[EB] Alpaca Herding Gone Wrong

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Literature Text

This land was unfamiliar to him, but the damp air filled his nostrils regardless with the familiar musky scent of prey. He had encountered this type of prey before, but he wasn't sure where. The scent was reminiscent of sheep, but he knew that couldn't be possible here in the foggy mountain range. Perhaps it was a relative -- but llama or alpaca? Was there even a difference? King huffed and opened his eyes.

On his left stood the tall, slender form of Occidere Morte, her pale cream coat ghostly in the overcast sky. On his right was the slightly shorter Rubis Ignis, whose dark mane and bright red horns seeming to be the only thing rooting her to the corporate world.

"Rubia Ignis," he snorted. "Is this your first time?" He had broken the stifling silence to cast a curious glance at the unfamiliar mare. Despite her impressively sharp horns blaring a danger warning to every last one of his senses, she was still quite pretty. She had a queer scent about her that was somehow both revolting yet exciting. How did that even work?

The other mountain ballator pursed her lips slightly before responding as if she knew what he was thinking. "Yes, I suppose it is," she said. Her gaze flicked up to meet his, red eyes meeting blue. "And please, call me Ruby."

"Ruby, then." King let a moment of silence pass. "And you may call me King for simplicity's sake as well."

Both mountain ballators turned to look at Occidere Morte with an expectant expression. As sour as ever, the cream mare swished her tail in exasperation.

"Don't call me any nicknames," she warned. "However, if you must use one, use Morte."

"Sorry about her attitude. She's always like this because the call name that the humans gave her is really terrible," King whispered under his breath to Ruby.

"Sucks. Can't relate," she said with a dismissive flick of her tail. "So come on then--how does this work?"

King turned back to face the valley ahead. It was difficult to peer through the thick mountain fog, but he thought he could still make out some animal-like silhouettes. They were rather tall, and even from up here he could tell that they were quite woolly.

"We're going to go slowly," he began, his mind working to figure out a plan. "Luckily for us, the windless fog we're having will not only serve to conceal our presence, but it will also mask our scent until it's too late to run. We're going to approach from three sides to trap the prey so it cannot escape, and then!" Here, he dramatically tossed his head for emphasis, narrowly missing tangling horns with Occidere Morte. The desert ballator bared her teeth and hissed in annoyance. "Watch it!" she snapped.

King flicked his ears back and lowered his head apologetically. "Then we're going to go in for the killing blow!" he said triumphantly.

"Not with the noise you're making, we won't," Occidere Morte sniffed haughtily. "By the time you're done, you will have frightened all the prey away." 

"Nonsense," King said. "I'm not even using my normal voice."

"Whatever, mister," the desert said as she began the slow descent downhill. The fog was so thick, she disappeared from view in no time at all.

"Well, that happened. Our turn?" Ruby looked at King for affirmation. The taller horse sighed in resignation.

"Yep, our turn."

Despite the thick weedy grass, the slope turned out to be muddier than any of the three ballators expected. Ruby struggled not to slip down a particularly steep section, while King had a hard time keeping his weight balanced. Morte seemed to have the easiest time, but she would occasionally sink up to her pasterns in mud. Whenever that happened, she had a hard time moving forward and freeing herself without having the ground make that awful sucking noise.

On the far side of the valley, King was having a similar issue due to his greater weight. Where Morte kept plunging her legs into hidden mud holes, he simply skidded down patches of hillside at once, leaving deep muddy tracks in the grass.

Thank Aether they shaved my feathers off today, he thought after he slipped again.

Ruby was slipping too, but relatively less often than the two taller ballators. The further she got down the hill, the stronger the prey-smell got. Unlike King, she was able to immediately identify the victims as alpacas.

Are we actually allowed to hunt these? she thought with an aura of uncertainty as she hid behind a line of shrubbery. Don't the people farm these animals? Damn hope these strangers don't get me in trouble. I haven't even had today's sugar cube yet!

From her vantage point, she could see the animals fairly clearly. There was still a thick blanket of fog covering the area, but the light coming over the mountains allowed her to make out the shapes of the alpacas pretty well regardless. There were at least twelve of them, each taking turns grazing or simply lying on the cold wet grass as they chewed. 

Ruby hesitated. What was she supposed to do next? Maybe she should stay put and wait for a signal.

