Horse War

White Rock Lake

A reservoir, White Rock Lake covers 1,254 acres and was once used for a portion of Dallas' drinking water supply. Now that it's use as a water source has been supplanted, the area has become one of the favored recreational locations in the city. The forested shoreline is dotted with numerous small cabins, fishing piers, and sailboat docks.

The lake is surrounded by White Rock Lake Park, which is home to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Running through the park is a 9 mile trail designed for hiking, running or cycling.

Though swimming was banned here back in the '50's, it is still a popular location for area teens who generally enjoy the more deserted areas, using the beautiful backdrop as a makeout spot.

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The evening is young yet. The sun has just fallen from the sky, and the vestiges of red burning the clouds has vanished, allowing for the light of the stars to come into their own. They are still somewhat eclipsed, however, by the waning but still bright on a clear evening's moon.

Marius is in the park proper, standing beneath a somewhat large shade tree, leaning lightly upon the trunk. Wiping the last of the really noticable bloodstains from his face, his lips, he lifts his chin in order to get the drips that have fallen, following the path of his jaw.. and a quick wipe is given to his clothing. That, however, is more of a 'lost cause' than the flesh that shows.

Walking away is a young woman, her straight blonde hair masking any mark that she might have on her throat. If any recognize her, she's the one from MT, and earlier.. the law student. She wears that blissful smile of the glamoured, though a great deal of her pleasure is from the faint memory of being a willing vessel.

Fangbanger… and Marius is refining his ability not to drain his victims completely.


Night may seem like an odd time for someone like Dr. Bethany Brooks to be out and about at the stables which are generally closed at this hour except for the fact that they have taken in a boarder recently who needs to have special care. This boarder is an extremely large beast which is currently being led back to the stall by a large, muscular looking man with a shaved head.

Bethany just so happens to be at his side, discussing proper horse care with him and asking him about the possibility of stabling another horse within.

Until eventually she stops and looks at the man proper.

"Do I know you from somewhere?" It seems an innocent enough question unless people actually know of her little quirks. "I could have sworn that we have met somewhere before."

Both man and horse stop, eyeing the darkness. Sniffing the air. Watching the blissfully unaware blonde wandering down a nearby path.

Which also draws Bethany's attention.

Narrowed eyes gaze upon the foolish young woman, her head shaking slightly as she catches sight of the man in the shadow of the tree. Decidedly turning her attention away from him and back to the groom, she smiles.

"I do commend you for working the hours I requested. I know Mr. Oddson is leaving the area open specifically due to my request. I do hope he is paying you handsomely."


Like most Texans, Desiree is as at home on horseback as she is walking. Her parents owned horses, and she learned to ride at an early age. Lassie and Lady were sold long ago, so the only way Desiree gets to ride is renting a horse from White Rock Stables. There are other riding stables closer to her residence, but she likes the freedom of the lighted trails, and the horses are well-kept and spirited. That makes a big difference to Desiree, who likes her mounts to have a soft mouth, a smooth gait and plenty of energy.

The evening is nice, and the moonlight is just enough for her to take one of the lesser traveled bridal paths. There are street-lamps, but they aren't close together, leaving shadows between. It's not a trail for galloping or even cantering; it's pretty enough for walking, with some high places overlooking the lake. There's just enough redness left from dusk to leave the western sky in transition from day to night, with brilliant stars and a waning moon overhead.

The horse is tall, sixteen hands, and holds his head high as he's ridden down the path. He's half Tennessee Walker and half Arabian, with the best of both breeds showing in his lines. A dark red roan, he looks almost black in the evening. At last, Desiree reluctantly turns him back toward the stables; her time is nearly up, and sadly she must return "Lancelot" to his stall.

Dismounting at the stable entrance, she leads the gelding up to the huge, wooden structure, pausing when she sees Dr. Brooks and a man talking. She approaches slowly, making plenty of noise to let them know she's not eavesdropping. "Good evening, Doctor," she says politely, nodding at both her and the man.


The cleaning off ends, and crystal, cold blue eyes look in the direction of the horses, and their temporary caretakers. The shadows of the tree hide what could be a scowl, if Marius was prone to exhibiting human expressions. In this case, he allows it, if only for a fleeting moment before his face is a mask of impassivity.

The horses are of secondary note, though his own charger is given something of a preference over the other. The Whip has no eye for horses; he isn't landed, nor does he have the long history of being such. So, the blood lines of any of the steeds that may be housed at the barn is of little importance… perhaps one day that will change?

