Lost and Lovedrunk
Classic Champagne Leopard Blanket Knabstrupper sport horse
Potential show jumper with great lines, and pretty to boot
Gealach’s Eyes were watching.
Starlight speckled the dark spaces in the cavern’s craggy ceiling, and the faint beams of moonlight that speared through the rock made the damp floor shine with a spectral beauty. Lineera lay, ethereal, in a pool of hazy light, her shimmering paint obscured by and obscuring the moon’s touch. She was watching and waiting, preparing herself for Gealach’s guidance, knowing, believing, hoping that it would come soon.
She was not completely lost, however - the younglings, those who wished to be born again in Geleach’s light or those newly selected by the Oracle, they were her guidance when Gealach remained silent. One was to be here today, or so she thought, some small dark stag, she was sure; she had been told, or he had asked - in the dreamlight it was hard to tell mis-memory from truth, and perhaps she had simply dreamed the colt, inhaled him in the spore of glowing funghi or created his form from the foam of the Cauldron.
Slowly, the sound of hooves came clipping, slipping through the darkness to her moontouched moment.
“Yes?” she whispered, green eyes rising to meet the stranger. “You have come?”
The sound of his hooves reverberated off of the dark, smooth cavern walls. Pretty soon the bright green of an intricate knotted moon and other green knotted markings showed up followed by the dark silhouette of a solid black colt with amber colored eyes. His eyes were narrow and his ears were pinned back as usual. He bowed his head in respect to the older shaman that lay before him. “Hello miss… My name is Enne. Mama says it means omen since I was born under the New Moon.” He said smiling kindly trying to make a good impression. He was naturally kind and shy and was worried she may not accept him. “I am the one who asked you last we were in the Moonpool cavern. May I come in?” His head was still lowered in respect.
There - a child had come, a stagling who walked slowly, his head lowered with respect and a soft smile upon his face that she found herself mirroring without thinking. He was gentle, he was young - he had sought her teaching and she had accepted. The shaman lowered her head in a gentle bow, accepting his greeting and respect and returning it with her own. The young were the future of the caverns, they should be respected in their own right.
Slowly, she rose; a silent elegant shape becoming a gangling, awkward skeleton, the shimmering galaxy she was painted with blurring and becoming misshapen as she stood.
“You wished to learn, young one?” she asked, peering down at him with wide eyes. “What shall I teach you?”
Enne kept his head lowered until she arose in front of him. He still kept his lower than her’s with his narrow amber eyes looking up to her. “I wish to learn the ways of being a shaman if you shall be willing…” I have learned the basics of herbology from my mother and magic comes naturally.” He said making a puddle move out of his way as he walked forward. “I am always learning new things everyday. However, I feel that there is more that I can learn that cannot be learned on my own… I am willing to learn anything that you see necessary to continue the correct path to being a shaman.” He looked up to her shyly but his voice was soft and kind.
So, he was willing and he seemed able - had knowledge of herbs and of magic. The pale doe know that her own understanding of plants was lacking; she could not teach him much beyond which mushrooms would let him speak to Gealach - and so magic would be best, would it? Or perhaps simply the trance, for she knew at least those herbs required…
“How old are you, little New Moon?” she asked softly, dipping her head so that it was level with his own. “Have you yet tasted of Gealach’s trances?”
Enne’s tail flicked a little at Lineera’s interest in him. He smiled a bit at her kindness. “I am of four years old. I have been in Gealach’s light both in and out of the caves many ties but I am afraid that I have yet to experience the wonders of Gealach’s trance…” He looked to his feet sort of feeling like he should have done this already.
Out? This child had been out A sharp intake of breath, a tightening of her breast and a fluttering thrill of excitement and remembrance - but all the same of fear.
“To bathe in Gealach’s light outside of the caverns is wondrous,” she whispered, her thin voice both soft and urgent, words pouring out as a torrent, “but you must not speak of this. I know not the new King’s mind, but the old one would have you executed for this.”
