The Misadventures of Riley and Rill

Chapter Five: Numbered Foxes

"This is not good." Rill moaned as he tacked up Riley. "My days are numbered."

Riley glanced at the calendar that was tacked (but not tacked up) by his stall. He frowned. "They are all numbered, have been, and will be."

Rill rolled his eyes and watched the barn cat chase after them. "You know what I meant. And stop puffing out your stomach like that. I can't get the girth done up all nice and tight."

"You can't get the girth done up tight."

"That's the point!" Riley snapped at Rill.

"No, that's my horn." Rill stared at the sharpened piece of iron hovering in front of his face and decided that the girth was tight enough. He walked toward the edge of the Fiery Fields, Riley following reluctantly behind. Rill might have come from beyond the mountains, but Riley had not.

Rill was muttering to himself. "Where's that marker? It should be around here somewhere….Aha, there we go. Riley, don't go outside the range of these markers, unless you don't value your hooves. Whoever though of these markers is a genius." (Interestingly enough, had Riley known who had thought of the markers, he wouldn't have said that.)

The troublesome duo started out across the band of fire. They trudged across the molten fields, relying on the markers to avoid sink patches and open flames. Rill saw something that made him do a double take, and Riley followed his line of sight. The black unicorn stared for a moment. Then nudged Rill.

"What're you looking at?"

Rill jumped. "Oh, just though I saw something alive out there."

Riley glanced back at the spot he had been staring at. "The Shadow Rider probably set something loose for the wolves to practice on."

Rill shuddered visibly. He hated wolves, especially the big northern brutes that The Shadow Rider had brought back from one of his many trips to…. wherever it was that he went. Those things were monsters and would kill you soon as look at you. And the big alpha male always managed to turn up at the wrong times, and stare at you with those big yellow eyes of his, as if he waiting for you to drop dead. Rill shuddered again. He didn't like the thought of being so close to the wolves quarry.

"Let's get out of here, Riley."

The Shadow Unicorn followed his rider through the fire, not glancing back. The silence was broken only one other time, again by Riley. "What did The Shadow Rider set loose this time?"

Rill shrugged. "I dunno. Looked almost like a fox."