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A Threehorn's Distress
Topic Started: Nov 10 2017, 09:39 AM (121 Views)
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A Threehorn’s Distress

Silent steps could be heard in the small thicket as the unsure threehorn slowly made his way towards the small glade nearby. A worried and awkward expression could be read from Rinen’s face as he looked around himself, trying to search for any kinds of movements or sounds around himself save from his only companion, another, slightly older boy by the name of Eril. No matter how tranquil their surroundings seemed at first glance, there was no way the young dinosaur could even hope to calm down at this time. Even if tomorrow would only mark the first of the many trainings for the eventual Test of Worthiness, Rinen dreaded what awaited him on the following day and he didn’t want to meet any other children his age today. Most of them would relish any chance they’d have to humiliate or tease him of his bleak prospects in the coming trainings and the Test itself.

The thick grassland slowly gave way for a small clearing in which sparkled a small but gleaming lake which was the reason for the young threehorn’s risky trip in the first place. His lips were parched from the seemingly endless trek which had ended only this very morning to let the young ones prepare for the following hardships. This small grassland served as a satisfactory point to begin introducing the children to harsher landscapes after their rather easy past Cold Times in a lush woodland far away. After their arrival, Rinen had waited for quite some time to quell his thirst as he had hoped to avoid meeting any of the other kids. With a long sigh, Rinen finally broke the silence and addressed his friend.

“Nobody’s here. Phew, that’s a relief. I wouldn’t have wanted to meet any of those idiots here.” The threehorn said, turning to look at his friend who was a slightly lighter color than he was.

The other boy’s green eyes looked at him in slight worry, knowing how precarious his friend’s position had grown to be. Eril wasn’t quite as shy or lonely as Rinen was but he had befriended with him a long time ago and the two had spent much of their childhoods together and they still enjoyed each other’s company. He answered to Rinen with a soft but firm voice.

“Most of them would be alright if you get to know them, Rinen. They are often annoying but they can be also quite fun sometimes. It shouldn’t be like this for you. You’ll never pass the Test if you fear everyone.” Eril tried to encourage his friend even if this was a kind of conversation they had had many times in the past. However, they only made Rinen feel guilty for his own weaknesses as he had tried to do what his friend had said, but all of his efforts had gone to waste. He remained one of the most overlooked and disdained boys in his herd and even some of the adults had said he’d never survive in this herd. Rinen took a pained expression as he answered.

“I know but what can I do?! I’ve tried to get to know them better and every time ends on the same way: I do something wrong or I’ll embarrass myself after a fail in the training! I’m doing my best, Eril, but I guess it just isn’t enough. But I just hope I’ll find some way to pass the Test. I have to.” The greyish male said to his friend as he started to drink from the pond. Eril looked at him in some sympathy even if he had also his own misgivings about Rinen’s approach to things. He was often quite lazy and no matter what he tried to tell himself, he’d always give up too easily whenever he met hardships. Also, his fat body helped things none in either getting friends or in the training fights. Eril appreciated Rinen as himself was but the other boy just couldn’t shake off the feeling that Rinen’s life would be easier if he’d just get over his own fears and self-fulfilling expectations.

“We’ll have a lot of training to do and I know we’ll get over it. But… Rinen… we must never give up in the coming weeks. Don’t me wrong but you’ve been rather quick to give up lately…” Eril didn’t want to say it as he knew the mess Rinen had got himself in and the other threehorn was about to answer when another voice joined the threatening discussion.

“There’s nothing wrong in giving up if you’re a fatty, good-for-nothing slob in the first place! You would do a favor to all of us if you just left now, Rinen!” A group of five threehorns entered the glade where the two were, a sadistic smile apparent on the centermost boy’s face. Rinen looked at them in cringing and alerted eyes but this wasn’t the first time he was in this situation. And no matter what I want, it’s not the last.

“Get lost, Jeriss! I don’t need you here today! If you want to fight, I’ll fight you tomorrow!” At this point, Rinen’s voice was filled with hate as he was past the point where he feared this jerk. At this point, he felt only hate against this threehorn for making his life a constant struggle. Not that it had any effect: his tormentor and most of his friends were far stronger than he was and with Eril’s help, he wouldn’t stand a chance against them. Even then, he had any choices at this point. Even if he could escape, he would have only another humiliation on his name. Jeriss raised his left brow and chuckled meanly as he answered.

