The Small Town of Bhaltor

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Agentized on Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:46 am

Ashe was glad to see that the older man was alive and well-- all thanks to Spoon. Not only that, but the Whittakers would see just how wrong they had been to accuse he and Spoon of not telling the truth about where they had been. It was honestly a glorifying feeling. Luckily for them, he had no intentions of telling his mother about what had transpired, as he felt it unnecessary to involve her-- besides, he had handled it on his own, anyway.

Before long, he and Triton headed into the keep and to the training grounds to prepare for their little spar. Ashe was set on something more than wooden swords, but not actual battle swords that they could genuinely hurt one another easily with. So, they settled on dulled sparring swords, most useful for whacking and not so much stabbing without putting great force behind the swing, and a shield. In the few minutes before their first bout began, Ashe inspected the sword he was given, feeling it in his hand, and feeling the movement of it along with the shield. Meanwhile, Triton took a few quick swings and declared himself prepared.

"Ready?" Ashe inquired. The young noble gave a nod. With that, the first bout began. At first, Ashe went easy on him, giving him easy moves to counter and parry, allowing him to get hits on his sword and shield.

"Not bad. You've certainly improved." Ashe complimented. However, it was just small talk, trying to get Triton amped up and confident in himself so he could completely tear that confidence to the floor in a few minutes.

"I told you I've gotten better." The young noble grinned. He was intending on giving the royal a run for his money. As the match progressed, however, the Prince amped up his moves and tactics. Triton found himself defending more and more as opposed to attacking, and was even taking hits from the Prince. They left him with minor cuts and bruises that hurt, but they weren't too bad; he would probably feel them all later. He wasn't about to back down and chicken out though, not in front of his parents or Spoon. He wasn't about to let Ashe make him look like a little bitch.

"Heh, this is nothing! I'm going easy on you." Triton declared with a cocky smirk, even though the gap in their skill level only became ever more apparent as time wore on. If nothing else, Ashe had to give it to him-- he was keeping his cool impressively well, even despite getting his ass handed to him. Maybe his training hadn't all been bad. Going in for a shoulder strike he was sure Triton could and was prepared to block or counter, he found he had made a gross misjudgment of the young noble's preparedness and skill. Triton just couldn't quite get his shield up in time, only succeeding in knocking the sword upwards with his shield. Thankfully it saved him from getting impaled in the shoulder, but the sword cut open the top of his shoulder, leaving a nasty bleeding gash. There was a gasp from Lady Gwynn as she covered her mouth in horror. Her baby boy. Immediately Ashe withdrew the sword and lowered both it and his shield to the ground.

"I apologize, this match should have ended long ago. Are you okay?" Of course, he didn't really care much for the Whittaker boy truth be told, but he couldn't let that show. At least, not now.

"Ah, yeah, I'll be fine. Just a cut. That spar was fun, we should do another some time." Triton replied. That spar was not fun, it was a nightmare. He ached, had cuts and bruises all across him, and the damn Prince had nearly severely wounded him. Had he not gotten his shield up at all, the sword would have impaled his shoulder. If anything, he was livid; but there was nothing he could do about it except sit there and take it and not whine about it. At least, there was nothing he could do about it at the moment. He had a servant put away the swords and shields as he pressed a hand to his shoulder. He could feel blood on his hands, and he could feel some of it trickling down his skin.

"Unfortunately, I must get going. It has been a wonderful visit, Triton, Lord Erik, Lady Gwynn. I hope to see you all at the ball." He said his proper farewell with a small bow to them, before making his way toward the stable. Honestly... he couldn't wait to leave. He'd had enough of the Whittakers for one day. He looked up as Veraxes flew overhead. At least he got some time with Veraxes before he reached home. That was all he ever really needed to get him back into good spirits.

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Bec on Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:46 pm

As the battle proceeded, Spoon found herself scooting closer and closer to the edge of her seat -- only to be pulled back into her ‘proper’ spot by a passing Gael. With a small smile and a subtle bow, he continued on to his tasks. There was no need for her to act so excited by Triton’s defeat. She knew that, and she was grateful for his gentle reminder of such.

Although she was now confined to her seat, that didn’t stop the noble’s girl from showing her enthusiasm through her grin. As the match drew on, so too did her smile only grow wider. While Triton may not have been holding up quite as well as he wanted, he was keeping on pace with the Prince; responding to his attacks with unexpected reaction time. And then there was of course the Prince himself. She watched in complete awe of his movements, studying his every action and inaction in an attempt to understand him better. He was, without a doubt, one of the greatest fighters she had ever had the honor to witness in battle.

As they had mentioned at breakfast, it was truly like a ballet. She was entranced. It wasn’t until the sight of blood that her expression changed. She had been so engrossed in their movements that she had forgotten it to be actually dangerous. She was on her feet and moving in an instant. Halfway towards the field she caught herself, recognizing Triton’s injury to be non-critical as she slowed herself to a stop.

