[P] [LcSs] Don't he look fine and handsome, don't he look at his most
#1
Horse Trial Wrote:Mid morning, the contestants assemble on horseback outside the stables of the Lancaster Stockyard, where they will begin their race. While the initial trail is distinct and clear given the packed dirt route, it veers sharply into the slopes and rocky trails of the Burnt Church Mountains where the ground is treacherous and the path can bottleneck unexpectedly. The track from here on out is marked with red-dyed fabric strips tied to trees and shrubs, and directed by the periodic guard post. The final stretch dips back onto the safe, distinctive trail, and arches around the outer edge of Charmingtown's buildings and through the camps before finalizing back where they started.

OOC: Hello! This thread is for horse race contestants - Initial posting round will set the post order for the following posts. || WC: 233
____________________

Nazario sat astride his horse, the breeze rolling through Charmingtown setting dust whipping and curling in small-scale devils swirling about the dirt of the Lancaster Stockyard. Riselka’s neck bowed, the feathers and tassels of her barding bobbing with the playful breeze that tickled the tack. His eye roved the amassed riders, their horses, the way heads bobbed, hooves gouging pits into the packed earth, the flare of nostrils of equines keyed to riders’ eager whims. The Rey Salvaje raised his hand slowly – Briarblack, astride Taja, shuffled behind him – and he waited for the still, the hush.

”Racers,” he started, letting his hand fall. ”Good mornin’ – it’s good t’see everyone. Now – this race is more than just a spin around an arena – a jaunt through Charmingtown – it’s meant to test the bond between horse an’ rider. Your communication, as it were.”

He paused, and Riselka shifted her weight beneath him.

”The route is marked by guard posts, n’ flags. Briarblack n’ I will bring up the rear. Endurance is key – we don’t wanna see any foul play on the trail, but sometimes the path can play tricks, so keep your wits about you.”

Nazario’s hands tightened on his braided reign, guiding Riselka off the gravelly path that opened up into the Reserve, and Taja followed suit, Briarblack’s palm firmly planted on the saddle horn as she adjusted her balance.

”Get ready. Get set. Race!

#2
(+519)
Optime | Del Cenere Gang (Charmingtown --> Burnt Church Mountains) | Dated: August 25th | NPC: Cedar

Related to [DCG+] Lancaster Stockshow 2021.

Notes for me for Kamari’s placement per section of trail: 7/9, 2/9, 9/9.

Kamari’s scent is disguised.
As she waited for the race to start, Kamari casually sized up the event’s participants as they arrived and waited along the starting line in the stockyard. There was a mix of horses, most being taller and heavier than her own, and some looked more suited for the competition ahead than others. Of the entire rider group though, Kamari could only pick out two others that she knew for certain that weren’t part of the Gang; the metalsmith from New Caledonia and the bouncer from La Estrella Roja, the ash-marked, Coyote McScowlface.

She offered a polite nod and small smile to both males in a wordless way of saying ‘good luck.’ She wasn’t sure if either remembered her, but, they were the only competitors that Birch had met outside of the competition.

When all of the participants had arrived, the Rey Salvaje greeted them and formally introduced the event. Kamari made quiet note of his comment about him and the Briarblack—the woman who had kept time during the barrel racing competition—bringing up the rear. Her cornflower blue gaze flicked down the line of riders, most of whom, she assumed to be Del Cenerens. She had been foolish to expect a little more variety amongst the racers. It was of no matter though. She would just need to be more careful to avoid being suspicious.

While the prizes had been a very tempting draw, Kamari was a spy at heart. The cross-country race was supposed to take her further out than the trail ride had, and, the more intel she could innocently gather on the foreign land, the better. With the number of coyotes lingering about though, and with the leader bringing up the rear to ensure there weren’t any stragglers or rulebreakers, Kamari would have to be cognizant of how she raced Cedar, as well as how long her gaze lingered from the marked trail.

The Rey Salvaje gave the command to start, and Kamari urged her mustang forward at an easy gallop. With the terrain being as easy as it was, and it being so early in the race, she didn’t feel the need to rush towards the front of the pack. She’d gotten an idea of what the terrain would be like further up into the mountains thanks to the trail ride, and she knew where her horse would excel the most. Straightaways and level land were child’s play. It was the more challenging trails up further into the mountains that required true skill and trust between the rider and mount.

To reserve Cedar’s energy for when they’d need it most, Kamari allowed him to linger towards the back of the racing group. The mustang refused to be last, however. When not making subtle, note-taking glances at the passing scenery, Kamari watched the horses and riders ahead of her and Cedar, trying to find flaws that she could take advantage of once the track ran into more difficult and challenging terrain. No doubt, being her horse, Cedar was doing much of the same.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
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#3
With the way he was feeling leading up to the start of the race, Theo wondered if Jed was capable of feeling as nervous as he was.  Usually, he got the sense that his friend was too stubborn or proud to be bothered to consider anxiety, but feeling the stallion paw at the ground beneath them as he snorted and lightly tossed his head, maybe his usual behavior was an act.  In Theo's case, he was ecstatic to get another chance of redemption for another event similar to what he and Jed failed at during Casa's Olympics, having gotten sidetracked by Jed's apparent contest with Peony's mount.