"Why should I wait for tomorrow when I can teach you a lesson here and now? There’s no one here to save your lazy ass from us!” The threehorn walked closer to Rinen whose anxious movements communicated only loathing and fear. Eril looked at the two and against all hope, tried to dissuade the five boys from their planned attack.

“There’s no point in fighting here! Even if you beat Rinen, nobody sees it and even then, who wants this kind of victory? Five versus one? Really?” The light-colored threehorn said to Jeriss but it was one of the others who answered to Rinen’s friend. It was an almost black, large male whose eyes penetrated into Eril as he stood by Rinen’s side.
“Why are you defending him? At this rate, you’ll get as dumb and useless as he is! Do you really want to join him?” The dark threehorn smirked but it earned only another hate-filled expression from Eril. His voice creaked with held rage that seemed to only cause laughter among the five other boys.

“I’m here because he is a much funnier guy to be with than you and no one deserves to hear that kind of crap from you! I don’t know who you are trying to impress with this! As Rinen said, if you really want to prove you’re better than him, do it tomorrow!” Eril cried with rage, annoyed that he had to be this position in the first place. He knew this would make his own life harder but this had to stop. The Test would be tough enough without this. The dark threehorn moved closer to the two, speaking maliciously.

“You don’t deserve any favors, cowards. We’re not trying to impress anyone here but teach you some important things. And is Rinen too scared to speak for himself? That is even more pathetic than he usually is.” The threehorn looked at Rinen who, despite knowing the outcome, walked also towards the assembled dinosaurs. He growled briefly in a last effort to save the situation even if he knew how hard it would be.

“I’m not scared but I’m too disgusted to speak to any of you! You are as stupid, self-righteous and annoying as threehorn can get! Leave Eril out of this but don’t think I’m ready to give up. One way or another, I’ll pass the Test!” Rinen yelled as the five bullies surrounded him, chuckling at the other threehorn’s efforts to keep his head high in the face of this crushing situation. Eril continued to stand by his friend’s side, determined to defend the last traces of dignity he still had left. However, he knew all of those efforts would prove to be for naught as the five threehorn suddenly charged against the two.

Deep, desperate sobs were all that could be heard as Rinen forced his way towards the place which his family had chosen as their temporary home. Not only did his stabbed leg hurt tremendously but there were bruises and wounds everywhere in his body. The most serious one of them was the deep, bleeding cut in his right calf which made walking extremely painful. But the most crushing thing in Rinen’s mind was the thing that this had happened yet again and Eril had been forced to suffer with him. How many times would he continue to stand by his side at this rate? How long would anyone try to understand or stand up for him if he was capable of doing nothing and shame and beatings followed in his wake?

At this point, Rinen was completely lost in his despair as he collapsed to the ground, the tears falling to the green moss. He would never pass the Test, he would never prove the others’ doubts wrong. He would meet his end soon after his ultimate downfall. Failing the Test of Worthiness was the greatest dishonor a threehorn his age could ever get and a certain death sentence. There was just no way to avoid it: he’d never be able to keep up with the others during the treks and he’d never beat any of the other boys in a fight. There was nothing he could do right anymore: there had been a time when he had been a normal, strong threehorn that could stand up to the others but now he was nothing but the laughing stock of everyone. Slowly, Rinen’s eyes slowly rose from the moist ground but he was still too mentally taxed to take another step.

Slowly but surely, the young threehorn’s breath started to calm down even if his mind didn’t. Still, the choking feeling of worthlessness and betrayal slowly grew less intense and the tears turned into bitter sobs. With intermittent movements, Rinen turned his eyes at the woods around him, marveling at the starting spring’s signs around him. Those trees or the sweet smell of the air wouldn’t help him any but Rinen, as so often before in his short life, wanted to see them as some kind of relief or guide during troubled times.

