Melaina Chapter 6
Crossing yet another yard and out onto a pathway they paused to watch another horse walking across a paddock to meet their human rider who was carrying a bucket and halter. The thought of being haltered made Melaina’s skin crawl. Yet the horse whickered and pushed his nose against the human who reached up and stroked his nose affectionately before placing the halter on and putting the bucket down on the ground. Behind them, in an outdoor ring, another horse was now being schooled, and with shock, Melaina realised they were what Aksiothos termed an Emblem, their rare markings shining in the sunlight as they trotted around the enclosure listening for the commands from the human.
“That’s Tolmiros out in the pasture, and in the ring is Thrascias, both of them are paired with Sherbert, but they work closely with Alexander and Charlotte. They are some of the good ones. Charlotte helped me when I injured my leg.” Imber continued as they made their way past another row of converted buildings that were now airy stables.
“Ahh look, there’s Cosira,” Imber said whinnying to her friend. Melaina looked for the other mare but it wasn’t until they had reached the trees to the south of the abbey did she spot her. Dappled with green highlights and sparkles Cosira blended so well with her background she was almost invisible. She also looked as though she had been dragged through the bushes backwards. Her mane and tail were covered in bits of twigs and leaves and were filled with knots that made Melaina inwardly wince. She couldn’t bear having knots in her mane or tail and was glad of her telekinetic gifts to help get rid of them. Imber and Cosira greeted each other fondly and Melaina was soon part of their little gathering, greeting Cosira and exchanging scents and good wishes.
“Humans and horses, can all leave me be,” Cosira said noticing as Melaina was once again sidetracked watching the activity around the abbey as they grazed across the lush grass.
“What do you count me as then?” Imber nipped her friend’s shoulder in reproof.
“Only just, careful or I shall plant seeds in your mane too.” Cosira snorted as Imber deliberately wafted her extremely long shiny tail.
“Do you think you will stay?” She asked turning back to Melaina.
“I, don’t know.” Mel confessed “I hadn’t really thought about it, I just knew I needed to go somewhere, to be somewhere else. I don’t know yet if that somewhere else is here.”
“Well at least give us a chance. We might grow on you. Even Cosira.” Imber said returning to grazing as Cosira barred her teeth at her friend.
Mel kept near them for the rest of the afternoon, but as the dusk started to settle, and the evening ritual began she felt exposed and vulnerable. Cosira said her goodbyes and left them for her own secret place in the woods, and Imber invited her to return to the warmth of the large undercroft where many of the mares and younger colts and fillies stayed during the night. But the thought of being with so many others that she didn’t know yet was just as scary as being alone.
“I think I am going to go and explore a bit.” She said refusing the invitation. “Thank you though, I will be back in the morning.”
“You’d better be!” Imber said touching noses with her again before heading off.
Feeling somewhat indecisive Melaina took a partially worn track that headed northwesterly on the “down” side of the abbey keeping to the edge of the surrounding woods and watching for activity from the building themselves. There was an itch between her shoulder blades that only dissipated once she had dropped down a dip in the landscape, putting undergrowth and trees between her and the humans.
The path continued on and eventually joined a much larger that ran directly along the edge of the river heading down to the coast and it was this that made her mind up for her. The path was sandy and occasionally dotted with broken seashells that cracked beneath her hoofs, and as she made her way along, the slope took her down closer until she could hear the waves breaking on the shore. the path took a turn and ended abruptly on a wide sandy beach, utterly deserted except for a few seagulls which avoided her.
The sea, shining against the wet sand seemed to lull her, and before she knew it she was stood hock deep in the shallows, allowing the small waves to lap around her. She watched the moon rise before cloud cover obscured the bright wedge, forcing her to retreat in the extreme darkness to the west and the sand dunes. She took her time navigating the tufts of sharp marsh grass, (far too bitter to eat) until she’d made her way up a particularly large dune. She turned and stood with her nose raised to smell the sea below her and caught a scent that was both strange and familiar. She raised her head quickly and caught his shadow in the sand before he materialised walking silently towards her blending perfectly in the darkness, just patches of light and dark, once again frightening her half to death. She stuck her ears back at him as he got close enough to touch noses.
“If your plan is to give me an early heart attack, you might succeed yet.” She grumbled, flicking her mane out of the way as a night breeze caught it. Fabio snorted quietly. “I have no intention of any such thing. Once again I find you in my spot.”
“It can’t be helped if you happen to choose the best spots in the area.” She nipped his shoulder firmly as he got closer eliciting a flat glare. “Anybody would think you owned all of the best spots.”
“Maybe I do.” He retorted.
“I wonder what Desdemona or Sephrenia would say about that statement.”
“I really couldn’t care less, busybodies.”
Melaina couldn’t help but snort in amusement at his tone. He ignored her and stood stoically watching the sea, so she did the same.