Pocketing the now crimson covered handkerchief into a front pocket, the vampire moves slowly from his position under the tree towards the stables, where the lambs are congregating..


"Miss DeVilliers, may I introduce Mr. Atwood?" Bethany takes the reins from the groom so that he can offer his hand to the newcomer.

He doesn't say anything, though he does extend his hand and nod his head. He seems to be a man of very few words this evening. After the greeting, his attention turns back toward the vampire who is making his way toward the stables. In a protective manner, he slips out in front of the two women with the horses.

"Archer, really now. There is no need for the display of testosterone," Bethany teases. "It is, after all, his steed which you are caring for in the evenings." The groom is given a gentle smile while she lingers momentarily behind him in order to figure out the most proficient way to bring the horse to Marius without knocking anyone from the path.


Leather reins are held in one hand while Desiree reaches out to shake Atwood's hand with the other. "Nice to meet you," she says with a nod. Then, to Dr. Brooks, she adds, "Please call me Desiree. We've spoken often enough to be informal, don't you think?" Her manner is calm, composed; there's no confusion, no sign of the nervous, skittish woman of earlier in the summer. Her walk is confident, bespeaking her profession. "A beautiful hose," she comments. "I've rarely seen one of such conformation. Is he Adulusian?" Desiree asks, then studies the horse a moment. "No, perhaps a Percheron?"

Her own gelding stands at ease, ears flicking around at the barest noise. The sound of approaching footsteps makes his head rear up, pulling on the reins in her hand. "Easy, Lancelot," she says to him, voice smooth and gentle. "Easy, boy." She looks and recognizes the man approaching, but gives no outward sign of fear. Inside, her stomach still clenches when she sees Marius, but at least she's able to hide it, now. Desiree also knows that some horses have a bad reaction to vampires; apparently the striking Lancelot is one of them. He stamps the ground, making distressed whinneying noises, blowing through his nostrils and champing at the bit in his mouth. "Best put him away for the night," she comments, spotting another groom coming toward them. The horse is surrendered, and is led away. Desiree looks toward the vampire, nodding politely and offering a softly spoken, "Good evening, sir."


"You have my horse."

A simple sentence, to be sure, and it's given to the man who steps out in front of the women in a protective stance. Marius looks to the side, and acknowledgment is given to Desiree after her quiet greeting in the form of a nod, "Lamb. It has been some time.". In answer to Desiree's question, Marius offers, "Abaddon is a Hessische Warmblut." He doesn't appear to be all that concerned with the reaction of Desiree's 'Lancelot'; undoubtedly he expects it. The statement regarding ownership of the larger steed, however, gives some reason as to why there isn't quite as much spooking being done by the other.

"Eigene lamm," Marius' attention moves briefly back towards the seemingly smitten, or at least flirty Bethany, and his tones are low and even, "what is this? A groom?" His expressionless eyes fall upon the bald man as he is named, such as it is, and then his gaze moves back, waiting for an answer.


"Hessiches Warmblut, I believe," Bethany offers to the woman as she sets her eyes upon the horse, nodding as Marius confirms it. "See, Abaddon, someone besides myself thinks that you are a gorgeous horse. Do not allow it to go to your head, your master will not appreciate that." Rubbing his snout in a gentle manner, she finally brings the horse to the front of the little group.

"Lancelot? Do you have an interest in Arthurian legend, Desiree?" It could offer some insight into the way the woman behaves. Gwenyfar was quite outspoken as well. "You may wish to bring him into the stables unless you wish him to try and run off." While offering the advice, the last groom of the evening beyond Mr. Atwood takes the reins and leads him toward the stall.

"Old one," she says quietly to Marius. "I have seen to the care of your beast. I realized after the first two days that I knew very little as to the care of the horses, and hired Mr. Atwood to continue the training that you were seeing to. No one has been upon Abaddon, but he has been well exercised and cared for." Slipped a few carrots and apple bits as treats as well.

"I hope this does not displease you."

The groom sniffs the air again. A deep frown causes his brow to furrow and he almost seems to growl, "Vampire." He otherwise seems courteous as he nods and starts to lead the the warmblut to his stall.


"Hessiches Warblut?" Desiree repeats. "I don't believe I've ever heard of that breed," she comments to both Marius and Bethany. "At any rate, he's a beautiful animal. Abbadon? An interesting name for him. Isn't that one of the fallen angels?"

