• Solo • [Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Five: Jarl of the Paddock

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 Five: Jarl of the Paddock

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Granegal
20th Ashan 720
Continues from here

CHAPTER FIVE: JARL OF THE PADDOCK

After searching in vain for the mage Adèle, Ashling had lost faith in her playful and unhelpful dog Silver. Ashling had gone looking for an animal trainer instead. She had found Hakon Grude at the horse market in Raelia. He had agreed to give her lessons in animal training in return for her help to calm down a couple of horses. But, when Ashling had with the herbs for the treatment Hakon had gone to the pub nearby, a shabby tent with one open side. Ashling had gone there and waved at him to make him come out, but Hakon hadn’t seen it. Instead, a burly giant had assumed that it was him she waved at. Ashling had found herself at an unwanted date. She had managed to wriggle out of trouble by taunting the man into taking a dose of valerian root. Returning out from the pub she had discovered that her dog Silver was gone. Worried for Silver but unable to find him, she had gone to speak with Hakon Grude and treat the horses as agreed.

Hakon Grude was at the paddock but her dog Silver was not. The moment she realized it Ashling felt a hope she hadn’t been aware of fizzle out. Hakon told her that they had tried to catch the dog. But, Silver had run away and disappeared out of sight. He didn’t know why.

“The dog pointed its ears and then he left like on a signal inaudible to human ears.” Hakon didn’t know anything more.

“If you had been here when I returned a lot of trouble wouldn't have happened.” Ashling wasn’t able to not sound reproachful. Hakon Grude had not only disappeared to that pub. He had also ignored her need of help to get rid of the bearded giant who had decided to date her. But, Hakon had been ready to defend the dog after it had angered the giant. It still irked her.

Hakon shrugged. “It’s your own fault. You were gone for a whole break. I thought you had bailed. I was a bit thirsty and got something to drink. ”

“I use to keep my agreements!”

“Look, I keep my agreements too, I only needed a beer.”

A bit thirsty? Only a beer? Ashling had seen the man drink more than one tankard of beer in the tent pub. He didn’t sway or show any other signs of being drunk. True. But, as a healer, she knew that it didn’t mean that he was sober. People who love their beer and liquor too much develop resistance to alcohol. If people could drink a great deal and still seem unaffected it could be a sign of addiction.

“You could have helped me. You saw what happened. But all you did was to come to my dog’s rescue.”

“You dealt with Sledgehammer yourself. He was only buying you free drinks and being nice, that’s nothing to rescue people from.”

“I was there to fetch you, not to date that ... “Sledgehammer”.

“Well, you got him to drug himself with the horse medicine! Not that he will ever admit to it. He will brag about how drunk he was and say that you were so eager to be with him that he had to chase you away. Saves his pride! ” Hakon laughed like at a good joke.

“Let’s take care of the horses now.” Ashling wasn’t in the mood for jokes. She also doubted that “Burly’s” real name was “Sledgehammer” albeit it was a very suitable nickname. But, it didn’t matter. She supposed she wouldn’t meet the man again. Raelia was a big city.

“We start with Jarl.” Hakon had called the angry stallion “Jarl of the Paddock” when she had been here the first time. Ashling knew which horse he meant. She wasn’t looking forward to an encounter with the dangerous animal. Spirits, no! But, she would follow through. It would have felt better if she had known where Silver was though. The dog was the reason why she was going to treat the horses. If he was gone all her strife would be for nothing. It was depressing to think about it. She had become attached to the furry little troublemaker.

“I can’t walk into the paddock alone and try to give the horse sedative herbs,” she said. It was a bit late to think of that now. She looked at Hakon.

The animal trainer looked back.”No problems. I’m going to fetch Jarl and hold him. You’ll be safe.”

When she had first seen Hakon he had come running with “Jarl” at his heels and jumped over the fence in the nick of time. Thus, his words didn’t reassure her. “He chased you out from the paddock. Are you really able...”