Even then, they had never actually helped to in anything but in moments like these, Rinen wanted to believe there was more to the life than the constant beatings and humiliations. The most mysterious things of all were those tiny lights in the sky would appear only after nightfall. Rinen would often wish to ask them for help in the midst of his misery even if he had often been told a threehorn believes only in what they can see. At this point, even the boy himself didn’t know if he truly believed in them but he truly wanted to trust the unknown as a comfort to his own misery. The threehorn continued to recall the things that gave him some comfort in his life when suddenly, heavy footsteps could be heard in the forest. Rinen was startled at first but soon he could tell who the newcomer by the slow but determined pacing of his walking. The young threehorn’s head dropped as he prepared to the incoming, probably another heartbreaking conversation.

“Were you beaten again, Rinen? Who did this?” The voice was sharp and it bore little sympathy for Rinen as he looked at the boy’s injuries. The grayish threehorn tried to find some words to say and after a moment, he gathered enough strength to answer in a measly, mournful voice.

“Jeriss and his group, grandpa. I was going to drink when…” His words were interrupted by a stomp to the ground and a considerably angrier voice. The old threehorn pitied his grandson’s weakness and the fact that he was routinely humiliated by the others. Today’s event had helped none his concerns.

“How many times do we have to go through this, Rinen!? Can’t you realize that this cannot continue any longer! You are not only shaming yourself but me and your mother as well! Why cannot you get a hold of yourself? Tomorrow begins the most important part of your life!” The angry voice only deepened Rinen’s internal torture but he knew better than to let it show. Hiding any weakness was a quality each and every threehorn had learned at a young age and even if the older threehorn had already seen his lonely mourning, Rinen was still too proud to let such behavior continue when he had audience. His voice wavered but he still held a somewhat firm composure as he answered.

“I’ve tried to prepare for it but the others can’t leave me in peace! I’m really trying to get through the Test but everything’s just so hard. I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused but I’ve tried to do my best!” Rinen’s voice fell near the end as did his grandfather’s anger slightly. Still, the old threehorn kept the pressure on Rinen’s end.

“I’ve looked at the way you’ve trained and I can say you never did your best. Most of the time you forget everything you’ve been told when the first setbacks arrive and that’s completely unacceptable! I’ve tried to teach you as well as I’ve been able to but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Rinen… I cannot do the Test for you. I’ve cared for you as my own son and there’s a lot of potential within you but you’ve lacked the backbone to see things to the end. That is why you get to trouble with the others and that is why you will fail the Test if you continue on this path.” The threehorn’s words’ finality chilled Rinen to the bone as he tried to find something to explain his point. However, it proved to be more difficult than he thought. it was the same thing Eril had said to him earlier but what could he do about it? He didn’t know what to do and the time was running out quickly.

“B… but I’ve tried to do what I can! I… I’ve heard I should try harder but I cannot go on with fighting if I stand no chance. No matter what I do, the others are always stronger or faster than I am… I remember what I should do but it’s of no use!” The younger threehorn did his best to hold his composure but the fact that all of his efforts were slowly going to waste weighed on his mood immensely. His grandfather’s face was a mask of firm strictness as he looked at his grandson. Rinen wasn’t the descendant he had wished for but something in the youth had grown on him during their time together. Whether it was his personality, his companionship or the simple knowledge that it was he who would continue his line, the elderly dinosaur wanted Rinen to succeed in the future. But the question was how?

“It’s because they put their hearts into the fighting and they know they can reach the end on our long marches. You’d be surprised to know how much the simple knowledge of being able to do something can do. Rinen, you are in a disadvantage due to your weight but that’s no reason to give up! You know it already but I’m afraid your fear will be your real problem. But let’s see it this way: you hate Jeriss, don’t you?” The old threehorn tried to reason, knowing that hate could often overshadow other emotions. It wasn’t long before the younger threehorn nodded.

“You have to try to forget the situation and to concentrate on your opponent. The fury of the moment is all you need to do well enough in the Test. Nobody asks for perfection but you need to show that you are on the same level as all the others. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Rinen’s grandfather asked, clearly willing to see that his words weren’t for naught. Rinen looked at him with a somewhat unsure expression but answered to him shortly.

