Location: Mid-November 3550, Crosswind Stables
Crosswinds was a small stable with roughly two acres of land owned by Laryn Stormdanovich. She purchased the land and buildings using her saved stipends from her Courier duties. The main stable building houses ten stalls in total, five box stalls, three tie stalls and two more outfitted for when a new mother horse needed space to labor, birth and tend a newborn foal. It also homed a decently large feed and tack room, which Laryn prided herself in keeping neat and organized. The buildings themselves backed up against a rocky mountainside, though nets had long ago been strung up high above the roof on the mountain itself to catch and small rocks that tumbled down lest they hit the actual buildings. The stable itself opened into two different corrals, one smaller for foal and horses just old enough to take to a lead and the other larger with a few obstacles to aid in training purposes. It was her pride and joy, and in time, Laryn hoped to expand on it or even purchase a larger holding when she became successful in her cross-breeding efforts.
Today, she was out in the larger field, clad in a long linen tunic of a deep, rich purple, black linen breeches and her leather riding boots. The weather was still warm enough to where she could still get outside on her free days and work with her horses. Tempest, her black stallion and his mate Ceinder, a lovely faux-white mare, stood out by the furthest part of the corral, munching away on some alfalfa that grew along the fence-line. Laryn herself was working with a male with a simply stunning grey and white coat that almost seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. “No.” She correctly firmly when the horse turned his head toward the pocket of her gown as he knew she had a few treats tucked away within in the hidden pockets in the material. “One more full run, tricks included. You do that properly, then you may have your treat.” Laryn laughed as he tossed his head with a snort though he held still as Laryn slid a booted foot into a stirrup and hoisted herself up easily into the saddle itself.
With a click of her tongue and a nudge from a heel, Laryn started the horse off on a slow trot, moving around the corral, Tempest and Ceinder both lifting their heads long enough to look at horse and rider. With another nudge, she moved into a light gallop, just quick enough to gain the speed she’d need to clear the jumping hurdles set up around the pen. The first was easy, only a foot and a half off the ground, the animal clearing it easily. The next, a foot higher was a short turn away and it was also cleared with little problem. The final hurdle, the tallest of the three at five feet had been a struggle up until now, the horse always wanted to hesitate before the jump, which usually sent Laryn to the ground, much to her annoyance. Today, however, he decided to behave and sailed neatly over the top bar, not even nicking it with a hoof.
When Renestrae had been directed to Crosswinds, she was not entirely expecting to see her cousin Laryn.
Among the many aspects she sought to improve in herself, riding was one of them. She had depths of affection for Kairavi, the dark, mottled mountain mare she’d ridden from Haradar. The Mar’kathi people had, over generations, carefully developed a line of horses that were hardy, enduring, and tolerant, while being docile in nature. They were hardly war horses, nor fleet-of-foot, but they were reliable, sweet, and intelligent creatures. Kai was thus suited for one purpose, but not for fast riding nor as an archer’s horse, and so Renestrae had sought guidance.
It was why she was now at Crosswinds. Its owner, she was told, was an individual who was deeply knowledgeable about horses. When she asked where she might find Crosswinds’ owner by a stable hand, and it was Laryn she found in the field, she leaned against the fence and grinned from ear to ear.
“Fine day, cousin!” She called out brightly, pressing her weight against the fence, one foot hooking over the ankle of the other.
As Laryn pulled on the reins, urging the horse to turn, she heard a female voice call out to her, making her smile. With a nudge of her heel, she trotted over to the fence where Renestrae was waiting. “Well met Lady Ren.” Laryn greeted her cousin with a warm smile, followed by a hug after she slid out of the saddle and her feet were on the ground. “What brings you here today? Just the pleasure of my company?” She teased lightly.
Renestrae laughed, drawing back enough that she was at arm’s length, with her fingers lightly grasping the other’s slender shoulders.