Hakon interrupted her. “Leave it to me. I know many things about animals. There’s a way to make Jarl be meek and mild as a lamb. Wait here...”

He walked away toward a stable nearby opened the door and went in. Ashling looked at the stable door and waited. Whatever Hakon was doing in there, it took time. She wondered if he was napping in the hay. It was tempting to walk over to the stable, tear up the door and catch him slacking. Then again, going in there to mess with an inebriated man who had hit the hay seemed like a bad idea. Instead, she did her best to suppress the annoyment. An argument would only take up time and delay her search for Silver. Besides, when she found the dog she wanted to be on the right page with Hakon. She wanted to get those lessons in animal training.

This is a mess!

To pass the time she turned to the paddock and looked at “Jarl”. The dark brown stallion was a beautiful animal. Ashling didn’t know so much about horses but she saw that the proportions of the horse’s body were appealing. A the moment, Jarl was patrolling the paddock. He was keeping the small flock of fellow horses for sale safe - and suppressed. Once in a while, “Jarl” reared. He stood on his hind legs his front hooves in the air, the dark mane flapping when he shook his head. When he whinnied it sounded like a call to arms. The mere thought of Hakon meeting the powerful stallion in combat made her cringe. Hakon wouldn't stand a chance.

This is madness!

She was still watching the horse when Hakon returned. There was hay in his hair! Ashling was on the verge to begin a long rant but bit her tongue when she saw that Hakon was carrying a small cage in one hand and a sack in the other. He had at least not returned empty-handed.

“Got him at last! “ Hakon sounded cheery. “The little bastard kept running and hiding. Sorry for the waiting time.”

Ashling looked at the cage. “What’s ... that?” she managed.

“Jarls best friend. His beloved stable companion. Kettil Cat.”

“Oh ... Kettil Cat.” Ashling looked at the man and the cage. She bit her lip to not laugh out loud when she realized that Hakon had spent the time chasing a cat in the hay.

Hakon dumped the sack on the ground and held the cage up so she could look at the cat. The small animal lay in the middle of the cage, the eyes menacing and the tail whipping. It stared at her but didn’t move. It was a common brown tabby cat. It had the typical thick fur of a Melrathi cat, green eyes and small tufts of longer hair on the tops of its ears. As far as she could see there was nothing unique with it. “A ... common cat?”

“Yes, to us he is a common cat. But, to Jarl he’s special. Jarl listens to Kettil.”

I’m in an asylum for crazy animal trainers ...

“If you say so. In that case, can you please make Kettil Cat tell “Jarl” Horse to behave.” Ashling could hardly believe that she had said that.

Hakon smiled. “No. It doesn’t work that way. This isn't a children's tale.” He put the cage down on the ground and began to explain the relationship between the horse and the cat to Ashling.

“Horses have a herd mentality. They need company. They socialize with other horses. I guess that goes without saying. They socialize with humans too and can become very attached to their people. But, they also socialize with other kinds of animals. Donkeys. Dogs. Goats. Sheep. And cats, a preferred small furry companion of the horses. For some reason horses and cats tend to like each other. Some believe that it starts with the cat killing rats who annoy the horse and so they make friends. And the horse is offering a warm and cosy back for the cat to sit on. Anyway. Cats and horses get along and can be the best of friends. Kettil lives here in the stables and when Jarl arrived he befriended the horse. So, Jarl is easier to handle when Kettil is around.”

While Hakon spoke the “Jarl” felt the scent of the cat. He was on his way to the fence. The horse stopped right inside, looking down at the cage.

Hakon’s movements were slow and calm when he bent down and grabbed the sack. “Oats and molasses. Luxury for horses. He will not be able to resist eating it. So, now you can add the medicine to it and then we let him eat. It would also be nice if you can tell me about the herbs so I can use them to help nervous animals. In the future I mean."