Today however, he wanted to put that behind them, and show his new pack what he and his companion could accomplish when determined and truly focused.  The coyote watched Nazario with anticipation, listening to his brief introduction before the race as the inside of his chest tightened.  He couldn't help but give an amused smile as he heard the Rey Salvaje mention something about running around in a circle on a track, but mostly paid attention to the explanation given so his mind wouldn't wander.  Before they had gotten to the starting line, Theo made the plan with Theo to be the front runner out of the metaphorical gate, to try and gain some distance between them and the inevitable cluster that the race would become early on. On the other hand as well, if they took the lead while the path was wide enough, it could mean more time for them to navigate the difficult patches ahead without worrying about being overtaken.

Leaning slightly forward on the saddle, Theo patted Jed's neck with a broad hand, which was probably more reassuring to the rider than the horse.  Quickly settling back as everyone braced to begin, as soon as the coyote heard the word 'race' he urged his stallion forward, trying to cover as much ground directly in front of them as possible, watching the other riders slowly drifting away and eventually trailing behind them as Jed surged forward, snorting in an all out sprint for first.  The rider had to fight the temptation to look behind to see how close the others were, keeping his sights set on the open road before them, settling in for what was probably the biggest challenge they had gone through with to date.
#4
Location: Charmingtown Debouille Reserve || NPCs: Amadahy (horse) || Form: Optime



An Ashen her entire life, these trails were as familiar to her as the smell of horseflesh. Amadahy, too, had walked these trails many times before, carrying Rafaela around every sharp bend and past every steep ridge and across every comfortable stretch of packed earth. Together, they knew these trails as intimately as they knew themselves.

Unfortunately for Rafaela, it was perhaps because of that level of steadfast hubris she was now in last place, followed by one of the few people she was most embarrassed about being witness to her failure. Thank God it was Briarblack that was accompanying Nazario at the rear rather than her mother. Although, maybe she wouldn't have been so overconfident in her abilities if she knew that Evelyn would be watching her; judging her; silently and expressionlessly pressuring her show what the Tejada family was capable of.

At present, as she urged her blue roan mare to catch up with the rest of the racers, it seemed obvious to La Mesteñera that the only things she was capable of were a complacency in her perceived advantage as a Del Ceneren and an overconfidence in her bond with Amadahy. Because while Rafa's first mistake was in overestimating her familiarity and knowledge of the Gang's horse trails, her second, and perhaps biggest, mistake was with the hotblooded mare and her overeager, curious nature.

Although she was not her mother's mare, who was more often blatantly willful and overwhelmingly proud, Ama had a tendency to act impulsively, particularly when she was overly excited or excessively stimulated, and it could be a challenge to bring her back into focus. Rafaela knew this, and she had focused a great deal of their training on bonding and groundwork.

Clearly it hadn't been enough, however, for when Nazario had given the command for the race to begin, Amadahy thundered ahead... and straight off the beaten, designated trail.

"Dammit!" she had cursed, pulling the direct rein quickly to correct Amadahy's path and bring her back on course before the trees began to swallow up the nice, wide trail at the beginning of the race.

By then, though, the opportunity to get a comfortable distance ahead of the others before the trail narrowed and began to sidewind was already lost. Bringing up the rear, Rafaela set her eyes on the backs of her competition and tried to think ahead, considering what maneuvers and places she might be able to utilize in order to improve their standing in the race.



[WC -- 423]

#5
OOC: place 2/9 | WC: 275

IC:
This was going to be a long race, but Auger had ridden Monte quite extensively both within and outside of the territory. Not as a race, though; that would definitely affect the horse's stamina. Monte was a bit larger than some of the horses, and Auger hoped that in flat sections, Monte's longer stride would be an advantage. He glanced around at the other riders while waiting to start, seeing which of his pack mates were present. He wasn't sure what sort of riding skills everyone had, but he supposed they would be finding out soon.

Monte shifted his weight from one side to the other, impatient with standing around. Auger felt the same, although he didn't let it show on his face. His gaze found Notch and Dynia, there to see him off. The race path took them away, but he knew that they would be waiting at the finish line, too.

On Nazario's signal, Auger squeezed Monte's sides with his legs, getting the horse moving. The flat area allowed him to move up towards the front of the group. He wasn't sure if he wanted to stay in this position, though, once they got further along. He'd rather watch some of the other horses move quickly over some of the obstacles they may come across. For now, he continued to nudge Monte's sides to keep him moving away from home at a fast pace until he could see the bottleneck up ahead. He definitely didn't want to get stuck in the middle of a group of horses that didn't know each other.
#6
While Jethro knew that his horse was not the fastest, he thought they had a good chance in the long distance race. He had avoided entering the one held by the Cavaleri, in part, due to his own anxieties about the whole ordeal. The other competitions had required more of his energy and focus, and running Tobias ragged was not something he wished to do. Even now he was unsure how well the old stallion would fare, especially as he looked over the others.

