Wheeling Gull Isle i hate the air he breathes
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All Welcome 
He was alive.

After his ill fated drop into the sea, he didn’t know if he ever would be.

But, Aquillius was his father’s son, begrudgingly, so he pulled through. He ate what was given to him, he stared at the sunlight, and he began trying to piece together his movement all over again.

Today, he stumbled out from the den he had been festering inside, squinted at the covered sun and his surroundings. Once it all came into view, he was greeted by the island he was slowly coming to know, at least in the little spurts he managed to leave the den. He swung his head, bearish in motion, before he was off, still limping on his front leg, but decreasing more and more as the days went on and he got stronger.

Today, he sought the fields of lavender, where he would collapse in them until the mist covered his coat finely. Smelling sea salt every morning was..kinda nice, he thought to himself as the ocean breeze tugged at his fur.
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This was Heda's favorite place. The mere thought of her filled him with an emotion he could not name - what he recognized was a tingling in his hands, the vestiges of a shame that came and went.

A slight depression in what he thought of as her lavender fields. Did he recognize the young man that lay supine at its heart?

He approached with light feet. Something familiar in that dark face - a distance to the body, long and teenaged, dense and opaque as igneous rock.

Was that what he, Daniil, had looked like?

What is your- his voice came out hoarse, he cleared his throat, what is your name?

His feathery tail pressed close to his hocks, a weariness suffused him.
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Aquillius had noticed his hearing had gotten somewhat better since his eye had lost its sight. At least, came the bitter thought, he wasn't entirely useless on one side.

The approach was noted with a turned ear, and Aquillius would soon turn his head to the seeing side, peering over his shoulder with a blank, militant expression. The man approaching him was odd looking, but, he supposed, he shouldn't say that out loud. His tongue flashed, salmon pink, curving from his jaws and up over his nose, before he answered.

Aquillius. Aquillius Redsand. His hawkish eyes flicked over the man again, inhaling the sharp, bitter scent of salt on his coat, intertwined with that of his erstwhile caretaker.

You are of Sweetharbor?
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The boy, Aquillius Redsand, looks to him with an unreadable expression. Daniil's gaze caught on the scarred eye and his stomach tightened in unconscious response.

Yes, he replied. Heda, she... How to put it into words? Blood rushed to his face.

He was wary of being blindsided by emotion. Unexpectedly and without a clear reason, he would be brought to the brink of tears or to breathless rage. Normally level-headed, these mood swings caused him great distress and fed into a vicious cycle. It was as if his body was revolting against him for the way he had abused it.

Welcomed me, he finished lamely.

He turned to look at the ocean. It was easier this way.

I am Daniil. Are you a soldier as well?
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His breath caught in his chest like a caged bird.

.. Again, tongue flicking over his nose, his single eye wide, the boy stared at the man. Both tired, both broken in their own ways.

Yes. He breathed, eyes rimmed with white.

I. I’ve been a soldier since I was able to spar. And before that, he understood his future, laid before him, regimented like a line of soldiers. Forever to serve, glory to Mereo.

He floundered without it. There was no glory in laying here, but it was all he could do.
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Both soldiers. He by choice and the boy out of necessity. Something curdled in him at the thought of being born into military drills, not even your childhood spared of that brutal metronome. May the motion become repetition become pure instinct, all of it beaten into you under the virulent sun.

I marched with army for years. In the end a war had never been realized. He would never be a celebrated veteran but he would not be shell-shocked cannon fodder either. No -- he was something middling and trivial that had somehow crawled its way through the unbearable tension and petty infighting -- only to find out upon reaching the other side that the world had not stopped for him.

Yet we are here, in Sweetharbor. A joyless smile curved his lips.
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There was no joy in the smile he gave in return, no boyish charm or beguiling wit. The motion was just a baring of teeth in a facsimile of a smile, reaching for but never quite laying a hand on the concept.

He was tired. He was not yet a year old and by everything above and below, he was tired. The expression faded off his face like chalk in the rain, his eye falling to his feet.

Yet, here we are. He replied, looking out over the ocean at the mainland.

Heda says there is no rush here. I do not know how to lay idle. You can see where those things contradict. He mused aloud, venting to the only person who he believed understood what he was feeling in that moment. A fellow soldier, though this one was even more different than Arsenio.
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On a face so young, the perfunctory smile was uncanny. It had the same incongruency as the scar that ran through his eye.

He nodded at the boy's words. They came in staccato, in brief machine-gun reports. If anything, he was easy to understand, and Daniil was grateful for it.

Where were you before? He canted his head to the side. Your commandant is looking for you, no?

Beyond them, the ocean lapped at the far side of the shore. High tide had nearly eclipsed the land bridge, separating Sweetharbor from the rest of the wilds. He recognized Aquillius's sense of urgency. For a soldier there was no feeling more uneasy than being separated from your company -- and the island itself had a strange, Bermudan quality that rendered it utterly and pleasantly detached from the outside world. For a civilian it might've served to be dreamlike, but for a legionnaire it would be nothing more than the source of a deep phantom pain.
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His face soured.

Mereo, in the mountains on the mainland. He gave a little sniff of a laugh, tucking his front paws to his chest.

My father. Hes imperator, leader of Mereo. He will not look for me, he will think me an abandoner of my post. He has other things to worry about. A pretty new wife and more sons, no doubt. Washing the remnants of his old life out the door.

Aquillius was suddenly so tired he drooped a little.
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He couldn't imagine having a commandant as your father, a father as your commandant.

He has other things to worry about.

Daniil understood the gravity of desertion. He didn't know how Mereo handled such infractions -- but the fact that it was the commandant's son would surely complicate matters further. For now, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, the boy would be without a nation, without parents. The sword of Damocles hung over his disgraced head; Daniil squinted at the glare coming off of it.

The eagle son slumped into himself, a boyish gesture that finally belied his age.

Rest in Sweetharbor. Rest, and you can return to Mereo. Your father will welcome you, because that is what fathers do.

He sat so that he could see the boy eye to eye, his tail beating slowly against the soil.
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He frowned even deeper.

His chuckle was without humor, with no emotion, a breath of sharp air.

No he won’t. His lip curled up and showed his teeth, but it wasn't an aggressive gesture.

He has a new wife, a new family no doubt, I am not needed. My father..my father does not need to see me as I am. I am not the son he needs. To his own horror, tears were in his eye, but he quickly swallowed against the want.

Better for him to be able to try again without a shadow lingering.