• Solo • [Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Six: Gaining Granegal

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 Six: Gaining Granegal

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Granegal
20th Ashan 720
Continues from here


CHAPTER SIX, GAINING GRANEGAL

Ashling had searched in vain for the mage Adèle by following her playful and unhelpful dog Silver. Disappointed in the dog, she 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 and her dog lessons in animal training in return for her help to calm down a couple of horses. But, when Ashling had returned with the herbs for the treatment Hakon wasn't there. He had gone to the pub. nearby, a shabby tent with one open side. Ashling had gon 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 leave it by taunting the man into taking a dose of valerian root. It had made him drowsy and he had sent her away. 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 two horses as agreed. They had treated the horse “Jarl” (with the support of its friend pet Kettil Cat). Now, Hakon had gone to fetch the second horse, “a skittish mare”.


After a short time, he came back, leading a grey palfrey of good old Melrathi race. This horse had a typical blond mane and was of medium size. It looked like the kind of all-purpose horse that made a good mount for riding.

The horse’s movements were graceful and it seemed to be in a happy mood, holding her head high. Ashling supposed that it was looking forward to running in the paddock with the other horses.

“This girl is Granegal.” Hakon introduced the grey mare like it was a person. “Granegal, this is Ashling Grayhawk.” This seemed to amuse him. He pulled out a carrot from a pocket and handed it to Ashling. “Give it to her. Granegal loves carrots. Apple’s too, but I don’t have any.”

Ashling took the carrot and gave it to the horse. The mare made quick work of it. Ashling laughed, feeling charmed by the nice animal. She found it hard to understand why Hakon wanted her to give the horse calming medication. It didn’t seem like Granegal was particularly “skittish”. Ashling was about to ask about it, but Hakon was already leaving again.

“Here. Hold the reins. I have more things I need to fetch.” He put the reins in Ashlings hand the moment after the mare had taken the carrot. “Be right back!”

Hakon went back to the stable. Alone with Granegal, Ashling had no other choice than holding the reins and waiting. Soon, it became clear that “right back” meant different things to different people. Ashling had assumed that it meant “almost at once”. She had been wrong. She wondered what was taking so long time. Had Hakon taken a new trip to the pub tent or had he been chasing cats in the hay again? Wouldn’t he come back soon? How long would she have to stand here doing nothing?

To pass the time she spoke to the grey horse. “Hello Granegal!” Her voice was light and cheery. She was under the impression that animals used to like that tone. Silver used to respond to it by wagging his tail. The horse looked at her and made a low sound. It seemed like they hade contact.

She patted the horse. “I wonder where Hakon is. Did he go dancing?”

Ashling had spoken what had come to her mind. She hadn’t meant anything with her playful words. But, the horse reacted like it meant a lot to her. Granegal began at a series of amazing dance steps. Ashling had finished feeling flabbergasted the horse pulled her with it, turning around. Worried, she wondered if something bad was happening to the horse. Was it feeling ill? Was it in pain? Was it scared of something? Or was it only taking the opportunity to try and run away from an unskilled animal handler?

Ashling held on to the reins and tried (in vain) to make the horse stop. Granegal repeated its complicated steps again. Then it turned around once more, now in the other direction. Ashling didn’t know what else to do so she followed and took part in whatever it was the horse was doing. For a moment she hoped that it would be over after the two fist turns, but her hope died at once. Granegal continued the antics and seemed to like that Ashling participated.


Dancing

The sudden telepathic comment from Ashling's inner spiritual familiar came as a surprise. But, as soon as she felt it in her mind she knew that dancing was what they did, she and Granegal. It was bizarre but true. The horse had heard her speak about dancing and reacted like she had asked it for a dance. It had obliged and now Ashling was unable to make it stop dancing. It was so absurd that Ashling had to laugh out loud. Despite the situation and her worry about Silver, she felt lighthearted.

The stallion “Jarl” was watching them over the fence. He seemed much calmer now when the sedative herbs began to affect him. Kettil Cat was still purring in the cage, having a good time wallowing in catnip.

Ashling accepted her fate. She would have to hold on to the reins and continue dancing until Hakon would come back. There was already one lost animal to search for, her dog Silver. She didn’t want also get a runaway horse to look for. Besides, the dancing wasn’t so bad once she had learnt it. It felt better to move than to stand still and immersing in the dance made her feel at peace.

The peace would however not last for a long time.

