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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: Nashua v. Titanya
    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.
    Nashua posts first unless otherwise agreed upon.

    SETTING: Normal Plains grounds. Mid-day.

    Gender: Stallion
    Body Type & Height: Lean/Hispano-Arabe type. 16 hh.
    Abilities: Wings. Healing. Lunar Protection.


    Gender: Female
    Body Type & Height: 16.2 hh. Baroque/Spanish build.
    Abilities: Density manipulation, Tiger shifting, Phoenix-type immortality
    [Image: Leah.png]
    Using my extension.
    Lilliana | Nashua | Aela
    Brienna | Tarian | Julia | Avocet | Celeste

    He shifts his weight uneasily, knowing that there was no point in getting comfortable. The young pegasus draws his wings tightly against his copper frame and takes advantage of the moment he has been given to study his opponent. (At least it isn't Leilan, Nashua thinks gratefully and finds himself wishing the Freyr and his brother both luck in their match. Winds know Nashua will need it for his.) The Northerner lifts his head and he tries to glean as much as he can from what he sees of the sabino across from him. The noonday sun above them might blind from some angles but what Nashua can see is this: the mare in front of him is of comparable height. She is, perhaps, a slightly sturdier build than he. And she lacks wings, something he thinks may work in his favor.

    Nashua can't see any outward Magic, any signs of what gifts she might have lurking beneath her dark flesh (and who better to know that there is more than meets the eye of a horse than Nash?). The sun catches at the tip of one her ears, rimmed in a similar shade to the gold that glints around his legs and against his haunches. It's hard to discern her age, he realizes. It could be another trick of the Faeries. While Nash's three years will show up clearly beneath the sweltering Plains sun (his youth is an obvious thing despite the well-honed muscle that he has earned during his time on the Isle), hers remains vague. This mare could have seen centuries, thanks to a gift like immortality (which would suit him just fine if she was Immortal; Nashua isn't out for blood. He wants the education and experience. He wants the chance to bring prestige to the North).

    It takes him a moment to realize that in all his intent studying, he has unconsciously pulled his wings (too) firmly against his sides. Nash gives them a light shake before extending both feathered appendages out to their full length. Perhaps presumptive of Nashua but the chestnut flashes a quick grin to his opponent before he draws them back in and pushes off into a fast-paced trot towards his opponent. He's mindful not to move too quickly but this is his first battle outside of his mocks with Alcinder and Cormorant and Nashua can feel the blood within him taking shape with what feels like lightning strikes -  each hoof that touches the ground carries excitement in each stride. It makes him appear on his toes; it makes the muscles on Nash flex as he tries to move to the right of Titanya as he approaches her almost directly head-on.

    Giving the space of two horse-widths between them, his first thoughts are to circle the mare so that he might build on that earlier assessment he had made. But the Taigan-born pegasus doubts that the sabino would tolerate or allow it. It's not what they are here for, after all. So as he moves, Nash lifts his left-wing and shifts his weight to that shoulder in an attempt to run into the broadside of the mare - aiming for anywhere from her shoulder, along her flank and attempting to go no further than her hip. He focuses on trying to keep his weight even and accounted for, even stretching out his right-wing at times as a type of ballast if needed to counteract the weight he hopes to shove into Titanya.

    He hopes that by pushing his shoulder into her like this that it might unbalance her. Nashua still has no way of knowing what her magical abilities are and the pegasus is avoiding to attempt any real damage just yet. The chestnut continues trying to push into her while still trying to account for his own balance. He realizes that Titanya could shift her own weight to the left and Nashua could become the misfortunate target of his attack, essentially unbalancing himself. The stallion blows the exertion out through his flaring, pale nostrils and then gives a final hard shove towards the barrel of the black mare.

    If he can, he'll try to keep close to her side as he's able. It's when (not if, he thinks) they separate that his sparring partner will be able to inflict more damage (but Nashua may have more of an understanding of what Titanya is really capable of). She'll certainly be able to inflict harm on him with her teeth now; it's her hooves that he is trying to stay aware of and his green eyes infrequently drop to the rocky terrain. They pose more of an immediate threat to his wings. He expects that the moment Titanya has the opportunity, she'll try to use them in a rear or some maneuver aimed from above.

