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    Svedka -- Year 212


    “He only knows home in his dreams and even those dreams do not mimic large, centuries-old redwoods. Lio doesn't remember the last time he laid his head down and truly felt comfortable.” --Elio, written by Phaetra

    ROUND ONE: Gale v. Ashhal
    2 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.
    Gale posts first unless otherwise agreed upon.

    SETTING: Normal Plains grounds. Mid-day.

    Gender: Male
    Body Type & Height: 16hh; medium/medium-heavy build - like a Welsh Cob
    Abilities: wings, spinal mane, self-healing, vision manipulation, faun horns, companion animal (Osprey)


    Gender: Male
    Body Type & Height: 16.1hh, tall, lean, and athletic. Classic Anglo-Arabian
    Abilities: Wings, Serial Immortality, Memory Manipulation
    [Image: Leah.png]
    The Alliance.

    Tales of its frenzied battles had enchanted young Gale, and in truth a glamour remains on the renowned competition even for the grown stallion.

    The best warriors of the age.
    The reckless spilling of blood and magic.
    A single warrior emerging victorious.

    Standing nearly alone on the Plains, Gale is not certain that he is that warrior.

    In truth, he does not look much of a warrior at all. Though he is undeniably physically fit, with strapping muscles and a gleaming blue hide, his skin is unmarked by the scars of war. But then, there is also no sign at all that he had once been nothing more than a pair of white feathered wings and a bit of spine. The magic that had healed him of that makes quick work of the scrapes and bruises of everyday life. He is hopeful the same will be true of the injuries he sustains here on the battlefield.

    The gray stallion standing opposite of him looks like an experienced warrior. Or at least, he looks like what Gale thinks an experienced warrior would look like. His wings are a darker color than Gale’s snowy white, but the young stallion feels a thrill of excitement at the possibility of an aerial battle. He flares his wings once, then twice, and begins to move toward the gray Ashhal.

    His dark hooves move him forward at a trot, and though his wings hang loose, they are still pulled up at his sides. He is ready to leap into flight, that posture says, and Gale is sure the other pegasus will recognize it. The cremello and navy stallion tosses his head as he moves, the bristling white mane that runs the length of his spine as bright as his wings, and the curling ivory horns that grow from between his ears and point their sharp ends forward just behind his eyes. The earth beneath his hooves is red clay stained black with blood, uneven and rocky, and he is careful to watch his step even at a trot. (There is no better terrain on which to fight, Erne the osprey advises from overhead; the telepathic connection with the fish hawk a comforting presence in the back of Gale’s mind.)

    The pegasus heads directly toward Ashhal at a trot. He does his best to adjust so that he might be on a collision course, facing the other horse head on, and only when a single pace separates them does Gale dart to the side.

    Has Gale truly darted to both sides? No, only to the left, but a mirror image of the brindle stallion certainly seems to dodge right as well. It lasts only a few seconds, and since Ashhal is a stranger there is a chance he’d seen a weak or blurred image, and perhaps even nothing at all. Gale is barely a student of imagery magic after all, and far from mastering these delicate alternations of vision. 

    Having darted to the left, Gale swings his head up and to the right just as his leap forward ends. By the time his back hooves land and propel him farther to the left and then his wings launch him into the sky, Gale hopes to have caught some bit of Ashhal’s grey flesh in the sharp edge of his white horn. He’d been going for the shoulder or elbow, hoping an injured leg would force the other horse up into the sky for the rest of the battle.

    His white wings beat rapidly, compensating for the slower pace than a decent ground liftoff requires. He prefers the instant flight that comes with leaping off a cliff, but the end result is the same, and Gale is soon banking into the first turn that will send him on a 50 foot wide spiral over the battlefield below.
    Memory still eludes him, but something had drawn him here. An age-old yearning for the fury of battle. He had been an experienced warrior once, his pale hide pitted and scarred. That had been long ago, before he’d been born anew so many dozens of times. Each re-birth had left him with nothing of his previous life except his mind. And now, even the memories are gone, leaving only disconnected emotion and instinct

    He’s here because there is a familiarity in this. Because it is the one thing he recognizes without doubt or reservation.

    Ashhal eyes his opponent with a clear-eyed purpose. Single-minded in a way he never would have been able to be before. He had studied their surroundings upon his arrival, taking in the uneven terrain and sharp-edged grasses. Now he follows Gale’s movements closely, the distance shrinking between them until, abruptly, Ashhal shifts forward to meet him. They are mere feet apart when Gale seems to split as he darts sideways in both directions, one going left and the other going right.

    There is no time to consider which may be which.

    Ashhal shifts left to meet the mirage, realizing only as it flickers and disappears that this was not his true opponent. As luck would have it, his forward momentum and subsequent shift to the left results in the tip of his opponent’s curled horn scraping across his loin and hip rather than gouging into his shoulder. Even blunted as it is, the sensation stirs a visceral reaction within him. Ears pinning flat, he plants his front feet to halt his own left-ward shift, wings flaring to steady him even as he launches his hind legs towards Gale in a powerfully instinctual kick.

