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Horny Hooves

25 Jun

My travels led me through regions that grew more and more familiar, the farther I walked from home.  The pristine, primeval forest, with its high trees and unfrightened wildlife faded slowly over the miles into first forests that were far far from grand, and then to plains that smelled of smoke, and finally into blasted wastes.

The first gust of air that met me carried the scent of unbridled death– of burn, of flesh rotten, of blood and gore, and the unmistakable, overpowering scent of brim.  Demons roamed in the barren and charred lands before me, and for the first time in my life, I felt fear.

The sensation was foreign and as wild as the infant cat a visitor once brought to the forest as a gift to the queen.

I did not enjoy it, and when I pulled myself from my daze, I spotted something approaching that was stirring up dust.  It moved rapidly, and I backed up into the tall grass and crouched to hide.  My ears rose as I listened attentively.

Rapid crunches approached, and then slid to a stop.  I peered from between the grass.  Before me, a frightened woman panted and looked around.  Her eyes were wide with panic, and her movements were tense.  Slowly, I took in her appearance.

She had dark skin that looked either dull blue or grey.  It shone with a thin film of moisture.  Her hair was dark, and her eyes were some pale shade that seemed to glow.  She wore only the barest of rags, wrapped and fastened with laces.  Her feet were hooved, horns extended from her large forehead and curved backward, behind her ears.  She had a rigidly stiff tail, and her shoulders had small tentacles that clung tightly to her body.

Her presence both terrified and aroused me, and against my better judgement, I pursed my lips, then drew them back with a short hiss.  She looked at me, then dove into the grass not far from me and made herself small.

It didn’t take long for the thing she fled to appear.  He was similar to her in his flesh, horns, hooves, and tail– save all his aspects were twice the size of hers, if not more.  With a thick, barrel-like body and prominent muscles, he was terrifying.  His eyes were sullen embers as he looked around, then snarled.  His teeth looked sharp and thick, and his own dark-colored flesh was completely without sweat.

The same terror as earlier found my heart, and only decades of training kept me from darting off like a spooked rabbit.  A hot, small hand found mine, and held it as the massive being finally turned from us and walked away. The ground beneath his hooves crunched as he repeatedly cracked the layer of charcoal that covered the ground.

Only when he faded into less than a dot on the horizon, did either of us speak.

“Thank you.” She squeezed my hand as she spoke. “He would have caught me if you hadn’t invited me to hide with you.”

As I got a better look at her, I saw she was shaking and tears clung to the corners of her eyes.  Her voice was a strangely-sweet rasp, and her words flowed with alien sweetness.  She turned her eyes to me, and I could finally see– if she had pupils or irises, they were obstructed by the glow of her eyes.

Night began to fall, and I led her away from the edge of the charred ground, then pitched camp.  Finally, I worked up enough nerve to speak to the exotic female.

“Who was he, and why were you fleeing from him?”

She blinked up at me from her seat on a stone. “He was the male selected as my mate.  If I can keep away from him for nine months, I can select a mate of my own choice.” She bit her lip. “It’s been only four days, and I’m tired.” She slumped forward where she sat, and let her arms hang  at her sides. “Do you mind if I rest here for the night?  He thinks I’m too proud to leave our lands.  I’m glad for that.”

I continued nightly preparations in silence, and I felt her eyes follow my every movement.

The female spoke again. “What are you doing out this far from elf lands?”

For a moment, I tensed, and then the rigidity flowed from my body. “I was sent to look.” To my own ears, it sounded lame.  I was certain she would push further, but she didn’t.

“I’m glad you were.” I looked up.  Her smile was warm, but tired.

“You may use my bedroll tonight.” I carried it inside and unrolled it. “It’s quite warm.”

“What?  Why?” She looked confused.

“It’s polite.”

The rest of the evening passed quietly.  We ate soup made of dissolved meat-flavored cube and some thin slices of pre-cooked meat and veggies, and after the strange female climbed into the tent and made herself comfortable, I laid down beside the fire for some rest of my own.

As with all my dreams, I made a trek, much like the one I already had.  In the dream, I never stopped.  In the dream, I continued to the heart of the charred wastes, and I slayed each being I encountered.  However, the charred wastes were neither charred, nor wasteland, and the beings I met were living humans and elves.

I came to the center of the area, and there was an explosion of light as I touched an orb that stuck out from a strange pillar in the ground that was perhaps three and a half feet tall.

When my dream self saw again, all was burning, and I gripped the orb, and thrust it into my heart.

As always, the pain in my chest woke me, and I was unhurt.  It was too early yet for the sun, so I returned to sleep.  My dreams were what was called ‘typical’, and involved flight, running, water, and more.  They were rarely the same, nor did they follow any pattern.

Morning dawned, and I rose to make breakfast for my guest and myself, in hopes of getting an early start.

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2 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Semihistorical Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Horny Hooves

  1. shirelin

    June 26, 2013 at 10:44

    Oh my. Quite the story!

     

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