Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

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Posting Elemental
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Post Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:59 am

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

Oooh, yesyes, your workshop! AuraSidra gushed, and pranced up to the edge of the wooden incline with her usual, youthful enthusiasm. The moment her hoof touched it, however, she paused. Lifted her leg. Sniffed at the strange, dead wood that spiraled and twisted up into the air. She had walked uphill before, of course, but this was... Different, somehow. Uphill was still on the ground, and this lifted her friend up over her head, making the blue filly crane her neck back to keep the vibrant young mare in sight.

OakHeart paused as well, watching her, curious about what she would do. This could easily be a defining moment in what sort of leader the young one would grow to be.

That she didn't even look to him spoke volumes; not for reassurance, nor for his own reaction. She sniffed the wood, looked at her friend who so confidently strode upwards into the air, tapped the incline with her hoof once more, and took a few deliberate steps. Once she had a feel for the angle and the strange, hollow vibration that tickled with every step, she was right back to her usual, bouncy pace.

Interesting, OakHeart thought, and shook his head slightly as he also grew used to the new way the incline interacted with his step - it was different than walking on grass or sand, different than the rough mountain stone. He could understand her hesitation and found it all the more reason to approve of her willingness to try it herself; those who relied too heavily on others during uncertainty did not in truth lead anything.

Glancing up let him see the pretty flower bobbing along, tucked safely behind Astarte's left ear. The sight made him smile; a pretty flower for a pretty desert blossom.

Grinning about all these Books?, AuraSidra asked, and though she was teasing him it told him that she had looked back to check on him; another hopeful trait.

Grinning at Astarte, he corrected, and didn't bother at all to quiet his voice as he added his thoughts. A pretty flower for a pretty desert blossom. You found a very impressive friend, Princess. Try not to screw it up.

AuraSidra snorted at the thought, flicking her tail at his nose as she cawed I love Astarte more than you do! At least until you get ahold of those Books, she teased, and there was a tone of amusement in her voice as she said I would be hard pressed to match that level of enthusiasm.

She could see it now, what she had missed before; OakHeart loved learning. AuraSidra had always believed he was simply excited about his talents, but if he was truly never done learning new ways to see the world around him then that would be the source of his joy; learning, discovering, expanding.

They passed a landing and a doorway - a new set of flooring beyond it, and now the term of the 'third floor' began to make sense. How anyone brought another ground to float above their heads, and another above that, was well beyond them, but the marvel of the achievement was well worth the puzzlement.

That thought reminded AuraSidra of something that had occurred to her a moment before, and she trotted forward a few steps so that she was within striking range of her older friend's tail.

When you said it was usually in a place, this library, she asked, and swiveled her ears as some new sound reached them, Did you mean that it sometimes is not? Our home moves like that, as well, and even has layers upon itself like your Tower. Somehow, in a manner that none had ever been able to figure out, there were forests stacked upon forests within their home realm, but not in any way that would be obvious - they didn't have a whole lot of floating islands, and there were no roots in the sky.

What she didn't know was that it was better to think of it as all being stacked in the same area, one atop another, and a step sideways - or up or down - would shift them into that other space that was almost where they had been standing previously. OakHeart had only just begun to try and understand the nature of such a land, but Eternal, with her abilities that matched that of their Bonded, was the only one to truly grasp the reality of their realm.

Maybe you can find a Book about the concept, within this library, OakHeart said lightly, and grinned as she all but chittered with enthusiasm. That would unquestionably help her to see their world a little differently!
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Post Sun May 12, 2019 10:33 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

((So, so sorry for the wait! >_< The semester is over now, so I finally have time to write; hope it's okay))

It was only hearing the tentative start of hooves behind here that Astarte realized how strange the architecture of the tower might be to her companions—but of course, by the time she turned to look, AuraSidra had already found her way. As she had with the bridge, as she had had with her wings, as she would likely continue to do. She smiled down before continuing her walk up. “It might not look like much, but there are reinforcement enchantments scaffolded beneath. Sometimes they’re visible, in the right light—like trellises of glass.”