    It’s impossible to say how well aimed the attack had been but given Gale’s proximity while executing his own attack, the chance of hitting something seemed relatively high. Gale’s quick shift and pivot to the left may have saved his neck or shoulder, but Ashhal would be satisfied with a hit to the haunches.

    Ashhal’s own flank has already begun to stain with crimson as he quickly collects his legs beneath him once more. He shifts to follow Gale’s flight with dark eyes, favoring his right hind leg as he does so. Though he does not fold his wings against his side, neither does he make to follow the younger stallion. Ashhal has no desire to chase him across the sky like an angry starling.

    He would let Gale come to him to finish this fight. He has plenty of patience.
    Ashhal lunges left, and instead of gouging his right shoulder, Gale’s horn scrapes across the other’s back end. There is enough resistance that he knows he’s drawn blood long before the coppery smell of it reaches his nose, and for a moment there is a thrill of success. Perhaps he has a chance after all!

    It is for just a brief moment though, because then Ashhal kicks it right out of him.

    Though Gale has pivoted to the left and away after his attack, one of the grey’s hooves catches Gale on the back of his right leg. He yelps at the unexpected sensation (he prefers to see things coming), and as he continues to move away, his speed is hampered by damage from the heavy – if glancing – blow. Such a strike should leave an impressive bruise, and indeed the dark skin at the back of the stallion’s thigh rapidly grows mottled purple and blue. The bruise forms far faster than it should, the visible damage accelerated by the same healing that has turned the bruise old brown and purple by the time the pegasus banks for his first aerial spiral.

    The bruise feels a week old now, Gale thinks as he circles the stallion beneath him. It does not seem inclined to heal much beyond this point though, but that isn’t unusual. His wounds often heal enough just enough to keep him just barely above ‘uncomfortable’, and collecting too many of them too quickly will leave him physically exhausted. Some of his healing is magical, after all, and some is powered by his own body.

    Ashhal does not appear interested in meeting Gale in the air, it seems, but Gale is not yet ready to abandon his flight. A smaller shadow appears beside his large one, as Erne joins the pegasus in flight. Unlike the osprey though, Gale’s wings are not built for hovering, and the effort to remain airborne does not last longer than a minute or two. Determined to make the most of his advantage, the pegasus climbs higher in the air with several heavy wing beats. Fixing Ashhal in his sights, the winged horse levels off, and then begins to dive.

    His forehooves hang over the center of Ashhal’s distant back, and he moves so that he might be always parallel to the other horse and facing the opposite direction. This attack requires good flight skills and perfect timing, and Gale is grateful that he has had extensive practice in this, if not in battle. He’s used this move many times to knock coconuts off Islandres' tallest trees while in flight. Ashhal’s head is a smaller target than the leafy crown of a coconut palm and definitely much closer to the ground, but the risk only adds to the thrill of adrenaline that races through the brindle’s veins.

    He intends to dive and then pull up, battering at Ashhal’s head and neck with all four of his hooves before sweeping back up into flight.

    Gale comes in angled with the sun, intending to use Ashhal’s body to hide the shape of his shadow and the bright sunlight to hide his own body.

    The air ripples against him in the dive, the summer warmth absent at this speed. His wings are tight against his sides, but flare outward to slow him when the time is right. As though he runs though the air, Gale he moves his hooves rapidly. Hopefully he’s kicking Ashhal silly, but he is more focused on recovering height. The gray stallion was a much lower target than a coconut palm, it seems. He was far too low for such an assault. Gale beats his wings heavily to keep him airborne

    It is not enough.

    His front hooves touch the ground, and then he’s stumbling forward. Gale flares his wings out to slow himself, digging into the rocky soil with his right wrist and leaning heavily to that side in an attempt to turn counterclockwise as he slows. That nearly works, though his knees and legs are scraped and cut by the stones and sawgrass, and the feathers of his right wrist are stained crimson. Superficial wounds, it seems, for they continue to sting and bite as Gale regains his balance and completes his turn to face Ashhal nearly a half dozen yards from where he’d first made contact with the earth.  With luck, his earlier attack will have prevented the other horse from striking with Gale’s back turned, though the young stallion’s blue eyes are watchful and wary, knowing that his opponent’s next attack is imminent.
    I would like to use my extension please <3
    Ashhal follows the other stallion’s flight with his gaze, squinting against the brightness of the day. Gale seems to be in no hurry to execute his next attack, but when he begins to climb, Ashhal stirs in preparation. He is not disappointed.