Plenty of coyotes and their smaller, speedy looking horses were present. A black wolf he recognized as a patron of La Estrella Roja was present, as was the hunter, Birch. It was her horse he mostly recognized, though she was another semi-frequent attendant at the tavern.

Admittedly, Jethro was distracted. He was trying to stay focused and listen as Nazario gave instructions, but found himself fixated on how drastically his cousin's speech had changed since their youth. It had been two years since they last spoke, and even then there had been changes in the one-eyed man. He looked different now too: more confident, filled out.

This place felt alien and foreign, despite the presence of other coyotes. Was that why he was so discombobulated?

When the race began, the horses sprang forward. Tobias joined the herd in this charge, but his substantial size soon put him towards the back of the pack – falling behind Birch, who had been overtaken by the cluster of riders. Another jockey, this one a brunette on a blue horse, had gotten turned around early on but was quickly gaining on them.

The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
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#7
Bennett had no horse, and in borrowing the horse from the stables, he practically held onto her neck, and asked her to politely not buck him off. Hell’s Bell’s was tearing and ready to go, where as Bennett, not so much.

Distraction after distraction, in his mind, taking his hands and placing them on the reigns as Peony had shown him. His large size was more like that of a comical thing, sitting atop the horse nearly his same height, whenever he stood. Quite a distance for them to preform, and yet, he was unsure of himself, shifting a bit and taking a look at everyone, studying them. So many unfamiliar faces, and so many familiar ones. Rafaela was one of those familiar faces.

Once they weren’t competing against one another again, he would have to make a mental note to congratulate her, regardless of their positions. Maybe just so he could hear her berate him, or perhaps get her a drink.

Nazario began to speak, the equine he sat upon shifted her weight, excitement all over her whinny. Nazario stated something about flags, and curiously wondered if he could even guide Hell’s Bell’s. So far he was doing easy with it, and carefully listened for whenever the “go” stipulated, his own hands grabbed the reigns, and Hell’s Bell’s took off like a bat out of hell, Bennett’s hands reeled her in and the mare urged to edge on, his hands loosened, and before he knew it, him and Morrigan and Hosea were all practically neck and neck. Their last stretch was beginning to come to a peak, and he glanced backwards as horses were coming in fast, and quickly.

Bennett’s own thoughts went to the amount of noises surrounding them, careful to not pay too much attention. The first part was easy, it would seem. Orbs transferred all around, before focusing once more, on the path they were racing down.
WORD COUNT -
#8
Wc – 328
Morrigans position this round: 4/9

SISTER OF THE [ M O O N ],



Morrigan sat upon her shuddering steed, Barclays eyes wild and prancing in one spot. He was nervous and unsettled, and the hybrid didn’t think that boded well for her chances of victory. Barclay wasn’t terribly accustomed to the trails, his specialty lie in cutting cows off from the herd and admittedly the Witch had not once worked him with cows. That’s not what she needed a horse for. He had his strengths though; the stallion was fast – nearly absurdly so. Also being light on his feet made him an attractive prospect for retraining, though Morrigan hardly had the time. Rafaela might possibly be interested in taking on Barclay, though his jumpy nature meant getting him used to surprises on the trail might be some work. Idly the Witch wondered what the blossoming horse-minded woman would take as payment for training.

Tightening her reigns, Morrigan took a breath and sat deeper in the leather seat of the saddle as Nazario informed the riders what lay ahead, and the Corazon nodded in determined understanding. She tried not to wince at the Reys mention of communication and bond between horse and rider, because theirs wasn’t particularly strong. Prudence would have been Morrigans favorite for this, but the mare was heavy with foal and resting or more accurately, lazing about back at the cabin.

Casting an observant glance at the riders assembled, Morrigan’s attention was called sharply as Nazario got to the count down, and on his signal the herd of horseflesh and Luperci astride them surged forward – Barclay setting off like a canon.

There were some faster still, but the Witch was pleased with the position her stallion fought for right off the bat and urged him forward, trying to get ahead of the other riders as the path ahead full of twists and bottlenecks settled at the forefront of her mind. The sound of hooves striking gravel rumbled as the crowd thinned along the straight and for now, flat path.




D A U G H T E R OF THE WOODS.

