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Dale Thimmick loaned Zanzarog a horse to enjoy for the afternoon as compensation for helping out around the farm. Dale offered him coinage for his hard work but the Half Orc respectively declined, this was the next best thing. Riding was one of the greatest feelings in the World, there was so much to explore and discover, and it sure as hell beat walking. There was a trail he normally chose to trot down, but today was different. The townsfolk spread rumors of mythical creatures and monsters that prowled the forest and he was on a mission to find them. Did he believe them? Hardly. He was probably the only monster they had ever seen. Zan had nothing better to do today, save for spending time with Mythandriel, but she had to tend to her garden.

So off he went, riding until he came to a split in the path, the townsfolk said to take a right and keep on going until the trees were plentiful. Just beyond that was a grassy hillside and there, that’s where the so-called creatures would be. So far he had only seen a couple of deer and a fox, he’d have to come back here with a bow one of these days and bring some pelts to Myth. Bringing the horse to a gallop, he’d eventually reach said hillside, it was riddled with colorful flowers. Nothing but flowers and bees. God damn did he hate bees, little bastards did nothing but buzz in his ear and sting him. ‘Don’t swat at them, you’ll only make them angrier’, Myth always warned him, but did he listen? Nope.

Zan would let the horse rest, for the time being, it seemed pretty happy with the assortment of flowers and grass to graze on. It would nibble and cut the tops off the fresh grass, chewing relentlessly and nay every once in a while. He would simply enjoy the view, not a hobble or street merchant in sight. Today was a good day.

@Spooky Mittens

Edited by Better Than Gore

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CRACK!

The sound resounded through the forest and over the hills.  A loud thunderous crackle, as if a tree had just fallen from a great and mighty gust.  The birds scattered far and wide, while critters of all shapes and sizes hid in their holes.  A sense of dread thickened the air as though a storm was brewing, though the sky was clear as a bell.

Black Philip.  It was a nickname the locals had given this creature, said to be an incarnation of some otherworldly fiend.  His fleece was black as midnight, and his horns were wild and twisting.  Two sets sprouted from his head, one curved only slightly, the other curled like a ram around his ears.  To the uninitiated he looked like nothing more than a fat ram, but on closer inspection it would be plain that this creature was peculiar.

The head of a goat, the body of a sheep, and the legs and feet od a rabbit, all packed into a frame that was only slightly larger than a mule.  One honker of a Springjack.  Black Philip could be seen bounding to and fro, and every now and again he bounced himself full force into a tree.

CRACK!

Now he was at the edge of the clearing, and he struck a tree with a mighty blow, throwing his whole body off the ground and kicking two foot deep holes into the turf.  This tree was old and dry, mostly dead wood, and as his thick black horns struck the trunk, the tree came cashing down at the botton of the hill.

@Better Than Gore

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There was not a single cloud in sight, so, needless to say, the echoing sound caught him off guard. Taking a moment to pinpoint the location of the noise, Zan pulled on the reign and signaled his horse to push forward. Then the noise occurred once more, this time the sound of an object falling followed it, which gave him a pretty good heading on the source. A hill stood between him and the creator, which took him a few minutes to tackle, steep inclines were no cakewalk.


Upon reaching the top, Zan would adjust his posture and look down into the valley resting at the bottom. A tree had fallen, roots and all forcibly ripped from the Earth. The culprit was nowhere in sight. Even he couldn't accomplish such a feat of strength, whatever had done so must have been quite the force. “Easy girl, easy..” His grip on the reigns loosened and his heels retracted from the side of the beast, letting it come to a complete stop atop the hill. Zan felt no need to descend until he spotted whatever had been causing such a ruckus.

@Spooky Mittens

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Zan crested the hill and observed the springjack's destruction.  The creature observed Zan now as well, from the confines of the trees and the underbrush.  A strong man, tusks in his lips, riding atop a horse beast.  Black Philip knew these well, and he didn't mich care for them.  He especially didn't like it when they had riders.

He wasn't like other creatures, Black Philip.  He had existed since a time when men and beasts were not so far apart, when these monkies hadn't yet dreamed of taming nature to their whims.  Perhaps the black springjack would show Zan and this horse what it meant to be truly a beast of the wilds?

