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  • Beqanna


    Aela -- Year 216


    "So she smiles prettily and steals away when she can. Feels the brutal pounding of others around her with a savagery that she has never comprehended—their emotions so vast, their hearts so wicked. It warps her more than she was already warped. It presses a thumbprint of cruelty into her darkness, shaping her into a thing of shadow, a thing of longing, a thing carved from the darkness between every breath." --Baptiste, written by Laura

    3 attacking posts each, 1 final defensive post – 3 days between posts.
    One 2-day extension per person if needed
    Attacks can be multiple things, i.e. Albert attempts to bite Rose's neck and then kicks at her knee. Counter-attacks and attacks are all counted as attacks.
    Complete dodges are allowed, but for the sake of realism, be careful when using these.
    Traits allowed.
    No editing posts.
    1,000 word limit.
    Brennen posts first unless otherwise agreed upon.

    SETTING: Dry heat with sand at noon during solar eclipse. Eclipse will negate one trait (1+ space) of your choosing. The eclipse will be gradual with the middle 3 posts (Brennen and Kagerus's 2nd posts and Brennen's 3rd) at full eclipse.

    Bone bending, ice manipulation, wings


    Dream manipulation, immortality, horn
    On this, the day of the final battle, Beqanna has changed drastically. Instead of the cold, dry snow of the last round, the Plains are dry and hot, the sand and dust puffing up into the air with every step he takes. The bay Arabian should be in his element, and perhaps physiologically he is, but he can’t help but wrinkle his nose in mild distaste; it is nothing like the icy Tundra that still haunts his dreams, or even his humid Ischia. As he trots across the plains he lifts his eyes to find Kagerus, wondering if she will be sporting some new dreamed-up thing like the wings of one of his recent visits to Hyaline.

    In this, too, it will be nothing like the last round. Brennen didn’t know Ivar, and the other stallion’s casual arrogance and bloodthirsty nature had brought out the worst in Brennen himself; with Kagerus, a friend, he will be no less driven to win, but entirely more careful of causing true harm. He is about to lock eyes with Kagerus, having spotted her, when the world begins to go a strange twilight-dim around him, though the sun is still high in the sky and his shadow is sharp before him on the ground. Adrenaline high, he lets out a startled snort but quickly picks up a canter and refocuses on Kagerus - until a gradually lightening feeling draws him back to himself, where he discovers to his abject horror that his wings have disappeared entirely.

    Of all his gifts that take him from talented to terrifying on the battlefield, his wings are the ones he has had the longest; he was born with them, and they are as much a part of him as the ears on his head; the bay stallion stumbles and is forced to adjust the entire way he carries himself, and he slows to a trot, trying to get a feel for the way his body moves without nearly twenty feet of wingspan folded onto either side of it. The only reason he recovers with any speed is because this is not the first time mages or fae have seen fit to change him, and he has struggled through a major tournament battle without the gift of flight before. A quick mental reach leaves frost under his hooves and the ground shifting invisibly as he tugs at bones buried deep beneath, and he is reassured that his other magics are still intact.

    There is nothing outwardly different about Kagerus, but imbued with a renewed sense of caution since his wings have vanished and who knows what sort of things can be dreamt up, Brennen picks a canter back up and orients himself with his opponent, heading for her straight on. As he moves he creates a bone horn for himself, a knife-edged ridge spiraling up its length. It leaves blood dripping from the thin skin that covers his forehead, but the pain is a small price to pay for the value of the weapon that now adorns his head. From his conservative speed it is easy to come to an abrupt halt when he reaches Kagerus, hopefully still essentially facing her head-on as he has been maneuvering to do. He ducks his chin to present his horn and swings his head in a side-ways canted counter-clockwise oval and brings his horn slashing back up across where Kag’s chest and left shoulder would be if she didn’t move at all. If she turns towards him, they might lock horns or Brennen might end up striking higher, closer to her head or cheek. If she turns away, he hopes to still be able to find her barrel or haunch with his horn, even if she can spin quite quickly. He hopes to drive her to turn her head and neck, but not her entire body, so as to bulge her left shoulder conveniently towards him. Unless she has simply turned tail and fled away from him, which would rather defeat the purpose here, Brennen assumes he will be able to find some part of her in his wide swing.

