After washing up, and getting the last bit of napkin off his face, he wanders back down to the table. Looking around, all he sees now is Cali and Amarantha, along with her horse, Elite.
~ Where did everyone go?~ He thought.
Walking up to Amarantha, he clears his throat and sits down. " I want to apologize for the way I talked to you last night. I was only looking out for your well being. No hard feelings I hope. Oh I like the outfit, but is it for riding?"
Pulling up a chair, Seth sat down and watched as Amarantha ate her breakfast. His thoughts wandered from her to Rose. Strange feeling started to pull at his stomach and it made him feel a bit ill.
"Do you think we will have time for you to show me how to ride a horse?" He smiled when Amarantha stopped in mid bite and gave him a strange look.
"Remember? Last night I asked you if you could give me a few tips on riding while I was escorting you back to the Inn?"
He took a deep gulp of breath and waited. Even Elite gave him a strange look.
Looking over at Cali, he shrugged his shoulders. "Cali? Do you know how to ride? If Amarantha is too busy, could you show me?"
The look he got from Cali was not the look he was looking for. He watched as Cali looked at him, then over at Elite, then back again.
"No way Cali!! It's not going to happen!!"
Then he saw Cali smile and he thought he saw a gleam in his eyes as well.
"Ah... Amarantha? I will wait for you outside. OK?" Slowly getting up, he grabs his pack and gives Cali a wide berth. As he hit the door , he could hear Cali and Elite laughing.
A chill ran up his spine and he closed the door behind him.
He only wished he could lock it too.
She watched as Seth left the room and sighed.
"Well, we better go out there and start showing Fye boy how get on a horse and stay on it before the others show up."
*Can I help?* Elite asks impishly.
*NO! I don't trust you. I don't thing Seth is so sure about you either.*
Amarantha gets up and starts heading toward the door, her breakfast finished. Elite was right behind her. She wished she had eyes in the back of her head, because now that she thinks about it, she doesn't trust him all that much either.
*Relax, I'm in no hurry to try anything on you right now.*
*So you tell me.*
As an afterthought she backs up, and walks along side the horse, in line with his head.
*You really don't trust me, do you?*
*Nope. When have you given me reason to be otherwise?*
They leave the Inn, Elite using his long, gold horn to nudge open the door.
Outside, the elf waited expectantly.
"Right, now first of all, where's the horse you are planning to ride.?" she asks, hands on hips. "Obviously, the mule is not an option.*
*HEY!!! Don't you DARE start with that. It's bad enough being called that by a mere Mortal!!*
[ Rose Thorn]
"Why didn't you tell me that Starr was still at the Inn's stables? I thought you were going to move him with the rest of the horses?"
::He didn't want to go. I tried talking to him. He said he was not feeling well, but you know how stubborn he can get at times ::
Mysty fluffed up her feathers and looked at Rose.
::Anyway, he is still there. I left word with some boy to care for him. I think he will be OK with Starr. At least I hope so!::
" You'd better hope he is! Or it will be on your head!"
Rose turned back and headed back to the Inn. Turning the corner, she found herself in the stables.
"Starr? Are you in here?" She whistled and heard hoofs stomping in a far stall. Walking up, she started to laugh. "Why are you all wet? And where is the stable boy?"
About that time she heard a cough. She spun, had her blade out and stood in her fighting stance.
"OK. Who's there?" Out of the shadows, a small thin boy came walking out with his hands in front of him.
"Its.. its OK, Lady. I am the stable boy. I am the one that poured the water on your horse. He was with fever and I was cooling him down. He should be ok now. He fought me every step of the way, but the fever over took him and he calmed down. I fed him some oats and gave him fresh water. One of the healers came by and gave him some foul smelling potion. He should be ok, but make sure he takes this every night." The boy brought out a small bottle, while his hands were shaking, and handed it to Rose.
"Mix that with some water. About a teaspoon per gallon of water." He then opened the gate and taking Starrs reins, turned him around and brought him out.
"Thank you young man. He was complaining that he was warm when we came in, but it had been a hot day and I did ride him rather hard. How much do I owe you?" She watched as the boy started counting on his fingers.
"Well, I guess with what it took to calm him down and the potion , I would say three coppers should do it. Add two more for the day he has been here. Is that fair?"
