Sage || 3 || Bachelor || M: ThE bRoOdMaRe HeRd, Arashi and Bandit, NPC Herd (Reminiscing)
Sage's dark pelt seemed to fade into the area around him. The entire world seemed monochromatic, bleak, pitiful. His grulla coat did little to enhance any color. Mud-streaked hooves planted themselves one in front of the other with a slow, rhythmic schths, schths, schths, schths. The ground sucked at his feet and made it harder to walk, which he absolutely despised. Rain was fine. Mud was not.
Sage shook out his damp mane, sending water droplets scattering in all directions, and released a long snort. His sides shook slightly from the cold; his winter coat had fallen out too early this year. Really, he'd only grown out of baby fuzz nine months ago.
The handsome young stallion released a sigh and made his way towards the river that he had been frequenting for the past few days. He never stayed for long, though, as he knew plenty of other animals utilized the water source; several of them were those he wished not to encounter. Fellow bachelors, for instance, could be ferocious -- especially those older ones on their lonesome.
Herds could be a danger, too, especially if an established stallion were at its head. Sage really had no interest in finding a herd any time soon; he'd barely left his birth herd. The changing of lead stallions had resulted in all foals and yearling colts slaughtered as well as any stallions posing a threat kicked out. Sage was in the latter list.
So, he had been on his own for the past month or so. He couldn't count the days since he hadn't seen another horse. Twelve? Thirty? Either way, Sage had decided early on not to dwell on the past. Now, he was focused on surviving.
That is why, when he caught sight of two other horses further up the stream, he balked. At first, he was offended by himself. How had he not noticed their presence? Then, he was on guard. Two horses usually meant more, which meant either a band or a herd, neither of which he had any interest in running in to in his condition. Finally, his curiosity got the better of him.
He approached by means of walking through the water, both to signal his position to the others and to hopefully wash most of the caked earth from his legs. As Sage continued forward, more horses became visible. Seven... eight... Ten. Ten total, one obviously younger. And... no stallions?
Sage nickered a polite greeting and made no move to come closer to the two mares that were by the river. Both were tall and lanky, the likes of which Sage had never seen before. It was confusing, to say the least.
"Pardon, but are you... from around here?" he asked, the puzzlement he felt obvious in his voice. "I apologize if I've been intruding on a herd territory the past few weeks; I didn't realize someone had already claimed the stream."
His usual dangerous expression was replaced by a bewildered one. Surely they hadn't been there before? Sage certainly would have remembered a group of all mares coming to his spot on the river. Well... maybe it wasn't his spot, if they were already there. The tobiano mare gave him an odd look before deviating to the black one with blue eyes.
Sage took that to mean the black one was the leader, so he, too, focused his attention on her.
Edited at October 12, 2021 10:35 PM by Rising Shadows
The buckskin paint stood with his back towards the hills, eyes focusing on the grassy expanse in front of him. Faint tendrils of fog wafted around the varying puddles and deeper ponds, creating an eery sort of landscape. Cairo glowered up at the clouds that signaled another incoming rainstorm. Sure, they needed the moisture, but they didn't need it now.
He released an irritated sigh and plodded forward, dark gaze running back and forth for any glimpse of the so-called "broodmare herd". Cairo was still skeptical of its existence. Bachelors would make up any story to make themselves look more enticing. Seeing a herd full of mares would do the trick -- but that was just it. A trick.
Cairo had never, ever heard of a group of mares wandering the wild without a stallion. The opposite of a bachelor band. It didn't make sense; it was improbable. And yet... Part of him hoped that it was true. To be able to say he himself had seen the bizarre sight, even if he didn't approach them at all, would certainly boost his reputation.
He was too young to gain a herd following yet, and he knew that. That's why he was in a group. Besides, travelling with another stallion was safer than forging his way on his own. Cairo had tried that, when he'd first been on his own. It had been boring, and the lack of interaction had begun to drive him crazy.
The stallion shook the thoughts and reminiscings from his head and trotted over to the dappled palomino stallion he followed. He tossed his head up to rid his mane of the water that still clung to it and brought himself to a halt to the side of and a little ways behind the older stallion.
"Saulceris," he greeted, his tone respectful. Cairo was never respectful; he was a creature of the antihero breed, but Saulceris had earned his respect and attention. He was one of the few horses Cairo had ever really cared about the opinion of.
After a short pause, Cairo asked, "How likely is it that there is actually a broodmare herd? I've never... How would that even come about?"
