when I walk into the room there's nothing you can do
To stop me from making moves
I'm coming for you
The Mongol Derby - one thousand kilometers across uncivilized Mongolian landscape with naught but a horse beneath him. They'd deemed it the longest, hardest horse race in all the world, trekking in the same pathway followed by Genghis Khan. As if following in the footsteps of the great Khan was somehow worthwhile. How easy it seemed in comparison to the desert his men had crossed centuries ago. There was, however, a certain charm to those grass-filled plains - to that veritable nothingness of civilization. It reminded Alexander of the way the world had been during his youth, when it was still vast and surmountable. It was, perhaps, a childish desire that had struck the Dark Hunter and yet, when Alexander made a decision there was distinctly little that could sway him. For months he had been testing Frost's endurance, pushing the stallion further and further to even ensure he was capable of making a journey that Alexander remained altogether silent on. It was only once he was certain the stallion might hold even a shred of possibility of crossing that great span of Mongolia that the Macedonian Monarch even muttered a suggestion of what all their training was for - beyond the cavalry he had been equipping to work as the unit he desired them to be. Now, nearly a year after Alexander had even contemplated joining the Mongol Derby, he was standing before a yurt on the plains outside of Ulaanbaatar.
The camp quickly became a buzz of activity as each of those teams arrived and Alexander, in turn, intently observed each of those thirty-nine other riders in the same manner that Frost had too sized up his own competition. The Dark Hunter had, admittedly, largely disregarded that day of 'training' the group had been given, those GPS units seemingly pointless to the archaic King. It baffled him, why he might need to utilize a map and a navigational unit when the stars above made his position impossible to miscalculate. Still, there was a guise of youthfulness for even the centuries-old Monarch to uphold, he supposed. Those hours spent beneath the tent in those uncomfortable folded chairs had been nothing if not useful, to say the least, albeit not for the reasons they had been intended for. Rather, Alexander had learned about the two women who sat next to him - Maddie was a Derby veteran and her companion, Jocelyn, a first time Derby rider and a blogger (whatever that was). Two charming brothers in their late twenties, Rob and Jack, had sat behind them and made fast friends with the women with their eclectic tales of adventures growing up in Africa as a result of their family's frequent traveling. There was the older gentleman, Mike, on the opposite side of him who now worked as a trainer for dressage competitions. In front of him, sat an Australian polo player by the name of Henry who seemed overly eager to get out on the track. They were but a handful of the participants of the race but Alexander had quickly learned from the stories of veterans that those friendships could prove invaluable. It was, in some ways, an army of a different sort - but one all the same.
The following days had continued in much the same manner, the peculiar group somehow seeming to consistently find one another amongst those training sessions, even if the majority of the information was deemed unimportant to the age-old King. The nights he spent comfortably within that yurt with Matteo, the pair content to reminisce on old times and speak of, in length, revisions to those plans for the race with all he had learned both of the course, his fellow riders, and their horses throughout each day. The anticipation that came with each night of preparation, however, hardly compared to the morning of the race. How that apprehension filled the very air! It reminded him of those mornings before a battle, when fate held their lives in the balance. Comparatively, this was surely mundane and yet, for once, in a very long time, the Dark Hunter allowed himself to be swept up in the feelings of it all. The blue-green of his irises presently swept over the riding outfit laid out in front of him. Every article of clothing had been carefully weighed to ensure he came beneath the limit of was allowed, unnecessary though it was with ease at which Frost could surely carry both Alexander and his supplies.