    His wings just might be his only advantage in this battle and Nashua has no intention of playing that card just yet.
    Nash wants Titanya to show her hand, first.

    Titanya had been the last to heed the bugle call of war as it rang out across the sunrise lands, though it was not for a lack of interest.  She thought, for a moment, that perhaps she was now too feral for such civilized games.  She thought that maybe the wild had already eaten up all the parts of her that had brought her to this same spot years ago.  She thought that there were not enough scraps left to gather into some semblance of respectability.  No home had kept her after all these years and no place held her allegiance. She was as untamed and unruly as ever since the last Alliance.  But the seal of war that was placed in her chest during an apocalyptic quest told her otherwise; war told her that violence was violence no matter what seed it sprouts from, no matter what form it takes.  She cannot resist the end result despite the means to get her there, so she inevitably makes her way back to the Plains.

    By the time she is before her opponent, any hint of hesitation has fled her.  Though patience is not her forte and though her muscles are burning for release, Titanya forces herself to wait a second longer.  She looks at the stallion with a critical eye.  His youth stands out to her first in a frame that is muscled but perhaps not fully filled out.  He is leaner, maybe faster, with a pair of dark wings that she is sure he will utilize at some point in their fight.  There are quite a few similarities to her first fight last time (even the blazing sun is at a midpoint in its arc across the sky), but Nashua is a completely new target, of course.  She sees his grin and mirrors it with her own toothy version.  Now, she thinks, the fun can begin.

    The red clay churns under her feet as she springs towards Nashua.  The multitude of rocks littering the ground makes it impossible for her to rush her opponent flat-out without tripping and falling on her face.  Instead of speed, she focuses on trying to keep him head first in her sights, attempting to line up the white of his face with her own wide blaze.  As they draw ever-nearer, Nashua makes no attempts to hide his intended move to her left side.  Since she hadn’t been galloping foolishly over the rough terrain (as she may have done the last time), Titanya has some time to brace for his attack. 

    Those wings might help him later on, but now they are like a beacon shining his intent.  When he lifts his left wing first, the dark mare sees the movement and anticipates the subtle shifting of his weight to follow.  Nashua pushes into her space just as she begins to decrease her own density in preparation for the attack.  She doesn’t have enough time to lose as much density as she would like, but she hopes it is enough to surprise her opponent at the very least.  His shoulder drives into the space just behind her own left shoulder, but perhaps not with the force that he intended in her now lessened state.  He may be more agile with his lighter build, but her thicker size likely affords her more stability.  She staggers, still, her feet crossing over each other laterally, but she hopes the stallion comes with her.

    After all, she imagines he will have expected her to counter-attack towards him, not the opposite.  The more weight he leans into her, the less of her she hopes he will find as she attempts to continue to decrease her density. Maybe he will even fall through her if she is lucky and he will slam into the rocky ground beyond?  She hopes if he does, he will crumple one or two pretty wings so that he is flightless and forced to fight her on the ground.  Nashua gives her a second shove, but his first has already pushed her to the right and mostly out of the way.  Titanya feels the barest glancing touch of his shoulder on her hopefully decreased flank.  The shoving is more annoying than anything.  She wants a real battle, not the childish antics of a playground tussle. 

    The mare wastes not a moment jumping back into action.  She wants real action and intends to up the ante.  Since she has already been knocked sideways to her right – and once her legs are square under her again - she uses this momentum to rock heavily into her front right shoulder with all the weight she can muster.  At the same time, she brings her own density back to normal to conserve as much energy as she can.  Neither horse seems keen on putting distance between them, so she hopes Nashua still lingers somewhere with his nose near her haunches (since he had appeared to be traveling in that direction when he shoved her so incredibly rudely).  Titanya lifts her rear legs in a buck, increasing the density of her hooves to the equivalent of plutonium to try to put more power and force behind wherever she may hit. 