Mare || Broodmare Herd || Herd Mare || Mentions: Arashi, Bandit, Sage
As a filly, Cadhla dreamt of a life full of freedom. She yearned to know what it felt like to not be confined in a certain amount of space. The wild was a mere fantasy back then, a silly, imaginative story told by mothers to their children. Her own mother spoke of such things, Cadhla remembered it vaguely. As an adult, thinking back, she thought her mother to be mad, speaking of nonsense about forests and mountains and how land was infinite. It was a silly tale, was it not?
Now, standing, facing a mountain, Cadhla suddenly believed in those stories. How could she not? She was now living within one. It was a scary place, something her mother seemed to have left out in her words, but after seeing what humans were capable of, well, Cadhla much preferred the harshness of the wild. Here, while danger lurked, there was also freedom. Cadhla could run wherever she pleased, could soar above endless rivers, could eat whatever she pleased. Here, there were no limits. There was nobody to tell her what to do or what not to do. She was her own leader. She made her own decisions.
"Isn't this marvelous?" She spoke, feeling a burst of energy through her body as she made her way to Arashi, greeting the mare with a soft nicker. The dark mare was one whom Cadhla had been friends with for a long time. She came from the same place as herself, and among the other mares, there was not another whom Cadhla trusted more at the moment, nor saw better fit to lead than her friend. "The sky, the mountains, the water, isn't it all just spectacular?" Practically repeating herself, a softened look appeared upon Cadhla's face when facing Arashi. A look of respect and admiration in a sense before glancing at Bandit, another mare part of this new herd of theirs.
"Oh, the storm!" She mused, picking up on Bandit's words. "I'm quite looking forward to it as well. I've never stood under one before. Well, I have, but it was always from beneath a shelter." She paused, eyes lighting up. "This time, we can watch it unfold before us. This time, I want to feel the rain upon my coat." It was silly the way Cadhla was muttering on like a filly. Granted, she was excited, perhaps too much.
There was a large part of her that missed her previous home. How could she not? She was born and raised there. Had spent her entire life there, and yet, Cadhla needed a change, and this was perfect. "Arashi," she suddenly spoke, turning towards her, "have you given much thought on where to head next?" She was curious to know her friend's insight, and even turned to Bandit. "What are your thoughts?" Personally, Cadhla thought the valley or a small stretch of forest was the way to go. Then again, she was still new to all of this. She didn't know how to survive or where to head when it stormed. If she were alone, well, she'd probably stand out in the open without a thought in her mind while the storm thundered above her.
"As much as I do enjoy the rain, you know, I also long for.." Cadhla trailed off, her eyes seeing a figure in the distance. She had to do a double-take, for that figure wasn't a mare. No, it was too masculine, and the coat was not one she was familiar with. "Arashi?" She spoke, glancing at her before turning back to the stallion. Was this not what they were trying to avoid? Was this not what they were warned to stay away from?
Blinking, Cadhla stood, unmoving and quiet. This was not her conversation to have with the stallion, though she was also intrigued. Never had she seen an actual wild stallion before! Was he born free? Was he released like they were? Was he alone? Goodness, what if there were more of them? So, while the stallion spoke to Arashi, Cadhla allowed her gaze to sweep their surroundings, searching for more. When she concluded that he was alone, she refocused back onto those near her, standing alongside of Arashi and Bandit as she stared at the male, a look of curiosity mixed with sternness in her eyes.
"I always loved rainstorms. Especially those with thunder," the thoroughbred mused to Cadhla. "The sounds are jarring, but there's a certain peace that comes with them. And the rain in your face... I like cool rain the best, though I think this one will be a colder one."
She waited as Cadhla addressed Arashi and herself on their thoughts as to where the herd should go. Knowing little about the workings of anything other than a flat track or a mountain pasture with a lean-to, she shrugged before offering, "Well... when I would get moved to a steeper pasture and it would rain, I found the best place to stay out of the worst of the weather was a thick cluster of pine trees near the fence at the bottom. It was still on the side of the mountain, though almost into the foothills."
Of course, she was no longer on the side of the mountain. She was standing below a hulking string of them, and this land was foreign. She didn't know what to expect. Her gaze turned back to Cadhla as the mare began to speak again, but when she stopped rather suddenly, Bandit pricked her ears and turned her head in the direction the other was staring. Lo and behold, there was a stallion.
Bandit had raced against plenty of stallions in the co-ed leagues. She wasn't a stranger to them, but none of them had ever approached her as this one was. She tilted her head with an uncertain curiosity and mumbled a greeting in return, rather taken aback. Well, he seemed nice enough, but Bandit was still deciding whether or not the young grulla's words were genuine.
