Post by hahtalekin on May 27, 2010 20:25:15 GMT -5
Sirocco seems satisfied as the younger members of the herd are brought together, sheltered by the larger forms of the grown horses. But it is the limit of his satisfaction. He continues along at the rear of the herd, stocky legs and his bulky weight making the trek more wearying for the stallion than the lighter, leaner, and smaller mares among the ground. Mud and extra weight just don't get along, and the deeper into the muck, the louder the sucking sound his hooves make as they're driven into the mire and yanked back out. He can be heard to snort loudly, and irritated sound made more evident by the shake of his head and neck as if to expel some tension caused by frustration.
After a winter spent alone in the heavily hit area of the plains and beyond, Lootah has taken every opportunity once again to bulk up, after a considerable loss of weight and health during the horrendous winter. He wasn't one to admit that he was wrong but.. he had underestimated the severity of the weather. It was a miracle in itself that he'd managed to survive on his own, thankfully with the predators keeping just out of reach of his scent, apparently. It was a cold, bleak, and depressing winter, and about half-way through, Lootah had longed to hear even the cries of coyotes, or the sound of crows cawing just to let him know that others were still around. The rest of the herd? He had no idea what happened to them. Tracks at one point had led north, but snow had covered them up in both visability and scent, and Lootah had been basically trapped in the frozen prairie.
There were times during the winter where the otherwise healthy and young stallion would have to go without food. Two days at a time, nothing more. Otherwise, he always had /something/. Scuffing at the packed up snow would allow access to dry, rotted, dead grass that left a sour taste in his mouth and provided very little nutrition, but it tricked his mind into knowing that he'd eaten something. When he was feeling particularly brave, he would travel south and find some different, more 'exotic' grasses to feed on, though they were just as dead and rotted as the stuff in the prairie.
The first thaw of spring couldn't have come sooner.
Had he the luck to run into the herd on his escapades north, he would be surprised if they would recognize him. His pelt was unique, but there surely were others, somewhere that looked like him. His weight was drastically lowered, his stomach curved prematurely upward due to his weight loss. Every day, he would travel farther and farther north, grazing like the wild animal that he was in a desperate attempt to get himself back to a normal, healthy weight. He'd already gained back a few pounds, but there was still only so much good grass just yet. The stallion's white mane was tangled and coiled around itself from the previous snows landing on it, and him shaking it about in his frustrations. It'd take a lot of grooming to get back to normal, though he didn't much care for the looks of his mane.
Today was one of the days that he'd ventured north. The pond was his goal, to get a drink from a natural source that was relatively close by. The howls of wolves could be heard far in the distance, but he wasn't worried about them being here. What really caught his attention, was a fragrant wind that brushed past his nostrils, carrying with it the scent of some of the lost herd, and scents of those he didn't recognize. Immediately, the overo stallion's head lifted from the pond, water leaking from the sides of his muzzle. Red ears perked forward, and with an excited sort of nicker to himself, he began to trot toward the smells.
On the other side of the pond and the river feeding it, Luna finally calls the herd along a chosen path through a particularly treacherous stretch of the marsh. She's starting to look a bit tired, probably because she gets to do all the backtracking in the attempt to find safe passage, but she keeps head and tail held proudly high, a veritable beacon to follow.
Past this last stretch of muddy marsh the ground starts to harden; it becomes easier to walk, easier to see where it's safe to set your hooves. The river looms ahead, however, wide and fast from all the melting snow in the mountains.
"We crossed this during the blizzard?" she asks quietly when Nukpana reaches her, trying not to worry the rest of the herd with her doubts. "How are we going to get across now? Those currents ..." As if to lend credence to her words, a large log is carried past on the surface of the raging waters. "Half of us would be swept away if we tried braving it here."
But the question remains, one of those decisions she's always hated: Go upstream, hoping to find a narrower stretch, or downstream in the hopes of finding quieter, but broader waters.
Though Nukpana is nearly the same size as Sirocco, she's far more lightly built and it shows in how much less difficult the marshes are for her to slog though. Granted, it's still difficult and exhausting, especially since she has to keep Orion on track. By the time the ground beneath her feet becomes more firm she's in an even worse mood than normal but tired enough that it's mostly shown through tired glares at whatever she happens to be looking at.
