The widening of her eyes spoke of surprise, the narrowing of mirth. Couldn't be too sure if a kiss from the Beastia was good luck or not, but certainly Aver didn't need luck for anything. She just needed brute strength.
Finding herself challenged, of course, by the 16 year old boy Arathul may have caught her off guard. Ari still had plenty of growing to do, but he was nothing close to human and contained all the potential to defeat the Beastia in single combat one day. Pureblooded Aszai heritage had its advantages. She watched him grin as Aver's arms locked under the massive wooden beam and sent his team reeling backwards in the mud.
"HOLD!" the boy growled at his team, digging his heels in and baring his fangs over the top of the beam at the woman, "RAAAAH."
They shoved back and bandied their opponents deeper into the waters, zig-zagging in concerted efforts against each other until half of each teams were submerged up to their waists. The upper half of the beam just needed to pin one way or another, pushing the rest of either team into the river for a victory. Ari set his jaw and ground his feet through the riverbed, searching for sturdy purchase to push off from.
Mara Corridor was indeed member-created by Jorus and a few others (group effort as I recall). It is the first and only member-made lane added to the official Chaos map. We had a contest last year for new hyperlanes with the winning lane being added to the map but only received two entries and cancelled the contest.
We've had the Hyperlane Template for some time now and I'm rather disappointed at the lack of love it receives. After spending a decent amount of time collating old threads to create the Crusader's Way Hyperlane from years old RP, I decided to dig around the approved locations and see what other lanes had been submitted.
Findings were slim. Only 5 have been submitted since the creation of the template that oh-so-many people petitioned for.
I get it, you want to see your lane on the map. Well, I may not be on Staff anymore but I can spare some extra time once a month to update an unofficial Chaos map with new member-made hyperlanes as they are submitted and approved. It's a fun little way to show our work and it's not a lot of trouble to do.
Feast thine eyes. Use it. Explore it. Fill it up. Give the Hyperlane Template the love it deserves.
Aver wasn't the only one laughing. The match was a forfeit on account of neither contestant was willing to take a final shot. The call went out to the next round and somebody managed to pry a yelling, snarling, writhing Dahl off of Aver.
The Beastia watched this with a humored expression and sifted into the mingling crowds to find Aver picking herself off the ground. Someone else shoved a fresh horn of mead into Aver's empty hands. A chorus of cheering and yelling rang out from the riverbanks, drawing the Queen's attention. She motioned with a flick of her head for Aver to follow.
This was a different sort of challenge, one of teams and one that Arathul was particularly fond of. It called for brute strength mostly and out of the Shamalain trio he topped them in sheer mass and muscle. It began with opposing teams of 10 and one very giant log situated perpendicular to the river on the muddy shore. There each team set up, staggered and on opposite sides of the log, with their forearms looped under to curl their chests against it. The horn sounded and the teams did their damnedest to push the their opponent around the bank and into the water. There was some strategy in this in where to put your strongest team mates to be able to turn the log's far end around. But you had to balance the strength, elsewise your opponents could turn things around.
It was an absolute mess by the time they got to the higher banks to watch. Arathul was below but it was difficult to say where: everyone was covered in mud and grime. People lost their footing, fell, sometimes got trampled as their opponents pushed the log forward, but so long as a single team member stood the game was still on. You only won once you managed to push the entire other team out into the waters.
To be certain the Beastia remembered not and cared not for the apparent conversation already had. The mead was taken and, as soon as the Merc disappeared through the crowd, idly handed off to some thirsty tribesperson. Without much effort on her own part Quietus moved to the front of the crowds standing watch. Silent amidst the chorus of chatter and cat-calling, she watched with deepening amusement as the contest commenced.
What started with two-dozen contestants slowly whittled down to just a handful. Aver held her own and were the Beastia less blurred in her mind she might've considered this to be curious. Aver had proven a decent shot, but the bow and arrow was far off her list of preferred weapons.
Dahl, on the otherhand, knew right away that something was awry. She was an excellent shot and she knew, could sense, that Aver was brass-balls cheating. When it got down to just them the girl stood there red-faced. Dahl might've had her temper and her own explosive use of the Force at the worst of times, but she'd been taught not to cheat. That the Force was a tool, not a toy, and not to be used so flippantly. True skill relied on no Force but those of the disciplined body.
Ironic that these teachings should go the way of the dodo in the future.
Jungles beneath a vapid fog slowly shifted to the shadowed lagoons and rested there for the sounds of the words leaving lips of red. Syllables that echoed in the distance with the singers and the chanters, the bellows and cheers of crowds. That silver face swam in her vision hazey and ephemeral, glistening all sterling and ruby.
A smile formed then on the Beastia's lips, one that pulled her forward from the back of her seat and to within a hairsbreadth of Aver's face. Green peaked and bowed, slowly taking in the woman with consideration for what to do.
What to do...
Deviousness gleamed an emerald blade, lips faintly pursing to thoughts of mischief.
Come with me.
Quietus rose from her seat then, cheek brushing across Aver's, and bare feet moved across soft earth and grass to lead Aver into the festivities.
The heart in her hands quickly fell victim to unrelenting fangs and hunger. When all but a third of it was left the Beastia gave pause, staring upon it in tepid consideration. Those that surrounded her were not paying attention and were not meant to. The feast was their primary attraction in this hour but there was ceremony to be had within the private moments between herself and her children. Bringing the heart back to her teeth she tore another chunk off and lower her hand to offer it to her eldest: Arathul.
He looked up, cheeks full and chin dripping, with an expression that likely could not properly show his surprise and jubilation. The exclamation that followed was entirely unintelligible but the right feeling was there. She grinned, bloodied teeth showing behind crimson stained lips, and watched him with a foggy gaze as he added the morsel to his mouth. Reaching forward with her empty hand Quietus drew marks of blood across his face - a traditional tribal blessing for a growing warrior.
This was repeated with Dahl and Eor until all of the rival Clan Lord's heart was gone, his strength shared to sustain the coming generation.
With the jingle of ornaments the Beastia then sunk back into her seat, easing into it with a foggy contentment while watching her people celebrate.
Trays continued to pile in with more and more food. Vegetables, breads, fruits, raw fish, smoked meats, baked items, mead, wine, broth -- the feast was meant to be filling and there was no shortage of product. This year's harvest had been especially bountiful. The smells and sounds and conversation of the people rolled into the twilight hours and seats slowly began to empty. Entertainment filtered in in the form of music and dancers and singers. Firebreathers, aerial contests of the tamers and their mounts. The children fled their empty plates to put their own skills to the test.
All the while the Beastia remained seated. She'd not eaten much - not compared to those set at either side of her. The woman seemed perfectly pleased simply watching the others in her state of still-lingering euphoria.