Ashling nodded. She liked that Hakon took an interest in herbal medicine for animals. The man had his drawbacks but his care for the animals seemed sincere and professional. “This is the hops. They use it when they make beer but we herbalists also use it as a mild sedative.” She looked at Hakon. He nodded and so, she put hops in the oats.

The next herb was the catnip. When Ashling pulled it out of the basket and shook it a little bit, Kettil Cat gave a loud mewl. “This is fresh catnip. It’s named so for a reason. Cats love it.” On a whim, she put one stalk of the catnip into the cat’s cage. Kettil Cat purred in pleasure. “Jarl” the horse gave Ashling somewhat less hostile eyes. She wondered if she was now approved by the cat and so, in better standing with the horse?

This is fascinating...

“The catnip is sedative and you can treat lighter ailments with it. It can also flavour food, teas and liquors. But, recall one thing Hakon. Never give it to a pregnant animal. It can cause them to lose the foal.” The herb triggered menstruation and it was sometimes used for intentional abortion. Hence, some also used it to prevent pregnancy. Ashling didn’t tell Hakon that as it might make the atmosphere awkward. She felt that he ought to use his brain and figure it out.

She held up the chamomile. “Chamomile is good for treating anxiety and insomnia. It’s good for stomach problems and it can help against mouth ulcers. But, allergy can be a problem for some people.” Finally, it was time for the valerian root. “It’s the root of a flower. It can help against anxiety and stress. Very calming, but it leaves the senses working as usual. Body and mind become slower though.”

Hakon nodded. “Hops, Catnip, Chamomile, Valerian Root.” The things she had told him were only facts that were very easy to understand. He had seen the herbs with his own eyes and taken part in the work. Hence, he had learnt by himself how they looked, felt and smelled. Ashling hadn’t attempted to describe them to him as it hadn’t occurred to her to say more. She hadn’t encouraged him to ask questions either. Her beginner teaching had been a bit lacking, but she didn’t realize it. (As Hakon didn’t complain she assumed that she had done well! )

The medicinal horse food was ready to use. Ashling had saved some catnip and gave the cat another stalk of it. Kettil purred like obsessed, nibbling at the plant and rolling on it. A glance at the horse told her that “Jarl” seemed to like this. Were she and Hakon now friends of Jarl's friend?

Hakon took the sack and poured an amount of the content into a bowl of wood. With careful and experienced movements he put the bowl down into a ring of metal mounted on the inside of the fence. Ashling noticed that he kept an eye on “Jarl” all the time. The horse did the same with Hakon. When the sedative “candy” was in place, Hakon stepped back and they waited.

“Jarl” took the bait almost at once. They watched him munch. Within short he had finished the meal. While they waited for the effect, Hakon told Ashling that this might be the beginning of him gaining the trust of the violent stallion. He hoped so. He didn’t want a long chat though. While she waited, he would fetch the other horse she had agreed to treat. “A skittish mare.”

It sounded like an easy case!
Continues here
word count: 2279
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Doran
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Re: [Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Five: Jarl of the Paddock

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Ashling:

Knowledge:
Skill:
Animal Husbandry: Catnip makes a cat happy
Animal Husbandry: Horse have herd mentality and want company
Animal Husbandry: Horses and cats can be friends
Teaching: Telling people facts about common herbs
Medicine: Mixing herbs into oats and molasses
Medicine: Medicating a horse with sedative herbs

Non-Skill:

Melrathi Catnip: Favoured by cats
Melrathi Catnip: Can be used to spice food and drink
Melrathi Catnip: Dangerous for those pregnant, can cause an abortion
Melrathi Catnip: May prevent pregnancy

Loot:
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: This was another entertaining thread in the “Granegal” series.

Hakon’s and Ashling’s little argument was amusing.

I agree with Ashling, by the way. Sledgehammer is a suitable nickname for her unwanted suitor!

You did a good job when it comes to describing Jarl and his behaviour as well. It really is a suitable name for that horse.

I find it interesting that Jarl’s best friend is a cat, by the way. That was unexpected!

Enjoy your rewards!

word count: 174

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