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From my ROTTING BODY, flowers shall G R O W, and I am THEM & that is E T E R N I T Y.
#9
(300+) - Current Position: 6/9

It was more to test his skill than anything else. Before travelling to Del Cenere from the distance Palisade outpost, the sharpshooter had only been on horseback during slow moving trade journeys. He never had one to ride around town, though the place had hardly needed it; it wasn't as grand in space as the Ashen's home now, where Voodoo's assistance was a blessing to the archer.
Considering the amount of time he needed to spend around Charmingtown, either for work or play, living in Broke-Leg Marsh would have killed any motivation the Courtright mongrel had to practice in the shooting range or to drop in at the Ugly Coyote for some libations and socialization.

But the beast was not only useful for making travel around the pack easier; they had over time formed a relationship, mount and rider, that made the mutt loyal to the horse.
He still only knew minor care, trusting more experienced folk to treat her proper, but it was something he hadn't considered in his early days of owning the animal. Voodoo, in turn, was trusting of Hosea and went from a suspicious creature poised to freeze with fear at any stressing situation, so a more courageous thing who still gave apprehension but trudged on nonetheless.

This competition would be a little outside of both of their comfort zones; Voodoo would be pushed to ride alongside others and Hosea would be testing his skill in handling. There had to mutual trust to work, and no matter what position they ended up in at the end, their performance was something of priority focus.
If the archer was hoping to use his horse out on missions, catching bounties and escorting Ashen safely, they both needed to know what to expect from the other in a tense position.

Hosea gave the creature a gentle pat, full confident in her abilities even if she was hesitant.
Ya got this, girl. He muttered, before at the prompting of their Rey Salvaje, they were off.

It was a tough start, seeing other dart off quickly before them, but the freckled coydog just focused on keeping his mount comfortable during the event.
C'mon, Voodoo, this ain't nothin' ya can't handle. Hosea cheered her on, not putting too much focus on how many other riders were before them, or on those who also fell behind.
[Image: M8AUygW.png]
So come by west by east
↞ Come by drunk or sober ↠
Tell me what you've done
Over and over
#10
It was nice to get away from the booth, even for a small moment. The Trading Company has been doing well for themselves, as have the other members of New Caledonia from what he had heard of the events going on. He did his best to take a moment at each point in the day, giving him the chance to at least observe the other events.

Today was different. Now he was actively participating in one of the events.

Truth be told, part of Hibiki wondered what he was even thinking signing up for this kind of an event. He wasn't the best rider, and when it came to other events dealing with horses... well they tended not to end well. Last one he recalled taking part in left him literally tripping out of the gate. Here was to hoping this time would not turn out like that. He took a moment to make sure Soot was tact properly before hopping onto the horse's back. He turned towards Charmingtown, the thought of having Kadir here to watch him passing through his mind.

She probably would have liked to see his progress given she was the one who taught him most of his riding in the first place.

The dark male's eyes moved over the gathered group. There were so many here he didn't recognize, and none of them from New Caledonia. Was he really the only one from his home participating? That seemed a little strange, but that also gave him a new motivation... one to show them just what someone from there could do. Maybe he wasn't the best for representation, but he was still something... someone.

His gaze narrowed slightly, ears moving up when the call had gone out for the race to start. He gave Soot a kick, the horse quick to respond to the male's command. Surprise crossed over him as he found himself closer to the front. So much of this path was unfamiliar. Perhaps it would be best to keep behind others, waiting to try and take the lead towards the end. The path itself was going to be marked, but this was just a smarter call. His eyes kept on the horse in front of him, waiting for an opportunity to take ahead.
(+300) | NPCs: Soot
Hibiki's current place: 3/9
Hibiki
[Image: 47UmhJ6.png]



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#11
(+659)
Del Cenere Gang (Burnt Church Mountains) | NPC: Cedar

Notes for me for Kamari’s placement per section of trail: 7/9, 2/9, 9/9.

Start of Round 2!
The broad, wide road gradually funneled down and became more and more rugged the closer the racing group got to the mountain. Eventually, the distinctive path became a dirt one, and narrowed considerably as the riders came to their first bottleneck. The racers had to shuffle their mounts through the tight, hairpin turn that couldn’t have hardly been wide enough for two horses, much less, a group of nine racing ones. It was only the first of many obstacles to come along the mountainous path.

It was as the terrain grew more and more unstable that Kamari and her mount thrived, however. Used to traversing forests and up and around the Halcyon Mountains, Cedar was as confident as he was on flat terrain. In an effort to make it more believable that Birch was actually invested in the event, she urged Cedar to overtake the horses that were less sure about the uneven terrain and showed hesitation as the pathways grew rockier and thinner still. Her mustang was smaller in both height and girth than a few of the other participants’, which made even the thinnest paths not seem as daunting as they might have for someone with a larger, heavier, and fatter steed.

Up and up the path went into the mountains, and up and up Kamari and Cedar moved through the ranks. As others huffed and puffed with the ever-thinning air and climb, the Loner Huntsman and her mount continued onward as if they were after yet another prized fur to be had. Cedar safely slipped past his opponents with each tricky bend and slight reprieve there was to be had.

