|Help Search Members Calendar Shoutbox|
|Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )||Resend Validation Email|
The horses milling around the dusty stockyard lot looked, well, quite bored out of their mind. Tails periodically switched at the flies buzzing around and every so often they’d shake their head. Clouds of gnat swarms circled, waiting, and once a horse went still, they stormed down for the eyes and ears. The cycle just repeated, and repeated, and repeated under the burning sun.
One young mare, however, clearly was not accustomed to the fence that encircled them. She was flighty and her ears were erect, swiveling every which direction that a sound came from, and she huffed loudly. Her trot was springy as she moved effortlessly from one end of the lot to the other and then cantered back to stop right at the gate and press her chest against it. She even bent her neck down in an attempt to snag the latch, surprisingly. When that proved fruitless, her ears pinned and she reared on her hind legs just enough to push hard against the gate that wasn’t budging, growing more frustrated.
Smart, light on her hooves, and spirited. She was perfect.
The grin that curved Dante’s mouth upward was one of both amusement and eagerness. The mare was not letting up with her attempts at escaping and it appeared to be irritating the heavyset man overseeing the lot. He pulled his hat and rubbed the sweat from his brow, grumbling to himself about “that damn mare” and how the gate would surely need fixing after this. Seizing the opportunity, Dante stepped away from the lot fence and over to him.
”Excuse me, but that mare - how much for her?” There wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in his voice and yet the large man looked at Dante as if awaiting a punchline. For a moment, he saw the man’s eyes drop their gaze down and then back up, and then it was Dante’s turn to await some terrible comment. Being Mexican in these parts never really mixed well together, but it was evident by the man’s silence that his desire to get rid of the troublesome mare outweighed his want for a snarky comment.
So he pitched a price and Dante bartered it lower. Not too low, however, since the man had at least kept his racist comments about the scrappy vaquero to himself, but Dante couldn’t help chuckling at “his loss for buying a wild horse that’s good for nothin’ more than dog meat.”
”That’s your belief,” he reminded the retreating man counting his new bills, watching the mare stick her head over the fence and look in his direction.
Any wise and business-savvy craftsman knew that a horse sale or auction was always the place to be when in search of new custom. A new horse would often lead to other new purchases, from a tailor-made saddles and other tack, to the shoes that would need to be shod and the saddlebags that would eventually carry much needed supplies on the rider’s travels. Winifred Tucker’s employer was a regular face at Blackacre’s livery and stockyards, where his reputation preceded him as one of the most talented leather craftsmen for miles; or in his mind, the most skilled and trustworthy of the lot. Unfortunately for him, an incredibly picky and demanding customer was keeping him firmly sat at the crafting table, meaning he had no choice but to send out his newly acquired assistant. He of course reasoned that it would be good to get her out there and test her salesman technique, instead of letting her stay cooped up in the store like some kind of caged hen. Talented that she was, he needed to know that she could bring more to the business than just a steady hand with the needle and thread.@Dante Rojas
As for the assistant in question, Winnie wasn’t exactly ecstatic about being sent out on such an ambiguous errand, but she was also caught between a rock and a hard place. She was still trying to convince her employer that she was worth a decent wage, which was the only thing keeping a roof over her head at the local boarding house, and adequate food upon the table each night. Whilst her employer hadn’t explicitly told her it would be okay to come back empty handy, she was definitely feeling the pressure about securing a decent customer and altogether making a good impression; not just to her overseer, but also to the townsfolk who were still forming an opinion about her. In which case, for starters, it was definitely a good idea to trade in her work breeches for a more simple and acceptable skirt and blouse.
Thankfully, rather than prying too far into how Winnie was settling in and so forth, the topic of conversation around the livery was more inclined towards a rowdy mare kicking up a fuss in her paddock, whom ‘no one in their right mind should buy’ according to the small crowd of loitering traders. She let a few stable hands and stragglers talk to her about the stifling weather and even managed a strained chuckle here and there. Most people were more concerned about how her boss was getting on, managing the store on his own since the departure of his wife some moons ago. Contrary to the locals though, Winnie didn’t care to gossip, especially about things she barely knew anything about.
