2 attacking posts each, 1 final defensive post – 5 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.
No editing posts.
1,000 word limit.
Tarian posts first unless otherwise agreed upon.
SETTING: Actively raining, muddy. Early morning, still mostly dark.
Body Type & Height: Baroquish with a little bit of Arabian
Body Type & Height: quarab with a splash of stockiness from mustang blood, 15hh
Abilities: shapeshifting, immortality, fire aura
Using my extension.
Lilliana | Nashua | Aela
Brienna | Tarian | Julia | Avocet | Celeste
That pristine coat Tarian is always so proud of hardly stands out in this dim light. The rain that had started at some point during the night continued into the dawn and the pegasus would be glad to know that the dark hides a good amount of the red mud that has splattered up his silver legs. Tarian peered through the dark but the steady sound of falling rain drowned out any noise that the young mare might have made.
His brow furrows as he looks across from him to where he thinks Mazikeen has stopped. It's past dawn but the overcast sky keeps the horizon waiting for daylight. The blue-eyed stallion doesn't look up to the heavens; the only thing that waits for him up there is a dark, gray sky. And if this is his only chance to observe Mazikeen, he means to make the most of it. Lepis had asked Tarian if might be interested in representing Loess in this 'Alliance.' And Oceane had told him to, 'Come back a hero' though he doesn't think that any heroes will be made in this Alliance. What are the stakes in this arena other than personal gain?
No, he decides. There might not be any heroes made this dawn but it doesn't mean that the Alliance contenders can't make something of themselves during this competition. As the rain continues to fall, Tarian knows he will certainly try. He strains a little - as he has kept some distance from the pale mare - to see her. She, like him, is in light color and that may be one thing that works in his (or perhaps both?) favor this morning. What he can see of the mare is that she is smaller than he is. Her build is lighter than Tarian's and as he pulls his wet wings against his sides, he thinks she may have more stamina. Her smaller build is certainly an advantage over the Baroque bulk that Tarian inherited from his ancestors.
The rain will make the ground soft and the already uneven terrain yielding. Wonderful.
The stallion doesn't know what her experience of battling is. He can't tell her age in the dark and the only thing that Tarian is aware of is that Mazikeen is here because she won the previous round. They could be evenly matched, he considers. While much of the outskirts of their fighting arena is covered in shadow, the pegasus recalls the midnight path that he had taken in the earlier hours. He knows from experience that the Plains ground is rocky and rough. All it would take is a single misstep and the Alliance would be over for Tarian. So he has to use what he can to help keep the soggy odds in his favor and the winged stallion was familiar with the path that he traveled in on.
With a final look towards his opponent and a decisive nod of his head, the stallion turned towards the dark and the direction he entered from. Should Mazikeen decide to stay, the only thing that will keep her company is the cadence of Tarian's splashing strides as he canters away. He hopes that turning in the opposite direction will confuse her. He doesn't doubt that the smaller mare will have tricks of her own but Tarian will make use of a horse's most ancient and primal instinct: to run. He doesn't break into a gallop and the gait he keeps is measured, at best.
If the ground wasn't soaked, he'd pivot to turn back around to face Mazikeen. But not wanting to risk a fall, Tarian shifts his weight to his inside shoulder and turns towards the left. He doesn't think that Mazikeen will be standing idly by where he left her but Tarian hopes that he has put some distance between them. Enough that he can he spread his wide, white wings as he turns and takes to the sky. He won't get much elevation but he had hoped the higher ground might aid him in getting into the air quickly. Tarian beats his wings a few times, trying to get as high as he can. If Mazikeen has followed him, it'll make this maneuver much easier. If she has veered to the left or the right, Tarian will try to angle himself so that the pale mare falls directly in front of him.
He had hoped to save his wings for the end. As drenched as they are, they are heavy and will tire quickly. But Tarian is a stallion in his prime, a fighter with many years behind him and many before, and it shows with his ease and agility in the air. Tarian stops beating and tilts his spread wings up so that they act as a brake, sending the hind legs of the silver pegasus swinging down towards Mazikeen.
