Melaina Chapter 7
“Imber, she showed me around the abbey. I had no idea places like this could even exist.” She said, shaking her mane again and lowering her head after they had been standing there on the dunes for some time. “It is a strange thing to have that sort of belonging, to exist in one place for such a long time.”
“It took each of us a long time to find that, some of us never have.” Fabio remarked turning away from her a little. Melaina needed nothing more than a little empathy to sense waves of resentment and betrayal in his tone.
“So will you be moving on? Or will you stay?” He asked eventually, breaking the silence.
“I’m still not sure. When I was travelling, I had a goal, to get away from where I had been, to somewhere better. This seems to be somewhere so much better, but now I don’t know if…” She stopped, not sure how to adequately explain.
“I’m not sure if I am good enough to belong here. I’m not sure if I could be as accepting of humans as some of the others seem to be… I think I’d go mad if somebody tried to put a halter on me, to chain me…”
“Not all of them have chosen to be dedicated. Not all of them have chosen to bond with a human.”
“So you aren’t dedicated?”
“I have not decided.” He muttered again abruptly walking away from her.
“Where are you going?” She asked following him for no other reason than the fact that she had nothing else to do and nowhere else to be.
“I’m hungry, and sand isn’t all that tasty.” He said flicking his tail in her face. In some sort of companionable silence they made their way through the dunes westward and up the coast before turning inland, where the cliffs began to rise up out of the rolling landscape, blurred into softness by the trees and bushes.
The moon briefly made another appearance as they headed out from the treeline into a lush meadow. There was just enough light to see that there were a few other creatures taking part in the same activity, rare red deer skirted the wooded edges near the stream in a small herd, and along the banks played a whole variety of rabbits. The atmosphere was one of contentment, with little in the way of predators to disturb them. Melaina, having paused to survey their surroundings, hurried to catch up to Fabio to ask him.
“Predators? No. Unless you count the dogs and cats who live at the abbey. Their bark is far worse than their bite.”
“I don’t like dogs.” Melaina muttered.
“They probably don’t like you either, you are too skinny to be worth the chase.” Fabio replied moving swiftly out of her way as she went to bite his leg.
“Go away if you are going to be rude.” Melaina said, turning away from him.
“If you would recall, it is you who followed me.” He replied, continuing to graze. She grunted at him and did the same, allowing the peace to resume.
There was a soft pattering that grew in intensity that heralded yet more rain as it swept in across the open meadow. Melaina tried to ignore it, but as thunder suddenly rumbled over their heads she couldn’t help but flinch. She hadn’t seen the flash of lightning, but moments later another flashed to the south followed by another roll of thunder. It made her skin prickle. The rain got heavier, sending the deer into the woods and the rabbits back to their holes, but Fabio seemed relatively unconcerned. He flickered an ear as she moved closer to him still trying to graze without flinching every time the sky bloomed a pinky white from the lighting. She tried to concentrate and use her gifts to make the rain fall around her, but she was unable to focus properly and gave up. By this time she was right next to him wondering if he’d object to her hiding underneath him.
“Why don’t you go back to the abbey.” He complained, shaking the rain from his mane.
“It’s a long way to go back…”
“Fine, you may return to my shelter but this is the last time.” With his ears back he made his way through the drenched meadow and leapt over the filling stream before entering the woods, assuming she would follow him. It took only a few moments before she caught up, looking miserable and scared. He slowed his pace a little through the trees, fat heavy drops soaking them thoroughly as they brushed past the trees and undergrowth. By the time they made it back to the ruined building that was Fabios shelter, Melaina was shivering. She shuffled into the shelter moving over for him to enter before sinking down onto the soft earth to rest. She didn’t flinch this time when he created his magical fire, grateful that its light abated the flashes of lightning which seemed to be seared against the back of her eyes.
He watched over her as she dosed, her coat drying quickly in the warmth of the fire. Fabio was pleased that his control of his newly acquired ability was growing, and relaxing himself let his head drop and his eyes close.
He stirred slightly, thinking the sound was just the wind. He was warm and did not want to move so he kept his eyes closed.
“Fabio, dearest one…”
A touch on his nose, the faintest breath against his skin and a scent that he thought he might never know again brought his eyes open instantly, searching for her, thinking he had woken from a nightmare.
“Be calm my beloved. You dream still, and I am sorry for it.” The whisper was stronger this time, and now he could see her, a ghost of grey silk against a black night.
“Iris, take me home, I beg of you please.”
“I cannot, Hades is adamant.”
“He is a fool.”
“Careful dearest, he is our god and maker, please do not make him cast his eye upon you.”
“Why are you here to tear apart my heart again Iris, if you can do nothing why must you taunt me so.”
“I do not mean to be cruel, please forgive me. I have lost… nay, we have lost so many of our herd, I would do anything to ensure the safety of those who remain steadfast. This is why I have come against his wishes. Fabio my dearest dearest heart, I beg that you do not turn our little mare away from you. She is of our soul, and was made to give you light in this cold darkness.”
“She is blessed by Hera and is all that is good and true. She will follow you to the ends of the earth, for her heart has already chosen, and if I am not mistaken, yours has perhaps too?”
The hope in her soft voice only made him more unhappy.
“Why must everything be done to the gods liking Iris. We have been cast out from all that is good and true. She is a foal, and a foolish one at that.” He turned and watched her sleeping, her muzzle hidden against her legs as she lay in the dirt next to him, the embers of his fire making her pale mane shine.
“Yes she is young, but her soul is bound to Olympus as is yours. What does it matter how she came to be here at this moment. See the good for what it is. Give her your protection and trust and she will thrive and cast away the darkness in this lonely heart of yours my beloved.”
“She should be with the others.”
“Nay gentle one, her heart knows her place is here, by your side. If you wish to tell me you are undeserving of her trust then I will tell you otherwise. Do not punish yourself and her for the faults of another, or you risk making decisions in anger. We have all suffered from that fate.” Iris said sadly. She reached out and touched his face once more.
“Be well my most beloved Fabio. All is not yet lost.”
She was gone, and he expected his heart to be black with hate for what had been done to them all, yet as he opened his eyes and woke from the dream he couldn’t quite seem to concentrate on the hate and anger, because he kept seeing her, out of the corner of his eye. Light in the darkness indeed he grumbled to himself as he closed his eyes again.