Considerately, she waited for the two men’s chat to end before heading in to check on her betrothed. She passed by Ashe with a concerned smile. Once she got to Triton, she leant down to touch a small scrape on his cheek. Her feelings were… mixed, apparent to anyone whom had been there to witness the events that had transpired in the forest. And frankly, she didn’t care.

On one hand, she was concerned for his well being. On the other hand, she was still incredibly frustrated with how little trust he had in her. Either way, she knew she couldn’t stay right now. If not only for her discomfort, then also for the fact that she needed to return home to inform them about everything that had been going on.

“I must be going as well, I’m sure you’ll be well taken care of.” she stated, a bit of gloom seeping through her words.

Leaning in to his ear, she hushed her voice. “I have much I need to relay to my family. But, rest assured. We will discuss this later.”

By the venom in her tone, it was clear exactly what she was referring to. And she hoped he was dreading it. She had expended just about all the pity she could take on him for now, standing to take her leave. Just as Ashe had done before her, she bowed graciously to her noble hosts before saying her goodbyes and heading to the stables.

With her back now to them, she could feel herself settling into a much less kind expression. The skin beneath her eyes tugged downward, she frowned and herbrows fell flat. She was exhausted, even moreso than a typical day spent with the family. Truth be told, she was dreading the next time she had to see them. It would come sooner than she would like, though. After all, with the ball only a few short weeks away, she expected many summons from Lady Gwynn in respects to readying her appearance for the Capitol.

Entering the stable, she took up Fenrir’s reigns with a feigned smile. As the stable hand left, she took a step back from her mount, leaning against the wooden wall of the stall. She groaned, letting a hand slide over her face in defeat. What a shitty day. Fenrir looked to her with confusion, uncertain why she’d moved away from him. He nickered softly, nudging her face with his velvety snout. She couldn’t help but laugh, taking his head into her hands to stroke him. Well, perhaps the day hadn’t been all that bad.

Looking up from her spot beneath the chestnut stallion, she gazed across the otherwise empty stable. The quiet rustling of metal was the only real tip-off that she wasn’t alone.

“He’ll probably hold that scar against you forever, you know.” she started, pulling herself atop her steed’s back. “He’s like that sometimes. He wasn’t as ready nor as thrilled as he’d have you believe, I’m sure you know. Next time, try picking a real sparring partner.”

She smirked, certain that the Prince - wherever he may be - would catch her suggestion. After all, how many battles had Triton fought outside of the training field? Let alone won? Meanwhile, how many had she? She laughed to herself, patting the stallion’s neck.

“Then again, that’s the same cocky attitude that got Triton hurt. I digress. But the thought of being so adept with the sword intrigues me, I cannot deny.”

While it was true that she would enjoy mastering swordsmanship, she wasn’t yet going to speak with him of his hand-to-hand. There was still the chance that they may one day enter true combat against one another, and she didn’t want to give him any more clues to her own fighting style just yet. It was the reason that she’d acted how she did against the large brigand; a tease with a knife was far from how she handled things. She supposed it was lucky that he hadn’t seen her take out the archer, or it would be obvious that she relied more on her strength and the environment than she did weapons.
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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Agentized on Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:53 pm

"Yes, I will be fine. Just a minor cut." Triton assured, glaring after the Prince. He didn't even seem all that thankful for her concern, truth be told, nor did he seem too worried with her words. He was sure he could spin his words to make it seem like he had logicically been accusatory toward the Prince, and not her.

"Yes. We'll talk." Hushed, he agreed. Ws she began off toward the stables, he and his parents made their way inside to patch up his wounds.

"Eh, something tells me he wasn't all that fond of me before that." Ashe replied amusedly as he took up the reins of his mount.

"But I'll keep that in mind for the next time I decide to challenge him to a spar. Maybe I'll be looking for more of a challenge next time around." He laughed a little, pulling himself into the saddle.

"Well. It certainly is an art just as much as it is a skill, and an acquired taste. Much like many methods of fighting. Once you get to a high enough skill level, there's a lot you can tell about the person you're fighting just by their style and mindset alone. The second Triton picked up the sword I could tell there was no way he was ever going to win." He grinned a little, urging his horse forth towards the gate. He was being a little cocky, perhaps, but it was true. Apart from their vastly different skill levels, Ashe was covered almost head to toe in Valkaria's finest armor, while Triton had not even one single leather strip to protect him. Not only that, but Triton didn't know the strengths and weaknesses of the armor like Ashe did. He had no idea where strikes would and would not be useful, and even if he had known, the Prince would have been ready to defend the weak spots well.