All the while, when not focused on traversing the more dangerous parts in the trail, Kamari did her best to mentally map the landscape that passed them. Her cornflower blue eyes searched for memorable things, disguising glances over her shoulder as merely her checking her placement amongst the other riders. The paths, as winding as they were, offered little when it came to intel, but, occasionally, through the dense woodline, she could see things; ruins, guard posts, even the distant town at one of the higher points of the marked pathway. It wasn’t much in the larger scheme of things, but, they were things she quietly tucked away nonetheless.

It was as the winding path gradually began to work its way downhill that Kamari was taken by surprise. Cedar had been forced to slow down considerably as he and a larger, dark horse ridden by a young coyote came across a particularly treacherous portion of trail that was too dangerous for even Cedar to try to pass the rival stallion. A slight breeze had brought a scent to her nose that nearly made the disguised Salsolan do a doubletake.

Her nose twitched, and her sharp eyes scrutinized the forested landscape around her as Cedar safely worked them through the tricky part of trail. The scent…she knew it. It’d been pertinent to a mission she’d been tasked to over a year prior. But…how?

How was it possible that it was here?

Not wanting to make her subtle scouting obvious to the other racers, Kamari slowed her mustang down bit by bit, feigning growing fatigue. She continued to take secretive, deep sniffs at the passing breeze and let her eyes search the landscape without shifting her head too much more than she had in the beginning of the race. Through the thick vegetation, she eventually spied the outline of a large, human-like ruin, and she made a mental note of it just as she did the pathway leading away from distant building.

The secretive, deceptive measures caused her and Cedar to gradually fall away from second place as other riders took advantage of the widening pathways and race-friendly terrain, but Kamari didn’t care. Her thoughts were busy making a hundred different calculations while still maintaining her guise as Birch.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
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#12
Location: Debouille Reserve Burnt Church Mountains || NPCs: Amadahy (horse) || Form: Optime



Shielded by an exceedingly thick canopy of emerald foliage, the sun danced in dapples upon the contestants below as the trail narrowed dramatically. This was dangerous territory, where gnarled old tree roots snaked aboveground and branches as thick around as a coyote is wide were liable to block the path. This was where smaller, surefooted horses could get the upper hand and, with any luck, even steal the lead.

And that was precisely what Rafaela was counting on.

Amadahy wasn't especially excited about the cramped trail, and Rafa felt much the same. Walking these winding dirt paths and elevated rocky ways was one thing when you were alone or with one, maybe two, other riders in single file. But nine competitive riders, each atop mounts of varying sizes and personalities, all vying for space and placement, made the experience altogether suffocating and unpleasant.

"Steady, Ama. Steady," she murmured to the horse, remembering to do the same. "Keep on, now. Steady."

The whispered mantra improved her own spirits, which allowed her to better control the tension in her body. Santiago would tell her that a relaxed rider made for a relaxed horse, but any change adjective could affect that experience. The point was that the bond between a rider and her horse ran deep -- right down the reins and straight through the saddle.

She urged the hotblooded mare along, passing when an opportunity presented itself and holding her back when it was sensible to do so, carrying herself as slack and loose as she could. Amadahy huffed as the gradient rose and Rafaela praised her with soft words, marveling at the horse's tenacity. Somehow, against all the odds, they had gained remarkable ground. Only some scrawny loner on a gorgeous bay dun and a newer Del Ceneren on a black stallion stood between her and open trail.

Keeping her eyes on the back of the loner ahead, Rafa held her mare back in the hopes that an opportunity to pass them would show itself before they began the descent from the mountains and the forest opened up again.



[WC -- 349]
OOC: Gonna go ahead and keep this moving since its been 2 days!
#13
WC: 257

A race like this was much different than Auger was expecting. While moving with this many horses around was something Monte had done, as was swift travel over terrain like this, this were not things that they had done at the same time. Smaller horses seemed to have an advantage over Monte as they scrabbled over some rough areas and he slowly made his way to the back of the group.

Monte didn't seem to like being the last horse too much, but there was not a whole lot that Auger could do about it right now. Sometimes there wasn't any room to pass even if he had otherwise been in a position to do so. Despite the loss of position, Auger was still enjoying simply riding and going fast. Monte seemed to like that part, too, at least. Auger rarely had to encourage him to go faster, which was also due in part to their position in the order. And, with the path so narrow in places, he also simply let Monte have his head and decide where to go. There was no use steering when Monte was concentrating on mostly steady places to put his gigantic hooves. Instead, he leaned forward and backward as required by the hills to help them both stay balanced, but the reins remained loose.

Auger was looking forward to getting out of this leg of the race. Eventually it would even out again as they continued and then Monte's long strides may come in handy once more.
#14
The change in terrain happened quickly, and when the narrow passage came into sight the position of racers was adjusted accordingly. The fastest horse kept the lead, while others were forced to fall further back – including a brunette coyote with dark markings, who he recognized, and the black wolf with the scars on his face. Others advanced, and took advantage of the rocky crags and narrows to push ahead.

