All the knights' horses

Beyond the city of Rharne lies the Stormlands, which is home to a number of farms, forests, fields, Lake Lovalus, and the River Zynyx. This subforum also includes the Stormwastes to the south.

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All the knights' horses

13 Cylus 720

Dan woke all at once to the sound of strange hooves - far too many hooves - closing in on his camp on the edge of Mistral Wood. He slid out of his bedroll and off the crude platform that kept him off the frozen ground, snatching up his spear as he went. On the other side of the tent, Cloud and Smoke looked curious, ears swivelling with interest, but not worried. It was dark apart from the faintest glow of banked coals in his tiny brazier, but then it was always dark in Cylus, and his eyes had adjusted as much as they were going to. He unlaced the tent flap and was confronted, not with riders, but with a small herd of skittish horses. They were, from a quick look, mostly stallions that had homed in on his two mares, yet they didn't look wild either, nor were they fighting each other. They looked more as if they had escaped from a farm or a stable somewhere, and the last thing he needed was for someone to accuse him of stealing so many horses.

Cloud shoved her nose against his back and, once he got out of her way, she emerged from the tent to inspect the other horses. Her presence seemed to calm them somewhat, and she was a bossy little mare, even if as a pony, she was dwarfed by some of the horses in the herd. She could look after herself, and if it calmed this lot down, then so much the better. He did not want his camp flattened by them spooking at something. He sighed and ducked back inside long enough to wrap up more warmly. He was never going to get back to sleep after this, so he might as well be doing something. Smoke wanted out too, so he let her out, and watched her treatment of Cloud as her herd leader cement the attitude of the strange horses to treat her as their herd leader too. Which was something of a relief, because at least there would be fewer fights caused by her bossing them around. He still needed to get these horses back to where they came from, preferably before they destroyed what grazing there was around his camp.

Over the patched shirt and trousers that he had slept in, he pulled a sleeveless vest, and then a quilted coat and overleggings made from scraps of cloth carefully pieced together and stuffed with the horsehair he saved from every grooming. It was heavy, but with the weight came warmth, and he was long used to moving in it. He snugged a hood down over his hair and ears, shoved his feet into much mended boots, and pocketed a pair of rough mittens. They wouldn't be much use while he was handling the horses directly, but once he stopped he'd be grateful to have them.

He set his spear down, freeing his hands to work, and went out to them again, hissing softly and wordlessly through his teeth so that the horses would know where he was and he wouldn't startle them any further. He moved slowly through the small herd, introducing himself to each horse in turn with a gentle touch and a huff of breath so that they could get his scent. They weren't entirely happy about him, but they began to accept him, especially when Cloud's body language made it clear that she accepted him as part of her herd and he responded in kind. Slowly, they began to let him touch them, and he was able to examine what rugs and headcollars they wore. Everything that had a mark was marked with the symbol of the Lightning Knights, and a sinking sensation settled in the hollow of Dan's gut. He took the time to look them over for wounds, and check their hooves. They were all shod, and he had to prise stones out of a few hooves that must have been picked up in the horse's flight from - whatever had sent them fleeing. Storm's Edge was the nearest place and he supposed if they hadn't been the ones to lose these animals, then they would at least know where they were supposed to be. That was if he could make the people there understand when he could only take in Sign or writing. If they didn't shoot him on sight for not understanding what they were yelling at him out of the dark. He certainly wasn't going to get much else done totrial.

He raided his emergency food stores for a scant strip of dried meat and gnawed it down cold and dry. It was food, it was better than nothing (which he'd had often enough over the arcs) and it was far quicker to eat it that way than to stop everything to make a broth from it. The horses moved restlessly around him, but he didn't think they were quite as skittish as they had been. He knew all too well that he wasn't as good a horseman as the knights themselves probably were, though he managed to care for his own ponies well enough. Maybe it took him longer, maybe there were techniques he didn't know. He'd manage. He'd have to.

He dug out his oldest, most ragged, shirt. The one that was faded and sun-bleached until it was almost white, and showed up pale in the darkness. He packed it into a saddlebag, and then found what ropes he had to supplement the trailing ropes that some of the horses had hanging from their headcollars. He fastened a rope to every horse, groomed and saddled Cloud, and then began to tie the other horses into a long string. His hands were slow and clumsy as he fumbled his way through fastening the head rope on one to the tail of the next. He signed apologies absently for his awkwardness. It didn't come without several of them whipping their tails out of his hands and landing a stinging sideswipe across his face or body, but finally, eventually, he thought he had them all in a single string. He took the last rope in his hand and swung himself up onto Cloud, settling comfortably into her saddle with his bow and spear fastened across his back. He clucked his tongue at the horses to warn and encourage them onward, and nudged Cloud into motion so that she was leading all the others. She was, at least, used to him leading Smoke while he rode her.