With a powerful leap, and the sound of earth hollowing and upturning, Black Philip burst through the treeline, clear over the branches, like a streak of dark night careening towards Zan and his horse.  He landed with a thump, and yet this did nothing to slow him down, his claws drigging deep into the earth of the hill and carving huge gouges into it's greenery.

He peered with beady red eyes up the slope at Zan's horse, his horns leveled low with sinister intent.  He was gonna break that horse's neck if he was given half a chance. 

@Better Than Gore

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Great. Zanzarog was going to have to earn his keep on Dale Thimmick’s farm in order to pay him back for the loss of his horse. He should have expected this. ‘If you go looking for trouble, you'll find it’, as his Mother would say, then again, how was he to know that this creature was intelligent enough to ambush him? Blindside was a more suitable term in this case. Zanzarog had little to no time to react, his peripheral vision caught a mere glimpse of the beast before it connected with his mount. That thundering crack and the sickening sound of bones crunching was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Zan did the only thing he could do in a moments notice, he braced himself for impact and made absolutely sure not to tense up.


Black Phillip's unstoppable force did exactly what it was intended to do, obliterated its target. The poor horse didn't even see it coming and its life was ended the very moment the Springjack struck. Toppling over and on a one way course down the hillside, with Zanzarog still mounted. As the horse's body tipped over, the Orc attempted to bail, standing up only to kick off of the saddle to create enough distance to clear him of being crushed. Landing on his back, he then began to roll down the hill, hitting every single god damn root and rock in existence. Coming to a stop once he had reached the bottom of the incline, he immediately stood and prepared himself for the Springjack to follow up with yet another charge. This hadn't been the first time the Orc stared death in the face, but would he live to tell this tale? His life was in the Green God's hands now.

@Spooky Mittens

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He could feel the muscles on the horse's neck ripple and shift as the weighty springjack threw his considerable strength into the beast.  It only toom three mighty leaps, and in the blink of an eye he sent the horse tumbling with a sickening

SNAP

Followed by a crunching sound as the beast went limp and rolled down the hill.  The rider followed, casting himself free just in time to avoid breaking his legs.  Black Philip watched him roll down the hill, bouncing over a few stones and roots on his way.  The sight pleased him.  The limp horse pleased him.  That snap pleased him.  He looked on with his dim red eyes until Zan came to a stop.

He let out a loud bleat and started to binky on the top of the hill.  He bounced about in a circle, kicking his hind legs this way and that, in celebration over his victory.  What fun it was to unleash his strength in this way.  Soon the rider would rise again, and Black Philip would only stop his celebratory binkies when the man found his legs.

Then they'd have a staring match.

@Better Than Gore

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It was celebrating?! Zanzarog watched in awe as the creature practically danced to and fro, clearly celebrating its victory. He had never seen a creature display behavior quite like it. It had attacked and killed his horse simply because it could, and now it fixed its sight on him. Glaring at the Half Orc down as if they had entered a staring contest. Zan was at a loss here, if he ran, the beast would easily catch him, if he stood here, the beast would do to him what it just did to his steed. What to do.. what to do..


Feeling around his waist, he had a knife sheathed at his side and.. that was it. Swearing under his breath, his peripheral vision noted where the horse's body had stopped, the rest of his supplies were stashed away in the saddle, rope, etcetera. If he made a break for it, the chances of him retrieving it before the creature reached him were unlikely. Brandishing the knife, Zanzarog wielded it accordingly and began sidestepping, moving to his right and toward the motionless body of the horse. All the while he never broke gaze with the Springjack, noting his surroundings and distance with what peripheral vision he did have.

@Spooky Mittens

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Interesting. . .

Black Philip could almost feel the fear pourong off Zanzarog at this point, and yet despite that fear he stood his ground for a time.  If the springjack had wanted, he could have bounded down the hill and tossed the half-orc like a ragdoll for hours of fun.  The more he watched, though, the less he wanted to play.

Do you think yourself my equal?  He thought as he watched Zan draw a dagger.  Black Philip knew what those were, they never managed to pierce his thick fleece.  Then Zan started to shuffle towards his mount.  Or do you think you are superior?