“I guess so. But I don’t know if I can do that. Everyone’s here and that is the thing that scares me. How can I forget them if I’m jeered at all the time?” At this point, Rinen had steeped a bit too far with his words. This was how far his grandfather would listen but he wouldn’t hear any more worrying about things nobody can change.

“That’s enough! Rinen, you’re a threehorn and threehorns don’t care about that kind of nonsense! We are a proud family and we don’t have to slither in front of those brats! You can do it but to do that, you have to think like a threehorn, not like a damned swimmer! You were born for this and you can do this! This is a thing that isn’t up for a debate. Come, let’s go home.” The thundering voice once again made Rinen remember what was at stake here. The words were ones he had heard many times in the past but in the face of the coming ordeals they seemed to make more sense. With a spirited voice, the boy decided to do the only thing that could lighten the situation at least to some degree.

“In fact, I have an idea that could be of some help tomorrow. I’ll come home soon!” Despite his encouraging voice, there lurked deep concern but Rinen knew it wouldn’t help if let them out loud. With a slightly more relaxed nod, the elderly dinosaur headed towards the edge of the woods. No matter Eril’s setbacks in helping him, Rinen had one last idea on how to begin his last preparations for tomorrow.

Eril looked at his friend with a weary expression, still hurt by the beating he had received earlier due to his drive to stand by his friend. Even if he had resolved to put all of his efforts to be at his best tomorrow, he had decided to answer to Rinen’s request once more. This time the two were far from the rest of the herd so the chances of being found by the bullies was close to zero. However, Eril still didn’t know the reason for this meeting.

“What are we doing here, Rinen? We should be preparing for tomorrow!” Eril said while squinting his left eye that had been hurt in the fight. Rinen regretted being forced to call his friend here but he knew he had to put the new ideas he had received from his grandfather to use.

“I just wanted to try to hone my concentration one last time. Grandpa reminded me that all is lost if I fail here. I understand if you don’t want to do train but he gave me some ideas on how to do better. I’d like to spar with you a bit.” Eril raised an eyebrow at this request, both of the boys knowing that Rinen wouldn’t stand a chance. Not only was he a few Cold Times older but he was also stronger and more skilled than his younger friend was. Still, Rinen wanted to see if there was anything he could do even in a friendlier environment to see if he could do anything of worth in a fight.

“Are you sure, Rinen? Remember that if you truly wish this, I’m not going to hold back. I’m sorry but there’s no chance you’ll win.” The lighter-colored threehorn said, willing to believe Rinen had some reason for this request other than to only make his misery worse. The younger male shook his head and answered in an odd voice.

“I know but I wish to try anyway. We haven’t fought before.” Rinen said bluntly, prompting a sarcastic thought from Eril. There’s a good reason for that, Rinen. Well, if you’re sure.

“Alright, here we go!” The older boy said as he and Rinen charged against each other, both of them knowing the result of this clash. Still, Rinen was more determined than before to see this challenge through and perhaps even learn something from it. The first contact was a more violent one than he had expected but he managed to lock his head against that of Eril’s, earning a surprised look from the other threehorn. Still, the older threehorn recovered his resolve quickly and with a violent strength, started to push Rinen back and to begin the process of releasing his horns from the locked battle.

In the wake of this brute strength, Rinen realized he had to change his strategy or risk being mercilessly overpowered. No traces of friendship remained in Eril’s assault even if he made sure not to seriously wound his younger counterpart. Rinen’s brain was working on overdrive as he tried to find another weakness in Eril’s composure and after a moment, he saw something interesting. The slightly older dinosaur’s weight was completely put on his right foreleg as he used it to put all of his strength in forcing Rinen to back down. The latter knew his chances of ever using this knowledge to his advantage would be beyond difficult but no matter what, he wouldn’t give up this battle before all of his options would be extinguished.

With a desperate and highly risky movement, Rinen quickly pulled his head back and jumped to his right and tried to hit Eril’s leg with his horn and to trip him. His plan was only partly successful. Rinen managed to scratch a long if harmless wound to his leg and forcing him to move back in order to avoid his wounded leg failing under his weight. However, the rest of Rinen’s plan wasn’t quite as successful. He charged after Eril but to his astonishment, the older threehorn had managed to regain his composure far quicker than Rinen had expected.