The hard-packed earth of the earlier fights is soaked into a muddy mess by a heavy rain that further darkens the early morning sky. Although her eyes are not totally useless in the dark, Mazikeen blinks and her equine eyes are traded out for those of an owl - the pupils dilating to take in all the light they can. This particular trick, swapping out just one feature, is something she finds a little more uncomfortable than a full shift. Her eyes itch with the desire to either go back to equine or for the rest of her body to shift into a feathered predator, but she muscles through the discomfort to peer through the dim pre-dawn light and the rain to get as good of a look at her next opponent.
The first things she notices are his wings that are folded and concealing much of his body. Powerful limbs with fragile bones. He appears taller than her, though, and stockier like Aquaria had been - built for strength.
After the customary sizing-up, he turns around. A move that is surprising more than it is confusing, and Mazikeen barks out a quick laugh - momentarily believing she had somehow won this battle just by standing here. The laughter releases her hold on the owl-eyes and eases some of the tension and nerves from her as well. She stomps a hoof in the muddy ground, splashing the red mud against her two-toned legs. She was getting pretty good at this fighting thing if she is so intimidating that all it takes is one look at her and someone gets the urge to run away.
Unfortunately, though, there is no early victory. Her laughter turns into a disappointed scowl as she watches him angle his movement to the left and then he takes off before circling back to her. There was still plenty of space for all of this ridiculous production since the young mare has not yet moved. She only frowns slightly as she blinks through the rain, watching him intently. Mazikeen does not have a lot of experience interacting with winged horses, but she has studied birds plenty as she taught herself to fly. The osprey is one of her more particular favourites.
So she watches his wings, knowing the cues for his movements will come from them. She is not so much idly standing still in the rain as she is waiting as though coiled and ready to strike. Why risk slipping on the muddy ground when he is coming towards her, closing the gap between them, and giving her the chance she needs? Mazikeen works with Tarian to keep their bodies squared up, knowing this will suit her needs as much as it will his.
Excitement builds in her with each beat of his wings until she feels like she might explode from it. When he brings those feathered limbs up to break his movement and swing his hind legs down, Mazikeen sees her chance in her mind. The young mare shifts and moves her weight to her hind legs, bringing her forelegs up as a new form ripples over her skin.
Her hind legs shorten and a long, scaled tail appears, helping support and propel her elongating body through the rear she had begun as a horse. A large white American crocodile now grips the slick muddy ground with hind claws well-suited for river substrate and water-slick surfaces. With her forebody already off the ground, she does not need to lunge, just use the momentum gained from her rear. It's not graceful, rearing as a large crocodile, and that's alright. She only needs to get her reptilian head close to the legs that Tarian has so kindly presented with his attack. She's covered in thick scales but she hisses a little in pain as she receives a glancing blow on her snout from a hoof as her jaws open wide. Mazikeen then snaps her teeth at Tarian’s hind legs, hoping to clamp onto one of them before her body falls as gravity inevitably takes hold. If she’s able to grip one of his legs, the vise-like grip of those jaws would close and jerk him down with her as several hundred pounds of reptile crashes into the muddy earth. Hopefully putting an end to the aerial portion of today's battle.
She wasn’t going to risk being treated like an infant this round - and her concerns about causing too much harm are nowhere to be found. Once her clawed feet are back on the earth, whether she had succeeded in causing a crash landing or not, Mazikeen quickly moves to get out of the way and keep him in her orange gaze. An anticipatory smile sparks in her eyes and is matched by the wicked grin of her crocodile mouth.
Tarian had been preparing himself for something but he hadn't been expecting that.
From the moment he angles his broad wings up and sends his hind limbs swinging down, he had been expecting a mare. He had thought that his hooves would be greeting horseflesh. If he were lucky, they could have struck somewhere along her broadside and knocked her off balance. If she angled her body one way or another (or as he had hoped, Mazikeen would have turned on her haunch and away from him), there might have been some bruising while Tarian took the time he needed to consider his next attack.
Instead, Mazikeen had held steady with him. It was to hard to miss the unusual color of her eyes and as the dim light starts to reveal more of his opponent, it becomes obvious that she was ready for Tarian to strike. The surprise comes when the mare shifts from her pale form to another as she rears. Her white coat is traded for scales and the shape that she takes is reptilian; he isn't familiar with the form but he doesn't need to be. All those sharp teeth tell him everything he cares to know. Predator. One hindleg grazes over the snout of the shifter as it came swinging down and Tarian then attempted to pull the other immediately up towards his underbelly.
