll handle this, "I got this, dw dw."

She crosses her oil slicked and feather covered arms over her chest and turns to face Selene. "You said I was like a fledging and now I'm finally going to get my wings. I'm going to be a phoenix! Jelly?" Wow, it sure is weird talking to to Selene again. She ignores the weirdness and continues pretending everything is fine. (Even if her beating hearts insist that this is making her nervous.) "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be, uh, looking for the... whatever?" She doesn't even dare think that this is some kind of rescue mission. More than likely, Selene sensed people having fun and decided that it was an insult to her existence as the most miserable person in the heavens. Or something. "How did you even find us? Stalker much?"
 
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Syntra

Baba Yaga
So, let it be known that Selene was not a stalker. Definitely not! Just like any wise ruler-to-be, the moon princess valued her information, but she never would have stooped as low. Sol of all people wouldn't have been one to send her over the metaphorical edge, either-- in fact, she would be happy to forget that the sun princess existed at all, with her ridiculousness, stupidity, and laughter that was way more infectious than it had any right to be. Just!!! All those times Selene had felt compelled to smile totally destroyed her reputation, you see? As always, it was Sol's fault, and no, she wasn't going to examine why. (Self-reflection, she believed, was for cretins. Why look inwards, after all, when you could focus your gaze literally anywhere else? She knew what was going on inside of her head, mostly because she happened to be in charge of that. RIP to others, but Selene was different.) "How dare you!" the moon princess shouted, wallowing in her righteous anger. "I'll have you know that I don't care about you at all. If I could care any less, I'd forget your cursed name. No, I'm only there because..." ...because the energy eruptions she was getting from this place were worrying, to put it mildly... "...because I am unfamiliar with this brand of magic. I was merely curious, is all. I am sure that self-improvement is an entirely foreign concept to you, though, isn't it? Well, not all of us have twiddling their thumbs around as their biggest hobby, sunshine. Some of us thirst after knowledge!"

Meanwhile, Sol's new best friend straight up appeared to be having a heart attack. "T-that's her! Luna's spawn!" she pointed her wing at her, as if there could possibly be any confusion regarding who she meant exactly. "What are you doing here, daughter of the Moon? That isn't right. The contract forbids your very presence, and even you must bow your head to it. Get lost! You aren't wanted here." Or anywhere, Selene thought bitterly, but it wasn't like that had stopped her before. Oh no, no, no.

"Should I want to be commanded by a bunch of headless chickens," the moon princess smirked, "I shall... uhh, found a city where a headless chicken is a mayor. I can do that, you see, as I am a princess. Such things are entirely within my jurisdiction." Alright, so maybe that wasn't the coolest comeback of the century, but so what? Selene cared not about such frivolities. Those who considered verbal lashings to be fun had issues, and... and life just wasn't about keeping oneself entertained, anyway. Only caricatures like Sol held such a sick perspective-- women allergic to responsibility, and prone to turning their kingdoms into dust. Yes, yes! Goofing off was dangerous, for in doing so, you fell prey to your worst instincts. You practically admitted that your brain was worthless, you see? Because if shiny distractions were enough to sway you, you might as well cut your own head off.

"Oh?" the birdie tilted her head to the side. Her eyes darted from Selene to Sol, and from Sol right back to Selene. (Had the moon princess been able to see her? Why, she would have said that her microscopic brain was hatching some sort of plan!) "Very well, then. Just like your mother, I see you have no respect for sacred vows! Not that that is surprising. Wicked women such as yourself will never be able to understand the beauty of the black market organ trade..." wait, what, "...and it was too silly of me to expect otherwise. Your heart is rotten, Selene! Although... that isn't correct, is it?" she gave her a cruel smile. "Because you don't have one, you pathetic empty shell. You're less than nothing! A mere imitation of what you could have been, once, had you not been broken beyond repair."

There was a quiet ssss, and once Selene realized what it was? It was too late, because they'd already set Sol on fire. ...whoopsie. (The flames licked at her skin, marking her as theirs, theirs, theirs, in a way nothing else had ever done before. Hell, even Helia's lava had felt like a lover's kiss in comparison! This was different-- deeper, somehow, as if the fire was burning her very core.)