Eril, on the other hand, was highly surprised by Rinen’s maneuver as he looked at his bleeding leg in slight shock. In an uncharacteristic show of perseverance, Rinen had stopped his attack and afterwards had taken a brave move to outmaneuver and attack him. He had expected this to be a one-sided spar which would only hurt Rinen even worse but the boy was pushing back with a clear plan. However, Eril could see that Rinen wasn’t used to being in an advantageous position. He clearly thought the older threehorn was completely beaten and accompanied by a sense of triumph, charged towards Eril’s exposed side. The older threehorn smiled in slight disappointment as he prepared for his comeback and to the end of the fight. The trap was set.

To his disaster, Rinen could see it far too late. His eyes widened in fear as Eril suddenly sprinted towards his friend and hit at his side before Rinen could turn or slow down. He felt stinging pain as he suddenly found himself lying in the rocky ground, his back hitting a large rock. Surprised gasps left his mouth as he looked at Eril’s friendly but mixed face looking at him. The older boy spoke in an unsure voice as Rinen examined his new wounds.

“Never do something like that, Rinen. I could have hurt you even worse if I had wanted to.” His words were careful as Rinen slowly rose back to his feet. He looked at his friend in embarrassment as he answered.

“’I’m sorry. I was just carried away as I thought I found an opening. It seems I was wrong In any case, it was a good fight.” Rinen affirmed awkwardly, disappointed by his failure at the most critical of situations. Still, the fact that he had ever even got that far was a surprise to the younger boy himself and to his great relief, Eril returned a careful smile.

“It was, Rinen. You put up a good challenge, better than I had expected. Want to do another round?” The older dinosaur said carefully, hoping that the defeat hadn’t broken Rinen’s spirit just yet. He was pleased to hear a positive answer from his friend as Rinen moved into an offensive position.

“You bet! I just have to do this or I could as well just leave the herd now! Let’s use all the time we have left!” The boy said, knowing that the younger threehorns were expected to return home before the night which was mercilessly approaching. Eril cringed a bit, knowing that his own family was likely worried by the injuries he had received earlier. Well, that mattered little at this point. He was alright and this was the first time Rinen had shown genuine wish to improve his skills in a long while. He would give all the help he could give him at this point.

It was only a long time of sweat and pain that the two friends finally stopped their sparring. The day was coming to its end and the time for training was over. Rinen panted in deep fatigue even if he was more than pleased by what the duo had managed to do with the little time they had. Eril, too, felt that the day’s work hadn’t gone for nothing. Somehow, Rinen seemed to have regained some of his usually absent composure but there was still work to do. Eril would certainly pass the Test but Rinen was still a big question mark. The former put on a neutral expression as he addressed his younger friend with a thoughtful voice.

“Well, that’s that. We have to go home now. I had a good time with this training.” The older dinosaur said tiredly, knowing that his time for mental preparation for the future had been greatly shortened. However, if it would help his friend, it was a disadvantage he was willing to take. Rinen, despite his more hopeful mood, slowly realized that this was it. He was now as ready as he’d get and this was the experience in his disposal in the coming training. As he answered, Rinen realized his voice was far more concerned than he had expected it to be.

“Thank you for helping me, Eril. I think I learned a lot today but… tomorrow’s the real deal. Good luck there.” The young male gulped as he thought about executing his fights as effectively as today surrounded by a mocking crowd and the judging eyes of the herd’s adults. Eril had taught him how to control his body and how to use his skills to his advantage but all would be for nothing if he let the others distract himself. Eril knew what was at stake but he knew letting Rinen handle his own feelings was the right policy here. The two friends had embarked on a log journey together and tomorrow would mark the beginning of their last leg to the end of childhood. Eril turned his back on Rinen and spoke to him in an encouraging voice.

“See you tomorrow, Rinen. Let’s give Jeriss and his friends a good show.” With those words, the older threehorn walked off, leaving Rinen look at the green grassland around himself, the crushing realization of the coming months’ importance penetrating its way through Rinen’s mind. Still, he couldn’t question the small warmth inside him, reinforced by his grandfather’s words and Eril’s selfless help. For the first time in a while, Rinen felt like the coming Test wouldn’t be completely hopeless and he had his family and friends to help him on this journey. The young threehorn’s troubled face slowly turned into a smile as a single thought flowed through his mind.