Tobias could not hope to win in a place like this. He was built for power, not for terrain like this. He shouldered his way uphill, maintaining the same pace that he had begun with. His size alone helped to bully other horses out of the way, though Jethro was careful to keep his stallion in check. The last thing he wanted was for there to be fighting on the narrow trail, especially when the slope put them all at different heights. An ill timed bite or kick could do plenty of damage to both horse and rider. There was already danger with small rocks being kicked up too high, or even the grasp of a low hanging branch (though it looked like the Del Cenere Gang had gone to efforts to remove the most dangerous obstacles).

Concentrating on this, Jethro focused on the horse ahead of him – a mostly-white paint with a black patch on her rump, ridden by a silvery-gray coyote who looked like he wasn't as confident about the race as his eager mount seemed to be. The wispy looking mare was moving fast, and seeing this, Jethro kept Tobias as close so her as he could manage safely.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
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#15
Hell’s Bell’s was certainly something the youthful male wasn’t used to, her head-long attitude, and the way she was weaving in and out of the other horses, was beginning to show in all aspects. Soon, the male wound up falling way behind, their path turning into a windy, dangerous path, Hell’s had Sloan way down, taking it upon herself to not push faster. Bennett was actually thankful for that, considering he felt rather nauseous due to her speed.

The riders passed him by, one at a time, before he was in position fifth, behind Rafaela and Hosea. And suddenly he felt his anger bubble up in his chest, how dare Hosea try to surpass him, he was a Braithwaite, and the Courtright bastard, was not going to beat him. Perhaps, that’s whenever Hell’s Bell’s had felt this and lurched forwards, making the untimely jostle cause Benny to lurch forwards and nearly smack his head on the back of the horses.

Calming himself down, they ended in the same position, starting to feel somewhat uneasy in the saddle, Bennett shifted, and Hell’s Bell’s was rather eager to continue with the run, and Bennett focused on the riders in front of him, letting the horse take the lead now. If she could stop after the race, was the only question.
WORD COUNT -
#16
Wc – 331
Position: 7/9
Round: 2

SISTER OF THE [ M O O N ],



If Morrigan was happy about her position, it wasn’t for long. The straight, flat paths leading away from Charmingtown was where Barclay thrived, long legs striking against the gravel to carry the pair ever forward. She was just inching her way ahead when the trail thinned to a path only two horses wide if the animals were on the smaller side. There were other far more aggressive riders vying for a spot at the head of the pack, and Morrigan was quick to slow her pace in favor of safety – thoughts drifting towards the pups at home.

It wouldn’t do any good if she was thrown from her horse off the side of a mountain. Huffing at the ache building in her thighs, the female sat deeper in the leather seat of the stallions saddle and cast glances to either side of her, making a mad dash up the path after the rowdier contestants. Higher into the mountains they rode, position changing with every dangerous twist and turn. At times rocks crumbled under foot or a hoof slipped, earning a panicked gasp from the coyote female as she fought to navigate the stressful terrain. 

At some points they were forced to a walk with the path being so tight against the cliff-faces, setting Morrigan’s gut rumbling with anxiety. They made it through the worst of it without much incident, and the Witch focused on speeding up Barclay to match the pace of everybody else, but only succeeded in slowing down as the stallion decided to take a snack from the grassy embankments along the rocky and treacherous path.

After much cursing, Morrigan got the beast moving again and darted down the marked trail hoping to make up her lost position but was firmly near the end of the pack. “ That little stunt you pulled is going to cost us, Barclay. “ She muttered crossly, digging her heels into his side as they headed towards the southern border of the territory.



D A U G H T E R OF THE WOODS.

[Image: 7HdY84l.png]

From my ROTTING BODY, flowers shall G R O W, and I am THEM & that is E T E R N I T Y.
#17
(300+) - Current Position: 4/9

After a while, it was clear to tell that the mare had become more comfortable with her surroundings; the land was something she knew already, a disadvantage likely to anybody visiting the pack lands and a stranger to the winding path. The archer had taken here along his journey through all of Del Cenere, marking trail head and crafting a crude map with the help of an obnoxious Irishman.

The other riders are what worried her initially, but now that she'd been running alongside them, not bumped or pushed aside but gently passed by as feared, Voodoo had made a lot of progress.
They had been placed toward the end, with only a few opponents behind them, but they were up ahead enough now to see the rider in first. Hosea and his horse were in the middle of it all, and while his focus still was to simply get his stead out of her comfort zone in an attempt to boost her ego, the freckled Courtright couldn't help but fantasize a win.

Wouldn't that be something? He thought, his shy and apprehensive mare dashing off ahead from her place in the tail end. It was a hopeful moment, but he made sure not to change his end goal; win or lose, this wasn't about the prizes at the end, but another way to bond with his mount.
Atta girl, get on now! The mutt yipped excitedly, Yer doin' great Voodoo, let's go!

