(1311-08-25) For a Bottle Full of Mead
Summary: Elin and Tancred test their skills in sparring and horse racing against each other.
RL Date: Sun Aug 25, 2019
Related: Strangers in a Foreign Land
tancred elin 

Tournament Field — Eisandine Countryside

The wind billows pennants and banners as far as the eye can see, here. The terrain is generally flat, with some signs that areas of the plain might have been built up to help flatten it— one corner in particular overlooks a steep downward hill. The plain is partitioned off by fences into walkways and competition grounds, and in the middle of each set of fences feet have long worn away the grass, leaving the centers of each area naught but earth and dust, all the better not to accidentally trod in a hole and break oneself.

On the western edge of the field a huge mass of stands has been erected out of fresh beams of wood, all redolent of pine and of cedar, nailed in place with giant iron stakes and sturdy enough to stand firm below the mass of humanity which moves onto and off of it every day during the tournament competitions. Opposite the stands are the brightly colored pavilia, each with its banner waving overhead, where the competitors of each family might store equipment, rest and prepare. In the middle of the pavilia is a raised stand where the Duchesse, her family, and invited VIPs may sit under a canopy of their own and watch the games from closer to the action.

It is an early summer morning, temperatures higher than perhaps further up north, despite the hour, but that does not keep Elin from venturing out to the tournament grounds today. She has arrived with a few retainers, Einar, her bodyguard, in tow, of course, all of them ahorse. But that was some moments ago, as the horses can be found tied to the posts at the entrance, and the Gotlandish lady now using the grounds themselves for a sparring session with one of her men. She wears training leathers today, and her blonde hair has been worked into a braid, so that it doesn't get in her way. She wields a blade with blunted edges, and brings it down hard on the weapon of the man, in a loud metallic clash of steel against steel that rings all over the tourneygrounds.

<FS3> Elin rolls Blades: Success. (1 3 4 3 1 5 5 7)

Ahorse as well this fine morning, Tancred is almost knightly in his full maille, helm shining under the morning sun. He carries with him a tourney lance, over ten feet of turned ash propped over his shoulder. But he finds quite a number of horse having beaten him to the place. He carefully dismounts, peering over to the group hard at practice. When he realizes who it is, he sets down the lance and secures his own beast of a mount, kin to his rider. Fearing little the scrutiny of her guardsmen, he begins to approach.

His approach is noticed, of course. Einar's light blue eyes find the source of maille clinking as Tancred comes closer. He offers the Skaldi a nod, attention then shifting back to Elin who manages to land a hit, even if not a brilliant one, on her sparring opponent. Calling something to her in Gotlandish, Einar gestures in the general direction of Tancred.

The blonde warrior lady looks up, and then utters some words to her sparring partner. A nod towards Einar, and she turns, lowering her practice blade, dark grey eyes glancing towards the man that is joining their group. "Tancred," she greets, rather informally, and a smile appears on her face, amusement there as well as an expression of pleasant surprise. "I didn't expect you to be up this early," she remarks then, in her accented d'Angeline. "Did you come to spar, or to ride?"

"Neither did I." Tancred admits, brandishing his own practice blade with no flourish and laying the flat against his mailed shoulder. He looks at Einar, then sizes up some of her guardsmen, before studying the blonde dignitary once again. "I had thought it was both," he says, "But if I had to choose, it would be a spar."

Elin's lips pull into a grin. "We can do both.", she replies, taking a step into Tancred's direction. "Spar first, and then… do a race about the tourney grounds? I'd like that." It is a suggestion brought forth with confident ease. "It will be just a test of skills, as the prize for each of us is the test in itself. Wasn't it what we agreed upon?", she muses lightly. "The blade?" She lifts her own, weighing it and then performing a number of slashes through air. "It's dulled, as you can see. I won't cut you. I promise." Anyway, she gestures for one of her guards to bring a maille vest of sorts, to even out their armor. "Leather allows me to move faster, but… the odds should be even when we start."

"How about a bottle of wine?" Tancred negotiates, securing the strap of his helm around his bearded chin. It's a nasal helm, open faced, although there won't be much in the way of disfiguring blows. Or so he hopes. The Skaldi waits for Elin to even up the armor difference slightly, rather comfortable in his own heavier kit. "That will be adequate prize - and will slake thirsts. Unlike pride. Blade on blade, and then we ride."

Elin dons a helmet of her own, this one of a lighter sort, and of different craftsmanship. There are some ornaments worked into the sides, and she lifts her blade, in acknowledgement of is suggestion. "A bottle of wine," she echoes. "Or a bottle of fine mead, from the supplies I have brought along to this city. I happen to have such a bottle at hand." A glance is shot towards one of her retainers, before her grey eyes flick back to regard Tancred. "What conditions for the spar? Fight till one of us defeats the other?"