Even in our times of hardship there is still much to be grateful for.

With that thought, Rinen started his walk home. He would have to be at his very best on the morning.

“Rinen, it’s time to wake up! The Bright Circle will rise shortly!” The voice penetrated the boy’s dream as he heard his mother call to him in a sharp voice. The female walked to her son’s side whose mind was suddenly gripped by the significance of this day. Rinen was normally a rather heavy sleeper but this night had been marked by intermittent slumber and fearful images had chased him through his sleep stories. Because of this, it was just a few seconds before he rose to his feet.

“Why does it have to be today! I couldn’t even sleep well enough.” The younger dinosaur’s head turned to the southern fields where the training was supposed to begin following the breaking of the dawn. Rinen’s mother snorted at her son’s remark. She wasn’t any more approving of Rinen’s previous showings but she had often tried to keep a supporting face. Now, however, those times were over. Her son would have to face the inevitable like a true threehorn.

“Just shake it off, Rinen. This is what you’ve trained for your whole life. I don’t want Aina and Arin to have the same problems you have: just show them how you honor our family out there. That’s what your father would have wanted.” Rinen felt a flow of guilt wash over him as he was reminded of his father who had suffered the same fate too many threehorns do during their lives: losing a prestige battle with another male. It had happened three Cold Times ago and the memory of the news still chilled Rinen’s spine.

“I know, mom. Eril helped me a lot yesterday and I have to be ready no matter what. Wish me luck.” The boy said sheepishly, looking in worry at the horizon being cast deep red by the arriving morning. He would have to leave now if he wanted to be on time. The older threehorn looked at Rinen in a mix of sympathy and sterness but she knew this was a fearful day for her son. With a softer voice, she answered.

“There’s no luck here, Rinen. You have to use everything we’ve taught to you thus far. Go now. I know you can do it.” The female exchanged understanding glances with the younger threehorn as Rinen headed for the training grounds. As a final gesture before departure, he looked and smiled at his siblings with approval and envy. Arin would follow take the Test the next time while Aina wouldn’t have to bother herself with such affairs. He loved the two dearly but he regretted being forced to face his larger responsibilities alone while the two still had time to be children. With a sentimental twitch, Rinen turned his head forward. As his mother said, it was all up to him now. He wouldn’t her or Eril down.

“Welcome, young ones. This is the beginning of your most important time thus far. This is where you prove your right to be in our herd and that you can become a true threehorn soon enough. You have trained hard already, this is where you prove it wasn’t all for nothing!” The speaker was a strongly-built, middle-aged threehorn who was accompanied by a host of other males. Rinen was slightly relieved by the surprisingly calm atmosphere of the occasion and no one seemed to pay any heed to him at this point. It seemed that everybody understood what was at stake here. All the better for me. I’ll prove these idiots what I can do soon enough!

“But this is just the first step. From this day on, you will fight and walk more than you ever have before and you will eat only a fraction of the food and drink only a fraction of the water you have been used to. This is the only way how you can ever hope to survive the real test. The following Warm Time will be a hell for you but you have to accept that you have to be prepared for it at all times. And when that day arrives, it is up to you to ensure the survival of the herd and the others! That is why we will give no quarter to any of you! Is that clear?!” No answers could be heard among the young threehorns as the speaker suddenly raised his voice. It was clear that he meant what he said and even the more self-confident children stayed completely still. With a thundering bellow, the adult threehorn continued.

“Succeed and you will be accepted formally to the herd and you can stay with us as long as you wish. Fail and you will be either killed or banished into the barren wastes to die and all traces of your existence will be erased by the herd and your families! There will be no exceptions! We will guide you in the following passings of the Night Circle but we won’t offer any real help for you. Each of you is on your own. Today, we begin by forcing you to fight each other until the Bright Circle reaches its zenith after which we’ll make a trek, a kind which you’ve never seen before and you won’t eat before the evening! Now, fight! Push each other to your limits!” A groups of adult threehorns suddenly entered the groups of young ones and begun to force them into duos who’d start the fights. Rinen looked in concern as the sight around him became a mess but he followed the instructions closely.

