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Chapter Text

It was a beautiful day. Up above, the sun shone down with its everlasting and indiscriminate warmth and light, chasing away the creatures of the night to make way for the day creatures. A gentle breeze caressed the dirt path two men travelled down, swaying to and fro with the gait of their steads.

The older of the two men, in the prime of his life and aged well for a traveller, gave off a more at home aura, more in time with his mare and her sure steps. Greying hair at his temples and peppering a blade-trimmed beard were physical badges of his maturity. In his youth, he would surely have been blessed with a rich muddy brown, though now he wore a darkened version.

To his left, rocking slightly out of time with the gelding he rode, the younger man looked to be more of a gangly teenager at first glance; this was especially true when paired with his senior at his side. Atop his head, dirty blonde hair dribbled down just past the ear and tickled the sides of his neck. He was just old enough to have a feather light dusting of fluff on his upper lip and branching out from his sideburns.

Having watched the boy struggle to settle into the rhythm of his ride, the man sighed and broke the silence.

"You are too tense, boy. To adapt to the gait of your gelding, you need to relax. Become flexible and trust in the saddle to keep you upright."

Gruff, the man spared no sympathy for a farmboy who couldn't even ride a horse. There had been two horses at his farm, one a thickset draft to pull the plow and the other a dainty horse bred for hunting.

"Sorry, Lord Barnal. This gelding isn't like Racer."

"That is no excuse, boy."

Lord Barnal grunted, rethinking his decision to take on an apprentice who's only experience in travelling was two hunting parties for rabbits.

"That gelding is your stead and the sooner you relax upon his back, the sooner you both will start to understand each other. He wants to listen, you want to guide him. Do not give him mixed messages."

The boy balked and very nearly halted the horse, but thought better of it. Lord Barnal was right, but to insinuate that a horse could understand the boy and thus be on the same intelligence was preposterous.

"How can a horse understand me?"

"Trust. Training. They are smarter than you think. Sitting tense on your ride suggests to him that you do not trust him. In turn, he will not trust you. Now, quiet. We are nearing the town our prey was last seen at."

Falling silent, the boy glanced at the Lord and his beautiful dapple grey mare, and couldn't help but wonder why he was leaving his home to chase down this one. Surely, this one isn't any different than the others he had hunted in the past?

There would be another one to come along in his area, so why chase a runner?

The boy almost asked, but then they were being met by an ashen faced man, appearing from the town outskirts.

"Are you Lord Barnal, the Vampire Hunter chasing the runner?"