"Until one cannot fight anymore, or yields," Tancred decides. He forgoes the use of a shield, preferring in this instance to fight with his left hand open. It might be telling if ever he can grapple with it. "A bottle of mead or wine as wager. I accept." He steps into the same ring they've been previously using, inspecting the lobed tip and length of his sword for any dangerous cracks or burrs. "Come."

<COMBAT> Elin attacks Tancred with Broadsword - ARMOR on Chest stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Tancred attacks Elin with Broadsword - Moderate wound to Right Arm (Reduced by Armor).

Elin sticks to the sword as well, leaving her left hand open. Lifting the blade in salute, before she assumes her stance, alert and with the body tension of a trained fighter. "Go at me, giant," she smiles, her grey eyes glittering. As if she were trying to lure him into a trap. But… in the moment they start their first exchange of slashes, her own strike lacks impact, to go beyond a mere hit against his armor. While Tancred's strike hits her sword arm and Elin bites back a groan. "You strike hard," she observes, far from giving up this early in their round of sparring.

"It would be wrong if I didn't." Tancred expresses some restraint with the force; while he's trying to beat his opponent, he's not trying to cripple them, either. The cut to his chest is ineffectual, being stopped by his own movement as well as the densest part of his hauberk backed by his ribs. He guards low, staying mostly that way, as she's short enough that striking him up higher would be awkward. Patient, he displays none of that famed Skaldi ferocity.

<COMBAT> Elin has changed stance to Cautious.
<COMBAT> Tancred attacks Elin with Broadsword - ARMOR on Left Hand stops the attack!
<COMBAT> Elin attacks Tancred with Broadsword and MISSES!

<COMBAT> Tancred attacks Elin with Broadsword - Moderate wound to Chest (Reduced by Armor).
<COMBAT> Elin attacks Tancred with Broadsword and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Elin has been KO'd!

<FS3> Elin rolls Composure: Good Success. (2 4 7 7 5 1)

One thing that can be said in favor of Elin Asbjornsdottir is that she doesn't relent. While assuming a slightly more cautious approach, her attitude remains on edge, watching him carefully for a breach in his defense. Alas. Apparently, her first strike turns out to be the best of the three, as the other two miss their mark. And while she was grinning when Tancred's blade didn't manage to penetrate through her gauntlet, it is the next strike that pushes all air out of her chest — a strike hard enough to leave a dark bruise for a number of days, to be sure. It is a hit that makes a stumble a step backwards, before she falls to her knees, eyes widening while she keeps her chin lifted. Not a single tear runs down those comely Gotlandish features, and nothing but a choked sound of discomfort is allowed to pass over those lips, apart from the slightly breathless acknowledgement, "This round… goes to you." She waves for one of her attendants to help her up. "A fierce warrior indeed," she remarks towards Tancred. "I should have expected no less."

Tancred steps into the cut he throws. Though the practice sword is lighter, less lethal than a warsword or even a fencing sword, it has his weight backing it, slipping past her defenses to slam home into the side of her chest, right into the ribs. What else would have that effect. He does not follow through with a killing stroke or a pommel to the helm, this being a spar after all, but in a deadlier contest it would have been telling. When she kneels he takes a step back, lowering his sword lest her guardsmen on duty think him about to murder their charge. "I think you will have my number in the saddle," he allows, "But that is half a bottle of mead at the least."

One particular pair of eyes is fixed on Tancred in the moment he hands that nasty strike to the side of her chest. But Einar remains standing where he is, until Elin ushers him to come forward, and he helps her to her feet.

"Half the bottle is yours," the blonde lady agrees with a faint wince, as she takes off the helmet and then the maille vest. "In case I should ever meet you in battle… I'll make sure to corner you with a dozen of my men." This she adds with a faint grin. Her palm moves to her side to check the severity of the bruise, before she nods. "We should go for a ride now. The bottle will have to wait till later…"

Tancred can almost feel the ire - or caution - directed his way, but elects to ignore it. A Skaldi living around here likely is used to the feeling of being watched. His own armor stays on, though the lacings and straps are loosened, and following that, begins to walk over to his horse, taking off a saddlebag and tossing his practice sword in with the lot before he climbs on through the horn of his saddle. "You would be short a dozen men in that case," he muses in a rare display of cockiness. "Catch your breath and let's race." He peers off into the distance. "Here or outside?"

