Like an Arrow

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 16th, 2016, 4:13 pm

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“I could give you tips, you know.”

The lilted words were accompanied by a smiling face baring down on Coryn from horseback. The Drykas continued with his big, stupid smile as he gestured to the rider-less mount beside his own. ”I’ve seen you looking at them. Have you never ridden a horse before?”

“Of course I have.” She said spikily, for reasons unknown to Coryn. Though she had ridden on horseback twice before - on the way to the Mithryn Outpost and again on her return to Syliras proper – she’d found the experience uncomfortable and really quite unpleasant. Horses were big creatures, and they made her nervous. But as little as she wanted to ever sit on a horse again, she nevertheless found herself being offended by the male’s presumption. Pride was a funny thing.

He smirked and gave a little shake of his head. “You don’t look like you’re particularly comfortable around them.” His words were cut short by a bark of laughter at Coryn, who jumped when his strider snorted warily to her. “She knows you’re scared. It makes her nervous.”

Coryn glanced to the wheat-haired man, her face twisted in confusion, and then back to his steed. The Drykas were regarded as masterful horse lords; men and women who lived amongst the creatures as if they were equals. Perhaps the opportunity to learn how to ride alongside one was an opportunity she should take. How often would such a chance arise?

Against better judgement, she felt herself nodding. “Yes. Teach me.” And then, as an after thought, she tagged on the end: “please.”

“Really?” He did not bother to hide his surprise at her answer. When she approached the lone horse beside his own, he gave another amused laugh. “Now? You want to learn now? But it’s almost evening.”

“All the more reason to get going, don’t you think?” She retorted confidently, glancing over her shoulder to ensure her tone would deliver the urgency of her request. Night time bought with it the transformation of Coryn’s form, and this was something that she did not want to share with a stranger so new to her. “Surely we can ride out for a bell or so.” Of course she had no real idea how far, or long, she would want to be on horse back, but she nevertheless gestured wildly to the camp around them. Their travelling party had come to a stop, and fires were beginning to be lit. All around them both were exhausted faces, and more passionately than ever Coryn felt the need to escape. “Please. Now.”

Baffled, the Drykas shrugged and eventually nodded. “If we leave now, we’ll be back before the hunt.” Those final words sparked an idea in him, and he turned his dark eyes back to Coryn, eyeing her questioningly. “I don’t suppose you can shoot an arrow?”

It didn’t seem fitting to even attempt to deny this fact: “Of course not.”

“Didn’t think so. But there’s time for you to learn. My father always said that a lesson shouldn’t be limited to a single skill or theme.” There was a glint in his eye that Coryn did not trust, but she found her lips taking the shape of a smile either way. “Right. Well, climb on then.”

Her attention was pulled from the man to the horse. Already tacked and saddled, she observed the creature for several ticks before reaching out a tentative hand, touching the horse’s snout. He snorted and stomped a hoof, and Coryn stepped backwards sharply. When she turned helplessly to her teacher, she found him shaking his head, grinning. “Talk to him. I believe his name is Francis.”

“Francis?” She snorted. What a ridiculous name for a horse, or anyone for that matter. “What am I to say to a horse? ‘How’s the grass’?”

The Drykas slid off his own mount and joined Coryn on foot before Francis. Extending a hand, he began to coo and whisper to the beast like the Svefra had seen mothers speak to their children. She watched him, befuddled and amused. Was he pulling some sort of prank?

But no: the horse made another sound, softer than when Coryn had approached. “See? All it takes is a kind word and an introduction.” The male murmured, stepping to the side of the horse and nodding to Coryn. “Try again. Start with ‘hello’, and go from there.”

And so, following the instruction of the infamous Horse Lords, Coryn formally introduced herself to a horse: “Hello. I’m Coryn.” As she spoke, she reached out her hand, landing her fingers gently on the horse’s cheek. He made no movement save for his dark eyes, watching Coryn inquisitively. “How’re you, Francis? Are you tired of all this walking? I certainly am.” Now she had two hands on the horse’s neck. She threw a cautious glance to the Drykas, and he nodded firmly.

“Good. Now let’s get you on Francis’ back before he too decides walking is no way to spend time.”

