Featuring Alaric and Arthfael
Late Autumn, year 757 of the New Age
Borders of Blackwood
Alaric shivered. The last breaths of autumn were dying, and winter was coming with antlers bared. His hadn't dropped yet, but would soon, and he would be without defense. Without defense, in Blackwood, in mountains that Alaric had never known, with foes he had never met. Wolves, bears, mountain lions- and though Alaric was large in Silverthorne, he would be dwarfed by any Blackwood with mettle. It was not a comfortable thought for the young soldier. He was as yet inexperienced, he knew this. His little patrolling and his lion would not prepare him for Blackwood.
Pushing onward, further into the mountains, it only got colder. The wounds from the lion attack, now healed, were still tight, scar tissue pulling as he walked. Those days when he had been injured- those were long, and they were hard. He remembered the fangs of hunger. Those fangs would only make him vulnerable to the fangs of wolf and bear.
He was ready, though. Alaric willed the danger to come. If he could not survive this, he was not worth his soldier's training. He was ready. He wanted this. This was his worth.Arthfael
Arthfael paused as he reached the top of a small knoll near the Silverthorne-Blackwood border, his head raised and his ear flicking back and forth as he listened to the sounds of the forest around him. Having had no luck in finding does in either Blackwood or Glenmore, he figured he would try seeking does from Silverthorne before the rut drew to a close. He put his muzzle to the wind and his nostrils flared as he took in the scent of damp earth and pines that was typical of Blackwood. On the wind Arthfael picked up the small trace of chilled water. The first frost would happen, bringing with it the start of winter.
Arthfael snorted and rubbed one of the tangs of his antlers against the trunk of a tree. He stopped and raised his head again, his ears alert as he picked up another scent. Silverthorne. Arthfael sniffed agained. Stag. Not quite what he was looking for, but he guessed he could check it out. He continued a ways until he spotted the stag. He watched him a moment before giving a small chuckle. "Silverthorne does getting too tame for you, are they?" he called.Alaric
Alaric nearly started as he heard the voice call out. Already, a Blackwood stag- and by the depth of his voice, a massive one. Alaric cursed. He should have caught this one's scent. Turning toward the voice, he examined its source.
The stag was
large, easily a full hand taller than Alaric, perhaps more. His coat was a deep, russety red, and massicve scars covered him- scars from what? Bear? He was clearly a seasoned fighter, a war-striped battler. And yet, his voice was sarcastic, even joking. This annoyed Alaric. A border-patroller, as he assumed this one was, shouldn't joke- rather, he should fall at him tines-first, and laugh later.
"And what," he replied, "does Blackwood joke with its intruders, rather than fight them? I had heard different stories." Alaric raised his head, maximizing what height he had- used to being the tall one, now he felt the difference. With the raise, he also dipped his chin, giving the Blackwood a good view of his tines.
Snorting, Alaric pawed the ground, muscles rippling. If this Blackwood was taller, Alaric was heavier. He evaluated everything, preparing a picture in his mind of the fight to come, his advantages and disadvantages arranged scientifically in his mind. If it came to a fight, Alaric felt confident.Arthfael
Arthfael noted how the Silverthorne stag shifted his stance to make himself look bigger than he was, but Arthfael just shrugged as he approached the other stag. As if he could care less. "Oh there are many stories," he said as he walked a circle around the stag. "Though not all of them are entirely true."Alaric
Alaric stiffened as the strange stag began circling him. He fought the urge to turn and follow the stag, instead tensing his muscles and readying himself for whichever direction the stag should lunge from.
"I've heard the stories," he replied, his voice even. "I thought to come and decide for myself which were true." He scoffed. "I had heard that Blackwood was a strong race, and cold and dark and warlike. Clearly, looking at you
, Blackwood is none of these things. A warrior does not joke." His voice was flat and expressionless, as always, but the jeer was clear in his words. Inwardly, though, he prayed that the exchange of insults would not last long. He wanted to fight... but the Blackwood soldier must strike first. Alaric must not by any means strike first- his advantage was to wait for the larger stag. And so he endured the jeering and joking tones, knowing that this way he could push the reddish buck to lunge.Arthfael
Arthfael shrugged again as he continued to walk circles around the stag. "Oh, we're definitely like that," he said shaking his antlers in an almost teasing gesture. "And what makes you think I'm joking? For all you know I could be dead serious."Alaric
Alaric smirked. "Well," he said flatly, "if that story is true, then here is another one. I have heard that does are short in Blackwood." He shook his night-black mane in annoyance, perturbed. "What makes you think I would go looking for does where there are none?" He jeered. "It is Blackwood that steals our does, not the other way around."