After a moment, he found himself facing the same dark-colored threehorn he had seen standing by Jeriss’ side on the previous day, the same one who had called on Eril to leave his friend for him and his companions. Rinen cringed heavily at this development as this was one of the threehorns he loathed and feared the most. This one had been one of the ones who had pestered him for many seasons and there was nothing Rinen would have liked more than to give this jerk a good beating. However, the dark threehorn was far stronger than he was and from what he had seen, he was also quite difficult to surprise. It wasn’t long before he broke the silence.

“Do I really have to fight against you, Rinen? Is this a joke? Well, maybe the grownups saw how worthless you are and decided to get rid of you already! In any case, this should be fun.” Those words hit Rinen’s mind heavily but unlike before, they didn’t cause a wave of fear and despair. This time, all they did was to anger the lighter threehorn to the max. This had gone too far already: now was his chance to even begin the payback.

“Don’t count your hatchlings before they hatch, Verel. I’m not going to give you any quarter at this point.” Rinen’s voice resembled more like growling than speech and his voice surprised even Rinen himself. It was clear that Verel had caused deep bitterness within the young threehorn. Both of the combatants stared at each other in murdering glares when a loud call spread across the assembled crowd.

“Begin now! Remember what’s at stake!” Most of the other pairs begun immediately but Verel took his time to voice one last, toxic threat at his opponent.

“You, giving me quarter? I’ll make you swallow those words, fatso.” After those words, the two threehorns charged towards each other, Rinen doing his all to hit his opponent at the right spot to gain an early advantage. However, those hopes were crushed as Verel saw his plan and suddenly changed his direction. The darker threehorn hit the left side of Rinen’s neck frill, causing him to lose his balance. Verel quickly hit his opponent’s face with his tail, making him to completely fall to the ground.

The larger threehorn didn’t waste time attacking Rinen but the latter understood that this was an opportunity for Verel to strike a serious blow. With a quick, maneuver, Rinen all of his strength and jumped right at the charging male in the hopes of regaining his footing. The incoming hit was a powerful one and Rinen could feel his world turn dark for a moment. However, his plan had succeeded in that he hadn’t received any worse injuries. He panted for a moment before raising his head to his opponent’s level.

“You couldn’t even finish your attack, you stupid brute! You have to do better than that!” With those words, Rinen took the initiative but he knew better than to try to attack his opponent headlong. In the last moment, the lighter-colored threehorn jumped out of Verel’s way and turned around in a surprisingly agile manner and before Verel could even begin to turn around, Rinen’s horns hit his lower body and caused painful cuts to the area above his hindlegs. Verel looked at his wounds in surprised shock, clearly stunned that Rinen had managed to wound him. His eyes turned reddish with rage as he spoke to the insufferable weakling in deep hate.

“You’ll regret this, Rinen! I’ll make sure the training time will be complete suffering for you!” The darker male pulled off sand with his forelegs before he jumped towards Rinen with a great force. The other boy dodged his assault and moved away from his path. Verel looked at him in annoyance as the two started to circle each other. The seconds passed by with great intensity as the combatants tried to find some, any weakness in their opponent. Even Verel wasn’t ready to attack headlong anymore as Rinen had shown capable of turning the tide.

Most of the other fight had ended already and they were given a chance to take a small break in order to wait for Rinen and Verel’s fight to conclude. The two were slowly drawing an audience around them, most of them surprised to see Rinen holding his ground against a threehorn who had been seen as a far more powerful dinosaur. Jeriss, who had beaten his own opponent with one, decisive attack, looked at Verel in a demanding expression as he yelled to him.

“Come on, Verel! Crush that pipsqueak, now! Stop wasting time!” His voice was angry but it was clearly targeted at the stronger threehorn as Jeriss slowly started to question his companion’s worth. Some boys begun to jeer at Rinen, others at Verel, but Eril and his brother, Gereth, followed the scene with varying levels of interest. Gereth had often questioned why his brother wasted time with Rinen and he was still far from convinced about the fight.