The palomino bachelor stood only a few steps ahead of his companions, head high and nostrils flaring as he scented the air for any sign of danger, or perhaps another roaming stallion or mare to entice into their ranks. He wasn't doing it out of power--no, Saulceris had this deep need to ensure those younger than him were cared for, or that mares were taken care of by a caring stallion; he knew he may be too old for some herd mares that branched out on their own, but he was certain his accompanying stallions could care for them well under his guidance.
His thoughts roamed, gaze far away and trained on the horizon, though his posture was otherwise alert to his surroundings. In the gentle rain, his blond forelock had pressed itself to his forehead above his eyes, mane sticking closely to the expanse of his neck.
The approach of another horse had pulled the equine from his thoughts, gaze soft as he looked to one of his stallions, a younger one by the name of Cairo. "Cairo," he'd greeted warmly, head dipping in a diplomatic gesture, "I hope you're well."
He listened intently to the questions the younger bachelor posed, the gears in his mind turning as he struggled to properly form an answer he could understand. "I'm not sure I believe in it," he'd admitted eventually, returning his focus to the distance, "I'm sure there are only a couple of mares, and the others are exaggerating. Maybe they just wandered a little too far from their stallion, and they aren't truly alone."
He was simply thinking aloud at that point, before shaking his head and gesturing with his head for his younger companions to follow, a clear nicker sounding to aid in catching their attention. He continued forward in search of cover, pace relaxed yet still brisk as he carried himself forward; he did, however, continue to address the younger, not wanting to give the impression he was ignoring his questions.
"The odds aren't high. Maybe they've all come from another herd, and got separated by their own choice or getting lost. If they're truly alone, maybe you've got a shot." He finished his response with a chuckle, bumping his head playfully into the other's shoulder as he teased. "Come, we want to get somewhere safe before the rain gets any worse."
Chex listened to the words of the mare that was not unlike a sister to him. Truly, the disrespect shown to her was more of an abomination than Anwir himself, and he felt anger curling deep in his gut. Had Ouray not ordered him not to challenge Anwir for the title, he would have done so already. Just... they needed to just bide their time, and all good things would come.
"I'll see if I can sort something out," he muttered, lowering his head to keep their conversation private. "I hate Anwir just as much as the next horse, but I believe he has a plan to get the herd back." It was evident who he meant when he said 'he'. He meant Ouray, his brother. Ouray had to have a plan. Why else would he tell him to wait?
Chex lifted his head to stare at Anwir, face blank, gaze cold. Had he really just threatened to leave the yearlings and foals behind? He kept his ears from pinning, instead fixing the stallion with a vacant stare. If he was at the back, he could look out for other stallions more, and for Ouray.
"Yes, Anwir. It would truly be a shame if anyone got injured through slipping in this dangerous mud," he muttered, not taking his eyes off of the shorter stallion. "An injury like that would stop them from keeping up with the herd." A threat, made in a similar fashion that Anwir's had been aimed towards him.
He dropped his head again to Saga, muttering: "I'm going to go to the back, call for me or send someone to get me if you need me."
And, with that, he turned to leave. But not before he heard the threat that Anwir made towards the yearlings. Another one. If he were a creature able to do it, Chex would have growled, and he turned sharply towards the gathering of three yearlings. Kavik and Erzulie, his children, and Inzhu, Ouray's daughter.
"I have a job for you," he said when he was close enough, baritone vocals dropped further to keep his voice unheard by those he wouldn't like to hear. "I am going to... patrol at the back of the herd," he jerked his head to Inzhu. "Looking for other stallions." He hoped they would understand what he meant. "I need you three to hang around near the front of the herd. If anything, and I mean anything, happens, or if he seems like he's causing trouble, one of you must come and get me."
He fixed a stare on his son, gaze hard, but not unkind. Fatherly, welcoming. "With Ouray gone, Kavik, I need you to help me defend the herd as much as you are able to. I won't put any responsibilities on you to fight, that's simply unfair, but I need your help watching over everyone. We are the only reliable stallions in this herd, son."
He stepped to the side, aiming to move past them, towards the back of the herd. He sent them a small, tight smile, before he went to his 'designated' position. But not before he caught sight of an onyx form, a little ways away from the herd. Nothing too far, but not to close.
Ouray was always smart.
Chex went slower and slower, but never completely stopping. He kept glancing back, tracking the ebony figure, watching Ouray, offering him a place at his side to talk. To discuss.
The young mare had wandered off from her dam, picking her way through the herd. She dislike their new Lead, even if he was her biological uncle. He had pushed her father, Ouray, out of the herd, had dragged them across the land, and was searching for something. That something, she didn't know, but she knew that it was likely something evil, just like the stallion himself was.