As if hyped up herself, the horse replied with a quick shake of her head, and she speed up a little more. The sudden burst may cause some struggle in their last lap, as the last thing the sharpshooter wanted was for the poor creature to extend too much of her energy and end up trailing behind, or worse, have to forfeit the race.
But, for the moment when they felt ahead of the game, it wouldn't hurt either to get a little ambitious.
[Image: M8AUygW.png]
So come by west by east
↞ Come by drunk or sober ↠
Tell me what you've done
Over and over
#18
(+643)
Del Cenere Gang (Burnt Church Mountains --> Charmingtown) | NPC: Cedar

Notes for me for Kamari’s placement per section of trail: 7/9, 2/9, 9/9.

Start of the Final Round — Off to the Finish Line!

This will be my last post on Kamari.
Kamari looked, smelt, and memorized. For all the good that it would do her, she tried to commit every blaring detail to memory. The trail, where they were on it, she knew it was far beyond the borders of Charmingtown’s limits. Part of her had nearly been tempted to linger, to secretly slip off in the midst of the chaos and rush of the race, to fall back and behind where there would be no witnesses to see.

It was still daylight though, and the Rey Salvaje himself was bringing up the rear. As yet another rider passed her and Cedar, the Shadow’s teeth clenched in her frustration.

It was too big of a risk.

While she might have been a talented liar, there would have been no talking her way out if she was caught. The coyotes would have been suspicious, and the last thing she needed was to be the cause of more trouble for the Kingdom after events earlier that summer. Besides, the scent…it should have been impossible anyways.

Its owner was supposed to have been dead.

The trees ahead began to thin, and, through them, Kamari could see the familiar sights of the coyote-run town. With the worst of the trail behind them, many riders urged their mounts to move faster over the flatter trail, to be braver and bolder as they passed each other on the wider, dirt path. Having already won an event the day before, Kamari saw little need to push her horse further towards the front. Participants that didn’t place were often forgotten anyways, so, what placement she came in after third place wouldn’t have mattered. Still, she made a good show nonetheless.

She pushed Cedar to pace just a little bit slower than a brindle male’s bay stallion. It put her in last place, but, she hardly thought it unrealistic given how Cedar had nearly been able to take the lead during the most complex part of the race. Beneath her, she could feel a slight tension in her mount’s muscles at being held back, something she reassured with a subtle, soothing hand. Maintain your speed, she thought to her mustang. After a few strides, he seemed to accept her reasoning, unspoken as it might have been.

Quickly, the shaded trees gave way and the path opened up completely once more. It was the final stretch, and Kamari could hear the gathered crowd cheering as someone spotted the racing horses coming their way. Positions changed as riders encouraged their horses to hold nothing back. One by one, the horses thundered across the line, bringing a gust of wind with them with their speed.

Still hot on the bay stallion’s heels, Cedar was the last to cross the finish line. Kamari let him run off his excess speed, swinging him widely back to the gathered crowd as he panted and caught his breath. She dismounted him once they were close, loosening the straps of his saddle so that he could breathe a little easier as she politely waited for the winners to be announced. Though she knew her placement to be last place, she didn’t to appear rude or like a poor sport by just walking off.

The edges of her lips twitched upwards as the ashen-marked coyote from La Estrella Roja was announced the winner. He’d been behind her and Cedar from the beginning, so, for him to pull off such a feat and push his way up into first? She wondered if, perhaps, he’d wear something other than the scowl she always saw him with whenever they happened to cross paths.

She concentrated on the event and the excited atmosphere around her, pushing the nagging thoughts of what she’d smelt on the trail to the back of her mind.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#19
Wc – 255
Final post from Morrigan. 
Position 4/9.

SISTER OF THE [ M O O N ],



Morrigan watched the majority of the group as those had pushed their mounts past their limits eventually slowed, lagging behind. Slowly but surely the witch crept up from 7th place and it was a battle hard won. Jethro, a coyote she’d met at the bonfire seemed to be gaining quite a lot of stamina from some other source. Perhaps the male had kept his steed’s pace subdued until the last moment for this very reason, to charge ahead at the very last moment. The witch admired his technique and dedication to patience, for it was because she had pushed Barclay at the beginning that their speed had slowed through much of the race.

Now he shot to the front, lithe body likely light atop the beast that pounded down the path. Their route dipped back towards Charmingtown, with the conditions improving enough for Barclay to stretch out and use every muscle to cut through the rest of the group. The roar of hooves filled her ears and drowned out all other sound, her entire field of vision being crowded by Bennetts hulking form. How the Braithwaite managed to get that mare to carry him was a miracle in her opinion.

The female craned her neck and managed to see who brought up second, it seemingly another Gang member – one of the new ones. With a satisfied smirk, Morrigan urged Barclay on towards the finish line down the final stretch, not missing the fact that 3 of the first 4 riders were from Del Cenere.



