Dassais Chapter 3
Aneirin slid the shovel under the manure and lifted it, sifting out the bedding, and then dropped it in the wheelbarrow. The tale kept coming back to him. The mysterious horse and the hunters bent on killing him. The words the stranger said at the end pelted his thoughts. “Come, but only if you are certain.” Am I certain? Did he really believe the tale? There was that black horse last night. Was that the horse? He began to think that maybe the story was true. He had almost decided. It couldn’t have been coincidence that the black horse had shown up right after the tale had been told, right? Rosie nosed Aneirin’s arm. The mare was tied right outside the stall. He quickly finished cleaning the stall and pushed the wheelbarrow to the barn door. He heaved it open. Wet drops pelted him in the face as he maneuvered the barrow out into the sludge. The wheel slipped to the left and right, seeming averse to driving in a straight line. Muscles bulging, Aneirin deftly managed the rebel wheelbarrow across the yard to the muck pile. After dumping its contents, he wiped his brow with the back of his hand. Rainwater mingled with sweat trickled down his face.
Aneirin latched Rosie’s door and headed to the cabin. He slipped inside the door and padded across the rough-hewn floor. The small cabin was separated into just three room: one main room and two tiny bedrooms. Aneirin’s small bed seemed big in the tiny room. Carefully kneeling, he reached underneath the log frame. He groped about with his fingertips, wary of splinters from the floor, until he came upon a smooth box pushed back in the corner. He grasped it and drew it out. Dust and cobwebs littered the top. Aneirin gently wiped it with a small rag and opened the box. Inside, was a sheet of well-worn and yellowed paper as well as a gold and leather weapons belt. He lifted out the familiar sheet of paper and read it over again.
“Dear Aneirin, we love you so much, but unfortunately, we have had to bequeath you to our most trusted acquaintance, Farmer Grae. Know that we have tried everything to try to keep you, but circumstances have forbidden it. We hope to be reunited with you someday, but the chances of that seem very slim at best.
With love and best wishes, Mother and Father.”
He used to read this a lot when he was younger, but he hadn’t read it in several years. Gently folding the paper to avoid tearing, he replaced it in the small box. Then he took out the belt and ran his fingers over it. It had loops and pockets for weapons. He could hold a sword and a knife with this belt. It was a very expensive belt. Gold was inlaid in the belt as well as forming the buckle. A golden horse was attached to the side of the belt. Aneirin closed the box and slid it back under the bed. Who were or are my parents? He had wondered this his whole life. As he sat there thinking, the tale came back to mind. As he mulled it over and thought about what had happened last night, he was more and more convinced. The tale really was true. He believed it now. He had to talk to Farmer Grae tonight when he came in from the fields. They only went to town once a month or so. But, could he be the one in the legend to tame the black horse? He didn’t think so. The animal had screamed when he met it in the woods. Perhaps he and the mysterious man at the inn could find the one to tame the horse. He had to talk to Farmer Grae about going back to the village.
Kierra led the white mare into the Fillindyl stables. The animal had been slightly difficult to catch, but no different from any other wild horse. As she rounded the corner to get to the empty stalls at the back of the enormous barn, she heard voices up ahead. Her father was conversing with the servant who took care of their horses. As a half-elf, Lodamir was known to be a very wise leader in this portion of the kingdom. All of Glennwood knew Lodamir Fillindyl to be fearless, yet gentle in his ways with them. Kierra stepped forward and held the mare steady as she called out to her father.
“I have caught Luna, father!” Her voice rang throughout the expansive stable hall. Her father turned to her and closed the distance.
“So you have.” Lodamir admired the pure white mare, gently running his hands over her silky hair. The mare stood still as he examined her. When he had finished, Kierra let Luna into the middle stall. She stood there quietly, unlike a typical wild horse, her face turned away from them, nose peeking out the window, ears alert.
“We’ll let her settle in. Perhaps Dassais will come find her.” Kierra turned to face her father. They walked away from the stall towards their expansive estate.
“Perhaps, but we cannot guarantee that.” Lodamir Fillindyl was cautious. He did not want to see his daughter get hurt. He completely believed the tale. He had certain reasons to believe so. I just don’t know where that young man is or how to find him. It seemed there were more and more dissenters who just wanted to be rid of the animal. Lodamir, though, had faith that the young man would appear, but he was pessimistic about the successfulness of the mission if he was found later than sooner.
