So the two of them rode out together, galloping through the green field and beyond.

Euthymius came by, deep in conversation with Aristomedes about the ideals upheld in Xenophon's treatise. He had intended to take Bucephalus back to the stables, expecting the prince to have more important business, but both men stopped short as Alexander and Hephaestion dashed by on their steeds, waving excitedly to them on their way out the gate.

To the companions' amazement, Euthymius sniffled.

However, Aristomedes seemed to understand, and patted his shoulder sympathetically. Yet Euthymius could only rub a brawny hand against his eyes and hiccup. When Cleitus asked what was wrong, it was too much; he bawled out something garbled about how marvelous it was to see two such fine youths riding two such fine, fine horses. Look, he cried, how the sunlight glistens on the steeds' marvelous coats, one cloud-white, the other jet black; how it crowns the boy's heads, one in burnished bronze, and the other in gleaming gold. Such opposites, and yet such parallels. What a beautiful sight it is!

The companions made sure to tell Alexander, that very night at the feast, about their gruff old Euthymius bursting into tears of sheer admiration and spouting lines quite akin to poetry – as well as the incident at the stables, where their new friend had charmed apples from the very same cantankerous stable master.

But even though they laughed, they had to agree as Aristomedes sighed and echoed Euthymius' sentiments. What a magnificent image they makealmost as if those splendid steeds are divine stallions, bearing a pair of young heroes straight from the legends of old!

Of course, unlike the story of Alexander's meeting with Bucephalus, this tale has not been passed down through the ages. Those who wrote the histories had other things to glorify, their own stories to tell, their own legends to pass on.

However, Alexander and Hephaestion cared little about such things, especially at that young age, and reveled instead in the joy of the moment. As for the rest of that day, suffice it to say that Alexander rode again to that flowering valley with Hephaestion at his side – and that this time, once there, he did not stop. On that long, sunny day amid the bounty of the earth, they rode together onward, eastward.

(With their spirits so high, they felt like they could ride on forever – but, being the wonderful sons and responsible young men they were, they returned to the palace just in time for the feast. They arrived at the great hall squeaky clean and "properly" decked out, too, in fine, rich clothes that showed no hint of all the forestry they had crashed through in their explorations that afternoon. No one found anything in their appearance to complain about. Not even Queen Olympias.)

And of course, this was only the beginning!