Had the fight been unfair from the beginning? Absolutely. That wasn't Ashe's fault though-- he had merely taken advantage of the playing field, as any good Commander would have. He had an opportunity to completely lock down and guarantee his win before the fight even began. Could it be looked at as cowardly to some eyes? Sure, if they didn't know whether or not he would have still fought the young noble regardless of whether the win was one hundred percent secured or not, which he would have. Even without taking into consideration his armor, he'd weighed the odds in his favor. But either way, it was still smart. After all, when you were really fighting out there on the battlefield, your enemy wasn't going to play fair. They were fighting to win, and that meant doing whatever it took to survive. He knew that firsthand.

"Him getting hurt like that, now that genuinely was an accident on my part. To be equally fair, however, if he'd even taken a second to get the feel for the sword and shield before starting the spar he'd of been able to get the shield up in time to completely block the blow. But, who am I to judge? I know nothing." That was the moment that he knew, even if he hadn't of had his armor, that he still would have won without a doubt. He had studied his weapon, weighed it in his hand, gotten a feel for it; same with the shield. By the time Triton had declared himself ready, Ashe had already gotten a significantly better understanding of the tools he was given than Triton did, and he was the one who owned them. One could only imagine how well the Prince might be with his own sword, a weapon that he had mastered.

"Anyway... I do not see the appeal in these horses. They don't look very good in my opinion, they're very flighty, and rather small." He changed the subject, looking down as he critiqued his mount. It wasn't a very impressive horse by any means, and quite honestly, looked like it could bolt at the sound of a leaf rustling in the woods. He suspected he would be in for a ride on his way home-- none of the Whittakers... Arabians, were they called? He couldn't remember. But none of them so far had been able to take Veraxes flying around very well. There would be a lot of that on his ride back.

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Bec on Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:52 am

Spoon couldn’t help but nod in agreement to the Prince’s words; if Triton truly had an understanding of the art of combat, he would have known to familiarize himself with the weapon at his disposal. Having not done so had proven to be a critical failure on his part-- potentially even a fatal one had they been using real swords.

With a sideways smile, she raised a brow at the horse in question. A chuckle fell from her lips as she caught eye of the beast’s dished face.

“I… agree. Don’t tell them, but I know even Lord Aristes is displeased with what they’ve done to them. Supposedly they look better in their natural habitat.”

Urging Fenrir forward, she took note of his smooth movements. The Whittaker Arabians were nothing like this. She hadn’t really taken the time to dwell on it, but had Ashe remained on the horse he borrowed when Veraxes flew over? It would not have had nearly the effect that it had. He’d have been thrown, just as the rest, and likely looked at as if he could not control his own dragon. She felt even more grateful that it was Fenrir that stayed by their side during the skirmish with the bandits.

“Now, don’t take this the wrong way,” she began hesitantly, looking to the armored royal as they made their way out of the walls of the keep, “but you’ve a long way home. Frankly, I’m not sure that horse could make it, with or without the dragon. I… will be attending the ball. If you’re going to be adamant about my having Fenrir, take him with you now. Take him and go safely. You can give him back to me at the ball.” She smirked a bit, glancing away for a moment. “Well, you can try at least.”
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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Agentized on Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:54 am

"I can't say I blame him. Perhaps a wild one would make for a better mount." He laughed a little, "Or maybe one of the stock horses in Bhaltor would."

"Aahh. Thank you. I will accept this, though only because I'm afraid I might actually need him to get home. Quite frankly, this beast might make me meet my demise before I ever reach the Capitol." He said amusedly. Of course, he was joking; he was sure he could ride it out. He would never proclaim to be a professional rider like Zanna, but he was sure he had more experience with horses and more time on horseback than all three Whittakers combined. To be quite frank, he just didn't feel like dealing with that, and he would be able to return Fenrir come the ball.

"Try? I've already given him to you, you can't give him back now. I don't accept refunds on such expensive gifts, Miss." He chuckled a little. It was rare that the Crown sold or traded any of their horses. Usually when they did, it was a mare or a gelding. They were typically very expensive, only within the comfortable spending range of higher ranking noble houses. It was almost unheard of that they sold any of their stallions-- when they did, they costed significantly more than any single gelding or mare, as they were flashier and could spread their carefully bred genes whilst yielding their owner great profit. He had given Spoon one for free.

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Bec on Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:13 am

She looked away, laughing nervously at his comment about expensive gifts. Rubbing the back of her head for a moment, she glanced back in the Prince's direction. A few beads of sweat dotted her brow-line. She didn't want to seem ungrateful, but frankly the way he had phrased that... did she owe him something? It was one thing to have said he would accept no refund, sure, but did he have to throw in the cost? She felt uncomfortable; Triton may well have been talking to her in that moment, ensuring she knew just how lucky she was. Frankly, she couldn't even fathom how much this horse must be worth, much less could she pay him back for it should he request it. It made her feel all the more certain that she had to find a way to abandon him at the Capitol come the ball.

