Hello everyone! I know I've been away for quite a while but life, family and school has taken much of my time away. I'm starting to update the current chapter and hopefully finish this story by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

First off, thank you for enduring my long absence from this story. Second, thank you for continuing this journey with me.

I hope you enjoy the updated chapters and hopefully love the new one's that I have in store.

Again, thank you again! You're words of encouragement and love have not fallen on deaf ears. I hope you enjoy this updated chapter and the future chapters to come.



Chapter 1, Edited

I watched the trees move gently as the breeze of the wind picked up ever slightly. It tossed my short dark brown hair around as my horse's black mane flowed into my lap. My horse, Max, walked the path that we ordinarily walked at the end of the day before sunset.

"Isn't it beautiful Max?" I whispered to him, his red brown body glistening in the reddish-golden hue of the setting sun. He nickered softly in reply, almost like he understood what I was saying. Sometimes, he reminded me more of a dog than a 1 ton horse. I smiled as I caressed his neck gently.

It was late in the afternoon, almost evening, and the sun was starting to set behind the tall, lush trees. The woods had a mystical golden glow to it. It was like a vision pulled from a fairy tale. I could imagine mysterious creatures roaming freely at their own will, none the wiser of the world around them. As I took in a deep breath, I noticed off in the distance something glisten off one of the trees.

"What is that?" I asked out loud as Max noticed it as well and walked towards it. The reins were lying on his neck and he fumbled with the small bit in his mouth.

As we got close to the tree, I noticed the design engraved onto the tree. At first, I thought it was a bit unusual to find something so beautiful and intricate engraved on a tree. But I couldn't deny that it looked so perfect, flawless in its craftsmanship. Max, being an unnaturally curious animal, timidly pressed his nose to the tree and I felt the world swirl around me. Max's large head swung around in fear. It felt like when I spun in circles as a girl. Looking up to the sky and watching the world fade away in the background. The world grew dark before I drifted into unconsciousness.

I was startled awake when an ear-piercing scream echoed off in the distance. I sat up from Max's neck, my heart racing at such a wail, to find him in a deep sleep. I looked around my surroundings and frowned. 'I wonder what…' I thought when I remembered Max pressing his nose against the beautiful tree and the forest whirling around me. I looked around nervously as I inspected our surroundings. "I think we should get out of here." I said quietly as I patted Max lightly on his neck, waking him from his sleep. I couldn't help the smile that appeared on my face as I scratched him behind his reddish-brown ears. "Come on buddy. Let's go home." I said as I picked up the reins and guided Max down the path at a brisk walk.

The first thing I noticed was that the forest was eerily quiet. Normally, there was always birds singing in the background or small animal going on its merrily way. But there was nothing. No bird singing. No birds chirping. No movement in the underbrush. Just silence. Deafening silence.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as another ear-piercing scream sounded in front of us. Max halted abruptly, his body going tense as he pinned his ears at the mist that formed along the path. My heart pounded in my chest as I watched a black rider emerge from the mist on a black steed. 'Who is this guy…?' I thought as I watched the black rider's movements intently. I slowly gathered the reins in my hands while digging my fingers into Max's thick mane. My gut intuition telling me to run for the hills. It let out an ear-piercing scream, his horse rearing before charging straight for us.

"Holy shit!" I yelled as I spun Max around and we galloped full speed in the opposite direction with the black rider hot on our tail. I guided Max down the trail and I noticed that it had drastically changed. It looked old and dark, like an ancient unimaginable evil had fell upon the forest, tainting it with dark magic. 'Oh my god…oh my god…' I thought over again in a panic as I looked around the new surroundings as we bolted for our lives.

This was not my forest I knew. I didn't know where the hell I was. I glanced behind me and saw that the black rider was slowly catching up with us. "Come on Max!" I yelled as I saw the end of the trail. I pushed Max forward a little, not wanting him to switch gears yet.

I saw the tree line up ahead and beyond it looked like an open plain. If we can get to the open plain, we will have a shot at getting away from this black rider. We burst from the forest into the open field, a mountain to my right and another tree line to the left. We are out in the open and I could hear the beating of more horse hooves behind me. I looked back and saw that not only one but five other black riders were behind us and they were gaining.

My heart is beating at the speed of light. Fear overcame my system as I looked at the riders and then down at Max. Will we make it out of this alive?

One rider slowly made its way to our side, I looked over in fear as I took it in. It was garbed in black robes, the fabric tattered and torn. I stared into the dark spot where its face should have been. I heard a voice inside my head, a strange language full of darkness and despair. "Come…with us…our master has…plans for you…" it hissed as I felt the darkness reach out to me, touching me in my heart and soul. Without even realizing what I was doing, I relinquished the death grip on Max's mane and reached out to the creature. It told me to let the darkness take over, to let the darkness in. I closed my eyes as the black creature reached forward with its gauntlet hand, our hands inches away from each other. I could see in my mind a fiery, evil eye before a dark body appeared out of the shadow.

Every single fiber in my being told me to pull away, to resist the darkness. But it was like I was under some spell. The darkness seemed so welcoming.

Max feels my weight shift and neighed loudly as he did a quick step and cut off the black rider. I quickly leaned forward onto his neck, regaining my balance and my mind. I grasp Max's black mane and squeezed with my knees tightly. Max switched into a whole different gear pulling away from the black riders and right into the trees.

I looked back and saw that the black riders did not follow. The dark power quickly faded, only leaving me exhausted. I knew if I didn't stop Max soon, I would fall off in exhaustion and hurt myself.

"Max…whoa boy…whoa…" I said in a weak voice as he slowed down to a trot and then slowly came to a halt. I closed my eyes as I slowly slipped onto the ground. I landed with a light thud as Max leaned his big reddish-brown head down and nudged me softly. I look up at him from my place on the forest floor, placing a hand on his muzzle. I felt my eyesight begin to blur and the exhaustion took over. My hand fell onto the forest floor with a quiet thud, my eyes staring up at the fading tree limbs above me.

Whatever power the dark rider possessed must have been taking its toll. A twig snapped from deeper inside the forest and Max's head shot straight into the air and his ears pinned back as I tried to look over but I just couldn't find the energy to do so.

As my world started to dim, my mind kept focusing back to what I saw. The shadowed figure and the fiery eye ever present. I could feel the happiness and the light of the world begin to fade. I could hear soft, urgent voices in a beautiful language speaking to me.

What language is that? It was beautiful and mesmerizing. I took one final look as my head rolled over to the side and I saw Max guarding me from a fuzzy figure. I couldn't fight the darkness anymore and I succumbed into the despair and sorrow.