Serala — Call To Arms
????, Fire Season, Season/Movement Week
Fire Season/Movement Week/Clayday
At the royal paddocks in Boldhome
It approaches dawn, and Serala approaches the meeting place – the Royal Paddocks. There are not as many horses here as there could be; most of them have gone to war. But, just coming out of their rough stable building are a small herd of Goldeneyes. A small herd. Of Goldeneyes. Mincey’s high-stepping gait is absent – he is not part of this … small herd. Of Goldeneyes. Finarvi and Varanis stopped a little way back out of politeness. Which is a bit sad because Finarvi might not see this small herd of Goldeneyes. Like Mincey, but… a herd. Half a dozen of them.
Serala should potentially be looking around for Haladeen; but what Grazelander worth her salt would be looking for a person when there is a vista like this in front of her? She manages to avoid running towards the fence, instead approaching with a slow, calm, measured gait and leaning on the fence to just watch, taking in the small herd. She does drag her eyes away for long enough to seek out Mincey, but doesn’t try to call him; if there is another stallion in this group, that could end badly. “Well, aren’t you just the sight for sore eyes?” she smiles across to them.
There is a stallion in the group, a big, solid, beautiful animal. Running alongside him, and then vaulting up onto his back, is a big, solid, steady rider, and the whole herd comes to greet Serala. First of all they come past in a string, playing follow-my-leader and then they wheel and come towards the fence, as one front.1Failed Understand Herd Animal
The horses look well cared for, which is good because nobody has to be taken to task. The rider looks proud and happy.
There’s a rider there. Serala nods to him with a suitable level of respect conferred by anyone trusted to manage these amazing creatures, although she is wrapped up in rubbing soft noses, smoothing her hand over silken necks and generally murmuring with a level of adoration that few human-types ever hear from her. Finally she drags her eyes away and offers a genuinely warm smile to the rider. “They’re.. just lovely.” Understatement given emphasis by her tone.
“They are the Queen’s,” he says. “As am I. I am Jorpe. Are you she they call the Cold Lance?”2Failed Insight (Human)
Is she? Serala had never really thought about what other people might call her. “Possibly,” is all she offers to that as she mulls it over. Mulling that doesn’t last long before she gets nudged harder in the chest by an equine nose. Less musing, more stroking is required, it would appear. She reaches in her pockets, searching for the carrots she usually has as treats for Pag and Mincey, glancing up with an enquiring eye to check that treats are acceptable. “The Queen has a good eye for horses.” Unnecessary observation, perhaps, but true. And also, presumably, for people, so Serala sticks to few words, knowing that her words often come out wrong. Gushing is not her style.
“Serala, then,” he says. “White Hazel, Windstone.” He nods to the little vegetable treats, maybe in thanks for being asked as well as permission. “And a stallion to your name.”
“Paglicacci is to my name. The Goldeneye is not solely mine.” She does the important clarifications before inclining her head to the identification. “Why are the Queen’s horses here? It seems an odd time to… visit… Boldhome.”
Jorpe shakes his head. “Not all of them – but they are here, as am I, as hostages. The Grazelands know how Sartar suffers, and who it fights. Who knows, but that there may be battle even as we speak? And if we cannot fulfil the part promised, these are Kallyr’s horses.”3Special, Customs (Grazelander)
It is the Grazeland custom to leave hostages in times of war, although Jorpe is not mentioning that he would likely be executed if a treaty is broken. There will be hostages on the other side too, maybe without such silken manes. But this is a lot of money represented here, which means either that someone is playing very nice, or that someone is playing very big. A potential sweetener, or else the current battles have been declared to be Very Important.
Possibly it’s also a Sartarite custom? That’s harder to know.
A flicker of Serala’s eyebrows at that. “A shame, when Grazelanders find themselves far from home, without even a battle to fight themselves,” she notes, holding up the roots towards the horses, who take them delicately, whickering in contentment. “I am sure you do not need for help with their care. But I would offer, if you have a wish to hear your own tongue spoken. My cousin Finarvi is also here; I think he would offer the same.” She glances over her shoulder in his direction without thinking.
“I have others here,” he says. “Haladeen, you have met.” He too looks over towards Finarvi, who is a polite distance away. “But you should hear me out before you make offers you may be unable to keep. The Feathered Horse Queen is calling home many heroes, and Prince Kallyr will accept prisoners of war in exchange.”
Serala tilts her head to one side. This is obviously leading somewhere, and she is not going to start making guesses. She simply waits, patient, for Jorpe to clarify. Making the most of the time with the cadences of the speech of home, and being so close to the Goldeneyes.
Jorpe lets Serala have a few more minutes before he says, “You should go for home. Tarsh is fastest, but there will be clashing armies. Perhaps that will delight you. Take your cousin if you wish. Your return will release three warriors, if you will serve the Queen’s will. So, three warriors. You will be given tokens on the way to guide you, if the herds have moved.”
“I would always serve my Queen,” Serala notes softly. She might be content enough to see Kallyr solidly on the throne, she might enjoy her companions’ company, but her loyalty, always, is towards home. “I will let my companions know I am called away and ride before the sun sets this day.”
“There will be messages to take,” he says. “Your first task will be courier. And…. there will be the Luminous Stallion King. But you will have to handle him yourself.”
Serala glances upwards, pausing as she tries to work out how to phrase a question. “He.. does not agree with the Queen on this?” she hazards.
“His decisions are most certainly in accord with the Queen on this,” says Jorpe smoothly.
Serala, shakes her head almost imperceptibly. She manages not to say ‘People!’ out loud, but the mare she is stroking gets a light rub on the cheek, as Serala revels in the simplicity that is a horse’s view of the world. Jorpe isn’t going to say more, or he would already have done, she thinks. And so she simply smiles courteously, “I should return here once I am ready to ride to pick up messages?” she clarifies.
“Make it easy on his emissaries. Go to the Palace as well. I’m here with the horses, but there are others there, and coming down the steps is slow.” Jorpe nods his head. “Do come by here if you wish a farewell.”
“I shall,” Serala assures her fellow plainsman. “It is always good to spend time with the language of home.” For a moment, her face lights up as she thinks of being back in the wilds.. before clouding just a little, perhaps at the thought of Grandfather. “Is there anything you need, that I can bring for you?” she queries politely.
“Some more of those little yellow roots you fed the horses,” he says. “I like them too. But really, no. I get to be here for a while, then if Yelm shines kindly, I’ll go home.”