|The Mystic Horseman
Author: Tora Macaw PM
A.U: A mysterious man appears at a circus on a dark and stormy night, a man with an incredible connection with horses linked to a forgotten past. Accepted into the company, Tezuka's amazing horses begin to thrill every audiance and one interested Fuji.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Adventure - Fuji S. & Tezuka K. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 12,753 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 10-02-07 - Published: 01-12-07 - id: 3337160
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Greetings readers. For those who know me, this story is somewhat different to what I normaly write. In fact, THIS story would have never even been thought of if not for one of my best MSN friends... (and reader) Ruji. She asked if I wanted to join an online role play game but sadly, my application was rejected. Undaunted, I decided to make my own tale focusing on the type of character I wanted play. I've also decided to experiment with my writing style by "telling" this story from different pionts of view. Later, parts of this story will be co-written with Ruji (when her time permits)
I hope you, the reader will enjoy.
"The Mystic Horseman"
Chapter one; "A strange appearance"
Story; Tora Macaw.
Chapter; Written by Tora Macaw
Disclaimer; Prince Of Tennis is not mine. But I dare to take them off the tennis court and have them play a different game...
Call him Tezuka or Kunimitsu. Never call him Mitsu. The last man to do so died, even though it was no fault of the trainer. You see, to insult one's name is to insult one's horse, and this particular creature is no ordinary animal.
For one, it is the biggest equine outside of a Clydesdale I have even seen, with burning coal fires for eyes and muscles as hard as diamond. It has great round hoofs like dinner plates half concealed by long black hair. It's name; is Storm Raven.
I remember the very moment I first laid eyes on him.
The morning had started with a strong easterly wind howling down from the nearby hills. Not only was it a freezing, bone chilling draft that cut through layers of protective clothing like paper, the sheer force of its savage raw power also tugged incessantly at ropes that soon lost a short lived battle.
Stakes ripped from the ground, they danced wildly on the ends of their tethers; the terrible sounds of tearing canvas sending icy shivers down spines as a small army of circus folk frantically sought to reattach a multitude of tents back to the dry ground.
All morning they struggled as the sky grew darker. By early afternoon, huge thunderheads had piled up. Interlaced within the angry clouds were bright flashes of lightening. Starkly illuminating the black stratosphere, the splintering display threw the stormy background into sharp relief; an eerie quiet settling over the land as the wind suddenly dropped and all of nature held its breath. Exactly one hour later, the first warning rumble rang out that was followed by the first scouts of an invading army.
Huge, round, heavy raindrops began to fall. Although it seemed impossible, the screaming winds abruptly returned and without warning, the light rain transformed into a thunderous deluge.
Never before had we seen its like, the circus roustabouts flying into action as the mighty tempest raged. Oh sure, we had seen storms before, but nothing like this. The very air seemed to shriek in pain, the tents threatening to race away while sturdy transport trucks vibrated from the frightening claps of low hanging thunder.
I remember the desperate light that kindled in the eyes of all those fighting to save our tents. For they were not just our means of earning our daily bread. They were a testimony of who we were, the traveling folk whose lives were dedicated to bringing entertainment to the common man. Those towering spires of brightly colored canvas were our home, our soul and there wasn't a single man, woman or child who would not hesitate to battle any force on earth to protect it.
Heads bowed against the driving rain, every able bodied worker fought their own private war as one seething entity and it was at the height of all the fear, confusion and frantic activity that I first saw..him.
I was with my brother. Both of us were engaged in a struggle that the elements seemed certain to win as we fought to keep his madly flapping tent from blasting into orbit on the back of the merciless hurricane.
A dazzling claw of lightening lanced down to tear apart a nearby large tree with a deafening crash and lit up by the blinding flash, I noticed the stark outline of a man.
He wore a heavy coat that clung to him in sodden folds while rain fell in non stop mini waterfalls from the edges of his wide brimmed hat Beside him, a devilish beast coldly surveyed me through glittering red eyes and as lightening streaked overhead once more, I noticed at least six other four legged forms standing in single file behind it.