"Sol!" Was it Selene's voice that had screamed her name? It couldn't have been, and yet, yet the moon princess could recognize it was her tongue that moved, her throat that felt so very tight. Curious, indeed. Perhaps someone was actually manipulating her? With the air being this thick with magic, nothing was impossible.

"There, there's your fire," the bird sang out, in this annoying, ear-piercing way. (Did the sound seriously need to exist?! Selene couldn't possibly imagine a creature that found it bearable, yet alone pleasing. Ah, another proof that Helia had only created this world as a big practical joke!) "The other component of the equation, of course, is blood. What, I hope you didn't think you didn't have to sacrifice anything? You of all people should understand that magic has its laws, Sol! ...thankfully, we have a convenient impostor within our grasp. Won't you kill her? I have it on good authority that she's a bitch, anyway."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Sol rolls her eyes at Selene's claim she doesn't care. Don't get it twisted, the sunbeam doesn't think that the moonbeam likes her. She made that pretty freaking clear a few weeks ago, but she is smart enough to know that it's apathy that is the true opposite to care. Selene clearly is not indifferent. She hates Sol, so she obviously has some sort of investment in her whether she is aware of it or not. That fact is comforting to the young phoenix for some reason.

"What part of, 'I'm turning into a phoenix,' sounds like I'm not familiar with the concept of self-improvement? Phoenixes are easily the cooliest mythical birdie out there. I think I will like it more than being a Sol, too. So it's a major improvement! An upgrade! My final Pokémon evolution," she smiles, rolling her eyes like it's Selene who is being the stupid/ridiculous one. (She wishes that her counterpart wouldn't call her sunshine, because from her mouth? It just makes her favorite nickname sound like an insult. She wishes she could like it coming from her dumb counterpart, she does have a nice way of pronouncing it, but after everything? After all those insults and the confusing feelings? She doesn't want any reason to think they're on a nickname basis.)

As much as she wants to put up a thick wall between herself and the moon daughter? When her new bird friend starts insulting Selene? The Sun heiress feels her stomach jump and her mouth drop. Just!!!!! Um!!!! Excuse her!!!!!! Sol worked for the right to insult her rival––through months of research and having to spend every waking moment of her day with her, she carefully figured out Selene's faults (so many) and how to throw them back at her in the meanest way her brain will allow. So what gives this friggin' bird the right? Yeah, she shouldn't care––like, at all––but she can't help herself. As someone born with a natural rival, it is her goddess given right to insult her as she pleases. Besides, what is the bird even talking about? Her rumor mill is sorely misinformed, because everyone needs hearts. Like, that's just math. Ugh, that's fine. Sol will teach her bird friends the ways of maths and such once her transformation is complete. (Besides, she's seen glimpses of Selene's kindness. They were blink and you'll miss it moments, sure, but they existed and sometimes Sol thinks about them when she wants to feel sad.) "Um, ex-squeeze you, my fine feathered friend, heh," see what she did there? "but that's not super nice and I don't think my mom approves of the black market organ trade either unless she, specifically, needs the organs. Also, Selene is full of at least 95 percent unbridled rage, 80 percent spite, and like 30 percent insults. Her last ones weren't that great, not sure what was up there, but trust. She's real mean. Anyway, with all of those percents she litch-rally cannot be empty."

In the middle of all of this, Henrietta (she thinks) comes over with a torch and, rather happily, Sol offers her arm. She regrets offering her arm.

Her body lights aflame, so hot she’s worse than the Sun. Her entire world becomes white. The feathers stuck in her don’t seem affected, but her remaining patches of skin burst and melt away. She opens her mouth and the scream that erupts from her shreds her throat to ribbons. The flames sear straight into her bones, until she feels as though this is what she is made of and, technically, she is made of fire but this puts everything she has ever known to shame. The former (?) young goddess collapses to her knees, then forward onto her stomach, unable to move as her body is turned into a monument of pain. The tears in her eyes don't even stand a chance. They evaporate before they can even well in her eyes. Her fingers dig into the nest, trying hold onto something, do anything to escape this feeling but it's starting to worm into her hearts and brain until she's pretty sure she is becoming something much worse than a goddess. (If she could even think, she might admit that she's been played. She might realize that she probably isn't becoming a phoenix.)

