Run away Kings.
By C. S Grable
A dim haze sat just above the tall evergreens lining the valley’s walls. Large stones lay strewn about the horizon, some as large as an ogre stretched smooth sides to the waning sun. An eagle screeched over head, circling high in the pale blue sky, its shadow casting to the damp earth below.
Aurora sat back in her saddle as Lolair negotiated his way down the ancient volcanic rock, he shifted and moved, and she followed with balance. In a great leap the black war horse came to the earthen floor, his body shaking. Rider and horse glanced back over their shoulders at the impressive slide. The celebration was broken by the massive war horses first step being a limp. He felt his weight shift as his mistress slipped off his back, her feet making no sound as she touched the ground. He could feel her cool calm hands running down his neck as she came to his stout face, her teal eyes stared into the endless pool of summer blue that never blinked. Aurora ran her hand down his muzzle, she knelt before him, he had skinned his knees, not a bad scrape, some scratches, but as she touched him, her smooth hands running down the length of his front right leg she felt him pull away, and bump her with his head. Her red lips turned to a frown, but forced an even smile touching his face.
B y the reign, she lead him to the rivers edge. The air was cooler here, sweeter, softer on the face and skin. Lolair dipped his head drinking from it deeply, as did Aurora. She glanced back at his bleeding knees, and pulled the cinches from his saddle, slipping the leather seat from his back and on to a beached log beside them. The soft sand felt good under Lolairs weight. Aurora pulled his blankets, and her saddle bags, setting them beside the rest.
Lolair gave a whinny, bucked and ran straight into the river, he snorted loudly as the icy water hit his hot flesh, he held his head up, and striking out his legs he swam as easily as a dog. While her 1200 lb dog cooled himself in the river, cleansing his wounds, she set up her camp, and took a small black bag. Holding it in her hands, she could feel its weight, the wooden box filled with its tinctures, tonics and tools. Slipping back the leather cover she reveled the box.
It was as white as bone, bone Wood, carved from a sacred tree lost in ancient text. Roar’s Chiurgeon had taught her all he had known, and it only touched a quarter of the strange mixes and herbs. Siraj had even tried his luck at playing with it, and only found blisters and stomach aches. But She knew which ones to use, just by holding it in her hand, she knew.
Aurora’s wondering thoughts where broken by a bath of cool droplets of water smelling heavily of horse and earth. She raised an arm to shield her face, but it was too late. The Horse refreshed, paced in a circle around the camp, shaking his body until her stopped in front of the woman sitting knees bent on her bed roll.
“Always at your leave?” Aurora reached out to his leg, grasping it, she rubbed an oil tincture across the raw flesh. Watching it soak in, she came to rest a long finger on a wide deep scar just under Lolair’s chest. She traced the scar with her hand. Bewildered by the old wound she stood, sealing the jar. “When were you speared?”
Lolair lifted his head, looking West towards the setting sun. Ignoring her inquiry.
“Keep your secrets then.” Aurora felt him nudge her again with a low truffle. She shrugged her shoulder stepping from his reach. The Horse followed resting his heavy chin on her shoulder. She stroked his nose, and pulled long white gauze strips from a bag. With her pugio, she cut them in even strips. Again she knelt before her War horse, wrapping a thick binding around his open wounds. Tying a knot she finished with the second, gave his chest a pat and walked to the river. She placed her hands into the rippling cool, the current stealing away the oils from her fingers. The wind rustled through the trees as the eagle over head called out again, this time landing in a tall pine on the South bank.
Aurora shook her head, The eagles will always follow.
The evening crept in on the river side camp, and with it the sounds of her nature.
The sky never seemed to be anything but the rosy gray. Its black mountains sitting in the Northern distant, two again approach the gate, a woman born high on a white stag arrives first, behind her dancing folk, strange wrapped in blue paint from head to toe. Their voices familiar, she can feel the song forming on her tongue. To the South, it appears again. A Red Dragon, ancient, one so familiar to her paces the rivers edge while the Woman on the Stag, and her procession past it with little notice from the pacing beast.
Again as the nights had before and a hundred years since her child hood she dreamt of the girl being taken from the back of the Stag, the trees barren in the dream, the stone on the earth burgundy and crimson. Her face hidden, she is led away, her voice drowned out by the scream of the Stagg as four men, bare from head to earth, painted in red took to the beast like wolves, driving steal into its flesh… she could feel the sting, the deep cutting until her breath caught up to her lucid screams.
Aurora sat upright in her bed rolls, screaming, her knuckles white gripping the cool soil around her bedding, her face soaked with what she didn’t know. A familiar smell enveloped her senses, her eyes wide, she through her arms around the kneeling war horse. Her face buried into his mane she cried until her belly no longer ached. And she was overcome with sleep and laid back on the damp furs.
Aurora had long since been asleep when the waxing moon rose and fell, and dawn again approached with the quiet dull hum of morning life. She sat up in her bed roll, her body ached when she moved. Dropping back under the furs she stared out from under them at the creature in her view. Lolair was grazing quietly in the field a hands breadth away with a small herd of local fauna. Aurora felt her heart skip a beat when she could call them by name. Slowly she sat up, pushing back the furs, she slipped her bare feet to the damp cool earth. Like the deer she hunted, these creatures would start, and take off into the woods, not to be seen for another hundred years. She wanted a better look, and badly, at least to see them long enough to put them to memory, to tell her brothers of what she saw. But then as easily as the joy had come to her heart, the cold North wind brought the shadows back over her frozen valley. Her Teal eyes looked beyond the quietly grazing Equa Uni-Corpis. The Forest Horse.
They must have smelled her blood and tears, one lifted his head, long and sleek, but as frail as the first frost. His dark eyes wondered into hers, their gaze fixed, he snorted. The breath around him was creating a vale of fog. One by one the lifted their sleek slender heads, eyes lost in time were fixed, Lolair lifted his head in a sharp snort as the sound f beating hooves grew in the distant.
As quickly as Roar turned her head to Lolair, here eyes snapping back to the ghostly visitors. They were gone in the dawns rising. She listened, holding the sigh waiting for the hoof beats to continue on.