[Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Two: Hakon Grude

20th of Ashan 720

The cities and villages of Melrath are as varied and diverse as they come. The capital of Raelia is the the jewel of this western kingdom, playing host to a merchants, artisans, Aesir priests, as well as a cut throat political landscape dominated by the nobles of Raelia. To the south in the depths of the Myrkvior Forest lies Melrath's second largest, and oldest city, Fensalir. Here people have learned to live alongside spirits and the natural world by maintaining their loyalty to traditions laid down the first Melrathi. To the east lies the small fishing village of Noatun, and to the western mountains rests the Mer city of Verimeer, the brewing town of Alivilda and the alpine village Vormund.
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Ashling
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[Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Two: Hakon Grude

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Granegal
20th Ashan 720

CHAPTER TWO: HAKON GRUDE

Back in Zida, Ashling had made a deal with a mage named Adèle Air’ryn. The woman would give Ashling information about the abductions in Vhalar. In return, she would get a hideout and job as a cook at a healing house in Fensalir. But, things had happened. Instead of going back to Fensalir, Ashling lingered in Raelia. She had betrothed a foreign man, the most beautiful alchemist and artist in the world, Tristan.

It was high time to find Adèle now. She didn’t want a mage to get annoyed at her. To-trial, at the beginning of Ashan 720, Ashling she had been wandering around in Raelia in search of the mage. Where Adèle lived was unknown but she had told Ashling that the dog Silver could find her. Silver had proven this to be wrong. The young dog (only one arc) had instead played with other dogs. It had chased cats, begged people for food and been immune to every command Ashling had given it. Around lunchtime, Ashling had given up. She had decided to find a dog trainer instead ... and a young girl named Sif had pointed her to Hakon Grude, the girl’s older brother. Ashling had headed to the horse-market where the man used to hang out. After help from an animal handler to put a leash on Silver, she had continued to look for Hakon...


According to his sister’s description, Hakon Grude was a man of enormous charisma. He had stunning looks, was taller than all others and the strongest man in the land. The description of him seemed a bit biased, she thought.

Ashling walked further into the horse-market. The place was a maze but she was good at navigation and didn't fear getting lost. Stables and paddocks, boxes and fences filled the quite big market-place. Wherever she looked she saw horses of all colours and sizes. They ranged from the kind small horses children used to ride on to big strong workhorses fit to pull timber and sleighs. Some of them were elegant and outlandish looking. But, the lion’s share of the animals were the hardy Melrathi horses which were specific for the region.

The smell of horses (and horse manure) filled the air. People spoke and shouted and horses whinnied. Ashling was happy that Silver was now on a leash. She kept hauling the dog in to make sure that he didn’t end up under the hooves of some less tolerant equine. Most of the horses didn’t seem to feel bothered by the dog but some glared at Silver in a manner that unnerved Ashling.

Silver was quick to bark at the horses who showed signs of hostility. At those occasions, Ashling tried in vain to make the dog stop it. He continued to bark, not in the light and yapping tone he used to bark when he wanted food but in a deeper darker tone. The deeper into the market they walked the worse the dog's behaviour got.

In the outskirts, there had been more separate boxes. Many of the horses there had been huge, calm animals for farming and lumbering. Those had stood there and waited, patient and docile. Ashling had wondered if they knew that they were in demand and would soon leave the market.

Farther into the maze of stables and paddocks, the boxes became fewer. A majority of the horses for sale moved around as they liked behind fences which didn’t look too strong. Some of them were only eating hay and hanging out with their horse pals. But, there were a few animals who seemed hard to deal with. Some were nervous and skittish. Those ran away like in panic every now and then, hooves thundering against the ground. Others seemed a bit aggressive, staring at other horses and the market visitors alike.

It was in this part of the market Ashling finally found Hakon Grude. A tall man came running at high speed in a paddock and jumped over the fence in the nick of time, a furious horse at his heels. Ashling felt a bit impressed by the man’s acrobatics but mostly she felt scared of the angry horse. It was behind the fence, yes but it reared over and over again. It kept slamming the hooves into the ground like it was looking to stomp something to death. She could feel the ground shake a bit under her feet every time, or so she imagined. Ashling felt her body go tense. She pulled Silver with her away from the fence. But, the dog sabotaged her efforts to not draw attention by growling and barking like crazy. No matter how she tried to make the dog calm down, Silver paid no heed to her pleas.

“C’mon. You’d better put more distance between you and that bastard. I swear there must be a streak of Sleipnir in it ...”

It was the tall man who had fled from the paddock. While he spoke he pulled Ashling with him along the lane between the fences. Silver barked even more and louder, but the tall man turned around and roared at the dog to shut up. To Ashling’s surprise, the dog looked intimidated and stopped barking. It walked in the leash without making trouble as the trio continued to walk. Glancing back at the angry horse she saw the animal prance back to the flock, looking like a proud winner of a battle.

“You’ve got to learn to speak so the dog understands when it’s an order, not general pet-talk.” The man's tone wasn't disdainful, only informative.

“I see.” Ashling didn’t want to debate. She relaxed a bit, breathing out. “Thanks,” she added. “Why was that horse so angry?”

“Jarl of the paddock. It believes that the flock belongs to it. I was going to fetch one of the other horses, but ... yeah. You saw.”

Ashling nodded. “I’m looking for Hakon Grude. Do you...”

“That’s me!”

The man knocked on his chest with a beefy fist and beamed at her. Ashling looked at him and compared him to the description his little sister had provided. It was true that he was tall, but he wasn’t any taller than other tall men in Melrath. His appearance was appealing enough but not so much more than average that it mattered. Hakon had tied his light brown hair back into a practical ponytail and he wore simple brown clothes. There was horse dung on his sturdy work boots and he didn’t seem to care. His wide smile was nice but not stunning. (At least not to her as she compared the man's smile to Tristan's.) So, Hakon's younger sister seemed to be as biased as Ashling had suspected.