Mere moments later, Morte moved into position in between the two mountain ballators. She peered about the meadow for a sign that the others were in place. No sign of King's hulking mass yet, but she caught a glimpse of Ruby's bright red horns peeping out of the foliage. She ducked her head to rip up some grass to wet her lips, then slowly lifted her head above the leaves again. Finally! King's large silhouette was briefly spotted ducking behind a tangle of undergrowth.

She could see now that their targets were alpacas. As if the animals were aware they were being watched, a few stood up and began milling about uncertainly. The time was now. If she waited any longer to flush them out, they might decide to run off. Although she could probably catch up with no issue, the bulk of King and the length of Ruby's horns might hinder them in the trees. 

Morte tensed, tension mounting, and counted to three.

Without saying a word, she burst from her hiding spot and charged at the nearest alpaca, her long slender limbs eating up the ground with wicked speed. A heartbeat later, King came crashing out of the trees ahead to cut off the alpacas from the right.

"Ruby! To me!" he roared.

The unfamiliar mare exploded from the bushes in a tangle of flying leaves and limbs as she tried to mimic King's movements as best as she could. 

The alpacas reacted almost in slow motion. Their strange voices filled the foggy morning air gradually as various individuals were prompted into action as the ballators closed in.

Her gaze zeroed in on the biggest one -- possibly also the oldest. "This one!" Morte let out a completely unhorse-like noise as she bore down on the panicked animal.

King grunted as he shifted direction ever so slightly to what his stablemate was focused on. His jaws parted in a silent roar as he closed in on his frightened victim. 

The alpaca stumbled in the opposite direction, legs folding like the lawn chairs he'd destroyed one time as it tried to gain traction. But Morte was faster.

Before the animal knew it, she fell upon its body and caught its thick woolly pelt in her horns. With a violent toss of her head, she knocked the leggy creature off its feet. It all ended when King arrived and sank his fangs into the alpaca's fuzzy throat. There was a brief unholy noise as he gave his prey a harsh shake, and then there was only silence.

The ballators stood in the empty meadow for a moment, the only sounds being that of their harsh breathing in the wet air.

"Uh... Could someone help me out here?" Ruby's voice rang through the fog.

Confused, King let go of his defeated quarry and raised his head to face a strange scene. Ruby's lone horn had impaled a smaller alpaca through the side, and she was standing in a woolly mess looking quite sheepish.

"How did you manage to do that?" he asked, coming closer. 

"Hey now," Ruby said. "It got in my way so I kinda just stabbed it. Then it was kicking and screaming and bleeding everywhere and no matter how hard I tried to shake my head it wouldn't come off so I panicked and, er, here we are I guess."

"Well next time, use your teeth instead," Morte said, dragging the other carcass up to where King was busy pulling the body off Ruby's head. "Far less gruesome, and frankly much less mess."

"Hmph, I don't even know if I want there to be a next time," Ruby grumbled as the body came off with a nasty squeaking sound. 

"Practice makes it easier," King said. "There. You still look a mess, but at least you won't frighten the humans."

"I guess that's a good thing," Ruby agreed. Together, the three ballators hefted what they could carry and began heading back up the mountainside.
Ballator(s) Pictured:…
Item(s), Companions, and/or Rank: Rookie + buck decoy!
Region: Americas
Object Being hunted: Alpaca
Link to Hunting Tracker: Tracker
Number of Words (if applicable): 1539 
Stat Count:  11
WC: 1500/200 = 7.69 = 7
Extra Characters: 2(x2) = 4

Ballator(s) Pictured:…
Item(s), Companions, and/or Rank: Rookie + herbal mash
Region: Americas
Object Being hunted: Alpaca
Link to Hunting Tracker: Tracker
Number of Words (if applicable): 1539 
Stat Count:  11
WC: 1500/200 = 7.69 = 7
Extra Characters: 2(x2) = 4

Ballator(s) Pictured:…
Item(s), Companions, and/or Rank: Rookie
Region: Americas
Object Being hunted: Alpaca
Link to Hunting Tracker: Equus Ballator Hunting Tracker
Number of Words (if applicable): 1539 
Stat Count: 11
WC: 1500/200 = 7.69 = 7
Extra Characters: 2(x2) = 4

Also using for Monthly Quest - July 2019 Prompt 3

This Was going to just be a regular hunt but then the july monthly showed up and I'm like... wHy NoT bOtH? Eyes 
Tagging naomithewolf for Rubis Ignis!
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naomithewolf's avatar
I LOVEEEEE this! I'm sorry it took me so long to comment but the story is so cute and I love the way you used Ruby's personality <3