It had been a bit of a lark, honestly he'd almost skipped it or just gone to spectate but Ambrose had sort of talked himself into competing. The sport was notably more popular in the southwest but there were a surprising number of competitors at the cowboy action shooting/mounted shooting event. Having registered late and realizing that vampire senses and reflexes would take a lot of the fun and competition out of things, Ambrose hadn't entered many of the classes. Bit he had entered into the spirit of things and had dresses the part including duster hat and boots. He might have gotten a bit irritable when some punk questioned some of his historical accuracy. Considering he'd bought the item in question in Tombstone not too long before he'd been turned that was a joke. He hadn't felt bad about out shooting the son of a bitcb.
While the regular shooting had been interesting, the mounted shooting.. he'd really enjoyed that. That was as much horsemanship as marksmanship and he'd felt good about winning there. He still had to admit that Midnight was possibly the best horse he'd ever owned. Belle had outdone herself when she'd found the mare and they'd only gotten better together over the years and it showed tonight.
He and Midnight were now riding back through the preserve, Ysabel and one of her gentlemen were going to meet them. It was a nice night out, warm well maybe really warm but not exactly hot and he was happy with a nice easy trot especially as he was more anxious to see Ysabel than to get home.
If she'd lost her ability to ride, she wasn't sure if she could have stomached being turned, even at the fear of losing Dayle. Happily, she hadn't had to give that up. Fortunately, she couldn't see herself ever having to.
She gathered her reins, sat deep into her favorite side saddle, and with a soft chuck of her tongue she urged Adagio into a round, rocking-horse canter. Ysabel rode most nights, if not in the arena on her property then out here on the trails. Adagio was by far her best horse, and she enjoyed his floaty canter and the solid beat of his hooves on the packed dirt trail.
She would find Amber out here; he'd participated in a shooting competition which Ysabel couldn't attend due to the bright lights. Even if she'd been able to withstand those, she'd never have been able to open her eyes enough to actually see him.
They had no particular plans to meet since he hadn't been entirely certain when he'd be finished, but there were trails they both enjoyed as their favorites and they had a general idea of the time so she knew they'd bump into each other sooner or later.
Trusting Midnight to keep to the trail and not spook he used some perception. Such an odd gift you could pick up minute details about what you were paying attention to but could lose sight of just about everything else. It was best to have a partner when using it, in Ambrose's mind his horse counted as a partner.
Satisfied he knew where the sound of the steady three beat gait was coming from he knew they'd meet up where the trail he was on joined another. Subtlety changing his balance and with a soft click of the tongue Ambrose and Midnight cantered off. They'd timed it well and easily fell with Ysabel and Adagio.
"Fine lady like you riding alone at night? Are you sure that's proper ma'am?"
Ambrose asked with something of a half smile but without really looking at Ysabel still looking where they were going instead.
There was no doubt they looked like a bit of an odd couple most of the time, tonight even more so than usual. Ambrose still wasn't quite sure what it was Ysabel saw in him but he'd long ago stopped worrying about and was just glad she was it.
"Oh, I'm certain it's not proper, sir, but I've been told by someone close to me that improper can be fun."
With a little laugh she brought Adagio to a walk, Midnight remaining in step as they slowed. Ysabel reached out for Amber's hand, the horses having no objection to walking side by side.
"How was your competition? Did you, how do you say it... smoke them?"
She grinned cheekily at Ambrose. She knew perfectly well what the term was, but since her role tonight was apparently 'sort of proper lady' she would play it.
"This friend of yours has something there. A little bit if rule bending has its place and can be a good time besides. Just don't go having too good a time..."
He easily slowed Midnight happy to ride side by side with Ysabel and easily took her hand even kissing it softly.
"They need a vampire division."
Was his answer. He had too much of an edge to make either target or quick draw much of a challenge. That and all the damned rules and safety precautions meant there was no danger, no edge and so it just wasn't as ... fun.