“Why, he’s doin’ jus’ fine, but I’ll be sure to tell him that you asked after his health an’ such.” She’d always curtly respond, before excusing herself with an equally curt smile. She wasn’t being paid for idle small talk, especially if it clearly wouldn’t result in a successful sale.
Things started to look up though when her ears pricked to the tell-tale sound of bartering, even if the subject of sale was questionable, to say the least. Up to this point, she’d been hovering near two better dressed gentlemen dillydallying over whether or not to purchase one of the meeker thoroughbreds out of the lot. In comparison though, the young man splitting cash into the sweaty palm of the overseer had far better prospects. In her casual approach, Winnie almost jumped out her skin as the acquired mare suddenly kicked against her confines.
And she thought her own mare was a tempestuous bundle of joy…
Gathering her wits though, she re-rehearsed her speech in her head as she approached the buyer, and stopped beside him with arms crossing against her ribs. “You got yourself one heck of a handful there,” she announced.
It was only now that she was within such close proximity to the young man though, that her nostrils flared with her next inhale, exhale. The smell of horse was so strong and stifling, but mixed in the air now, she could just about pick up a more alarming scent permeating through the far more expected and ordinary layers. Holy hell. Was that now three Lycans, in under a fortnight… just what was it that drew so many of them all here to Northwind Basin like bees to the honey? The realisation had her pausing with wider eyes and a silent ‘oh’ upon her parted pout. Clearly, Winnie was taken aback slightly, not to mention resentful of the fact that she kept crossing paths with other beasts of burden. Another sudden push from the spirited mare against the gate however, managed to likewise kick the she-wolf into hastily clearing her throat. The words she’d rehearsed though weren’t quite the ones that escaped her tongue now, as she stared directly ahead at the horse rather than look in the eye of the stranger.
“Risky riding out on a horse like that though, ain't it?" She carefully pried, trying to determine how long he intended to stay in the region for. "She’ll buck you long before you make it out of town, that’s f’sure. 'Specially in the wrong saddle and tack.” And tagged on some sales tactics for good measure.
This post has been edited by Winifred Tucker: Jun 23 2018, 12:49 PM
Her roan coat showcased scars as streaks of reddish-brown against the off-white. A mare, sure, but absolutely a fighter. Spunk, grit, and unstoppable heart - he knew where she wanted to be and it pained him that he really couldn’t just let her loose (where was she from? How far away? Would she even make it by herself?). Dante had grown up helping out with corralling wild horses for auction but it always bothered him thinking that he didn’t know where they would be taken to. Maybe some would be slaughtered, maybe some would live a worse life being mistreated, and others would be broken entirely. To him, these beautiful creatures were individuals that deserved the best care, and even if the angry mare would take a while to come around, he felt better knowing she was under his care as opposed to the gruff pen keeper chopping her up just for being bothersome and unable to be sold for profit.@Winifred Tucker
He watched his new companion strike out against the fence - effectively startling a poor woman that’d been crossing on the other side. It was a struggle to hide the amused grin that came to his face while she slowly came to a stop beside him and watched the horse as well.
”A handful, yes, but she will be worth it.” The stronger the horse’s personality, the stronger the bond was between horse and human as time went on. In his opinion. ”Besides,” he added quietly, vaguely gesturing toward the man still counting money, ”I figured he was going to slaughter her himself with how much it seems he does not like her.” That cheeky grin surfaced once more while he cast a sideways glance in her direction. And it would’ve been a shame, really, to put the mare down simply because she had too much personality and wasn’t happy in certain situations. The white men just couldn’t “listen to the animals,” as his mother had always said. Most reactions were a result of environmental stimulus: the fence, a place different than home, humans-slash-predators staring at her. All of it equaled one unhappy horse.