    She rather hopes her opponent hasn’t gone too far.  Titanya doesn’t want him to miss the flash of her hardened hooves as they attempt a strike.  His left side had been nearer her when he shoved her.  If Nashua is still relatively close, she aims to crack his left wing and keep him grounded.  She might also collide with his chest if one or two hooves find their mark.  If she is successful, she could limit his forward movement and limberness.  She doesn’t necessarily want to irreparably mutilate his face as he is too young to woo a suitor with battle scars (that should be her tactic, she thinks), but she will take whatever damage she can get.  She falls back to the clay and moves to try to stay with Nashua.

    Nashua's inexperience shines as clearly as the sun does above the sparring pair. It had taken more mental concentration than he had accounted for - keeping his hooves beneath him and attempting to apply the right amount of force up against Titanya's left side. Their shoulders collide and as Nashua focuses on trying to keep his balance on the red, rocky terrain of the Plains and trying to get the sabino mare to make the first real attack, his mind grapples with the fact that something isn't... right.

    As he pushes his weight - focusing on sliding his hardened side to meet her dark flank - towards her and tries to close any space where their hides aren't meeting, he realizes that she isn't pushing back. Not only that but the more force Nash applies to Titantya's side, the lighter she becomes. She's altering herself, he realizes. He isn't quite sure how but the sturdily-built mare should have more heft than this. The chestnut pegasus snorts - a winded sound and one that betrays the efforts of his first initial 'attack' - and then tries to collect his thoughts for the next plan of action.

    Sidestepping as close as he can get to Titanya, it could drive the pair further away from their fighting spot and towards the fields of sawgrass that grew in abundance around them. Nashua has no desire to get them that close to the meadows. The uneven ground of the Plains is challenging enough to keep track of while attempting to unbalance his opponent who appeared to be getting lighter with each lateral stride. Nash considered abruptly stopping and that thought presents itself with a jerk of his blazed head abruptly upwards. He could be the one to exact a maneuver from above. His striped physique coils again - all that collected energy roiling beneath his skin - but he blows out another gust of air and followed through with his original plan. His final shove barely pushes her towards the right but his shoulder barely grazes her exposed flank and when the dark mare moved past the front of him, Nash finally lowered his left-wing.

    Damn. Nashua is reminded again that this mare is not one of the young sparring partners from the Isle.

    Unaware of the density that Titanya applies to her hooves, he sees both pale hind legs rise in an attempt to buck. Having not moved far, the young stallion's head still lingers near her hindquarters. Nashua's thoughts are still focusing on preserving his wings. The pegasus rocks his weight back on his haunches in an attempt to keep his left-wing well away from Titanya and her hooves. The stallion barely lifts a front foreleg off the ground before one of them collides with his left cheek, possibly fracturing the mandible.

    Nashua stumbles to right, his body curving to follow. Momentarily stunned and blinded by the white-hot searing pain that reverberates from his jaw, he doesn't see where he is stepping and trips over the uneven ground. A second hoof meets its mark against his left side (near the point of his shoulder) because Nash isn't quick enough to move away and the cracking sound that follows means that the dark mare may have broken a bone or two. Most of Nash's healing tries to focus on aiding his fractured jaw but it can't heal simultaneously and trying to heal two injuries at once would drain his gift quickly. Despite the ragged breathes he takes, the younger horse tries to conserve what he can of his healing and directs it towards his shoulder instead.

    He is bleeding profusely - from his mouth and nostrils - but he makes the foolish mistake of looking at the blood-stained ground instead of Titanya. It sends him into a state of shock. He hasn't seen so much blood since.... Loess. Not since Celina died.

    And the image of his dead sister - crumpled and tossed at the bottom of the canyon, cast aside like her life hadn't mattered to anyone - fills him with a blinding rage. Raising his deep green eyes to look to the left, his earlier humor flees when his gaze goes looking for the sabino form of Titanya. He clenches his teeth and when the pain flashes through him, he lunges forward towards his opponent. If he can twist his body around in time, Nashua will aim for her barrel again (though he will take aim for any part of her that comes close).

