Year 766 of the New Age, Fall
Her body ached and screamed but she would not bow. The Colonel watched the recruits, scowling angrily at her. The bull wanted her to break. Scarred, muscular, the chestnut stag watched her every move with utter disapproval. Hidden beneath a fine layer of dust was her speckled hide, marking her as a daughter of the General Ruibh. Normally her wild mane would be flowing in every directions, curls springing about every direction- but now it was plastered to her neck in heavy damp ringlets. Sweat lathered at her sides as the young doe panted. Ellie couldn’t give up. The look on her creamy colored mother’s face was still etched in her memory. It was a mixture of pride and of worry. Blue eyes had glimmered with love despite it, and her mother’s words echoed in her mind now, “You are the flame that lights my heart, little Ellie. Go and follow you dreams, no matter what you do I will love you and be proud of you.”
Never had the dunskin roan been pushed so hard. First they had awoken at dawn and began running, then they began to push with all of their might against one another. Orders were barked and the weak were sent to cool down and lay beneath the large oak trees. Now her muscles felt like boulders too heavy to move, her body ached like a tree twisting in a storm- but Ellie stared at the old bull in defiance. He barked orders again, “You! Hind!” He snorted, trotting over as she stood up, watching his approach. He shook his head, scowling at her. “Are you ready to give up on this silly fantasy of yours yet?”
“No, sir!” Came the reply as the fierce ember gaze locked up on the much larger fawnling. Ellie would not be a quitter!
“Lets see what you can do with your magic then. You’ll be of no use if you can’t pull your weight, filly!” Ordered the fiery chestnut stag.
It had been a year as a recruit, but every day their training grew more intensive as time passed and the time drew nearer for their recruits to become scouts, or even soldiers in some of the cases. Nodding bravely, the speckled filly turned to the dry plains and took a deep, steadying breath. Her body ached and she was exhausted, but still the young doe began to call upon her inner flame as her mother had always taught her, as her father had taught her.
It began as scorch marks drawing heat from the ground, swirling as they singed the earth dry. Flickers of flame appeared before disappearing without a medium to hold them to the earth. Ellie’s eyes sought anything that might be ignitable. A dry, dead shrub caught her eye and flames sprang to life as she watched it. She heard the bull behind her growl faintly as she let her flames going, watching the burning shrub. Her exhaustion was crippling. Turning to face the Colonel, the roan was surprised to see he was starting to smile only slightly. “Very good, recruit. That’s enough for one day. Go rest. Tomorrow we work on your sparring.” He ordered as she approached, nodding his head before glancing to the rest of the recruits. “The rest of you lot- start running!” He bellowed. Blinking wide brown eyes she gazed at the Colonel, a stag she thought had been named Aragog. “Thank you, sir!” Her response was trained as she began to trudge towards the shade and safety of an oak tree. A place to rest finally.
She didn’t fully register being beneath the truth, but soon enough there was soft grass cushioning her heaving, damp sides. The smell of rut was heavy in the air but the daughter of Felina had no interest in being a mother yet- she was barely old enough to be away from her own mother! The young stags and officers were strutting about, tossing their heads impatiently. Watching the other recruits it was hard not to feel their gazes locking on her. She was old enough to partake, but she was also one of the few, if not the only female recruit present in this unit. As her body felt sticky with sweat but began to cool in the shade, Eleanor watched a young stag trot up to her, a grin on his face. “You’re Eleanor right?” asked the strawberry dun, tilting his head to one side. He smelled like sweat and dust too, he must have just finished training. “I prefer Ellie.” She nodded. “And you are?”
“Mickey, you can call me Mick! Mind if I lay a spell?” The goofy, awkwardly lanky young stag grinned. “Go for it.” Ellie chuckled, his excitement and goofy delight obvious. “You know, everyone’s saying you’re a general’s daughter.” The speckled recruit laughed, “They’re right, I am.” The ruddy red recruit grinned triumphantly, “I’m not!”
Laughter escaped her as she glanced at the other recruit as he collapsed ungracefully into a heap next to her. “Are you gonna be a scout?”
“I wanna be a fully fledged soldier. What about you?” A smile spread across her whole face.
“Colonel seems to think that’s what I’m meant to be- a scout.” Grinned Mick before ducking his head as though in cahoots, “You know, if anyone gives you any trouble- they shouldn’t. You’ve worked just as hard as the rest of us.” He frowned.
“You shouldn’t worry about me. I’m gonna be just fine and so are you!” Laughed Ellie, grinning.
“You’re alright , you know that, for a hind?” Mick laughed and Ellie watched this new recruit and thought to herself that he would make a dandy scout when he grew up a bit. And for now? He’d make a good friend too, she was certain. Snorting to herself, the filly let out a little fire filled sneeze and they both laughed. They both were gonna make it through this training and accomplish what they wanted to- Ellie was sure of that.