She remembers hearing her name a few seconds ago and that's when she remembers that Selene had come to crash the party. If she had room to feel anything other than pain, she’d be embarrassed that the other woman is seeing her like this. "Nnngh," she moans out, trying to push herself up only to immediately fall back onto her stomach. (Her eyes are bloodshot and so dry she can barely see more than a few feet in front of her.) The command to kill the moon daughter doesn't exactly reach the sunbeam (?), but she does register that the birdie insulted Selene again. “You’re right,” she grunts, squeezing her eyes shut to escape, “but you don’t even know her.” (Not that she really thinks it’s worth getting to know Selene. Like, the insult material isn’t worth it and why would you even wanna get to know someone just to have the privilege of getting to insult them effectively?) “S-step off, dude.”

Weakly, she tries once more to stand but once she’s pushed herself onto her forearms her not friend places her foot onto Sol’s back and pushes her back to the ground. “No, I think I will step on,” the birdie’s tone darkens. “Henrietta, Patty, take care of the moon bitch. I think the fledging is grown enough for a flying lesson.” Sol is picked up from the ground like a rag doll and the bird dangles her body over the cliffside. “The key to flying is to have fun and be yourself! Don’t be like Prudence!”
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"Turning into a phoenix won't solve your problems, Sol," Selene said, ignoring the fact that she was sounding like a cheesy self-help book. "What are you trying to attain here, anyway? No matter what happens, you won't ever escape from yourself. The blood will still be on your hands, because you have chosen to stain them. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about." (Again, what? What, what, what?! The moon princess wasn't there to heal her enemy's psychological scars, goddess dammit. If anything, she should be twisting the metaphorical knife in her wound. 'Bonding over shared experiences' was some hippie propaganda, indeed, and... uhhh, what was a 'hippie', actually? Most likely a type of stain remover, Selene thought. Nothing to ponder over too deeply.) "Besides, you are only manifesting your plebeian tendencies again. Don't you know that Articuno is the coolest mythological bird? Flames are so overrated-- every single edgelord ever always goes for them. Just, it's so terribly uninspired."

Then, for some reason, Sol started... defending her??? It was a lowkey type of defense, sure, equivalent to pissing on someone who happened to be on fire, but Selene still found herself feeling weirdly touched. (Maybe because nobody had done it for her, ever. Luna had always taught her that you were responsible for protecting yourself-- should you fail to do that, then well, perhaps you didn't deserve to live in the first place. For the most part, Selene did agree with the sentiment. Still, it was... kind of nice? Yes, nice, in this warm, unfamiliar way, to hear someone going out of their way for her. To hear someone affirm her worth, in this extremely roundabout way.) "Sol is right," words that the moon princess had never expected to utter, by the way, "and I will prove it! I'm full of so many types of rage that you don't even have the vocabulary to name them all, feathers-for-brains. How can I be empty? Moi, the great Selene?" You know what, this wasn't actually so bad! Perhaps, if Sol was trained properly, she could act like her faithful puppy-- always following her around, and defending her every step along the way. Yes, yes! That dynamic just felt right, akin to a piece of puzzle falling in place.

...too bad that she apparently had to save her first, though. Sigh. (The screams that were clawing their way out of her throat? Okay, privately, Selene did admit that they were blood-curdling. Did they seriously have to torture her like that? Sol was a princess, too, and deserved certain allowances, thank you very much! Those barbaric creatures should bow before the might of the royalty already, sheesh. ...plus, if anyone was to hurt her, it should have been Selene herself. Just, taking her prey away from her? Claiming her vengeance? How dared they, the glorified dinosaur abortions that they were?!)