The rhythm of their joined passage echoed up the hollow core, probably more sound than the still air had heard in some time—more than Astarte recalled ever hearing, at least. Many of her bond-family preferred to stay closer to the ground and, though she’d never been treated any different for it, she imagined their must be some strangeness in her natural disregard for atavistic instinct. But the fact that her friends were willing to follow her this far—her heart warmed once more.

“A pretty flower for a pretty desert blossom.”

“I love Astarte more than you do!”

She was proud of herself for managing not to trip too noticeably. So, it
would be like this all the time. She’d just have to get used to glowing like a forge, perhaps—but then, maybe it would lessen when it came to the books. That was the real draw, in any case. She was just the path. Just the path.

She felt AuraSidra dance closer, the easy hop-skip of her step chasing at her tail. “Yes, it does move sometimes.” It had been stable the last month or so—she hoped she wasn’t jinxing it. “Sive says that temporal-spatial transmutation has never been her strong suit, so that’s probably why.” She ducked her head in an assent to OakHeart’s musing. “I think there might indeed be books on it—she tends to fixate on her weaknesses.”

A trait they shared, though she wasn’t quite sure if it was a good thing or not—here she was returning to the library after being told to spend some time away, after all. But it was different this time. Yes, that was it.

Still, it was a relief to see the familiar, arched double-doors appear around the easy bend of the landing. Sometimes the tower responded to stray thoughts in odd ways, an internal logic that mystified even Sive in certain turns. Astarte dipped her head down to the joined handles, let out a low string of hummed notes. The silver and glass fogged slightly, and then swung wide.

So, they were welcome. She smiled over her shoulder. “Come in.”

The reading area was right in the arch of the door, a wide circle of open floor criss-crossed in various rugs and cushions. A few pieces of light furniture—small desks, an assortment of chairs—were arranged close to the walls, around various niches and hollows set into the stone itself. Small lights in delicate glass baubles flickered from within a number of them, adding to the soft glow from the simple chandelier set into the ceiling. It was a space that seemed designed to comfortably accommodate all forms of creature—and beyond it stretched the shelves. A dozen at least, spanning back much farther than should be possible, waiting patiently in the afternoon light.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Mon May 13, 2019 10:28 am

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

OOC| Yay! I LOVE this! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

BIC| The door opened to sights beyond imagining. The pair of them crowded into the doorway as Astarte invited them in, and for several long seconds they remained that way, their shoulders pressed together as their heads swiveled around in awe.

AuraSidra took the first tentative step in, releasing OakHeart to follow at her heels before veering off to explore a little. Flat things on the ground, things that were softer than the marble and wood that surrounded them. It felt like feather grass, almost, and tickled his nose, flowed across the frog in his hoof.

There were other things - some still flat but not as fluffy, others not as flat but somehow softer. Enchanted lights made him tilt his head, and he looked comically puzzled as he regarded the dozen small suns that had been captured at the top. How was that done when there was no sky above them, only more of the Tower?

Temporal-spacial transmutation, AuraSidra said, pulling his attention away from the large piece of dead wood that had one of the strange lights sitting on it. She sounded thoughtful, almost distracted, while she regarded one of the stranger pieces around them, one of those that looked to have no purpose other than a hole that sat higher than the ground.

Temporal is close to temporary, and temporary is impermanent - fleeting, a manifestation of time's changes. Time and space, then, and if to mutate is to change - and to transfer is to move - then that would be the part where it shifts about. She couldn't fathom the purpose of creating a hole raised off the ground, so she moved on, still talking to herself as she regarded the shelves. I had thought it a novelty to learn a new phrase; it seems there is so much more I do not yet know. These were nothing likes the Books at home. At home, pressed and dried leaves were marked upon with crushed berry, strung together with a bit of twine wrapped around a long thorn to pierce through and tie it up. What held these together she couldn't tell; the pages didn't smell of dried earth and leaves, and there was no trace of berry rot in the markings of the one she pulled out and opened on the floor (it never even occurred to her to set it higher on the dead wood that held the strange lights).