Black Philip chuffed loudly as he beat his forelegs through the air.  The sudden swift movement made a noise like soft thunder.  The movement agitated him, and he took off down the hill.  Of course, with forelegs so short and hindlegs so long, traversing a grassy hill downward was a bit of a task.  He would stumble more than once, and switch to a rapid side-to-side movement to compensate.  Zanzarog might just have his chance now, and Black Philip let out an angry bleat.

"BAHHH"

@Better Than Gore

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This was his opportunity and probably the only break in the Springjack's advance, the decline of the hill was slowing it down, not by much, but just enough to give Zanzarog the time he needed. His sidestepping transitioned into a full on sprint the moment he realized he had a small window of time to acquire what he needed. Once at the horse, his freehand patted around the saddle desperately until it felt coarseness of his rope. Practically ripping the lasso free, his knife would be sheathed and he transitioned the rope into his hands, flailing it to and fro in the air and waiting for the beast to get within reach. And then he threw it. Zanzarog wasn't an expert by any means, but he was confident enough to hopefully snag the beast.


The Springjack was a large enough target that he could have practically landed the lasso blindfolded, but the creature wasn't mindless, it had demonstrated that it was very much aware of its intentions. Which struck the Half Orc as odd, maybe those crazy Cothites were telling the truth after all. There were monsters in these hills, Zan was just unfortunate enough to come across one. His goal was to lasso the beast by its horns and immediately establish a tight grip, closing the noose around the protrusions upon securing its hold. From there, Zanzarog adjusted his arms accordingly and angled them down, only to pull with all of his might in order to force the Springjack's charge down toward the ground.

@Spooky Mittens

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Black Philip was swift and strong, but luck was on Zan's side.  He managed to get to his saddlebags, he whipped up his lasso, and as the springjack leveled his head down and primed his hind legs for a powerful thrust of his horns, a fibrous appendage wrapped about his head.

The twisting and angled horns atop his head made a perfect target for Zanzarog's toss, and even if he had flubbed it a tad he would still land true.  With a powerful yank, Zan directed Black Philip into the dirt just a few feet in front of him.  The mess of black fleece and grassy turf barred towards Zan, flipping heels up across the ground.  His body threatening to flatten Zan in the mext moment.

@Better Than Gore

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Success! Unfortunately Zanzarog didn't have time to celebrate, despite his accomplishment of lassoing a moving target. It was harder than one might expect. Black Phillip had been grounded, but its momentum didn't stop, it was now practically sliding across the ground towards him with no means of stopping any time soon. Zan could go about this one of two ways, he could either jump out of the way and potentially lose his grip on the lasso, or take the blow head on. Neither one sounded too ideal; however, one spelt death, and Mythandriel would never forgive him if he was killed in action, let alone by a giant hybrid goat-rabbit.

So he came up with a third option! As the creature drew near, Zanzarog simultaneously began wrapping the lasso around his forearm to shorten the length, and circled to the beasts right(his left). As the Springjack slid by the shorter tension of the rope would pull him along with it and hopefully onto the creature itself. It was time to see whether or not all of his experience riding mustangs would pay off. Black Phillip was much larger and maneuvered much differently than a horse. Ride 'em cowboy.

@Spooky Mittens

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He tumbled and fumbles and ripped up the ground, tearing a path as he tried to right himself.  The manbeast beside danced around him with care and boldness.  Most men ran in fear from Black Philip, but not this creature with sharp lower tusks and dark skin.  He had the audacity to rope Black Philip by the horns. Needless to say, the springjack was pissed.

Black Philip tore his horns out of the ground as he flopped and wiggled, finally he got his feet back under himself and he shook the dirt from his head, but where did the manbeast go?  Philip turned left, and he turned right, but Zan was nowhere to be seen!  And then he felt something.

Zan had climbed onto the Springjack's back, using his rope as reigns and grabbing a tuft of curly fleece.  He let out a shriek of fury and started to thras about as strongly as he could.  He kicked this way and that, tossing dirt and grass in every direction.  If that wasn't enough to do it he would take off running as fast as he could.