"You can just stop breathing now," Selene smirked, "because you've made an enemy of me. Should you choose to die, it will be a gentler path." Immediately, the silver claws covered her hands, and then? Then Selene rushed forward, guided by her thirst for blood. (No, she didn't miss. Why would you even ask about that? Eagerly, the claws sank into the birds' tender flesh, and when she ripped them apart... oh, it was the sweetest sound that the moon princess had ever heard.) "Yes, yes! Die, and beg for your miserable lives. It won't save you, but perhaps it will convince me to end you faster, at least. Wouldn't you like that?" If they possessed above-room-temperature IQs, they certainly would! Because the alternative... the alternative was much scarier, and wrapped in so much pain that it made the moon princess smile. Ah, good old torture! Truly, nothing beat being above the law, and getting to exact whatever twisted version of justice she happened to like that very day.

Speaking of pain, though? Yeah, more torture techniques probably wouldn't help Sol now. (Unless the hammer method was actually valid? The moon princess had heard that, in order to soothe pain, you only had to inflict an even greater injury upon the patient so that they forgot about their initial grievance, but that did strike her as slightly tongue-in-cheek. Not that Selene wanted to help Sol for real, of course! No, she was just... participating in this fun, fun mental exercise.)

A mental exercise or not, some part of her was taking it seriously, it seemed. You know how she knew? Well, somewhere within her, strange magic stirred. (It had been sleeping in her belly, so deep that Selene hadn't even known of its existence, though now? Now, she could feel the power at her fingertips, yearning to break through.) "Don't move," she said, as annoyed as ever. "I'm trying to aim properly, alright? By the Moon, you truly are insufferable! Do you want to burn to a crisp? Because you are acting like someone who wants to burn to a crisp." Annoying, annoying, annoying! (And also precious, for some reason. To her non-existent heart, that was.)

A cool, gentle energy enveloped her hands, and Selene needed no more assurances to know just how healing it was. You just sensed that kind of thing, you see? It was water and ice and snow, and everything in between, and everyone knew that those were gentler than fire. So, what did she do next? Without thinking about it, she sent the stream towards Sol, her breath bated.
 
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starboob

lover / leaver
Seriously, Sol doesn't get why there is not a more expressive way to say, 'owie owie owie,' because,'owie owie owie,' just is not cutting it! Even her screams aren't helping her relieve her body from the torment that she is suffering. She's hardly concerned that she is dangling over a cliff's edge and definitely going to plummet to her death, because her entire world is just searing eruptions across her skin, through her bones, and behind her eyelids. In fact, it's entirely possible that she is not aware of what is happening. She does recognize that, somehow, she is crumpled back in the nest and that her position does seem to be different than what she last remembers, but it's not as though she has the brainpower to figure out why. Being burned alive by a flame hotter than her mom's kiss is freaking distracting, okay!? (The skin around her cheeks has entirely melted away, leaving her bones and teeth exposed; she's pretty sure her hands are incinerated; and there's probably a hole in her stomach. The sunbeam is not looking too hot and if she had the awareness, she would probably be thankful that Selene cannot see her in such a grotesque, mangled state. If only because it would be a major eyesore/stomach turner. Not because she cares about Selene finding her attractive. That's just. Definitely not what would be going on.)

Her screams eventually quiet to whimpers as she gets used to her slow burn. In the background, she can somewhat hear a scuffle and feels the thumps of bodies dropping, but, again, her brain is at a disconnect and not putting together what is happening around her. It's not until she's squinting through flames and blurs, that she makes out a soft silver presence. A quiet ethereal beauty, as far as she is concerned. "A-an angel?" she whispers as the coolest kiss caresses her body. Her mouth parts, a soft relieved gasp flies free as the flames calm around her body––more than that, she can feel her body healing. (Never, never has she known ice or water to be something so soothing. She has always been told that water is poison and ice is the antithesis to life.) Colors dance behind her eyes––so many, blurring together in this rainbow kaleidoscope way. Greedily, she leans into the stream, regaining enough of her strength to move the parts of her body that have been destroyed under the surge. Eventually, she notices or recognizes that it's Selene who is helping her. Selene, who hates her. Selene, who thinks she's a little [bleep]. Selene, who has tried to kill her or have her killed. Selene, Selene, Selene. The Moon to her Sun.