Clambering into the horse’s saddle was a laborious and humiliating affair. Coryn followed her teacher’s instructions precisely, placing her foot in the stirrup – another ridiculous word – before trying to haul herself upwards. But either she lacked the balance, the strength or the understanding necessary to achieve this task independently and so eventually the Drykas had to dip down and push her up. Coryn shrieked with embarrassment, but regardless of her demands that he stop pushing and heaving, she found herself atop the horse.

“There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” He said with a touch of smugness to his voice. The Drykas stepped back, nimbly climbed back up on his own mount, and gave Coryn a brief nod. “Now, just squeeze your thighs and Francis will know what to do. He’s a veteran of all this riding malarkey.”

Cautiously Coryn did as she was told, applying light pressure to the horse with her legs. And, as expected, Francis jerked into a steady walk. Coryn gasped, her entire body becoming taut with nerves.

This creature is sure to be the death of me.
Last edited by Coryn on February 16th, 2016, 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 16th, 2016, 5:49 pm

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But Francis was not the death of Coryn, though he did come close several times before they’d even left the campsite. When Coryn wasn’t sitting upright, breath held and her body rigid like a piece of stretched material that was about to rip, she was being jolted left to right as Francis kept the pace with the Drykas’ own mount. Several times she felt like she was sliding right off her saddle, only to gasp and throw herself at the mercy of Francis’ neck for support.

“You need to relax.” The male said confidently, that cocky smile coming to his lips once more. He ran a hand over his head, pushing back strands of his golden hair that had fallen into his eyes. Blue eyes, like Coryn’s own in her mortal form.

”How?” She demanded desperately, trying to mimic his casual riding style but failing with an impressive lack of skill. ”You don’t even have reins.” The observation had come late to her, causing him to chuckle once again in that throaty, huff voice.

“This is a yvas.” He explained patiently, gesturing to the general make-up of his mare’s equipment. “My people do not use saddles and reins like you do. But for now, I think you should stick with them.

Did more equipment equal more control over a horse? Coryn certainly felt that was not the case, but she kept silent, stewing in her own fear of death by falling off a horse and a desire to quell this Drykas’ presumptions about her. Though there was no disproving that she was utterly hopeless at horse riding, there was time still for her to prove her ability to learn. “Like this?” She said, splaying her legs wider and more loosely on Francis’ flanks. Her arms dropped, coming to rest on her thighs before her. For the briefest of ticks, Coryn felt comfortable.

“Yes.” The Drykas winced, “close enough.” He concluded finally.

They walked in silence for several chimes. Coryn grunted and gasped every so often when Francis threw his head back or twisted his head this way or that. But eventually she became familiar with the horse’s slow rhythm. Her hips began to buck in time with his steps. When she came to ask her companion another question, Coryn realised something. “I don’t know your name.”

There was that smile again. “No, you don’t.” It seemed to her that the Drykas had been aware of his namelessness all this time, and had merely been waiting for her to catch up with him. Chastising her own slow thinking, Coryn enquired as to what he was called. “Briar.” He said, his hands slicing through the air another silent introduction. “So what is waiting for you in Kenash, Coryn?” He asked, accent emphasising the hard sounds of the K and C.

“I don’t know yet.” She said earnestly, shrugging. What did wait for her in Kenash? She knew very little about the city, save for that it was surrounded by crops and house to many businesses. Unlike Syliras, there were no walls that surrounded the city, and at the time that had been enough for Coryn to want to visit. That and, of course, the availbilty of a caravan leaving for Kenash with two days’ notice. It had amazed her how quickly her pathetic little life in Syliras had been sold and packaged away. The miserable flat in which she had lived had been sold off, no doubt home to another newcomer now. Kitty, the humongous cat that had haunted her life since her arrival into the city was now bundled up in a cage on one of he caravans, no doubt meowing pathetically to be let out. When they returned to the campsite, Coryn made a note to herself to spend some time with the feline.

“You don’t know?” Briar repeated, brow furrowing as he tried the words on his lips. “Why are you going there then?”

“I didn’t like Syliras. I wanted to change. Kenash was, from what I heard, one of the closest cities.”