Alaric stepped backwards, deliberately placing himself in front of the strange Blackwood and disrupting his circle. As the stag paused, Alaric continued grimly. "If you must know, I have no interest in does this year. My mind has been on other things." He lowered his rack threateningly as he said this, daring this Blackwood buck to question him.Arthfael
Arthfael gave what seemed like a heartbroken sigh as he glanced up at the sky. "Alas yes this is true," he said. He looked back at the Silverthorne and shrugged. "You do have a point there Silverthorne. But I do hear tales of your kind sometimes seeking something a bit more.... exotic." Arthfael stopped when the stag stepped in front of him, his tail twitching as he took in the stag's aggressive stance. He tilted his head to the side and eyed him curiously when he said he wasn't after does. "No interest in does?" he asked. Then he gasped as if he understood. He took a step towards the stag and winked at him with his most charming grin. "Oh I see! You're into the stags!"Alaric
Alaric started, snorting in disgust. "Stags?" he exclaimed, as much as he could explaim- his tone was rather flat. "You think I want to be with stags?" He twitched his skin, as if something disgusting had touched him. "There are no such horrors in Silverthorne," he informed the strange stag. "That is... wrong. Unnatural. I am surprised you would even think of it."
A strange thought came to his mind then, even more unnatural than the thought of stags with stags. "Do you mean to say," Alaric said, his voice raising with his head in disbelief, "that this is not uncommon in Blackwood?"
He shook his head again, his silky mane rippling. "I am not... into... the stags... as you say." His expression darkened, the white rims around his eyes lost to the shadow of his scowl.Arthfael
Arthfael watched the stag's reaction, his head cocked to the side as if he was watching the most interesting thing he'd seen. "Well as you just said," he said with shrug. "Blackwood is a bit lacking in does." Arthfael took a step towards the stag, his tail raising in display while his eyes practically roamed over the Silverthorne's body. Arthfael then gave his most charming smile and winked at him. "How ya doin'."Alaric
Alaric stepped backwards, unsure of what to do with these... advances. "I am doing very well..." he began cordially. Then he shook himself all over, as if ridding himself of something disgusting.
"How... How DARE you look at me like that!" He snorted, huffing and still shaking his head. He wrinkled his nose as if he had just smelled something rotting. "How dare you look at me like that!" he repeated, still disoriented. He made a stance, as if about to strike the stag. "I am an intruder." His ears were pinned. "Is this... is this
how Blackwood deals with intruders? I think not." Alaric's eyes were furious as he said this, and his muscles glowed with fury beneath his shadowy red pelt.Arthfael
Arthfael chuckled at the stag's reaction. Simply priceless. "Awww," he mused, a saddened look coming over his face. "How would you prefer me to look at you then?" As the Silverthorne continued to speak Arthfael shifted his weight as if casually squaring off with the stag, his head tipping downward in slight gesture to show off his rack. "Eh I suppose you're right," he said with a shrug. "Any other Blackwood would just tare into you no questions asked. Hell I know a couple that would've killed you before you even knew they were there. But then you don't look like much of a fight."Alaric
Alaric knew he was lucky that this stag did NOT tear into him immediately; however, he did not let this relief show. But... why wasn't he tearing into him now? This was ridiculous, utterly ridiculous. Alaric was here for a fight, and yet here he was trading jokes with an idiot stag who refused to act like the soldier he clearly was.
"Not much of a fight, in me?" Aalric growled, showing his teeth. "Care to test that?" He tossed his head, his muscular neck rippling and turning as he showed off his rack. The curving, crown-like stand of tines was vicious, pale points curving upward and ready to gore.Arthfael
A chuckle rumbled deep in Arthfael's throat and his brown eyes shone with amusement. "Alright then," he said with a shrug, giving himself a shake to loosen up his muscles as he squared off with the Silverthrone. "I'm not one to back down from a challenge." Arthfael's tail twitched, the bear claws clacking against each other as he lowered his head and flashed his own rack at the stag. He grinned, the amusment in his eyes being replaced by mischief. "Bring it on Silverthorne."Alaric
Alaric readied his stance. The cat fang that dangled from his antler shimmered now, as if in response to the bear claws that were the Blackwood's baubles. Alaric was fire, he was dark light. The blood of the lion he had slain ran in his own veins. He was ready. He pinned his ears, tensed his muscles, and a snarl began to form on his lips. His rack was sharpened and pointed toward the Blackwood soldier, his tail lashing. The scar down his face glowed against his blackness. He was ready.
