tangled too tight and too long to fight

POSTED: Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:02 pm


Chevelle Dallas, Wayne's new cNPC, appears! I'm too lazy to write a true conclusion to this, but don't worry; both of 'em get medical treatment from Morty, and Wayne'll decide what to do with the gal later.

--

After catching a nap in the noontime sun, his wide-brimmed hat pulled over his eyes, Wayne was ready for his patrol. He'd rested in a shady grove with his mares near at hand, grazing off in the clearing; and when he whistled, Gypsy brought her broad head up and stepped toward him. He rose and tightened the girth of her saddle with some effort, slipping her bridle back on, and mounted up. Another whistle got Fern and Medley's attention, and he wheeled the small group around to leave the shade of the trees.

Every day the Cavallo patrolled the territory, checking up on the bands of horses -- communal and owned -- that wandered here. Though it was unlikely a predator would attack a healthy horse, especially when challenged by the scent of the pack borders, the possibility was always there. There were countless things that could happen to one of the animals, whether they went astray or got injured, and he was responsible for them. Riding along the rolling plains and forest trails of the territory was also good exercise, and breathing in the odor of late summer foliage and listening to the hum of cicadas brought him joy. He urged Gypsy into a canter.

His nose told him more than his eyes did most of the time, and so he let it lead them toward the groups of horses scattered around Casa di Cavalieri. He slowed to check on them, making sure they were okay, and headed off again. And this continued, as Wayne ticked through his mental notes, until he found that he had not seen one mare yet and turned toward the south.

Gypsy trotted toward the border, with her foal and the chestnut draft following at a walking distance. Wayne sniffed the air again, hoping to catch a whiff of Prancer; it was not uncommon that the young mare wandered off, but usually he could find her.

But it seemed that someone else had found her first.

There was a whinny up ahead, and Wayne kicked his heels into Gypsy's sides; the cob horse leaped forward, galloping. He rode over a few hundred yards toward a spot on the horizon -- on closer inspection, three spots, and one an odd centaurian shape that he recognized as a horse with a Luperci rider. There was the shadow of a rope, as well, as Prancer danced around the other equine with another challenging neigh. The lasso fell around her neck, and when the whiff of the loner hit Wayne's nostrils, he snarled.

There was a jerk of the rider's head, and a shout. "C'mon, Sonny!" Prancer was straining at the end of her rope, while the black equine circled quickly around her. Another stood off a few yards, its ears tall points -- donkey-like, as were the black's. As Wayne galloped closer, he saw that they were mules, but this was an unimportant detail. More important was the uncertain squeal from the bay mare, and the tightening of the rope, and the rider's motion.

"Drop the lasso," Wayne ordered in a throaty bark, and pulled his club from where it was attached to Gypsy's saddle. He was gaining ground, but slowing Gypsy down so that there wasn't a collision with the frightened mare. He barked again at the horse thief, the sound edged with a growl.

Gypsy added her own threat to this, her ears laid back and teeth bared, almost snakelike. She charged forward, and the black mule brayed as she set her teeth into his shoulder. The rider, Wayne could see, was a dog -- a female shepherd mix. He didn't waver. His club swung forward, only to crash against something chopped swiftly at him. He saw metal and wood. Something long jabbed him in the ribs.

A snarl erupted from the shepherd woman, and she swung the shotgun at him again. He grunted as it struck his shoulder, and felt Gypsy shift as the mule kicked at her. The horses turned, like a dance, and their riders continued to exchange blows.

Wayne shouted wordlessly, and swung his club up into her jaw.

She slid sideways in her saddle, shrieking profanities, and at the same time Gypsy half-reared to deal a blow. There was a thud, and the dog had her head on the ground, her leg tangled in the stirrup, as her mule brayed and kicked out again. Realizing that the horse thief would die if he didn't act, Wayne lunged forward in his seat to grab the bridle of the animal -- and got a bite for his troubles.

"Shit!" he yelped, but managed to throw himself off Gypsy's back. She continued to scream abuse, while the other mule, a bay, had made itself scarce -- as had Prancer, rope trailing behind her. Wayne made a quick lunge for the stirrups where the unconscious dog dangled, and got a hoof in his chest. He fell backward with a rush of air, but the woman was free and on the ground. The black mule seemed to realize this and trotted off a few feet, only to circle around and snort in the canine's direction.

The immediate danger passed, Wayne sighed and lay back in the grass for a few seconds' rest.

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