Although I had my hands full trying to keep hearth and home in one piece, I found myself freezing into place to stare in wonder.
All around me, a knife like, liquid hell was raging yet I couldn't help myself. The man was moving slowly as all time seemed to slow down and stop. Large hooves pulling out of the sucking quagmire beneath them, I watched the horses snort jets of steam as they followed the stranger into what I knew to be a large tent used only for storing the circus's many bales of hay.
Oddly, it was the only structure still standing as others folded and buckled in the wind.. Ruthlessly snapping myself out of the trance I'd fallen into, I blinked at the sight of the last horse's tail disappearing behind a falling flap before swiftly pulling myself back into the urgent task at hand.
Three long hours later, the terrible storm finally abated enough for many weary workers to take a well earned break. With the full knowledge that my brother's tent was secure, I suddenly recalled the strange vision I'd seen earlier. Pressing a mug of hot tea into my exhausted sibling's hands, I quickly scurried over to the feed tent.
A strong smell of damp horses met my questing nostrils. Reaching out with a shaking hand, I was suddenly frightened out of my wits at the unexpected sound of a sharp, whinnying scream.
Yelping with fear and dismay, I leapt back. Losing my footing on the slick mud, I stumbled backwards; only to lose my precarious hold on my balance with less than dignifying results. Ending up flat on my rear end, I frantically slithered backwards; the mushy ground vibrating from the heavy impact of iron shod hooves as the hidden terror within the flimsy building challenged again.
Just then, the large tent flap was pushed back. Looking up through a curtain of falling rain, all I could see was a dark outline. But then, an authoritive voice rang out that was accompanied by the cutting light of a powerful torch beam.
A familiar silhouette appeared behind the brightness that was quickly joined by many more. Atobe. I should have known that our lord and master would be out inspecting all damages the very second the weather had let up enough. Noticing my lanky form sprawled in the mud, his fog grey eyes narrowed before he roughly asked me just what the hell I was playing at.
"It's a stranger sir." I answered as politely as I could. One was always polite to the owner if one wished to remain in his service. "I believe he is sheltering from the storm."
"Not in Ore Sama's property."
Directing his torch at the feed tent, the beam stabbed the darkness to throw the tall. messy haired form of an unknown man into sharp relief.
When faced with such circumstances, most people had visibly cringed as though expecting to be whipped. Yet this stranger stood calmly; some would later say coldly, against the accusing glare of the torch and Atobe's immense irritation.
Flanked by at least two dozen burly bodyguards and workers, Atobe demanded to know what the stranger was doing.
"I'm not hurting your hay bales." came a stern voiced reply. Lifting his chin, the man revealed penetrating russet orbs covered by perfectly clean oval glasses. "We just want to be out of the rain."
"We?" growled the boss, his sharp gaze darting from side to side as he searched for the stranger's companions. "Who else is with you?"
"Just Storm Raven and his friends." the man stated in manner that clearly told all within earshot of how much he seemed to detest answering questions.
Full intention of driving the man from the heart of his circus overrunning every fiber of his being, Atobe strode forwards; only to abruptly step back in shock as the head of a great black horse unexpectedly pushed through the heavy tent flap.
Teeth bared, it's dark eyes rolling as foam frothed on its jaws, the coal black creature forcefully flipped its nose upwards; a low pitched angry wicker rumbling up from the depths of its throat.
Casually lifting his left hand, the unknown man calmly told his beast to be silent before turning his stern gaze onto our boss.
"Storm Raven likes to protect me."
Rapidly recovering his composure, Atobe commenced a rough straightening of his rain soaked oilskins before half turning away and flapping a dismissive hand.
"Fine." he snorted, his eyes closing as a smug expression of cool authority spread across his face. "Stay out of the storm if you must. But if I return and find that creature of yours has eaten so much as a single strand of my expensive hay, you will rue the very second you and that monster invaded Ore-Sama's territory."
When a harsh glare from the stranger wed to an angry snuffling from the horse was the only answer, Atobe spat an irate sounding "Bah!" before stalking away to carry out far more urgent business else where.