There was something about this woman beside him, however, that derailed his thoughts on the horse and instead had him trying to be discrete as he tuned into his senses in an effort to figure it out. She didn’t look any different from the few times he’d turned his head toward her; didn’t sound any different either, other than that accent (but everyone this far north seemed to talk like that). If anything, there was something odd about the way she smelled - nothing bad, as far as he could tell - but it was just… off. Not enough to really cause concern at the moment, however.
”Yes,” he answered, focusing back on the mare, ”but fortunately I do not plan to even try to ride her just yet. As far as I can tell, she has never been ridden anyway.” That lovely red roan color was like so many in the wild herds they’d moved across the desert and so it made it easy to picture the feisty mare galloping through brush and kicking up dust. But the woman’s words had him raising an eyebrow. ”I am in need of a saddle, actually. And a good bridle. Do you know where I might find some?”
Bristling fur aside, Winnie instantly noted how disarming cheerful the young man was, in spite of the fact that he’d made what many people might call a foolish purchase. Yet the content grin he wore carried a certain ignorance towards what other people might have thought, and perhaps even an intentional ignorance between the less common similarity that he shared with Winnie. She couldn’t tell if he was just being discreet and making small talk, or if he was yet to pick up her own scent from amongst all the others. Either way, it was difficult to feel threatened by someone who was seemingly just basking in the glow of a good mood; even the inner wolf was somewhat subdued. Instead, she found herself following his not-so subtle cue over to the sweaty overseer and winced with the wrinkling of her nose.@Dante Rojas
“Mm… seein’ that horse on a platter would be a mighty fine waste,” she agreed with the stranger, in her own way. Aside from a challenging temperament, the mare was relatively healthy and clearly strong, if the scars shimmering in her coat were anything to go by. Winnie had always thought herself to be good with horses, before her self-esteemed suffered from the Lycan disease. Now, part of her feared that the horse could sense her inner, feral malady, which is why her own mare liked to occasionally buck; or so she thought. Regardless, there was never a good reason to slaughter a young and healthy horse, especially not just because it had spirit. On second thought, she noted, as her eyes were drawn back to those scars; perhaps half the reason was thanks to ill-treatment at the hands of her previous owner; something Winnie could certainly relate to. If she didn’t already have a borrowed horse, perhaps the stranger would have had some competition with the sale.
Listening to the stranger, Winifred’s eyes narrowed at the hidden meaning behind his words. If he wasn’t planning to ride the mare yet, then he either had another horse already, or he was planning on staying a while until his new acquired horse was ready to be saddled up. Swallowing back against the dry lump of anxiety forming in her throat, her hazel eyes looked to the horse, and then back at the stranger. If the mare’s spirit was anything to go by, then it might be some time before she was willing to accept the weight of a rider. She was now at a bit of a quandary therefore, because immediately following the bad news of having another wolf in town, was something more promising. He bit the bait, and now, she had to lure him in for the sale.
“Sure do,” she forced a light smile. Talking leatherworks put her in her element, and as soon as she started talking, she more or less side-tracked her grievances about their shared Lunar infection. “Can’t say saddles are my speciality, but ask anyone in town ‘bout O’Malley’s, an’ they’ll be sure t’ point you in the right direction.”
Pausing, Winnie canted her head to the side slightly as she regarding him more curiously. “Seems t’ me you know plenty ‘bout horses,” came her honest observation. “At O’Malleys, you’ll get the best saddle an’ tack in town, that’s f’sure. Best leatherworker I’ve seen for miles too, an’ that’s a fact.”
Another pause, followed by a shrug and a hoarse, under-the-breath chortle, as Winny shifted her gaze back to the mare."Course, them folk in Twin Gulch prob'ly say otherwise so, don't let me stop you from shoppin' around..."
