,,…but I rather like her style. Riding-style, of course – because she doesn’t even colour coordinate her clothes with her tack, can you believe that?”
Gideon listened with politeness as Simon relayed his recent adventures. The snarky blond had just returned from a training stay at a German facility in preparation for a Pas de Deux later this month… teamed up with none other than Kaira van Leeuwen. How exactly to feel about that was something Gideon was not sure of: while his rational mind told him that this team-up was not too strange considering the fact they knew each other peripherally, his gut-feeling told him to disapprove. Why Kaira of all people? He knew he was being unreasonable, but once again that jealousy bobbed to the surface like the bloated body of a corpse you thought you had disposed of.
,,I can, in fact. I happen to know her rather well. She’s my ex, as you are aware.” He replied flatly, feeling the polite smile getting a bit strained. ‘Rather well’ had to be the understatement of a century. His and Kaira’s relationship had been a brief, but intense experience – her absence now still felt as if someone had gouged a hole out of his soul. Logic told him their break-up had been the best for both parties – for Kaira to be stuck with a guy who was paralyzed neck-down was a bit too much pressure to put on a three-months-old relationship. He did not want her to waste her life like that – and he most certainly did not want her as his ‘nurse’.
Even now, though he had not stayed entirely paralyzed, he remained a cripple and that skewed power balance would have killed both their spirits. She would have been exhausted eventually and he would not have blamed her one bit. There was no need for more suffering. Better end it before it ever got to there even though the pain of it was palpable.
Simon did not seem to really have noticed Gideon’s reservations – of course, the guy only had eyes for himself. Himself and Sagadir. It was like a stab to the heart to see how fast the tall stallion had bonded with his new rider compared to the years Gideon had spent trying to win the grey’s affection. It seemed as if everyone was starting to betray him in favour of Kvark…
,,Your ex, right.” Simon went on entirely unaffected as he tightened Sagadir’s girth. ,,On that subject; rumour has it a guy from her team took a liking to her. Handsome fella. Must be a relief to hear she might finally be moving on.”
Gideon felt himself gritting his teeth a little as his jaw went tight, reflecting to himself how ‘relief’ was absolutely not the word he would have chosen himself.
,,It’s kind of funny how I’m always destined to be Third Wheel, isn’t it?” Simon went on. ,,But speaking of handsome fellas: that pretty new horse of hers - now that guy has the potential to go the entire way. One of Stein’s ex-sales actually; perhaps you remem--“
Gideon blurted out the word without even stopping to think about it. Had he allowed himself a moment to do so he would instead have gritted his teeth and pretended not to care, as he did not want to let Simon catch a whiff of his weakness. Simon thrived on other people’s weaknesses – he could prod for it with the same calculated patience as a vulture waits for a wounded animal to lie down.
But everything had suddenly been too much at once. Of course Gideon wished Kaira the best: she had been saddled with a new horse, she had made it to the national team, taken the chance to team up with another skilled rider… and possibly found a replacement boyfriend as well. Those were great news and he should be happy for her. Should be happy for her…
Simon shot a look back over his shoulder, just a glimpse of that carefully concealed satisfaction in his eye as he realized he had found a weak spot there. Gideon knew that this had been a fatal error… No, he had to be mistaken. On second observation there was no schadenfreude in the look Simon sent him. He seemed to be about to speak when Azaria entered the stage, Karn Evil on a loose rein behind her.
,,Did I do it correctly?” she asked with a sweeping gesture to the tack on the dark stallion – it was the first time she had ever tacked up a horse unsupervised. Gideon looked it over briefly as the horse was brought closer, a vague smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
,,Looks correct to me. The saddle is even turning the right way.” He announced in his usual flat manner.
He heard Azaria mutter a reactionary proud ‘yessss’ in reply. From the corner of his eye he witnessed Simon taking the leap onto Sagadir’s back – not even touching the stirrups. That damned show-off never missed a chance to brag, did he? It struck Gideon as another annoying reminder of his own crippled condition – not that he had never been able to leap onto a horse’s back like that, even at his physical best…
Azaria led Karn to the mounting block and Gideon followed, placing his cane against the barrier and instead leaned on Azaria for support while making the climb. Mounting the horse remained the most perilous part of getting back to business, and as he balanced on his right leg to place his left foot in the stirrup he was grateful that Karn was such a calm, well-mannered gentleman despite his young age.