“That’s not wrong but…”

His silence hung in the air, an unwanted thid party to their outing.

“But what?” Coryn’s body tensed up and Francis, sensing the change in attitude and body language, grunted unhappily beneath her.

Briar’s shoulders shrugged in a dismissive manner, but his lips were still narrow and smile vanished from his eyes. “I suppose it’s just because it’s very different to how I live with my people. That’s all.”

It was an excuse, Coryn knew. Something else about Kenash disturbed or put off Briar, but for now she was thankful for his lie. Perhaps if he failed to convince her, she could convince herself. “I guess that must be it.” Her voice was thick with doubt, as if Coryn had just ingested a spoonful of sticky honey, “but as long as it’s different to Syliras, I don’t care.”

And with that conclusion, they rode in silence for a while.
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 17th, 2016, 8:25 pm

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When their campsite was nothing more than a small dot on the horizon and a somewhat patchy memory, her Drykas companion began to sweep his hands across the grasses, as if he were trying to caress them. “We should find a good hunting spot soon. Winter is never an easy time to hunt or travel.” There was something quietly accusatory in his tone, but Coryn chose to ignore it. She supposed he was more familiar with travelling than she, and knew when best to do it. Still, she refused to explain herself to a man who conversed with a horse.

Briar and his mount seemed perfectly in tune with each other, almost unnaturally so. No sooner would Briar point in some direction would the horse begin to follow his finger, as if she understood what he said when he told Coryn the vague direction he aimed to lead her in. She in turn would try to steer Francis, gently tugging on his reins or clicking her tongue, but the pair seemed to understand each other significantly less.

“We should silence our horses’ hooves.”

With this cryptic order, he slid from his mount and made his way to Coryn. She ungracefully dismounted with his aid and was thankful for the solid ground beneath her feet. “What do you mean?” She quipped, smoothing down her clothes and hair.

He said nothing, but gestured to Coryn to follow him. He withdrew four pieces of cloth from the bag that formed part of his – what was it called? – yvas. He handed these to Coryn before diving back into the bag again, pulling out four more of the oddly sized pieces. Still the Drykas said nothing, but his playful smile both irked Coryn and informed her that he was planning something. She followed him to the other side of his mount, who he subsequently whispered to in the airy language of his people. The horse snorted before lifting up her front right hoof, which the Drykas held in one hand as tentatively as holding a child’s hand. “These help soften the sound of their hooves.” He said in the same quiet voice.

The idea was so simple but ingenious that Coryn couldn’t help but grin widely. “How clever.” She said, watching as he tied the thin rope of the cloth pieces around his horse’s hooves. “And they don’t mind you doing it?” If there was one part of the horse even Coryn knew to be wary of, it was the hooves.

“Of course not. Shilo here is familiar with the process and Francis is a calm lad, he’ll be fine. Or rather—” The final hoof of his mare was clothed, and Briar stood up, pointed to Francis and gently pushed Coryn towards the horse, “—you’ll be fine.”

“No.” She said instinctively, turning from the horse and pushing the cloth pieces into the Drykas’ chest. “No, you do it. I can barely ride him. He doesn’t like me.” Whether or not horses were even capable of complex thought processes such as having preferences between people, Coryn was not yet sure.

He laughed his casual, stupid laugh and said, “No. You’ll be fine. Go on, copy what I did with Shilo.”

Growling, Coryn turned away and approached the horse. She placed a hand on his shoulder, as Briar had done with his own mount earlier. Slowly she pushed her hand down his leg, her fingers pressing into the fur and muscle. As if by instinct, Francis lifted his leg. But Coryn was too slow to catch and hold it as Briar had done, and so the horse stomped his hoof down, snorting irritably.

“Try again. Exactly as you did.” Briar encouraged carefully.

She did, tracing her fingers back down Francis’ shoulder until once again he lifted up his foot. This time she caught it, supported it as she placed the cloth baggie over his hoof. Her fingers were trembling throughout the entire harried experience and as soon as she released Francis’ hoof, both horse and woman seemed equally relieved as each other.
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 17th, 2016, 9:28 pm

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The second hoof was no easier, or less terrifying for Coryn. As before was slow and careful, this time stroking from Francis’ hindquarters and down his rear left leg. As before his lifted up his hoof and this time Coryn caught and supported it on her first attempt. The cloth baggie was attached, and Coryn stepped away, pleased with her progress but nevertheless relieved.