He was Lionslayer.Arthfael
Old Rasha was a superstitious doe. She believed that if a stag fawn of Blackwood was given a strong name, he in time would grow to be just as strong. She had often said that Uir herself had told her what to name her son. And Arthfael didn't just live up to his name. He had earned it. He had fought the bear and won. The scars on his hide were his marks of honor, the claws in his mane and tail were his trophies, as was the bear's cave itself. The bear was in his blood. He was the Bear Prince.
Arthfael lowered his head, his warm breath coming from his nostrils in plumes as in met the cool autumn air. Then, as if some silent signal was given, Arthfael rose up on his hind legs and bellowed out loud and long. His front hooves came back down, slamming his full wait into the ground as he charged the Silverthorne, his head low and the tines of his antlers ready to fight.Alaric
Alaric expected the charge before it was begun. At the last minute, he slipped to the side, spinning at the same time to catch one of his long brow-tines on his opponent's shoulder. He snorted as he felt the blood spurt.
He had been fast- not fast enough. As the Blackwood regained his footing and turned to charge again, Alaric felt a pain in his shoulder. One of the Blackwood's tines had grazed him.Arthfael
Arthfael grunted in pain as he felt one of the Silverthorne's tines caught his shoulder. Damn that hurt. Though at not as much as the bear's claws had, sometimes they still hurt. Arthfael turned on his heel as best as he could and made another lunge at the Silverthorne. Alaric
Alaric easily dodged the Blackwood a second time, this time lashing with his heels at the Blackwood's haunch. But this was not right. Surely this stag had another trick besides a charge? This was too easy...Arthfael
Arthfael tucked in his haunch, just barely missing the Silvethorne's sharp back hooves. He turned on his heel again and made another lunge at the Silverthorne, but this time, when he moved to dodge, Arthfael moved with him. His tines lowered to strike at something. Hide, antlers anything. Alaric
As Alaric dodged the third time, the Blackwood dodged with him. Ow.
The tines met Alaric's side, but Alaric let himself move with them, and carried by his own momentum escaped too much injury. He danced backwards, snarling as he did, then lowered his rack and leapt forward. His antlers met with the Blackwood's with a crack, locking together.
Alaric was heavier than the Blackwood, he knew, and used that to his advantage. Forcing himself to the top, he pushed, struggling to overcome the Blackwood and shove him lower with his weight.Arthfael
Arthfael braced himself when the Silverthorne's antlers met his. His muscles tensed, his hind legs digging in as he pushed back against the stag. This guy was heavy for a Silverthorne, not that it phased him much. Arthfael backed up as the Silverthorne pushed, taking his moment to regaining his footing. The muscles in his hind quarters bunched and coiled as started to push back a bit more, making sure he had a good lock on the Silverthorne's antlers before he twisted, putting is full weight into it as he tried to knock the Silverthorne off his feet.Alaric
The Blackwood slid back as Alaric pushed, absorbing his momentum. That was returned with a massive thrust- just as Alaric had expected. Grinning, he pinned himself to the ground, twisting his neck to fling the Blackwood stag entirely over him. As he scrabbled on the ground to recover his bearings, Alaric leapt to his feet and flung his rack at the Blackwood's side.Arthfael
Arthfael groaned as his weight hit the ground. This Silverthorne was better than he looked, but that made Arthfael all the more determined. He hauled himself to his feet to avoid the Silverthorne's sharp points, though he was not able to move fast enough and it earned him a slash on his haunches. He bit back a groan as he turned on the Silverthorne, his own sharp points aiming to tare into his hide as well. Alaric
Alaric charged again, then at the last minute feinted to the right, lashing out with his heels where his opponent expected antlers. The Blackwood had moved, though, and rather than feel his heels connect, Alaric found himself unbalanced.Arthfael
One might have thought it was antlers by the way his hip stung. Arthfael regained his footing and took advantage of the Silverthorne's unbalance, charging and thrusting his tines into the Silverthorne's side, pushing him.Alaric
Caught unbalanced, Alaric could do little at the Blackwood's shove but let himself topple. Topple he did, tucking his legs and head as he took advantage of the slope. Tumbling downhill, he lost the advantage of height, but gained a chance to come to his feet a distance from his Blackwood opponent. He stood, shaking himself off and readying himself for the tall fighter's next move- hopefully, Alaric could gain the higher ground once more.Arthfael
Arthfael stood at the top of the hill, taking this small opportunity to catch his breath. All amusement had gone from his earthy brown eyes. Now they were serious and focused on the Silverthorne at the bottom of the hill. He snorted and started to pick his way down towards the stag, his neck arched as he shook his antlers at the Silverthorne. "Had enough Silverthorne?" Arthfael called to him, though it was clear that he had no intent on letting up.Alaric
Alaric looked up at the Blackwood, who did not follow him down the slope.