“If it were so! I must confess, I did not expect that the Lady of Crosswinds was your good self. Were it so, I would have flown here faster.” She felt at-ease about Laryn, not entirely knowing why beyond the other’s sweet demeanor. Perhaps it was that she didn’t know what it was to have sister-kin; perhaps she and Laryn meshed well together. She gently released Laryn’s shoulders, resting her hands against the fence. “I find myself here for a horse. I have my Kairavi, but I require a creature for a different source of purpose.”
“I feel no need to bolster interest in my stable by attaching my family name to it. I would rather my work speak for itself.” Laryn smiled at her cousin, tossing her braided hair back over her shoulder. They had not gotten to spend much time together as of recent, much to Laryn’s regret, so she was pleased that Ren’s journey had led her to Crosswinds that day. “A different source of purpose?” She asked. “Are you looking for a mount better suited for more strenuous riding or combat-trained?”
The bard pushed herself over the fence, swinging her legs over so that she landed lightly on the other side.
“I should like a horse I might steer with my legs if it comes to it,” she explained, as she rested her hand against the wood of the fence. “It is my intent to wield a bow while upon horseback, and while I’m certain ‘tis no easy feat, I do not want to sit idly by if...if something terrible should happen again.” She knew she did not need to elaborate further; Laryn would surely see the light in Renestrae’s eyes, indicating the ferocity of her intent. Her expression softened, and she continued: “I have no wish of combat, but should it come upon us, it is my wish to serve our house well.”
Laryn nodded along, understanding where Lady Ren was coming from and what she was looking for. “I’ve ridden with a bow, and I agree, it’s not that easy, but it gets easier with practice.” She assured her cousin with a smile, turning with a chuckle as her horse gave a snuffle and nudged her arm with his nose, clearly seeking the treat she’d promised if he’d behaved. “Yes, yes, here.” She acquiesced, pulling the apple slices from a pocket in her tunic. “I understand how you feel. I’m trained to evade combat if possible but if necessary, I will fight.” Holding out her gloved palm, Laryn gave the horse the fruit, turning to look back at Ren. “You need a horse that is fast and agile, possibly trained to evade so that you can reach a safer area to use your bow. A mount that is light but strong, not one of the heavier mounts trained for war.”
Layrn looked over at the stallion at the end of her lead, tilting her head for a moment in contemplation. “I’ve only started training this beauty here, but I think he could work well for you when I’m finished breaking him. If you’re interested, that is, and if you take to each other.” If horse and rider took to one another, a bond formed and Laryn liked to see that happen in all her horses.
Renestrae’s eyes were drawn to the horse, and then, she truly looked upon him.
“Why, he was surely birthed by a mare comprised of fog,” she said faintly, as she took him in. “A little phantom.” His coat was comprised of lighter and darker tones of grey and white, with a dappling that lent it a phantasmic sheen. He was muted, yet by his quiet, he was made all the more striking. He was a string on her cittern to be plucked, yet so very softly, barely made to be heard, but deafening by its subtlety. A ghost note.
“I would love to be present for his progress,” she continued. “May I…?” She held out a hand, as if to lay it on the horse, but awaited Laryn’s approval. Horses undergoing any sort of training could be flighty, and comfortable with their handler alone.
Laryn couldn’t help but smile as she watched Ren check out the horse. Her cousin did seem fond of the mount already in just those first few moments. She nodded easily. “Yes, please, of course. He’s calm around new people.” She assured her cousin, also reaching over and stroking the creatures, as love with him as she was with all of her horses, even if he was one to be sold after training was complete. “I am here every other day if possible to work with him, usually in the late afternoon before lunch.” She said lightly. “I have no issue if you wish to come watch his progress, or even work with him when he’s further into it.”
Renestrae’s fingers trailed through the equine’s mane. She found the horse’s pulse along his jaw, and rested her digits there for a few moments, feeling the quiet thump as blood was pushed through. It was good and steady, sure proof of Laryn’s words.
She smiled, and said: “I should like that, very much.”