More than that, as she accepts the Moon's gift, the flames that had been clinging to her body start to peel away from her until the phoenix she had been meant to become is flying right in front of her. It's golden gaze meets with Sol's coal colored one. A flow of energy passes between the spirit of the phoenix and Sol's essence, both of them accepting each other as suitable hosts. The fiery spirit soars high up into the air, then nose dives straight into Sol's chest. The force pushes the young goddess backwards onto her bum, and a new kind of power rushes through her veins as their spirits fuse; an emblem glows on her chest, the mark of the phoenix, letting all know the Sun heiress has been chosen. Or something. Feathery, flame wings then sprout from her back while her eyes change briefly to the phoenix's golden tone. When they settle, her eyes, once black, are flecked with gold. The wings fold into her back and extinguish and everything is calm again and she is Sol. Well, Sol 2.0 probably, because she definitely just got a major power up. She feels completely rejuvenated––lighter, faster, stronger––it's such a stark contrast from how liquid hot she felt not even five minutes ago.

Her eyes finally flicker over to Selene, a mixture of hurt, appreciation, longing, resentment, and so many other feelings swirl in her at once, enough to make her dizzy. Slowly, she gets up from the ground and takes a few cautious steps towards her counterpart. "Sorry for being so saveable, I-I know you don't like that," she rubs the back of her neck, "I wouldn't be here without you. I don't think Mars was going to save me and I don't think she ever will," she admits, sounding embarrassed, and briefly letting her guard down around the one person she should have closed off long ago. "No one's got me like you do. Super sad, I know... 'cause we're... we're nothing." 'Ah, crap, she's probably annoyed I'm talking so much. Wrap it up!!' "But I've always meant it when I've said I want to help you get back home. It's not right that you're here, because duh. So lemme do this one last thing for you and then we're even, okay?"

With the phoenix's spirit fused with her own, she sees the world in new shades. Magical energy swirls in her vision, in all different colors and patterns, and over Selene's chest she can make out golden chains, attached to anchors, keeping her trapped in her mom's court. Interestingly, some of those anchors connect back to Sol. (That probably explains why Selene couldn't kill her.) "I think I know what to do," she muses, chewing on her lip as her fingers trail down Selene's sternum, "Hold still. This, um, probably won't hurt." She starts with the chains that connect the other heiress to this realm. The tips of Sol's fingers glow and glyphs begin to rise off of Selene's chest; she circles the glyphs around her fingers and lights them on fire to rid their hold over the moon princess.

The chains that thread them together, however, will be have to be dealt with differently. While they are golden and burning, she also sees that they have been woven together with blood, tied directly to Sol's life force. And to undo that kind of security... "Ah, okay... You know how to get back home from here, right? Because you're going to have to move quickly," since what she is about to do will definitely draw her mom's attention. "Like, you're gonna need to be quicker than lightning."

Not wanting to waste anymore time, lest she chicken out, and certainly not wanting to explain herself, she takes the dagger from her belt and plunges it into her stomach where her half of the seal is located. She grunts and tenses, but manages to keep a smile on her face, because it's what she does. She reaches to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Selene's ear and leaves her with this, "See you on the flip."

She twists the knife then yanks it out, falling over gracelessly. Thunder claps overhead and the air becomes electric.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Selene, healing? She, a daughter to death, and mother of monsters? Pffft! The mere notion of that sounded like a joke-- a joke, or perhaps one of those """poetic""" oxymorons that artistically bankrupt idiots used when they wanted to sound deep. You know, kind of like 'cold fire' or 'dark whiteness'? Yes, that sort of thing. The moon princess herself would personally order the execution of anyone who would dare to slander her like that, but... well, exceptional situations were exceptional, she supposed. (The magic flowed under her hands, unrelenting. It was a stream, yet lighter than a feather-- gentler than a whisper, too, and just as calming. If it could speak, it would probably utter phrases like 'shh, it will be okay,' 'there, there' or even 'I'm here, don't worry,' and hey, wasn't that stupid? Utterly, irrevocably idiotic? ...despite that, though, Selene found some amount of comfort in it. Not even in what was being said, but in the knowledge that Sol wouldn't feel so alone, even if only for a moment.)

