Dragoncrest Cliffs now, I shall sing these songs
Sapphique
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#1
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overnight, the skies above the water turned to dark blue. when the sun arose the next morning, it only glowed dully through a sheen of white ice skimming the surface of the waves.
as she had done each winter, erzulie steeled herself upon the beach before entering the frigid waters. she caught her breath, snorted a plume of resolute steam through her nostrils, and pushed on.
there was a storm rising beyond their furthest reef.
erzulie drove herself onward.
when she returned to the sands it was in chattering and a rush of seawater. erzulie quickly shook it from her weatherbuilt fur and sought the blackpine forest.
the obsidian's mind set her to search for @Njord. her own trail dripped with ocean, fading very slowly beneath a soft layer of gently falling snow.
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#2
A gentle snowfall blanketed Sapphique. It was a beautiful sight to see their meadow and forests covered in white… but Njord hoped this winter would not be as severe as the last. He picked his way around Glintwater Lake (which was not yet completely frozen over) when the Erzulie found him.

“Erzulie?” he called, eyeing her soaked pelt and remembering the green light of falling meteor reflecting off her wet fur. He steeled himself, thinking of the guests in their borders. “What’re ya doin’ swimmin’ in tha cold,” he chided his leader.
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Sapphique
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erzulie chuckled. "i be doin' it every winter. keeps de muscles tight an' hard." she felt that she had embodied it well: despite her years, the obsidian had remained sinewy and flexible. she credited the ocean with this. 
her mind filled with how he had turned away from her older son. and why. she did not think it was reyes which had taken the emerald from what she felt was his solid footing within sapphique.
what erzulie did not consider, for so long it had been normal, was that men were not recognized in a large way among them. she thought of anigan, firefly, rosencrantz, kaertok, njord; she thought of the men whose faces she had forgotten and the ones who had been in rusalka.
and her own sons.
how would they fare once she and rosalyn had gone?
yes, she had seen the ageing and sudden, fey nature of her wife; she had spent long hours looking at rosalyn perhaps more than before, and she had certainly gazed at her mate many thousands of times in their lives.
reyes' visit, seeing her grandchildren, had inspired in erzulie her first true thoughts of mortality.
the silence had grown too long. 
she breathed in.
"i be thinking about de future."
about her sons — about her daughters.
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#4
Erzulie’s words softened Njord and he smiled gently, posture bending – a defeated man, disarmed by the goldspun’s irresistible charms. The redtail knew he allowed himself to be weakened by her… and, in some ways, he had begun to resent himself for it.

She spoke of the future. “Oh?” he asked, wanting the Obsidian to continue her thoughts. With Reyes’ recent visit it made sense new consideration would bubble to the surface – but how deep these thoughts went… Njord didn’t want to speculate.

His ears cupped towards her attentively.
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#5
she nodded. 
"dis might be de firs' year sapphique does not have children from rosalyn an' i." she wondered if njord understood his status among the pack, that he had the opportunity to take a mate and sire his own brood if he so chose. but it was a such a great thing, and she had not yet spoken it.
"dat is unless you intend to be da ano'ter year."
the statement was open-ended. erzulie knew that her season might come a last time, as it had for rosalyn. and she wished to plan for it now.
but not if njord meant to see further climes for his own future.
the look of the sea steadied the obsidian.
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#6
Erzulie’s subject took the redtail by surprise. The word future had made him think of Haunt’s prophecy to leave Dragoncrest – or perhaps a plan for Reyes, Clementine, Chacal or their current brood… Njord looked out onto the lake, which had yet to completely freeze over.

dis might be de firs' year sapphique does not have children from rosalyn an' i. dat is unless you intend to be da ano'ter year, the Obsidian spoke. Njord exhaled through his nose and knew, in his heart, what he wanted. “Ye ‘av given me a great gift,” he said, gaze turning upon her then. “The children… they bring me such joy. An’ I love ‘em. But I canna be a sire by you another season… I think my ‘eart would break.”

His lips pressed against his teeth as if his body was trying to keep words from tumbling out too fast. “I canna make ya my wife… for yer soul belongs ta Rosalyn. An’ it leaves me… lonely,” he admitted. His captain was often sweet and affectionate to him – but they were hollow gestures. “I ‘aven’t been courtin’ anyone,” Njord added. Who was there to court, anyway? Everyone kept dying.

