How it Came About
The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life - knowing that under certain conditions it is not worth-while to live.
This is a story of the Golden Age; that time when the very air seemed gilded with happiness and the waves ran silver up the beach below Cair Paravel. The time does not matter; it is only a story and like every good story, it ought to stand on its own merits. This is most immediately a tale, which is best told at night by a great fire, under the great black beams of an aging roof. It is a tale of adventure and danger and the spirit under the mountain and the monster beneath the city and the thread that bound them together. Not a literal thread, but the thread of fate…or destiny.
Many people now-a-days think they can change their destiny…but destiny is something that happens whether you want it to or not and there's no changing it. This is not a story of knights in suits of armor (armor doesn't even appear) or beautiful horses (though there is at least one) or damsels in distress (they help themselves, all right), but of friendship and how it can make bonds of steel when forged in a fire of happenstance and unfortunate coincidences.
If Peter ever regretted that summer morning when he was suddenly seized with the lust to wander, we'll never know, but what he thought and what befell are two entirely different creatures. After all, some stories are true that never happened.
The only sounds were the soft jangling of the harness that lay over the horse's smooth golden hide and the gentle sound of the horse's footfalls on the forest floor. The aspen leaves were gold that year, fluttering in the unseen wind that blew inland from the sea.
Unconsciously, Peter eased back in the saddle, the reins tightening against the horse's neck as the bank, softened by the last rain, gave way under them. The stream splashed as the horse stumbled and regained his balance, snorting in the quiet, his iron shoes ringing on the stream smoothed stones and flashing in the thread of sunlight that gleamed between the trees.
As he regained the other bank, Peter sat deeper in the saddle and the horse unconsciously came to a halt, his velvet neck arching under Peter's hand. They stood in silence for some time, Peter watching the opposite bank of the stream keenly, his ears tuned for sounds coming from the woods.
He was being followed; he had been for some time…two days at least, though he had only been aware of it for one. Abruptly, he whistled like a meadow lark and a tall, gray coated hound leapt to his feet and bounded though the trees to fall in beside the horse. Peter leaned down from the saddle to ruffle the dog's long ears, then touched heel to the horse's flank.
His pursuer was alone, Peter was fairly sure of that now. He had tried twice to circle around him and catch him unawares, but both times the elusive follower had slipped away. Peter had not yet sighted him, though he had come close.
Peter glanced over his shoulder again, then, with a soft word, urged the horse into a swinging trot. If he could not lose his pursuer by cunning, then he would surely outrun him.
These woods were not a place to ride alone. He was north; quite far north, not quite to the River Shribble, but he expected to sight it soon. This was not the Narnia he was used to; it was a great, lonely place, more full of emptiness than anywhere he had yet been. The land was higher here, but the ravines were deeper, plunging down into rushing, ice cold streams, running silver over small waterfalls.
It was a wild, rugged country, untamed and harsh, full of danger and full of beauty. He had never been to a more breathtaking place and he understood from the few travelers that he had encountered that Ettinsmoor itself was even more wild and untamed than this, rearing like a shaggy, snorting stallion beside the sea.
The day wore on and Peter dismounted and ran beside the horse to rest it without slackening their pace. Only when gold gleamed though the moss grown trunks of the ancient trees did he dare to stop. Standing in the silence, he heard nothing but the breathing of the horse and the steady panting of the dog. But to make doubly sure, he left the horse standing where it was and slipped back through the trees, scouting in a great circle around his position. He found nothing.
He dared not light a fire that night and hardly dared to sleep. After he rubbed down the horse and fed the dog, he wrapped himself in his cloak and sat at the foot of the tree, his hand resting on the cold hilt of his sword.
Before the light had even touched the morning sky, Peter had saddled the horse and continued on his way, eating his breakfast as he rode. He had snared a rabbit the morning before, but the scant leftovers were small reword for a man who had been riding hard for several days.
The saddle leather creaked softly to the rhythm of the horse and Peter stood in the stirrups to take his weight off the horse's withers. The dog danced along beside him in effortless bounds, tongue flinging in the cool air. Peter watched him occasionally, but the dog was a sight hound, not a scent hound and was unlikely to catch the scent of an unseen follower.
It was Peter who noticed him again, not the dog. He swung the horse around and sat listening as the footfalls of another horse suddenly ceased, somewhere in the forest beyond him. He sat in silence for some time; waiting for he knew not what, but waiting all the same. At last, he wheeled the horse and kept on steadily into the forest. They skidded down the bank of another stream and the horse splashed down it for some distance before Peter turned him back up the bank he had just left. He was going back now, trying for the third time to circle around his pursuer.
There was silence in the dappled woods, the sun-splashed moss underfoot soft under the horse's hooves. Peter peered deeply into the shadows, holding the horse down to a walk as he rode in a great circle, weaving through the trees. The dog danced after, tail wagging, still giving no sign that he recognized danger. Peter glanced down at him oddly; surly by this time the dog should have alerted.
Then he saw the shadow of the horseman. Not the horseman himself, only his shadow, slipping mist-like through the distant trees. It was Peter's first sighting and it wasn't a very good one. The only thing he noticed in the glimpse was the easy, graceful way the man sat his horse.
Then he lost him again. He had completed his circle and was back at the banks of the stream, standing in his stirrups and staring into the woods again. At last he shrugged and sent the horse across the stream and up the other bank. He had wasted a quarter of an hour for nothing.
He tried again to lose the other rider by out pacing him and for an hour he thought he had succeeded, but then, he heard the faint and steady rhythm of the other horse.
There was nothing for it, he thought, and when he reached a small gully he swung the horse around and halted under the shadow of a giant oak. The other rider would be upon him before he could see him here and Peter would have the upper hand.
Gently, he loosened his sword in its sheath.
To be continued...
Here we are again! It's been a long time since we've posted anything and we've started missing all you wonderful readers. Hope you are all healthy, wealthy and wise. We can't say we're any of those. :P At least the snow has finally melted (hopefully it won't come back) and we can finally start practicing archery again (no, it has nothing to do with Catnip Evergreen, or whatever her name is).
This new story was initiated while reading Greek mythology two years ago. You'll see several Greek themes, incorporated with Scottish folklore, wrapped up in a partially Scandinavian setting…We'll be interested to know if you recognize any of the people, places or tales as the story progresses.
Those of you who have been reading our blog (have any of you been reading our blog?) will know that one of our original stories has made it to the quarter-finals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. You can find more information on our profile.
~Rose and Psyche
The Production Note: is back! We were able to track it down on Dancing with the Stars and we've been able to sign it for another production.