Desiree glances at the groom upon hearing his growled "Vampire," her brows knitted in curiosity. She doesn't say anything to the man, but looks as if she'd like to. Whatever anti-vampire activity in the city doesn't seem to have affected Desiree. "Interesting," is all she remarks.

As for her the horse she was riding. "Oh, he was named that by someone else. I don't own him," she explains. "I ride him when he's not otherwise engaged. He has a very smooth gait, and a soft mouth. Spirited, too." She pauses, then sighs. "I miss our horses. I had to sell them when Father died. He preferred good old fashioned quarter horses, but I had a Morgan." She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a piece of carrot, giving it to Lancelot. "Here you go, boy. You earned your treat."


"The warmbluts," the word is pronounced with the thick german accent, "are from line of horses from the Duke of Hessen, started centuries ago." Thus endeth the history lesson.

It is once again to Bethany that Marius turns, and his voice is low, holding a quiet rumble, his gaze set fully upon her. "A hired groom then. It pleases me that my beast is being well cared for." Lifting his attention, he stares at the grumbling, almost growling groom as Bethany bids him depart, if not in word but in manner. "I will be checking his progress regularly."

Once the horse and his groom begin to make their way back to the stables, and eventually to the stall, Marius turns his attention to the two in his company. "Horses are difficult today. There is little need to use them as they are bred to do. That damnable beast should be a creature of war, but yet, he is only now truly learning how to shoulder burdens. Weak. He needs to be taught, and I am uncertain if he will ever learn." Horses apparently aren't for pleasure?


"It should. Mr. Atwood does not come cheap." Bethany glances back at the departing groom, smiling gently. Gruff grumbling can be heard and she has to gnaw on her lip momentarily to keep from laughing.

"I have made provisions to see that Mr. Atwood remains at the stable until the morning. Should you care to ride you simply request him and he will be made available to you."

Once her held back laughter is under control, she glances to Desiree. "The angel of death and destruction, demon of the abyss, and chief of demons, I believe. I would have to delve into the theology textbooks for further information."


Desiree nods at the information from Marius, her only comment, "Interesting." She will probably go to the Internet and look up these horses, and do a little reading on the subject. History is, after all, one of her favorite subjects.

Desiree watches Atwood with Abbadon for a few moments, then turns back to the others in time to catch part of their converstaion. Bethany is speaking to her, so Desiree looks at the other woman.

"Oh, no need for that," she tells Dr. Brooks. "I'm more than familiar with demons. I went to a Catholic school, so it was drummed into my head for several years." She chuckles, shaking her head. "He has the look of a stubborn child about him," she tells the others. "I'm afraid you're too late for horse wars, though there were cavalry units as late as World War One," she says.


Marius watches the schoolgirl rise, only to be quelled again once her attention returns from the departing Archer Atwood. "I will be sure he is paid, and when his services are no longer needed, released. There will be no need for you bother yourself with such things."

The vampire inclines his head ever so slightly, a gesture given that could give him that hint of a look of humanity. "He is a demon born of the fires of Hell, as far as I can tell. But," blue eyes move to Desiree once more, "I am familiar with the use of horses in battle, even though I have always been a foot soldier. They were also of use in the war you called World War II, though for supply lines. Easier to keep moving than vehicles."


"Marius, I do not mind bothering with such things. Beyond which, I will be hiring him as my riding instructor soon enough." Once Bethany finds a horse within the stables that she likes, or has the opportunity to purchase her own.

"He is not a demon, he is a creature that needs a gentle hand to behave. He has never treated Mr. Atwood with such attitude. Though that may indeed be due to your nature. He is calmer around you than most other beasts, but only due to familiarity."

The talk of war seems to cause her attention to shift toward the stables again briefly, watching the horse be rubbed down by the aforementioned groom.


Desiree nods to Marius. "Guerrillas used them in the Phillipines, too," she agrees. "Both sides found horses moved much easier through the jungle than jeeps or trucks." She falls quiet, eyes glancing toward Abbadon, now in his stall. The regal head reaches over the stall door, turned toward where Marius stands with Desiree and Bethany. "He seems to have heard your comment," Desiree says wryly, a bit of a smile quirking up one side of her lips.

Her head turns to regard Dr. Brooks when she counters what Marius has said of Abbadon. Desiree's eyes sparkle just a bit with mischief, but she says nothing, merely listening. She has her own ideas why his horse behaves around Marius, but it has little to do with the vampire's nature.

