07.14.3013: Racing The Plains
Summary: Anger, joy, and love on the Plains of Ares.
Date: 14 July 2013
Related: None Directly
Ellinor Nikomachos 

Plains of Ares, The Vale
Outside of Phylon, the Plains of Ares stretch on for thousands of miles, from the furthest southern end of the Vale to the beginning of the Forlorn Swamps in the chill north, from the eastern coast of the continent to the western. Scattered farming communities and noble holds lie within the near endless rolling hills, surrounded by seas of grass. Ribbons and patches of water lie about it here and there, streams and ponds coming together to run into the ocean or the expanse of the Great Lake. Grain farms crosshatch large swathes of the Plains, centered around small communities that are in turn centered around Waygates, but the vast majority of the Plains have been left to their own natural devices.
14 July 3013

It is late afternoon over the Plains of Arest. The yellow and green grasses sway gently in the Summer breeze, and lazy clouds roll across those perfectly cerulean skies. The soon-to-be-wed Ellinor Sauveur and Nikomachos Cindravale have gone off-road, their massive destriers striding heavily through the stretch of plains that butt up against the Great Lake. Despite the fact that the Hostiles have mostly been eliminated from the Vale has not relaxed the Lady Knight. She is not in her armor, but her sword is tucked under the saddle and a crossbow is slung at her back. Their pace is slow and steady, almost lazily. "Feeling better?" She asks after a long period of silence.

Nikomachos has held things in pretty well, keeping up a brave face in front of the soldiery and assuring them that with Alexandros in command of their forces, at least they'll be well-led. His lance is attached to his saddle, the streamers floating behind the point as he rides easily alongside Ellinor. His flame-washed vest may not be armor, but his sword is still at his hip, and saddlebags are slung over Erinye's crupper. The question causes him to blow out a long breath, very nearly a sigh, "Not really." Turning a wry, self-deprecating smile over to his betrothed, he adds, "The company is wonderful, and the vistas beautiful as well, but… still a little pissed off."

Merrymaker strides easily along side Erinye in a perfect tempo, and he snorts indignantly at the conversation going on in the saddles. At least he's allowed to keep moving despite being forced to go at such a slow pace. Ellinor is quiet for a few moments as she listens to her betrothed's words, and then she offers him a bit of a smile. "I could talk to Emund…" She looks down at her hands, twisting her grip around the reins. "I mean, maybe he actually didn't have any say in Alexandros… maybe he feels as though Godfrey made a decision without his approval." Green eyes lift to meet his, though they do so with a hint of uncertainty.

Nikomachos shakes his head at the offer, "Edmund wouldn't do anything that fast." Bitterness leeches into his voice, but he draws in another breath and lets it out, his shoulders actually slumping just a touch as he falls easily into the roll of his destrier's stride. When he speaks again, the bitterness is gone, a touch of anger replacing it, "I don't blame you, or even His Majesty." At least he still uses the proper title, "The Hand has the right to dismiss Father. But it's idiocy. Father's the best military mind I've ever met, and he showed that, except for the idiot Khourni who took so many casualties slamming their heads against the Hostiles."

"Niko…" Ellinor says softly at the flash of anger, and it draws a firm frown on her lips. "I know… you aren't going to blame the Sauveurs, or Emund… but you are about to be married into… my House." She looks back down at her fingers as they wrap worriedly around the reins. "And Emund trusts Sir Godfrey, and when you marry me…" She sounds absolutely conflicted, down to her very core. There is a lot of loyalty spread around, from Sauveurs to the Khourni, and now to the Valen. She rolls her shoulders a bit, sitting straighter in her saddle.

Nikomachos nods his head, "Yes, and you're half-Khourni as well. Which makes me complaining about them most uncomfortable for you." He smiles a little sadly, "I'm sorry for that, Ellie." He straightens his own back, shaking his head, "His Majesty trained with Sir Godfrey, Ellie. I would trust Uncle Andros implicitly too, but that doesn't mean he couldn't make a mistake." He looks out and around the plains, then back to his betrothed, "Even I know that having the second wave land while the first wave was still present would have been a disaster." At least that's something of a change of topic — he's not ragging on the Khourni at the moment.

Ellinor grimaces, looking out across the plains as they continue their slow and laborious ride. "I am the ultimate way to bring all the families together… if Lyrienne had managed to marry Declan, then we would have all the Imperius Houses tied up in a neat little package." She shakes her head a bit, breathing out a steady sigh. "Emund should have seen the value of what Alexandros had done. We would still be waiting to hear orders down from the Council, and the Hostiles would be falling upon us, and that would be worse than seeing Alexandros dismissed."

