Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:30 am

Under the Willow

So much had changed, yet still she came here. The willow, the one that had been the wife she had shared with her mate; but that, too had changed. She had known she loved this place, had known she would sit and glance in the water to check on the cubs playing through the woods; she hadn't realized why she had felt such a connection.

Lost memories returned, a pain too great to bear and thus, a life forgotten. The loss. Oh, it had hurt too much. Better to forget. Safer. Except had it been her choice? It had been forgotten in the dark times, while she danced with madness. The memories of that came to her readily enough and there was some small part of her that still waited for the moment she would return to that state.

Songhue breathed deep of the crisp smell of bark, closing her eyes as she tried to still the collision of memories. There was a lot to remember once you got to be her age; and she was only middle aged, as it was, halfway through the lifespan of her kind. No wonder they chose to fade, to lay down and become a part of the land, the realm, the sentience that sustained all of them. She had only just begun to understand.

There were so many things she was beginning to understand, foremost her own foolishness. It didn't help - or rather, it did - that there were times where both her guide and the willow would laugh at her, the branches rustling with stern amusement. Trust what was left of their beloved to call her out with all the blunt love she held.

There was no council, now. Home was repaired, refugees found and brought back, healed from the mutations and disfigured stunting of spending the lives of ten stars in a realm that was not made for them. Ten stars born and flickered out; a third of her life, and the entire life of three of her four cubs. But it wasn't as it had been. She had hoped to restore things; she should have known better.

No council of High Elders that would meet from the various Clans. No Clans, not properly. None of those who gravitated towards one another's company had the structure of a Clan. They were united as a species, and that had in itself been terrifying enough, had appeared to muddy and shrink the boundaries of their realm. They had been disparate, before. It ensured peace. Now, without Clans, without Elders, without a Council of Elders to confer, they were tied together as if a single Clan had spread across the whole of Enchantra.

So much had needed done, so many things had to be established, and once again it was she and her mate that took the task in their teeth. Because it was what they did. If it needed done, they took care of it. Home needed repaired, the land healed, the fractured pieces restored, and so they set about doing it. What use to hide as a refugee in some other place when there were things that could be done? Someone had to organize their people, remind them of their ways, so they did. Those who were older became a part of the realm as soon as they returned; lay down and rested, unwilling or unable to take up the mantle of Elder, of leader, needing only to be home in the deepest sense of the word. Most of her and her mate's own age had died in the original, rending attack. The rest were too young, too naive. It would be cruel to leave them fumbling alone; it wasn't their fault that they were raised as outcasts, rather than within the heart of their people's culture.

So, they had come together. And then someone had determined that all the spellwork, all the weaving of bonds between not only others of her own species as she found and established those with the talent to continue their traditions and continue the lessons, the bindings on behalf of other species and with the new creatures that had come to the realm while it was being repaired (and oh, weren't they a fascinating discovery - already they had revealed more of her own people's history), someone had declared that it wasn't enough. No, if she was going to run things, if her mate was going to run things, if her aunt was going to run in circles with him as he organized the Warriors and help delegate which talents shone brightest, well then they would have to be officially bound as being in charge.

A coronation, some species called it.

Whoever had suggested such a thing had done so quickly enough that it was difficult to pinpoint the origin of the idea. Once she did, however, she would make a point to share her thoughts on the matter of having someone else decide which bindings would tie to her soul.

The first reaction had been complete panic. She had tried to resist it all, declared she had never once asked for any of this, never expected anything like this. She'd just wanted it all back the way it had been. She saw the foolishness now; she still struggled with the admonishment that her actions and choices had indeed asked for this. Songhue, at least, felt that the two of them were being credited with far too much. They had help, along the way.

Now, the reality accepted, the spring storms already halfway prepared (the work to shift the seasons and mark the changes with a Wild Hunt had begun early as a precautionary measure), a new concern squeezed her. This was a massive binding, a spell across the entire species. There would be a minor compulsion laid within, an urge to comply and cooperate, to acknowledge them as King and Queen for lack of a better term, and there would be cachets upon cachets to tweak into it for no such spellwork would work upon her kind within the boundaries of totality; they would not, could not, be chained. There would be no risk of loss of will, but such a fact vastly complicated the process beyond the base complication of working among the realm of soullight. That realm they existed in beside their own, a multiplanar species capable of seeing what others thought incorporeal, it took a special touch. And this was to be across their whole species. At least her kind numbered merely in the hundreds of thousands now; once, they had been trillions.

So many things could go wrong. So many horrible consequences could occur. She had so many to teach, so much to show those who would help with this weaving, and everything, everything had to go perfectly. She didn't even want to think about the various things that could happen if they didn't. Of the possibilities, the death of her entire race would be the kindest, of herself and her mate perhaps the most just. There were far, far worse things that could happen.

The quiet state of panic that lingered in the back of her mind eased when she came here, when she sat beneath the willow and watched her four cubs tussling with the Elkin. Her youngest had come in their form - the fawn of a great elk woven of the auroras in the sky, born of a wee whitetail doe made of wisps of sunlight. It had been a hard birth, made all the harder by the weight of the power the girl held. Now this one - she was meant to be Queen. It was for her that they were clearing the way. It was for her, for the future she could bring, the changes she could see wrought, that made it all worth it.

It was easier to remember that when she stopped and simply watched. When she was able to relax for a moment, rather than being in charge of so much. Not in charge of it all - there were so many more things she didn't need to trouble herself with, things her mate, her aunt, those they had all found with the skill and the ambition to become assistants for her lessons or their tasks took care of. But enough, all the same.

And yet... And yet.

Perhaps Shiro was right. He had, the sweet stallion who loved so deeply he wished only to please, been insistent as of late that those of his circle shake themselves up. He'd been picking at Hybrid, in particular, although Flint was beginning to look a little bit pecked as well. Shiro's claim was that it was frightening, of course it was frightening to run blindly ahead. But he couldn't stand seeing them hiding away in a corner, too afraid of tripping to move forward.

She had done what she could to help. A call had gone out seeking those of their kind who sought companionship and she had brought them forward, had given them the chance to make the most delicate and precious member of their circle happy once again. It would be up to them, now.

Perhaps that was her trouble, as well. She hadn't wanted to move forward, not like this. She'd wanted to go back.

Songhue would have to remember to bring some extra sugar for that pink-winged stallion for the reminder that the only way to keep from tripping as you move forward is to move in the right direction. It didn't guarantee that a stumble wouldn't happen, of course. But it did vastly improve one's chances.

Perhaps it was time to embrace what she had wrought, however unwittingly.

The willow murmured beside her, contented. Her dead wife, at least, agreed with him. That was good enough for her. Her mate had probably already reached that conclusion, although he would give credit to Shiro if she mentioned her own inspiration. He had a particular soft spot for that stallion, himself. A Warrior's instinct to protect, in part, but mostly it was just Shiro himself. She could almost see that smirk her mate would get if she mentioned that their wife had instantly agreed; the same one he wore when she was still alive and helping her to find the obvious answer, the one he had been trying to explain. Warriors think differently, process things differently, and both of her mates had been warriors. It often led to her being the last one to catch on, and he always found it adorable. She was too flattered to be frustrated.

One of the memories she had lost. She loved these shining moments when they poked her again. Oh, yeah, her heart would whisper, that's right. Hard to believe she'd given up the knowledge of such joy for the sake of running from the pain of loss. But then, she held bondeds who needed to do the same. Shiro would understand, for one. He was very good at understanding the ways of the heart.

Maybe she should bring him two sugars.