first blood

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:11 pm

The savage in man is never
quite eradicated

Word Count » --
Read-only.

It could have happened to anyone. Ezekiel was simply to bear the brunt of the misfortune, as it seemed, for he did not recognize the danger until it was too late. The path was one he took often, and one that Viggo knew, so he had slipped into his own mind and allowed the stallion to move without guidance. This was why when the horse let out a scream and reared, Ezekiel lost his balance. He ungracefully jolted out of his thoughts and scrambled to grip the panicked horse’s mane, frantically calling to him. It was too little avail. Viggo was in pain, and he was frightened—nothing had ever hurt him in the way that this unseen assailant had. Ezekiel managed to dismount and jump away from the horse as he continued to turn wildly.

Blood flew up and hit the coyote in the face. He started, and saw with horror that Viggo was gushing blood from his front feet. Terror filled him. Again, he called to the horse, and only then did the stallion begin to settle. Sweat covered his body, and dark eyes rolled wildly, the whites visible and bloodshot. The stallion’s nostrils flared, and he whinnied in a high, panicky tone. Ezekiel did not blame him. A frantic howl was sent up demanding Enkiel’s presence and need for medical attention.

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:18 pm

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The jackal was lucky, then, that this call was close. Enkiel was sorting through the most recent batch of herbs gathered and was startled by the call. Well, to say he was startled was an overstatement—he looked up sharply, ears rising towards the source. In a moment he had it pinpointed, an in a moment he was moving. Slight hands grabbed the satchel hanging nearby. He slowed only to stuff a few extra supplies within before passing out into the world at a jog.

His pace was even but fast, for while Enkiel was not built for combat the jackal was built for speed. He had the endurance of his father’s blood and moved with ease towards the south. The smell of blood hit him long before he spotted the pair, and the amount was staggering. No sign of this showed on his face, focused intently on doing what needed done. Ezekiel hailed him, his face marred by blood; it did not belong to him, Enkiel realized as he closed the distance.

The horse’s hooves were pouring blood into the earth, and the stallion continued to shudder and pace even as Ezekiel gripped his face and spoke to him in that strange tongue. Enkiel eyed the massive animal with caution. “Can you lift his feet?” Was all he said; he disliked horses, especially those as large as Viggo.

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:22 pm

The savage in man is never
quite eradicated

Word Count » --

While he waited, Ezekiel tried his best to soothe the chestnut stallion. He stroked his face gently, speaking to him in the low-tongue and reassuring him he would be fine. Panic filled his chest, but below that, in his belly, rage twisted and grew like a sleeping leviathan. Something had done this to his horse. Someone had done this to his horse.

Enkiel’s slight form was welcomed with a wave, and the healer’s deep voice reassured Ezekiel that things would be fine. The man had healed his father and sister after all, so his faith within the strangely marked jackal was well founded. He nodded and warned the horse to try and stay still, and gently ran his hands down Viggo’s legs. They were as sturdy and thick as young oaks, and the horse fidgeted as Ezekiel reached his ankle. Shifting his weight, Ezekiel lifted the heavy hoof onto his own knee and set his jaw as blood seeped onto his fur.

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:30 pm

Word Count » +3

The jackal shrugged his bag off and knelt to procure what he knew he needed for the blood alone. A thick cloth was pulled out, one of the old bandages he had given up on after realizing Sa’adat was more than capable of making them. A small canteen of water was opened and poured onto this, dampening it. He wished sourly he had brought the alcohol, but there was only so much he could carry.

Once Ezekiel had secured his mount, the jackal moved closer. He had seen the horse at a distance but never been so intimate with the animal. Unlike canines, he was nervous around these beasts. Traders in Egypt had used high-spirited animals like this that often snapped and kicked, and he assumed they were all the same. As it was, Viggo was a good patient—he remained as still as could be expected while the jackal pressed onto his bleeding hoof. Several long minutes passed until the pressure was lessened. The blood had clotted, but it was a temporary fix. Pressure would break it open again, especially once the horse was moving.

Enkiel reached into his back and brought out a jar of fat that had been mixed with herbs. This salve was something he had used on Gabriel, and found quite effective. A handful of this was applied to the wound, which he saw now was across the only soft spot of the hoof. “Something cut here,” Enkiel explained, motioning to the golden-red king. “He will not be able to walk properly until it heals.” While he knew little of horse anatomy, he applied the reasoning that a cut paw would be much the same. Once satisfied with the amount of cold poultice, Enkiel produced one of the large bandages Sa’adat had woven. He wrapped it quickly around the hoof, and once satisfied it was taunt, stepped back. “His other one, now.”