All the same, all the same… this child was of her own mind, to be outside was to be alive and free; she must teach him now. She had sought guidance from Gealach and so it had come.
“But come, I shall teach you,” she murmured, her voice stronger, her words slowed. “Follow.”
She turned, without waiting for the stagling, knowing that he would come, and began to walk out of the spears of moonlight, into the darkness.
He nodded as her words floated around in his head. He had not had the chance to know much about the old King or the new while he lived half outside and half inside the caves. He followed obediently behind his teacher. “Thank you” He had said in reply to her agreeing to teach him. His thoughts still swirled. “Would the king really have me killed?” He asked nervously.
His mother had told him that being born under a sacred moon as the new moon that it would be bad luck to harm him. Even though his mother had outcasted herself. She was always wise and knew the right things to say. He liked that.
He looked around curiously in the dark following her. His green knotted moon paint shone brightly as the walked never seeming to dull.
Her steps were steady, for there was no need to rush and they were not travelling far, but she did not stop to make her reply, trusting that her quiet words would reach her new pupil.
“Yes, he would. He killed others for less.”
Her words were clipped and filled with a sudden and perhaps unexpected anger - her feelings for the old King were known amongst the herd, but the substance and venom of them perhaps were not.
“It is good he is no longer King.”
But now was not the time to think of this, for there was a shimmer of light ahead, a silver-blue bruise shining upon tunnel wall. A cluster of mushrooms grew there, small discs protruding from the wall like strange half-moons jutting sideways into the night of the tunnel’s darkness. These were what she needed to teach him, to show him how to enter the deep darkness of his mind and find Gealach’s presence.
“Come,” she said, the hard edge gone from her voice, the softness returning. “Look.”
Enne walked along behind his new teacher looking around curiously at everything. His ears pinned back a bit at her tone of voice when mentioning the king.
He caught up to her as they came up on the wall of fungi. “They are so pretty! Although I am unsure that I have yet to see mushrooms like this before...What are they called?” He said looking up to her curiously.
The shaman nodded for they were beautiful; their tiny moon faces creeping out of the cavern wall brought radiance to this dark, dank place.
“They are Phantomcreeprs,” she whispered, the name dredged from the depths of her memory. It was not the important thing about these shining half-discs, the important thing was their power. They could awaken the mind, open it to the messages Gealach surely sent to the shamans with every waking breath.
“They are used to bring the shaman’s trance. You must take a piece - it must be small next to its companion, as you are small next to me; smaller even perhaps,” she added, watching the colt carefully. If he were to take too much, he would die - she would simply not allow this to be. He was here to learn, and to live.
Enne looked to his teacher listening as she spoke. He was taking in every bit of information about these strange moon shaped mushrooms. As she spoke he turned to look at the mushrooms in question glancing down the cap to the gills and down the stalk. “Phantom creepers…”The words rolled off his tongue softly.
He then heard her say to take a small one. These little mushrooms could cause death? He gulped nervously. “Do I eat it straight? Or with something else?” He looked up at her without fear.
The doe nodded approvingly at his choice - it was the smallest of the glowing fungi, the least likely to do harm. It would not push him deep into trance, but it would mean he would be certain to awaken.
“Do not eat yet, we must return to Gealach’s Eyes,” she replied, turning and stepping back awkwardly into the darkness. It was a matter of minutes before they were back at the cavern with its silver moonlight spears, and she turned to her pupil slowly.
“Go to the edge of the moonlight. Do not eat yet; but once you are there, lie upon the floor and be still.”
Enne nodded. “Yes mam.” He said before walking over to where she had indicated. He looked back to her before laying down at the edge of the moonlight. He looked up at its beams before looking back down and closing his eyes to better focus on what might happen.
Gealach had not steered him wrong yet. He had learned many of his wondrous things, he had met many amazing friends, and had many experiences whilst living equally inside and outside the caves. For the longest time he had thought to Gealach and whispered to him when he sought guidance or was lonely. But now he had the chance to hear back from the mysterious god.
