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   Sand whipped and hissed through the hot, dry air. The sky was nearly the same color as the endless sea of sand; pale, dusty yellow, not a cloud visible past the dim cloak. The air was filled with sand, it seemed, stinging eyes and skin and filling nostrils with biting pin-pricks. Wine-red hooves pressed into the hot earth, straining against the wind. Nearly blending with his surroundings, the horse's coat gleamed pearly in the last rays of sunlight. A white blanket, like misplaced snow, fell on his rump. Strange, vertical black streaks wound over his coat and through his mane like black adders seeking relief from the sun. The stallion's manes rose along the crest of his neck, flapping like an angry cobra's hood in the oncoming storm.
   He blinked his deep red eyes, squinting against the gale as he put his back to the storm and began to run. His hooves sunk into the sand, tripping him up, but he regained his balance. He stole a glace behind him; a wall of churning, rolling sand-cloud was rising up from the earth. It swallowed whole dunes in it's wake, ripping up scrub bushes and eating the earth like a ravenous jackal. Snorting, the stallion bunched his haunches and picked up the pace. He spied something in the murky distance -- an old dwelling of some sort, no doubt man's invention. The wind howled in his ears like oncoming starved wolves. He darted inside the structure, huddling against the hard mud-plastered wall that was closest to the storm, hoping the barrier would shift the wind in his favor inside the open room.
   The storm hit like a boulder, the force of it shaking him against the wall. He ducked his head, pressing spiraling horns into the wall and clamping his eyes shut. Sand pelted him like hail made of glass shards. The noise was deafening, he pinned his ears against his skull in protest. He closed his nostrils, thanking Aether for this ability. Slowly, the noise began to dim, and then, as quickly as it had started, the storm was over.
   Ammun exited the dwelling. The landscape, despite it's very recent ravaging, was the same. He shoot himself, tons of sand waterfalling off his back and out of his mane. He snorted the last bit of it from his nostrils, then picked up a springing canter, long legs carrying him back to his route. Hopefully, mercifully, the scent would still be there. His nostrils flared - a tiny waft of the scent hit him. A mare. It was rare for Desert Ballators to meet each other on the great desert plain, and the thought of it made him almost giddy. But he kept his composure. The search took days, which he had expected - mares eluded stallions at all costs. But this mare was harder to discover, she seemed to move constantly, even leaving behind scant traces of prey, just barely evading him. While the scent was always fresh, the mare must have been very quick, for he never glimpsed her for more than a week after the discovery of the musky scent.
   Ammun was beginning to tire of this chase after the second week. He stood atop a dune, wine-red eyes scanning. He had come out of the great sandy desert into the more shrubby area, which had more water and trees. He could smell her now, more strongly than before. It made his muscles tense and he pawed the earth. He looked below at a small oasis, surrounded by pitiful desert scrub and one tree. A flash of black. His ears pricked, straining. It was the mare.
   She was lithe, deep black, with a skull upon her delicate face. An array of horns arched up from her head, spined and long. Her coloring was uncommon for a desert-dweller, while she had typical Oryx markings, she was so dark that Ammun wondered how she stayed sane in the heat. Even with his own pearl coat sometimes the heat was unbearable. He slowly fanned his manes, creating a light wind about his neck. He must go now, if he is to catch her.
   His head snaked downward as he picked up a silent trot down the dune. The mare was snipping from the small pool, seemingly unaware he was there. He came up behind her, head low, like a stalking cat, ready to fight, as was the manner of his kind.
   "If you think I cannot hear your breathing, you must think me deaf."
   Ammun snorted, raising his head, still tense. The dark mare turned at looked at him, annoyance shining in her salt-white eyes. He arched a brow at him, as if to ask what he was doing. "I think so such thing." Ammun said finally, his rolling, deep voice causing the flattened mare's ears to prick. She turned around to face him fully. "Well?" She barked after a moment of silence. "Are you not going to steal upon me and tear my flesh? Grab my horns in your teeth?" Ammun laughed suddenly, overcome by this inherently strange situation. Deserts did not speak before courting. They merely stole upon one another and did what they must. "If you would rather me do that, I can." he offered, cocking a hind leg and smiling at her. She looked surprised, almost scowling, but her eyes held curiosity.
   "What is your name, dark mare?" He inquired, cocking his head and glancing once again at her thorny crown. "Nemea," she announced, head held up, seemingly pleased he was eyeing her. She eyed him as well, his gleaming, striped coat must have been fascinating. "And you?" She stepped the tiniest bit closer. "Ammun," he replied, arching his neck and fanning his manes, wishing her to come closer. She stepped cautiously, sniffing his shoulder, peering up at wine-red, spiral horns. They fused at the forehead into a skewer. She looked at it curiously. "Never have I seen such strangely formed horns." she said after a moment. Her previously chastising demeanor seemed to have fallen completely. "You would do well not to pursue such a curse as these from Aether, they give maddening headaches." He smiled, gleaming teeth sparkling; it was more than a smile, but the first step into courting. She bore her fangs as well, clacking them. A thrill went through Ammun; never had a mare willingly stepped into court with him, it was not something Deserts would do normally.
   Testing these rare waters, he shook his manes, the stiff hairs vibrating against one another, creating a low thrum, almost like a rattlesnake's warning. He arched, pawing, flaring his nostrils. The mare stepped back, eyes wide, not in fear, but in fascination. Perhaps a stallion had never been so becoming to her? He did not know. She still kept a vague, disinterested glace, but Ammun could tell he was winning her over, slowly, as he continued his display. She said nothing for a while, merely watched, and Ammun stayed silent, afraid to break any delicate and contemplative thought in her mind.
   She eyed him, speculating, then turned, trotting off into the trees, glancing back at him, beckoning the shining stallion to follow, which he did in a bound.
Featuring 2872 | IHS Ammun and Nemea 765 who will have the most glorious baby.
Words: 1200
Stats: 
    6 for words, +2 for extra character
(8)
:iconamaranthinerain:
AmaranthineRain Featured By Owner May 4, 2017   General Artist
"...ripping up scrub bushes and eating the earth like a ravenous jackal." I love this description!

"The storm hit like a boulder, the force of it shaking him against the wall." Aaaa, love this one too! I feel like I'm there with him. I'd comment on all the lines I like but I'd be pretty much pasting the entire piece in the comments x___x

Oooooh I like that moment when she catches him too - just when he thinks he's being all sneaky! 

What's a "glace"? --> " She still kept a vague, disinterested glace..."   

Huh. Look at her being all seductive and beckoning. Aahaha I like her personality~

I've always liked your writing, Fargonon. You have great descriptives and it makes me love reading about equines again. Your pieces remind me of The Sight and Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies and The Firebringer Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce :happybounce: Also, your writing isn't heavy to read - you don't really get bogged down and I get the sense that you're conscious of your word choice. 


Editing suggestions (if I may):
"It swallowed whole dunes in it's wake..." should be "its" as "it's" = "it is"
"He must go now, if he is to catch her." I suggest changing that "is" to "was" only because the rest of the piece is written in past tense and that current tense switch jarred me loose of the so far smooth read.
"The mare was snipping from the small pool..." Er..."sipping," right?
"He arched a brow at him..."
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