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14 September 2018 @ 04:22 pm
Has gone live!

14 September 2018 @ 09:14 pm

And dropped to a walk after a kilometer. Sweating, and breathing hard. :: I used to be able to go all day. Sorry. I'm old. ::

Rael leaned and patted her. "There's no rush . . . Oh. I haven't got any water, or . . . " She looked at the thick trees and brambles. And up the road. "There's a break in the tree line. Let's see if we can get down to the river there."

She swung off the horse and loosened the cinch. Walked along beside her. "Everyone keeps calling you a Traveler's horse. What's a Traveler?"

:: They live in wagons and travel wherever they wish. They trade a bit, and work a bit, and sell charms, and put on shows. :: A snort and toss of head. :: I'm not one of them! I'm a hauler's horse. ::

"Huh. Gypsies . . . I wonder if the Roma got exiled or if it's just a lifestyle that resembles the Rom." Rael walked along briskly, to keep up with the long-legged mare's gait. "You're not really big and muscular, like most of the harness horses I've seen."

:: I pulled a fast trap, at first. Then I got sold for a taxi horse, but people didn't like my color! So I got sold again . . . and again. ::

"Huh. You're much better suited as a riding horse." Rael peered past a big oak and found a broad clearing sloping all the way down to a rushing stream. Nice and sandy, well drained, with hitching posts and a big stone water trough. "Now this is nice! Let's see about some water."

The tough had a pipe with a lever, and once cleared of leaves, Rael found both a drain hole and a polished stone plug on a chain. She lifted the lever, wondering if she needed to pump, or . . . a gurgle from the pipe and it spit water a few times then poured out a steady stream.

She took a taste, clean and cold. Carousel lipped at the flow and nodded her approval.

Rael half filled the trough, then walked down to the stream. Sniffed. Yes, a faint tang of sulfur. "Not hardly bad enough to call it Stink River, although I suppose once the snow melts not diluting it, it could get quite . . . fragrant."

Carousel just started munching grass.

Rael stretched her legs. "I haven't been riding enough lately. I'm going to be sore tomorrow. And . . . it's late afternoon and this is a great place to camp. Shall we call it a day?"

The mare nodded.

Real unsaddled her, and hauled the saddle and the saddle bags over to a nice flat spot in the sun.

Carousel followed. :: You're supposed to tie me up. ::

"Well, sure, if you were an ordinary horse." Rael pulled the bridle off, easing the bit out of her mouth. "I mean, if you want, I can do it."

:: But what if I run away? ::

"Then I'll have to walk to Ash. Actually, you might want to run away after we get to Ash. Talk to the horses there. Or if you don't like snowy winters, Embassy would be nice. Lots of smart horses there, too."

:: Any handsome stallions? I'm in the mood . . . ::

"Some of the best stallions in the Multiverse."

:: Right. We'll head for Ash early in the morning. ::


It was bloody cold. And something howled and made weird shrieks across the river.

:: Coyotes. If they cross the river, I'll stomp them. :: Carousel went back to grazing.

"Don't you need to sleep?"

:: I caught a couple of hours already. It's nice out here. I haven't just grazed the night away for a long time. ::

"Do you remember where you're from?'

:: I don't know the names. I would recognize it. ::

Real reached out of her sleeping bag and grabbed her jacket. Spread it over the sleeping bag and drifted off.


In the morning, they headed out in the early light, walking and trotting, another brief canter. They met a group with four wagons, heading the other direction. The driver of the lead wagon frowned at Carousel.

Hey! I see some spots on your horses, too!

Rael cleared her throat. "Are you coming from Ash?"

"Yes . . ." The man's eyes drifted back to Carousel. "Do you know her breeding?"

"Well, her papers said something about her sire being named Solstice, and her damn Calico by Sun Gold."

The man grinned. "Thought she must be one of Solstice's. She's got his look. You take good care of her. That old horse never had a bad foal."

"I will."

Carousel eyed the other horses as they passed. :: No one I know. They're just horses. I still meet horses I can talk to sometimes. ::