Elin watches him even as she gestures for one of her men to bring her horse. His remark draws a chuckle from her lips, "You like to boast, don't you?" But it is Tancred's question that makes her shoot Einar a glance, which he meets with a light shake of his head. "Here," Elin Asbjornsdottir decides then, turning her look towards the giant of a Skaldi again. "I daresay, you are at a disadvantage, wherever we will go for this contest." With a swift motion, she pulls the ribbon from her hair, freeing it from the confining do, which causes her curls to fall openly about her shoulders in a golden cascade. "Einar… won't you help me?" With the fresh bruise from the spar, she accepts the assistance of her guard and mounts her white mare. It is of northern stock, and likely one of her personal belongings she has brought along. "Ready when you are," she tells him. "What shall we say? One round? Or two rounds about the tourney grounds? Ah… I hear there is another location for horse races, not too far from here. The Hippdrome, it is called. Shall we relocate there?" She utters a few orders in her mother tongue to her retinue, then directs her gaze back to Tancred. "Shall we?"

Marsilikos Hippodrome — Eisandine Countryside

In honour of the ancient Hellenes and Eisande's own history of horse-breeding and rearing, the Marsilikos Hippodrome stands apart from the city in a reclaimed marsh. Stony terraces march down to the sea on the windswept site, holding back the waves pummeling the low-lying coast. Tough salt-resistant grasses and flowers cluster along the rocky fringes of the wide oval space. At first glance, the place resembles nothing so much as an untended field surrounded by a complex of weathered rock walls hemming in none too productive fields. But a seasoned eye may distinguish the lime-traced oval track at a distance, and the neat avenues slicing ruler-straight through the grassy mound. Clearly a favourite for riders to launch into galloping runs pell-mell over the flat ground, clods of earth and divots provide some level of hazard.

Here every spring and fall, the greatest horse fair in Terre d'Ange gathers and transforms the hippodrome into a sea of tents and Tsingani carts. The fields marked by rough stone walls become pens for yearlings and adult horses for trade and barter, the whole of it lively and wild. During races in the season, crowds throng the sides of the track and wooden stands spring up like mushrooms after the rain to accommodate immense crowds drawn by the sport.

"That is fine by me." Tancred dismounts, not counting on Elin's retainers to do his own work, scooping up his own belongings set aside to pile them back on his mount. It's a great brown charger, likely paid for in full by his house; it is by far the most expensive thing he's got with him currently. When they arrive, he unloads his mount yet again, shedding as much weight as possible. He might be better served slipping off his mail and then losing a hundred pounds and a foot or two of height, but that doesn't seem likely. "I have never raced in such a place like this before. How many rounds do they go before it is finished?"

"Just one round, I think." Elin lets her gaze wander through the Hippodrome. "I can see obstacles there in the distance, but I'd suggest we ride past them." Most of her gear has been transported on the horses of her retainers, and it is to them she now looks. "It is an elliptic course, and my men can observe from here." A pointed glance she gives Einar. Only clad in her leather armor now, and with her smaller frame she certainly will be much less weight to carry than the tall Skaldi warrior. "Let's go for this… I shall count to three, and then we ride," she suggests towards Tancred.

<FS3> Elin rolls Riding+Presence: Good Success. (5 3 7 5 1 5 8)
<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding+Presence: Success. (1 7 5 1)
<FS3> Elin rolls Riding+2: Good Success. (3 3 2 7 2 7 7 4 5)
<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding+1: Good Success. (2 7 8 2 8 5)

Less riding skill, much more weight, and a heavier mount besides are all things stacked against Tancred's favor. Not that this stops him from rising to the challenge. No room for cowardice here, and who knows what will happen? He clings onto the reins tightly, waiting for Elin's count. One. Two. Three. He sets off at 'three' with a dig of his spurs, and starts steady so as not to overdo things and possibly hurt his mount.

Elin whispers something into the ear of her horse, before she starts to count aloud. "Gå, Brigida!", she calls, and her white mare starts into a gallop, flying beside the heavier steed of Tancred. The hooves work the ground more lightly, as Brigida has far less to carry than the other horse. And Elin giggles, pleased to feel the air pulling at her shimmering golden tresses, the element playing with her as she rushes towards the first obstacle they will evade. The long puddle.

<FS3> Elin rolls Riding: Failure. (2 4 3 1 3 1 5)
<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding: Success. (1 6 2 4 7)

The puddle can be a challenge, but Elin decides to have Brigida take a different route, aiming to half-circle the obstacle which may cost her a bit of time. Maybe it is the heat of the day. Maybe it is that her steed feels suddenly so very thirsty. The white mare turns and heads back towards the puddle, much to Elin's dismay. Norse curses are tossed at the poor animal, and then the blonde lady attempts to persuade Brigida and reign her in, to turn her back on course, to follow after Tancred who has meanwhile taken the lead.