Another nod of approval as the youngling folded himself at the edge of the silvery light; the shimmering glow of the mushroom was dulled now that it was under the gaze of Gealach. This was as was right, for while it was a moon in the darkness, in the light it was simply a messenger, a passage to truth. The moonlight had more weight and favour than this simple aid; it was the moon that this colt sought.
“Clear your mind. Look upon the moon and let its light fill you,” she instructed, watching him carefully.
Enne looked down to the strange fungus. His Ink black coat shimmered in the Moonlight. He took a deep breath and ate before looking up to the moon over his head. He was not sure what would happen or how Gaelach would speak to him. But he trusted it was everything he had hoped.
As he ate, the pale shaman watched him attentively. It would take some moments before the power of the moon and the mushroom would take him, and once they had she must watch over him until he had returned to this world.
“Gealach will take you soon,” she murmured, her eyes flickering across him, checking his breathing, the movement of his legs, the set of his head. She must make sure that each remained as they were now.
The trance would likely be short, as each shaman’s first trance was, and he may not hear Gealach’s voice. What he heard and saw could not be known until he had awoken.
At first he did not feel much at all. Silence fell around the colt. Then his teacher’s voice started to become distorted and echoed in his head. He looked up opening his eyes the moon beams seemed to blur and sway. He turned his head looking back to his own glowing paint. The neon green celtic knotted moon and the knotting on his legs and tail began to peel themselves away from his body. This was quite an odd thing for him to see as he was quite certain that his paint was not suppose to do that.
He raised an eyebrow but stayed quiet as he watched the paint flew around in front of him in many different celtic knotted patterns. He closed his eyes and shook his head but opened them again and and saw his two crescent moons rising up and joining to make a full moon that covered the hole in the ceiling yet the moonlight still shone through it.
Soon the knots moved away and he saw a knotted owl image. He had never seen an owl only heard of them. But yet he removed the tuft of tail hair from his mane he had collected before and used his own paint to paint the knotted owl image on the floor. He tried to stand up to see better but got dizzy and passed out before long.
She watched, great eyes lit with moonlight and her soul throbbing with desire to see this young one understand, to follow him as he was touched by the god for the first time. His actions were strange at first, but as she watched she understood - he had seen, he had heard, for he painted what he had felt upon the cavern floor and there, there next to the pool of moonlight he painted the image of an owl, glowing and flickering in the silver-dim soft-light.
As the painting was complete he staggered to his feet, but the effort was too, too much and he fell, and at once the elder shaman was at his side, bringing him to her with her tail. She would watch and wait until he woke, and her heart swelled with pride. He had seen the god, and he had painted what he had seen.
Making herself lighter had not worked.
The pale colt followed her still whenever she ventured into death, still stared at her with those sightless eyes, still huffed and wheezed, trying to breathe through that gaping, terrible, terrifying, terrific wound in his side and she could not rid herself of him.
She had toyed with discarding the rib bone, toyed with throwing the only physical remnant she had - but since Alannis had cast them out she held it as a trophy. It was proof that she was better than some stupid warrior, proof that she and Drina were cleverer and quicker than anyone else, proof that they could trap and trick anybody that they wanted. So what if she had a dumb paleface ghost following her?
Except she shouldn’t. Palefaces were wrong. Sure, this one was dead, and sure, it was just a dead colt that had been eaten alive by wolves, but its colt was still golden and its eyes were still green; and yet…
There was something perfect about him. Something impossibly beautiful, more beautiful than even she and Drina. She hated him and wanted him gone, but at the same time she knew she could not possibly work her magic without him and more than this, she did not want to.
She needed him, needed this emblem of fate, of rightness, but she needed his painfully golden hide somehow more. She did not understand love, was not old enough to feel lust, but she was captivated, caught in the shining kaleidoscope of his eyes and coat. When she thought of him she felt herself falling forwards, dragged into the shiver-cold silver-grey world of silent ghosts, the world she sought without him and yet stopped herself from seeing if he was not there.
