After the war’s end, Nightmist felt like a new war had begun, one that was tearing away at her insides as she grazed under the small, cold sun. It cooled her pelt, but yet it felt glorious as she stretched her wings out to embrace its full radiance.
At least she knew the sun would always be there in the other lands, solid and consistent. Not even Exousia would be there once she moved to live in the far out reaches of SunAge. Apparently, she was no longer allowed to live here by order of the leaders of her “beloved,”.
Not even her parents could say otherwise, because any protesting would lead to the rebirth of the war, which was something they didn’t want. If the war were to continue, undoubtedly their grazing lands would be gone. The safe grazing lands had already shrunk considerably after all the blood spilled into the soil.
Nightmist relished in this thought. Before, she had despised war and bloodshed. All of that changed after that day in the glen when her mother had told her of the war’s end and her betrothal’s beginning. She still had the same question as before, though; Why, oh why must she have been born to the most high in power, most known-for-war herd? Not to mention being born only to be auctioned off to some rude husband!
“Nightmist! Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you all day!” Exclaimed one of her 'friends’, Maplesplash, a gorgeous and radiant white mare with cherry red wings. Nightmist had been born as one of the ugliest mares with her oddly shaped nose and thin, unrealistic legs.
“Here, eating, the entire day. The question is why you couldn’t find me,” Nightmist growled, not in the best of moods. Maplesplash rocked back on her hooves, her expression sassy and offended.
“No reason to get nasty with me, Nightmist,” her friend recited softly as she did almost every day. Nightmist knew her part very well as she replied;
“Nasty? Face it, Maplesplash, I’m always nasty.”
“You didn’t used to be, you know,” Maplesplash replied. This caught Nightmist off guard, because Maplesplash’s usual response was, “and always looking down.”
Nightmist didn’t respond as she bent her head back down to thoughtfully munch on a clump of grass and dirt. Maplesplash stood there, her wings neatly tucked and her neck arched.
“You used to be kind, funny, and curious. Now . . . Now you’re just a lump of sadness,” her friend commented, her expression sympathetic. Nightmist brought up her head and stared Maplesplash straight in the face.
“I don’t need your sympathy, Maplesplash. You and I both know that no matter how sympathetic you are, I’m still going to SunAge,” Nightmist said in a cool tone, her voice even yet flat and lifeless.
Silence engulfed them as they both listened to the pegasi far away from them, speaking amongst themselves and laughing, eating, and playing. MoonAge was always bustling, but no one other than Maplesplash ever went even remotely near Nightmist. Jaydapple, too, was an exception, but very rarely, and the only reason he was ever near Nightmist was because Maplesplash happened to be near Nightmist, too.
How pathetic I am, she observed, not feeling even the slightest self-pity. She felt no remorse as she turned away from her friend and continued to eat, twitching her ears and fluttering her eyelashes when the flies came near.
“Will you at least accompany me to the lake? I fear I’m being stalked,” she murmured as she bent her head down to graze beside Nightmist. It took everything inside of Nightmist not to look to where Maplesplash’s ears had flicked momentarily. Maplesplash was the master of discretion and deception, whereas Nightmist could barely contain even her lightest of moods.
“Jaydapple?” Nightmist guessed in a hushed tone. She saw Maplesplash’s eyes flutter in response of a ‘yes’.
“That silly colt,” Nightmist mumbled grudgingly, “will he ever learn that you’re completely disinterested in him?”
Maplesplash rolled her eyes with a soft smile, clearly amused. “He’s fine, I just wish he wouldn’t make it so obvious that he’s stalking me wherever I go,” Maplesplash lamented with a dramatic toss of her head and flick of her tail. Nightmist raised her head cautiously, closed her eyes and continued to stretch out her small wings with a lazy sigh.
“Alright, just to the lake, not back,” Nightmist compromised. She felt a surge of triumph when she saw Maplesplash smile in surprise and prance in glee.
“Yes!” The white mare exclaimed in her accented voice. Nightmist rolled her eyes to this response, lashing her tail as she neatly tucked her wings and took off in a swing-necked trot.
Nightmist always felt special when she made her friend smile, or jump in happiness. She didn’t know what it was, but she hoped it wasn’t gesturing towards the gray, moody mare having a heart.
Nightmist mood hadn’t improved by the end of the walk as she had been in deep thought concerning her unfortunate betrothal to a stranger. She was to marry Prince Flare of SunAge. Already she didn’t like his name. It sounded to arrogant and she certainly didn’t like the idea of marrying a horse. It felt wrong to her, because it had been outlawed centuries before. Would she have even liked him if he had been born a pegasus?
Probably not, she answered herself. She didn’t like most stallions for they were always to hotheaded. Then again, she didn’t like most mares, either. She didn’t like anyone,
Nightmist only talked to nature. Well, she didn’t know what nature was saying, but she liked to think the plants and bodies of water listened to her.
Well, she used to talk to them. Now, though, she just ignores them, pretending she doesn’t want to talk to them anymore.
