The world here was full of sunlight. Even now, as the day slipped into dusk, it was incredibly bright.
There had been light, too, in the swamp—but not beneath the Canopy, and not in the dark, shadowy, secret places where Atroxian legends were lain to rest. Her whole world had always been ancient and dusky, laden with ghost stories; the swamp echoed with strange birdcalls and the distant rattle and shift of the massive fralans that inhabited the very heart of her old kingdom. These woods, however, were far younger; the trees glowed with life and purpose, nestled by the river that fed them, and prey was plentiful as the land once again turned toward spring. This was what had entranced her, back when she had been queen, and she had claimed the Hopping River from Simul; the idea that life could be so plentiful, here beneath the light and the wide-open sky. Andromeda lifted her head, breathing in the warm evening air, listening to the light birdsong and insect chatter carried by the twilight breeze, and thought, surely, this was worth protecting; a carefree world, without the gods, without war, without hatred.
Her vibrant eyes opened slowly, her pupils dilating into snakelike slits, and she exhaled, a glimmer of fang flashing from between her dark, parted lips.
It was still not a world she belonged in; for she was still a ruthless being, fiercely hated by some, fiercely revered by the rest. She had tasted blood a hundred times over, and the entirety of Victus knew it. They spat her name like a curse beneath their breath. No matter what Wanderer saw in Andromeda, she could never change her past. Perhaps she was a fool to call herself a Warden now—but still, she yearned for the chance to change, to piece the world back together and see it made new.
Her dark, slender ears twitched against her skull, behind her heavy crown of horns, and she tilted her head, her azure eyes flashing through the gloom like embers. As the daylight faded from the world, her own pelt began to light the clearing around her, washing cool blue and greens against the tree trunks and over the ankle-high grasses that surrounded her. It was easy enough to see the wolf that had approached her, reflecting her own colors back at her. Her expression softened into something almost kind, and she turned more fully to face Ra, her long tail rippling out of the way. He was fully restored by the ritual Wanderer had undertaken to heal him; indeed, he was just as handsome as he had been before his transformation, if not more so, and his eyes, so like hers, so like Namasté’s, glowed back at her within the gathering darkness.
“I was wondering if you would return to me,” she breathed, stepping forward lightly—and even as she said it, her face darkened, for he was the last of the truly great princes of Atrox, chased from their ancestral home. “But will you stay, Ra?” Even as the words slipped from her maw, she knew that if he said no, then she would accept it. It was a difficult thing to leave behind such a beloved place, even if their old throne was slowly decaying, even if their kingdom was falling to rubble once more.
Even so…despite how she was no longer truly his queen, and despite how the Wardens were a far cry from the life they were used to, she still longed to hear that he would swear loyalty to her once again.
Andromeda Naga Greenfire
If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell
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