"I believe, Lord Prince," she began, trying her best to mask her anxieties with an incredulous smile, "that I requested you call me by name. I know you typically command others, but be still, can you truly not heed a single commoner's request?"

She chuckled, though there was a certain harshness to her words. It was in this moment that she realized just how wide the gap between them truly was; they lived worlds apart. This man had likely never faced any form of monetary struggles; he always knew where he'd be laying his head to sleep that night, and he'd never gone to bed hungry due to a poor day's hunt. He was on the top of the food chain, and frankly, Spoon was just barely scraping above the bottom.
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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Agentized on Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:58 am

Hearing the tone of her voice and judging by her physical reaction to his words, he only began to realize just how bad that might have sounded to her, and it may have not been perceived the way he had intended it to be.

"Aye, that I can, but that one was intentional-- I swear my life on it. I was merely joking with you; last night you told me to prepare to spend good coin because you had good taste in horses. I was trying to be a little cheeky, but I see now it was in poor taste. I apologize." The sheepish smile from earlier when he'd lost the first horse the Whittakers had given him had returned. He was genuinely apologizing, unlike the apologies he had given to the noble family earlier. He'd truly just meant it as a joke, and the words themselves weren't really meant to be taken at face value, but it was evident she hadn't found it quite so amusing, and he couldn't exactly blame her for that given what kind of person Triton was.

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Bec on Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:14 am

"I- I didn't say anything." she stammered, startled by his sudden apology. Perhaps he was more perceptive than she'd given him credit for. What's even more, he spoke the unspoken. From her understanding of it, people in positions of power either told it exactly how it was or said nothing at all; it hadn't honestly crossed her mind that he might see her discomfort and mention it. She breathed out a laugh, returning his very own sheepish smile.

"Well, thank you. No, though, you are right. I did say that. I see what you meant now; I suppose I'm just... not used to talking to someone like you. Forgive me, there is a learning curve here. Pardon me, but honestly, you're the single most important man on all of Valkaria... and yet you're apologizing, truly apologizing, for making a jest that I, a simple towns-person, mistook for rudeness. Perhaps you'd make a good king."

She'd spoken without thinking, looking to be shocked by her own words. Aside from the obvious, she wasn't sure exactly how he would take that; it's not exactly a compliment she'd ever given before.

"But, um," she quickly interjected, a bit afraid of how he would respond, "I can make my way back home from the Black Ant, if you wouldn't mind going so far. We can trade mounts there."
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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Agentized on Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:54 am

He was very obviously relieved when he saw the smile return to her face, glad that she had forgiven him for and now understood his stupid attempt at a joke. It definitely hadn't been worth it. Listening, he was visibly surprised when she said he might make a good king. It wasn't something he heard often, least of all from someone he had practically only just met. In fact, despite being the Prince, one day becoming the King was something he hardly thought about. It was just... he wasn't so sure that he would make a good king at all. Even more than that, he wasn't so sure he would be happy being the King. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be the King.

"That's perfectly fine." He smiled, "There's no need for forgiveness, by the way. You need not talk to me or perceive me any differently than you would anyone else. A living being is a living being; we're all equal. All I am and will ever be is just a man, young and foolish. I make mistakes, just like everyone else-- as I'm sure you're aware by now." He laughed a little. He had made plenty of mistakes between the Inn last night and their current conversation. Some of those mistakes... had lead to less than pleasant situations, and had potentially damaged relationships.

"And like any person should do, I own up to my mistakes where I know I did wrong. But, thank you, Spoon... I appreciate it." He grinned.

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Re: The Small Town of Bhaltor

Post  Bec on Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:10 am

His words sparked something in her; a familiar light, burning at her core. Those words ... were basically those that had built the rebellion. 'A living being is a living being; we're all equal.' Was there a better descriptor of their cause? The entire idea of all beings as equals, on a level playing field, was the foundation of their entire cause. Hell, of her entire life.

She stared at him, only for a moment, but she stared nonetheless. He was right. He was just a man. Somehow, it was like she was just seeing that for the first time. A smile came to her face, followed by joyful laughter.

"It's no problem, Ashe. I'm happy to tell a good man when I meet one."

She returned his grin, elated. Perhaps she wouldn't tell them just yet, but she couldn't help shaking the thought... Ashe was a good person, and he may be able to help them. For the first time since she was a child, she felt truly and completely hopeful.

They went on like that for a while more, chatting about trivial things. Spoon enjoyed his company. Once they reached the Black Ant, she dismounted, giving Fenrir a well-earned pat on the neck. Turning to Ashe, she gave him a slight bow of respect, smiling through. That time came, and they said their goodbyes. She watched as the Prince set off towards the Capitol, mounting up onto her temporary horse as he did. There was no reason to linger any longer, she had much to relay home-- and a ball to prepare for.
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