Not bothering to watch the group leave, the stranger completely ignored me in order to return to the tent's confines; the wet canvas flap dropping with a heavy damp note of absolute finality.
After what seemed forever, morning at last dawned bright and clear. Chased away by fresh winds gusting across from the west, the last of the storm's rear guard streamed away into the distance.
Voices of many workers rose on the cool air, many of them wearing tired expressions as they went about their tasks. All around, the crisp, metallic sounds of sledge hammers pounding upon the round heads of tent pegs rang over the grounds like a war cry. Fortunately, it was swiftly to become a roar of victory as fallen tents rose from the mud to once again stand proudly in all their gaily colored glory.
Over at the big cat trailer, the troop's eight tigers kept up a restless pacing; their burning orange eyes keeping a close watch as an army of folk joined forces to put the finishing touches to a once ravaged big top. Like a phoenix from the ashes, our beautiful queen reared up in all her splendor; her triple crowning spires starkly outlined by a fine blue sky. With all of her flags fluttering in the breeze to proclaim her triumph, exhausted people threw their arms up in salute to voice a rousing cheer.
Riding up on his palomino gelding, Atobe surveyed the miraculous resurrection just like the proud king he was. Clad in a sparkling white suit, our boss cut a striking figure while sitting tall in his ornate western saddle. All who had seen it agreed that it was a thing of beauty with its light tan leathers covered in intricate carvings while highly polished silver interlays shone like stars blazing in the desert sky. Even his mount's bridle was a masterpiece with its round horse head patterned cheek straps; the thick, hand woven reins as white as his rider's clothes.
Sunlight flashing off the long points of the drop bit as the gelding tossed its head; Atobe grunted his extreme satisfaction before turning his serious gaze towards the hay tent.
Lifting his right hand, his thumb and forefingers met in an imperious sounding snap. Responding with a single word of "USU!" , our employer's right hand man (and in ring strong man) strode firmly towards the structure.
Even though it's been ten years now, I can still recall the moment well. A large open cooking tent had been set up close by and the heavenly aroma of bacon and eggs was floating about the circus like a fog. Many folk had congregated there in pursuit of breakfast and as Kabaji closed in on his quarry, the large crowd turned to watch.
Without warning, the hay tent flap was thrown back to reveal the tall, messy haired form of our "guest". He had traded his rain soaked oil skin coat from the night before for a jet black, long backed dress coat; the kind of thing that rich southern land owners in the early history of America used to wear. Crisp black shirt and dark trousers lay beneith and watching him, I suddenly experienced a whimsical fantasy of a middle aged man reaching up to straighten a villainous type of narrow handle bar moustache. Chiding myself for thinking such nonsense, I gazed upon a youthful (not to mention handsome), clean shaven face.
Noticing his large audience, the man cast a frosty, russet eyed gaze about the gathering before calmly requesting a bite of breakfast.
For a few long minutes, no one moved or spoke. Continuing to look around him, the man's eyes met; then locked onto Atobe's in a very clear challenge.
A strange kind of screaming tension sprung into the air at that point in time. All murmured background conversation died; even the wind dropped as our vast family's many children stood in a silent, wide eyed ring to await the result.
Sitting tall upon his horse while fully surrounded by a host of devoted subjects, Atobe should have had the upper hand. Yet to our immense surprise, our proud boss closed his eyes. Head half bowing, a smug grin curving his lips, Atobe's shoulders shook as he laughed his mild amusement.
After half of minute or so of giving in to his queit mirth, our boss then once again met the stranger's steady gaze.
"Eat, and then be on your way."
Wheeling his horse about, our mighty ruler left at a dignified trot.
His departure signaling that the confrontation was over, most of the folk turned back to their tasks. True that some of them did stay to watch as the stranger approached the chow line, but as it seems to happen in any given situation, there was one amoung us who dared move closer to the man. Eyes closed, his lips curved into their permanent smile, my older brother quietly invited the man to sit with us.
