Girls Horse Club Blog

The Sea Horses’ Gift – Part 1

Published by • Dec 1st, 2010 • Category: Fiction, Loft Book Club Favorites

by Findabhair Blacksgote, age 14

CHAPTER 1

PART 2 »

The waves crashed along beach, only the barest evidence showing that a second ago the Sea Horses had stood there. Moonlight tumbled with the waves, falling onto the white foam, rising with it for a minute only to be tossed back to the sky again as the waves hit the sand.

Along the beach a cloaked figure minced her way along the water’s edge, keeping to the Sea Horse’s footprints where possible. She hushed the baby in her arms and looked behind her, wondering how long it would be before she was discovered missing.

On the edge of her hearing came snorts and hoof beats. She turned her head expectantly to the water and waited. She had one chance. The wind coaxed a lock of red curls from under her cloak. She hurriedly stuffed it back. The cloak disguised her, but it didn’t hide her completely.

For the last three years, Tara had lived with her husband Finvarra in the Sea Horse’s kingdom. Tara was elfin, and her baby was a cross. She knew she had no chance now of escaping, but Tara would fight to the death to bring her baby back to the world. And so she had, in a way. The little freedom she had been granted would be taken away, and after that it wouldn’t be long before Finvarra tired of a wife he couldn’t keep.

Trembling now, Tara pointed her face to the source of the noise. On the horizon galloped a herd of the Sea Horses. Iridescent blue, they resembled the faerie horses Tara had grown up with, only leaner and with seaweed tangled in their manes as opposed to wildflowers. She held her ground as they spotted her and changed their course, furious that she dared trespass in their domain. As they reached the beach, Tara recited the words Finvarra had taught her (quite by accident) the day before. Stymied, the herd stopped, eyeing her warily. Tara pushed down the momentary fear. Who was she to call upon the ancients of this land? The baby in her arms gurgled and squealed.

Speaking in the arcane language known only to those foolish enough to bend the boundaries of space and time, Tara ordered the horses to take her daughter to the forest. They were to watch over her until someone came and brought her to the city. She did her best to ignore the wild light in their eyes. She would have to trust them and her own spell. She stepped into the water and tied her baby sling around one of the mare’s necks, whispering pleadingly in her ear.

She stepped back and allowed the herd to gallop over the beach and over the green hills of Ralayiana.

CHAPTER 2

Kale raced over the hills towards the city. At fourteen, she was rather short for an elf, with white blond hair and gray-green eyes.

At the top of the next hill she stopped and threw her arms up. She drew breath to call, but the horses beat her to it. A herd of them raced down from the sky, ears pricked towards her. Stocky and compact, all the faerie horses sported shades of yellow or cream with a silver mane and tail. After endless years roaming the skies and mountains, wildflowers had tangled themselves into their manes and tails. Kale closed her eyes and listened to the beat of hooves through the air.

They clustered around her, waiting impatiently for their customary treat of wild strawberries. “Soon you won’t be getting these,” Kale told them. They paid her no attention, as usual, until all traces (and traces of traces) of the strawberries were gone.

It had taken months for Kale to convince the faerie horses to come to her when she called. Luckily for her, the faerie horses liked strawberries, which grew in abundance on the hills of Ralayiana. She hauled herself onto one of the horse’s backs and wrapped her arms tightly around its neck as they leaped into the sky.

CHAPTER 3

The wind was cold so high in the sky. Kale closed her eyes and turned her face to the side of the faerie horse’s neck. The constant motion of their necks made it uncomfortable to lean against the mane.

Every time Kale looked down the landscape had changed. Now they were galloping over dust-baked earth and sand, now pine forests, now snow-covered mountains.

Eventually she whistled and the herd turned and raced back towards Ralayiana. To her surprise they took a shortcut over the ocean instead of the usual route around the beach. As far as Kale knew, faerie horses never traveled over salt water. She wondered why they were doing so now, and held tighter around her horse’s neck, a little nervous.

Kale almost fell off as the herd abruptly stopped, hock-deep in cloud. Kale sat up warily, wrapping her hands into her horse’s mane, should they should start off suddenly. She looked down over the edge of the cloud. Below her the waves were tumbling crazily. She sensed unease in the herd. Why were they waiting here?

With a snort, they plunged off, kicking up wisps of cloud in their haste. Kale slid her arms down around the base of her horse’s neck and concentrated on not falling off. A few times she tried to look behind them to see what might have caused the faerie horses to act so strangely, but they were traveling too fast to see anything, never mind turn around. They gained speed, going faster and faster until Kale was sure she was going to be flung off into the sea.

CHAPTER 4

The faerie horses didn’t slow until they neared the ground, and even on ground they galloped nervously. Kale coaxed them to stop and jumped off. Already the signs of alarm were leaving the herds’ eyes; they were distracted by the long wet grass underfoot.

Kale looked around to see where they were. She jumped onto another horse’s back and guided it up into the air to get her bearings. They were on the east and north end of the Ralayiana hills. She couldn’t yet see the city, but she recognized the land.

“Come on, take me home,” she ordered. The herd reluctantly took to the air again, dropped her within sight of the city (barely) and rose again, soon out of sight. Kale had never known the faerie horses to be anything but over-eager to run through the skies before. Maybe someone in the city would know what was going on.

Behind her she heard a shriek. It sounded like the waves in a storm and sea gulls. She jumped and whipped around. A rider was coming toward her at full speed. Kale took a step back. Should she run? Too late; the rider was on her. The horse skidded to a halt barely three feet in front of her. Kale fought the urge to run. The horse was tall and lean. The mane was blue streaked with green, as was the tail, and full of sea weed and seashells. The horse’s body gleamed blue, which changed shade with the light. Kale had never seen or heard of anything like it before. The rider was tall and dressed in a black jacket and breeches. His dark hair was wet and messy. Cold gray eyes studied her.

“Get up,” he commanded.

Kale frowned. “Why should I?”

The rider smiled at her, showing pointed teeth. “I didn’t give you a choice, did I?”

The horse (if that’s what it was) lunged at her, teeth bared. Kale threw herself to the right, only to be caught by the rider.

CHAPTER 5

As soon as Kale was jerked onto the horse’s back, the horse whirled and returned the way it came, at least as fast. Kale was trying to work out what was going on. Had she fallen and hit her head and was imagining all this? Why would anybody kidnap her? She had lived outside of the city since her caretaker had died last month of a strange illness. Kale had read and heard lots of tales, made up and (supposedly) true. Suspicious, she reviewed what had happened. The elf who had raised her had suddenly gotten ill and died, when she had always been healthy. The faerie horses had galloped over the sea, bolted (in fear instead of play), dumped her and raced off, without waiting for goodbye pats. Now an odd rider on a very odd horse had kidnapped her. She smelled rat.

Kale tensed as the horse galloped over the sand and into the ocean. She knew they were headed toward the drop-off, and wondered if her captor knew that. Apparently he did, because the horse leaped off the edge of the drop-off and dived under the water. Kale tried to slide off as the horse tilted downward but the rider’s elbows were in her way. She took a deep breath and prepared for the cold, salty water.

PART 2 »

The Sea Horses’ Gift was first published at GHC in the former Loft Book Club, and was a finalist in our monthly Judge for Yourself competition in December 2006.

3 Nickers »

  1. I LOVE elves and this story is awesome! I like the plot- it’s very good! I can see the author likes gaelic by her cool unique name…too bad she isn’t blogging anymore, I really like her stories!

  2. Love the story!

  3. i love your story. its good