Finally, Desiree asks, "Does talk of war upset you?" This raised to Bethany, not Marius. Desiree has heard from Marius' own lips he is familiar with horses and war. "Sadly, it's an inevitablity in this day and age. So many young lives cut off in the prime of life. Tragic, but necessary to preserve freedom."


Hire him as a riding instructor?

"I am certain you can find more appropriate instructors to teach you to seat a horse."

Marius' expression dulls to that of impassivity, though he throws both hands into his pockets; an odd casualness. "He is a demon and he is to learn his place. Kindness and gentleness means the beast loses his edge and expects all that come to him will do so with a soft hand and a gentle voice. I would wish him to be wary of such things. If he becomes yet another lamb, there is no use for him and he will be destroyed." Unless, of course, Isobel has something to say about that…

"And your rescue will be for nothing." After all, Abaddon was 'rescued' from that known vampire establishment before the crosses were burned upon the front of the building.

"War is inevitable and always has been. It always will be, regardless of reason. I care not for reasons. 'Freedom' means you have a people who are unable to determine their own paths. There will always be those who wish to be commanded, who wish to serve. Most simply no longer understand that it is what is their nature. And in serving, they are fulfilled."


When Bethany turns back to look at Desiree, there is a very faint pink upon the tips of her ears. "It does not upset me, I was just ensuring that Abaddon was receiving the appropriate care after his exercises."

Busted, looking at the groom, and admonished at the same time.

"The owner of these stables has assured me that Mr. Atwood is the best instructor that they have available. You are more than welcome to attend the lessons if you wish." Ergo, she is not changing her mind.

"Kindness and gentleness means that the horse is shown care, but no one has been treating him any differently here than where I have rescued him from."


Desiree listens to Bethany and Marius discuss riding instructors and her "rescue" of the horse with some interest. Not that it shows on her face, but she hears each word and files them all away for future consideration. From her reading of Medieval warfare, a knight's horse was his partner in battle, and therefore, she tends to agree with Marius. Of course, she doesn't interrupt their discussion.

The horse in question neighs in his stall, drawing Desiree's attention. Atwood, having finished rubbing down the beast, has exited the stall and heads toward the feeding bins.

"Ah, I see," Desiree says, nodding to Bethany. "I thought, perhaps, since you seem to be of a gentle nature, the topic might be upsetting. My mistake." She smiles turning toward Marius when he speaks of war. "It's been my experience with veterans that they were proud to serve the country," Desiree says, head tilted to one side. "They spoke of being brothers with other soldiers. I don't know if it was their nature, or just a desire to protect our country, but they weren't ashamed of having served. Regretful of certain things they had to do, but not ashamed."


And while Marius hasn't long been a knight, he is one now. All but the final ceremony, that is, when he receives his chain. Only now does he feel that he truly… deserves such a beast, damnable though he may be.

"Then you will go elsewhere to find one as good." As far as the vampire is concerned, the issue is now closed. At an end.

While Marius hears the neighing, he doesn't turn to look at the horse. It's more likely that the vocals are for the food that will arrive shortly more than anything else. "There is no regret. There is no shame. War is war and one does what one needs to survive." The vampire does concede, however, "Battle is where the bonds of brotherhood are forged. There is little that can break it. Brothers in arms is unlike anything else, though today, wars are.. softer. Unless one leaves this country behind."


Bethany gives her head a very slight shake, and turns to look back into the stables again. The discussion may be closed for him, so she keeps her mouth shut for the moment. She will not argue with him while another is present.

But she also intends to take her lessons where she wishes to, and the pseudo-jealousy is not going to stop her.

"Wars are a necessary evil. The only issue I have with them is that they often cause more damage to the countries involved in them than is prudent. Still, they can be recovered from." The loss of life is not something that bothers her so much. The men and women that die during wars will simply be reborn.


"If, by 'softer' you mean fought more by machines than men, I agree with you," Desiree tells Marius. "But, then, I admit I'm not very knowledgeable about the subject. I've spoken to veterans in hospitals and nursing homes, and heard their stories. Quite a few of those who fought in the Mid-East said they felt soldiers were being replaced by 'smart' weapons." She pauses for a moment, watching the vampire's face, seeing that cold inhumanity.

"A lot of them regretted they never saw their enemies, just pressed buttons and fried missiles. One flatly said he'd rather fight a man face-to-face with a sword. It was something about being up close and personal with his enemy." Desiree shrugs. "I'd prefer all weapons of war and soldiers be obsolete, but peace isn't likely to happen anytime soon. So, until it's possible for everyone to lay down their arms, I'll continue to want the best soldiers and war machines protecting me and my country. I'm proud of them all."