“Good work. Now for the other two.” Briar said, smiling but unforgiving in his teaching.

When all four of Francis’ hooves had been clothed and silenced, they continued on their journey. Once again Briar had to give Coryn a boost for her to clamber into her saddle (which, again, she did without a single ounce of grace), but they were off. After ten or so chimes, and in the orange glow of Syna, he held up a hand. Mirculously, both Shilo and Francis came to a stop.

“How did—”

“Ssh!”

It was the first time he had spoken, or rather signalled, to Coryn with any hint of irritation. She knew he was a hunter, but she had not expected Briar to be so impatient with her own lack of understanding or knowledge of the hunting process.

His hands slid through the air and then, again fringed with mild annoyance, Briar sighed and explained, “there is a hog up ahead, one of this year’s young. Follow me, but remain ten or so paces behind. And watch carefully.” Those final two words were accompanied by that glinting grin yet again, and Coryn found herself relieved that the Drykas’ previous annoyance seemed all but forgotten.

He moved onwards, with Coryn following suit once she had counted to ten and allowed some distance to grow between herself and the Drykas. Her eyes remained fixated on his form, the fluidity of his movements as he withdrew his bow and notched an arrow. They drove their horses carefully, slowly, closer. Nothing much seemed to be happening, and Coryn was considering saying something (but what?) when Briar let his arrow fly. If the thwang of his bowstring hadn’t made her jump, the subsequent squeal of a dying pig certainly did. The Drykas slipped from his mount nimbly and danced through the green sea to locate his kill.

Coryn followed, thudding to the ground and picking herself up from the snow. When she found Briar, he was stooped over the pig and retrieving his dagger from it’s chest. “Not quite a clean kill, but did you see?” Thankfully he was still smiling, with the excitement and pride of a young lad who had pulled off a successful prank.

“I did.” Coryn half-lied. She had been too busy watching the Drykas to notice the hog, but now she looked down at the creature with mild repulsion. “A fine kill.” Another lie; the sight of the pig, it's blood, made her stomach queasy.

He chuckled, then yanked his arrow from the pig’s midriff. “It’ll do, especially after the others have hunted tonight as well. You might actually have enough food to cook with for once.”

Coryn found a genuine smile on her lips, which surprised her. The task of cooking the evening meal for their travelling party had fallen to her feet, and she had picked it up begrudgingly. It wasn’t the cooking she disliked, more the complaints from her fellow travellers that were thinly concealed as jokes or sarcasm: (“Not a fan of using seasoning, Coryn?” “Gods, judging by all the green in this broth, I’d say you were feedin’ rabbits, not men!”)

“I’ll still get the same comments even if I offered up a banquet.”

“Well, I think your food is delicious. I wish you’d been there on my other journeys cooking for me.”

Coryn let the faint blushing of her cheeks speak for her.
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 18th, 2016, 3:47 pm

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“Now it’s your turn.”

“Wha-?”

The Drykas grinned and bent down to tie together the legs of the hog, which he then proceeded to tie onto his vyvas and sling over the back of his mount. “I don’t expect you to actually make a kill, don’t worry.”

Good. That was never an option.

“But I do expect you shoot something with an arrow.”

He was being vague on purpose, she realised. This irritated Coryn, who disliked mystery and farce. What point was there in his being so coy? Perhaps he thought it flirtatious or playful, but Coryn’s remained unamused. Lips straightened into a thin smile, she ordered, “Tell me what you mean.”

Briar’s eyebrows quirked in amusement, but thankfully he explained himself, “It’s how young Drykas are taught to aim and shoot an arrow. Live targets are too challenging what with their habit to avoid death and all. But these--” He held a hand up, and Coryn recognised one of the cloth baggies that had been previously wrapped around Shilo’s hooved. But now it was filled not with hoof, but with snow. “--Don’t tend to move around much, but are small enough for you to improve your aim.”