Aneirin left the cabin and headed for the corn fields. The wet grass shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight. The enormous rain clouds earlier had vanished from the sky and the birds had resumed their melodies. He hoped Farmer Grae would approve an immediate journey back to the village. He just had to go see the stranger in the inn. He believed the tale now, but what he didn’t understand was his role in it. He didn’t know how to fight. Yes, he knew a lot about horses, but he didn’t think that was enough to make him the legendary young man in the tale. He hoped he could help the stranger find him. He reached the field and walked out to the center where Farmer Grae was planting corn.
“I…I apologize for holding up your work, but… I need to ask you an important question.” Aneirin hesitated a little way from the older man.
“Well, what is it, son?” Farmer Grae stood up from placing seeds in the dark, fertile rows of soil.
“I need to return to town.” He hesitated again. “I need to find that man at the inn.” He knew that another trip to town so soon could jeopardize the planting should it rain again before they returned to the cabin.
“I supposed if it’s that important to you, we should go.” Farmer Grae stood up. Aneirin waited, unsure that he had heard correctly.
“Well, don’t just stand there gawking. Go get ready.”
The wheels jolted over the ruts and slogged through the mire as Rosie’s short legs trotted as fast as they could go. Aneirin held onto the side of the wagon to keep from toppling on his head. He couldn’t help but wonder if his life was suddenly going to be completely changed. He was used to the quiet farm life. Adventures and travels were not something he had ever done. Would he leave Glennwood, his home? He wasn’t sure if he was ready for that. The road smoothed out as they got closer to the town. As the buildings came into view, Aneirin’s anticipation of the meeting with the stranger become even stronger. What is he going to say?
Farmer Grae stopped the wagon just outside the inn. Rosie obediently stood still as Aneirin tied her to the small hitching post. A small breeze stirred the air in the town, but otherwise it was quiet as the inhabitants were busy working as it was only midafternoon. He carefully opened the door to the inn. Berto started when the bell tinkled.
“Oh! Hello, there!” He exclaimed. “Kinda unusual receivin’ customers this time ‘o’ day.”
“We’re not here as customers, Berto.” Aneirin told about the urgency of his errand and described the stranger to him, explaining that he had never learned the man’s name.
“Oh, yes, he is called Eanor.” Berto gave them the number of his room. “He’s not always there, though, forever going on many mysterious errands and adventures.”
Aneirin thanked the man and headed up the stairs. He stopped at the number Berto had given him and knocked. There was no answer. Is he not there? He knocked again. Still no answer. He turned to Farmer Grae. Before he could summon up anything to say, the older man spoke.
“I will go take Rosie to get some water and a treat. You wait here and come find me later if he does not show up. Send me word if you are returning to the farm with me.” He then turned and left without another word. Aneirin turned and started down the hallway and then turned around. I wonder what his errands are all about? His curiosity was growing as he become more invested in the mysterious tale and recent happenings. He paced up and down the hall for some time. Almost as he had made up his mind to go find Farmer Grae, footsteps sounded on the stairs and Aneirin turned to see Eanor enter the hall. The man had his hood down, his cloak draped casually across his shoulders. He produced a key and opened the door to his room.
“Enter. We can talk in here, away from spying eyes and ears.” Eanor motioned for Aneirin to follow him. The room was basic. A couple smallish beds were evenly spaced throughout and a block window was the only variety on the whitewashed walls. A thin, braided rug sparsely covered the wooden floor. A single chair was isolated in the corner. Aneirin stood in the middle of the room. Eanor positioned himself on the end of the bed.
“Sit.” The single word prompted Aneirin to grab the chair, place it just where he had been standing, and sit in it. There was silence for a little while before either of them spoke.
“Are you ready to change your life?” Eanor looked right at him, his sharp eyes piercing his own. Aneirin sat still and resolute.
“Yes. I believe the account you revealed to me. I am here to do what little I can.” He briefly hesitated. “I don’t really know much about quests and fighting.”
“I can teach you. I wasn’t concerned about that.” Eanor pointedly stared him down. “Are you ready to stand tall and be courageous when necessary?”
Aneirin nodded. Eanor stood and moved to the window, silent for a little.
“We need to find the young man. Even if we find Dassais, no one can approach him, let alone touch him, except that man.” He turned around. “You know that, right?” He looked at Aneirin pointedly again. Aneirin thought back to that night in the woods. Is it possible? Am I…?
“I saw a large, black horse in the woods the other night. I touched it.”
Eanor sucked his breath in sharply and then turned back around to the window. After a moment, he let it out.
“You must stay here tonight. I have someone for you to meet tomorrow morning.”
© 2019 Tori Leumas