Turning to include Bethany, Desiree nods. "I should be heading home. I promised to meet an old friend for drinks, and it's getting late. Nice to see you again, Dr. Brooks." To Marius, "Always a … pleasure, sir." A little hesitation before the last word, but she's trying to not show fear.


Marius doesn't care for the land, poisoned or kept pristine.. he's had his fill of tilling and toiling there.

"Yes. Softer. A push of a button does not make a man a warrior. It makes men soft."

Bethany's glance back to the stable earns the slightly, mild woman a soft, 'Lamm' in subtle warning. The case is closed, and unless Bethany is concerned about the horse's eating habits…

His attention comes back around to Desiree, and with an inclination of his head, ever so brief and ever so subtle, the breather is thus, in his mind, dismissed. The controlled fear is noted, and had been noticed.. but there is more that concerns him at the moment; playing will be done later when there is time. "Lamb."


"So we are back to that?" Bethany laughs softly, making sure to reply, "It was a pleasure, Miss DeVilliers." Rare for her to tease, but there it is.

Bethany waits until Desiree has taken her leave before speaking. She has turned toward the stables again, though it is more to look anywhere but at Marius, rather than eye the groom again.

"You will not understand, Marius, but I know him. From another life. I recognize him, though I cannot place the relationship. It intrigues me. Will you not allow me to take the riding lessons so that I might find out what it was?"


Desiree's eyes dance with humor at Marius calling her "Lamb." She inclines her head, simply responding with, "Lion," as it it were a title. Then, she turns to Bethany. "Just being polite, Bethany," she says, using the woman's first name. Take care, both of you." With those parting words, Desiree exits the stables. Within a few moments, there is the sound of a vehicle starting and driving away.


As Desiree makes her way to the car, Marius' expression shifts to visible annoyance; just in case Bethany didn't understand or realize his mood at that very moment. "That is a lie. Anyone can see how it is. I am not blind, and I am telling you that I will protect my Own. If from yourself, then so be it."

Marius stands stock still, though another man might actually begin wild pacing, reminiscent of a caged animal. The vampire is anything but. "He would take you for a roll in the hay of a stable, and that is unacceptable. You.. and a groom? All the in name of curiosity and being intrigued." He shakes his head, "I will not have it."


"I have not, and I will not ever lie to you, old one. There is no need for falsehoods." Bethany turns to look at him, reaching out to place a calming hand upon his shoulder. "Mr. Atwood is not a clumsy stable boy trying to woo a kitchen wench into the haystacks, I assure you."

In a gentler, quieter voice she adds, "Nor would I ever allow anyone to do such a thing."

A smile is offered to the vampire. "I have accepted my fate with you. Surely you can allow me to appease my curiosity? I can show you the books at the office that explain the past lives."


Bethany's hand lies upon a shoulder made of steel sinew; unyielding… like the rest of the vampire.

"Mr. Atwood would consider such a thing because he recognizes that you are mine." As far as Marius is concerned, that is the upshot and the most defensible reason he can find. "He is a breather who will seek to get close to you and protect you with his feeble ability to do so."

The attempt to mollify the vampire is noted, and Marius is given that moment to choose.. will he allow potential 'congress', or..

"Show me these books, even though I do not agree with their message."


"Have you the time to see them now? We can walk back to the office."

Bethany does have a vehicle, but she much prefers to walk when given the opportunity to do so. "I have no need to be protected from you, old one. You offer more protection for me than anyone else could fathom."

When he seems to be less jealously annoyed, she allows her hand to drift down his arm to hold his hand in hers briefly. "You need not agree with the message. Simply allow me to show you and read to you so you can understand where it is I am coming from."


"I have some time." Then he has work to attend to. The City is getting restive, and the Whip has a part to play to be sure the balance is correct.

Bethany's hand is warm in his cool, dry hand. Marius can feel the heat radiating off in the simple press of skin, and for a moment, he fights the urge to lower his fangs and take that which is his. But, he's already fed enough for the evening. Willing is far less satisfying than one who understands her place and realizes that all could be over in a blink of an eye…

"You will read the passages so that I may understand your madness."

With that, the vampire turns to begin to head to the doctor's office, walking a great deal slower simply for Bethany to be able to keep up and at his side.

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