[Story] Story a Week 17

[[ Using a new prompt list for now with one-word prompts. I rolled and got “horse”. So this is a very old horse character I used to RP on a horse MU* (don’t judge me!). She is a mustang who has had quite an interesting life. ]]

Tempest looked out over the valley where their small herd grazed. The last of the evening sun had faded, and the air had grown cool and misty with the promise of rain. The warm days would be here soon enough, and so would the foals. She looked forward to seeing her new foal, of course, its tiny hooves and sweet breath, watching them all play together and meeting their father and siblings. Her son, Tristan, kicked up his heels and chased the other boys instead of grazing. She knew it would be time for them all to leave very soon, and she wasn’t sure if her heart was ready. More than that, though, she found herself thinking of the foal that she had lost, back when they had lived in the forest. Most times she had no cause to do so, and letting the sadness in served no purpose but to upset her, but she couldn’t help it. Sometimes the memories were just too strong, too persuasive to keep away.

She had been the herd’s leader then, as she was now, but for some years they survived all on their own, without a stallion. They didn’t need one. Tempest and her second, a fierce mare called Ironhooves, were more than enough to meet any challenge. The dense forest where they slept provided protection from predators, and sweet roots and berries when they had eaten their fill of grass out on the plains. Of course there were those who called them foolish, and every stallion who passed by took it upon himself to prove himself to them. It never worked, they were all chased off, bleeding and humiliated.

Heart-Seer had been different, though. He was striking to look at, the purest white with eyes the color of a clear summer sky. Tempest had never seen a horse that looked like him. But more than that, he had a serenity and wisdom about him. Whenever he spoke, his words carried ancient truth. They didn’t like him at first, of course, and tried to chase him off as they had the others. But Heart-Seer did not run or fight back, he merely asked to stay and graze. Tempest was doubtful, but they allowed him to stay. He was polite and deferred to Tempest in all matters, which perplexed her. He told them stories, fanciful tales about humans and about the gods. Tempest liked those  stories the best, could imagine the horse goddess galloping across the sky making thunderstorms. Perhaps as he’d planned all along, the herd gradually accepted him, and when her season came around again, Tempest found herself wanting a foal for the first time. Ironhooves scoffed at the idea, but even she was excited to meet the herd’s first baby.

Fate, though, had other plans. Heart-Seer disappeared one night, and though she searched endlessly, Tempest never did find him. It was as if he had vanished from the forest altogether. Ironhooves said that humans might have taken him. Tempest preferred to think that the gods had claimed him, to run at their side. It was less heart-breaking to consider than the other options. At least she would still have the foal, some part of him to hold onto. But a great drought struck the plains, and their surrounding forest, and lightning struck a dried tree and burned much of it. The herd was forced to move on, during the hottest part of the summer. Without Heart-Seer to protect them, Tempest and Ironhooves had to defend the herd against predators and would-be conquerors. Food was scarce and the days were long. It took them many weeks to find a place that was both unclaimed and safe enough to stay. And by then, it was too late. The foal within her had stopped moving, and she felt her heart stop moving with it. Ironhooves showed a rare gentleness as she comforted Tempest, and she told how the little colt would join his father among the gods in the sky. It didn’t help, not really. The pain was like a physical thing, dragging her down and pressing on her heart. It wasn’t fair to lose both of them, why was she being punished like this?

Tempest shook her head, trying to free herself of the thoughts. Titan touched his nose to hers, reassuringly. He was the stallion who had joined them after they found the new territory. He told them he had once been with the humans, but he escaped. When he arrived, he still had rope tied around his head, and he carried their smell on him. He was a dark bay with white socks, larger than any horse Tempest had seen before. Ironhooves wanted to chase him away, but Tempest felt defeated. She couldn’t do it alone anymore, and she wanted his help. He was polite enough, and proved to be a good father to the foals. But he wasn’t Heart-Seer. Was he watching her, even now? She wondered if he would be pleased. Their herd was safe and growing, their foals healthy and the grass good. Tempest studied the stars, wondering if he was among them. She thought that she saw one twinkle; a bright big star with a smaller star beside it, and she was reassured.

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