Without looking back and waiting for an answer, he turned and started brushing Starr dry.
"I also cleaned out his hooves and checked his shoes. One was a little loose, so I had that fixed as well. No charge. I hope to become a black smith some day and I needed the practice."
Walking up to Starr, she rubbed his nose and smiled. "Sorry old friend. I didn't know. It's a good thing you stayed here. Looks like you were in good hands."
::Yes, I was. It came on me rather fast, and if the boy was not here, I might not have made it. He stayed with me all night. At first I was fighting with him. The fever made me angry. But he stayed none the less. He poured warm water over me and fed me, even though I tried to bite him. He showed no grudge, and kept warm blankets on me until the fever broke. Tell him I am forever in his debt. Please.::
::Did he say Please? By the lost gods, did I hear right? The mighty Starr said please. Will wonders never cease!::
Mysty looked over at Rose then back over to Starr. She shook her head and yawned.
"Mysty! Behave yourself! Starr has been through a lot. Do not start anything. Understood?"
::Yes... Yes, I understand. I think you like him more that you like me!::
Mysty fluffed her feathers up and turned her head away once more and started pouting.
Rose turned and looked at the boy. He was dirty, and the seat of his pants were wore thin. His shirt was torn in places where Starr tried to bite him. She shook her head and reached into her pouch.
"Sorry Young One. I do not have any copper. All I have is this." Flipping a coin with her thumb, she watched as the gold coin sailed through the air. She could not help but laugh as the boy's eyes grew wide and his hand dropped the brush as he reached out and caught it in mid air.
"Gee Lady. I can't break this, but if you hold on a minute I can run into the Inn and have Sera break it for me. I promise I will not run off with it. Sera would skin me alive." He had a death grip on the coin; no one or no thing would be able to pull his fingers from it.
In his mind anyway.
"No Son. It's your to keep." She smiled and brushed the hair from his young eyes and then turned and started to saddle Starr. She heard the boy scream, "Yippee" and saw him running towards the Inn.
::Thank you, Rose Thorn. I heard Sera tell a few others that any coins he gets for helping here in the stables, he takes and buys food and clothes for the less fortunate. Most are children like him. Without a home or family. Sera cares for him, and he helps her when ever possible.::
" Then the coin went to a good cause. Do you feel up to carrying me? I have found a few friends, an have been asked to come along in search of a lost child. I think you will like this trip. All the other horses are mares."
Rose laughed when she saw Starr's eyes grow large.
::Mares? Then this will be a pleasant ride. Beats the heck out of listening to the birds' ramblings::
::Yes but there is one thing that Rose does not know. These mares are special. And the one called Amarantha has a horse with wings. I believe he is called Elite. The major calls him a mule!::
"What do you mean the mares are special?" Placing her foot in the stirrups, she pulled herself up and onto Starr's back. Tying the bag of goodies to the saddle horn, she looked up.
" And a horse with wings? I think you've been eating bad mice."
::Be that way! But you will see! As for Horse Breath here, he will understand how special the mares are. Especially if he tries to make a move on one of them. He will find that he might be biting of more than he can chew.::
"We will see. Let's head to the front of the Inn. The Major and the one called Beldon should be there by now." Turning Starr, they headed out of the stables. Starr's black coat shone in the morning's light and bits of steam could be seen coming up from where he was still a bit wet.
Turning a corner, Starr stopped and looked at the Mares.
::Hello Ladies! I am Starr. My rider is one called Rose Thorn. We will be traveling together. I hope that it will be a pleasant trip.::
::Oh brother! Is that the best line you could come up with?::
::Better than 'You can feather my nest anytime'...::
"Both of you. Hush!"
Kicking Starr, she led him over to where Beldon and the Major were standing. She looked by the door and saw Seth stepping out. He had a strange look on his face, and he kept looking back.
"Good morning, gentlemen," she said in the sexiest voice she could come up with. "Are you ready to start this little adventure?"
::Oh brother!:: Both Starr and Mysty chimed together.
~Hush you two!~ She could feel her skin as it started to warm. She was blushing, and she couldn't stop it; no matter how hard she tried.
Due to the evocative greeting Rose Thorn gave, Beldon turned as a red as a the rose she was named after.
"Good morning, Ma'am!"