But the steady drizzle has weighted down his wings and with his primary focus on keeping himself airborne, the stallion didn't react in time to prevent the crocodile from latching on to his right hind leg. The pain is unlike anything he has ever known and the agony it sends screaming through his nerve-endings causes the normally accomplished flier to falter. As Mazikeen uses gravity to pull them both down, Tarian grits his teeth and flaps his wings once, twice, three times as he tries to keep himself in the sky. The lizard has a visceral grip on his leg and even as the day starts to brighten, he doesn't need to daylight to know that he is bleeding. He can smell the blood tainting the air, replacing the fainter smells of the rain mingling with the clay instead with copper, as it races down his wounded limb.
He clenches his jaw and the battle (for a moment) becomes one about fighting the pain instead of Mazikeen.
He struggles but eventually, he finds it. A moment of clarity while the pair descend towards the saturated ground. Her teeth are sunk deep into his skin and the damage to that leg could potentially end this fight. A three-legged horse can hardly stand, let alone battle. But a three-legged horse with wings might have a chance. Tarian will try to keep this in the air for as long as he can.
As gravity continues to force Mazikeen down, her teeth tear through his flesh. It's deep, tearing through muscle and tissue. That moment of clarity strikes with Tarian as he uses the opportunity to lash out with his other leg. Her jaw is locked around the other, leaving her face open to attack. Mustering what energy he has, the pegasus kicks it out several times in an attempt to place a damaging blow. If it happens to come right between the eyes, well, the girl had made it this far along in the Alliance for a reason.
She was the one rending his flesh, he could oblige her by trying to fracture a bone or two.
When the crocodile lets go, he'll remain in the air above her. There will be no great aerial skill in this battle. Just Tarian striving to stay off the ground for the remainder of the fight.
The taste of blood as it trickles into her mouth from his leg is both intoxicating and absolutely revolting - depending on which part of her mind Mazikeen gives the reins to. The predator, the one who relishes in her wrestling matches and hunting games with Daye and Breach, is delighted. However, the young mare who still remembers what it felt like to have her own flesh peeled from bone, is horrified. She almost gags - persevering through willpower alone. Mazikeen has no desire to find out the hard way whether or not crocodiles can vomit, and she certainly does not want to be the opponent that pukes on the battlefield. That would not contribute to the image she was trying to set of her being a fully grown mare perfectly capable of fighting battles without being treated like a foal.
Fortunately, in the midst of the rain-water and blood streaming into her mouth, Tarian makes his next attack, which distracts her from the taste. While she is clamped onto his right leg and he is trying furiously to keep himself aloft, Tarian strikes out at her reptilian head with his left hoof. The first strike causes her head to ring in pain and Mazikeen attempts to twist slightly, loosening her grip on his right leg as she does. She is thankful for this shape's thick osteoderms, protecting her from having her skull caved in. That's small comfort, though, as a bruise and headache blossom with sharp pain. A few more blows land but are more glancing now that she has rotated away. His hoof manages to strike at her right eye. She hisses in pain and releases her hold on his leg completely as the crocodile's eyelids close reflexively. When they open again a short moment later, it is only the left side that does - her right stays closed and she feels anger begin to bubble up inside her. She liked that eye! It was a perfectly good one up until now.
The winged stallion doesn’t land, impressive for being weighed down by a large reptile hanging off a limb. For a moment, they are separated by land and air, only the rain, mud, and Tarian's blood uniting them. She still smiles that crocodile grin - rain dripping down blood-soaked fangs as she is looking up at him with her working, unswollen eye. There's no humour in that grin, but there is some delight - because she can see her next move.