When the flow dried out, the moon princess felt parched. (Was that the price of soiling herself with a good deed? Her teachers had warned her that she might be allergic to them, but she hadn't really taken them seriously. Even more importantly, never before had good deeds tempted her! To think that she'd lose her first time to such a useless, miserable waste of space... Ugh, there would be a bitter aftertaste in her mouth for months, Selene just knew that. Maybe forever.)

Of course, Sol was Helia's daughter, and if there was one thing the sun happened to be an expert at, it was always demanding more. Most people would have been fine with just being healed, but nooo, that wasn't extra enough for Her Dumbness! Instead, she had to go for a powerup. Great, Selene thought. Now I accidentally helped her unlock her hidden potential. Is there anything more protagonist-y than that? Again, the moon princess didn't have the faintest idea of what that was, but it couldn't have been good. The sun court getting more resources was never a desirable outcome! ...that, and 'protagonism' also sounded like some kind of bioweapon. "Don't mention it," Selene sighed. "No, I mean it. I would like to forget that this incident happened altogether. Do you know how terrible it is, rescuing an enemy's daughter? If someone hears of this, Luna will rip my heart out of my chest with her own hands." Indeed, and that was the tamest of punishments Selene could think of. Being slowly skinned alive, anyone? Hahaha... haha... ha... Returning home will be a riot, I can tell. A riot that, apparently, would happen faster than she thought!

"What?" she asked, uncomprehending. "At least stop lying to me, Sol. As if you'd ever defy your mother! The toothless resistance you've engaged in so far is the furthest you'll ever go, so stop dangling my freedom in front of me. It is disgraceful." Usually, you see, Selene could read people reasonably well. She understood what made them tick-- saw to the bottom of their pathetic little souls, and grasped who they were, without their silly little masks. That day, though? That day, she'd misread Sol. "W-wait. You would truly release me, just like that? No strings attached?" (Nobody had ever done something similar for her. In Selene's life, there were debts, favors, and all things reciprocal, but never just... kindness, out of the depth of one's heart. Something meant for her benefit only. How come she found it with Sol now, of all people?! With the one person from whom the moon princess could never truly accept it? ...except that she had to, and so she did. That was how simple it was.)

"Fine," Selene huffed, as if it was her who was doing her a big favor, "but make it quick. I cannot afford for your mother's lackeys to see us. And if it is some kind of trap, then you will regret it. That much I swear." Surprisingly enough, however, it seemed that Sol was... sincere??? Or whatever it was that goodie two shoes like her called it, anyway. (Something within the moon princess cracked, with all the loudness of a dying star. It wasn't a bad crack, however-- to her, it resembled the breaking of a shell, necessary for a new life to be born.) "...thank you," she muttered, in disbelief. "I won't forget this."

***

The path to the moon kingdom was carved into her very soul, so it only took the faintest shred of attention to follow it. Unfortunately for Selene, that meant that she had time to... um, think about things. (Why had Sol that? Was it just some elaborate trap for her to fall into? Would her freedom be snatched away from her at the last second, to the great amusement of everyone who saw? Like a hunted animal, the moon princess expected an enemy at every corner, but nobody ever came for her. She was alone, just her and her thoughts. ...peculiar, truly. Indecipherable, like a letter written in a foreign language.)

That loneliness was a blessing was something that Selene recognized fairly quickly. Upon setting her foot to the moon palace, her subordinates parted before her, but the way her mother looked at her? Oh, it was so searing that she didn't need her eyes to see it.

"My daughter," she rose from her throne, "finally. Do I understand this right, then? Are you bringing me the most fortunate news?"

"No," Selene's throat tightened. "I... I wasn't able to do what you wanted."

With a quiet click of her tongue, Luna headed towards her. "Oh? I am not happy to hear that, Selene. As always, it does hurt me to see what a disappointment my daughter turned out to be. Perhaps you're in need of restitching?" No, not that! "Everyone, get out. Me and my daughter will need... hmm, some privacy."

***

A few weeks later, a letter arrived to the sun court.

Queen Helia,

For your crimes against the moon kingdom, I demand justice. You kidnapped my daughter, brutalized my people, and disrespected my treaties. No more, I say! From this day onward, I declare war against you. Not a single one of you worms will survive!

Signed,

Queen Luna
 

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