To say that Black Philip was fast was an understatement when it came to the animal kingdom.  Gazelles had nothing on a Springjack of his size, and he bolted into the forest at fifty miles per hour.  He was swift as an arrow, but he had such maneuverability that he could turn rapidly even at speed.  He would dart through the branches and the bramble, tearing a path of carnage through the wood.  Every bird for miles would scatter as Black Philip knocked over several trees.

Such a rampage was taxing, so he couldn't keep this up for long.  If Zan could manage to hold on for just one minute, Black Philip would tire himself out.

@Better Than Gore

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Zanzarog was about to go for a ride. Upon establishing somewhat of a comfortable position atop the creature, he lowered the upper half of his body and remained low. He kept a firm grip on the lasso, not that he had a choice in the matter, it was wrapped around his forearm as well as Black Phillip’s horns. His opposite hand weaved into the creature’s fur and clasped with a white knuckle grip. Once Black Phillip realized that Zan had mounted him, it did everything in its power to knock him off. Thrashing about and bucking similar to that of a horse, which he was all too familiar with. With the first buck, the Orc realized what the beast was attempting and so he dug his heels into the side of the creature, while simultaneously tucking his legs against the creatures sides. Zanzarog wasn’t going anywhere, at least for the time being.

Then it took off, Zanzarog had never experienced such tremendous speed, horses be damned, Black Phillip was fast. A smile split from ear to ear, he was impressed and terrified at the same exact time. If he fell off going this fast, it would end badly, but if he managed to hold on long enough then the creature might tire itself from such exertion. If it tuckered out, the Orc may have a chance to tame the beast. Assuming Black Phillip could be tamed. “Still here big guy and I ain’t going anywhere!” Zan taunted it, even as it rammed its way through the forest.

@Spooky Mittens

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He thrashed and he bucked, and several dead trees lay flat tha ks to Black Philip.  A veritable warpath had been carved into the grove as the Springjack tried to dislodge this freeloader, but when all was said and done he knew that he had failed.  Zanzarog still held fast, though his body had been beaten and bruised.  He showed determination to match Black Philips.

Too tired to keep up this game of whack-an-orc, Black Philip's breathing became heavy.  He trodded weakly for a time, but soon he lay in the underbrush, placing his chin flat against the earth and letting his powerful hind legs sprawl out behind him.  He let out a bleat in protest, but you could tell his heart just wasn't in it anymore.

Fine, manbeast, slay me if you will.  He thought.  I'll haunt your whole lineage.

Zanzarog, however, would find himself in possession of the largest Springjack, and if he let his mind wander he might even see visions.  As Black Philip began drifting off a strange fey magic took hold of the woods.  Fleeting visions of Black Philip's past brought to light in the waking world.  If he paud attention, Zanzarog would see a simple tale of court intrigue.  A prince, proud and ambitious, set his sights on a maiden.  He took her as his own, only nights before she was to be wed to another.  The jealous fiance, a foreign king, forced him into cruel ultimatum.  He was cursed into this form, to live as a Springjack for one thousand years, and his unborn son would be spared.

The visions ended, as that was where Black Philip ceased to be anything more than a vicious beast.

@Better Than Gore

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Black Phillip wasn't the only one exhausted; Zanzarog too rolled from the creature's back and found himself panting heavily in the underbrush, as he caught his breath the Springjack's past became apparent to the Half Orc in the form of a vision. Zan watched as Black Phillip's unfortunate past unveiled itself, despite the events leading up to his curse, the two of them were similar in a way. Their past haunted them and they lashed out at anything because of it. His intentions were not what the Springjack had presumed, he didn't wish to hurt the creature, but befriend him. Zanzarog laid there for a moment after the vision had ended and rolled toward the creature, a hand patted at his fur. "You'll live to see another day friend." His voice was calm.

Transitioning into a sitting position, Zan's gaze never left the Springjack, just in the off chance that he decided to take advantage of his captor's winded state. "Why don't you come with me? I'll see to it that you're properly taken care of and together we'll cause a little mayhem in the process." Who knew if the creature could actually understand him or whether or not it actually cared what he spoke about if he could, but something told Zanzarog that the creature was lonely and companionship would steer him onto the right path.

Little did both of them know, that path was exactly what the Half Orc had promised... Mayhem.

@Spooky Mittens

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