    Even as his head is returning up to its original position, Brennen rocks back on his haunches and rears, striking at Kagerus with his forehooves. If she has turned towards him and perhaps they have locked horns he will have to watch his own face as he rears up and frees his horn from hers, but he will be able to strike at her chest and neck with his hooves. Ideally, she has started to turn away and in this case he aims for the meatiest areas of shoulder and forearm, hoping to bruise those muscles. If she has truly spun away, he’ll aim for the end of her barrel or her haunches. Any hit will do, really, though he certainly had a mental plan.

    He doesn’t press forward to engage again right away when he lands (waiting to see if she exhibits any traits he couldn’t see) - instead he doesn’t move at all, standing lightly on all four hooves and waiting to see what Kagerus will do first, ready to move instantly in his own defense.
    I sleep fitfully during the morning hours, haunted by dark figures that I cannot send away or confront. My family appears most, angry at me for all my wrongs, yelling and making me cry. The powerlessness is confusing and terrifying; I awaken in a cold sweat, the hot wind whisking away the moisture as well as sending sand to accumulate against it. When I glance at my sides, I don’t find my intended dream-trait. My stomach sinks; what’s going on?!

    Now’s not the time, Kag. Get moving.

    I spot him on the horizon just as the sun suddenly dims. Faltering, I glance upward but quickly avert my gaze. An eclipse. When my eyes refocus, I realize that Brennen’s wings have completely disappeared. Seeing my good friend so bare like that is absolutely foreign, but it gives me a chance to note how similar we are in stature now: both Arabian, next to the same height, and with the same bay hue.

    Without his wings, Brennen will be forced to stay in close proximity to me. It will be as interesting as my battle with Titanya in the rain, if not more; Brennen is an incredibly experienced warrior, a contender of the previous alliance in fact.

    But I'm here, too: in the final round. I grit my teeth at the thought. I am no less than you; may the best fighter win.

    The wingless king positions himself to approach me head on, traveling at a canter. We’re far enough away that I just glimpse the sprouting of his horn; I can’t catch the knife-edge detailing, but the horn speaks for itself. Adrenaline shoots through me as a gust of hot wind sends sand granules into my eyes. Blinking them away, I travel at a jiggy-walk, not really moving forward but not wanting to stand still and be the perfect target for my opponent. My nostrils flare rapidly as I breathe in the sandy air, trying to filter it out as much as possible before I become occupied with more important things...

    ...Like Brennen, cantering towards me. My chin is already tucked to present my own horn, essentially ensuring that Brennen will stop before we gore each other’s brains out. Still, my weight is marginally shifted to my hind legs (not enough to lift my forelegs) so that in the off chance that Brennen doesn’t stop, I’ll be able to spook away (hopefully).

    He does stop, however, just before me and within horn-striking distance. Catching the beginning of his counter-clockwise thrust in the right of my peripheral vision (appearing to me as clockwise), I quickly parry, stepping forward into his momentous attack to catch the bladed edge of his horn powerfully against mine. The left sides of both our horns are together, with me on the ‘inside’ as I catch him swinging back upwards. My neck quivers as I lean my weight into the parry, blocking the line of his thrust. Barely registering this fact as I concentrate on the close-combat, blood dribbles down my right nostril where Brennen had managed to slice its thin membrane on his first throw to his left. His horn is slightly longer than mine; I miscalculated our proximity in the darkness, and my rush to defend myself.

    Snorting now not only because of the sand but also because of the blood, I have little time to recover before Brennen acts again. I allow my instincts to guide my movement during this exchange, not wasting time with critical analysis. Brennen rocks his weight back on to his haunches, lifting his horn from my parry and momentarily exposing his throat to my own horn. Following, I rock back on my heels and rise half a foot after him.