He shuffled his feet shyly, and added, "I am certainly ready to depart. Whenever you are. Not that I want to leave this place. I mean... not suggesting that I'd like to stay here with you. I mean... Not to say I WOULDN'T. I mean... Uh..."
He turned quickly and ran inside to get some water at the bar.
She sat there, watching Beldon stumble all over himself. She was about to say something when he turned and ran back into the Inn.
"He is kinda cute. I think this is going to be a great adventure. I have not made anyone stutter like that since that sailor asked for a kiss. Remember that?" She laughed when Mysty shook her feathers and yawned.
::Should I tell the others that you sleep in the raw? Or should I let you just surprise them?::
"I do not think the Lady would like that. I have that one shirt that hangs down past my knees. I could us that."
::Perhaps you are right. We wouldn't want Beldon or the others to start fighting over you, now would we?:: Rose laughed and then looked back at the Major and Seth.
"Seth? Why do you keep looking in the window? Is someone after you?" Rose leaned over Starr's neck and tried to see what he was looking at.
"I am waiting for Amarantha to come out and show me how to ride a horse. The Lady went upstairs with Angel and the healer. Cali and Elite are in there with Amarantha. I think they are planning to put me up on Elite."
Seth looked through the glass once more and shook his head. "I do not want to go flying around with Elite."
"Fly? You mean that the goddess' horse has wings?" Rose sat back and looked over at Mysty.
::I told you so, but no. You would not listen to me!::
"And he is in the Inn? That is one strange horse." Rose sat there and shook her head.
::The Major calls him a mule.::
About that time Elite and Amarantha came out of the Inn.
::I think the Major's right. He does look like a mule with wings.:: Starr snorted and glared at Elite.
"No fights. I mean it." Rose kicked Starr in the flanks and made him back up.
"This is going to be an interesting ride after all." Rose smiled and waited for Beldon to get back.
"I wonder is I can make him fall off his horse?" She giggled and patted Starr's neck.
The Major's eyes widen a little as he looks over at Seth, voicing a question in overpowering disbelief.
"You can't ride?"
Looking down and kicking a few rocks around, Seth spoke with a soft voice, "No sir. I have never had the chance to learn. I have always walked where ever I needed to go. As a child I had a chance meeting with the Black, but I never thought to try and ride her. The thought of me moving that fast upon her back , made me shy away from her. I knew that she would never cause me harm, but deep in the back of my mind, I was afraid."
Seth took a deep breath and looked over at the Black. "I guess I still am. But I am willing to swallow my pride and try."
Walking over and standing next to the Black, he waits for someone to explain how he should get up on the horse's back.
"She looks even bigger now that I am standing next to her. Well... What do I do first? Do I jump up? And what are these things for?" Reaching down he picks up a stirrups and holds it out.
"Too small to fit my arms through it," he mumbles to himself and he looks up when he hears laughter.
The Major's lips part a bit, revealing a wide smile. Having trained riders countless times in his execution of duty, he quickly talks Seth through the mounting of the animal.
"... You'll get it soon, lad. Just be careful and keep your eyes open."
In a seemingly unconnected point, the Major glanced up at him. "You ever had a woman?"
After the Major showed him how to mount the horse, and he found himself facing the front of the horse and not the back, he sat there and beamed a wide smile.
"That was easy enough!" Pride turned into something else when the Major asked if he had ever had a woman.
Scratching his head, Seth looked down at the Major and said " I have meet and befriended many a lady during my time from the great forest. But I never 'Had' women. Whatever that means."
::I think what the Major is asking is have you ever been with a woman.:: Selina was trying to help.
Seth still didn't understand.
"Of course I have been with other women. I have been with Sera, and the Lady and Amarantha and now Rose."
::That's not what we mean, Seth Fye. What we mean is have you ever made love to a woman?::
At that question Seth blushed the deepest red he'd ever blushed. He stammered out a 'no' and then blushed more. Leaning forward in the saddle he tried to hide his face with his hands.
"Oh god... Are you saying I must first bed a woman before I can ride a horse? Isn't it a bit late to do this now?"
He looked up and then glanced over at Rose, then down at Amarantha. Shaking his head he hid his face once more.
"You ladies decide. I can't do this...!"
He heard them laugh and this made him blush even more.
