#1

Alina West
There was water everywhere.

Alina's lips parted as she gazed upon the Trident, the threefold river that stretched before her, its fingers reaching deep into the heart of Vestri. She had heard tales of its beauty, but nothing had prepared her for the actual sight of it, the power of the rushing waters shimmering in the Falla sunlight, the life that teemed along its banks. She stepped quietly to the side of the road, pulling a flask of water from her pack, unable to tear her eyes away from the glorious sight before her. It had never occurred to her that her life as a poor bastard girl had sheltered her, but at this moment, she found herself in awe of the sheer magnitude of the world beyond her quaint, backwater village.

To squelch the overwhelming feeling of being tiny and insignificant in the face of such greatness, Alina gulped greedily from her flask, allowing its cool water to spill across cheeks rosy from a morning of hard walking. She had known that today would be the day she would reach the mighty Trident, and with it, her new future. Beyond the great banks of the river lay Bargskora, the center of Vestrian life, and the Eileid Slopes, abounding with ranch land. Both would be important for the future she hoped to build: one for a place to gain clients and make sales and the other to build her dream farm, where she would raise the world's finest steeds. Never before had her dreams felt so close; she was giddy with the excitement of it. A new adventure, with a whole world hers for the taking!

Don't get ahead of yourself, Aly, she thought to herself as she replaced her flask in her pack. It was, after all, far too soon to celebrate. The stablemaster from her village would never have sold her, the village bastard, one of his horses, even if she'd had the coin. No, she would have to tame her own mount, starting from the ground up. With a horse, she could scout out the best location for a ranch, and then she'd be two steps closer to being in business. She'd have her own horse - proof that she could train - and her own farm. She nodded to herself, hoisting her pack to her shoulder. Yes, this was a good plan.

Unfortunately, it was also a plan that hinged heavily on luck. Alina turned east and began to walk along the river's edge. If she wanted to find a wild horse, she would have to go where the wild horses were. Her best bet would be to find a herd and then drive them into a dead end to corral them somehow. For a moment, despair overcame the young woman. I must be mad to think this will work. But she wouldn't wallow in self-pity for long. Alina had a job to do, and, by the Elders, she was going to succeed, even if it took her a lifetime!

And so on she trekked for what felt like hours, searching for any sign of horses. Finally, she crested a hill, pausing to catch her breath from the climb, and there they were, a stallion and his mares grazing without a care in the world as a handful of foals frolicked nearby. Slowly, she crouched, concealing herself in the tall grasses of the hilltop. As she studied the herd, only one horse stood out: a palomino mare, her golden coat gleaming in the afternoon sun and her ivory mane dancing in the breeze. "You," Alina whispered, a thrill going through her, "You're mine."

"Talk"
you never know what temporal days may bring ;;