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Author Topic: [EVENT] Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All  (Read 710 times)

Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« on: November 02, 2019, 10:00:22 PM »
Anxiety ate at her. It set her heart to racing, her fingers trembling as she tacked up her steed. The horse - whose name Struna did not bother to note - peered at her with wide, brown eyes. That shade could only bring bad luck. "You're a curse," the cadet growled, her voice wavering as she tightened the girth. Every attempt she then made to mount the horse was met with it taking a couple of bold steps forward, enough to cause her to falter. A low hiss escaped from between Struna's teeth, a sound that blended frustration with low-burning fear. "Just… just fuckin' stand still, wouldja?" Struna grumbled, giving the reins a sharp yank of rebuke. That seemed to do the trick, for the beast finally stayed in place long enough that she was able to pull herself up into the saddle.

Irritated that her usual efforts to be excused and sent to the infirmary had failed - she felt sick, genuinely - Struna adjusted and tested her stirrups, standing up to check that her position was balanced. Distantly, she was aware of the thunder of hooves, more confident cadets warming up their horses and themselves, while the occasional blast of a whistle indicated that yet another pair were headed out onto the course. A staggered start would prevent congestion at the obstacles, or so it was hoped.

Settling into her seat, desperately uncomfortable despite making all the necessary adjustments, Struna tightened her reins to keep her steed in place. Finally paying attention to her surroundings, her gaze snagged on Darcy. A sensitive, clever cadet who surely deserved a better partner for this event. "You drew the short straw, then?" Struna asked the girl unhappily, though she already knew the answer. "Sorry about that."

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 10:16:59 PM »
Darcy had always been good with animals, even if she didn’t see very many while living in the city. She only met the occasional stray cat or dog, and sometimes the horses of parked wagons or carriages. Despite her rare encounters with them, animals seemed to love her, and this made learning to ride a horse a breeze. The first time she ever touched a horse was at the training camp, but she was a quick learner. Her skills weren’t extraordinary, but she was confident that she’d be able to complete the course without being last.

At least, that was until she was informed that the horsemanship aptitude test would be done in pairs. There were two things wrong with that. One being that Darcy hadn’t made very many friends during her time in training. Sure, she’d talked to her comrades and spent a bit of time with them, but not enough to be super comfortable around them. The second problem, was that Darcy’s partner, Struna, had an obvious problem with horses.

Darcy had already mounted her horse and was ready to get going while her partner struggled. She wanted to reach out and try to help, but thought against it as Struna began to speak. The words were enough to make Darcy feel bad, so she shook her head. ”We’ll do okay. Just relax.. We’ll take it slow.” She furrowed her eyebrows in concern though, as she was unsure if they’d be able to. It was a race, and also an obstacle course. Darcy just hoped they’d be able to keep the horses under control. “We’re almost up.. you ready?”

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2019, 11:35:29 AM »
Darcy was sitting pretty on her steed, the beast beneath her quiet and attentive, seemingly awaiting instruction from their rider. Struna longed to have been gifted with the same inherent ability to handle and understand horses, unlucky animals though they were.

We'll do okay. Just relax… We'll take it slow.

Struna couldn't say she knew her partner well, but those words of encouragement were kind and gently spoken. The weight of her guilt grew. She almost wished she had been paired with a cadet who took their training so seriously as to roar at her for her failings. She wouldn't mind costing someone impatient a few points. It was a shame she was instead a deadweight to someone nice.

"You're probably better ridin' ahead," Struna muttered, her focus on her horse as the creature sidestepped and swished its tail in agitation. "I know the timer won't stop 'til I cross the line, but you can at least show 'em what you're capable of." Or would Darcy be marked down for poor sportsmanship? They were probably supposed to stick together, right?

We're almost up… you ready?

Struna's answer came as a nervous groan and a nod of her head. "I hate this… I fuckin' hate this…" she grumbled to herself as she urged the beast forward, steering it towards the starting point. The pair in front of them went, charging across the grassy, uneven ground. Approaching the line, eating into the empty space the other team left behind, Struna nudged her horse's side tentatively with a heel, straightening its position.

