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Gathering up supplies for the journey ahead wasn't exactly time consuming for Rhys. While the Supplies Master was doing the majority of the work of compiling everything for Rhys and having it properly packed away in saddle bags, Rhys busied himself with packing any personal effects that needed to go with him. They were limited, traveling with too much would make for a harder ride. Nothing fragile was packed away aside from a rolled leather pack that held several quills, the two small jars of ink that went with it were tucked safely away as well. Aside from packing his own clothes, Rhys had used his time to speak with Father Naseem and square away a temporary instructor for his classes in his absence.
It had been roughly a week since Kalia's arrival at the Monastery and the preparations had taken even less of that time before the pair were fit to leave. The sun had only begun to rise when Rhys could be found down in the stables with a groom, a boy around the age of sixteen. The groom had helped the Argent fit his horse for travel with everything that was prepared. The horse itself, though Kalia had assumed Rhys would need a unmatched gelding, was Rhys personal mount. It was certainly not the same breed as the one more commonly used by Argents as their familiars, rather it was your average work horse. The mare was a dappled silver with a creamy white mane and tail. It normally wasn't Rhys that rode the mare on a daily basis, rather he loaned it to the monastery to use as needed. She still had a sturdy back, clean groomed coat and a friendly demeanor about her. Rhys stood before her as the groom finished with the last of hitching the saddle. He stroked her head gently and scratched behind her ears, muttering lightly to the horse.
The mare appeared friendly towards Rhys so while he did not handle her on a daily basis it was obvious the pair trusted one another. Sabvir, not to be left out, had laid herself out on Rhys left shoulder. Her beady black gaze observed the stables in detail while her nose wiggled every so often and her ears twitched to the sound of the horses around them.
The portion of stable which housed 'standard' horses was slightly different from the one which Kalia had collected Brielle from. For the Argent Familiars, the stalls were designed in such a way that the horses could let them into and out of their stalls and pass through to the sheltered paddock beyond. They were also a little roomier; a Familiar was generally intelligent enough not to hurt herself with flailing or pacing or other habits that some stabled horses developed. And lastly, their feed troughs were kept full via gravity-fed grain chutes, because Argent Familiars weren't going to gorge themselves on the food. There were exceptions to every rule, of course. Some Familiars didn't quite meet the minimum requirements for such freedoms and had restrictions in place - thankfully, though, Brielle was not one of those less intelligent sorts.
The mare followed Kalia up the aisle between stalls, already loaded down and tacked up. She seemed to be eager to get back on the road, as evidenced by her impatience when her partner stopped to wait for Rhys's stablehand to finish up. "It's so much noisier at this end of the stables," Kalia observed conversationally when she was within earshot. "I never really notice it until I have to pass through this portion. You don't think about it, but the Familiars don't need to greet their partners with whinnies or the like, they've got their mental link to do it with. The same goes for alarm, irritation... I wonder if they can also communicate better among themselves?"
Kalia had a theory that some of the more intelligent creatures, especially some from the most recent generation, could actually communicate telepathically between other members of the herd - but there wasn't proof of that phenomenon yet. Still, the idea had merit. Intelligence and compatibility with psionic communication were what the Familiars were bred for, after all. Perhaps the angels had seen fit to grace a few of the horses with Gifts, too, once they were smart enough to learn how to use them.
"They packed you rain gear too, right?" she asked, for the umpteenth time. It didn't matter that the woman already knew the answer. She had even checked the things herself, but there was no telling what might have been shuffled around between yesterday's checklist and today's departure.
As Kalia approached while speaking, Rhys twisted slightly to hear her better. "I don't mind it so much," He smiled and ruffled the mane between his mare's ears as he turned away from her, considering Kalia's comments. "I beleive that could be a real possibility," his line of thoughts followed along the same as Kalia's had. The horses were bred for intelligence, it wouldn't make sense for some of the more intelligent ones possessing the telepathy skill not to communicate using that ability. As Kalia approached, Sabvir's neck had careened around to look at the woman until Rhys began to walk around. "Rain gear is packed," Rhys nodded. He trailed his right hand along his mare's neck until his hand found the saddle and reins, "I've familiarized myself with what is where," Thankfully Rhys memory was top notch, "Double checked things with the Supplies Master, gone over things with you yesterday." If it weren't for the slight grin Rhys spoke with his words would have almost sounded aggravated. Instead he sounded confident and friendly, "I believe I've been as well packed as one could be."
The mare, Idora, didn't make a sound more than hoofing at the ground once when Kalia and Brielle approached. Rhys patted her side, "Idora here is fairly mellow, she shouldn't give you any problems if the need ever arose for you to handle her." Because that was a real possibility. Rhys liked to think he wouldn't knock himself out on a low hanging branch, but history has already proven that's a very real possibility.