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:43 pm

The savage in man is never
quite eradicated

Word Count » --

While a student of medicine himself, Ezekiel had abandoned that path in order to better fit into his role as a leader. He was perhaps slightly more competent than his father had been, for Gabriel’s knowledge ended at setting bones. Some herbal knowledge belonged to him, but most of it had been forgotten. Amber eyes remained wide and focused on what the healer’s hands did, and he was relieved to see that the wound was not as awful as the blood made it seem. However, the horse’s frog was wounded deeply. He knew, even before Enkiel spoke it aloud, that his mount would be out of commission for a long time.

The fear began to ebb, replaced by that ever-growing dragon of rage that filled his blood with fire. He could not hide it—his fur rose in jagged spikes along his spine, visible only at the base of his tail. Hot fury made his vision darken, but he did as he was told and again drew up his stallion’s hoof. Darkness circled his head and filled it with dreams of vengeance on whoever had done such a thing. There had never been any issues with the trails before; why now?

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:55 pm

Word Count » --

The process was repeated with silent hands, for Enkiel could see that his leader was furious. It was not with him, but the older man’s rage was something that he had seen before. Unlike Gabriel, who was controlled, it was not unheard of for Ezekiel to fly off at something. Like Talitha, he was unpredictable. So the anger he saw was expected, and ignored. He was a healer first—he had to attend to the patient, not the master.

Once the horse’s other leg was cleaned and wrapped, he stepped away. Gingerly, he touched the stallion’s face and peered up into his eyes. While panicked yet, the horse was not suffering from anything more than pain. This was good. His last battle with infection had been rough, and gotten him sick as well. Satisfied, he began to pack up his satchel. “You cannot ride him. Keep him near the barn until his feet heal. It will take time. We will need to clean them every day or he will risk infection,” Enkiel explained, speaking in the well-pronounced way that non-native speakers do. The Arabic accent was still present, more pronounced now that he had been speaking with Sa’adat so often.

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:23 pm

The savage in man is never
quite eradicated

Word Count » --

Enkiel’s words were heard and met with a silent bought of fury. He had been riding Viggo for so long that they had formed a tight bond. While he was comfortable and more than capable of walking on his own, it was the principle of the matter that stung. To attack his horse was to attack him. This was an offense that would not be taken lightly.

With ease, ignoring the blood on his coat, Ezekiel rose. He rubbed the base of Viggo’s forelock and sighed. Sorry, brother,” he said, speaking the low speech quietly. A snort from the horse was given, and with a motion for him to stay the Aquila moved towards the bloodied trail. It no longer carried any scent beyond that, but as he knelt, Ezekiel saw what had caused the damage. A series of sharp stones had been buried in the ground, pointed upward and covered by soft earth. He picked one up, eyeing it as if the culprit might have left their mark. Finally, furious, he flung the stone away. Red hands worked quickly to pull the shards out of the earth. It was a sizeable pile. “Enkiel, give me one of those cloths.”

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:31 pm

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The jackal rose and began to close up his bag when the order came from the Aquila. He turned and eyed the pile of stones with distaste. It was a coward’s tactic, to set traps like that, and he despised the idea that one of their own might have done such a thing. Yet who else would have come? The wolf that claimed kinship with Gabriel had been long gone, and he was a frightful boy that barely left the area around the Mansion before fleeing back home.

One of the old bandages was handed to the Aquila. Enkiel’s dark eyes studied the stones and he finally spoke, knowing that Ezekiel would suspect the same thing. “This was done by a coyote.” No wolf would have gotten so far into their borders. No wolf would have had the time to find and bury stones or know which trails were most often taken during patrols. Someone from within their fold had done this great misdeed.

POSTED: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:36 pm

The savage in man is never
quite eradicated

Word Count » --

With the cloth, Ezekiel bundled the rocks together. He intended on throwing them into the sea as to prevent their use further, and truly, he had no desire to ever see them again. They tore a small hole in the old cloth, but it would hold. He would carry it to the ocean after he tended to the horse; this was his immediate priority and one he would not abandon.

Enkiel’s words drew a sharp gaze from the Aquila, who hated to hear the words aloud. He knew. Paranoia or not, he knew that trouble had been brewing since the day Halo had been taken from her position. They thought him a weak leader, one that had no right to lead. This only proved that someone was out to destroy him, and as such, Ezekiel could only plan to face them with all the fires of the inquisition his faith had once led. “I know,” he rumbled lowly. “It will be dealt with.” A soft snort from the horse refocused his attention. The Aquila sighed heavily and returned to Viggo’s side. “Come on,” he called to Enkiel, who joined him. They walked side by side and kept watchful eyes on the horse’s painful limp, speaking only occasionally and not on the subject of the traitor in their midst.

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