Choose not a life of imitation

- Grievous

POSTED: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:41 am

OCC: Marrgerd corrals, morning, close to noon.


The Blacksun heiress wasn’t the type to leave a task incomplete. Every bit the obsessive perfectionist she couldn’t find rest while a horse in her care remained untrained. So long as her name was on the line she had to strive for excellence, after all there had plenty of competition in her line of work which left no room for apathy or incompetence if she desired to go far in the race for prestige.

Out in the corral the clip-clop of the mare’s hooves had been going on as a repetitive song for over half an hour. Standing in the middle with a rudimentary lunge whip held in her hand she had been essaying vocal commands with the horse without having to mount her, saving both from excessive strain and allowing for a longer training session.

After an especially successful change of gait and subsequent halt she stopped the lesson to offer the mare a treat. Her fingers toyed with the animal’s white mane and ran tenderly over her mouse gray coat. She was indeed a handsome animal, with a larger build clearly influenced by a draft bloodline. She was nowhere near as massive as Kaeli or Varda’s stallions – however she should prove a nice mount for someone of large complexion that didn’t quite reach the heavy weights of Blacksun women. Perhaps the Kingdom would find a better use for the mare, she was young and unbred and possessed a few of the traits Grievous had listed that day...

Even if she eventually became a breeding horse Varda wouldn’t allow the animal to go untrained. It was always easier to work with any animal when it had been properly disciplined, especially true with a horse as spirited and energetic as this one.

A break was necessary to avoid exhausting the mare so Varda allowed her to pace freely inside the corral while she leaned against the fence, untying her mane so the breeze flew freely through her hair, cooling her off. Her eyes remained on the fields ahead while her ears swivelled back to pick at the familiar sounds that came from the barn.

The tranquil atmosphere lulled her into a placid state only broken by the approaching steps of another.
Salsola
The Family (NPC)
User avatar
Hydra
Luperci

POSTED: Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:10 pm

[WC: 305]

The sun was nearly at its apex but Marrgerd was a shady, semi-overgrown place. In the early years of their foundation the barn and its surrounding land had been cultivated to work alongside what had already been there. Trees sprawled over and around pieces of fence, vines grew upon stone walls, flowers and brush blossomed, and by all accounts the place was very well hidden within its property. The wide trails and worn pathways mapped out where best to go, however, and betrayed the location as long as one knew what to look for.

There was always something to do around the barns, though Grievous had noticed that everyday tasks were getting done even before he arrived. This was not every day, but it occurred enough that he had allowed himself extra moments with Idrieus. He was eager for them to wed and begin their family, but her convictions were (as one might expect from a Paladin) steadfast.

Until they had answers, nothing could be done. Secretly, this frustrated Grievous, but he respected her wishes. It allowed him further time to work and prove he was worthy of standing beside her.

That was why he came every day, and often more than once. Some horses got more attention than others, but he tried to balance things. With more hands, training could be spread.

Seeing the younger Blacksun in the ring encouraged him. She and Khael's brother had been open about their interest, and being able to see how they worked would determine whether or not Grievous recommended them to his cousins. He appraised her for a few moments, and indeed appraised the horse as it moved, and satisfied with both came to stand on the far side of the fence where she worked.

Hello Varda, he called, leaning over to rest his hands on the fence.


masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Salsola
The Equinest
User avatar
Mel
Luperci Mate to Idrieus
supernova
the fire rises

POSTED: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:57 pm

Her ears twitched and focused toward the sound, the familiar pace of the approaching footsteps producing a smile in her dark lips before she turned her head to glance at Grievous. His visage had become a constant companion – although they didn’t exchange words often – a sense of familiarity had slowly become associated with his presence.

She turned to face him more openly, giving her back to the pacing horse with the confidence of one who knows its animals. ”Hello Grievous. Magnificent day we are having today.” She stated, her friendly tones dancing merrily in the breeze.

Curious about the new presence the mare paced closer and sniffed at the fence where white hands had been placed. When it caught no whiff of anything delicious to eat the horse turned its large head toward the Blacksun heiress. A nudge of that soft nose was enough to steal a chuckle from her, and the second made it almost impossible to resist that puppy-like insistence.

”What a greedy girl.” She chided before producing an apple from her bag and offering it with an open palm. The horse took it gingerly and munched away noisily, sweet juice dribbling from her mouth onto her handler’s hand.

Varda wiped this on her trousers casually and glanced back at the man. ”She still needs a name and an owner, if any wishes to take her. I brought her as a gift when I joined.” The words spoken left an open invitation for him to fish for more information. He could learn more about her background with horses and the mare’s origin, or find out more about her past before Salsola, if he only asked. Varda was an open book in that regard, eager to share all those inconsequential subjects that were unlikely to come back and haunt her at a later date.

