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Turn 127

Deciding against Jahl's wise advice this time, Cole, Whisper, Kay, and Wulfgar head out too hunt for lunch and hopefully dinner too. They arent gone long before returning with a few rabbits and a small buck. Appreciating your good fortune, you realize you have enough meat for at least several days and get to work skinning and cleaning the carcusses. That done, the party enjoys a quick lunch and gets back on the road. Gareth and Cole discuss the best way to get to the next town realzing it will take a while on foot, but determined to get there and move on nevertheless before the business with the magic problems, and diety disappearance becomes too widespread to contain. Cole estimates you are about 10 hours outside Landry on horseback. He really couldn't say for sure on foot.

"Congratulations on both the quickness and the skill of your hunting, my friends." The knight turns to address the party, with special discussion position towards Whisper. "We are travelling to Landry, approximately ten hours ride from here," Gareth nods in acknowledgement to Cole. "My apologies, Whisper, if you feel so closed to the notion that creatures may look after one another, or assist each other in noble causes. Quite simply, we need to travel swiftly, not dawdle at a walking pace. It is no excuse, I speak, but the truth. There is a disruption in the magic of the land, and it is tied to a widening gulf between the gods and their people. If it is not resolved, the dangers multiply. You may stand strong in your convictions that to ride an animal subjects it to slavery, yet the mining of ore to make your arrowheads damages the land. Trees were cut down for no other reason than to make arrow shafts and bows so you can shoot. Do either mean that you are a callous savage raping the land? No... of course not. There is a balance within the land, at most times, a balance of giving and taking. We tend our mounts as friends, as allies..." the paladin pats his mount with an obvious affection, "And could not imagine them as anything servile. We trust that they will give all they can to assist us, and they trust that we will not ask more than they can give. We ask for faster legs beneath us to aid the inhabitants of this land, and they request that we care for them when their work is done. None of the people within this company harm their steeds, and most would sacrifice themselves to protect their equine companions. I follow the teachings of Pikahl, and live each day to aid my fellows, protecting them by my service; do you strip away that gift from such dedicated creatures as Emperor?If I were to lift you higher to reach an apple too far out on a tree limb, does that demean me to servant or slave?" Gleaming in his honour, Gareth's question carries across a ripple of ridicule at such an idea. "We do not abandon allies in combat, Whisper, which means that any danger that can outrun us afoot - of which there are many - would doom the entire party, since you refuse to ride. That cannot be. If you cannot establish a partnership with a mount, and treat him or her as an equal and an ally, our ways will not be able to remain together long. We need speed to aid as many people of the land as possible. I understand your abhorance for slavery, and to it I lend my voice, but remember to understand that teamwork and alliances are bonding, not subjugating.
On other thoughts, Landry is near, and if we ride until sun-down, we should make it to the town after the gates open, but well before noon the next day. Disagreement? Thoughts?"
The knight helps in cutting and sharing the meals provided from the hunt, cleans up, and feeds Emperor a carrot while he awaits party decision.

Whisper shrugs. "Good arguements, I shall think about them on my walk to Landry. I am paid to serve but not to ride." If Whisper knows the direction, he shall begin walking, elsewise he will ask Gareth and go.

Arilyn slides off her horse and runs her hand over her horse's neck. His brown coat is warm and so very soft. She walks to the front of him and she runs her hand over his snout. Her eyes look at him and they communicate the care they have for each other. He nudges her shoulder and knocks her back a step. She smiles at him and leans her forehead to him. Arilyn reaches into her pouch and opens her hand. Her horse opens his mouth and scoops up the sugar that is in the palm of her hand. She watches the others and pulls out a piece of dried meat and chews slowly on it...savouring the taste and the nourishment. Arilyn walks over to Whisper. "Hello. I overheard what you said with the others about horses and all animals. I was not being rude by listening and I apologize if you think that what I did was wrong. Elves have very good hearing and sometimes that can be a blessing or a curse. I have my ideas and you have yours but I did not come over here to talk with you about that." She shifts from one foot to the other. "The fact is...we travel by horse and it has proven to be faster than travelling on foot. I would like to ask if you have travelled with others who travelled by horseback and if so, how did you keep up with them? Also, do you have any suggestions on how we can all travel as a group? Having us 'horseriders' walk on foot is not an option." She smiles and waits for a response.