Once more Coryn was impressed with the Drykas’ idea, but she kept this from him – the male smiled and grinned to much already and she like to think that she was keeping his ego at bay. “I see.” Was all she would said, her voice level.

As he handed the weapon over to her, Briar explained: “This is a shortbow. Smaller than a longbow, but typically more powerful in it’s release of the arrow, though with a shorter shooting distance.”

“It’s lighter than I expected.”

“Made by my own clansmen. Drykas bows have to be as light as possible for use on horseback. Now, copy me…”

He took a pose, right arm bent back and fist held near his head, left arm held outright as if he was holding a bow. Coryn imitated him best she could, but the stance was unfamiliar to her. “Not quite…” Briar murmured, and set about tweaking and poking at Coryn’s legs and arms to correct her posture. “Legs shoulder width a part, arm straight out but keep a light bend in your elbow. This elbow…” He tapped her right side, “…needs to be out, not tucked in. See how much better than feels?”

Indeed, her posture was far more comfortable than before. But there was something missing that Coryn felt was somewhat detrimental to the lesson. “I’m not even holding a bow.”

Her impatience earned one of Briar’s broad, toothy smiles. “Very observant. Try again then, with the bow this time.”

She pulled back the bowstring, surprised at the tension building up between the bow and the string. When Coryn retook her stance, Briar once again paced in a circle around her. Satisfied with her posture, he notched at arrow against the bowstring and moved her fingers to hold it in place. “Look down the arrow’s length, towards the head. See the point?”

It was strange for Coryn to look at something so close her; she felt as if she were going cross-eyed. But nevertheless she gazed down the length of the arrow, her attention caught by the snow-filled baggie. “When you’re ready, you know what to do.”

She let the allow fly, watched as it sailed cleanly in the air and past the cloth bag. It disappeared from view. “Not a bad first try.” Briar said in an annoyingly optimistic tone, “Once you get the feel for archery, you’ll come to aim better.” He stepped close to Coryn, placing a hand on her shoulder before he went to retrieve the lost arrow. He returned mere ticks later, waving it in the air. “Try again.”
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 21st, 2016, 8:30 pm

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As before, Briar notched the arrow for her. Coryn regained her stance, feet angled perpendicular to her target. She pulled on the bowstring, bringing her thumb to her cheekbone. If her previous attempt had been off target to the left, she would need to counter herself by aiming more to the right. It made sense in her mind, but when Coryn let her second arrow fly it sailed cleanly above the target, separated by a good few inches.

The Svefra let out a growl that sounded more suited to a bear than a pretty blonde. ”I was so close!”

Briar grinned. In truth Coryn had been no closer to hitting the target than her first attempt, but still, he wanted to encourage her. “You were.” He said, once again walking to the bag to retrieve the arrow. “It’s just practice, nothing more. You’ll get better, I promise.”

But Coryn was starting to learn her own lack of patience. She wanted to be better at archery now. The inches that had separated her arrow and the target may well have been miles, and this irritated her to no end. Briar returned with the arrow, notched it for her, and stepped to the side. “Again.”

Once again she pulled on the bowstring, the arrow held in her right hand between her forefinger and middle finger. When she felt the feathers of the fletching touch her cheek, she twisted her aim lower than her previous shot, more to the left than the first. The arrow was released, tundering into the rock that her target sat proudly atop.

Coryn swore.

Briar subsequently left, left her side to return the arrow and instead came back with two fragmented piece of thin wood. “You destroyed my arrow!” He accused, a smile on his lips. “Perhaps you’re not a natural.”

“I can be.” Coryn bristled, but she too forced a grin on her lips to lighten her otherwise tetchy tone. Why was she so intent on proving herself to the Drykas male? It wasn’t so much that she wanted to impress him, but more prove his quiet confidence wrong. How dare he assume so little of her! Even if his impression was valid…

“Again.” She demanded, nodding to the quiver full of arrows that lay on the floor between them. “I’ll happily prove you wrong.”
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Like an Arrow

Postby Coryn on February 21st, 2016, 9:02 pm

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“How about…” The Drykas said slowly, building up pressure, tension… whatever he intended. He stooped down, is movements as purposefully slow as his words, “if you hit your target, I get to kiss you?”

“Wha-?”