Unlike her mother she believed that making friends was the best way to achieve success, and he, being the closest to her ultimate goal in the hierarchy, had caught her particular interest.
Salsola
The Family (NPC)
User avatar
Hydra
Luperci

POSTED: Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:18 pm

[WC: 320]

The mare came to him on her own, which was telling as to her nature. Grievous let the curious lips and nose explore his fingers. He smiled at the ticklish whiskers and how easily bribed by food the horse truly was, amused by her antics.

Calm, friendly horses could be used by even the most inexperienced rider. A mare of relative docile nature was good, though there was plenty to be said for the stubbornness of their sex. Grievous would trust an ornery mare over a dumb gelding in any scenario, though he believed the latter to be the easiest to handle. They had relatively few of these, for the worth of a stallion was a fair trade for the extra caution and muscle needed to control the fierce animals.

Varda's suggestion of an individual claiming the animal made him wonder at its origins. Well, if she belongs to the pack that will be for the Mafiosi to decide, he said. I'd like to know more about her – was she your horse first? This seemed unlikely. Varda was large and would require a massive mount, if she used one at all.

Though he no longer rode, Grievous still made use of horses in other ways. There were plenty capable of hauling his weight, and more even. Their biggest animals, when working together, had indeed been tested with carts laden with goods and materials. They preferred even land for crossing, but the old roads and highways were still followed by travelers and these routes could be taken if one knew where they lay.

He had learned many of these during his travels. Grievous wondered if someone like Varda, who had spent most of her life beyond their borders, had roamed these familiar trails. It was not always proper to pry for information, but as an Outsider by birth, Varda was due for more scrutiny than a person born on native soil.


masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Salsola
The Equinest
User avatar
Mel
Luperci Mate to Idrieus
supernova
the fire rises

POSTED: Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:09 pm

”Yes, I suppose they will give her the best use possible.”

Such was the nature of all interactions within Salsola that a casual conversation quickly shifted into a treacherous wordplay where truths were measured and information must be bartered for. Perhaps such wasn’t her superior’s intent but the spiced heiress did possess secrets that ought to be kept close at hand, for her mother’s sake and her own. So she threaded carefully around his question, offering honesty but with a filter.

”She is the product of the last breeding of the horses me and my siblings cared for back in Portland.” She laced her words with just the right touch of nostalgia, smoothing over any remnants of discord that still lingered about the events and details she wouldn’t disclose to this man. Such words however called for some backstory and she provided it before he could voice a question that could lead her to an even trickier answer. ”It was my grandmother’s business, she used to deal with companion animals and mounts, when me and my brothers came along she chose to settle near Portland and focus on the horses. Since my mother never had interest in becoming a merchant we were the ones who inherited the company once my grandparents passed.”

She focused once more on the mare that had started to circle the perimeter of the corral at a placid pace. ”My mother’s stallion and my own come from the same line. We produced mostly larger animals with endurance and strength in mind. They usually made ideal mounts for larger riders or excellent work-horses, but those which presented an ideal personality were hand-picked to become war mounts.” Given her mother’s job it was safe to assume that the results of such a special training were already known amongst Salsolans. A steadfast animal that could handle the noises and scents of battle without bolting, still aggressive enough to bite and kick any who approached with ill intent. Cain, Kaeli’s black and white stallion was a perfect example.

Dwelling on the past was an exhausting thing, and even with an amiable veil placed over her expression and the words properly picked to keep a light-hearted conversation going her eyes looked tired.
Salsola
The Family (NPC)
User avatar
Hydra
Luperci

POSTED: Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:04 pm

[WC: 637]

Grievous was first surprised and then secretly delighted to hear that Varda's experience went beyond what he had originally suspected. To come from a family who had sought to master horseflesh was to be part of a legacy where knowledge was gained through work. He understood this very well. His grandfather had been one of the first to care for Salsola's herd, but the bulk of what the Thistle Kingdom boasted now was the doing of former Boss Salvia. His aunt was a woman whose prowess excelled in many directions, and the horses had been a matter of vanity as much as they were war.

The sight of armed riders bearing down on their enemies, that had been part of the dream. A line of dark, pale-haired horses with dappling and sturdy bodies, of shape and size meant for their large majority, that was part of the plan too.

He was surprised to hear that Varda had abandoned what sounded like a promising business. The topic was a mirthless one, he thought, for Varda did not boast of it with delight. Even though he did not recognize the shift in tone for what it was, Grievous did not press her about whatever it was which drew her here. It was less surprising to him such a pull would exist, given that Salsola was the only place in the world to boast their might and worth. A native son born into a royal household like Grievous would never truly be able to measure the world beyond his own homeland.

