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Who: Epona and Shuhei
What: A chance meeting as Epona explores Estervale and Shuhei comes to the city for food.
When: Afternoon
Where: Estervale
Status: Complete

Epona found herself surprised as she walked the streets of what had to be a major city. It was bustling with activity and seemed to be a place of decent wealth. Her brown eyes never stayed still, but instead took in everything. She saw the small children playing by their mother's stall, the old blind man begging for money, even the little pick-pockets that weaved through the crowds. She saw a healthy dose of poor, middle-class and the wealthy milling about the streets. This was a good kingdom, a kingdom she would have gladly made even more fruitful during the harvest as a reward for good ruler-ship. Of course that was before, when she was a goddess able to do such things.

She smiled as a little girl ran by, laughing as an older girl chased after her, must have been sisters. She moved on, pausing only when she saw a stable with it's horses outside in its pen to attract potential buyers. She came to the fence and began to study the horses, looking over each one in turn. She saw horses ranging from the glossy horses of nobles, to the hard horses meant for plow work. They where all in good shape, but could be so much better. There was room for improvement here.

Tags: epona, shūhei

From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/19/2007 15:39:28  

Well that had been a foray into danger. Shūhei ducked around a corner and dropped the face he'd been using to shift back into his own. His arms were full of food, and with his face changed, he was considerably better off, but he wasn't out of danger just yet. The money in his pocket had turned back into leaves, which meant the money he'd paid for the food was just as worthless. He spied a stable up ahead and hesitated. At heart he was still a tanuki - a small raccoon, and being around large horses made him a bit uncomfortable. Still, it was a good place to hide until this latest theft blew over, so he wrapped up the food better and hurried into the stable from the rear.

It took him a while to stop shying away from the startled sounds the horses made at the newcomer, and having an armful of food didn't make things any easier. Maybe this wasn't the best idea after all. In fact, if the horses kept up that noise, he'd be found sooner rather than later.
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/19/2007 16:13:12  

Upon seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, Epona turned slightly to find a young man standing near by. As she watched him she noticed something peculiar about his actions. It was almost like he did not like horses, as if they made him very uncomfortable. After a moment she moved toward him, a smile on her face.

"Are you alright?" she asked him, curious as to why horses, of all animals, seemed to make him uneasy. They where quite gentle, despite their size.
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/19/2007 16:21:24  

Oh! A woman! Shūhei hadn't seen her when he came in and he almost completely forgot about the horses when he saw her. "Oh! Yes. I'm fine. I was just--" A horse whinnied and Shūhei jumped. "Ah! Sorry. They just startle me a little bit. Oh, I'm sorry is this your stable?" The horses seemed to like her. Maybe they were hers. Oh no! Maybe he was intruding! "I'm sorry I came in without asking!"
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/19/2007 16:30:53  

Epona could not stop herself from chuckling in amusement. From his manner of speech and the way he acted, he seemed to be quite harmless. "Oh no, I was just passing by and wanted to take a look at them. Do you need any help?" She asked, pointing to his armload of food. It had to be awkward to carry. He really should have brought a satchel of sorts to carry it all in, would have made it easier to handle.
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/19/2007 16:53:17  

Did he need help? "Yes. No. No, wait yes!" Shūhei smiled brightly at her. "Could you hold these for me? I have a bag I can put everything in um... somewhere, but I didn't have a chance to put things away because- I was in a rush. But I can't get all the way back home carrying everything like this and I don't want to drop anything."
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/19/2007 18:39:56  

Epona gave him an indulgent smile as she took the food from him, careful not to drop any of them. He really was adorable. "Now, what could be the rush? I would not think you where in a hurry since you stopped in the stables, unless you wanted to purchase one of them."

Her head tilted to one side for a moment as her face turned thoughtful. He was in a hurry, but came to the stables, and yet he seems a bit uneasy around the horses. "You dislike horses, am I right? And yet you are here, in a stable. Can I ask why?"
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/19/2007 20:19:33  

As soon as his arms were free, Shūhei dug into his hakama and seemingly miraculously pulled out a sack. He started putting things into the bag, heaviest on the bottom. "I don't dislike them, not really. They're just... big." And even though he was human-sized at the moment, it always felt like he'd get stepped on by one. Larger animals were even worse. "I just needed someplace to stop to put stuff away and-- I didn't really think there'd be this many." He looked at her as he finished emptying her arms. "They seem to like you though. You're not scared of them?"
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/19/2007 20:54:27  

Epona was amused once more as she watched him pack the bag he had retrieved. "Scared? I could never fear my kin. Though these are quite distant in relation. My actual siblings are few. Mother has not mated in years. I am not even certain where she is now."

