Note: Won’t make a habit of this. In the future I’ll only give 500 words or so from every chapter I’m currently working on whether it be revision or original, but this was exciting (as all my work is to me at the start) and I just have to share it. So, to make this scene work a little harder you need only know that DeFalco is a man not to be trusted, and Ezerra a young warrior who should have captured your allegiance many chapters ago. Also this is fresh, hardly edited or polished, and won’t be until NCN calls on me to read, but it’s still fucking fun. This is what a rough draft looks like for me after a night of work, a burst of creativity, and and IPA to hold my hand the whole damn way.
Her you go:
Ezerra held on to DeFalco a little tighter than she’d meant to. In her mind she’d readied herself and was prepared for anything. What was the full gallop of a war horse to a warrior who’d faced the trials of commencement and lived to tell the tale? What was the full gallop of a war horse to a hunter who’d slain a full grown matriarch valley rat along side a dozen other stout champions? It should have been nothing.
And yet the clop of the beast’s shoed hooves trampling the earth underfoot reverberated in her chest, and the momentum set fire to her blood and adrenaline whipped through her body like a storm in the southern valley. For a second the world seemed to move around her and she was separate from it. Someone was talking… yelling.
It was DeFalco. “All right back there, princess?” he called over his shoulder in mock concern. She regarded him through the haze and fog of an adrenaline affected mind. He wore studded leather armor, and held onto the reins with his one arm like a man completely sure of himself. She liked that. Often in the field Thompson seemed two men, a hunter and a father sure of his place in the world, and someone entirely different, afraid to know himself. Since Thompson had killed that Red back and near the marshes, the one with he face like hers, it was nice to get away from her old teacher and to spend time with a man more surefooted too.
He wasn’t beautiful, that would always be true, but there was something she admired about the man. He’d lost an arm during the Gawth wars on the I-5 caravan, and instead of letting that injury reduce him to a sniveling old scrudge, DeFalco had managed to move on with his life. He was a survivor, and if she was honest with herself she admired that.
The young hunter shook her head slapping her cheek a few times to cool the fires of adrenalin rushing through her veins. She took a few deep breaths and regained control of her shaking palms. “Fine!” She squinted up ahead and she could just make their destination, a heard of running beasts, wild horses, galloping over the fields. The Sun was rising higher into it’s midday throne, and in that light the horses had spotted the Wilders. Flight bore their hooves in the opposite direction faster than anything Ezerra had ever seen. “Tell me again what I must do!”
DeFalco tiled his head over his shoulder while gripping the reins and shouted, “Well that’s where you’re in luck!” Ezerra marked the sly smile that flashed across his scarred and bristly chin. “A normal beastie, wild and wandering these Weeping Plains would buck you as soon as your pretty little ass touched fur…” Ezerra ignored this, and thought better of whether or not this man deserved her admiration. DeFalco continued, “But these here are one with the Wilders. They flee, but they know no harm may befall them so long as it’s Wilders who pursue.”
Ezerra watched a sea of brown, black, and white undulate and turn as the Wilders adjusted their angle of approach. They rode with a full compliment of twelve young warriors just the way Joran might have done over a hundred years ago, before the council brought him into the high-civilized order. Ezerra was pleased by the thought. She’d always loved that Joran was a warrior, and fancied herself a true follower because her skill with the javelin and sword matched that of any Yellow in Las Lomas. “Why in the name of Joran would these horses trust Wilder-Folk?”
DeFalco chuckled loud enough to be heard over the roar of a thousand hooves stamping the earth. “Because the Wilder-Folk are their stewards! And that’s all the answer you’ll get at present… You remember what to do. The Rite of Accar is simple enough. You’ll leap from this horse onto the back of a wild stallion and hold on for dear life. If the beastie’ll have you, you won’t be bucked!” DeFalco was all smiles as he added, “And if he won’t… well.”
The roar of the trampled earth was louder than anything Ezerra had ever heard in her life. “And if I’m bucked!” They were now riding beside the wild horses. Ezerra caught the gaze of a young mare and could have sworn she saw no fear in her eyes. Why run if you fear us not? The question escaped her as soon as it took root for the task was at hand.
She braced herself and repeated the stakes. I must rope the beast on this day. She who ropes the beast will command respect from her peers, Wilder-Folk peers. With this act I buy a home for my family… Emily, Kiddow, and my teacher. She took another deep breath, set her eyes on a wild stallion of rippling black. It’s coat caught the light like an over-suit and morphed and spilled a ways over the entirety of that gorgeous beast.
She leapt brushing her cape aside as she did and waving her arms once and twice to steady herself mid-flight. DeFalco fell away. Someone was shouting but she couldn’t make a word of it. Time stopped and for a moment that lasted longer than the movement’s of heaven Ezerra was suspended in that air above the black stallion, her heart thumping away a beat at a time, her mouth suddenly gone dry, and her eyes peeled wide with the fear of life and death upon her.
This was it.