Even though Kalia was fairly certain that the stablehand had already done it, she walked right up to Rhys's mount and began checking the mare over. First, the woman smoothed her hands over Idora's legs, picked up her hooves and checked that they were well shod and clean. Then she tested all the straps and tethers that held the tack on the mare's body, as well as the gear to the saddle. She tested tightened the girth a final time, gave the saddle a hearty tug and finally jiggled the saddlebags to test their weight distribution. The whole process took mere minutes, and was well worth the wait. It wouldn't do to have the horse throw a shoe or turn up lame before they'd gotten off the mountain, would it?
"As long as she doesn't think she's going to be the lead mare on this journey, I'm sure we'll be fine." Giving the horse a firm pat on the shoulder, Kalia considered herself satisfied with the state of things. "Need help mounting?" As far as the woman knew, Rhys was an able-bodied man -- but if you weren't in the habit of hauling yourself up into the saddle, things could get a little tricky. She didn't mind offering him her cupped hands for a little boost if that was what Rhys needed.
"She shouldn't," Rhys let Kalia perform her check of the mare, stroking Idora's neck while Kalia finished up. "No, thank you." Mounting up was relatively easy for Rhys. He certainly wasn't the strongest of the young men at the monastery but his lean muscle could translate as simply being thin through his clothes. He moved around to the left side of Idora and gripped the saddle with his left hand, guiding his left foot up to the stirrup. With one strong kick off the ground Rhys lifted himself up onto the saddle in a single fluid motion. Idora shook her mane and lifted her head up when he pulled at the reins lightly, "Was there anything else that needed tending before we depart?" For someone who couldn't see six inches past their nose, Rhys had a certain grace to his movements. At least in things that were familiar to him. Every movement was measured and trained to keep from appearing awkward or overly done. He hadn't swung his leg too high like some of the younger riders did, hand't managed to give Idora a swift kick in the flank by accident and had kept from just plopping his entire weight down all at once which avoided giving the mare any extra stress.
For the start of their journey Rhys had traded in his usual scribe like robes in for something better suited for the constant on and off of his horse. Tan trousers which were tailored to fit, dark brown riding boots which showed ware on the calfs and around the toe. A tunic under a leather vest and a hood that rested around his shoulders until it was time to pull it up. His belt had remained the same- it was covered in small pouches and one larger, oval shaped pouch that hung behind him when he sat atop the horse. This was Sabvir's pouch, one that she had scurried into before he had mounted. A leather strap crossed his chest going right to left, the buckle set against the front of his shoulder. The strap had two loops on the back meant for holding a staff, one which was currently attached to one of the saddle bags rather than his back.
"Excellent." Another hearty pat for the mare, and then Kalia stepped away. She stayed just close enough to Rhys to be able to assist him if he had trouble mounting despite his assurances that he didn't need her help, and once he was mounted, she too climbed into the saddle. She was anxious to depart, having found that she already missed the wide open spaces beyond the Monastery's walls, and Brielle echoed her partner's mood by constantly shifting her weight, stomping a hoof, or bobbing her head. Her mental presence was awash with excitement and yearning.
"I think we'll see how you two do on the trail down off the mountain," she decided, and clucked to Brielle. The mare didn't need the touch of a heel to understand her commands - not unless she was distracted, afraid, or being stubborn. So the Familiar set off at a brisk enough pace that Kalia was forced to call over her shoulder, "If she has trouble following, we can use a lead rope and tether her to Brielle's saddle."
Brielle crossed the courtyard at a brisk walk bordering on a trot, with Kalia constantly reminding the mare that it was impolite to race through the courtyard in such a way. God forbid they knock down a trainee in their haste to leave the monastery! "Easy," she tugged on the reins at least a half dozen times before they reached the gates. "It's not worth accident or injury to get there a few seconds faster!"
With the click of a heel from her rider, Idora nickered before she began to trail after the other horse. She was well trained in following a lead considering her usual rider wouldn't have been able to direct her himself. When Brielle took off at a brisk pace, Idora quickened her own with the slightest jerk to her unsuspecting rider. Rhys dropped his right hand down to the mare's neck and stroked it firmly, keeping his hold on the reins tight without pulling or tugging at them. They crossed the courtyard with no issues, even where Brielle was anxious to speed their start the people who were currently in the courtyard were mindful of the horses as they crossed it. It would have been the fault of any other Argent or trainee if they were trampled under hoof.
The clip clopping of hooves over stone was near deafening for Rhys at such a close proximity. If it had came through his window at a distance away it wouldn't have gained so much of his attention, but here it was difficult to push the sound away. Kalia's words broke the sound in a welcomed manner, though he didn't immediately reply until they were past the main entry and the smooth stones became scattered in the compacted road which eventually turned to dirt under hoof. "We should make good time down the mountain either way," With or without Idora needing a rope lead, "Providing the clouds don't swell into something more." Rhys motioned to his left from where the wind blew in their direction, bringing with it a horde of scents. The faintest of them, mixed with the pollens that floated on the breeze, was rain.
At this distance the clouds looked harmless. Like large puffs of cotton floating lazily through the sky between mountain tops, casting their shadows on the hills and mountain sides below.
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