"Enough?" He grinned toothily. "I've had enough if you have," he replied, jeering. "Aren't you tired, Blackwood? Need to catch your breath?" He braced himself for a charge, forming in his mind a map of the battle to come. He may look like he had the disadvantage- but his was the upper hand now.Arthfael
Arthfael snorted and tossed his head, giving his antlers a shake as he started to pick his way down the slope. "Tired? Ha!" Arthfael laughed. " I'm just getting warmed up." Arthfael lowered his head, one eye on his footing and the other on the Silverthorn. He snorted again just before making a charge towards the stag, except this time Arthfael stopped short and seeing the Silverthorne brace for his charge, he instead lept to one side as he took a swipe at the stag with his antlers. Alaric
Alaric had not braced himself for a charge alone. His eyes were keen, and so were his points; his heart thumped a battle rhythm. When the Blackwood soldier stopped short to swing with antlers, Alaric was ready.
He danced back, avoiding the antlers and sliding himself uphill. He then lashed out himself. The higher ground was his now; there was no defeat- at least for Alaric!Arthfael
Arthfael cursed at himself under his breath as he found himself pushed downhill, with the Silverthorne taking the high ground. Damn it all! How did he let himself into this position? Hell he fought a cave bear for Mother's sake. And won! This Silverthorne shouldn't have been a problem. He stamped a hoof to the ground as anger and frustration filled him. He lunged forward, his antlers down in hopes of pushing back.Alaric
Alaric heard the Blackwood's cursing, and trumpeted triumphantly. This was what he wanted. The Blackwood had lost reason to anger and to frustration- that enemy of all rational minds. The Blackwood lunged, and Alaric did too, meeting antler with antler. In the moment when their tines locked, his eyes met the Blackwood's.
"I did not come for nothing," he said cooly. Then he pushed mightily, using his powerful hind to drive his opponent downhill. No, he did not come for nothing- he came to win.Arthfael
Arthfael grunted as the two stags' antlers clashed and locked together. The muscles in his neck and body rippled with tension as he pushed back, refusing to yeld. "No... good Silverthorne comes onto.... Blackwood territory for no reason, " Arthfael grunted back between breathes. He was tiring and he started to feel his back hooves slide as he struggled to keep his footing. Alaric
Alaric was covered with a slick of sweat; it dripped from his mane and his chesthair. Around him, the earth was torn by hooves and antlers. His own hooves slipped, scratching on the hard ground, but he smiled. "I am the best of Silverthornes," he said. His muscles ached as he renewed his effort, pushing with all that he was.Arthfael
Arthfael's strength was beginning to fade as he found himself being push back. "A surprise they don't name you King," the dark stag grunted with a tired laugh. He knew he couldn't last much longer. One more try, he thought. He bunched up his back legs and pushed back as much as he could. He tossed his head as if to make the Silverthorne lose his footing, but he was surprised when he ended up losing his own footing. Arthfael grunted in pain as his shoulder hit the ground hard, his hooves slipping on the dirt as he struggled to right himself.Alaric
Alaric laughed at the Blackwood's comment. "King" he said, seeing him fall. "Not yet!"
Alaric was done. He turned into the forest, continuing onwards. He had won this fight, but he was not finished with Blackwood- no. He had a God to prove himself to, and he would not rest until he had that God's approval.