Nightmist took in a breath as she saw the glimmering surface of Medla, the great, long lake that serves as a border between the land of horses and the land of pegasi. She continued to stand in the shadows of the dispersing trees as Maplesplash bounded down the dry, mud-crusted hills to the lake.
Nightmist stayed as long as it took for Maplesplash to reach the shore. For a moment, Nightmist reflected on their previous conversation and cocked her head. Now that she thought about it, it didn’t make sense that Maplesplash had begged Nightmist to come along to protect her from Jaydapple?
Jaydapple was always so amiable and stubborn, yet completely safe to be around. Why would Maplesplash need to be protected from Jaydapple?
Then Nightmist realized her friend hadn’t meant physically. Maplesplash, as the white mare had said, meant that she didn’t want the funny stallion following her around.
Or maybe it was something else.
Something Nightmist wasn’t seeing.
It took Nightmist just one moment to realize Maplesplash’s secret message, but it was already too late. As Nightmist jumped around and headed off in an amazingly fast-paced gallop, she could see Maplesplash drinking the water.
And over the horizon where Maplesplash couldn’t see, there was a battalion of horses.
“Maplesplash! Maplesplash, come away from the shore!” Nightmist shouted, her voice ringing in her ears as her legs blurred beneath her and her wings brushed roughly against her back.
All Nightmist could remember was Maplesplash’s twist of her neck, her confusion, and then the realization.
How could Nightmist have forgotten? The lake had been bargained off in the treaty! The pegasi were only allowed at the edge of the tree line. It had been fairly recent, the treaty, so it wasn’t surprising that Nightmist had forgotten, but that was no excuse for Maplesplash to forget. Maplesplash had come fully knowing the consequences.
But then why?
Nightmist pushed these thoughts away as she took one more half stride and kicked off with her legs, just barely spreading her wings at the right moment. The wind caught them easily, but she fought against it into a dive as the hill sloped into the valley the lake flowed through.
As the hills rounded out into a more level-headed tone, she leaned her neck back and stuck her front legs out, her back legs forming a sort of spring. Soon, she was directly above Maplesplash, her ears pinned back. “Maplesplash! Come with me, there’s no time!” Nightmist shouted.
Maplesplash had turned to face Nightmist long before, and cocked her head at her friend’s urgency. “I thought you weren’t going to escort me back,” Maplesplash snorted resentfully.
“Maplesplash! Forget what I said, we need to go, now!” Nightmist insisted.
Maplesplash pursed her lips, looking quite cross, but didn’t argue further. Instead, she jumped into the air, her beautiful feathers curling with the sudden movement.
Maplesplash flew gracefully in front of Nightmist while Nightmist looked like a three-legged deer attempting to escape poachers. Nightmist could hear heavy shouts and hoof falls behind them.
For once, Nightmist was glad for her small, slim form and ratty wings.
She looked behind her, making sure to glance back forward every few seconds, to look at the steeds behind them. She noted that they were large, furry, and fierce as they stomped into the water, little droplets flying everywhere. A very normal thought of disgust entered her mind; I am to marry one of these harry beasts?!
When Nightmist looked back ahead of her, she nearly dropped out of the sky in her surprise.
Maplesplash was gone.
Just gone. How could such an easy to spot mare disappear into thin air? Nightmist would never be able to understand her secretive, smart friend.
Nightmist shook away her thoughts, flattening her neck and legs as she flapped harder, faster. She then stopped, slipping into a thrilling glide of speed, curving down and up in a ragged arch. It sent little trills of joy through her heart.
Even in such terrifying situations, flying was still a gift Nightmist would never be worth of.
The dark silhouette of the trees soon faded into a dim picture as she grew closer. Already, she could hear the strong, thundering beat of the battalion behind her. She glanced behind her once more, and then it hit her;
That was the escort.
To take her to SunAge.
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. Nightmist cursed under her breath, hoping they couldn’t see her well enough to be able to recognize her once back at the herd. She glimpsed Maplesplash’s red wings below her, and stopped dead in her tracks.
Maplesplash was on the ground.
Why, oh why was she on the ground?!
Nightmist felt terror grip her throat as she lowered herself, falling out of her glide and into an easy dive. Nightmist managed to get close enough to her friend on the dead ground to shout, “Maplesplash, come on! If they see us, we’re done for!” Nightmist’s voice was raw with hatred and power.
Maplesplas glared up at Nightmist. “I’m coming, I want to make sure they see me instead of you,” Maplesplash said calmly, fluffing out her feathers.
“What? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, you mule!”
“Nag!” Maplesplash shouted back at Nightmist. Nightmist glared at her friend, but did as Maplesplash requested and continued to fly towards the forest.
Nightmist whole world darkened, both figuratively and literally, as she swooped with maximum effort into the tall trees. With one last look behind her, she saw Maplesplash following at a great speed, the horses close behind her. Maybe there was more to Maplesplash than Nightmist thought. She felt like she didn’t know her friend anymore.
Nightmist didn’t even know herself.
I hope you guys enjoyed chapter one! It doesn’t make a lot of sense if you really think about it, but I like it xD If you guys prove to enjoy this just as much, than I will post chapter two next Saturday!
Wishing you all a wonderful day, and a merry Christmas!