There was a loud, sharp snap. Karn sprang forward like a rocket as the leather strap hit his flank and Gideon, suddenly losing his footing entirely, went down with the grace of a wingshot goose. The audible ‘crack’ as his nose collided with the mounting block was sickening.
,,Karn WHOAH!” Azaria gasped with horror as she attempted to hold onto the reins, but upon taking a look to her right, she immediately let go of the horse and instead rushed to the aid of her friend.
,,Con, are you ok?!” she all but gasped as she knelt down beside him, almost violently jerking his head around to inspect the damage. Gideon gently pushed her away and sat himself up, sniffling loudly as the blood rushed from his nose like a faucet. In a less-than-bright moment he wiped his gloved hand across his upper lip as if to conclude that yes, he was indeed bleeding.
,,Anything broken?” Azaria went on, her voice strewn with urgency.
,,Don’t… think so…” Gideon replied meekly. ,,What happened? It was as if my foot just… disappeared.”
Karn Evil had circled back and gently bumped his muzzle against his master’s shoulder as if to check that he was alright. Azaria glanced at the horse, noticing one thing missing from his tack.
,,Hold on –“ she said, scanning the ground briefly and before picking something up – a singular stirrup.
,,Your stirrup came off—“ she mused, a frown slowly darkening her face. ,,The strap must have… snapped.”
,,You ok, bud?”
Simon’s voice, remarkably less cocky than usual. A single deep wrinkle had etched itself in between his brows in what could have been mistaken for worry, but Azaria had already found her prime suspect.
,,You!” she hissed and sprang to her feet, angrily stomping her way over to where Simon and Sagadir were halted. Her aggressive demeanor made the horse shy back, and Simon wisely moved himself and the grey a little further away.
,,Wooowowow –“ he countered. ,,’Me’ what?”
,,YOU caused this, didn’t you?” Azaria barked at him, waving the stirrup like a lynching mob waves torches.
,,What are you accusing me of, exactly?”
,,That saddle is BRAND new. Been used less than a month. Wear and tear hardly caused this - straps don’t just snap!"
,,And so your first instinct is to blame me for that?!” Simon spat back, mirroring her attitude by responding in the same aggressive manner. ,,For all you know it could have been caused by anything from bad quality leather to rodent infestation – hell, maybe a squirrel did it!”
,,’A squirrel did it’?! Are you fucking kidding me?!”
Tempers were red-hot and flaring and Gideon knew things would only escalate from here. Azaria and Simon had never been on friendly terms and they were both too stubborn and temperamental to back down in a conflict – it was up to him to calm the waters to prevent things getting ugly.
,,Azaria,” he called out softly. ,,Will you lend me a hand?”
That was all it took, luckily. Azaria sent Simon one last acidic glare before rushing to the end of her friend, but Gideon knew this would not been the end of it. Whether or not Simon had been responsible for the stirrup incident… he did not know. But he did know how to recognize a problem when he saw it – and he knew this would not be the last time Azaria and Simon would be butting heads. After this exchange a bigger conflict seemed inevitable.
To be continued ~
The training stay and Pas de Deux hinted at would be these:
Soooo, DID a squirrel do this? Maybe the hints suggest so...
...or are we just warming up? ~
Azaria, Gideon/Con and Simon Kvark reside with me
So do Sejrbank Sagadir and ZS Karn Evil
Own ground texture
Wood texture from cgtextures
Thank you! Azaria sends her regards
Heh, I think he is used to being blamed for everything. At some point he stopped caring :')
there is no word for schadenfreue in english, isn't it? oh I love this about our german language xDD
when I read squirrel, I instantly clicked back on the previous image and found the lil animal on the pin board, and then scrolled down your description and found the hint you put there.. but I am proud of myself as I found it out on my own. the first time xD but right now i am always scanning every picture trying to find some little things that could sum up to a huge event..
anyway.. I am totally on Azarias side.. screw you, Simon! <.<'
Schadenfreude is a GREAT word! And I believe it as actually an approved word in english since there is no similar word for it, hehe. #GermanWordsAreAwesome x)
Well done finding the squirrels! Sneaky lil things ~
Second thing; wait what. I've already read the whole storyline so far?? NO. Can't be true. Please say the next chapter is going to be uploaded soon. I've been reading several chapters after school last days, what to do without them?
don't mind me conspiring here XDD just wanted to say how ddaarn impressive it is how you can keep updating your storyline so regularly and that with images of ssuuch awesome quality, consistently T.T and not only that but all the clues you spread throughout the way are always just... on point. i so love that in storytelling ahh
Why does Azaria have a Swedish flag on her shoes? Did I missed something in the storyline, or is this what I think it is?