Now I'm telling you something, my brother and I have had a hard life. Our father loathed the sight of us and Syusuke even more so because his entry into the world had been a harsh one that turned our mother from the once vibrant tennis star she had been into a weakened, drained shadow of her former self. Father had never forgiven him. Heck, it had come as an even greater shock that six years later she had birthed me, but let's not go into that right now.
Anyway, Syusuke asked the guy and received the type of terrible death glare that he used to get from our old man; a glare that would normally shatter his heart and claw at his soul. But instead of wilting, my big brother just stood there; smiling his beautiful calm smile as the stranger strode off to eat alone.
I had fully expected to see my sibling turn away, but instead, I felt my toes curling as he chuckled gently. "Oh no.." I thought as numerous people flowed in opposite directions both front and back of me. I knew that look all too well; the contented expression of a man wishing to pursue an impossible challenge.
Half an hour later, the man had finished his food. Accompanied by Sanada, the troop's main stage manager, he returned to the hay tent. I was supposed to be helping Sengoku with his chimps that morning, but instead, I ruthlessly abandoned him to his solitary fate to follow the two in order to see what transpired.
Drawing closer to the structure, I was mildly surprised to see a neat pile of excrement standing a short distance away from it. But then, the next surprise occurred exactly ten seconds later.
The head of white horse pushed the tent flap. Easily nosing it aside, the creature strolled calmly into the open. Even if I live to be one hundred, I'll never forget what followed. This animal wore no head collar or bridle. No one was guiding it. Instead of just running off as I'd seen other loose horses do, this one casually wandered up to the manure pile, stood over it, then cocked its tail to add a further layer to the heap.
Its business done, it ambled forward, lowered its head to snatch a few mouthfuls of grass, and then walked back into the tent. Just as all those watching were chewing on that, a second white horse.. its gleaming coat covered in black spots... appeared on the scene to do exactly the very same thing!
We were thunderstruck. I was lucky enough to be standing fairly close to the stranger at the time and even though his face remained serious, I noticed an expression of smug pride steal into those powerful features.
Seeming to blink himself out of his astonishment, Sanada harshly declared that it was time for him to examine the hay. Sanada is one of these people that you NEVER argue with. He can glare down his nose and make you feel an inch high and when those fierce golden-browns orbs turned hard, it was enough to make any man, woman, or child jump to obey him.
However, the stranger just grunted, pulled the flap right back, then waved an inviting arm. Squaring his shoulders, Sanada stepped within. At that moment, I decided to brave the horseman's displeasure to take a quick peek for myself.
There, completely untouched, were all of our bales; the stranger's seven horses standing quietly among them. Even the hay scattered ground appeared to be pristine without so much as a single speck of waste product to be seen among the barely stirred strands.
Sanada's mouth worked a few times as if he was trying to figure out what to say, but the poor guy had been struck dumb. We had all been around animals since joining the circus and the few horses we knew belonged to either Toby Tyler the American trick rider or Atobe. They would had never left a tent full of feed like this in such a perfectly clean state and lost for words, our main manager backed out then turned on his heel to report to Atobe.
Gob smacked, we watched in silence as the stranger walked among his charges. His hands carefully stroked their gleaming hides as the horses lowered their heads to wuffle soft greetings. The huge stallion reached out to gently nudge the man's coat; its long black forelock falling over its face as it blew on his master's hair to make it even messier than it was.
Moving away, I stood staring at a nearby road to contemplate what I'd seen. All was peaceful at that moment. The morning breeze rippled through the emerald grass banking the hard black asphalt as a warm sun cast a radiant glow over the field we had camped in. Riding close to the road, Toby whistled cheerfully as he exercised Starlight, a magnificent Arab stallion whose long, thick grey tail almost touched the ground.
He was a boy with a past much like my own. Friendly, sociable and always ready to laugh, he was devoted to his two four legged friends. An incredible rider, I'd never once seen him fall. Yet, that record was about to be shattered as a beat up looking, rusty old volts wagon came rolling into view. Clanking as it drew closer, I wrinkled my nose in disgust at the plume of blue smoke pouring from it and from the uneasy way that Starlight was shifting his feet; I knew he didn't like it either.