Her return on the joke was enough to bring a smile to his scruffy face that had a few layers of dust needing to be scrubbed off. ”The meat would probably be as tough as she looks,” he tacked on for added humor. Fortunately, though, she didn’t seem like she was going to chide him over his decision. Another reason he’d sprung for an unruly horse was the fact that he hoped whatever feral nature controlled him during the moon phases would come to recognize the horse. Recognition through hardhip and endless hours of trying.@Winifred Tucker
Of course, that hadn’t happened with his first horse. The poor thing had been mauled and shredded to ribbons - nevermind the large chunks of flesh missing from where Dante suspected he’d eaten the poor thing.
Still was entirely worth a shot, and frankly he was eager to get back into the heist business. Couldn’t rob banks when you were a wolf, though.
Turning his attention from the mare to the girl, he was curious about the information she was about to give. O’Malley’s - the name sounded somewhat familiar. He’d heard a few people talking about it in passing. ”I believe it. Just don’t think she’ll be ready to be fitted too soon, but I’ll definitely come looking for O’Malley’s when the time comes.” The mare’s withers didn’t look too priminent and her back didn’t look swayed, so hopefully the saddle wouldn’t be too costly to make or hard to measure her for. The biggest problem he could foresee was her not wanting to stand still for O’Malley’s measurements.
”I grew up around a lot of horses.” He nodded to confirm her statement and then gave a small shake of the head. ”I haven’t been to Twin Gulch, so…” A shrug, tilt of the head, and he followed her gaze back to the mare that had at least tired herself out enough to stand still for a few minutes. ”So, saddles aren’t your specialty, but what is? Are you a… a…” he paused a moment, wheeling back in his thoughts in an effort to recall the English word she had used. ”Leather--leather work? One of them as well?”
One glance back at the mare, and Winifred had no reason to argue with the young man’s assessment. It might be a while yet before anyone in their right mind would want to approach her for saddle and tack fittings. Then again, although O’Malley had pretty big balls when it came to dealing with temperamental horses, he also had a good eye and a knack for guessing how many hands would meet the measurements. It was a risk that more often than not wasn’t worth taking, especially for any customer wanting to pay the right price for the most accurate and perfect fit. The rest, Winnie noted, just purchased a premade saddle and hoped for the best. Something she doubted the man next to her would opt for, given his confirmed history with horses.
“’Spose the gulch has its’ charms,” she mused out loud. “If you’re into that.” Trailing off, she left it there. Her short time in Blackacre had already taught her that Twin Gulch was infamous mostly for two things: the railroad, and the saloon girls. She didn’t have the taste for either, but unfortunately it was necessary to ride out on occasion to pick up urgent parcels direct from the post office.
Hazel hues studied the young man as he seemed to struggle a moment for the right word, but she didn’t help him out. She was far more preoccupied with trying to figure out if he was just oblivious to their shared disposition, or purposefully ignoring it. Pleasant conversation wasn’t certainly a distraction… or was it a diversion? Either way, she was trying to keep an open mind.
“A leatherworker? She couldn’t help but correct him, as she gave a brisk smile with a curt nod. “That I am. Mostly dealin’ in belts an’ gloves, wallets an’ the like. You can find me over at O’Malleys too, if ever you fancy somethin’ new. Heck, I’ll even see about fixin’ you up with a discount too, for your trouble.” All in the script O’Malley had given her for the sake of luring in new customers, despite her inner reservations.
If that man’s accent wasn’t painfully obvious, then his struggle for certain words certainly made it clear to Winnie that he wasn’t from around these parts. That too, sent warning bells. She’d seen it before; packs sending in young scouts to check the area before moving in. Was this man’s presence all just a plot then, for a far deadlier plot? She wasn’t sure whether she should warn him about the pack who practically owned Blackacre and the nearby mountains, or just let the inevitable play out. Probably best to keep her head low and avoid getting involved in politics that didn’t concern her…
“Where abouts you travelled from?” She decided to pry a little, using small talk and the guise of an overly-friendly trader in an to attempt to figure out the man’s agenda. “I take it this is your first time in the basin?”