Her pace quickens when they're back on solid ground, and she comes to an abrupt halt when the river comes into view. Her ears flick back at it for a moment as if it might be calmed by that unspoken threat when Luna speaks. "Not really - this is the spring run-off. Probably a lot deeper than normal because of the extra snow. Most likely freezing cold, too," she comments. As unaccustomed to terrain like ice and marshlands as Nukpana is, she's crossed enough rivers in her life to be familiar with them.
Though this is probably the fullest river she's considered crossing, the large mare seems completely undaunted by the idea. Not that she'd cross right here, right now, or anything foolish like that. But she doesn't hesitate at all before she turns to follow it downstream towards the pond, "It should get wider if we go this way. Like as not, it's all coming straight from the mountains and is only narrower and stronger the closer we are to them." Not expecting anyone to argue with her no doubt flawless logic, she doesn't even wait to see if anyone else has a differing opinion.
The wind is blowing in completely the wrong direction for her to catch any scent of Lootah on the other side of the river, but since the river doesn't run for too long before it slows and widens into the pond at this point, it's unlikely that they'll fail to see eachother across the water for very long. Nukpana is unlikely to be the first to spot him, however, since she's far more focused on paying attention to what's on her own side of the river. More likely she'll be the first he sees since she has no qualms about taking the lead now that they're out of the marsh and her color makes her stick out like a sore thumb.
The pond was nothing, but now seeing the river ahead, Hototo lets out a nicker of nervousness, murmuring, "Goodness, we're going to have to cross that?" With dismay. It looks horridly fast and dangerous; once Nukpana suggests following it downstream to where it becomes wider and less dangerous, though, the paint mare seems to calm some to the suggestion of crossing the water. She listens to the lead mares, ears dancing between forward and back positions as they talk; they crossed this river in the winter? Such an idea brings shivers to the mare's back, but then she reasons ice must have made it easier to cross, if more slippery.
Spattered by mud by the time she gets through the marshes, Miel perks up as she hears the sound of roaring water ahead. Much more welcome than the sounds of wolves.
And then it actually comes into sight, and she stops near the edge of the river, just... staring at it. That log floating past seems as big as another horse, to her inexperienced eyes, as though challenging her to a race... and if she stepped into those currents, she has a pretty good idea which of her and the log would win.
She'd be clean, though... she snorts, and gives herself a shake, tossing her mane in the air. Being clean and washed up on the shore isn't worth it. And besides, to listen to the older mares talk, she'll end up soaked through soon enough, once they reach a point that satisfies them for crossing. She could get there faster by jumping in... but just walking along the shore, if slower, is safer.
She turns away from the water, and glances over to Hototo, whickering a little laugh. "At least it'll get all this mud off..."
Luna is happy to let Nukpana make the decision on this one, and she turns from the current to follow the blood bay mare's lead. After playing both scout and leader through the marsh it's a welcome change to just follow, to rest a tired head while walking.
And there's a lot of walking. The pond isn't just around the corner, of course, but at least the river isn't full of predators ready to leap from the fast waters. Here and there along the banks are the paths of various animals seeking the water for drink, all quickly disappearing in the grasses of the marsh up the river bank.
Every now and then she glances across to the other side. They left so many behind in the winter, and a part of her is reluctant to go back, to likely find the scattered remains of the herd. Of course, all that's shown in her eyes is a general worry, and it could just as well be caused by the thought of crossing the raging river.
Sirocco regards the roaring, frothing river with a dubious eye - as ignorant of the stallion nearby as he is to find a way to cross it. He ventures near the soggy banks, hooves squelching as they sink into the soft surface. Nukpana's words are given a considering flick of his ears, and with a light toss of his head he remarks, "She's right 'bout that. Sounds ta' be the best, to my ears. M'big enough, so when'abouts we come to crossing, I can stand downstream ta' keep the youngsters from washin' away."