"Midnight was darn near perfect though. Made some of the competition look greener than grass."
Ambrose leaned forward and fondly scratch his mount's neck. There was a trophy coming but damned if he knew what to do with it.
"Don't sell yourself short," she said gently. "You were target shooting from horseback and you had your own challenges."
She doubted any of the competitors were riding with a prosthetic leg. Ambrose had superior strength, yes, but horses were ridden with balance and grace; not brute strength. Without the appropriate skill in both riding and shooting, he could have been bested.
When he mentioned Midnight, Ysabel smiled wider. "Of course she was. I chose her for you for a reason."
She'd picked Midnight and had trained her specifically to handle a raider with Ambrose's talents and abilities. He couldn't guide her with both legs; he used his leg and a crop on the other side when he needed to press against her. But she took voice commands as well, and was as bombproof as a horse could be.
Ysabel didn't do horses by half-measures. Ever.
The horse in question was a seventeen hand dark bay Hanoverian with a small star and a sock on his off hind foot wonderful flowing movement and, so far, the good sense to handle the trails at night. His agent in England had assured him the stallion would meet his high standards and he'd been right. Both horse and rider were immaculately turned out and could have just left the show ring, although in deference to the casual ride Reginald had forgone tails and was just wearing a coat.
As he rounded a turn at a crisp even trot he was rather startled to discover he wasn't the only one taking advantage of the evening. He politely slowed to a walk and hoped they would pass with a minimum of fuss. At least that was his hope until he really looked at them. Had he fallen? Hit is head? Perhaps a fancy dress party at a local stable... or perhaps... well it was possible
The young lady was rather resplendent. She cut quite an elegant figure sidesaddle in a proper riding habit and on a Friesian of all things. Reginald was suitably impressed. Her escort on the other hand... he wrinkled his nose slightly in distaste. Reginald had never come to appreciate the American breeds, oh their thoroughbreds were fine, but that was all he would concede. Beyond that he recalled his time in the American west with mixed feelings to say the least.
Still, he was polite, at least for now.
"Good evening. Lovely night for a ride."
Her he might like to speak with, but only if she lost the cowboy.
"And here I thought it was just because you wanted to approve of any other women in my life."
He teased, giving Bell his best boyish grin.
Honestly, Ysabel was just extremely knowledgeable about horses. Sure he could tell a good horse from a not so great one and find the right one for the job but Ysabel knew these things. Ambrose had learned a fair bit from her in their time together.
Damned, another rider. Well at least the guy wasn't an idiot and seemed to have a few manners. The horse was impressive, tall elegant but powerful looking. He might not be able to name the breed but he could smell the money and that was only confirmed by the way the guy was dressed. He looked familiar too, but Ambrose couldn't quite place him.
He tensed when he heard the voice, that voice... He was a musician sometimes Ambrose remembered a voice better than a face. He now remembered this guy. Ambrose was very capable of holding a grudge, but this wasn't nearly so simple as a grudge. No sir this was the kind of family tie that put the fun back in dysfunctional.
"That it is."
He pushed his hat back so his face wasn't obscured and smiled brightly.
"You are damned near the last person I expected to ever run into again Reggie."
"Reginald." His 'cousin' corrected. Ambrose didn't think the man even knew he did it.
"Bell this is Reggie... Reginald. Reg, this is Ysabel."
The manners were for Belle, not Reggie. The half picking a fight was for him. If you were going to get under Reggie's skin you had to start early and go the distance. He couldn't afford to waste the element of surprise, it wouldn't last long.
They were interrupted by the clear sound of hoofbeats heading toward them at a trot. Coming around the turn, the man in a hunt coat mounted upon his horse slowed to a walk. As usual Ysabel noted the horse before the man; a stunning warmblood of some sort, beautifully turned out. She smiled politely at the man, her face betraying nothing but polite interest as Ambrose made a colorful statement of recognition.
