when I walk into the room there's nothing you can do
To stop me from making moves
I'm coming for you
His stomach was rumbling as Alexander sat shivering with sparsely little clothing on in the depths of his barely lit tent. A thermos was nestled between his legs, the outside of which was lukewarm to the touch, and yet the contents inside still steamed with heat that the Dark Hunter was nothing short of grateful for. At the very least, the water would rehydrate the packets of dried out food and provide him with a warm meal, one Matteo had once initially scoffed at upon seeing the packages arrive at Alexander's cafe a week prior. Now, however, Alexander had few regrets over insisting on them all the same. The very scent of that bowl of warm, semi-fresh food, however, was enough to prompt the zipper of his tent to wiggle open ever so slightly as a sodden once-white muzzle appeared just at the bottom of his tent. That inquiry of what he was having was met with a soft sigh before Alexander offered one of the few remaining meals he had. He had not packed enough, not if they intended to spend several nights out on the Mongolian plains. They would need to be sure to hit the next camp by nightfall. They wouldn't have the hot water to make another meal and the bread within his pack from base camp would undoubtedly be hard and stale.
Such thoughts lingered upon the Macedonian's mind even as he mixed a meal for his horse, the bowl pushed carefully towards the edge of the tent, only for Frost to grab it and pull it out with him into the still hard falling rain. Alexander was quick to retreat into the warmth of his sleeping bag the very moment he'd finished his meal, his body was sore and tired from riding so long, even despite the training they'd put in once the Monarch had decided to partake in the race in the first place. The rain was quick to lull him to sleep, one he so desperately found himself needing. It was hours later that Hunter and horse awoke, his things already largely packed from the night before. Quickly the Hunter dressed, shoving one of those dry buns into his mouth in the process while glancing, near constantly at the watch on his wrist. By the time he emerged from his tent, with tact in hand, they had just a few minutes to spare before the race officially opened for the day. The sky itself was slowly beginning to lighten as the Hunter moved efficiently, taking off Frost's garb, fitting the saddle back on, putting everything neatly back in the saddlebags, taking down the tent, and seeing it too returned to its proper position.
He listened attentively to Frost while he worked, his head shaking ever so slightly as the equine voiced his concern. The steed, after all, had hardly been present in the tent when the rules of the race had been drilled into every participant. "We're only allowed to ride during certain hours. The race officially starts for the day in ten minutes. We can ride until eight tonight, I want to hit a hundred and sixty kilometers by the end of the day, at the very least. I suspect most of the riders will have had issues with the rivers overflowing, the other route was also likely another hour or so out of the way of the one we took. Hopefully, our...stall...in the valley didn't put us too far behind schedule." Matteo and himself had mapped it our perfectly, the exact number of kilometers to not only win but to make Alexander the fastest rider to date. They had lost time. They had lost kilometers. Making up for it was hardly going to be easy with the limitations the race set on them and yet...Alexander was nothing short of dreadfully determined. Thankfully, Frost too seemed to share his more competitive nature, the large stallion standing still only long enough for Alexander to swing up into the saddle, his heels barely gracing the creature's sides before Frost broke out into a canter.
Already Alexander could tell his shoulder had significantly improved just overnight. The pain that once afflicted his movements had dulled to a mere soreness - a simple reminder of the wound he'd taken rather than something debilitating. How good it felt to finally make some distance across those vast and empty plains, the ground flattening out to provide Alexander with a view for miles and miles. There was little noise but Frost's hooves pounding against the ground as the sunlight streamed across the fields, the hours stretching on and on. It wasn't until late morning that Frost's thoughts brushed against his mind, those concerns altogether clear. A small frown crossed his features, "I believe so....but I'll check." He muttered, shifting slightly in his seat to riffle through the saddlebag for the GPS unit that had been a mandatory part of his gear. A soft breath left the Monarch's lips as he began to fiddle with the device. It took him a few long moments, followed by some intense staring at the screen before the Dark Hunter glanced upwards. "Yes, there should be a checkpoint about fifty kilometers in the direction your heading." He commented, sliding the GPS unit back into the saddlebag.
With that reassurance, Frost seemed content to dedicate himself to making up that distance they'd lost, silence once again settling between the two men as Alexander urged him ever onwards. Their gait only seemed to change when the vague outline of a structure finally broke the still unending horizon. A group of round yurts had been erected in a small circle, the sound of their voices carrying over the quiet plains. Already, the pair had been sighted and, in turn, Frost's pace slowed as they approached the makeshift village. A slight shift of the reins was all that was necessary to cause the steed to slow beneath him as they approached the village. Already people began to rush out of those small yurts to meet them - this something Alexander had anticipated - a small bag of candy tucked away in his saddle pack just for the children. Bribing, after all, was nothing if not terribly effective. Frost's thoughts were demanding as they invaded his mind, "Hush, they're pointing at you." Those thoughts hung within his mind as Alexander so effortlessly switched to Mongolian. "Bi medne, bi medne, ter kheterkhii ikh iddeg!" He answered the children's gleeful pointing with a rare hint of almost warm laughter.
The Hunter was quick to fetch several baggies of 'gifts' from his own saddlebags, those little packets of cigarettes so easily exchanged with the adults for a myriad of wrapped gifts of food, though Alexander hardly dared to eye and judge them in front of the families that so readily offered them. It was only once Alexander had garnered some bit of information from the townsfolk if they could be called that, that the Dark Hunter finally said his goodbyes. The children seemed almost remiss to see them leave, the group waving near frantically even as Alexander finally allowed Frost to return to that easy trot. A strong scent now wafered from the food in Alexander's saddlebags, the Macedonian content to nibble upon a bit here and there as the sun continued to rise high in the sky. "They said we weren't the first to come through today." The Dark Hunter informed his steed with a small frown etched upon his features. "They'd seen a small group at a distance several clicks west and two came in as singles this morning." There was, by his count, at least seven ahead of them, though with the vastness of that plains it was difficult to say where the rest of the race had spread out. Those thoughts, however, were interrupted by Frost's insistence that one of the skins he'd been given had mares milk within it. How...unexpected but not unwelcomed. At the very least the pair hardly had to fret over food and beverage should they choose to camp again on the plains.
Those miles stretched on as they rode across those flat open plains, their afternoon bringing the first uneventful check into a base camp, one Alexander was quick to leave as soon as the pair were given the go-ahead. They were, as far as Alexander was concerned, making decent enough time as those hours wore on. The silence of the fields was their constant companion, broken only by the sound of the wind sweeping across those endless grasslands. It was that which made that almost pathetic whimpering all the more notable, several hours into the afternoon. Immediately, the Hunter's own attention snapped back to the present as Frost's ears swiveled upon his head. That inquiry upon his mind was one that went largely unanswered as Alexander scanned the grounds that surrounded them. To their right, in the distance, was a river they had largely followed, more or less, for the last few kilometers though it seemed more like a deep muddy trench filled with water and lined with large rocks in comparison to the open oceans the Macedonian was used to. "I'm not sure...." He muttered after several moments, his brows furrowed ever so slightly. It was the slight movement from his periphery that drew Alexander's gaze back towards the river, the man certain that...small dot was....moving. "It's to our right." The Hunter commented, pausing in consideration before his foot gingerly brushed against Frost's left side, "Let's take a look." At the very least, it was doubtful this interruption would not result in them losing any more time than falling off the damned mountain had.