Leaving the less-flat, more-soft substance that shifted like some kind of sand-water hybrid underneath of him, OakHeart wandered over to sniff at the book as well. Written language was still fairly new for both of them, so he couldn't recognize all of the markings; but there was a diagram of concentric circles that intrigued him.

Hey, AuraSidra said with more than a touch of surprise, This has my name. Or part of it - Aura. She had only ever known that part of her name to refer to Auroras, so considering what an aura itself could be was a bit strange.

Oh, I see, OakHeart said, quickly scanning through the passage she had found. Whoever wrote this is talking about the life-energy, the essence that surrounds each creature with a manifestation of what they put into the cosmos. They call that surrounding energy an aura.

He kept reading, intrigued, and she craned over his shoulder as he frowned at the pages.

Wait, no, you do not have to be asleep or in a trance to project, he argued, although there was no point in arguing with a book. Our bonded has no need for it, at least.

But then they would not have met her, AuraSidra reasoned, and then frowned herself as she said This says it is because that life-essence is leaving the body to explore independently. Does that mean the body dies? And then, with a touch of panic, Does she die? Could she die, if it went too far from her?

No, of course not, OakHeart answered, instantly closing the book in question as he scooped the smaller filly in his wing and pulled her close. It was so easy to forget that she was still so young, and yet he slipped into the skin of "big brother" between one breath and the next, instantly ready to offer the comfort she needed. Our bonded calls it farsight; she just shifts her consciousness, but she remains aware and firmly inside of her own skin. There is no danger with only a part of her walking a separate distance, no risk of emptying her life-essence.

He guided her automatically back towards Astarte, towards the safety and comfort her friend represented, but he found himself stopped short when she said What about you? I have seen how tired you get. What if you drained your life-essence?

It does not work quite that way, he answered, and shook his head as he tried to find a way to explain his bouts of exhaustion. It is not like the rainstorm, which eventually empties itself out; this is a waterfall. Sometimes it can be redirected, or it can grow smaller or slower during a large freeze, but the waterfall does not just empty itself out.

When you work on the spring changes you push too hard, she accused, apparently unable to be deterred. You do not rest as often as you should; I have seen her nurse you back to your strength.

Once, he thought irritably, You saw it once, and only then because I made the mistake in your mother's lands!

Little Princess, there are some things you can not protect me from, he told her, and protecting me from myself is one of them. I can promise you that I will be careful, and you can do little more than trust me to do so.

You are asking me to entrust you with the care of someone I cherish, she challenged, and flicked an ear as he gave her a rather bemused expression.

Huh, he thought, completely unaware that his face was giving him away, I am cherished.

Yes, he told her, I am.

She gave him a long, level look, seeming to assess the worth of his vow of caution, before answering Very well. But you will answer to more than just me should you fail.

How did this suddenly become a promise to everyone? he lamented, cringing as his mother's face flashed before his mind, closely followed by his bonded and even Caustic. That one was also responsible for his care, and he had been vicious about aiding in his recovery when he had forgotten to stop for water while bringing spring to Nova's sun-cracked earth.

He looked at Astarte, his gaze basically wailing Help me! before saying I can only promise not to take heedless risk. Astarte can tell you, as a creator herself, that sometimes things simply... Happen. And you will not be able to rescue me from myself, as I would not be striving to be foolish.

Watch me.

He blinked, automatically tucking his wing back against his side as he shifted about to stand next to Astarte - hoping for protection, maybe? She hadn't sounded like a little filly needing comfort; she had sounded like an adult. Like an adult that was going to turn mountains into sand if they got in her way.