<FS3> Elin rolls Riding+Presence: Good Success. (4 5 6 2 5 7 8)

He has the lead only by a half dozen yards or so, but races are sometimes won by less. Tancred conserves the energy of his mount, having been lucky enough that the currently-unnamed beast has ridden past the puddle without difficulty. That may just be its extensive training, though - it being intended as a charger that must keep going no matter the cause, even sans barding and blinders. He briefly glances her way, then navigates towards the next obstacle.

<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding: Good Success. (3 7 3 7 2)
<FS3> Elin rolls Riding: Good Success. (5 8 1 3 7 4 2)

Perhaps this would usually be the turning point, and Elin is furious at Brigida for blundering, even so, she chases after Tancred, leaning a touch forward in the saddle to allow the white mare to run faster. Hers is no war horse, but one that is a swift runner, perhaps even a good jumper. The look she shoots Tancred is that of competitive glee, after all, nothing's lost as of yet. Forgotten is the bruise on the side of her ribcage, it is the fire in her eyes, the dark fire to arrive as the winner of their little racing contest that spurs Elin on. There is a low fence, and she lets Brigida prance and jump over it. At other times, there might be haybales or other obstacles in place, but not now.

His horse is no jumper, being too heavy and additionally burdened by the Skaldi perched tightly atop it; still, that doesn't mean he can't jump when his rider demands him to. It's thankfully a low obstacle, and neither horseman nor horse fall or suffer any terrible injuries in the process. Tense and desiring win - as most would, in his place - he keeps Elin in the corner of his vision as the path curves into straight, largely unobstructed track.

<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding: Good Success. (1 3 7 1 7)
<FS3> Elin rolls Riding: Success. (5 5 5 7 6 4 4)

They are turning now into the curve towards the final sprint, and it is a long track that will allow them to bring their steeds to full speed. Elin sighs as she realizes that Tancred is gaining another horse length ahead of them. But that doesn't keep her from murmuring prayers to Odin and Tyr, and Loki. Apart from the fact that she is falling back, she is enjoying herself, with competition and riding outside, with fresh air caressing her face. "Ahh…", she cries, "I will catch you!" And with that said, she spurs Brigida on for a final sprint towards the finishing line.

<FS3> Elin rolls Riding+Presence: Good Success. (8 4 7 4 6 5 7)
<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding+Presence: Good Success. (7 8 2 1)
<FS3> Elin rolls Riding+2: Good Success. (7 8 3 3 3 8 3 2 6)
<FS3> Tancred rolls Riding+2: Good Success. (2 6 7 5 3 8 2)

"You are welcome to try." Tancred can ride in a straight line; easy enough, right? His mount has a disadvantage in pure speed, but the distance he had already gained on her beforehand is what is telling. Or maybe Elin's barbarian gods have deserted her? They can be like that to mortals, or at least that's what he remembers from the religious leaders in his own community. Or perhaps they are backing him. He crosses the finish line a mere horse-length before she does, and releases a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. Then he starts to slow, basking in quiet triumph and catching his breath. "It is a full bottle," he tells her in time.

She seems just a little displeased, but there it is. She arrives some time after Tancred already has crossed the finishing line. Defeat is not something that would dim her confident and proud nature. "The Gods were with you today," Elin Asbjornsdottir tells him as she swings herself off the horse and offers Brigida an apple, awarding the white mare for the effort at least. "A full bottle. We might make it two." is the reply to his statement, and it comes with a smile. "Einar. Leif.", she calls. Then turns towards the giant. "You can either claim your bottle right now, or accept the invitation of accompanying me back to the palace. I have quarters there, at the guest tower. If your duties permit… perhaps you could tell me some more of Marsilikos, and your work here for the Baphinol family."

"I will join you at the tower, I would think," Tancred allows a rare little smile to show, even though it's difficult to make out through his bush of beard. His nameless horse gets no such apple when he dismounts it, but he strokes it affectionately as a brief bit of reward. More work to be done for it, after all, don't feed him while he's working. At least that's what one of his trainers said. "Will you return now? I can always practice another day."

"I am intending to return now, yes." Elin gives him a bright smile. "You are free to practice now, or later. My invitation would include a late breakfast in my chambers. I've heard some interesting rumors in the city. And yes. Regardless of the early hour, we could enjoy some of my mead. The other bottle, well, it is your prize and you can take it home afterwards." Jarl's daughter through and through, she doesn't care about Tancred's duties nor about how this would disrupt his plans for the day. "Accept the invitation, or leave it. To some other time. If you would be lucky to catch me somewhere, again."

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