Nikomachos nudges Erinye a little closer to Merrymaker, leaning over in his saddle to brush Ellinor's arm with his fingertips, "It's almost as if someone planned it that way." The words that follow the sigh draw his little smile away once more, even as he nods his agreement, "If the Crown Princess…" He waves off his own words, "Water under the bridge, I suppose." Drawing in a slow breath through his nose, he lets a smile grow across his lips, "So is it a bad thing that part of me wants to go over to Volkan and see if I can get someone to take a swing at me by making disparaging remarks about Sir Godfrey?"

At his touch, Ellinor lifts her eyes to meet his own, and she holds the gaze steady for a long moment before she relaxes into a bit of a smile. "If Janelle had been given a victory, then Alexandros would still have his position on the Council, but there is no point wondering about the what-ifs." She breathes out a slow exhale, but it is hitched with a sudden laugh. "Oh, you want to go poke the Drakes, do you?" She smirks at him, shaking her head. "And you want me to come along to make sure they don't bloody you too badly?"

Nikomachos laughs at the questions, shaking his head, "Oh no. I want to go make the Drakes try to poke me. Because going out there and throwing the first punch would be absolutely miserable manners." His brows draw down at the section question, however, and he scoffs, "No. I can take care of myself, thank you very much, Ellie. If you want to come along for the fun, you're more than welcome." His lips peel back from his teeth in a bright, sharp grin, "I'm sure that would be a wonderful way to draw closer before our wedding."

Ellinor shakes her head a bit, offering a warm chuckle. "I wasn't suggesting you couldn't, My Love," she says with a soothing note to her contralto tones. She heels Merrymaker forward a few steps, trying to stir him into a bit more of a trot that may uplift their pace. She glances over toward him with a smirk. "I'm not going to suggest you don't go and stir up trouble… I would do the same if I were you." She offers him a far more sober smile in response to his sharp grin. "But, I will step in if it does come to actual blows… our wedding is in a matter of weeks… and I don't want you bruised and broken beforehand."

Nikomachos laughs aloud at the soothing words, heeling his black monster of a destrier to match Merrymaker's pace, "Oh yes you were. And perhaps, at some point, I'll forgive you for it." He rides easily, as if born to the saddle, "And if the Hostiles aren't going to be able to keep me away from our wedding, I think that the medics can handle anything the Khourni can lay on me."

Ellinor joins him in the easy laughter as she continues to guide Merrymaker toward the Lake. The destrier starts to quicken his pace into a smooth cantor that sends small earthquakes through the grassy plains. She glances over her shoulder toward him with a wicked uplift of her lips. She tosses her response to him as she breaks away from their pace-for-pace — or so she assumes. "I don't think you heard me very well, Sir Nikomachos… I said I didn't want you showing up to our wedding bruised and broken. I'm marrying you because you're pretty!"

Nikomachos rises in his stirrups as she picks up the pace again, throwing back his head to laugh before he sits back down to pat Erinye's neck, "Get her, boy…" The destrier stretches out, hooves thundering over the grass to catch Ellinor and her own mount. Calling out over the whistle of the wind and the thump of hooves, "So you're going to stay with me whenever I come near Hostiles, and make sure they don't add more of those scars you find so sexy? I think you might be working to cross purposes with yourself, my dear."

Ellinor turns her head a bit toward him just as the wind whips up her scarlet hair. She flashes him a wide smile as she continues to encourage Merrymaker onward. The destrier almost relishes in the sheer freedom of the preliminary gallop, driving his strides forward to force Erinye to meet him stride-for-stride. "Scars earned in war is different than a Knourni black-eye." She laughs brightly as they continue their fast approach to the lakeshore. She tightens her hands on the reins as she drives her horse forward into the gallop he is dying to achieve.

Nikomachos crouches low over Erinye's neck as the stallion stretches out, apparently rather enjoying the opportunity to race. He heels the destrier again, although he's careful not to use the spurs on his boots. He calls over his shoulder, "So if I get them angry enough to stab me, it's a valiantly-earned scar, but if they just punch me, it's a bruise, and you won't countenance it." White teeth flash brightly as he grins, "I don't know, Drakefire, do you think I can annoy someone so much that they might try to stab me?"