Whisper waits for a reponse from Gareth and turns to regard Arilyn. He gives her a curious look and says, "No need to lecture me about elves, lady." He glances to the horses. "You say travelling on horses is faster. I say, sending out an army to destroy all evil would be more efficent than a group of random adventurers. The best way is not always the way things are done, is my point ." He pauses and then says, "No I don't have any ideas. Travelling on foot is not an option for you, and I don't question that. If you give me directions I will meet you in Landry. Like I said, I am paid to support you, not to ride." He glances at Gareth again.

"In this case, however, one requires the other," Gareth explained as he dismounted. The knight stretched his six-foot frame and gently rubbed the forehead of Emperor. In a thoughtful, but grave tone, "By my oath to Pikahl, abandoning you every day of travel to fend on your own is a grievous offence. In addition, your absence would act as a worry and distraction to others in the party, reducing their alertness and their concentration. Your absence thus becomes a danger to the party. By my oath to King Arion, I am to clear and secure this land. If we must walk the entire path, the party becomes no more fluid than an army and loses their effectiveness. We become to slow to respond to emergencies because of your slowness. Your presence thus defeats the party's mission. You are here with the party only for the money; that is fine, but this party is here for the mission and the goal. Your resistance would break oath and intent. I wish the party's feelings on this matter, but I believe that I, as leader of this company, will put forth this premise to you: we will escort you to Landry, as that is our next destination. At that time, you must decide whether you can learn to ride our equine friends, or feel too strongly to do so. If you are willing to ride, we will keep you within the company. If not, you will be bid a farewell and safe travel, with a small sum to provide you for your travels such far. You have until we are departing Landry to decide. I estimate it will take us three or four days to walk to Landry, and, perhaps another day within the town, barring misfortune or trouble present. Money and one person's wishes are secondary to the dedication to the goal and the party's best interest. Until we leave Landry, Whisper." Gareth took reins in his right hand and began walking towards the now-more-distant Landry. Over his shoulder, a response floated, "Regarding the why an army would not be superior to send than our select company, it is that we are all highly skilled indivuals. Incidentally, an army requires many swordarms, scares the populace as it passes through, and requires a very large and steady supply of food. Further, an army is subject to many tactics a party can avoid, and far more hindered by terrain than a flexible mounted company. Cheaper, faster, friendlier, and more committed than a large group there for the money; that is why our company is superior to an army."

Laban looks at the others talking about riding horses and looks at the beast with interest. He walks to the nearest one and raises a hand slowly he pats it gently and smiles, he whispers softly to the animal and continues to pat it. "I have never ridden one of these fine animals would someone care to show me how it is done?.." He looks around the group.

Seeing Laban approach his horse Wulfgar looks on intently to see what he is up to. Seeing him pat Sundancer he slowly relaxes and continues his cleaning and gutting of the animals they have caught, the blood up past his wrists as he slices up the buck with expert movements of his knife. Hearing Laban mention that he has never ridden a horse before surprises Wulfgar but then he nods as he thinks of the stories of his young childhood.

Jahl snorts as he hears Laban's question. "By all means, please help yourself to this beast!" Jahl offers the reins to the horse he has in tow.

Arilyn mounts her horse and rides next to Laban. "You have chosen well, Laban. You must sit on the saddle and hold the this." She shows Laban the reins in her hands. "To go left, you pull gently on the left rein...and to go right, you pull gently to the right. To pull back on both reins at the same time. To go forward, nudge the horse with your legs. I never kick my horse to go fast. We seem to be able to communicate most things and he almost knows where to go and what to do, even before I do. And that will come with you and your horse as well."
She says this to Laban, but perhaps more for Whisper's benefit. "The horse and the rider are a team. We are of equal importance. Do to the size of the horse...we are on top [ooc - no comments about that ]."
Arilyn looks to Laban. "Riding a horse does take a little time to get used to. And your legs will definitely be sore from being spread [ooc - definitely no comment allowed there either lol]."
She pauses and watches, Laban. "We are a group and thus we travel as one. If we don't all travel the same way, or if we cannot keep up with each other in some manner, then I dont know why one would remain a part of the group."
"Do you have any questions, Laban?" she asks.