“This is ridiculous, Eril. Both of them seem to be fearing for their lives and they seem ready to be determined to circle each other for the rest of the day! As if we others didn’t have anything better to do.” The slightly younger threehorn asked, prompting Eril to look at him in slight amusement. Both brothers had also won their own fights, Gereth with great effort and pain, but he seemed to be ignoring it completely. Eril answered to his brother with a clear snort.

“They have exchanged many blows, brother. Both are clearly giving their all but I must say, it is a surprise Rinen has survived this long. It’s good that I agreed to help him yesterday after all.” Eril took a slightly prideful look at that knowledge which earned only an odd expression from Gereth. The duo’s eyes were soon drawn back into the fight which was heating up again.

In the next faceoff, Rinen managed to take the initiative and wound Verel’s foreleg just above his knee but the latter wasn’t about to accept defeat in this spar. During his next assault, he finally broke Rinen’s defense and caused a major wound to his chest. However, Rinen was far from beaten by this setback. The two threehorns continued to trade blows, the crowd’s reactions quickly heating up. After many minutes of mutual blows and tough fighting, both boys once again stood facing each other and panting in exhaustion. It was at this point that the adult threehorn decided to intervene, his thundering voice capturing both combatants’ attention immediately.

“We don’t have time to watch you two beating each other to your limits in your first fight! This fight ends in a tie! Now, begin the preparations for the next round!” At first, the two threehorns both felt that their moment of glory was robbed from them but as his adrenaline started to wear off, Rinen realized that this fight had only one real victor. He hadn’t only managed to hold his ground but he had also had a shot to win the fight. In the end, he had managed to stand as Verel’s equal in a public fight, in effect humiliating the other threehorn greatly.

Disbelief was tangible around the two combatants and for Rinen, it felt like a dreamlike breakthrough. He was still an outcast for most of the other boys but for now, he had proved that he was capable of standing on his own. Jeriss’ eyes bored into Rinen but the latter merely returned the hateful gaze. The struggle would continue but for now, Rinen felt like he’d be able to complete the Test. A prideful look accompanied Rinen as he joined the rest of the threehorns in anticipation of the next challenge. At this point, he was more than confident he’d be able to survive it. Still, Rinen knew he was far from safe waters. Even after his early success, a distinct worry for the future beat in the back of the young threehorn’s mind as he walked towards the next leg of the colossal road he'd have to complete if he wished to avoid the unsavory end.

Hi everyone, this is my entry for the November's prompt challenge. I liked the vagueness of the prompt and it provided a great chance to tell more about Rinen's (my roleplay character) backstory back when he still was a member of his original herd. I truly hope you enjoed this offering as I enjoyed fleshing out Rinen's personality! :) See you next time!
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The Friendly Parallelogram

This story not only presents a rather intimate look into a roleplay character, but it also explores a rather unexplored aspect of threehorn herd life: how their adolescents are toughened up (or weeded out) in preparation for what is a hard life. Though we cannot say for sure if the techniques used in this herd are typical, it does present a very believable coming-of-age tradition for threehorns which mirrors similar warrior cultures in human history. Chief among them, in my mind, is that of the Spartans and the tough burdens that a Spartan male would have to pass through to even be an infant (the weak discarded to the wilds) let alone survive the burdens of training. This depiction of such a hard society, with its focus on a threehorn that is in danger of exile or imminent death, is thus a heartbreaking one in many ways. I can only hope that he will find companionship in the ragtag group of misfits in our roleplay that he could not find in his own herd apart from Eril.

Nicely done. :) I look forward to seeing what Rinen gets up to in the roleplay.
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It's good to hear that you found this story enjoyable. :) I felt like Rinen deserved a look into his past life and I thought that doing a story about him could also help in the roleplay. To be honest, the Spartan culture came also to my mind during the writing process even if I never saw it as a model for the herd. This kind of approach just felt like a natural way of handling the threehorn culture, a part of LBT that hasn't actually been elaborated in many fics. My original premise of children being cast into almost certain death certainly pushed this short story into that harsh direction. As for Rinen's future, we'll see how things will develop in the roleplay. It'll indeed be interesting to see which way the threehorn's story will go later on. :DD
Edited by Sovereign, Nov 20 2017, 09:44 AM.
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