Well spotted! xD You didn't miss something -- what do you think it is? xD
He is indeed accident-prone, you never seem to give him some break between all the bad luck xD But I'm happy to hear he appreciates my hug
It must be one of your hints, like the whole squirrel thing. I haven't followed the story line well enough lately to have a suspicion where this hint leads to (I will dive into the story again when I find the time for it), but I will keep my eyes open for more Swedish flags anyway ^^
not only are you a fantastic artist, but a good writer too!
earned a watch from me
(still catching up on your storyline Dx so didn't read yet...so sorry)
At least she can kind of see through all the "fakeness" going around here along with Con :<
Pretty much convinced Simon had A MAJOR influence in this judging my sneaky backstabbing mannerism, for all we
know he could have a pet squirrel who used... (unless that squirrel is some ominous metaphor for something-- )
Karn is such a sweetie, I love his sweet expression it's almost like he is saying 'sorry dad'! Q.Q
Love the way his tongue is sticking out slightly, that's such a cute blep, and Con even on the ground bleeding still manages to
look like handsome, being the lovely guy he is! I just love all their expressions, especially Azaria's contorted understandably-peeved off expression as she holds the stirrup.
Hehe, we shall seeee ~
Karn is a good boy; he sure wouldn't cause harm on purpose. Not his fault x) He will attempt a healing blep.
Thank you so much!
i can not blame Azaria for her reaction tough x'D Protective friends do that... <3
Oh yes, Con isn't exactly in a super place right now. We shall see how things develop; he miiiiight have gotten a reminder that he's pretty fragile still
Hehe, my logo is actually a weird fox-thing; but it was a nice analysis; A+! Whether a squirrel or a Simon is responsible for this remains to be seen ~
Karn is so cute, in particular with his tongue, he looks so gently I really love how you are able to capture the expressions, the atmosphere and everything in the picture and how you write your stories
Thank you so much! Karn is a sweet, gentle dude x)
I'm glad you like the way it turned out
Such drama! But I love how naturally you depicted the scene.. Can I take a moment to appreciate the beautiful arena? It gets me every time...
SIMON SHOWING CONCERN?
Haha no, this picture looks really awesome. Karn being concerned about his hoo-man, Azaria's hatred, and the poor hurted face of Con/Gid. #DontHurtTheConBun
I also really enjoyed this story - it somehow read smoother then former stories. [Not to insult you or something] Your writing style is so satisfying to read, haha. Wish I could write as smooth in English. :>
I also love the certain softness this picture has, even though it isn't as optimistic and bright is as it suggests. Great job!
Thank you so much! Karn is a sweet blep, hehe.
Oh really? Thank you, it actually felt pretty 'urgh' to write for some reason (total art and writer's block XD ), so I'm glad to hear it doesn't shine through Writing in English is always a bit kdjbdjhdfs, yes; I can totally relate x)
And Simon, what a rain of..compliments ? Kinda. How sweet though whether he actually means it or not remains a question Ah well, she will never do matchy matchy by her own will she thinks it's disgusting lol (tried once, never again )
But AZARIA ..jesus..don't go pointing fingers so randomly that's quite..rash, unfair. Even if he did it. Who knows for sure ? But Kvark looks genuinely concerned there, perhaps it was a squirrel ? But this is a bit.. foolish :') oh dear
Karn has such a gorgeous head
Hehe, oh sure; in his own... odd way I guess they can be termed as such x) Poor Beb, forced to be matchy-matchy... such a cruel fate!
Azariaaaa is notorious for being a bit rash in terms of passing judgment. She just follows wherever her emotions take her Whether Kvark is innocent or not remains to be seen... could be that damn squirrel, you know ~
Thaanks, I will tell him
No way a squirrel chewed through that, the clean snap in the leather means it was cut loose on purpose. *glares at Simon* get him Azaria.