At the brief introduction, she responded with cool formality, especially since this man hadn't shown much deference.
Ysabel was used to deference.
With a slight nod, she said, "Good evening, sir. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. The night is beautiful indeed."
Ambrose hadn't been particularly formal, but Ysabel didn't care. She offered the exact manners one would expect when a Lady was addressing someone whose status she couldn't identify.
Of course, Ambrose was immediately baiting him. Reginald clenched his jaw slightly at the pathetic introductions and, more so, at the deliberate butchering of his name.
The young lady, however, managed to pique his interest even beyond her habit and excellent mount. Her accent and precise manners were rather refreshing. He was no fool, he'd been around more people with titles than he could possibly remember, she was feeling him out.
"Goodness, Isaac I'm not sure which is more shocking you on a horse or your attempt at manners."
Certainly not his most judicious rejoinder ever as if Ysabel and his country cousin were a couple she might very well take offense at the bard. However, it was impossible to resist. Besides every meeting he'd had with the cowboy (not that there had been terrible many) had been challenging. While he might not be blatantly rude, they were well past the point of being friendly.
"Reginald Bartholomew Chamberlain IV miss. My very great pleasure to meet you."
He said with a slight bow. He might have borrowed the family title but something made Reginald think Ysabel might either have one of her own or enough breeding to catch him stretching the truth. As such he was erring on the side of caution and assuming she was equal to his family at the very least.
"I'm afraid our Mr. Townsend may have neglected to complete the introductions."
He considered tossing out another semi-insult about cowboy manners but decided he didn't want to completely alienate this woman, at least not right away and decided against the petty taunt instead opening the door to allow her to offer more information.
"I must say that is a stunning animal. You cut a very elegant figure together."
He was pleased to have gotten any kind of reaction from Reggie, even that little one. The name thing was a reliable source of irritation. Wasn't as good as it had been but apparently still had an affect.
Ambrose was un-surprised and unphased by Reginald's shot. Eh he was a little surprised by the horse comment it was easy to forget how, relatively, little time had passed since Ysabel had talked him into riding again. But it was an easy and obvious jab and Ambrose let it slide off his back.
"You never call, you never write, I forget what's new for you."
He sounded positively bored when he said it. Mostly because he was, they'd done this dance before.
Ambrose didn't alter his introductions at all. If Ysabel wanted to fancify things she could. Hell he suspected she could manner Reggie into the ground. Huh. That might be interesting to watch, them politing each other to death.
Much like Ysabel knew she didn't have to worry about him, Ambrose had equal faith in her. He'd asked her once if she'd rather be with someone more like... well more like Reggie actually culture, money, titles, manners and all that crap. She'd said no, he'd proposed, she'd said yes and that was enough for him.
Of course trust or no, if Reg got too close or made Ysabel at all uncomfortable he'd take the son of a bitch out, clan or no. Ok he wouldn't kill the bastard, but that was the only line Ambrose was willing to draw.
"So what's up Reg, I would have thought you had enough to do in your side of the Atlantic."
She remained quiet as he spoke, and when he complimented Adagio she simply nodded slightly, her manner much chillier than it had been previously. She immediately looked away into the distance beyond Reginald, the motion unmistakable. If anyone nowadays understood what it meant to give someone the cut, they would see it performed right here.
A true gentleman would never be so crass as to point out a fellow's character flaws, and Ysabel had no time for someone who pretended at manners but followed through with nothing.
He was, however, slightly irritated at the obvious snub but had the good sense to keep it to himself. Instead he turned his attention to the cowboy.
"Business old chap. A fellow has to keep busy I would have thought you'd have learned that."
His mount shifted about, slightly restless and Reginald quietly steadied him.
"In fact I'm back and forth enough that I finally bought some property here. I shouldn't worry though, there is still the other side of the continent for you, unless you've managed to run afoul of the law again."