    My intent: to topple him over as he throws back his weight. Although his legs are dangerous, this opportunity is too fine to pass up. As we shoot upwards, I aim my weight more forwards, a lunge/tackle movement towards Brennen’s chest. I also aim to grapple his throat with my teeth so that I can have a firm grip with which to push him over. There is a chance that my horn could unintentionally glance against him as I attempt to maneuver to this position. Brennen is slightly taller and stockier than I am, but my bloodline is less pure than his, making us pretty evenly matched in the area of size. His hooves glance along both sides of my breast, but due to our close proximity and therefore his inability to completely extend his forelegs, the blows are mostly negligible.

    Even with all the magic that Brennen possesses — as discussed during his visits to Hyaline — a straight-up tackle is pretty hard to defend against. A bite or a kick could be avoided via bone or ice armor - but bone and ice don’t soften landings. By toppling him on to his back, I could stand to leave Brennen at least breathless and momentarily vulnerable. Considering our rapid rise to rearing, I’d estimate that we have enough combined momentum for the worst outcome to be Brennen landing on his withers. An impact to this area can fracture the vertebrae that form the underlying framework of the withers, a painful but not fatal injury. Further discomfort might occur when lowering the head due to stretching of the nuchal ligament, a type of connective tissue that attaches along the withers.

    Then again, as I attempt to dominate him, I realize that things could go any way. Brennen could shift his weight in such a way that I end up being the one toppled over, or else we could both land safely on our forelegs without anything to show for this first interaction besides the blood adorning our faces, both because of the horn he’d grown.

    Regardless of the outcome, we both eventually come to a standstill. Our exact positioning cannot be yet determined, but it can be presumed that our proximity is still quite close. Around us, the darkness thickens.


    Word count: 1000, according to Google Drive
    Synopsis: Kag's dream manip is negated. Prances while Brennen approaches with horn lowered to prevent head on collision. Steps into his ovular attack to parry, blocking his line by catching the left side of his horn with the left side of hers, with her on the inside. Receives cut to right nostril due to inaccuracy/darkness. Rears right after Brennen with forward momentum, tries to grapple his throat, using weight in an attempt to topple him over. Eventually they both come to a standstill, positions undisclosed.
    [Image: kag]
    In case I fall asleep or don’t finish tonight - taking my extension.
    When he was younger, the first time he struck true in a battle was always an exhilarating moment, sending his heart racing and his blood hot. Even then, Brennen never knew a true battle rage as some of his compatriots did, but after this many years even that exhilaration has faded to just satisfaction when his horn takes a slice from her nostril and they lock together, the bone horn heavy on his head. When he starts to rear, he keeps his nose tucked to protect his throat, even as his horn slides up and loose from hers, and she rises into the air a moment behind him.

    He has kept his nose tucked towards his chest, horn out, because he doesn’t need to aim particularly well to strike out at an opponent directly in front of him. As she is biting, he also starts to turn his head right and away from her seeking jaws. Because of this Kagerus’ teeth do not find secure purchase on the narrow frontal part of his neck just under his jaw, but are forced to scrape against the left side of the expanse presented, catching momentarily on a roll of skin and tearing superficially. When he moves his head, his weight begins shifting just so towards the right to follow, and so when the pinto mare pushes forward against him with her whole weight, Brennen lets his forelegs strike as they fall across her chest and then allows her forward rush to push him into that slight lean even further, coming down hard on his right foreleg in a way that he knows he will regret later. It leaves them standing shoulder-to-shoulder, his left to her left. The sky is steadily darkening overhead, and he hopes it is not an indicator of further magic leeching out of him.

    There is a pause, a startled intake of breath, because his next instinct is to begin to unfurl his wings and take to the sky, but of course, he has no wings. Too late to change his mind, the bay stallion lets himself complete the leap that brings him back down to the ground instead of into the air. The leap angles him away from Kagerus, now about a 45* angle remaining between them, as measured from her haunches to the intersect of his haunches and her shoulder, to his shoulder, though of course he expects this to last only a heartbeat before surely she will move. Since this has already put his weight on his forehand, Brennen takes the opportunity to kick out, hoping she will still be in range. If she foolishly hasn’t moved at all, she would be in the perfect position for Brennen to kick her shoulder or left foreleg, and at a potentially devastating close distance. If she has moved forward, Brennen hopes he might still find a spot on her barrel or haunches; if she has spun to her right or backed up, he might find himself coming up depressingly short. A turn to her right into Brennen might mean he would land another kick on her already bruised chest, though it would mean that she would also be in position to retaliate against him with her own horn, teeth, or forehooves.