The silence stretched as she waited for their signal, lasting for what felt like an age. She thought about patting her steed's neck, perhaps establishing some meagre rapport - too little, too late, no doubt - but she was too nervous to relinquish her grasp of the reins. Instead, she cast an apologetic look Darcy's way, focusing on the familiar weight of the lucky silver piece against the skin of her chest. When the whistle blasted a moment later, shrill and piercing, Struna flinched, and reluctantly gave her horse a kick.

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2019, 02:34:59 PM »
”I’m not going to ride ahead and leave you. We’ll stay together and I’ll help you.” Darcy replied sweetly, giving Struna a genuine, but still nervous, smile. She sat tall up on her horse, and made her way to the starting line with her partner. She wasn’t nervous for herself, but for the girl she barely knew on the horse beside her. If Struna tried a jump and failed, she’d likely hurt herself. That wouldn’t be good for either of them.

The moment the whistle blew, Darcy kicked her horse harshly. She kept her pace with Struna’s horse, determined not to let her partner fall far behind. ”Struna,” Darcy called out, keeping her eyes straight ahead, ”Try and keep calm. Horses can tell when you’re nervous, and they go off the signs you’re giving them. Stay close and if you need my help, call out for me.” Her voice was still as sweet as it was before, though her words seemed more like orders than a suggestion.

Despite her usual shy behavior, Darcy could tell that Struna needed more than a polite push to get through this test. It was already going to be difficult, with so many teams on the course at once, but having a partner who couldn’t control her horse was going to make it harder. They’d have to work together to get through it. The first obstacle wasn’t too far ahead of them, and she could just barely see the team ahead of them clear the jumps before speeding off.

”We got it. We’ll be okay.”
Darcy told herself quietly, biting her lip in slight nervousness. If they could at least clear the first obstacle, there would be at least a bit of hope that they could make it through. « Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 02:35:21 PM by Darcy-Jo Windsor »

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2019, 12:32:34 PM »
I'm not going to ride ahead and leave you. We'll stay together and I'll help you.

That was kind, Struna had to admit, as was the way Darcy held her horse back, ensuring they remained level. Frowning with concentration, the cadet listened to her partner's instructions, spoken over the thunder of hooves beneath them.. Darcy's tone was simultaneously sweet and firm, and Struna found she appreciated that. It was easier to pay attention to a voice that spoke with some authority.

"Right," she answered. Keeping calm was difficult when horses were so damn unpredictable. She trusted herself and her own body - hell, she knew she was technically capable of the art of riding - but the knowledge that at any moment the horse could stumble and fall beneath her, or spook and throw her off, was alarming. If she was going to break her neck, Struna wanted it to be on her own terms. But she would stick close to her partner, and she would ask for help - that was within her power.

Her horse was fresh and eager, and Struna had to clutch the reins tightly to keep it from barrelling into a gallop. She rode standing in the stirrups, her legs easily strong enough to hold this position. While not technically correct, it gave her a sense of control that went some small way towards easing her anxiety. As far as she was concerned, it was preferable and far simpler than the whole sit-and-roll-your-hips malarkey.

We got it. We'll be okay.

Dear, positive Darcy. Struna mightn't know her well, but she had the sense that - after this ordeal - she could only think of the girl fondly. Ahead of them loomed the first jump, a simple hedge, that came far too soon. Guiding her horse towards it head-on, Struna leaned forward and stabilised her hands on the beast's neck as they leapt to clear the obstacle, the accompanying lurch more familiar than she would have liked. She remembered to lean back on the descent, her backside striking the saddle in the landing. A brief wobble - only then did the cadet realise she had been holding her breath - and she recovered.

First jump down… how many more to go?

"You need t' lead," Struna called to her companion, sounding apologetic. She dared not look Darcy's way, refusing to take her gaze off the ground ahead - framed by her horse's ears - which continued to roll past with dizzying speed. "It's takin' near all my focus just t' stay aboard." Truthfully, she felt bad foisting the responsibility of navigation onto her partner, but Darcy seemed capable and confident enough to manage. "Where - Where next?"

