this is the story of a girl; part 1 IP: 184.108.40.206 Posted on May 30, 2011 at 11:25:48 PM by Ranimara
Quietly, the painted mare approaches the obstacle course their ‘general’ has set them. Her breath mists in the cold air, streams of white emerging from her nostrils like some fabled dragon – and her icy blue eyes match that, reflecting coldly on this morning. Her fury at being asked to prove herself to someone who has yet to prove himself to her reflects in that bright gaze, but it is well hidden and perhaps easy to miss. Despite her outspoken manner, she is neither naďve nor stupid. She can play along, play the ‘good girl’ card if that is what it takes to earn the position she knows she deserves. Tossing her head, she walks back and forth on the banks, waiting for some sort of signal to start. Being an experienced creature, she did not come to this task fresh – she has warmed up every conceivable muscle; and it is to her vast annoyance that the first obstacle will involve immersing herself in freezing water. What a waste.
The signal comes, and she trots over to the blue flower, moving into the water and slowing as it becomes fetlock deep, then knee deep, and then chest deep. The water is biting, fiercely cold, but she is used to it. She grew up here, after all, and is no stranger to winter swims. On top of that, she has lived on an island for years and there she could not reach the mainland without swimming. As a result, she is a rather strong swimmer and after taking a deep breath she plunges off of the drop-off – she knew it was there, both from memory and from the change in the water current and color. Keeping her limbs moving has two effects; it both keeps them from stiffening in the cold and keeps her from going too far downstream. It would be foolish to fight the flow, though, and so she lets it move her, simply angling her body and using her powerful legs to ensure that she reaches the other side.
After take a large drink from the waters she is immersed in, she comes forth. Carefully placed hooves on the smooth, round rocks bring her out of the water, and she shakes furiously to rid herself of excess water. A quick glance tells her that they are headed towards the ‘Deserts, so she is not too worried about being wet and cold. The journey from the waterfall to the border is a short one, and the movement will keep her from freezing until the heat can dry her off. The painted warrior trots to the end of the rocks, her feet placed agilely amongst them, and then takes off at a fast canter as soon as the ground has leveled. Sure enough, her memory proves correct and only moments later the dirt is changing to sand, and she begins to look for the flowers. They wind back and forth over the small dunes, but she is not fazed. The Island which she has called home for nearly three years is almost entirely sand, and her support systems (tendons, ligaments) are well conditioned for the torque necessary to run in sand.
She maintains her steady canter; for a well-conditioned horse this is not an issue. In fact, it does not take any more effort to perform a rhythmic canter than a trot – and it is faster. Thankfully, the path stays near the borders and does not wind too far into the ‘Deserts – it cannot, because most of the non-mythical Falls members are not welcome within the sandy Kingdom’s borders. The magic keeps them out, and so Hakeem has to have placed his path nearer their own borders. Still, the heat is oppressive and she worries about the sweat she is generating cooling into ice once she leaves the desert behind. Each turn is executed neatly; she rocks her weight back onto her hindquarters and pivots, making it a smooth portion of her canter stride. Finally, the sand begins to give way to dirt again, and she exhales a bit in relief, and prepares to take the next challenge in stride.
The transition from the hot of the desert is not as sudden as it could have been, thankfully melding first into tepid, warmer temperatures where rain has clearly passed, making a muddy mess of the terrain than Ranimara – born at a time when the Kingdoms were melded – knows is the Dale. She treats this footing much the same as the sand – for, indeed, it has the same tendency to ‘grab’ a foot and cause a twisting which can seriously injure supporting structures like tendons. But her sand conditioning has prepared her for this, too, and she moves forward confidently. The painted mare goes, where possible, for the areas that appear more like puddles – here, the ground cannot absorb as much water and so there is solid footing underneath the filthy water. The areas that appear solid are deceptively not at all so – those are the areas where the mud can grab you dangerously, and she does not enter them except if she must to follow the trail, and at those times she reluctantly slows to a trot. It is during one of these few slow areas that she comes across the pink flower, and reacts accordingly. Envisioning Hakeem’s own head and chest right behind her, she bunches her muscles, plants her fore end, and thrusts her hind legs into the air in a powerful buck, snorting in satisfaction as she lands, making sure all feet are on square ground once more before setting off back into the waterier sections.