Unexpectedly, an image of Meerkat flash through his mind and it made his head turn Eastwards over Glintwater.
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#7
erzulie nodded understandingly. there was no anger in her for njord's rejection. his body belonged to himself. but she could not help the vague disappointment; its root was in her own body and unsurety about what the year might bring. she did not want to find another man.
if allowed, the obsidian reached out to cover the redtail's paw with her own.
njord was coming to the point of sapphique where men could not always tread.
"you gave us a gift," she said, amending his own words for her response. "i do not want you to be lonely."
she sighed.
there was no one here for him to court. but her eyes were warm. "when dis time comes, you have my blessing. an' — if it is somet'ing dat can only happen if you leave us, i understand."
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The sound of gentle water lapping at the lake’s edge eased him as his mind drifted through thoughts of the young emissary. He wasn’t sure what or how he felt – but he new a growing admiration was there. Erzulie’s touch brought him back and they shared a knowing look.

Her words, however, only solidified the fact that he was, and always had been, the donor. It was only his perception that had mutated. This nettled him, and his pointed ears turned back against his skull miserably.

Erzulie, noble as ever, bestowed a blessing for Njord to seek other prospects this season. His jaw clenched and a small nod acknowledged her statement.

“What ‘bout Rosalyn? Wha does she think?” he asked, knowing Erzulie’s other half was far more severe in nature. He recalled the day she asked if he was going to stick around. A lifetime, he had said. It made Njord sick with guilt to think of that now. But what other options did he have?
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#9
the obsidian rolled her shoulders. "i t'ink it be in my rights to offer dis to you before i speak wid her." her voice was soft. assured. "but i would not offer it if i did not t'ink she would understand. you have earned it, njord. an' you would have earned it t'rough loyalty had you not been de fat'er of de four." and she did not think that rosalyn would disagree. erzulie had taken it upon herself many to make such decisions.
the idea of the red-tail being gone from among them sundered her with sadness. but it was not an anguish she wanted him to continue suffering for the sake of sapphique. he was beloved as a man could be in a place of women. 
but it was still this.
erzulie looked out to the sea.
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#10
Though Njord trusted Erzulie, and knew the sea-wives had a strong relationship, he was uneased that Rosalyn would be learning about this grant after the fact. However, he kept this concern to himself. “I thank ya, Erzulie,” Njord said with a swish of his red tail, “that means tha worl’ ta me.” Sincerity frosted his voice, but there was a wisp of heartache too. Finally, the music was faced, and now began the arduous process of healing by moving on from this false reverie.

His blue gaze traced the captain’s line of sight out to the water’s edge. “Ya won’t seek out another sire?” he asked her, wanting to clarify that she earnestly meant dis might be de firs' year sapphique does not have children from rosalyn an' i.
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Sapphique
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#11
erzulie bit her lip for a moment and did not meet njord's eye. when she did, it was with an open somberness reserved for only those intimate to the obsidian. "i am used to bearing children wid rosalyn. it was — difficult dis year to be widout her."
knowing that she would be alone in the years to come if the season continued to visit had grieved erzulie.
she looked with more steadiness toward njord.
"sapphique is strong eit'er way."
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#12
Last from me!

Njord could plainly see the sad, sobered look on his captain’s face. Although he faced his own trials navigating these relationships, it didn’t mean everyone else was sunshine and rainbows. The Tourmaline nudged Erzulie’s shoulder softly in encouragement, meeting her eyes as if to say I see you. It was difficult, even now, to distance his own emotions. How could he be there for Erzulie without actually being hers? It was a confusing boundary and one he knew he must master going forward.

“Aye Sapphique is strong,” he echoed… but seeds of doubt had already taken root in his mind, and Njord wasn’t sure if he believe the words he spoke. As winter grew colder, this motto would be put to the test.

He would sit with her a while and practice compassion without romance. Though the old Njord would have deigned help groom her sea-soaked pelt, the seafarer knew in his gut he couldn’t continue like that. His mind turned inward and began to reflect. What do I truly want?
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