He flicked an ear as she stepped closer, completely uncertain what to do - he wasn't exactly surrounded by his element at the moment and it suddenly struck him how highly vulnerable he was up here. She could reject it all she wanted, but that was the truth of it; sometimes things just went wrong, and sometimes you simply couldn't save it.

Astarte taught me, AuraSidra said, and moved over in an effort to cuddle against her friend, perhaps in solidarity and perhaps in comfort. I made mistakes, I found trouble, and she saved me from myself. She was smart and brave and found a safe way to fix me before I could pop. I will do the same for you. For either of you, she said, and turned a clear-eyed gaze up to the older filly. There was love in that look, yes, but it was free of the blindness of hero-worship; those emerald bright eyes looked into the face of her friend with a respect born of knowledge, rather than innocence, and declared without words that she would fight to her last breath and with every ounce of her soul.

I do not care what it takes, she said as she looked back to her bondkin brother, I am not doing all of this to lose you, either of you, because "things happen." I will always find a way.

I know you will, he conceded, and he had to smile as he did; he believed her, goddess help him. Somehow, even if he was broken and bloody and slipping through death's door, she would find a way to drag his tattered hide back to safety, whatever it took. Alright. I know you will.

She rolled her eyes at Astarte in response, a look that all but screeched an exasperated What is wrong with him? as only the youthful could manage. One day he will understand, she told her sagely, and then ruined it by smiling when she added I refuse defeat.

It was perhaps an odd phrasing, but it went back to her first days as a foal; a sacred lesson from her mother.

They had been walking, making their way across cracked and arid earth towards the lush relief found within a hollowed boab tree. She had stopped and flopped on the ground, insisting she couldn't make it; her mother didn't stop, didn't even slow down. She simply told her that she could as she kept walking.

Eventually, Nova had walked far enough ahead to make alarm spike through the reluctant filly, and it got her back on her feet and racing to catch up. It was the start of a long discussion about defeat; in the end, she learned that she was only ever defeated if she stopped trying. She might not always succeed - attempting to race her mother at that age would have certainly left her trailing behind, for instance. But if she ran every day, if she didn't stop trying to be faster and run longer, then when she was grown she would eventually outpace her mother.

If she never stopped trying, then she was never truly defeated - it was merely a difficulty, a chance to be shown a place where she could grow.

She had fallen during that long walk, so very long ago. Her legs had grown shaky and given out on her; rather than asking why she fell, she was asked how she could manage not to fall again. Careful steps, testing her joints as she stumbled doggedly along, brought her focus to moving forward rather than on the distance yet remaining. Eventually, she made it to the hollow tree, without needing to be rescued by either her mother or her father, who had spent the entire walk circling overhead, keeping an eye on them and marking their distant destination.

You refuse a lot of things, OahHeart huffed, and snorted as she stuck her tongue out at him. Would she never hear the end of turning down his weird plant hybrids?

Shaking his head, OakHeart reached to nudge each of them with his nose before walking back to the book and carefully putting it back on the shelf. He was equally careful to step around all the strange items in the room, keeping his hooves on the hard floor.

There are so many questions, he told Astarte, swinging his head this way and that as he walked back to the pair, but I suppose the first one is which one of these books is your favorite. What would you recommend?

The books might be different, but at least they were recognizably books (although there were some strange markings in that one he had been skimming through; why would saying something in a different language change it, like the writer had suggested?). The rest of it - well, they could easily spend the entire day just talking about why anybody would want to have so many holes lifted off the ground.
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Post Tue May 14, 2019 6:29 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

She’d brought them wonder, it seemed, and she was glad of it. To give back something for the wild magic on the shore, the shifting of the earth and the coloring of the sky, for the desert that had bloomed for a moment on a sea of green. A collection of books and the room that held them—however enchanted it might be—still felt somewhat small in exchange, but she could give it. Astarte would open more doors for them, if she could.