    He doesn’t intend to give her much of an opportunity - as soon as his hooves return to the ground, Brennen launches forward at full speed. His right foreleg where he landed on it and his chest and shoulder where she had pushed into him begin to ache, but not alarmingly so. Dust boils up under his hooves, sand in his nostrils even as he outraces it, and he thinks distastefully of how his vision will be impaired if he turns back into his own cloud of sand. Not, of course, that he can see much anyway as true night-dark has settled upon them, as dark as nights with no moon at all. Like all horses, he has pretty good night vision, but only the crazy or the forced fight in full-dark. Since he unfortunately falls into the second category, the bay stallion slows to a trot, listening for her hooves behind him or anywhere else, and trots a wide circle back towards the center of the Plains, searching for her with hisimpaired sight and his keenly tuned ears.

    With little desire to engage her in close combat in the dark, Brennen sends a hopefully tendril of power into the ground - and smiles wanly when he feels the ice deep, deep beneath the hot dry earth. It will be harder to bring it to the surface than in the last round, when the earth was cold and wet, but not impossible. He locates her and begins to trot forward, not looking for any orientation in particular but just trying to get closer, within a stride before he acts. He thinks back to his success of the first round and reaches deep, snorting out the invasive sand in his nostrils, and brings an ice wall out of the ground, trying to enclose Kagerus on three sides with him on the open side. Because it is difficult to summon the ice, he sacrifices size for speed, and it’s only about knee-high; just high enough to cause someone to trip over it if they don’t calculate a leap over the top perfectly. The trade-off means that it appears almost instantly, at the same time that Brennen jumps forward, slashing again at Kagerus with his horn, not bothering to aim because he can’t see for shit anyway. He just wants to drive her forward, possibly tripping over the wall, and maybe getting some horn-slashes in in the meantime.

    It’s hot, and he wants to be done.
    He turns his head as we rise, fucking my chances of finding a good purchase on his throat. Instead, I’m left clicking my teeth against the tauter skin of the left side of his neck, minimally tearing a flap of it.

    As we grapple, my brain suspends itself. A strange, surreal feeling washes over me: this is my close friend, with whom I have shared much. And now… His blood is upon my lips. How utterly alien, that this should come to pass: that we should be at each other’s throats in the name of sport.

    Time unpauses.

    My chest aches dully where Brennen strikes me, but due to my weight transfer, he only gets a couple of shots in before he’s momentously falling back to his right (my left). I follow just after, landing forcefully but evenly on both forelegs.

    The sky blackens considerably as we stand for a single heartbeat, left shoulder to left shoulder. In the next moment, Brennen leaps to his right, haunches angled towards me. My first instinct: to leap. Mirroring his movement, my haunches push me forward and to my right, though I keep my hind legs collected beneath me, not willing to risk broken cannon bones between either of us. At the last, his left hind hoof connects solidly to my left buttock, causing me to snort in derision. Although this large area containing many muscles enables kicking, rearing, and jumping, I know already that the adrenaline of this day-dark battle will mask the majority of the pain.

    Pulling up short as my ears prick and catch the sound of Brennen racing away, I pivot to face the direction he ran in, halting. A part of me itches to follow after him, but as I cannot see him through the trail of dust that rises in the pitch black, I know that he cannot see me either. My ears strain to catch any sound he makes farther ahead, heart pounding as I’m blessedly granted an opportunity to catch my breath.

    Soon, I spot him in the distance, making a wide arc back towards the center of the battlefield. It’s only thanks to his movement that I glimpse his dark brown figure, but the patches of white that splay across my coat guarantee that stillness won’t hide me. Exhaling forcefully — further giving away my position — I head towards Brennen at a collected trot. He seems focused elsewhere, allowing me to keep our positioning head-on as the distance between us lessens. Suspicious, I try to keep my wits about me, eyes darting from him to the earth and back again, though I keep my horn pointed at him continuously.