Reginald had absolutely no qualms bringing up their first meeting. He was rewarded with a slight stiffening of Ambrose's shoulders. It wasn't much but he felt it evened things up, at least for now.
He settled for a half smile and a shake of his head.
"You're losing your touch Reg."
Was all he said. Ambrose had seen women throw themselves at Reginald, hard. Not his girl though, nope Belle was too smart and had too much class for that. He didn't like that Reggie had pissed her off though and if she gave the slightest indication she wanted to leave they would.
"Shiney. We can be neighbors then."
Belle was the one with the money and property but knowing Reggie's taste it was possible he'd be nearby. God he hoped not, but it was possible.
Damned man could live in the past. Yeah Ambrose had been locked up. Yeah between the damned sun light and having one leg (he hadn't had the prosthetic at the time) he'd been pretty damned well trapped but it was over and done.
"I'm sure even in jolly old England they have statutes of limitations Reggie so you must have heard of them."
In a war of words he was never going to win and Ambrose knew it. It was also pretty damned well impossible to shoot a clan mate for no reason though so all Ambrose could do was hope Reginald would ride one quickly. Well he could just fire into the ground, Ambrose doubted Reggie's horse would handle it nearly as well as Adagio or Midnight.
At the knowledge that the man had purchased property, she delicately arched a single eyebrow. There was a very limited number of estates in Nachton, and they were all in roughly the same area. So Ambrose wasn't exaggerating; they were most likely neighbors.
She did allow her lips to quirk up into a little smile at the idea of Ambrose running afoul of the law - again. He was hardly an innocent, but she was sure he'd been legal for at least the last couple of decades. Probably.
For the time being, though, she had run out of patience with this man. She allowed Adagio to shift forward a bit.
"As pleasant as this has been we must be going. Surely we'll be seeing you in the near future, Reginald. Enjoy your evening. And welcome to Nachton."
She didn't wait for the obligatory head nod or half bow. She simply let Adagio move forward. With a barely noticeable flick of her whip she nudged him into a perfect, measured, slow trot. She didn't wait for Ambrose; he would catch up shortly.
He corrected absently again. How hard was it to remember his name. It wasn't long it wasn't complicated, Townsend did it just to be petty. Of course, it did totally escape Reginald's notice he didn't usually give Ambrose any reason to actually extent any courtesies no matter how small.
Neighbors?! Obviously he should have checked the neighborhood better if that was the case. It was also dashed interesting. The cowboy had always been a bit tight on resources.
"Come up a bit in the world have we Townsend?"
That was a weak return volley, of course that is all he would have expected from Ambrose. The man's wit was as crude as his manners.
However, just as he was preparing to return fire probably alluding to the fact that his cousin couldn't find England on map Ysabel decided she'd had enough and moved on. Again he gave a polite half now, perhaps she was just a bitch but perhaps she wasn't and it would pay not to be any more antagonistic to her than he had been.
"Again, a pleasure miss. Have a lovely evening."
He let her trot off a bit before turning to Ambrose again.
"I didn't you'd let a woman fight your battles for you."
He only just heard Townsend's reply as he cantered off in the opposite direction.
Perhaps not the ideal situation but the cowboy being here could be entertaining, especially if he finally leaned his place.
((OOC... Reginald out.))
Ambrose decided it was best to let the coming up the the world comment slide. Sure he was finally getting ahead but he still had to work. He wasn't riding Belle's coat tails, she wasn't a meal tick or anything he just couldn't take care of her the way some fellas could. She had yet to hold it against him.
Honestly Ambrose was glad Belle had had it, and he could hardly blame her Reg was a pain in the ass. Odd though, he would have expected them to get on both being from England with fancy titles and money and the like. He wondered what Reggie had done to set her off so bad.
He just snorted at the idea he "let" Belle fight anything. One did not "let" Belle do anything, she let you do things.
"Yeah... I'd worry about that if I were you."
