Sunday, August 07, 2005

Night Ride with Fireheart

I must admit I quailed when I saw the horse that was waiting for me. I love horses, but she looked as she had come straight from Hell.
Her hooves were striking sparks on the ground, and when she reared up, it looked as though she was enveloped in flame.
Even the stablewoman didn’t want to get too close.
``Her name’s Fireheart – and she’s all yours,” she said, and bolted back into the stable.
Fireheart had no saddle or bridle and I am long past being able to vault jauntily onto the back of a naked horse, but as I stood there hesitating, her head suddebly whipped round and she grasped the back of my robe with her teeth. She flung me up on to her back and I grabbed at her silky mane. It looked like I was going for a ride.
``Take me – “ I hesitated. ``Take me to the Source,” I said.
She leapt away, and I held on with all my strength. Her hooves left a trail of flames as we raced off into the night.
All I could do was hang on, my hands twisted in her mane, my legs turning to jelly with the effort of staying on her back.
Finally we stopped, and I slid to the ground with more gratitude than grace. We had come to a place that looked terrible and bleak.
The sky was stormy, a bilious colour that seemed foreboding. Below me I could see the mouth of a dried up river bed which I thought was the Serpent’s Way. In the distance I saw the glassy gleam of the ocean – but that offered me no comfort, as it usually does. It looked so cold and threatening.
A road led down to a ruined tower, standing like a blackened, rotting tooth against the night sky. I drew close to Fireheart and she breathed a long warm breath on me, giving courage, then she nudged me in the back, toward the tower.
The road was sharp and stony, with jagged bits of flint poking up. I cut my foot and I was limping as I drew close to the entrance of the tower – that was just a black gaping hole in the wall.
A chill air gripped me as I walked inside. The air I was breathing felt like fingers of ice clawing at my lungs. I paused to try and get accustomed to it, and a figure loomed out of the dark.
She was dressed in a shroud, shreds of the grave hanging about her, her hair long and loose around a face so wasted it looked like a skull. Her long bony fingers clutched at the air – I saw she was blind, her hollow eyes milky white and staring.
``Who comes here?” She said. Her voice reminded of the wind sighing through a cemetery.
``I’m one of the travellers from Duwamish,” I said. ``I was given a horse to take me anywhere I chose, and I chose the Source.”
She laughed, a thin keening sound that rippled through my head like a banshee’s wail.
``But all I find here is destruction and ruin,” I said. ``What has happened?”
``The Source has dried up, traveller,” she said. ``It must be sung back into being.”
She moved away, and I went back out into the night, where Fireheart waited to take me back.”


At 12:51 AM, Blogger Traveller said...

stunning picture of Fireheart. I think I would have quailed at the sight of her, too

At 4:24 AM, Blogger Heather Blakey said...

To sing the source back into being is an extraordinary concept Gail.

At 4:49 AM, Blogger Karen said...

What a journey! I learned a bit about singing things into reality on my night ride.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Anita Marie Moscoso said...

When I was about 12 my friends and I hijacked a ride on one of the horses that was in a field at the end of our street.

When It got tired of us it just stopped cold and you know, that part about " I slid to the ground with more gratitude than grace"

We kissed the ground...and the ground was not kissable... but we were FAR passed caring.

Anita Marie

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Believer said...

Wonderful story, Gail. I can see all of it, thank you!


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