Ashling's attention had been on keeping Silver safe, not on keeping her boots clean. Her boots were as dirty as Hakon's were. Well. She could understand his indifference to dirty boots. To stay clean in a muddy place like this must be a mission impossible. Not that it mattered to her. Being from Fensalir and an avid outdoorswoman Ashling didn't care about it. Instead, she smiled back, happy to have found Hakon.

“I’m Ashling Grayhawk. I’m looking for an animal trainer who can help me do right with Silver here.”

“You’ve come to the right man!” Hakon Grude winked at her as he said that.

Ashling felt only a mild amusement at the wink. “Eh ... good ... when can we start?”

“What can you pay?”

Hakon Grude gave her a once over and it was not about flirting. Ashling didn’t doubt that the was trying to figure out how much it could be worth to take on to teach her. It did neither surprise her nor annoy her, She hadn’t expected him to work for free. People had to make a living. That was life.

“I’m not rich, only a healer from Fensalir,” she told him. “I can pay an average fee but not more. But, I’m only looking to learn how to train Silver in the very basics a dog needs to know. I'm not looking to make him do odd tricks.”

“Well...” Hakon Grude answered. “My time is valuable. There’s many who need me to take care of difficult animals like that cursed stallion you saw over there...” He gestured to the paddock. “You are a healer though. Would you be able to help out and make that spawn of Sleipnir calm down?”

“I’m a herbalist. I don’t believe ...”

“Herbs. That’s what I meant. Can you give him something that makes him be less troublesome? If you help me with this I’ll help you with the dog. ” He grinned. “They pay me a fortune if I succeed. You get your share as dog training lessons with the best animal trainer in Raelia. Only if the treatment works, that is.”

Ashling though of the offer. Herbs to calm a horse and make it be more reasonable? There were herbs like catnip and chamomile. They had a mild calming effect on people and she supposed that she could use them on horses too. What more? Hops? It could be worth a try. Valerian root...she wasn’t sure if it would be wise to use it on a horse. It was very calming, but if they paid Hakon a fortune for making that horse behave it must be a valuable animal. Harming it could become an expensive affair not to mention how bad she would feel for the animal.

“The horse hasn’t done anything unnatural,” she said. “It wants to protect the flock.”

“Nah. You're wrong. It’s a newcomer in the paddock trying to establish itself as flock leader. It terrorizes the other horses and it attacks people. That’s unnatural enough for me. Can you drug it for me or not?” The man seemed to be about to conclude that she couldn’t.

“What are you going to do to it? If I ... calm it down with herbs?”

“Speak. I’m going to speak to it. Learn to know it. Show it that it can trust people. That’s can be the problem. Distrust can be what makes it aggressive. Protective. Defensive.” Hakon sighed. “I’ve tried but I can’t get near it.”

“How can you speak with a horse?”

“I spoke to your dog, didn’t I?” The man pointed at Silver who sat silent and obedient at Ashling’s side. “How would I be able to train animals if I didn’t know how to speak to them? It’s a question of learning how they communicate. You use your body language and the tone of your voice and you pay attention to theirs. They also know words, more words than people think."

Hakon seemed serious. He actually sounded like he was what his sister had said, one of the best animal trainers in Raelia. She still hesitated a bit. “Why do they pay you so much for training him? Who owns him?”

“A rich merchant. They’ll be even richer once they can sell that horse. They are ignorant and bought Jarl because he’s beautiful. There’s a chance to make it useful for an owner who is able to handle him and bond with him. But, it will always be a bit dangerous. He's a demanding horse. The kind people who want to brag about their riding likes to ride. People who like to dance on the edge of danger.”

“I will make an attempt to give it something calming,” said Ashling after thinking a bit more. “But I’m not going to give an animal a strong drug. I hope you understand that.”

Hakon nodded. “I’m not asking you to harm Jarl. I only want him to calm hiim down so I can approach him.” He paused. “When your at it, there’s a too inventive mare too. Granegal. Nice animal but full of tricks. Common good old Melrathi breed. You know how wayward some of those can be.”

“Granegal?”

“It’s her name. You may give her some of the herb treatment too. A little bit should suffice.”

It seemed fair enough. That second horse sounded like an easy case compared to the furious stallion Jarl. The deal seemed a bit murky now when he was adding one more horse to it though. Ashling could have tried to find another animal trainer but she suspected that it would be a waste of time. There was no guarantee of getting better offers. She sighed and agreed to treat Granegal in passing by. Hakon beamed at her and they shook hands to seal the deal.

And so, Ashling took Silver with her and went to buy the herbs she needed.
Last edited by Ashling on Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 2177
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Re: [Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Two: Hakon Grude

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Ashling:

Knowledge:
Skill:
Animal Husbandry: Investigating why a horse behaves aggressively
Animal Training: Speaking so a dog understands when it’s a order
Animal Training: Using body language to communicate with animals
Intelligence: Finding out who the owner of a horse is
Medicine: Keeping the medication to no more than what’s necessary
Negotiation: Making a mediocre bartering deal

Non-Skill:
NPC: Hakon Grude, animal trainer

Loot:
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I like that you added a bit of background information at the beginning of the thread and told your readers what has happened so far. That really makes it easier to understand what is going on. You also did a good job when it comes to the horse market. I like how detailed your description is. The difference between how Hakon’s sister described him and his actual appearance amused me. His sister was indeed biased. He is a well-written NPC though!

I look forward to reading the sequel.

Enjoy your rewards!

word count: 173

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