    At this point, regardless of the danger, his thoughts are only that he wants to collide with her. His front hooves will aim for what they can get. He'd bite her, if he could. The movement as his forelegs reach out are erratic and semi-wild, grief becomes the motivator rather than previous experience as the red dust kicks up around them.

    When she hears the resounding cracks from her hardened hooves, Titanya allows herself the smallest of self-congratulatory grins.  Finally, she thinks, finally the battle has truly begun.  She is glad Nashua hasn’t gotten any real distance away from her.  Lingering behind the powerful haunches of your opponent – even however briefly - is a mistake she had made previously and one she learned never to make again.  The one-two punch of apparent blows adds new fuel to the fire already burning in her veins.  She relishes the violence, gives in to the raw power of her muscles and her promise to her own body that more conflict will come.  This is why she is here, after all.  She’s not in it for the glory or prestige.  She’s here because it calls to the wild recklessness that lives inside of her that is always trying to claw itself out.  Here, she can set her ferocity free.

    The sabino mare had already been pushing her weight forward and to the right when she bucked towards Nashua, so she keeps to the trajectory as she circles tightly back to the right.  She winces at her slightly painful inhalation of breath; the stallion had pushed just hard enough into the muscles between her ribs to make taking air into her lungs more of a chore than a privilege.  Spinning to her right exacerbates the small amount of pain behind her left shoulder, but it is negligible overall. 
    In the midst of his stumbling recovery and her sharp circling, Titanya thinks she has had enough time to turn around and try to meet him head-first again for the next attack.  When her amber eyes fill once more with the sight of her opponent, the noon sun shines down on her handiwork.  He’s bleeding – quite liberally, even – and she wonders how much he would have to lose to be incapacitated.  But she doesn’t have time to wonder long.  Nashua twists to his left, back towards her, and lunges.

    The quick attack surprises her and she realizes she has underestimated the bravado of the young stallion.  In normal circumstances, it is exactly the kind of heedless move she would make herself, full of passion and uncaring of the immediate consequences.  It almost brings another grim smile to her face if she wasn’t about to have the absolute shit beaten out of her.  As soon as she sees Nash’s muscles twitch, she shifts her weight marginally to the outside and to the left to try and avoid a direct blow.  Titanya hopes he has less forward momentum in the power of his attack since some of the energy may have been used in twisting his body towards her.  Either way, his hooves strike her before she has time to increase her density in defense. 

    Shit!  The twin blow of his hooves on her chest stokes her fire into an inferno of pain.  Her very slight leftward shift before the collision spares her of a centralized hit, but her right pectoral muscle screams in agony taking the brunt of it instead.  She thinks the muscle might even be torn, based on the sharpness of the pain radiating outward from the point of contact.  It hurts like hell to take a hit, of course, but it also makes her eager for her next retaliatory move.

    Nashua’s blood glinting in the bright light and the smell of it so close draws a feral reaction out of her.  Orange and black fur ripples and spreads across her body as she sinks into the body of the tiger.  Fortunately, it is a change she has spent many years perfecting and accelerating.  She needs all the speed she can get, because she knows she is not as fast in this form as she is as a horse.  She knows, too, that Nashua could outpace her if he is allowed to get too far away from her at the start.  If Nash has moved at all, Titanya means to close any distance between them as quickly as possible to avoid being left behind in the red dust that rises around them.  Her injuries are still present and still screaming in protest, so she redistributes her weight and pivots on her hind legs to reorient herself towards Nashua.  She is more supple and agile in this form, and she uses her borrowed feline grace to move over the rock-littered ground more easily, though she is still handicapped greatly by her torn pectoral muscle. 