It wasn't long before Lootah stood at the bank of the river, and could clearly see the figures of two he knew, and a few others that he wasn't so familiar with, on the other side. So that's where they went! He can't say that he's too happy to see them, honestly, as he'd rather've had nothing to do with the herd anyway, but a part of him is glad to see the familiar faces. Or, one of them at least.
Scuffing a hoof at the ground, he lets out a quiet toned whicker; all he can muster at the moment since in general, he feels tired and groggy. The fact that he made it as far as he did to this area is an accomplishment in itself. His white tail flicks behind him, and he waits quietly for any sort of response; happy, relieved, angry, whatever. Any bit of recognition was fine with him.
As she predicted, the river widens and slows as they follow it, soon becoming something she could picture herself crossing, swollen as it is. However, she continues past that point to see if it gets even better; what she could manage and what the older and younger members of the herd could manage are two different things entirely. In fact, she doesn't stop until the faint sound of a whicker reaches her ears from across the river, and when she spots Lootah it's enough to bring her to an abrupt halt.
Her first expression is one of surprise; she was quite certain that he'd died over the winter. But as she mentally adjusts to the fact of his continued existence, her expression nearly goes blank. Last time she saw him she was giving him a second chance, so that will continue now. Her eyes give no other hint of recognition other than that surprise, turning instead to examine the river. Hmm, perhaps they can cross here.
Looking back at the others, she waits for any stragglers to catch up and casts a questioning look at Luna. She means to be asking about the river, though perhaps it would seem that she's asking about Lootah. To Sirocco she quietly and quite neutrally explains, "That's Lootah. He was one of the herd's stallions before winter came." Then she waits to see what the others will do; normally she'd probably tell them what they're going to do, but despite all appearances seeing Lootah again really threw her off.
Luna was walking half asleep, resting as much as was possible while on the move, but the sound of a whicker from across the river wakes her up. She raises her head, ears perked as she tries to find the source of the sound. And there he is, looking a lot worse for the wear, but obviously alive. This gives her a spark of hope; if he survived, others may have as well. She doesn't immediately return the call, however, as she'd rather not stand there screaming across the breadth of a flowing river - the imagery would be all wrong.
"It's wide," she replies to Nukpana's look. No, she's not gonna believe Nukpana could possibly be asking about Lootah, as that would be showing an interest in him. "But the current isn't all that bad. We'd probably still have to swim, but we can probably make it."
It's the 'probably' that bothers her. They've come this far, she'd really hate to lose someone to the water. WATER, dammit! She looks around, sizing up the herd, trying to judge the state of the others - Orion in particular.
"First we rest," she says reluctantly. "We're going to need our strength to get everyone across safely." She sends the bay mare a look that clearly says this is not something to argue before stepping down to the edge of the water, finally giving the paint stallion on the other side attention.
"Stay over there!" she calls, hoping her voice will actually carry and not get drowned out by the flowing water. "We're taking a short rest, then coming across!" Of course, she knows Lootah can be stubborn, he just might try to cross anyway and would just have to swim back as well.
Miel snorts, a little, as Sirocco mentions the youngsters washing away. It's not so much that she doesn't believe him - after looking at the river, she'd believe just about anything of it - it's just that she can't help but laugh a little at the sheer scale of the thing.
She follows along as the group heads downstream, settling into an ambling pace that seems easy for her to keep up. She may be young - not quite yet a year - but it doesn't seem as though she's likely to tire first. At least, not walking... swimming, well, that may be another matter. She's in fairly good shape thus far, though, which will help when it's time to make the attempt.
But what's this on the other side? Another horse? It is... and a stallion, in fact. She picks up her pace a little, trying to get close enough to hear what's being said about him - but, disappointingly, all she manages to overhear is Luna talking about the river.
Rest? But she wants to see what's on the other side... she's not tired. No point in trying to argue about it, though - she's not likely to be listened to anyhow, and she did see that glance at Orion... she's not the youngest in this herd, nor the one the mares are most likely to be worried about.
The older mares clearly do know this stallion on the other side of the river, though - they must, because Luna's talking to him now, like he's... if not a friend, at least a known quantity.