I could see the look of concern on Toby's face as his seat deepened and his firm hands straightened the reins. Eyes rolling, his head tossing, the large horse began to fight the bit as the car rumbled closer. A few low pitched bangs burst from it; the gears grinding painfully as the driver increased his speed.
Just as the cranky old rust bucket passed horse and rider. Two events happened at once.
The stranger emerged from the feed tent, his hazel-gold eyes narrowing as he watched the restless Arab. Just then, the car erupted with a mighty back fire that sounded like New Year's Day fireworks.
Voicing a frantic scream. Starlight reared high; his forefeet pawing madly at the air for a few seconds before thudding down to skip wildly. Lowering his head, the frightened creature threw his hind legs in the air and started to buck.
For a few heart stopping seconds, Toby kept his place in the saddle. But when he did finally part from his horse thanks to a number of high leaping, violently twisting moves, it was as though he had been shot out of a cannon.
Sailing through the air in a flurry of waving limbs, his shocked scream carried to everyone. Abandoning tasks, people rushed in from every direction as the seventeen year old boy hit the ground with a muffled thud.
I must admit, I was horror stricken. My mouth had gone dry, my heart was pounding. Toby may have been injured and I was about to join him, for coming straight at me, was a raging, wild eyed Starlight!
I knew I should have run, but fear rooted me to the spot. Head spinning from my terror, I could only watch helplessly as three hundred kilograms of snorting, pounding death thundered towards me.
Unexpectedly, salvation came the form of someone roughly barging into me so I fell. Hitting the ground, I instantly covered my head with my arms. I felt the heavy vibrations; then the rush of wind as a large, heavy body leapt over me. A shower of dirt and ripped up grass rained down, then it was over.
Starlight was racing away with a small horde of folk in hot pursuit.
Atobe on his own mount galloped out to head them off, but heels flicking up, the Arab nimbly jinked to one side to charge away unopposed; leaving a bitterly cursing Atobe to drag his horse to the left so he could continue the chase. Horse and rider momentary almost horizontal to the ground, they then straightened out and hurled themselves after the runaway.
Without warning, a second chaser appeared on the scene. Perched upon the saddle-less back of a gleaming black Friesian, the stranger clung to the flowing mane with his right hand; his left arm extended as he passed Atobe's horse at full gallop as if it were standing still. Drawing level with the Arab, he then reached out to lightly pull his finger tips over the sweat soaked brow and as I live and breathe, I watched that crazed grey slow down.
Changing from head long dash to an easy canter, the rider less horse arched his fine neck to prance proudly before settling into a steady trot. Staying close to the man and his Friesian, Starlight slowed to a halt then stood placidly as Atobe cantered up to seize the dangling reins.
People were staring; pointedly staring at the messy haired male seated bare back upon his snorting hell beast and for the first time, I noticed the creature wore no bridle either.
Handing Starlight to Kabaji, Atobe then circled his mount as he called to the crowd.
"Show's over people! Back to work!"
Riding up to the stranger, I then heard him say before I was chased off by an irate Akutsu; "Ore Sama would like a word with you."
Sirens wailing, its lights flashing all over the place, an ambulance tore out the grounds to begin its frantic dash to the hospital. Word soon passed around that poor Toby had sustained several broken bones wed to internal injuries that would be keeping him out of action for a long time.
Meanwhile, the circus would be without one of its major draw cards and speculation was rampant regarding the fact that Atobe was now hidden away in his caravan in order to speak with the strange horseman.
I don't know what was said between the two that day and even now, my dear darling brother refuses to enlighten me. All I know is the stranger stayed on the grounds and that night, Atobe held a full personal meeting under the yawning roof of the big top.
"Ore Sama wishes to introduce to all of you..." he began without preamble. "...our new star attraction. Tezuka Kunimitsu... The Mystic Horseman!"
To Be Continued...
Note; Every breed horse mentioned in this story are real. Later, I will have Tezuka explain about their types and origins but for now, evil smirk, I'm keeping to my normal habit of building up to writing more about them.