Both Elite and Amarantha gave Seth a long stare, then Amarantha found herself having to cover her mouth to hide the wide grin.
*Oh dear, oh dear...!* Elite sent.
"Seth, if people had to lose their virginity before they could ride a horse, I shudder to think at what all those children who have been on pony rides went through. I have my handmaids hanging about the place these days, I'm sure one of my Nymph's would be more than willing to make you an expert on that subject."
She looked at him for a moment. "Okay, now you can do the getting on the horse fairly good, but I doubt you can control the animal."
She turns around to Elite, and despite the horse's size, and a few tricks on Elite's behalf, still manages to gracefully slip in to the ornate saddle.
"See those things that are connected to the metal bit in the horses mouth? They are the reins. You take one in each hand and hold them like this."
She deliberately holds the reins, and gets Elite to move up nearer so Seth can get a better look.
"To steer, you tug the rein in the direction you want to go... To stop: do both at once. To get it going, squeeze with your legs. Simple really. You'll pick up the rest as you go along."
*I could have given him some better riding lessons you know,* Elite nonchalantly 'tells' her.
*Oh I bet you could! But for some reason though, I suspect that Seth may not enjoy your lessons as much.*
After cooling himself off with a drink of water inside, Beldon decided to join the others outside again. He moved next to Rose Thorn, but tried to look like he didn't do it on purpose. He stood casually and watched the riding lessons with a slight smile on his face.
From her rooms she went to see Hugh to be sure that her expenses were adequately covered before moving outside. She went directly to the unicorn that she knew already would be hers. She was most interested as to how and why Seth had procured a veritable herd of unicorns for them to ride upon. She was also most pleased to, for the first time in her life, see one outside of her own visions of other worlds. She reached up and touched the beautiful eloquin resting on the mare. She slid her fingers along the elegant saddle and smiled at the fine textured details. It was a fine lady's saddle, designed in the sidesaddle style to allow graceful, feminine modesty. She did, after all, wear a garment with a long, flowing skirt.
She ran a pale, luminescent hand over the fine soft texture that was made of a supple white leather of the purest quality. She slid a slender finger along the glowing sapphire blue trimming that traced it's way along the bordering outlines of the saddle. She traced her delicate nail along the silvery pattern that had been magicked into the fine leather. The design representing, with astonishing likeness, the Crystal Forest of her homeworld.
She was mildly curious what gifted artisan had been graced with a vision of this sacred place. She was impressed to see that even the bridle, saddle blanket and saddlebags were of like visionary design. The blanket seemed to have been made of a strange silken material whose delicate appearance and feel belied it's durability.
She then looked around at the rest of her party. It seemed she was the last to arrive, which suited her just fine. It signaled their readiness to depart. Even Tizzy was just arriving back from her errands and, amidst a lot of excited jabbering about having accomplished her mission, dived into her hair and fell silent.
"Let me call a Blessing upon our Quest and behest of the Moon a safe Journey."
She waited for the others to make themselves prepared for a moment of prayer and reflection before continuing. She then raised her hands to the sky and turned her face upward. Her pure, crystalline voice was lifted up and it seemed to envelope those for whom it was concerned. the felt the song and her voice touching them somewhere within themselves.
"Clouds of Heaven, Stars of Sky Sun of Day and Moon of Night! Keep upon this Child of the Moon Vigilant watch, unerring sight! "
As she sang a strange sight appeared to them all. What appeared to be a moonbeam, despite the early morning sun, cast it's pale, effervescent glow down from the heavens and enveloped her slender body. It caused her white, silken hair to glow as though heaven itself had reached down to touch her. She continued her song.
" Protect her light and bring her sight Guide her to her heart's desire! Clear her path and grant even ground Let not the Soul within expire."
The moonbeam brightened and grew almost blinding, yet the others found they could not look away. As she continued her song, it began to widen its beam of light.
" Guard the ones within her care Let not one of their lives be lost! Keep theirs Souls and bodies well No matter what to me the cost! "
The glow of the moonbeam then spread out to envelop each and every member of her party, giving them a cool, warm feeling on their skins. Even Cali, with his flesh of stone, felt the effects of the enchanted moonbeam.
As the song ended the glow faded from their bodies and then from hers. She turned to face the others, smiled and said, "Let the Journey begin!"