Steed

When he first awoke, he was a creature of the sky.

He was proud, regal. He was a beautiful specimen. He was healthy and intelligent and the sun seemed to shine on him only to show off his brilliant plumage. It was red, red like blood. He was unique in this respect. The others of his kind had duller, more commonplace colors. He was special. He was proud.

But he was not complete. He waited, like the rest of his kind, for the day he would meet his ONE. He thirsted for a chance to meet his ONE, to belong to something grand that would be his and his alone just as it was shared by all. He waited for the itch, the call of instinct that would point him in the direction of his ONE. He waited for ten years.

And then he felt it. His ONE. And when he dashed to the MEETING PLACE and saw his ONE walking away, to the others of its kind, he screamed in rage and frustration and demanded his ONE turn around.

It did. And they met.

And he knew then that his ONE was his and his alone, and that he would protect his ONE for as long as he lived, for this was his purpose.

And through good and bad, thick and thin, sadness and happiness, he and his ONE stayed together. Even when the ONE ventured beneath the clouds, where none of his kind may enter, he helped and supported his ONE whenever he could. Even when they won races and learned to attack and fought gods, they did everything together. He loved his ONE.

And when the surface was opened and those of all kinds could enter and live and settle, and when his ONE and his ONE's dearest one decided to remain below the clouds together, he stayed with his ONE and they lived and flew and played together like old times in the sky city. And when the offspring of his ONE came, he flew with and played with and protected them like he did their sire before them, for as his ONE loved them, then he would love them also.

And when the time came when his wings grew tired and his mind feeble, he and his ONE came together for the last time for a single, final flight. Then they lay their heads down together and closed their eyes for the last time. They had lived well. He had lived well.

And he thought that was the end.

He was wrong.

(\/)(\/)(\/)(\/)(\/)(\/)(\/)

When next he woke, he was not a creature of the sky anymore.

He was not even a he anymore.

When he opened his eyes, he saw hay. When he opened his eyes, his wings were featherless and crooked. When he opened his eyes, his beak could move. When he opened his eyes, he screamed in horror and confusion. It was supposed to be the end.

He tried to rise, but he kept tipping forward. He had to use his wings to stand and he hunched over, shivering, cold and confused. Strange beasts surrounded him, making sick laughing coughs to him that scared him. He was small. He was weak and helpless. He tried to beat them back with his wings, but he fell on his side. He was too heavy. His body was all wrong. He didn't know how to use it.

Then he saw creatures he knew. The same kind as his ONE. Oh, his ONE. Where was he? Was he safe?

There were two of them. One was small and the other was large. One had black fur and the other had green. The small green-haired one came close to him and he shied away. He didn't trust them if they were not his ONE. He wanted his ONE. He wanted his ONE to hold him and whisper to him and make everything okay.

The little one spoke soothing words to him. His ears pricked forward and it disoriented him. He wasn't supposed to have ears. His ears were supposed to be holes on the side of his head. They weren't supposed to be long floppy things that moved. It scared him again. He shied away again.

The little one came closer still. His nostrils flared – they were not supposed to flare! – and took in its scent. He suddenly understood it was a small female and it was calm and helpful and not a predator. His nose was not supposed to move or sniff scents. He wasn't supposed to be able to tell all these things.

The little female cooed to him and petted him. For some reason, she reminded him of his ONE, and how he used to pet him and scratch his head and talk to him. It was disorienting.

But he was willing to trust her a little.

He lived in the cold place with the hay for a long time. Once he figured out how to drink from one of the strange beasts that kept trying to lick him, he grew very quickly. He learned how to use his wing-legs and run and run. He liked to run. He wasn't able to before.

He learned that he was not a he anymore. He was a she. He didn't know how he knew. His body just told him so. He didn't like being a she. He wanted to be a he again. He couldn't help it, though. He was a she.

She learned that her senses were not the same. She couldn't see as well as before, and things moved too fast for her liking. Things had seemed to slow down before when she was a he and had wings and could fly. Now she had to learn to react to things quickly.

She didn't like how slowly she moved. When she tried to jerk her head, it moved in a slow swoop. She felt like a garden slug, feeble and clumsy. She felt too heavy to lift off the ground. It was so frustrating.

She could hear and smell much better than before, though. When she sniffed things with her new nostrils, she knew its past and mood and intent. When she pricked her new ears she could hear in the distance and the sky and the underground.

The strange beasts that stayed with her looked the same as she did. They were blocky and had long faces and spindly legs and hair all over. When they went in their inside wooden pens, they slept standing up, which was familiar. When they went outside to the green grass big pen, they began to lower their heads and eat the grass, which was not. She learned to eat the green grass, though. She also learned to eat hay and oats and carrots and apples. She craved pumpkin all the time, though. She used to eat them all the time when she had wings. She learned that she couldn't preen anymore because she didn't have feathers. She had hair. She learned that she didn't have talons anymore, but hard, bony hooves that pounded the ground when she ran.

Another thing she didn't like was her sight. She couldn't see as many colors as before. She could see green and yellow and white and black and blue . . . but she never, ever saw her favorite color again. She never saw red, red like blood. When she looked at herself, she saw the same green as the fur on the female.