The dark bay's attention jumepd to Kavik, a colt around her own age, when he approached her. He was taller than her, but, with who his parents were, she couldn't find it within herself to be surprised. She uttered a nose of greeting, brushing her nose over his neck when he was close enough.
Her and Kavik had always been close. Her and Erzulie had been close, practically best friends, but... Kavik was a different kind of close.
"Ma hasn't said anything about where we're headed," she mumbled in response, sighing. "Has your Ma? What about your Dad?" With Kavik's father being Chex, the Lieutenant and last remaining true stallion in their herd, it would make sense that he would know the most. "Surely, if anyone that would answer our questions knows, it's him, right?"
Her dark eyes jumped over to the goliath stallion, watching the towering figure move between the horses near the front of the herd. She practically cackled to herself when she watched him purposefully bump into Anwir, flashing a grin when he turned away. He was a cheeky one when he wanted to be, that's for sure.
"Ah, there's Erzulie now," she answered the earlier question, nodding to the appaloosa yearling.
Normally, Inzhu would have giggled, or maybe even cackled, at her friends annoyance, at her irritation, at her misfortune. But, she sensed that today was not the day, and, instead, frowned solemly. "Oh, Erzulie," she murmured, voice soft and nurturing, not quite pitying, but one showing empathy. "We'll be out of the mud soon, I'm sure."
Her head snapped up when Anwir addressed the herd, and she scowled. Had he... had he really just threatened them? She spotted the scowl on Chex's face before anything else, watching the stallion mutter something to Saga before turning towards them, and approaching.
"Your dad's coming over," she muttered to her friends, nodding in the direction of their goliath father as he came near.
The young mare was absolutely miserable. The sky may have been clear, but the lingering dampness in the air from last night clung desperately. Then if one looked to the sky now, it held dark, foreboding clouds that meant more rain was coming. Tao scowled at the thought of more rain. The mud was already horrendous as is, and if more rain came it could mean a mudslide or worse a landslide. This irked her nerves, and she looked towards the horizon where they were currently moving. Her mother had made a wise decision to let them find somewhere to rest. However, her eyes grew sharp at the sound of Anwir refuting the sound judgement just to be petty.
She watched in satisfaction as Chex bumped into the male and spoke some words to him. Tao sighed, hopefully they would find some rest soon. Her whole body was sore from walking in the mud for this prolonged time. She even saw her good friend Erzulie trip herself twice in the mud, and then she began to complain and look dark. She looked for Louhi, and she saw the usually sweet mare looking gloomy and quite agitated. Neither was a common look on the mares. Like mother, like daughter.
Then something horrendous happened. The mares could be heard chattering their displeasure with the current situation, and then Anwir had the nerve to threaten the yearlings. She watched as Nisaba stopped dead in her tracks to scowl at the male. And Tao made a similar look on her face, and she couldn't think of the nerve of the male to say such words.
She grumbled lowly to herself about his incompetence. As she moved she felt a searing pain in her left leg, however she masked it well and didn't wince as it shot through again. Was she getting a muscle cramp? If so, that was bad, and to make it worse at the sharp intake of pain she lost her balance.
She let out a shocked whinny before she when twhack on the muddy ground. Oh blasted mud. Her eyes held a cold and annoyed stare in them and she moved to regain her stance. She planted her front legs firmly down and then used her hind legs to prop herself up. She could feel the discomfort on her left leg as she walked towards her friends and looked at Inzhu, her older half-sister.
Tao was at her wits end, "Sister, I fell. My left leg feels like it's being stabbed by porcupine needles, I am cold , my coat is now covered in mud, and then the stallion that's supposed to be our relative is threatening our existence and disrespecting my mother. I swear to the heavens,if I was a stallion I'd want his head on a stick!" her words were low and furious.
She truly did look atrocious, with mud caked in her lovely mane and tail, and she sighed frustrated as she looked at her left leg, and to her horror she found it was a bit puffy.
And she looked at Erzulie, one of her best friends, and in a dramatic fashion swished her mud ridden tail, "My leg is now swollen. I want to rest. I am not going to die in a mudslide or landslide because that stallion wants to chase after a supposed herd of mares. All that'll bring is strife for the herd and annoying mares that don't know their place within it."
She let out an exhausted sigh and watched as Chex spoke to the other yearlings before venturing off, and her eyes squinted in curiousity, had she missed something important? Of course she always did. She moved towards the group her of friends, and as she did she spoke lowly so their conversation wouldn't be heard, "What did Uncle Chex say? Can I help? Please, give me something to do before I decide to get myself killed by poking fun at Anwir."