    With two strides between us, I chicken out; it’s in my best interest not to gore my brains out on his longer horn. I spook forward and to my right, leaving behind the ice walls that he summons where I ought to have been. The open side being the one he’s on gives me ample room to escape, and in the blackness, I don’t even notice the walls.

    He slashes towards me, blindly thrusting his head, and this time I’ve no chance of parrying. Although I dodge quickly, it’s not enough. The sharp point of his horn shunts into the superficial bulk of my left hip, tearing through the flesh there with a sickening ease. The bicep femoris takes the brunt of the damage; this muscle generally extends and abducts the leg (in tandem with other uninjured muscles). At about half an inch deep, an inch long, and the width of Brennen’s horn, the wound screams immediate pain; I scream, too.

    Bleeding doubly now, and doubly injured on the same limb, I make the split-second decision to use the uninjured half of my body. Using the momentum of my initial leap forward and to the right — which ideally places me within kicking range and at an acceptable angle to the length of his left side — I plant my forelegs and throw my weight down and forward, lowering my head as I kick out with full abandon. My buttock aches and my torn flesh screams, but in the heat of the battle, I cannot pay them any mind.

    Although I’m unaware of Brennen’s little trap, it plays into my hand quite nicely. Due to his having jumped forward to attack, Brennen is hopefully right in his ice barriers. This should force him to take the full brunt of my god's-be-damned-and-devil’s-be-worried kick. Depending on his reaction, the attack could land anywhere from his vulnerable abdomen, to the thick muscles of his shoulders or hip, or even to his leg bones if he’s unfortunate. There’s always the chance that he dodges me completely, but when taking into consideration the darkness, the quickness, and the unmeltable-ness of ice, it seems unlikely.

    When my hind legs fall to the ground, I use the force of impact as a rebound to kick twice more in rapid succession, trading force for speed. I can’t see behind me, but I use my ears to try and pinpoint Brennen’s location. It’s unlikely that Brennen will retaliate in kind with a buck of his own while my hind legs demand the center stage, exactly as I’d hesitated when he’d been doing the bucking. Taking this into consideration, there’s no reason for me not to milk the opportunity to wound him.

    With three kicks administered, I gather my hind legs beneath me and surge forward into a collected canter. Circling tightly to my right, my left side’s no longer exposed to my opponent. I blink in surprise at the sight of three walls sprouting from the earth, glistening in the strange night-day heat. I try to keep Brennen at the center of my circle, whether he’s inside or outside his own trap; but circle him — and the trap — I do, forcing him to work around his own obstacle as I canter.

    A moving target is harder to hit, after all.


    Word count: 999 according to Google Drive
    Synopsis: Bites Brennen during rear-grapple, takes light hits to chest, falls. Leaps forward and to the right away from Brennen as he does the same and bucks; takes a hoof to the buttock. Pulls up, pivots to face Brennen's retreating form, and halts, taking some time to breathe. Spots Brennen and trots toward him head on, horn lowered. Dashes forward and right at the last moment, unintentionally avoiding Brennen's trap. Gets sliced on left hip. Uses momentum of dash to plant forelegs and buck once with full force, then twice with less force but quickly. Surges forward from there into a collected canter with injured side facing away, circling both ice trap and Brennen.
    [Image: kag]
    As Brennen is leaping and slashing, Kagerus has spooked left. Somehow she slips between Brennen and his trap, though he can feel his horn strike true against her hip. It’s a strange feeling, somehow both more fluid and less violent than hooves against flesh. His motion continues to bring him forward towards his ice-wall, and he can feel her tensing to kick out due to their close proximity. It becomes clear that Kagerus intends for him to be trapped himself, but she seems to not know that his control over the ice is pretty comprehensive. It is here because he made it so, and while he often leaves it behind to melt, that doesn’t mean he has to do so; he’s also acutely aware of exactly where the ice is, since he placed it with care.