Did he think he was safe in the air? He won't land, so Mazikeen goes to him. This time she calls on a shift she knows well, one of her favourites: an osprey. The exchange of a heavily-armoured body to a feathered one is a risk, but as she sheds hundreds of pounds in the process, Mazikeen cannot bring herself to worry too much. With her right eye damaged, her depth-perception is not what it should be, but she doesn’t need to see perfectly for this one last attack. She rises in the air from the ground, splattered with mud and feeling the rain on her feathers. But, like her choice for the crocodile, Mazikeen picks the osprey over another bird of prey to suit the early-morning rain. This animal's feathers are dense and oily, well suited for a coastal climate, and it will take longer than this short fight for them to get waterlogged. So while Tarian might find his wings getting heavy, she has no such hindrances.
For a moment, she considers trying to go for his injured leg, tear the flesh further, but she does not want to risk being kicked in this form when a hoof could do more damage to her fragile bird bones.
So, an eye for an eye then?
Taking advantage of the fact that her wings are not growing heavy with the rain, Mazikeen does her best to rise quickly. She does not want to rise too high for a dive and give Tarian more chances to dodge, so she does her best to get just a little bit of height on Tarian before flying straight for his face. She positions her body so her talons are swung forward, as though she were about to pluck a fish from the water. She’s hoping to scratch at his face, perhaps even pluck one of those pretty eyeballs out with one of her sharp talons. Wary of his mouth and the feather-pulling teeth it contains, Mazikeen flutters around Tarian's head as best as she can, trying to stay above more than in front as her beak joining the frenzy to snip or tear at any flesh it can find. It reminds her of when sparrows grow bold and attack a crow that has gotten too close to their nest. Only this sparrow has some bite.
Tarian battles between prey instinct and a building rage about the visceral grip that the beast has on him. He keeps striking out at the crocodile's head with his left hindleg until the shifter finally releases his captive limb. The silver stallion more or less hangs in the damp air afterward like an ornament. Had the rain not saturated his feathers, there is no doubt in his mind that he would have shot up into the sky and try lure Mazikeen there. Tarian keeps beating his wings to hover a few feet off the ground because his only other alternative is to land with an injured leg and a predator with far too many teeth.
Tarian thinks that the moment he comes down, this fight will be over (and he has far too much pride to let Mazikeen win their battle that easily).
He tries to lift his right hindleg towards his underside but pain sears through him and Tarian sees a flash of red at the corner of his vision. Blinking it away and forcing himself to focus, Tarian tilts his head to look down to see Mazikeen give him a toothsome (gruesome) grin. He hovers above at an impasse; with each stroke of his massive wings, he is wasting energy, and floating above the pale shifter makes him a direct target for her next attack.
Summoning the last of his energy, Tarian attempts to fly higher.
As he flaps his wings to rise, Mazikeen starts to shift and takes a very distinctive shape. It is one that Tarian has seen many times along coastlines and near bodies of water. He continues to beat his wings up to climb higher but horizontal flight is not swift or quick and Mazikeen has ample time to catch up with the tiring pegasus. She does so as an Osprey - a bird of prey with particularly sharp talons meant for grabbing fish - that aims directly for Tarian's face. Still flapping his wings and trying to gain altitude, the pegasus starts to swing his head wildly from left to right. She is a cluster of feathers and claws overtaking his sight and Tarian does his best to avoid them. He can only keep this up for a few moments (though doing so does not mean he escapes deep gouging along his cheeks) and the center of his thoughts focus on trying to protect his eyes while he struggles to keep his balance; Tarian wobbles erratically from side to side as he attempts to protect himself from Mazikeen and it gives the silver stallion an idea.
He draws in his left-wing and shifts his weight towards that shoulder. Using gravity, he careens to the left in an attempt to fall away quickly from Mazikeen. While he is not descending from a great height, Tarian has enough time to reopen the closed wing to redistribute his weight and attempt to land. He splashes above the pooled water and when his hooves come into contact with the waterlogged (softened) ground, Tarian crashes to the right as the injured hindleg gives out and the gray stallion curses a barely audible expletive. Half expecting that the Osprey would thrust down into a dive, he tries to quickly untwist his body so that he becomes prostrated on the red terrain. Lifting his drenched and clay-stained wings, he brings them forward and over his head in preparation for Mazikeen and her talons in case she decided to make one last attack.
Tarian (eldest son of Malachi, first grandson of Valerio, once-heir of Paraiso, once-Captain of the Liridon Guard) lays fuming beneath his feathers with this revelation: he was not a fan of fowl tactics.