A grey mare watched the herd with a serious expression on her face. They were being too relaxed in this new enviornment. Clíodhna was a well-rounded mare with experience. She had been a well-know horse in bullfights and more recently showjumping. She had scars to prove her close encounters with bulls, and many stories of it as well. And whenever she wasn't training for a sport, she was being used as a trail-riding horse. Trekking through mountains, caves, and many other creepy places with humans. She thought it was dumb to do such things, but she's seen more than these horses who'd only been restrained to their pasture or paddock. While she wasn't an expert in surving the wild, she knew a lot about it.
She watched as some mares messed around in the mud, and she spoke, " Careful in the mud. It's slippery, we don't need anyone injured as we move."
"Arashi, we need to find shelter." she spoke as she walked over to the behemoth of a mare, "rain might've been a good thing where you were held, but for me it's not. Rain means mudslides, flooding, and danger. And looking at the clouds we're due for more rain. Not to mention the predators out here, we cannot be so laxed."
She might have been a mood killer, but someone needed to be the voice of reason. She could remeber when she was just a filly, the memory of the slopes of her home in Spain and the lovely meadows. The mare had been raised pratically unbothered by humans, until she was three and it was her time to be broken in. Oh, how she resisted it, but eventually she caved in, and was sold to the barn she was previously in, before escaping. The cycle of showing, bullfights, and everything about it didn't bring her joy and only soured her mood. The only thing good about being owned, was the times she was allowed to free range or whenever they scaled mountain slopes.
She sighed before speaking, "This valley brings back much nostalgia of my home, not here but in a different time. I am only saying we should move and shelter before we grow too tired. Not to mention, we're valuable commodities, so if we don't move, we'll be taken back to the shackles placed upon us by humans."
She would've spoken more if a grulla male hadn't walked over, he looked young. Young enough for her to raised him herself. A sad expression crossed her features, she had 4 foals in her lifetime and all had been ripped away from her. Maybe she could finally raise a foal in this landscape? Hopefully she'd find a stallion worthy. She then listened to the male as he spoke.
If he was alone then they were safe, but if he had friends then he could tell them of their existense. She vaguely remembered how stallions in the wild valued and craved unattended mares to create herds and the more they had, the more power they possessed. So either they tell him who they were and risk exposure or lie to him to keep themselves safe.
"No, we aren't from around here colt. We were just passing though, we've made a long journey." a half-lie, one that told some aspects of truth but didn't reveal everything, " the stream is free for you to drink from." and then a thought struck her, "young colt, what's your name? And also, what herd does this territory belong to? We don't want be passing through and offend a herd, now would we?"
And she looked to the others within the Broodmare Herd. They had to be convincing, otherwise this facade would fall through. And she gave him a hard stare as she stood besides Arashi and near Cadhla and Bandit, in a protective manner of the younger mares.
Wild Herd | Herd Mare | Mentions: Inzhu, Louhi, Noche
Nisaba was the oldest mare within the herd. And she quite adored this herd. She had two beautiful daughters, and their father was an honorable stallion. However, Ouray's brother had ripped away his title as Lead Stallion and now Anwir was leading. This made Nisaba uncomfortable. She was currently walking through the mud with her daughter, Noche. Nisaba had seen a lot of mud and storms in her life in this valley, and this was a normal thing for her. She quite easily walked through it, maybe it was her height or experience, she didn't know, but she found herself easily going through it.
She listened to Noche speak and she nodded a silent agreement, "This isn't good weather to be moving in. A chilled and cold horse is a miserable one, and not to mention walking for too long in mud can cause cramps and possible infection."
She had to repress a laugh as she watched Chex bump into Anwir. But she smiled at Saga saying that they should rest, but then she scowled at Anwir disputing her words. They had no time for arguements inside the herd, but hopefully Anwir lost. She then stopped dead in her tracks when Anwir mentioned he had graciously let their yearlings lived. And an unusually furious expression caught her features. Even Louhi, with her sweetness had visibly darkened her usually kind eyes.
"I'm tall enough, maybe I could push him off a cliff-" she may have been tall enough but her bulk wasn't nearly enough to even make him budge, "how dare he says such atrocious words with little care. He's an asshole. I would like to see him even try to put a hoof on my Inzhu."
If looks could kill then hers certainly would. She was usually more quiet, but today she was just plain irritated and ready to snap at the source of her irritation, but she chose to keep her mouth shut. However, that didn't stop the nasty glares she shot at Anwir. She was certain if he even tried something like that, Chex would intervine for the sake of his own children and those of Ouray. For now she hoped Saga had a plan, if not her then Ouray or chex. Because, if not , then they were doomed.