"You do me all the time," Ellinor shouts back to him before she begins to duck low against Merrymaker's neck as the ground transitions from the dirt and grass to the lightly pebbled area and then into the low shallows of the lake. She pulls Merrymaker around so that they can start to race along the shore, heeling him toward a small inlet of rocks and knotty trees. She casts him a wide smile. "You get stabbed, we will have a serious conversation, Sir Nikomachos Cindravale, son to Lord Sir Alexandros Cindravale."

Nikomachos looks over, whistling to get her attention to waggle his eyebrows in response to the first words. He guides Erinye alongside Merrymaker with the pressure of his knees — and a touch of his reins, to be honest. Pebbles crash and spray under the hooves of the two destriers. Turning his head around to point at the right side of his neck, "When do we have this serious conversation, My Lady, since I've already been stabbed." He looks ahead to the little inlet, flipping his reins against the sides of Erinye's neck to urge him on to further speed. "What do I get if I reach the first tree first?"

Ellinor continues to push Merrymaker forward with the encouragement of her knees. She tosses her head around at his whistle, catching his gaze with a broad smile that seems to brighten her expression and send light into her eyes. She slows Merrymaker just a bit so their horses are neck and neck with each other. "If you reach the first tree first, you can be on top. If I do, I get to be on top." And she flashes him a broad smile as she suddenly presses her knees into Merrymaker's belly and sends him thundering toward the trees.

Nikomachos throws his head back to laugh at the stakes, "Done and done!" And then he gives Erinye another kick — just as she knees Merrymaker. Evidently they were both trying to get a jump on the race. The Valen knight rises up out of his stirrups, letting his knees absorb the shock of the destrier's pounding gallop. "Charge!" And then he laughs again, and between his continuing laughter, he adds, "For Glory!" One hand lifts off his reins, touching the side of Erinye's neck away from Ellinor, slowing the beat of the destrier's pace ever so slightly.

Ellinor almost becomes one with the horse and his saddle. She bends low against the creature as the they race toward the trees. She remains focus on the target, not willing to become distracted by the racing horse beside her. She is chanting something softly toward Merrymaker as he charges toward the inset. Her expression is warmed despite their competitive nature, sinking into the sheer freedom of the wind through her hair and the feeling of the earth meeting the strong and steady thunder of hooves.

Nikomachos waits a long moment as Ellinor and her destrier surge ahead, and then he gives Erinye another nudge of his knees, sending the black beast racing forward at full speed again. But he's a good three paces behind, and over that distance, even a Valen horse and rider can't make up the distance against another trained and experienced rider. The first tree whips past them, and Niko pulls up to slow his horse's pace, his laughter rising up into the clear air again, "Looks like you get to keep riding, Ellie…"

Merrymaker dances in a graceful trot as he slows at the guidance of his rider. He seems to be anxious, but accepts the fact that he is at the whim of Ellinor's wishes. The Knight is laughing brightly as she turns about in her seat, her cheeks flushed and her eyes dancing with earnest light. She then shakes her head a bit as she relaxes on the reins and knee-grip on Merrymaker. She starts to dismount — which is a bit of a process on the monstrous horse. She drops down into the shallows of the lake with a soft splash. "Of course I do."

Nikomachos is infected by the speed and the freedom as well. Erinye lowers his head instinctively as he comes to a stop, and Nikomachos kicks a leg over the destrier's neck, dropping lightly down onto the pebbled beach with a soft crunch of hard heels and small rocks. He pats the horse on the side as he steps around toward the waterline, "Well done, boy, we almost had her." The big black destrier eyes his rider a moment, then blows out a breath and starts to wander toward the nearest patch of grass. Niko slips between the two houses, stepping into the edge of the lakeshore so that he can stand close to his betrothed. His hands smooth back her windblown hair, and he leans in to capture her lips with a sharp, drawing kiss.

Ellinor pats gently at Merrymaker's flanks as the horse also starts to move off after Erinye, kicking up bits of water as he does. She is distracted watching the horse wander off so that she jumps just a bit as the Knight swoops in toward her. She finds her heart catching in her chest when he draws her into a kiss, but it is a temporary moment as she stands tall on her toes to draw him tightly against her through the kiss. Her eyes flutter shut as she brushes her nose against his, sinking into the warmth of the moment.

Nikomachos smiles against her lips as he half-lifts from the kiss. His hands slip free of her oh-so-red hair, trailing over her cheeks, her shoulders, and then slipping around her waist, "There's no s'mores, but I have a couple bottles of wine in my saddlebags." His light tenor has recovered from the shaking and screeching that ripped at it from the Hostile's sonic weapon, but it's lowered now by throaty desire, "I love you, you know Ellie. You just… arrived in my life and changed everything for the better."

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