Lilith looked up from the ground and saw nothing but red. It hung in the air like a thick mist, and when she opened her mouth to breathe it in, she expected to taste blood. A lot of things were red, like roses and bearberries, and the moon in her dreams, and the sky right before the sun dipped beneath the horizon. Blood was the reddest, and the mist looked a lot like it, but it tasted different. She took another breath—it filled her lungs, her chest, her head. Then she started to feel tired, and wondered if the blood-mist was poison. Would it kill her, if she stood around and waited long enough? And if she did die, would her death be a painful one? If she cried out, would anyone even hear her?
For a brief but frightening moment, the girl saw herself curled into a little ball on the ground, her eyes wide and glazed, legs twitching as froth spilled over the pale pink corners of her mouth. Death would not be kind to her; this she knew, and this she feared. She didn't want to die in a place like this, didn't want to die scared and alone, didn't want to die without knowing whether Dros and Melandru and Suvetar and Hekate were still alive after that thing had taken them from her...
But even if they were, she'd never see them again. And her home and Noresmír would still be gone.
Lilith felt her lip tremble and bit down on it hard enough to draw blood, but the pain was nothing compared to the aching in her heart. Before she knew it, the strength had left her legs and she'd slumped to the ground; now she hung her head as though it'd grown too heavy for her to hold up, and her eyes were filled with tears.
And then she screamed. And screamed and screamed and screamed, until her throat was red and raw and she could do nothing but sob with what was left of her voice.
"What to do, what to do? I can see a heart that's flipped over."
What to do, what to do? Splatter splatter, mud pours over it.
His explorations had been quite satisfying today. He wandered endlessly, for hours without interruption, silence following him in steady pursuit for miles. He could hear only the sound of his own movement, his weight shifting back and forth upon each slender limb as his legs carried him along the edges of the Red Bog where a blood-stained mist hovered around his ankles. He finally grew bored of his patrol outside the ruby swamp, moving into the mass of charcoal trees that loomed over head. He felt like someone was watching him, though everywhere the prince turned, he was met with silence and solitude. He'd heard many tales of ghosts haunting this place, and though he felt like he was being relentlessly scrutinized, he still remained skeptical. His monochrome coat stood blandly against the bold red of the mist, his nose sweeping across the ground every now and then to pick up different scents. Some of them were fresh, like one of a Layric and another beast he'd yet to identify, though these were not what piqued his curiosity. He was met with a smell that breathed femininity, a supple sway in the scent enticing him to follow. He tracked the course religiously, keeping his muzzle pointed toward the ground so he could inhale the smell with every breath he took. Pale eyes stood out vividly against the fog screen, the thick toxins in the air making him feel strangely fluid, his mind straying with distraction as he continued to scout the territory around him. Suddenly he was met with a loud shriek, that only unfurled into another, the series of screams causing him to lift his narrow head, attention directed toward the sound as he paused in his gait.
Malik's pace quickened after the noise died out, the scent growing suddenly strong as he could just barely make out a pale silhouette through the fog. Was this the one that had been making all that noise? It suddenly dawned on him that he might not be the only creature lurking about in these parts, and he wondered if someone, or some thing else might come looking for the source. So he stayed back, hovering some feet away from her like a ghost in the fog, observing from a distance and letting a few minutes tick by before he decided he would approach her. He could hear her gasping sobs, wondering what had her so distraught. Planning to use this to his advantage, he finally found his paws moving to carry him to her side. "Hey, uh, are you hurt?" he asked, discomfort thinly lacing his tone, though concern mostly filled his words, sounding surprisingly convincing no matter how feigned the emotion was. "Was that you screaming? I don't know if it's safe out here," he added, looking around to make sure no one else was coming, the adolescent prince pretending as though he was worried about her safety.
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