A Deadly Encounter with an Enchanted Horse
Writing Prompt: Your horse has been enchanted to hunt you down.
Keatoph leaves the town of Lobaton with joy in his heart. The hobbits of the village come out to wave the winner of their festival goodbye from their individual doorposts as he passes by on his newly acquired horse, Finnegan. The young warrior is not accustomed to such friendliness. It is rarely found in the world, and spotty even among families.
Still, as he sits on the back of his farm horse, he feels that he takes a piece of this warmth with him. The notion sits in the back of his mind that he and Finnegan will enjoy such fellowship as he has known these last few days for many nights to come.
He passes back into the forest to the west which he had come out from and heads south, searching for signs of the orc he hunts. He rides alongside the Keywash river, allowing Finnegan to get regular drinks from it.
Keatoph does not suspect that his enemy has gotten very far. Not given how badly he had wounded him in their most recent skirmish. No, Grifkar is still in these woods. Depending on the elixirs his men have, he may be ready to go now. This is fine for our young hero as some movement on the orcs’ end may help him uncover their location.
Night falls on the world, after a day’s travel, cloaking the orange and red of the canopy with purple and blue. Keatoph and Finnegan lay on the grass of the earth beneath, staring up.
“Thanks for coming out here with me,” the hero says, petting his new pet. Finnegan simply presses his head into Keatoph’s hand. “If you hear something that sounds like rocks launching from the trees onto stones on the shore, don’t worry about it. It’s usually just beavers slapping their tails.” The equestrian gazes at him unconcerned.
Keatoph pulls some of the emerald blades from the earth and feeds his friend, who for some reason, likes the grass out of our protagonist’s hands more than the grass all around him. Soon they are both asleep.
Unbeknownst to either of them, they are not alone. The last few months for Keatoph has been one long chase to find the monster Grifkar and, by permission of the King, bring him to justice. His path has led through several villages and more than a few cities as well. During this time, he has saved many, failed some, and made himself enemies. One enemy in particular finds him now. The necromancer of Asgafal.
The warlock circles around them quietly, using enchantments to bend with the branches and slink with the shadows. He crawls on all fours, as if he had been raised by spiders, over to the duo.
“Kakos hip-pos,” the sorcerer whispers. His fingers glow a faint purple. He touches Finnegan’s back. Then, he disappears, a mere whisper of the forest night.
As the sun rises, Keatoph is surprised to find Finnegan standing over him, glaring down.
“Oh, hey buddy,” he cheers with a scratchy throat. The horse raises his front legs into the air. Our protagonist's eyes grow wide as he realizes he is about to be crushed. He rolls to the side, nearing the creek. “What’s going on?” He demands, picking himself from the ground. Finnegan does not answer him.
Instead, the stallion charges him, head-butting his stomach and tossing him into the river.
“Not cool, Finnegan!” Keatoph yells, his head coming up from the water. He rises to stand. His clothes are soaked. He is thigh deep in the river. Before he can lecture his horse any further, the stallion gallops into the water after him. With disbelief, Keatoph pivots and swims as fast as he is able to the other side. He arrives on land a moment before his horse and climbs into the nearest tree. Finnegan meets him shortly after and begins kicking at it with all of his might. The oak rustles and creeks under the pressure. Keatoph hangs onto it for life.
“Common, Finnegan! I’m your friend!” The horse is not deterred. This battle of wills goes on for some time, eventually ending with both of them resting in silence, one above and one below.
As lunch rolls around, Keatoph grows hungry. Our protagonist begins searching for a way out of this predicament that does not involve the ground. He climbs up the canopy as Finnegan busies himself with munching on the grass. He leaves his wishes for friendship with his horse in the tree and presses through the middle world, searching for a vine long enough to get him across the river and to his bag.
Eventually, he finds a pair of creepers that are long and close to each other. He wraps them together and swings. They are not long enough to land him on the ground opposite of the horse. Still, they are long enough to throw him there. He rides their arc into the sky, releasing himself near their highest point. He perches onto the dirt, crouching, and somersaults forward.
Keatoph grabs his bag and takes one last look at the horse.
“Go back home, friend,” he whispers. With this last remark, he heads deep into the forest, the same as he has always been: alone.
Read chapter one here.
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