    So, as Kagerus kicks, Brennen continues forward, the ice reforming itself at his thought to clear a path for him to travel through, and closing again behind him. She is quick enough with the first set of kicks to land a solid thump to the meatiest part of his haunches, promising some discomfort when he extends that left hind leg underneath himself and sets it down, but her rebound kicks fall quite short of his new position beyond the knee-high ice, which is already more cannon-high in the oppressive dry heat. He is still for a moment, blinking sand out of his eyes, as she turns to the right and circles. Motionless save for the sand still filtering back to the ground near his hooves, the flicker of eyes and ears, and the rise and fall of his beginning-to-be-labored breathing, Brennen counts on the strange darkness and his own dark coat to camouflage him somewhat as she comes towards him; the only bright part of him is the white of his bone-horn, and that is stained with blood where it had to push through his forehead to emerge (and that’s starting to ache, and the blood dripping down his face is rather annoying).

    He doesn’t relish causing her pain, but he takes pride in his own skills and what an alliance winner from Ischia would mean for his fledging Brotherhood. Both of them will learn from the experiences they have here, and they will take those skills back to their people. Those skills might mean the difference between life and death for someone later. He has lived through war before, and he is not unaware of the real purpose of these training “games”.

    As Kagerus comes around, him standing on the inside of the circle on her right, Brennen waits until she is almost perpendicular to his own position, and then lunges forward, ignoring the protest of his injured haunch as he drives his legs underneath him for speed. He’s hoping she is still trying to locate him in the mostly-dark and aims for his quick lunge to bring him to her hip; he does not check his speed, instead intending to ram directly into her, which would push all of her weight onto her injured left hind. His own legs and chest protest the quick moment but do not prevent it, and he keeps his head raised and horn out of the way; he doesn’t truly want to impale her at his intending speed and force. Brennen hopes to have rammed directly Kagerus where her barrel meets her haunches, but he wouldn’t complain about ramming into her anywhere; it won’t be comfortable for him either, but his chest is a wide enough area that he won’t take any serious damage from colliding with the pinto mare. If she has managed to slow or turn in such a way that Brennen will be in front of her (in range of her horn) he does his best to pull up and to his left, but he has high hopes that her surprise at him not being trapped and the dark will have mostly disguised his movements and given him the element of surprise.

    Once they have collided (or not), the bay stallion gathers his weight back on his haunches and pivots to his left, then circling away left along his rapidly melting ice. Annoyed at its presence, he gathers it into a less obtrusive slim column, and continues around it to align himself with Kagerus again, wherever she is. He’s not sure if the sky has lightened just a hair or if his eyes are just adjusting or tricking him, but he dismisses the ice from his mind entirely and reaches for the other - the bones - and slows to trot just fast enough to stay close enough to see Kagerus, drawing the skeleton from the ground.

    It’s not a horse this time. He actually has no idea what it is, except that it is costing him a heck of a lot of energy to hold it together; energy he would never spend if this wasn’t close to over. It’s three times the size of either of them, with massive heavy bones and a compact build despite the large size, meaning quite a lot of the dense bones all together. There’s no need for finesse, not with something of this magnitude - he simply sends it towards Kagerus at the top speed he can coordinate it’s four strange limbs to move (they’re not quite oriented the same as his own, but they move at his specifications regardless), and intends for it to run her over. She could injure herself kicking out at the solid bones, get run over, or get entangled in it; anything that would benefit Brennen. He watches in interest to see the outcome and keep the skeleton on the right track. This is his last allotted attack, and he needs to know where she is to defend against any last attack she will make.
    I’ll be taking my 2 day extension!
    beep beep I'm a sheep
    In the darkness, the exact parameters of his original ice trap were nondescript. I couldn’t tell in the heat of the moment how closely he’d placed the walls to my left and right; all I knew was that the area in front of me was open, and so I moved forward and to my right. I’ll chalk it up to luck and the eclipse that I didn’t outright trip on his ice wall, whether it was where either of us thought or not.

