Riaag had a complicated relationship with the stupid horse. He hated everything about it, from the way its eyes rolled (which was horrifying) to the way it smelled (which was delicious), but the worst part was how Sarouth kept insisting he learn how to ride the damn thing. Horsemanship was not something in Riaag's blood: he spent most of his practice sessions clinging helplessly to the saddle, and while the horse had been trained to tolerate the scent of orcs, he could still feel it fighting the urge to throw him every time he urged it around a barrel. It was going to be a long time before either of them was fit to charge into battle, assuming the beast didn't get tired of having seven feet of fat, angry man sit on its back and just kick him to death one morning. The worst part was how he couldn't just sneak it into the kitchen when Sarouth wasn't looking. For one thing, it was an entirely different breed than the horses they bought for food, and since he'd been present for the haggling he knew just how expensive a trade it'd been; cooking it would be like making a soup with a brick of pure saffron. Most importantly, however, the damned animal had been a present. Sarouth had looked so hopeful when he'd told Riaag about his plans, and as much as Riaag hated the idea of trying to ride, he hated the thought of upsetting Sarouth more. At least seeing Sarouth happy was worth the sore muscles and stiff back. It had been an ordinary day, for the most part: he'd washed clothes, worked in the forge, and spent time amiably terrorizing some of the stronghold's children in between teaching them songs. He'd also practiced riding the stupid horse, of course, which was why everything south of his neck ached. Riaag had decided halfway through his hour-long ordeal of getting tangled up in the reins like an asshole that the rest of his afternoon was best spent on personal time, and so the day found him soaking in one of Naar Rhoan's many bathing lakes, happily holed up in a secluded corner where he didn't have to talk to anyone. While he had every intention of not leaving the water until every part of him looked like a prune, Riaag's ears perked up when he heard the crunch of feet on pebbles behind him. Most people left him alone when he was obviously lost in thought. His visitor had been quiet, ruling out a messenger, and given the sound of rustling fabric that followed the footsteps it could only be one person. At least said person was allowed to bother him during his private time.
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