House Blacksun would never have formed unless those within it chose to sink their roots into the black earth. Kaeli and Shaamah sought to produce children, and Grievous imagined Varda might one day seek a mate of her own to do the same. It was a thought which had begun driving his own ambition, for he sorely wanted to ensure a legacy for himself and Idrieus.

Now that he knew the mare had been bred by design, he examined her more critically.

My aunt made it clear we were to have limits for our riders, he explained to Varda. But driving has allowed us to move more weight. Most of our bigger animals are meant for that sort of work. I'm not sure I'd want a heavy horse in combat, Grievous rambled on, and realizing this, changed the subject abruptly.

Have you bred her yet? This spring will be the time for it. Our stallions are something, he said this with pride. Domestic and wild, the horses of Salsola were slowly becoming a unique breed in the northeast. The youngest of the stallions within their care had been under his guidance for many seasons, and Grievous felt personally responsible for their development. He was not alone in this, but the majority of the work often felt as if it fell onto his shoulders.

He sorely missed the reliability of a horse-slave, and lamented the loss of their own. No decent replacement had ever been acquired, though Salvia and Osrath and even his father had been the collective to handle their herds.

Of course, others helped now. There were so many hands within Salsola that work was a matter of pride more than nessecity. With ambitious people surging to places of power it seemed likely that mundane activity such as refilling water or brushing burrs and dust from mane and hide was an easy way to appear busy.

Some of the mares are quite unique too. The gray one has a unique step. I'm hoping it will carry, though her filly's mane never filled out properly, he lamented. Appearance was a large part of what drove their breeding forward. He would pair Dovere with Black and see if the fault was with her or the stallions they had previously chosen.


masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Salsola
The Equinest
User avatar
Mel
Luperci Mate to Idrieus
supernova
the fire rises

POSTED: Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:43 pm

Mounts, like tools, could be designed to fulfil various purposes. Even within the same category one could nit-pick traits based on personal need. The practice had already been old when the human race came to its untimely end, but what individuals such as Grievous and Varda were doing was retracing the efforts of a time when the invention of Cavalleria served to win wars simply because the innovation factor. Resilient horses were bred to transport troops quickly over large distances, fast ones to break into the enemy’s defences before there was a chance for retaliation, strong ones to grant heavily armoured warriors more speed and mobility in the battlefield… the possibilities for specialization were endless.

When it came to the Blacksun herds they had sought to produce what could be denominated as the luperci version of a destrier, larger and stronger than the human version to accommodate a luperci’s naturally heavier frame. These animals were devised for initial charges, breaking their riders into the heart of the battle and providing enough momentum to easily slice down even the best armoured of foes. They were trained for channelled aggression and would bite and kick any who came after their owner.

”I understand. A faster steed is more versatile in most combat situations, and heavy cavalry is greatly at a disadvantage when it comes to pursuing another mounted foe, but larger horses also have their virtues as well.” She didn’t go into detail as he had moved from the subject quite quickly, since they now worked together they would certainly have other chances to discuss their preferences in mounts.

”No, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance, but with her white mane I am hoping she could produce the coloration you are looking for.” She stepped closer to the pacing animal and commanded her to a halt with a vocal command. The mare slowled but didn’t quite stop until the command was repeated, and then Varda moved to the horse’s flank and gestured to its legs, dark as they neared the hooves before this colouration was interrupted by a splash of white that adorned the legs in the form of white socks. The transition between dark grey to a much lighter hue was marked by a slightly dappled fade. ”She presents a faint dapple, a trait I believe could become more defined in her progeny if she is bred to the right stallion.”

Having seen their priced Grimrun stock she could already formulate a plan for the coupling but that too would have to wait for another time, they had some ways to go until spring still and they had time to get acquainted with each other’s work and goals until then.

”I have seen this mare you talk about. She is truly a handsome animal.” A truth easily spoken, if one went by looks alone it was clearly one of the best she had seen. It was also apparent that the creature was well bred and possessed a quality superior to average, this made Varda curious. ”What is her origin? Was she obtained from your couples?”
Salsola
The Family (NPC)
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Hydra
Luperci

POSTED: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:38 pm

Perhaps you can show me what you think they're capable of, Grievous suggested. He had seen horses go into battle before – he had ridden them in his younger years, after all. Now, though, his position from the far end of things presented a new perspective. It allowed him to measure and understand what his compatriots were capable of with better precision.