Most of all, she yearned for her ONE. She missed her ONE, the ONE that she loved and protected so dearly. She missed flying and playing with him. She missed all the little offspring of her ONE, the ones that would pull her feathers and yell in her face that she loved anyway. Sometimes, when she was outside in the grass, she would run and run and run, as though she might just take off from the ground.

She liked going as fast as she could. It felt like she was flying.

/ / / /

O O O O

One day, when she was young, she saw a boy.

It was a boy in green. He was young, as young as the female that took care of her. He was scary at first, and she ran away, bucking, warning him to stay away. She didn't like anyone to come near her. She only wanted her ONE.

Then the boy played a song she liked. She walked to him. Only nice creatures knew her song. He patted her head. He was so familiar. She wanted to know him.

Then he left.

And as she put her head over the fence and watched him leave, something flashed before her eyes.

Trees and clouds and grass and cliffs, ONE laughing, ONE saying good night, ONE turning and WALKING AWAY, WALKING AWAY-

She screamed after him, screaming, begging him to come back, to be her ONE again, please please please, she'd missed him so much, why wasn't he turning around, why wasn't he remembering, why didn't he recognize her?

He disappeared out the gates without a backward glance.

Come back. . . .

The female patted her head, trying to calm her.

I love you. . . .

She shook her off, still screaming, still begging, still pleading, rearing and bashing the fence with her hooves.

I missed you. . . .

He was gone and didn't return.

Didn't you recognize me?

/ / / /

O O O O

She grew.

She grew so tall she could jump over the fence if she wanted to. She grew during the times of the bad dark clouds and the mean caretaker taking over the place she lived. She didn't care. She didn't care about anything anymore. All she did was run and run, and her endurance and speed and power grew with every stride. She didn't let anyone near her now, not even the little female that had grown so much. No one had touched her for seven years. She was too full of pride and sorrow and fury.

One day a man came to her grass meadow. He was a dark man. She tried to run from him, but he raised his hand and she stopped. She tried to run, but couldn't. He walked up to her and touched her and laughed at her, and she hated him. She wanted to bite and rip and tear him apart, but she had no talons and no beak, and she couldn't move. Then he left, and she could move again. She shivered for a whole day. She felt traumatized.

One day another man came. He was dressed in green and with the mean caretaker. He entered the meadow. She snorted in anger. What was a man doing in her meadow?

And then he played the song, and she recognized him. He was the ONE, the ONE she'd been waiting for all these years, the ONE she'd yearned for and loved and missed so much. She ran so fast to him she might have been flying. She accidently bowled him over, but he got up again and was fine. She tried to preen his hair, but she had no beak. She tried to fly with him, but she had no wings. She settled for tossing her head and rearing and rearing, as he laughed and patted her.

Then he got on her back, and she leapt into the air with glee, half expecting to fly clear. It was just like when she was a he and had wings. It felt natural.

Then they raced, just like they used to. They raced the mean caretaker and his horse, but they were no match for she and her ONE. They ran so fast they flew. And when the caretaker closed the gate and tried to trap them in, she charged him and flew right over his head, through the entrance and into the open meadow. It was so big, much bigger than her old field.

And she stayed with her ONE, even when he fought and killed the evil dark man, and her ONE kept her close for as long as she lived. He must have remembered her. How couldn't he?

And when her strides grew tired and her mind feeble, and she lay down to rest for the last time, her ONE came to her and embraced her and whispered to her and made her feel safe again. And she was certain that this second chance would be the last.

She was wrong again.

/ / / /

O O O O

She awoke again. This time, she was a he. It was the same old frightening, cold, scary process as the first. He was surrounded by new beasts, new smells, new sights, new surroundings. And his ONE was nowhere to be found.

And one day he found his ONE. And he lived, fought, and died with him.

Over.

And over.

And over again.

Sometimes he was a she, or she was a he. Sometimes she was born in the woods, sometimes the plains. Sometimes he was wild, others she was tame. Mostly he was the runner, but she was never again the flyer. And sometimes the first face she saw when she opened his eyes were those of strangers. Other times it was his ONE, his ONE who he loved, her ONE who she would protect as best she could for as long as she lived. Sometimes she passed peacefully when her task was over. Others he died in a blaze of fury and pain in battle, fighting to protect her beloved ONE and ultimately dying for him as he held her in his arms, weeping.

She grew used to it. He looked forward to it. She didn't particularly like it, but he accepted it. It was a chance to live with her ONE again. It was a chance to protect him again.

Wasn't this his purpose?

(\/) / / / / (\/)

(\/) O O O O (\/)

This is a lot more depressing than I intended it to be. Well, I suppose it is a depressing idea.

In case I SUCK at this, this story is about Link's Crimson Loftwing being reincarnated over and over into Epona. I saw a sentence on Tvtropes that went something like "Now we know where Epona's coloring came from!" and I was like, ". . . Idea!"

Horses can' t tell the difference between green and red, which is why Epona/Aepon always sees green when s/he looks at herself/himself as a horse.

See what I did there with the line breaks?

R&R!