He was death where she was life, all that was wrong and all that was right, yet his presence made her more alive, more right, more perfect, more real, more true. He could only be more important if he were her twin himself, and instead he was a nothing, an invisible presence only she could see or feel - he should be real. He should be a walking thing, a thing she could parade through the Hollow, a way to bully and command. She would be in control because of him and she would prove to Drina that there was power in the paleness of his hide.
She knew it should be possible to bring him back, but his bones were mouldering in the earth and she had never seen a skeleton walking, even if she had seen Revokers commanding the corpses of their enemies. A small, bitterly resented part of her knew that she had neither the skill nor the power to do so even if it were possible.
She must improve, she must drive herself to be better and stronger and cleverer than anyone, and this she must do alone because Drina could not, would not help her, and the dead colt was not real, he was not there - not yet. He would be.
She had heard of a place, when she’d been sneaking about and pestering people and tricking them with her illusions, where the necromancers went. They went there because the barrier was thin - she’d heard you could see ghosts walking there without even summoning them, and that the corpses of mice and rats would spring back to life with only a gentle nudge of your magic.
It was called the Shadowgrove, and it was where she was going.
She had woken early, while Drina was still sleeping, and snuck away into the dark forest. It was north of Widow’s Hollow, through the rocky hills, but she had persuaded Drina that they should move their den further and further north over the past days, weeks - had it been months, since she had first heard of the Shadowgrove? It did not seem like that long but surely it must have been. They had moved, not every night, but they had moved slowly, slowly towards her goal so that now their den was nestled in the foothills of that craggy range, mere hours from her treasured destination.
Even so, the hind’s legs were sore and her hide shone with sweat by the time she arrived, scrambling down the final hills with an almost mad abandon. She could taste the death in the air, feel the chill still breath of the dead as she stumbled into the grove and the feeling thrilled her to the core.
Here, here was where she could make him real, make the rest of them see him the way that she saw him! She was tumbling, stumbling, crumbling towards death, falling and tripping and collapsing into the grove and not seeing or feeling the wall as she passed it, not noticing the greyed grass turn to greyed water, not hearing the change from the sounds of life and the living to the silence and the sad distant voices of the dead.
Here, she was here! Instinctively she was calling to him, forcing him to join her and it was easy, so easy, he was at her side in seconds with those green eyes staring up at her but.. But his face, his dear terrible little face, it was creased with distress, his mouth was open in a soundless, voiceless wail and as she looked she was suddenly, suddenly aware.
She wasn’t in Blackwood anymore.
She wasn’t alone.
Her head snapped up and she was suddenly caught in the eyes of a great, black stag, she whipped around and there stood a dark doe with her foreleg dangling by a gory tendon, the shivering shade of a rib-thin wolf, the tattered remains of a snow-pale doe, a tiny, muscle-bound soldier with smeary glowing markings, a defiant guard with broken antlers, an elderly doe with hungry eyes…
They were infinite. They stretched unending away from her, colours fading into grey in the distance but all eyes, hundreds, thousands, millions of milky dead eyes were fixed on her bright black living body. She tried to scream but her voice would not come, there was no air in her lungs, no life left in her, no will to drive her forwards; this was the end, the end of all things, the death of deaths, the sum of life, all things forgotten, all thoughts dissolved in that hungry, staring, infinite gaze; she was lost. She was gone.
And then, just when all was empty, when she was defeated and overcome she glanced down and there, there he stood, the golden-green-grey memory of a triumph from long ago and now it came: the memory of a bright-black, shining dark, pride-clad filly with eyes that shone with triumph and mirth.
“Drina,” she muttered, her voice returning, and her limbs felt hot and her eyes were full of fire and with a sudden furious yell she broke forwards, plunging between and across and over and through them, for they were spectres, they were not real, they did not live! And here, here she found herself tearing back through the wall, back through the barrier, hurling herself into life, into the silver-grey, smoke-black of the Shadowgrove and the trees rang with the sound of her laughter.
She was alive. They were dead.
This was living.