“Feel free to wander, to read anything.” She withdrew to the side, close to a nearby section of wall with more regular carvings scored into its soft limestone. “Since it came open easily, I think that means we’re welcome to all within.”

These long ones had become her nooks—first for her “hands” to reach, before she grew to meet them. If Sive found anything in her own studies that might interest or edify the young filly, she’d place it here. Once upon a time, Astarte would find offerings on basic spellwork, on anatomy and mechanics, on the wonder machines of times past and realms far. Now her selections were fewer, and heavier in their purpose: A Treatise on the Dissolution of Material Will, slim volumes on binding and banishment, a tattered scroll catalogue of sacrifice instruments. Astarte scanned the titles briefly—but she’d leave that work for later. Alone.

Her friends had seemed to find at least one volume of interest—a heavier tome, well-designed for its somewhat unorthodox reading treatment. She drifted a bit closer, letting go a small giggle at OakHeart’s light outburst. “Most of them aren’t as comprehensive as they think they are, which is why Sive collects so many. You can probably find another that will say something completely different two or three books over.”

How little she knew of their bonded, save that she seemed powerful and many-gifted—but how could she not be, seeing that she held the bonds of such fantastic companions. Somewhat mortal still, though, judging by AuraSidra’s sudden concern. As OakHeart swept her up in his wing, she, too, found herself automatically closing the distance, stepping up the small ledge that separated the reading circle from the stacks. “My dayi NightTears is also gifted with Sight,” she offered, on the tail of the stallion’s comforting explanation—broadening it as she could. “It has not yet harmed him, and he walks the farther realms often enough.” At least, that’s what Avi had said, Khala Hellion.

Little comfort it gave though, at least as the Princess’ focus shifted.
“You push too hard…I have seen her nurse you back to your strength.”

“There are some things you can not protect me from.”

An echo, of soft, cutting conversations overheard—Avi and his brother, Amma and Khala Eve, Sive brokering the fragile peace in their Circle, in her soul. For what was the root of all Astarte was trying to undo but this: someone who knew not how treasured they were.
How could you not realize? She wondered, as the stallion caught her eye with his plea. You, so gifted, so unique in all the world. But really she would only need to look within, to her own quiet deference, to understand. “Yes, things—sometimes things will come apart.” She thought of that dark room, and what she’d put together there, and now so desperately sought to unmake. “Regardless of our intentions.”

She felt, perhaps, there was no need to say this—the trial on the beach had left its lessons on her, on AuraSidra moreso. But perhaps OakHeart had not had the full story of their encounter, or he might not come so close to the one who had so carelessly caused it. Might not look down with surprise to hear the filly speak as she had at the heart of rending power, to lash it to her will, to reject the violence done to her, to each of the ones in witness. Astarte met the promise in those blazing eyes, held it with the solemnity it required, and with no less tenderness. “I still wish I had not brought that pain upon you,” she admitted, lowering her head to return the affectionate nudge. “But I know your strength, now.” She found OakHeart’s words pulled from her own mouth. “I, too, know you will.”

And just as easily as she’d weighed the air with her power, AuraSidra just as easily lightened it with the casual roll of her eyes. Astarte shrugged, mock-conspiratorially, “Sooner, if it is your expectation that needs meeting, I’m sure.”

She shot a quick, warm smile at the much-maligned stallion, an instinctual half-apology—she imagined that the bond the two shared might be rife with such challenge and testing. Perhaps it would be her role to offer something gentler, uncomplicated, shallow though it might be; she still couldn’t imagine she could mean anything more. Not in light of AuraSidra’s heavy pledge to him, no with that courteous, familial nudge as he walked off to straighten the stacks. But she was content—company like theirs was more than she’d ever imagined for herself, in her childhood apart.