Watching Reggie and his pile of money canter away Ambrose shook his head. He was not happy with the idea of Reg being her long term undoubtedly there'd be some kind of trouble.
Couldn't do anything about it now. Instead of worrying he nudged Midnight into a canter just long enough to catch up with Belle and then matched her trot.
"Sorry about that. I'm not Reggie's favorite person."
He didn't bother to point out the feeling was very much mutual.
"So I noticed," she said mildly, despite the fact that the man's lack of social graces had left her seething.
She was used to modern times and modern manners. But this Reginald had made a pretense of gentility, without truly applying any of the courtly manners that were commonplace in her time period. And truly, no matter what era you were living in, Ysabel had yet to see pointing out someone's flaws and failures as a matter of greeting come into popularity.
"What an odious fellow," she said. "I do hope we're not actually neighbors. I might have to look into constructing a very high wall. Unless walls don't actually stop him."
She raised an eyebrow at Ambrose in question.
It was a little odd to almost be defending Reg. Honestly Ambrose didn't like him and was pretty sure you could only trust him as far as clan loyalty would stretch but he didn't hate his cousin. It seemed the feeling went both ways but he wasn't going to take his life on it.
"Okay he's a pompous ass... but..."
Ambrose shrugged and gave up.
"We're sort of family."
And damned if Reggie wasn't every bit as bad as his mortal older brother. Well maybe Reggie was a little better than Tobias, but he and Reg could give each other a lot of space. A luxury he hadn't had with Tobias.
Ambrose snorted and shook his head.
"Hard to say but he's usually pretty well mannered and proper and all that. I'm one of his exceptions. Probably with cause."
Ambrose admitted a little reluctantly. It really wasn't fair to let Reggie take all the blame. Besides, Belle knew him well enough to know picking a fight was second nature to him.
Reggie had a fair few exceptions actually but Ambrose couldn't see the man being actively rude to or antagonising Ysabel. At least not until he knew more about her.
It really was peculiare how both Belle and Reg could use manners as a weapon. The difference, so far as he could tell, is Belle seemed to have a bit more tact about her, she'd cut you and let you bleed out where as Reggie liked to shoot you in the face and then go in for a double tap if he had to.
"I don't think we should have to move though."
"Well, that does explain the atrocious manners."
She smirked playfully at her husband. Amber then confessed that Reginald had been rude because Amber was... Amber. She still didn't think that excused his behavior, particularly in company and that of a lady he'd never met before, but the man clearly cared little for first impressions or he'd have managed to bite his tongue.
"Well, what did you do to earn such disdain?"
She didn't think for a moment that Ambrose was a saint. He had thorns aplenty, and if Reginald had torn himself on a few of those, well, she could understand a bit of hurt.
"Can't blame Damaris for him. More of a cousin."
He also knew Reg was some kind of a toff but Ambrose never could remember what the title was or how the titles worked either, who out ranked who and he wasn't going to even consider remotely comparing Reggie and Belle. Belle was a lady, Reggie was an ass.
Damned, of course Ysabel would ask that. It was an embarrassing story. Well Ambrose thought it was. It was both a stupid situation and had him at a disadvantage with only one leg.
"I cost him some money and put him in a bind. He'd gotten a look at me and a wanted poster not long after I was turned and since he wanted the cash had me tossed in jail. They weren't going to pay out until the judge came though so I got to stew a while but it gave Damais a chance to get wind of the situation and get into town. She gave him a choice either help bust me out or tell folks he'd been wrong and get them to spring me before the judge showed."
Ambrose paused thoughtfully and thought about the situation. Honestly, if the tables had been turned, he'd still be a bit cross about it too.
"He wound up having to do both. Apparently it really shot his credibility and reputation with folks around there and he couldn't just pack up and leave right away either."
He'd been a pain to break out too, especially as he couldn't really ride with only one leg and really needing a wagon. Yeah it had been a mess for everyone involved.