The Story About the Horses
“Did Sir Ansgar ever tell you the story about the horses?” Crio chuckled as the Paladins sat around the table. Ansgar’s face grew hot and he quickly silenced Crio. The story about the horse was a terrible memory, and over the years Crio had twisted it into a tale of boyish mischief. But that wasn’t how the story went.
The silver haired mare, Ansgar had heard Princess Ralia rave to her hand maidens about the untamed horse with “hair so white it looked like silver”. None of the Kingdom’s horse trainers could break her in and the Princess wanted her badly.
Ansgar loved the Princess, and not in a way he should. As a sort of orphan son to the King, the Princess was like Ansgar’s sister in many ways. But he couldn’t help where his heart wandered.
In the early fog of morning, Ansgar snuck out to the stables. He would do this for Ralia. He sized up the beast, and to his amazement, she walked over and lowered her muzzle. Ansgar always had a way with wild things, maybe because he had a wild heart himself. Ansgar talked softly to the white horse and gently pet her neck. Turning her eyes somewhere behind Ansgar, the horse reared up her head suddenly and began to trot and neigh.
“Ansgar, what are you doing?” a small voice asked. Crio, the Steward’s son crept up to Ansgar slowly.
“Nothing, this doesn’t concern you. Go away!” Ansgar growled. The white horse turned in the field and began to trot close to the fence. Climbing atop one of the wooden poles, Ansgar stood and readied himself. As the silver horse passed, Ansgar leapt but Crio grabbed his ankle, causing Ansgar to fall onto its back awkwardly. Ansgar clung to the silver horse for dear life as she bucked and ran frantically.
“Ansgar!” Crio yelled as Ansgar was thrown from the horse. The white beast stomped slowly to where Ansgar lay unconscious in the muck. Higher and higher she rose until she was standing on her hind legs, hoofs aimed for Ansgar’s skull.
A loud whinnie woke Ansgar and he watched a black smoke creep into the horse’s mouth just before it collapsed beside him. Scrambling to his feet, he faced Crio who stood motionless with his eyes clenched shut.
In the distance, the King and the Royal Steward came running from the market.
“Crio! Ansgar! Where have you two been? We’ve been worried sick.”
“Father,” Crio opened his eyes and looked up helplessly at his father. “I was just trying to help. I only wanted to help!” he cried.
“It’s okay, son. It’ll be okay,” the Steward wrapped Crio inside his cloak and soothed him as he looked out into the field.
“What in the Heavens?” The King shouted as he too saw the white horse. “Ansgar, what happened?” the King asked, holding Ansgar’s face in his hand.
“He wanted to tame the horse for Princess Ralia,” Crio blurted out of turn, “then the horse, she…she just collapsed.” Ansgar narrowed his eyes at Crio. How did he know?
“Have the Healer come take a look. I’ve never seen a horse die like this. It looks most foul and unnatural,” the King ordered a stable boy.
Crio stood staring at the full moon that had begun to rise as the sun yawned closer to the mountains. In just minutes, the stable boy returned with the Healer behind him. Kneeling down next to the mare, the Physician did a brief examination before approaching the King with an astonished look on his face.
“Majesty, the horse has fallen victim to the plague.” The King’s eyes widened and Ansgar hung his head - the plague had claimed the Prince not long ago, too.
“Plague? But how? The Plague doesn’t fancy the way horses smell,” the stable boy chimed in.
Ansgar turned his gaze on Crio who was still focusing on the sky. When Ansgar looked towards the moon again he gasped. Half of its face was now black. How was it so?
“What is it, boy?” the King gripped Ansgar’s shoulder tightly. Suddenly Crio looked to Ansgar with a dark stare, a silver light flashing through his eyes like lightening.
“Ralia, y-your Majesty,” Ansgar’s voice shook. The Princess will be very upset to hear news of the silver horse.”