An old woman with a dog appeared on to lane to the paddock. The woman approached at a good speed for being a bent elderly person leaning on a walking stick. The dog approached even faster. It ran straight to the cat cage and began to bark, encouraging the cat to run. But, Kettil Cat seemed to know that it was safe in the cage and ignored the dog. At first, the dancing horse was in the way and Ashling could only hear the sounds of the cat and dog encounter. But, once Granegal turned again so Ashling could see better, she recognized the dog.

It was Silver.

Torn between happiness to see the dog and exasperation at how he was complicating the situation she told Silver to stop barking. The dog didn’t pay heed to her. But, the elderly crone had arrived and she for one was able to make the dog obey. Ashling felt an immense relief...for a moment. Then she felt like she was being tossed back into the madhouse again. Right in front of her eyes, the age seemed to run off of the woman like raindrops from a goose. The bent back went straight and proud. The withered biqaj face went as young and beautiful as Ashling recalled it. All that remained of the woman's “old age" was the veil that covered her hair.

It was Adèle Air’ryn.

This was the mage Ashling had gone looking for during the first part of the trial. She had given up about finding the woman. It had seemed like Silver was neither interested nor able to find her. This was the reason why Ashling had made a deal with Hakon and ended up dancing with a horse. Now, it seemed like Adèle had instead found the dog and Silver had led her to Ashling.

Trouble never comes alone...

“Adèle...” Ashling took the opportunity to speak while Granegal conducted a series of steps.

“It’s me! Long time no see, yes?”

“Yes, long time ... “ Ashling didn’t have time to say more. Granegal was turning around in the dance again and as she didn’t want to get the reins torn out of her hand she had to follow.

“We had a deal” the mage shouted from the other side of the dancing horse. “We were going to travel to Fensalir together and you would help me to get a job and a hiding place. Do you recall? I use to keep my agreements...”

That was what Ashling had said to Hakon when she had felt that he was failing her. “Me too,” she shouted. “I haven’t forgotten. I’m only delayed. I was looking for you but Silver wasn’t helpful.”

“You should get lessons in animal training,” the mage suggested.

At this Ashling almost shut her eyes. The reason why she was in this situation, was that she was going to get lessons in animal training. It would be her payment for treating the horses. And the reason for why she had made the deal was that Silver hadn’t obeyed when she had told him to find Adèle. Now, the circle had closed, Adèle advising her to take lessons in animal training.

It can’t get any worse now...

After a bit of happy “stepping” Granegal turned again. Ashling found herself face to face with the mage. This time she took in more details. Adèle was looking more shabby than chic. She had replaced some of her former fineries with random new additions. much like a mercenary’s gear shifts as their luck goes up and down.

“I’m here to get lessons but I have to pay for it by treating horses first. I’m not made of money!”

Adèle nodded. “I know. But, rumour has it you were at the sacrifices with a rich and beautiful outlander!” She paused a bit. “Is he your lover? In that case, why doesn’t he pay for your lessons? I mean, my husband Helwig paid everything for me. Such a generous man! Mark my words, sister, it’s bad to hang out with the outlanders if they don’t give you money.”

“I’m not ... he’s not ... I mean... “ It was hard for Ashling to answer. The happy dancer Granegal had completed the steps that had allowed the two women to speak face to face. It was time for the mare to turn around again. Dancing away from Adèle, Ashling felt that the horse had gained her a respite. She didn’t want to discuss Tristan Venora with other people, in particular not now. She would avoid it by changing the topic! “I’m going to keep our agreement!” she shouted. “I’ll find you when it’s time to leave Raelia!”

The horse turned back again after a few special steps. To Ashling’s immense surprise Adèle looked like an elderly street dweller again. She must admit that she felt impressed by the woman's skill at acting! She watched in awe as Adèle staggered away after a brief “Make sure to do so!”

The mage’s abrupt departure was due to that Hakon was on his way back. “Bow!” he shouted to Granegal, holding up a carrot in the air. His voice was firm and cheery. Ashling stared as the horse bowed down by bending the forelegs, it’s gaze trailed on the carrot. The man issued a new command.“Up.” The horse got up on its hooves again and Hakon gave it the carrot.

He looked at Ashling. Their gazes met. A silent moment followed.

“A skittish mare...” said Ashling. Her tone was casual.

“She’s a bit skittish,” Hakon answered in the same tone.

“Quite skittish, yes.”

Ashling considered asking Hakon if the horse used to dance often but she didn't dare to say that word again. Instead, she took a step back and looked around. “Jarl” still stood inside the fence, looking calm. Silver still stood in front of the cat cage looking obsessed. Kettil Cat still sat in the cage enjoying the catnip and ignoring the dog. Granegal nudged Hakon in the hopes of getting more carrots. The basket with the herbs still sat on the ground waiting for the next patient ...