Behind him, the horses shifted and circled before gradually spooling out behind him. While they weren't as skittish as when they arrived, they also weren't entirely happy with the situation. There were a lot of flattened ears and turning heads as they trailed Dan. Dan wasn't entirely happy himself, stretching every hyperalert sense against the gloom and letting Cloud pick her own way rather than trying to push the pace and risk hurting her - or any of the rest of them. He trusted her not to baulk without reason and she trusted him in turn not to ask her to walk into danger without need requiring it.

The horses grew more uneasy as Storm's Edge grew closer, and Dan grimaced at the acrid taste of the smoke and burning on his tongue. Even Cloud, for whom woodsmoke meant home and warmth, was tense, shifting uneasily under him. He halted at what he thought was a point out of bowshot from the walls and slid off her. He flipped the reins over her head, ground-tying her, and made his way down the line, offering what soothing he could with his hands and soft, wordless, croon. The horses crowded closer for comfort, and Dan took a long breath for courage of his own. He drew out the ragged shirt and tied it to his spear as a makeshift flag, took another breath and whistled, loud, shrill, and carrying. Cloud snorted at his summons and pressed closer, making him glad for his boots as her hooves thudded around his feet. The other horses startled, whinnying nervously, but then took their cue from Cloud's stoicism.

A voice yelled at him from out of the darkness, so he whistled again, and waved his white-ish flag slowly from side to side. This was the worst part, waiting to see if they'd bother to communicate in a way he understood, or just shoot him down where he stood.

whoareyouwhatareyoudoingheredeclareyourselfatonce Another closer voice was demanding something of him, looming out of the gloom with sword drawn and armour clinking with each step.

Dan scrambled to get out one of the few things he could. ionlyknowsign, he got out, hoping he'd got the sounds in the right order. It was like mimicking a snatch of birdsong or a horse's whinny, incomprehensible but reproducible if you tried hard enough. ionlyknowsign. He shaped the signs to match his meaning. "I only know Sign!"

The knight lowered her sword and stared at him, then at the horses peering over his shoulder. Then to his relief, she signed clumsily with her free hand, "Who?" and pointed at him.

"Dandelion," he signed, and in case she didn't know the flower he added the sound Dan. He touched his hand to his heart and then waved in the general direction of his camp. He lowered the spear, winding the shirt around it so that it was peace-wrapped, and turned, drawing one of the rugged horses into view. He pointed to the Lightning Knights' mark on it, then to the knight herself. "Found your horses, brought them back."

A second knight came stalking out of the darkness, voice raised. Dan tried not to flinch at the sharpness in it or the lift at the end that indicated this man wanted an answer - to what, Dan didn't know, but the first knight made speech at him anyway. sirthisisdanfrommistralvillagewithsomeofourescapedhorsesheonlyknowssign

The man waved at her to carry on, as Dan's eyes darted from face to face trying to spot any gesture or shift of expression that would give him a clue.

The first knight turned back to Dan, pointed to the horses, and signed, "Give. Payment?"

Dan held out the lead rope and shrugged. "Can I at least have my rope back?" he asked, but he didn't think she understood fully.

She took the rope from him, pointed to it. "Yours? Ours?"

He pointed to himself and she held up a hand in a gesture he recognised as asking him to wait. Unwrapping the shirt and folding it back into his saddlebag, he retrieved Cloud's reins, looping them over his arm, and settled in to wait.
word count: 1816
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Soren Kvistson
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Re: All the knights' horses


Word Count: 1823
Total Post Count: 1
Word and Post Count for Player 1: 1 / 1823
Review Request Link: viewtopic.php?f=242&t=20657&p=145178#p145213

This was a nice situation to read. Showing an unexpected side effect of the goings-on in Rharne right now, and how Dan (and his mares) handled it well. It was good insight into animal training without it reading like an instruction manual. Well done.

Played to Skill Level? Yes

Skill Points 10

Renown +5

Skill Knowledges:
Animal Husbandry: soothing a skittish horse
Animal Husbandry: tying horses into a string
Mount (Equine): groom before saddling
Mount (Equine): leading horses while riding
Mount (Equine): trusting your mount to pick her own path
Mount (Equine): ground-tying a pony

Non-Skill Knowledges:
Faction: Lightning Knights
Location: Mistral Woods
Location: Mistral Village
Location: Storm's Edge

Items and Other Rewards:

Code: Select all

word count: 164
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