    Regardless, the satisfaction of landing a forceful kick to Brennen’s hind end dilutes some of the pain coming from the hip he’d skewered. The two smaller kicks fall short, and I clip my toenails harmlessly against the wall he’d left to cover his retreat. Snorting to clear my nostrils of blood and sand, I begin my circular canter, spotting Brennen easily at this short distance as he stands, recovering his breath.

    In the time before his next attack, I realize that the glimmering I’d noticed has magically changed shape. There’s nothing I can do about Brennen’s powers except take note of them and apply more wariness to my actions. I can only hope that in the heat of this summer eclipse, his ice powers are lessened; his bone powers, however…

    The sound and sight of Brennen moving cuts off this thought. Despite the darkness, by aiming to ram me perpendicularly, my side-set eyes catch his charge perfectly, as well as my ears hearing him go from still to running. There’s not a ton of space between us, but it’s enough that I am able to pull up from my collected canter into a small half-rear. Brennen spooks to his left, making us more or less parallel right side to right side. Two feet lay between us. Acting quickly, I twist my neck and angle my horn towards the dip of his flank (such that I might strike his belly or buttock due to inaccuracy) and then drop my weight to the right and down.

    Dirty and quick, the chances of my attack landing well are low. Brennen could defend himself in many ways, including bucking, rearing, or running away. As I’m falling, our positioning is perfect, but I expect that to change. If it doesn’t, I could stand to impale Brennen with my sleeker and shorter horn, tearing cleanly through the sinewy muscle. It would make us even at least, though my wound is shallow and long whereas his would be deep and concentrated. An incomplete attack could look something like me scraping the very back of his buttocks, or else me landing my chest on his body if he moves closer. Regardless, I keep my aim steady; he may not want to impale me, but that’s not my story. The excitement of this bold attack solidifies my injured left hind quarter, rendering the pain bearable. Plus, I’m only partially rearing.

    Whether or not my counter-attack lands successfully, I sidestep to my left upon disengagement, hoping to avoid a shot from Brennen’s hind quarters as he pulls away. He canters to his left, a circle opposite to the one I’d been traveling. A quick glance reveals the ice, built now into an unobtrusive column (for which I am grateful). Allowing myself a moment to breathe, I notice the sky lightening some; twilight returns serenely, a second dawn to commemorate this final battle.

    Then, all calm is lost. Reborn from the depths of the earth, a skeletal entity rises. The ground shakes slightly with this disruption, and I spook away from it in instinctual terror. In the next heartbeat, however, the gladiator within me regains control. By this time the thing (which looks to be something akin to a small elephant) has gotten to its feet. Absolutely not about to dilly dally, I look around dazedly in the hazy twilight, finally spotting Brennen trotting some yards off.


    Lurching forward, I burst into a gallop towards Brennen. I attempt to bring myself parallel to him in whichever way possible, though I aim to land up on his left side so as to protect my injured left side. By this time, the bone-giant’s movements threaten to become a run. Brennen may try to disengage from me, but I do my utmost to remain glued to his side.

    “What now, Brennen?” I yell, coughing as the wind throws up more sand. There’s a glint of fear in my eyes - eyes which shine passionately, which are accompanied by a tyrannically grinning mouth. His adrenaline may be low, but mine is sky-high. “Gonna get us both killed?”

    As these last words leave my lips, I lunge with my mouth to try and grapple the handle of his mane in an attempt to keep us together as the giant lumbers closer and closer. It’s an indirect attack; I do not intend to harm him with my bite, but rather with his own creation. If he’s intent on sending the skeleton my way, well, my way happens to be his way, too. Brennen could be crushed, bruised, broken; something tells me he'll want to get away, or else cancel the last of his attacks, rendering it ineffective. And an ineffective attack isn't one you want in a competition as grand as the Alliance.

    If Brennen breaks free (of my proximity, not necessarily my bite), I follow him as best I can whilst trying to avoid potential injury from his own retaliations, such as bucking or biting. Mainly, I try to stay close to him - and unless he puts an ice wall between us (which ought to be difficult if we’re both moving) there’s nothing stopping me from following him.