D A U G H T E R OF THE WOODS.

[Image: 7HdY84l.png]

From my ROTTING BODY, flowers shall G R O W, and I am THEM & that is E T E R N I T Y.
#20
Location: Burnt Church Mountains Charmingtown || NPCs: Amadahy (horse) || Form: Optime



As gradually as the trail had risen into the mountains so, too, did it sink back down, twisting and winding in serpentine coils that grew looser, straighter, wider the nearer to Charmingtown they rode. She smelled the civility of their bustling little village: horse manure and chicken shit; cooked meat and burned tobacco; woodsmoke and, distantly, the pungent stink of tannery solution. Rafaela sucked it all deep down into her lungs and urged Amadahy on, knowing that she could smell all of these familiar things too and hoping it would be just the encouragement she needed to drive it on home and secure first place.

She didn't know what happened. Maybe it was the slowing of the handsome mustang, who they were still stuck faithfully behind, or perhaps all of Ama's earlier energy had actually fizzled out. They had, after all, started out the race at an overzealous pace in the wrong direction, and this was a longer (and more crowded) competition than Amadahy had taken part in before. Whatever the reason, her spirited, hotblooded mare seemed perfectly content to keep pace with the bay dun stallion.

"C'mon Ama," she groaned quietly to herself, keenly aware that they were easily being passed up by more and more riders the wider the trail opened up.

There went that coyote from The Troupe atop a big chestnut and that man from New Caledonia; there went Bennett on Hell's Bells and Morrigan on Barclay and Hosea on Voodoo. Rafa grumbled and all but pleaded with Amadahy to pick up the pace. They finally passed the mustang, but it no longer mattered if it was because the stallion was slowing or because Ama was speeding up. The finish line was fast approaching and there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that they were going to get anywhere near the top three.

They managed to hold their place in 7th as they crossed the finish line, and while Rafaela was immensely disappointed about their standing, she reasoned with herself that at least they hadn't been in last place. Sticking around for the winners to be announced, Rafa made eye contact with the coyote from The Troup and regarded him favorably with a short upward nod.

"Nice riding," she said to him, pausing only a beat for a response before glancing at Bennett. She gave him a measured look and then shrugged, a hint of a smile on her face. "You an' Bells were none too bad, neither."

Congratulations complete, Rafa loosened Amadahy's girth and walked her through a cool-down before leading her back home for a bit of grooming and some well-deserved rest.



[WC -- 448]
OOC: This will be Rafa's last post!
#21
By the time the trail finally started getting a little better Auger knew that there was no way he was going to win. He didn't want to be dead last, though, either. He could see someone up ahead of him and urged Monte to run faster. The horse's long strides carried Auger faster than he was expecting, given how tired the horse must be at this point. Monte was going to get a well-deserved break after this, that was for sure. He probably wouldn't do much other than some light riding for a few days.

Leaning forward, Auger grasped Monte's mane to keep his balance as the horse broke into a full gallop when it was safe to do so. The figure ahead of him grew larger and larger until finally Auger passed him! The wind rushed by his head, pulling some of his hair from his braids, and sticking to his face a little, making it difficult to see. He was certain, though, that he wouldn't catch up with the last rider.

As he neared the finish line, Auger managed to see the other riders who had already finished, and he could hear both Notch and Dynia cheeringg for him, his ears tuned especially to their voices. As he crossed the line, he pulled back on Monte's reigns to slow and eventually stop the horse. It had been a good race.
#22
The horse ahead of them kept up its speed, and Tobias followed at his own steady pace. Jethro could feel the big horse throwing his weight into the climb and leaned forward in the saddle.

When the landscape opened up, he gave the horse his head.

For a big animal, the sprint was what provided the greatest opportunity – here, Tobias was able to use his long legs to cover greater ground. He was not bound by the narrow route nor the rocky hills, and the wide open ground was ideal for his charge. After all this time, Jethro could barely recall the last time they had run like this. Each time Tobias put a leg down, he pushed off with greater force. This momentum grew and grew and with Jethro directing him, the horse pushed ahead.

Suddenly, there was no one in front of them. A gathered crowd waited, watching, and the noise of their voices rose in yaps and yowls and appreciative barks. Tobias' nostrils flared as he sucked in deep breaths, and the noise of his hooves striking the ground was like rolling thunder. There were other animals behind them, but they had the lead! More than that, when they charged through the final marker, Jethro realized that they had won!

He was shocked and elated, and let out a wild whoop of his own to mark the occasion. Jethro let Tobias slow from his breakneck speed and turned him back, easing him down to a walk. He could feel the heat rising from the chestnut, who was covered in sweat and breathing hard.

“You did it, old boy!” Jethro praised the stallion, reaching a hand under the horse's long mane to give him an appreciative pat. They'd both need a good bath after this.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
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