The sound of laughter drew his gaze upwards and towards the entrance of the yurt, those thin walls made the privacy of conversation all but an impossibility. The snickering, after all, had become a sound Alexander had increasingly become accustomed to. Frost had generated a plethora of responses from the other riders - from the teasing playfulness of the group that had frequently taken to surrounding him to the outright provoking of some of the other contenders. The warhorse's build was certainly atypical for the race that lay ahead of them and yet, Alexander had been determined from the beginning to drag the draft with him over the finish line. A frown drew the corner of his downward though, for the present moment, Alexander paid them no heed. They would all see, at the end, when the draft horse they'd discounted crossed the finish line before their fancy racehorses. The Dark Hunter pulled the light cotton shirt over his frame, a pair of black riding pants were secured upon his hips. His riding boots followed suit, his fingers worked dexterously at the laces as he listened vaguely to the seemingly one-sided conversation Matteo appeared to be holding with his mount. A soft grin toyed with his features at the fae's announcement of his 'excellent hands', his sea-colored eyes rolled as he reached for the light weather riding jacket. Rain, after all, had been promised for later in the day and the Dark Hunter had little desire to stop to put it on when the sky was already overcast.
He reached for the GPS unit resting upon the table inside the yurt, his fingers toying with those buttons before his eyebrows furrowed in a glimpse of irritation. The device was hardly user-friendly, as Alexander was concerned and yet the race had declared the usage of the device all but a necessity to track each rider throughout the race. The device was confounding enough that his name upon Matteo's lips prompted little more than a soft sigh. "I'll be there in a moment." He commented, loud enough to hear as he waited for the device to sluggishly respond to his button pressing. His gaze flickered briefly upwards as Matteo shouted his name again, though the Monarch hardly gave the Frenchman a second response. The device had only just begun to pull up a map of the end destination of the Derby when that singular word sharply drew his gaze upwards. Dad. That singular word was one Matteo rarely utilized, despite the many years in which Alexander had alternated from that fatherly role to a companionship more...brotherly in nature, perhaps. To be called in such a way never meant anything good, not after all these years. He quickly grabbed his riding gloves off the table, the GPS unit still nestled within his palm as he quickly emerged from the yurt. His blue-green irises quickly surveyed the sight of Matteo and Frost, the pair certainly...seemed...fine, leaving him questioning the very use of that term. His blue-green irises followed that subtle gesture towards the two men that had, until several moments ago, clearly intended to approach the Frenchman. He knew that face anywhere - Khan.
The very sight of the man prompted his features to harden - his gaze narrowed in a clear threat as the two men momentarily stared at one another. There was little doubt within Alexander's mind that the Mongolian recognized him - the commander that had led to his failure to occupy Siberia, though whether or not the ancient ruler was exactly aware of who he faced still remained to be seen. Even then, Alexander had been forced by his maker to forgo his titles, his continued existence was nothing more than a hushed hopeful whisper in the far reaches of Macedonia. He had been under the impression the Mongol had died, as did the rest of the world but, it seemed Alexander was not the only ancient still walking the earth. Tch, another enemy that had resurfaced to be dealt with all over again. He watched as the man offered a curt word to his groom, the two turning to head back towards the starting line that was quickly becoming a buzz of activity.
That single thought that pressed into his mind prompted a soft snort to his nose as Alexander turned to approach the pair. The GPS unit was momentarily shoved beneath his arm as he focused upon pulling on his leather riding gloves. "You would know him as Genghis Khan. Seems he showed up to win his own race." He offered in a bitter response, his memory betraying him in a distinctly rare lapse of his often perfected control, dredging up a single fleeting memory of standing upon a snowy bank bundled in furs with a mixture of Russians and Siberians behind him - the makeshift militia left to look down upon the approaching Mongolian army with a grim resolve. The memory, however, flickered quickly back into the depths of his mind as Matteo's french accent brought him sharply back to the present. A soft snort left his nose as those gently teasing lyrics and yet, he too knew well that Khan's presence likely was not a sign of good things to come. "I'll keep an eye out." He offered in some vague promise, the Dark Hunter hardly convinced he was too old for a race. Alexander reached for the rope bridle, only for the Were-Horse to pull it out of his reach. A silent stare seemed to pass between the pair before Frost's nose shifted downwards towards his pocket. The Dark Hunter could hardly help the roll of his eyes at that request for an apple. "Where do you think I can put an apple in these pants?" He inquired with a lifted brow. "Matteo will bring you an apple after you finish...you already had molasses yesterday, now come on." Alexander insisted, reaching again for that bridle with every intention to bring that steed to the starting line.