    Just as his opponent begins his dive, Ashhal loses him against the brightness of the sun. This might have been worrisome were it not for the fact that a horse is much larger than your typical flying animal. And because there are only so many ways one can attack from the air, Ashhal readies himself by shifting his weight to his hindquarters. The superficial wound on his hip stings, but fortunately adrenaline serves quite nicely as a pain blocker.

    As Gale draws closer, he inevitably grows large enough against the sun to begin blotting out its light (made more noticeable because he had chosen to not only aim for Ashhal’s head but to come directly at him as he does so). The moment Gale’s wings flare to slow his headlong dive, Ashhal surges forward, head dropping to avoid flailing hooves. With Gale’s speed and Ashhal’s forward break in the opposite direction, the attack succeeds only in delivering a few thumping blows to his croup. It would undoubtedly bruise, but having no special healing abilities of his own, it had not even begun to form yet. Still, he would probably regret it tomorrow.

    The moment he is clear, Ashhal quickly slows and pivots to return the direction he’d just come from. Gale, having failed to return to flight, is now stumbling to a halt some distance away. Wings snapping wide, Ashhal leaps forward into a gallop, wings beating to provide lift. Though he does not truly take flight, he continues as though he might any moment (much like a swan running across the surface of a lake as it tries to gain momentum). Not only does this relieve some of the weight from his hindquarters, but also serves as a buffer against tripping over the uneven ground.

    Ashhal does not attempt any sleight of hand, instead barreling directly towards Gale while doing his best to remain mostly perpendicular. He does not slow until he is no more than a few steps from his opponent. Wings tilting up, he abruptly begins winging back even as he digs in his hind legs in order to strike with his front hooves and teeth. He is aiming for Gale’s wing and shoulder (ideally, he would like to damage his opponent’s wing enough to prevent flight), but his hooves and teeth seek any flesh they can find. With luck, the backdraft created by his wings would also serve as a distraction.

    Continuing to beat his wings powerfully throughout, Ashhal ceases his attack only when he has begun to draw up and away from Gale. Once clear, he flies a short distance away before lowering himself back to the hard-packed clay to face his opponent with a wary gaze.
    The grey stallion comes barreling toward him, wings flared and beating. The sight is imposing, but Gale dismisses the instinctive desire to escape into to the air.

    Instead, he shifts his weight: first to the left, then the right. He allows his wings to shift with him so that Ashhal might know he is prepared for whatever the grey has in mind, and even turns his horned head so that the other might be reminded he is not without defense even while bound by the rules of the Alliance.

    The brindle waits, hooves now braced for impact in the rocky soil, while Ashhal comes coursing toward him. If he means to run Gale down, the younger stallion is prepared. His head is lowered as well, lest Ashaal mean to take flight at the last moment and attempt the same head-battering move that Gale had just failed to execute.  He doubts that the other horse will enjoy the sensation of his chest or underside being bitten and horn-gouged. A wiser horse might attempt to dodge out of the way early, but Gale’s knowledge of his own healing ability and the rapidly approaching end to the battle give him courage (and perhaps recklessness) that other might lack. A stray hoof might crack his skull, but Gale has survived far worse.

    In the end, the dapple slows only a few steps from Gale, and the navy stallion thinks that that Ashhal too has taken advantage of this final round. He knows that Gale will not lunge forward and easily snap a flared wing with his body weight, slash left-right-left across his exposed neck and legs with his horns, meet him chest-to-chest with his own swinging hooves, or steal Ashhal’s sight and leave him stumbling alone in the darkness.

    Instead, Gale is limited to simply getting out of the way.
    So he does.

    The shoulder that Ashhal strikes at is suddenly gone – as is the rest of Gale. The brindle turns away from the grey as sharply as he can while stationary. At the same time, he uses his vision manipulation to take the image of himself with him as best he can. This is unfamiliar terrain and so the stained earth and horizon he replaces himself with are imperfect, but with the attack already begun Gale hopes the other might not notice. His body might appear to be gone, but Ashhal is still able to rend more than a few feathers from Gale’s wings with his toothy assault. The blue stallion grunts sharply at the uncomfortable sensation of being plucked. Though he tries to keep his wing as low as his body, the draft caused by Ashhal’s own wings lifts it higher and the other horse lands a single solid hoofblow on Gale’s wrist. Not enough to break it, Gale knows, but more than enough to hurt.

    And then they separate, Ashhal lifted away by his flapping wings, and Gale by his movement to the side. Erne watches the pair from overhead, and when Gale pivots to face the other stallion, the osprey swoops down to land on the stallion’s right horn. It’s clearly something Gale is accustomed to, for his blue head hardly tilts to adjust to the bird’s weight. The sea hawk’s talons grasp its perch firmly, two in front and two behind as his kind are prone to do, and he silently chides Gale: “Next round, you will take my help. If there is a next round.”

    Gale, still smarting from his bruised leg injured wing, is far less inclined to disagree with his avian companion than he had been at the beginning of the battle.
    Winner: Gale

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