She rides over to Wulfgar and quietly watches him. His movements are so sure...his touch so strong yet so gentle. "I am sorry for running off earlier." She smiles and asks. "Will you still train with me?"
Her eyes sparkle and she leans forward, caressing her horse's long neck. Her hand slides down the underside of his neck, feeling his smoothness and warmth. Her lips curl into a slight grin as she gently rubs up and down...watching Wulfgar.

Whisper moves up quickly behind Gareth and grabs his shoulder. "I told you, friend, my beliefs will not change. I do not expect yours to either. If you are going to be this way about the horses, then you might as well ride now. For things will not change at Landry." Whisper smiles. "I have travelled by myself for many years now, in much of my travels through the human world. I am still alive. Don't worry about me." Whisper looks at Gareth and then turns and looks at the rest of the party one by one, his glance falling on Laban for a little longer. He looks at Kay last and then raises his bow in a sort of salute to her. Then he moves off, in a southwest direction.

Cole mounts his horse and looks down at Whisper " Sir, I can't speak for these other's but my horse is not a slave and is free to go as she pleases, She has chosen to follow me because she is my friend and we care for each other on our journey, She could not survive on her own and I do not believe that I would do much better without her." Patting his horse and mumbling gibberish to her. " I wouldn't ask you to go against your beliefs, but perhaps you should acquaint yourself with a horse, perhaps then you could make a change in your views."

Whisper glances back, but does not respond to this one.

Laban listens to Arilyn's words and slips into the saddle easily and seems to be at ease although not to sure about being on the back of such a mighty creature he moves the horse round in a circle as Arilyn tells him how to then stops and slides from the saddle he claps the horses neck and speaks softly to him again. Then walks to a quiet spot to eat some food.

Wulfgar listens to all that is said in the exchange between Whisper and Gareth seemingly deep in thought and only snaps out of it when he realises that Arilyn is next to him speaking. He looks up and starts to smile then stops when he hears Gareth and Whisper end their conversation with Whisper seemingly leaving the group. He returns his attention to Arilyn and nods "Arilyn! I will train with you. We can both learn from each other" He smiles.

Gareth sighs softly at another traveller abandoning the protection of others, but refrains from sermonizing [somehow]. The knight nods a silent farewell, chucks Emperor beneath her chin, and hooks himself into the saddle. "Mount up! We ride until sunset, then on to Landry the next morning. Pikahl watch over and guide us... especially those alone..."

"Fare well my friend Whisper. I will miss talking to you on your study, perhaps we will get a chance someday." With a smile and a polite nod, Jahl waves good-bye. "Now where is that beastly creature that I must sit upon?!?" Jahl looks around, finds his horse and nearly sneers at it as he clumsily climbs onto its back. "Lets make this journey quick! The less time I spend on this- THING- the better." Jahl clicks softly to his horse and moves on at a brisk walk.

Keldar picks up his things, and sighs. "Oh fer a hot meal and some mead right now. This roadtravel's wearyin' me bones, I'll tell ya. Vincas! How'bout a song ta get us in the travelin' mood... and not with that `special' harp o' yours. Somethin' normal."

Vincas laughs at Keldar's request for music. "You sure you don't want a harp song Keldar? Come on, let me have a little fun with this lot."
"Tell you what, once we make camp for the night I'll pull out the old lute and maybe my last skin of wine and we'll have a little fun."

Laban slides back into the saddle as the group rides to Landry. He settles into a steady pace next to Arilyn. His hood covering much of his face and eyes, he rests as he rides and thinks of the times that brought him to the surface world. What would lie ahead of him in the next few weeks and what other wonders would he find on this strange world.

Wulfgar quickly slips the bagged meat into saddlebags and washes his hands before jumping into the saddle he clicks his horse forward and catches up to the group handing one of the meat filled saddlebags to Jahl so that one does not carry the whole meat for the group. He then spurs his horse forward to ride beside Gareth at the front of the group.

Turn 128