But what to show them, now? She knew the shelves by heart, even with their occasional shifting in and out of layered space. “I admit, I read more for research now than pleasure, so I’m more useful for reference instead of recommendation.” She walked over to one of the nearby windows—a tall, narrow construction of colored glass—and hummed another combination of notes. Gradually, the panes shifted from their original flourishes into neat, multicolored rows. “This is the map of the general sections, if you’re interested in a particular subject. But what I used to read, when I was little—” she looked over to the far wall, to the shelves that formed a rounded mirror to the reading circle. “They’re back there. Myths, legends, poems.” She ducked her head a bit shyly. “A few romances.”
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Posting Elemental
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Post Wed May 15, 2019 5:07 am

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

Not as comprehensive, AuraSidra murmured as she sniffed at the colors in the wall. It was like an aurora had been trapped in ice - but when she touched it, it wasn't cold. They are different than the Books at home, then; those are complete tomes of sacred knowledge.

What are "romances?" OakHeart asked, and looked at her with a spark of fondness in his eye, remembering that apologetic smile as she ducked her head. She was so gentle in all that she did; he was thinking of her more and more as a flower, a rare blossom of joy. If these "romances" caught such a reaction from her, he simply had to see them.

And - what was the word? Poems? AuraSidra asked, leaving the not-cold not-ice to look where Astarte had indicated. I think I know that word from our traveling Gypsy. She said it was like spoken music.

Hey, I asked first, OakHeart grumbled, only half in jest as he squirmed around AuraSidra's curious nose. If you read romances to enjoy them, rather than to study them, does that mean you no longer enjoy reading if you focus on learning from them? Maybe we can share your favorite one; the break could even help with your studies. Sometimes a random word, completely unrelated, brought enlightenment to the fumbling mind.

AuraSidra snorted, biting at his tail in a way that was more playful than sharp, before reaching to nudge Astarte once again. Show him your favorite, she encouraged, drifting off to explore more of the strange treasures in this place. Learning more of what you enjoy or hold dear is worth more than all the wonders of this place.

It was said in about the same way as one might claim that a draft of fresh water was more important than all the beauty of the ocean. It was a given, not merely common sense but absolutely vital, and it went without saying that even those who dwelled among the seashore needed the fresh rivers that ribboned the landscape, the salt filtered out as the water moved inland. Of course exploring strange wonders was inconsequential to finding what Astarte loved, and even better, sharing in that love. It was just the way of it.

OakHeart glanced at her as she wandered around, occupying herself and freeing him to pester their friend with questions. A tilt of his ear belied his thoughts, his disconcerting concern, for as she made her way towards the flickering light that sat upon some of the dead wood she seemed to be truly alone.

She never asked it of us, he realized, and blinked as the churning discomfort in the back of his mind clicked into place. Such a thing for her to swear, to always find a way for us, and yet she never asked if we would do the same. It was no wonder she looked lonely to him; to be relied upon without knowing that you could in turn rely on others would be a lonely existence indeed.

Well, if he would someday learn that she refused defeat, she would someday learn that she never truly walked alone.

That would take time, though; and help. So he turned a conspiratorial smile to Astarte and whispered If you show me your absolute favorites I can tell you which ones little blue over there would like to borrow.

Extra incentive to share; now she could choose to look at it as not only being about the inner-workings of her heart.

Maybe I can create poems, AuraSidra mused as she tried to sniff out any indication of fire - smoke, wood, anything - and came up blank. Can I see your favorite poems next? If I can create one the way you like, I could make one as a gift for you! She said brightly, and flashed a quick smile at the pair of them before laying on one of the squishy bits that weren't completely flat. Squirming around on it made her giggle, her legs flailing in the air as she rolled and sank into the soft embrace. This was unquestionably better than the soft beds of moss that was in OakHeart's place. Now rather or not she would tell him that, well, that was a debate...
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Post Fri May 17, 2019 2:34 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

The glass tolled as AuraSida’s nose brushed against it, a low, pleasant tone—the glass shifted again, into a more focused map of the touched area.
Enchantment, read the scrolling letters. The subsections flickered in a list on either side—Beguilement, Psychometrics, Parapsychology, Theories of Mind, among others. Astarte glanced at it briefly, just to see if any new subjects had appeared since this morning, but it seemed it was just as it had been before she’d been bid to leave.