His offer hung in the air, a bad smell after a heavy meal. Coryn stared at him incredulously, searching for any trace of his usual good humour and playfulness. But now Briar’s eyebrows were quirked not in jest, but in suggestion. What he wanted was so simple, and yet Coryn did not know how to respond. She had kissed men before, of course. Drunken lips mashing together in the dark corner of a tavern pulled back into her memory, but she suppressed it with mild embarrassment. “Why?” She demanded warily.

“Because I want to kiss you. I’ve wanted to since I first saw you, staring at those horses. There’s something about you that…”

She silenced him with a raised hand. No further explanation was needed, and Coryn was disappointed. Her gift from Nikali was the single most precious thing she had to her name, and yet here was its single downside, personified by a Drykas with a toothy, crooked smile and wheat-coloured hair. It wasn’t her that he wanted, but her gift. It was the same reason why people spilled their secrets to her like cheap wine, offloading their innermost worries and confidences to a woman who, frankly, did not want to hear them.

A rejection formed on her lips, the usual I’m sorry, but I’m not looking for that, I don’t want that from you that was both polite but firm. But Coryn hesitated – why? She had a long time to spend in the company of her fellow travellers, including this male. He could potentially make the already arduous task of travelling far, far worse by spreading a few bad words about her. Perhaps a mere kiss would placate him enough to make her life subsequently easier.

It was enough for her to accept his challenge. “Fine.” She murmured, nodding to the bow so he would notch a fresh arrow. She realised that his promised kiss depended on her making an accurate hit on the target – which, up to now, had not happened. There was an easy way out of this deal, a wormhole in their verbal contract.

And yet Coryn still found herself training the arrow as best she could on the baggie. To lose out of choice was not an option – she had her pride. And though Coryn was not fond of the idea of selling her kisses away like they were hot cakes, she disliked the idea of proving Briar right all the more. She pulled the bowstring, inhaling sharply at the same time. Though her body moved in that unfamiliar stiff way, her mind was still weighing up the options of kissing Briar, or aiming poorly.

The arrow flew, burying itself in the cloth bag.

She’d done it!

And so had Briar: his lips were on hers as soon as the arrow was in the air, one hand on her hip, the other on the arm that held the bow.

His kiss was warm, both from the physical contact between them and the desires that flooded into Coryn's mind. She did not need her gift to know what the Drykas wanted, though: he wanted her. And she felt her own wishes twisting to match his. The very solid form of the his body against hers shaped Coryn's lips into a coy smile. When he tried to break away, the Svefra kept him close. "You've changed your mind." He said, forehead resting against hers and eyes glinting. "Why?"

Coryn didn't answer. There was no need: her explanation would ruin the moment for him, and for now she would keep her blessing close to her chest.
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Like an Arrow

Postby Devi on April 18th, 2016, 12:11 pm


Your Grades have arrived!


Coryn

Skills:
  • Socialisation: 5
  • Horsemanship: 2
  • Riding: 3
  • Interrogation: 2
  • Observation: 2
  • Weapon – Shortbow: 3
  • Persuasion: 1
  • Kissing: 1
  • Seduction: 1
Lores:
  • Riding: Horses can tell when you’re nervous
  • Horsemanship: Talking to your horse
  • Riding: How to Mount
  • Drykas: Natural with Horses
  • Briar: My Drykas Instructor
  • Interrogation: Asking the Right Questions
  • Horsemanship: How to silence a horse’s hooves
  • Weapon – Shortbow: Proper Stance
  • Weapon – Shortbow: How to Draw and Aim
  • Nikeli’s Mark: A Blessing and a Curse
  • Seduction: Sometimes saying nothing says a lot
Comments: Lovely stuff – I was especially entertained at Coryn’s impatience to learn new skills and her back and forth opinion about Nikeli’s Mark.

You were close a few times to getting more Observation points - in your next thread try spending a few sentences on describing what Coryn can see, what she can feel and smell. It'll add more depth to your descriptions and you'll get a few more skill points to boot.

I look forward to seeing more of you!

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback. Don't forget to edit your post in the Grade Request Thread to say it's graded and leave a link in there for the Storytellers.

Happy Writing!

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