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2019, 03:25:54 PM »
Darcy had easily cleared the first jump alongside her partner. Feeling steady enough to keep her eyes on Struna and her form as they went over, she was pleased that the older female at least knew the basics and could make it over without falling off. That was only the first jump though, and a small one at that.

Averting her eyes back to the course, Darcy listened to Struna’s request. Did she really trust her enough to follow her orders blindly? ”Straight on for now, about 20 meters ahead there’s a small river. The team ahead of us had a horse spook, but that’s only because they went too quickly. We’ll go slow until we hit land.” Darcy commanded, ”Stay behind me and keep your eyes on me. I’ll continue to tell you what’s coming up.”

Darcy quickened her pace, moving in front of Struna and her young horse. As they got closer to the edge of the river, she glanced back to her partner before slowing down into a slow trot. ”Slowly across the water. Stay calm and collected, do not pull your reins. The horse knows what it’s doing.” Darcy said loudly over the sound of hooves and rushing water.

Darcy’s horse entered the water first, slowly taking steps on the slippery stones. It wasn’t a very wide river, but she knew that there was a chance something could go wrong. The shallowness would make for a hard fall on rocks, and the water would make matters worse. She hoped that Struna would make it across easily.

”The rocks are slippery. That’s why we can’t rush. The horses have to find their footing, so let it do it’s job and stay loose on your reins.” Darcy said, reiterating the part about her reins. Turning to look back at Struna again, she frowned lightly. She was already halfway across the river, and the team behind them could be seen clearing the first jump. Going slow was still their best option, but it would take a toll on their time.

Re: Give up, Give in, or Give it Your All
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2020, 04:37:53 PM »
Risky though it was, Struna squeezed her eyes closed for a moment, focusing on the powerful movements of the creature beneath her, and on Darcy’s words, visualising the scene described up ahead.  They were going to cross a river?  And someone’s horse had spooked?  Ugh.  That knowledge alone was enough to stir up a storm of butterflies in her stomach.

Tugging on the reins, and delivering a clumsy kick, Struna managed to cajole her horse behind her teammate, though admittedly Darcy had made the manoeuvre possible by speeding up and slotting in ahead.  Struna’s steed didn’t seem to enjoy being boxed in – or, more likely, it was irritated by its inexpert rider – and its ears swivelled back in annoyance.  “Thanks,” Struna called, though it was difficult to say whether Darcy would hear her, or if her gratitude would be swept away in the wind.

Following the instructions – mercifully, Darcy was clear and concise – the raven-haired cadet managed to slow down.  At a trot, she still chose to remain standing in the stirrups, even if every stride the horse made now jolted uncomfortably through her frame.  They entered the water carefully, the warning about the slipperiness of the rocks barely registering with Struna.  Despite being alerted to the treacherous ground underfoot, she panicked when her horse slipped a little and, in fright, she yanked at the reins.  The whispering swish of her steed’s tail said it was irritated by the overreaction and needless correction.
“Fuck it, fuck – ” Struna hissed, sitting heavily in the saddle.  “Sorry!”  She couldn’t say whether she was apologising to Darcy or the horse, whether it was for her inexperience, or the fact she was likely holding her teammate back, or for her language.  Taking a deep, faltering breath, she forced herself to loosen her grip on the reins.  It felt counterintuitive, but she trusted the younger cadet, and continuing to ride while tensed up was doing her no favours.  The water rushed and burbled beneath them as they crossed, Struna steering less and more allowing her horse to follow the path Darcy set.  Too focused on the present, she didn’t pay attention to the team behind, but she did make the mistake of looking ahead.  Beyond the bank, flags marked out the next obstacle.  A thick, fallen tree shorn clean of its branches led into a wide, shallow ditch that eventually swept uphill towards a crumbling stone wall.  It meant they would have to clear the jump even as they ascended.  “We’re never jumpin’ that, are we?!” Struna asked, violet eyes widening as a note of panic tightened her normally musical voice.


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