“Such knowledge must be precious,” she murmured—in truth, raised around (well, rather,
in) Sive’s collections had given her a rather subjective view of knowledge, its only core tenant being that certainty was almost never certain. “If I could, I’d like a chance to read the works of your realm, if it’s not too much.”

Her smile grew in small increments as she watched her friends weave around each other—both their bodies and their words. Though it was becoming a familiar dance, she felt she might never tire of their synchronicity, the way they seemed to fit around each other and play off one another, like the notes in an ever-evolving symphony. Even if it was just a casual conversation.

“Romances and poems are both types of writing I enjoy more than I study, I suppose,” she answered, after a moment—she figured opening to address both questions may be the safe path in deferring. From the spar, from the pair’s conversation, it seemed they’d been raised with a sense of hierarchy that those of her birth circle and bond-family lacked, a navigation she’d have to be careful to keep in mind. “Poems can be very much like music, yes, in their composition and rhythms. Some can tell stories, some are more—inexact? It’s hard to explain. As for romances, well—” She took another beat, trying to think of a succinct way to encapsulate what those small works meant to her. “They’re tales about love, in all its forms.”

Oddly, she didn’t stumble around saying it, though she thought she might—perhaps because the narratives in those pages felt so distant from her lived experience, yet real to her in how she saw their thesis woven in the bonds around her. Perhaps because she could see it in the easy exchange between the two of them—true, like the fairy books said. It still didn’t occur to her that it might play any part in her own story. She’d never been a main character, even in her own head—just a worker, a tinkerer behind the scenes.

Show him your favorite.

If you show me your absolute favorites I can tell you which ones little blue over there would like to borrow.

She nodded eagerly. “I can do that.”

It made sense—she could serve a path to this, too, a deepening of what their Circle-to-be might be founded upon. She could lend a few words to OakHeart, words AuraSidra might one day respond to in kind. She could bring them some future happiness—at least a seed. Yes, she could do that. It was a resolve that only strengthened as she watched the filly drift away, detaching herself just so. She had some sense, from the beach, of the heaviness that could sometimes settle over her young friend, a heaviness that seemed to belong to a soul much older than she. Something of Amma told her that she could not bear these things for her, despite her wanting—to do so would intrude upon some essential quality in the filly’s soul, something she forged and re-forged as constantly as Astarte pored over her words and crafting. But she could help from apart, perhaps. She could help build a touchstone for her to return to, a love that might steady her.

“I’ve seen you create poems in the sky above us already, AuraSidra,” she mused, as the filly made herself comfortable on the cushions, a shade of her playfulness reappearing as she flipped her legs toward the ceiling. “That is gift enough, though I’m happy to share what I can. I’ll find something good, I promise.”

And so she turned away, to the paths between the shelves and to her quest. She trusted that OakHeart would follow, though the narrow press between the books made it difficult to walk side-by-side. But now that she’d accepted her role, it made the closeness easier to bear. Still a flutter in her heart, a sort of heat spilling along her skin, but those, too, might fade in time.

Still, it did not mean that she couldn’t be—concerned. Or curious? Some flicker of shy affection that moved her to ask, softly, “When AuraSidra said that your abilities drain you,” she paused, thought of Dayi Confetti and the bare bones of what she knew of Elementals and their burdens. “Is it a necessary cost?”

She knew, now more than ever, the brutal, essential imposition of balance—that all things had a price to be measured. But even within that inevitability, she was finding the lengths she’d go to rewrite the ways it must be paid, for those she considered precious. The stallion was that to her, suddenly and ineffably, a realization she kept closed in her heart’s secret room, with other impossible things.

(I'm having so much fun with Astarte misinterpreting everything in typical teenage ways :D )

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