Once her hands where free she walked over to a beautiful jet black mare, hand reaching out to scratch between her eyes. "There is really no reson to fear them, they are calm creature's, and very loyal. You would only be in danger if a snake was around, or you got in between them and their next patch of grass." The last bit was said in jest, as even then they would not hurt you. Of course if you where to mistreat a horse, you would likely get a hoof in the side for your trouble. But she doubted he would mistreat a horses, let alon any other being.
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/19/2007 23:04:46  

Shūhei's eyes went wide. "How are you related to horses if you like like a woman? Oooh are you a shape-shifter?" He had never met a horse-shifter before. Tanuki and kitsune and even bakeneko sure, but he didn't even know what to call a horse-shifter! He watched with awe as she touched the horse. The animal actually seem to calm, to lean into the touches. "Sugoi," he breathed quietly, blown away at her ability. Not that his own were not amazing, but Shūhei was easily impressed.
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/20/2007 01:17:23  

"Yes I am related to horses, but not in the way you are thinking." She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against the mare's. Closing her eyes she sent a picture to the gelding next to Shuhei, in that picture the gelding walked up to Shuhei and nudged his arm with his nose. She smiled over to him and smiled. "I think he like's you." She turned and kissed the mare between the eyes before moving away.

"My mother was the animal Horse Goddess of the European Isle's and my father a mortal King. I am, or was rather, a demi-goddess. Horses where my animals, and King and Queens came to me for aid and advice. I also rewarded Ruler's who ruled their kingdom's wisely by making them prosperous in the growing of crops and the fertility of their people." She gave him a small, sad smile then. That was the past, and now she did not know what she would do to get by, especially in her weakened state.

"Now I can only hope to find some work here." She then tilted her head slightly, a thought coming to mind. "Do you know anything about the rulers here? What are they like? How do they rule? It seems, just by looking on the streets, that this is a prosperous kingdom."
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/20/2007 14:01:55  

Shūhei listened and watched with rapt attention, quiet and unmoving like a child being told the most fantastic tale. Well, that is to say he listened after a stunned surprise at that gesture from the horse. It nuzzled him! And she said it liked him. It didn't make him entirely comfortable with them, but he was a little less scared of it. he poked at the horse's long nose, surprised at how it felt. His eyes were wide as he stared at it and then her. She was amazing! A goddess! Well, demi-goddess, but still! "Amazing," he repeated, impressed by her story. He had to remember it, tell it to Genkurō and the babies when he got back.

When her story was finished, he bounced where he stood, eager to give her some information. "Estervale has no rulers! The last king died without leaving an heir, I think, and so nobody rules right now. That's kinda dangerous, don't you think? Somebody needs to make sure things go all right." He cocked his head. "If you were good with rulers, maybe you could help with that!"
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/20/2007 14:18:26  

Her eyes went huge as he told her what he knew of Estervale, her amusement over Shuhei's antics forgotten. A Kingdom without a ruler was dangerous, very dangerous. It could mean one of the neighboring kingdoms could just rach over and add her to their own kingdom. It would not be good for this kingdom to stay weak for long.

"Yes, I just might be able to help with their problem. Do you know where the Palace is? I will have to advise them on a course of action." To think that the other political minds of this country have yet to get another ruler was not a good thought. they must be experiancing problems. If it had been her, she would have had other's listed that would be good successor's so that should the previous ruler died there would be someone else, good, on the throne immediately.
From: [info]ivegotbigballs Date: 11/20/2007 14:39:41  

Shūhei hadn't ever been to the palace before -- a person who skirted the law so frequently knew better that to walk right up to the authority. But he nodded enthusiastically. "Okay, if you go towards the center of town, and keep heading northwest, there's a main road that leads right up to the palace. I've never been there myself; I just know that's were it is."
From: [info]equinegrace Date: 11/20/2007 15:23:38  

Epona nodded absently as she commited the directions to memory. Seemed easy enough. She gave shuhei a smile before stepping forward and kissing his cheek. He would be remembered by her, as he had been the one to let her know that there was something useful she could do here. "Thank you. If you ever need anything, pleas let me know." She then began to walk away from him, out of the stable. But before she left she turned around, smiling.

"My name is Epona." And with that she turned and left, bent on making those at the palace see sense.
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