Miel sighs. Well, if she's not going to find out what's going on yet... she supposes she can rest. She lowers her head, relaxing it, and then notices a small blue flower growing nearby... so she takes a sideways step and snags it, chewing on it slowly and savoring the taste.
The water, as they pass along its side, continues to worry Hototo some, but not by much; for now she'll trust Nukpana to know what to do; though when Luna calls for a rest, she's thankful. She tosses her head a bit, and then moves to try and lay down a little on her side there where they've stopped for the moment; for her, a rest includes letting her legs get some of the weight off them for a little bit.
Ears prick forward though when she finally notices the other stallion on the opposite side of the river. Now who could that be, and why is he there? And worse, will there be a fight between he and Sirocco when they cross the river? She hopes not; they don't need a fight to go on so shortly after such a task like that. She listens however; Luna seems to know him, which means Nukpana likely does, to, so maybe this fellow -- Lootah? -- is not too bad to see or meet.
But she decides to wait till they've crossed before making final judgment. While their rest time goes on, she remains laying down, legs curled under her, to try and give her hooves and legs a bit of a rest before they hit that fast moving water.
Post by hahtalekin on Jun 10, 2010 18:42:56 GMT -5
The flaxen chestnut stallion makes his way up from the rear of the herd to where the lead mares stand at it's front, the pause in the pace spurring his curiosity. Of course, it's not just the potential river-crossing that Sirocco finds has brought a halt to the venture, but the presence of Lootah.
As Nukpana informs him of the unfamiliar horse's identity, the belgian-mix gives a rather non-expression exhale of air and a faint bob of his head. There's no outburst of challenge or even nasty looks, not that now is exactly the time for such behavior, but there is the casual regard one stallion may give another, a quiet consideration and weighing. From Sirocco, though, there's nothing further. There's more to be concerned with for the moment.
"After the rest, I'll venture out first so I can letcha'll know if it's crossable. Don't seem so bad here that I'd be carried off, but, if it's hidin' a current than better for me ta' test it than ya'll." While it may sound a noble thing, and with Sirocco it's not an impossible consideration, it also makes sense. To him. A herd needs its mares and mothers more than a stallion.
OOC: This'll be my pose out of the scene, and will be the official end of Lootah as a character. He's been wanting to do what he does in the pose for a while now, sooo yep! Everyone, say bye bye to Lootah!
From the other side of the river, Lootah watches the entirety of the herd; not all that much, and looks around for other familiar faces. Dandelion, the palomino mare, is no where to be found. Nor is Takala, Starlight, Darkstar.. any of them. Of course he assumes the worse, but his only sign of mourning is shown in a brief push back of his ears and a slump of his neck. Otherwise, his eyes remain intent on staring at each and every one of them, as if suspicious of how they even survived.
It's only Luna that really greets him, but it was just as well. He wasn't particularly fond of Nukpana and didn't know the rest. Leaving one mare that he was fond of behind wasn't a problem. He'd done it before and he'd be able; easily, to do it again. They could rest up all they wanted, he was in no rush to see any of them, and in fact planned on not meeting up with them the proper way. No, no. He was outta here.
The stallion that was with them looked to be like a behemoth of some sorts, and would be plenty capable of protecting them. Regardless of whether or not he was one of the first equids to form the herd together, he'd never been a leader, and he certainly didn't want to stick around with another stallion present. So, he wouldn't. He'd leave just like he'd always wanted, but never got around to doing because of some ridiculous feeling of responsibility.
Keeping his eyes on them still, he turned around so that his side faced them, before he eventually gave his body a hard shake, and pivoted around on his hooves quickly, breaking out into a gallop immediately to get out of the area. No words, really. No goodbyes or anything of the sort. It was always easier that way, he found.
Whether or not he would come back to the herd was highly unlikely. He was a wanderer at heart, and a bachelor in practice. The Dorado horses were only keeping him pinned down; albeit his own thinking made him assume that, and he didn't want to stay. So! He was off. In a blur of red-dun and white, the first stallion to even somewhat lead the Dorado left the mares and their new stallion. For good.