Ashling gave a small laugh.“Hakon, what’s wrong with Granegal? She doesn’t seem to be ill, aggressive or anything else I have heard about before. She isn’t even skittish. She seems calm, except for ... I’m not going to say that word but you know what I mean.”

“Travelling jesters raised and trained her. She’s a performer horse.”

“A ... performer horse?”

“A jester horse. Full of tricks. Like her former owners. Outlanders of course. They had to leave in a haste in Vhalar and couldn’t bring Granegal with them. Long story, but the horse ended up for sale here. Nobody wants her though and the temporary owner abandoned her whey they saw it. I’ve been paying her food and stable place. But, it’s getting too expensive and she’ll have to go to...I only want her to be very calm first. Or asleep.”

Ashling stared at him, gagging on the laugh. He had sounded serious. It felt like the time had stopped and the whole world had gone silent. It took time for her to take in Hakon’s words. The situation had shifted from comedic to tragic as fast as Adèle had shifted from young to old.

“You can’t mean that you want me to give her a sedative treatment because you plan to ...”

“Nobody wants to buy her once they have discovered her behaviour. There’s nothing else to do. I can’t afford to provide for her anymore and I can't let her starve. A fast and easy end is better. Are you able to make her fall asleep so she won’t know or feel anything?”

The man swayed a bit and even though they weren't close Ashling could feel the smell of alcohol. He seemed to have spent the time in the stable "strengthening" himself. Looking down, she saw that he had a sword in his hand and a knife at his belt.

Granegal nudged Ashling looking for carrots. Ashling met the playful horse’s trusting gaze and though of how the happy animal had danced with her. At that moment, she knew that she wouldn’t do what Hakon was asking her to do. The mere thought of helping him to kill the healthy and nice animal was repulsive to her.

“Hakon,” she said. “I’ll take the horse instead. I can pay for food and a stable place, but not more than common average quality. But, I guess I can get Granegal for a lower than average price as the situation is as it is?”

Hakon threw the sword on the ground. It lay there unused, a plain
but efficient looking weapon. Ashling looked at the weapon and then at the man. An animal trainer? Was there more to him? Who and what was Hakon Grude? But, if Hakon noticed the unspoken question in her eyes he ignored it.

"If you want her I'm all for it," he said.

The "negotiation" was quick and easy. Hakon had already tried his best to keep Granegal alive and find a buyer instead of having to take the horse down. To him, it was a wonder that somebody came to the animal's rescue. They agreed that Granegal would stay in the stable. It meant that it would still be his job to care for her. All settled, Hakon let Granegal into the paddock.


This done, he found a used dog collar and a matching leash. He got Silver ready for the walk home. It was already evening and Hakon was behind with a lot of work. Ashling felt tired after the busy trial and was happy to postpone the lesson. She and Silver would come back another trial.

She was a horse owner now. As she walked home she thought back on the events of the trial. The animal trainer Hakon Grude. The boastful giant "Sledgehammer". The shabby mystery mage Adèle. The deal with the mage remained unsolved. (The giant wasn't somebody she wanted to meet again. But, she feared that he might be the kind who roams around at random so you happen to run into them in unexpected places.) And Hakon Grude ... had taken on teaching her about animal training. Only a well-armed animal trainer, right?

And in the end, there was Granegal. The horse was hers, Now, she only had to figure out what to do with it.
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Re: [Raelia] Granegal, Chapter Six: Gaining Granegal

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Ashling:

Knowledge:
Skill:
Animal Training: Holding a horse by the reins
Animal Training: Failing to make a horse stop with an odd behaviour
Animal Training: Holding on a dancing horse so I can’t run away
Intelligence: Finding out the true reason for an odd request of medication
Intelligence: Finding out the backstory of a horse nobody wants to buy
Psychology: Avoiding an unwanted discussion by changing the topic

Non-Skill:
NPC: Granegal, a performer horse

Loot: Grenegal
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: 5, for acquiring Granegal and attracting attention while doing so.
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: This was another enjoyable thread from you. I like how detailed and descriptive your post is. You did a great job when it comes to Granegal in my opinion. She has a real personality.

Granegal’s reaction to Ashling's mentioning “dancing” amused me. It seems as Ashling got herself a very special horse!

The mage showing up was quite unexpected, by the way!

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 168

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