He could instruct and improve them, until they formed into something greater.

As he followed Varda, looking where she indicated, Grievous was more than pleased to see the subtle signs of familiar snowflake patterns. He did not presume to touch the mare (though his position would certainly allow it had he demanded such a thing) but found himself thinking of their stock and wondering what results would come from the coupling. He immediately dismissed the idea of their palominos and younger, inexperienced stallions.

Black or Drogo, he thought, but did not speak the names aloud. The mare was untested as well, and what she might offer was yet to be seen.

No, she was brought here. An expensive animal, I was told – an unreasonably expensive animal, he further admonished. Lokr had been the one to trade for the mare, and (much like his father before him) there was reason to strip away things which had been touched by sedition and failure. But I hope we'll be able to make back what we've spent soon enough.

There was a plan in motion – Grievous was merely a cog in the machine.


masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Salsola
The Equinest
User avatar
Mel
Luperci Mate to Idrieus
supernova
the fire rises

POSTED: Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:48 pm

OCC: I got a little carried away in the beggining... also sorry for the wait, rl has decided she won't stop being an arse even if we are on holidays.

The words of her superior rang with doubt in her ears but her smile didn’t fade. She knew she had to prove her worth to him still and he was entitled to his personal opinions on what the perfect steed should be. It was quite a subjective matter since every rider had particular needs that could be met by distinguishably different horses. Long trips usually required a larger amount of resources for both the horse and its rider’s survival, which meant extra weight that only a stockier animal could manage for that long.
A scout, a mounted bowman or any other variant of light cavalry had speed and manoeuvrability superior to a foot soldier, but this was counteracted by the restrictions in the amount of gear and armour that could be worn during the assault, or even carried to the battlefield before a skirmish. Ideally they ought possess both variants to fulfil these very particular tasks but for all the wealth of the Thistle Kingdom they still didn’t match the sheer economical force of the civilizations that came before and they couldn’t even begin to fathom keeping as large a number of horseheads that would require hundredths of carers and an industrial level farming enterprise to provide enough feed and bedding for all.

Such was the curse and the blessing of the luperci, only a fledgling civilization living in the ruins of giants. Such potential and so many things still left to discover, with old forgotten treasures left scattered through the land to serve them as guidance. The golden Queen’s work was a perfect example of an individual of their species dreaming to achieve what these almost legendary beings called humans had before – the engineering of the very living creatures that walk the land, shaping animals at will like gods of creation. It was now up to them to further these efforts and pray for success.

”I see.” Although unspoken she could sense the grudge that lingered from a past she hadn’t formed a part of. The wise choice was not to linger in the subject but her curiosity was too great, seeing as the opportunity was laid plainly in front of her, she simply couldn’t help herself from inquiring. ”Have you any idea of who her breeder was? Unique traits like her could be traced back and perhaps a stallion from her line would be more efficient for experimental breeding.”
Salsola
The Family (NPC)
User avatar
Hydra
Luperci

POSTED: Sat Jan 04, 2020 1:17 pm

[WC: 334]

If you'd really like the specifics, I could look into it for you, he said. There were records among Idrieus' collection. When they had worked on reparing the library she had made a point to show him these pieces.

The name Larkspur D'Angelo throughout those pages had evoked the ambition in Grievous which saw him seeking to continue his family's legacy. Things which threatened to taint it deserved to be examined thoroughly.

Accepting the help of others was difficult, but Grievous was doing his best.

The best scenario, I think, would be for her to drop a colt. Some of our yearlings will be fine mares in a few years. This is a slow process, he lamented. They had to be patient with horses, who aged slower and took longer to foal. Smaller animals, like the rabbits, they reproduced with lightning speed.

Maybe that was why they ate the rabbits and not the horses (he didn't, at least, though plenty other Luperci did).

Would you like to see the stallion I'd choose, if I were you? He's over here, the wolf indicated. Without waiting for her answer he padded towards the stall. There was an old wooden sign with the horse's name carved on it, left from when the Slave of the Hoof had still lived. Old and faded, the plaque had been made when the stallion was just a wee colt.

Now, though, his towering frame was apparent when he stuck his big head out at Grievous' summons. Drogo had the large head and frame of a draft horse, but his sharp looking ears and sculpted face suggested the hardier lines which had made him. The tip of his nose and his shaggy forelock were the same snowy white, flecks of which were visible when the light caught his dappling just right.

He was bred here, Grievous explained proudly. My horse came from the same dam. She'll be white in a few years, it looks like – we're lucky he kept these colors.


masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Salsola
The Equinest
User avatar
Mel
Luperci Mate to Idrieus
supernova
the fire rises

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