    If Nashua has moved past her or not, the tigress attempts to approach his right shoulder at a forty-five degree angle, the one not already damaged in the fight.  She blinks away as much dust as she can with her luminous yellow eyes, but there is a lot of it rising and limiting her vision like a curtain between the fighters now.  Titanya lets loose a loud roar into the vast and vacant Plains.  She hopes it startles her now prey opponent enough that his attention – and his face - is drawn to her.  At the same time, she springs like a released coil from her uninjured haunches and drives herself at him with claws outstretched.  If Nashua turns, she aims her claws at his face, hoping another gash on his face will result in blood blocking his vision.  If she strikes any other part of him she will be satisfied as well.  A bloody blow to his shoulder could hinder his movement and an outright tear of one of his tendons lower on his leg could end the fight rather quickly.  Unaware of his healing gifts, she’s not sure he has any more blood to spare losing without passing out.  Regrettably, she knows her own injured pectoral will limit the power behind a potential hit either way.

    After her attempted attack, Titanya leaps away to her right.  Her chest burns like the heat of the sun above her, but damn, the pain sure feels like its own kind of bliss.

    Nashua had become so consumed by his rage that it hadn't mattered to him where his blows landed. The young pegasus had turned his body around as quickly as he could manage, spurred on by a combination of fury and bloodlust. He had hoped to get somewhere along her side but Nash's earlier missteps over the rough terrain cost him precious time and when he goes to lunge at her, his front striped legs collide with Titanya's dark chest. There is pain throbbing from his left shoulder when he pulls back from his sabino opponent, shifting his weight towards his right side to alleviate what pain he can without draining the last of his healing.

    He doesn't have long to react though the shock on his blazed face is almost palpable. It takes the seasoned fighter only moments to shift and where there had been a dark mare before him, now stands a tiger.

    It's become harder to breathe with the blood coating his nostrils and the ache in his jaw still throbs in between the moments when the adrenaline coursing through him subsides. His reaction to Titanya's shift shows in around the white that rims his green eyes and the stallion watches as her color changes from black to orange, as the equine form becomes a feline one. There are very few predators on the Isle (if one doesn't count the dragons) and in Taiga, a horse had to be warier of wolves than any kind of predatory cat. But the hazy light catches the sleek form of Titanya as she comes running towards him and the pegasus knows that his advantage will be to keep the shifter in his line of sight.

    If he can keep Titanya in front of him, where he has the advantage of height and reach compared to her agility and flexibility, all the better.

    Instinct tells him to put as much distance as he can between himself and Titanya. She has become a predator and Nashua is now prey. It isn't like Nash to turn haunch and flee; he is no coward.  If he lunges towards Titanya, maybe he can direct the impact that those imposing claws will have (he doesn't have time to dodge so why not minimize the damage?). Rocking back onto his haunches again and leaping into a disjointed canter, Nashua turns his head slightly towards his left to try and keep the shifter within his vision on his right side. The clay has created a red haze in the air and the pain that comes from moving his neck towards his injured shoulder makes the stallion grimace though Nashua tries to work through the mounting pain (a sign that his healing is starting to tire). The tigress roars her approach and another flash of pain sears through him when the big cat's claws dig into his right shoulder below his wing. He swings his head further towards Titanya but unable to bite her, he can only grunt his irritation instead. The young stallion then tosses it up wildly and using the last uninjured part of him, Nashua rises as evenly as he can manage (given the rugged terrain) in a rear.

    The pegasus snaps his wings open in an attempt to dislodge Titanya and when the big cat leaps off him, she moves to her right. Nashua comes quickly back down and almost loses his balance between the now displaced cat and craggy ground. Staggering slightly, Nash finally stops and draws his wings gingerly against his sides. He's lathered in sweat and still bleeding from one nostril but the chestnut lifts his head in search of his opponent as the dust began to settle.

    Despite feeling the pain from multiple injuries, the first round was over and a sense of pride filled the young stallion for having completed it. Titanya was one hell of a fighter and what Nash had learned on the Plains today was something he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

    Now, the only thing left to do was to tell his competitor, "Good job" (though the blood coating his mouth made it sound more like 'good gob'), and wait.

    Winner: Titanya

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