    “Fucking brilliant!” I whoop, regardless of Brennen’s actions taken. Our battle is nearly over, leaving me thrilled - I can’t help the way my blood pounds and my lips stretch in a show of teeth. Imagine! If I were to win: how proud I would make my Hyaline.

    How proud I have made her already.


    Word count: 999 according to Google Drive
    [Image: kag]
    Once more, Kagerus seems to have a much better idea of where Brennen is than Brennen does her; the bay stallion wonders idly even as he is trying to change direction from an all-out charge whether Kagerus had dreamed herself some sort of night vision. But, ah, the sky is truly beginning to lighten now, the dark less complete - perhaps she is simply more sensitive than he to the slight changes. Regardless, he is frustrated that somehow she manages to pivot her haunches out of his way, rear, and lean down to try and impale him all during his very short and should-have-been-somewhat-surprising charge. Still, since he was anticipating this as one of her options in defense, he is prepared for it (though perhaps more mentally prepared than physically).

    Despite his speed, Brennen has managed to turn enough about his own left hind leg so as to present his own haunches to Kagerus, and is in the process of trying to move away when she gets herself aligned to strike with her horn. Such a quick turn on the haunches by necessity lowers his haunches, and this coupled with her own small rear lifting her slightly, means that his flanks and belly are quite out of range for her horn - it finds its mark instead on the big superficial gluteal muscle behind the point of his right hip, sinking in about an inch before tearing loose in a cut that gets progressively more shallow as he has already cantered away to his left.

    It hurts, but it hasn’t completely torn through a muscle in a way that would truly inhibit Brennen’s movements so he pushes on, distracting himself from the pain by playing with the ice and then the bones. In order to be able to see her in the dim light but also see how to maneuver his creation, the bay had raised the creature between them, and the time it took to raise it and send it lumbering forth was quite small; but Kagerus has managed to dodge around the skeleton in the few clumsy heartbeats it takes Brennen to lace it all together with the strange magic that flows underneath his skin, and ended up on his side, trying to match his movements. Given his slow trot that isn’t all that difficult a task, though surely by now she must be fighting some pains of her own.

    Her constant ability to be where she shouldn’t be, as well as his own injuries which have begun to wear on him, have well and truly eroded his patience and better impulses. So despite a voice in the back of his head that ponders giving up on the skeleton to ensure she isn't seriously harmed, the greater part of him remembers that nobody will die in the alliance, and she entered as willingly as he did. The pinto mare grapples sideways, and without having to worry about the wings he doesn’t currently have, Brennen is content to let her grab ineffectually at his thick stallion mane. Having her doing so keeps her close and keeps her from suddenly evading another one of his attacks as she has been doing.

    He is content to let her do this, and stay close, because once more she has underestimated his control. Perhaps because her powers are so new to her, she doesn’t realize that age and practice make things more precise. Forcing himself to forget about the heat, and the dust in his nose, and the way their shadows dance underfoot like it’s noon even though it’s twilight-hazy around them, Brennen focuses only on the skeleton still lurching towards them, and despite her yelling he is quiet and does not call it off. He has a feel of each individual bone, he must to knit them together into moving skeletons like this, and he has practiced this skill for decades. As it reaches them, to run over Kagerus still the directions he has given it, he simply releases the half of the bones that would run over him back to the ground, letting them fall with thumps and explosions of sand as the now eminently more creepy half-a-skeleton most likely still finds its original target. He is sure one or two of them will thump him as well during the collision, but Kagerus will still take the brunt of the attack and he will not be also run totally over as she was hoping. Bruises are nothing on top of the injuries he has taken before, and indeed already taken from her this round.

    Afterwards, she is still quite noisy, lifting her voice to the weird dark sky. Brennen doesn’t yell or shout, not that anyone would expect him to after the way he’s behaved the rest of the Alliance (only Ivar had managed to rile him up to speech), but he does give her a little quirk of a smile, even as he is cataloging his own injuries and hoping fervently his wings will come back to carry him home. He’s not looking forward to walking there on these injuries.

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