The air was buzzing with the sounds of the Tournament. Excitement and anticipation could be felt wherever one went, it was thick in the air and seen as humans and Ballators alike glanced at each other in passing. There were blue and gold banners picketed around the stadium, waving in the light breeze, glinting in the noonday sun. In the center of the stadium sat the Ring, a circular structure with gates across and opposite each other, with a referee posted at each, awaiting the next round.
The loudspeaker blared, echoing across the Tournament grounds and bouncing off the covered bleachers. Next up: 600 Mali vs. GH003 Corvus Monedula! The announcer went on to list the HP and stats of each horse, but Corvus wasn't listening. Instead, the large black Plains stallion stood in nervous anticipation chewing anxiously on his lead line. His handler jerked it once and he let it drop from his mouth, grimacing at the tiny human. The stallion arched his neck, pawing the earth as crowds of people passed him by behind the fence, snapping photos of him as they returned from food stands to find their seats once again. The smell of hot dogs made him drool on his human's shoulder.
Competitors, find your gates!
Without waiting for his puny handler, the Plains marched forward, barely noticing the tug on his halter and the cries of surprise. Across the arena, he saw his competitor now; a large, very large, Plains, deep chestnutty in color. He snorted, lifting his head to sniff at the breeze that tickled his nose. It smelled like a mare, but that meant nothing to him. As long as it was a Plains Ballator of equal match, he would have no quarrel with representing the Equus Ballator Society.
His handler unhooked his halter, and at the loud, ear piercing DING of the bell, Corvus trotted forward into the center, short tail high and proud, snorting and puffing his manes up. "What is your name?" He called as the mare also came forward and the two began to circle, facing flanks to one another, sizing each other up. "Mali;" the mare hissed between her teeth, which she bore in a snarl. He returned the gesture, charging at her in a mock-charge, snapping his teeth as he did so. She dodged him with more agility than he realized a mare of her size could have. The bulky mare reared, trumpeted, and charged towards him, her large hooves thundering against the earth. Adrenaline soared in Corvus' veins, and he lurched forward, and the two great horses rammed each other with their shoulders. Corvus dug his studded shoes into the earth, gaining a step as his muscles bulged against the force of the mare, who was a good three hands taller than himself. Clenching his teeth, he strained forward, snapping at the mare's shoulder mane and pulling down hard on it.
Mali yelled out something he couldn't make sense of and went for his neck, only to pull back at the last second with a rear, causing Corvus to tumble forward. His neck was protected by a series of dull horns, so she could not feasibly bite him there.
The mare's bright red, curled horns flashed in the light as she went in for a head butt, which painfully landed on Corvus' back and knocked the wind from him. Righting himself once more, he spun around to the mare's rump, clamping her thigh with his teeth before darting to the left as Mali wheeled to snap at him, her maw agape and hooves kicking up dust that was carried into the bleachers. The crowd roared with excitement with every dodge, every hit, every defense. The two Plains Ballators were breathing heavily now, eyes locked on one another and saliva flinging in strings from their mouths. Corvus and Mali's nostrils burned fiery red, blood rushing into the skin, and their manes rattled with the sound on ten angry rattlesnakes.
Nearly ten minutes into the fight, both Ballators were lathered in sweaty foam, and Corvus' chest mane clung to his shoulders in sweaty clumps. After a particularly harrowing round of biting, wheeling, and kicking, both Ballators settled for a quick respite on either end of the arena. The crowd quieted, curiously apprehensive, waiting. Corvus' ribs ached from the labor of his breathing, and Mali's legs shook slightly from the train all the agile turns and bucks she had done. "You fight well," Corvus called out to her, his tail still high in dominance, though she had dealt him a wickedly shaming blow or two. "And you," she replied, coughing on the dust that was setting around them and sticking to their sweaty bodies. Corvus stretched his neck down, relieving the burn in his muscles for a moment. Mali began to stride forward again towards him, causing a prick of annoyance in him, as he would have liked to rest and catch his breath just a moment more.
As much as Corvus hated to admit it, this large mare's brute strength along with her size was turning out to be quite a challenge for Corvus; his 17-hand frame against her 20-hand was difficult enough, but coupled with her energy it tired him quickly. But it did lift his spirits some to see that she was tiring as well; at least not all hope was lost to him. Victory could still be between his teeth.
This, he realized, must be their final phase of the fight. The Equus Ballator Society would not let exhausted fighters continue, no matter how much they wished it. Exhaustion coupled with adrenaline and a rival could very easily equal an aggressive explosion. Corvus was glad that he was not in the Underground Pit Fighting Association for many reasons, but among them was that the Society had his well being in mind, as well as his competitors. No death would ensue, whether from exhaustion or injury.
With the last ounce of speed he could muster from his reserve, Corvus cantered quickly at Mali, surprising her for a brief moment before they clashed, once again, with each other's shoulders straining against one another. Corvus pressed his neck into Mali, his dull horns creating uncomfortable pressure on the mare without cutting skin. She leapt back, hissing, then quickly returned a bite on his shoulder mane, tearing out a good chunk of it. Yelping in pain, Corvus pinned his ears, charging at the mare with an open mouth, teeth ready to meet her skin again. Mali was quick to evade, dancing away with an almost foalish lightness to her step.
At the sound, both Ballators slid to a stop. Cheers erupted from the crowd at the completion of the round, and now with the fight behind them, Corvus and Mali dipped heads to one another in respect for a good fight. Bruised and winded, Corvus gladly exited the arena and saw himself on the large TV screen that rose at one end of the arena. The chunk of mane that Mali had pulled from his shoulder was painfully visibly gone, replaced by an ugly bald patch. He saw Mali walking away then as the camera panned and zoomed on her; she too looked weary and glad that the fight was done. Corvus could not rightly say who the winner might be, but he was gladdened by the fact that both he and Mali had fought well and fair.
8 Stats for story
+1 EXP for entering
+1 AS for entering