I was unable to think of an answer for her, so I said goodbye and cantered away. I needed to clear my head before giving Radke a review of our loses from that little 'jaunt' we had last night. I just couldn't face him thinking about what Zee just told me.
So I leaped into an all-out gallop towards the forest. I felt so free, like there wasn't even any ground beneith my hooves. Gravity itself had no meaning to me at a gallop. The trees were flying by me before I had a second thought. I leaped over a fallen tree, and landed into the same gallop. Weaving through trees without slowing down, I galloped through the forest.
As I approached my normal 'chill out' spot, I slowed to a trot. The dry ground grew moist as I neared the place. I lifted my head and took in a deep breath of the sweet, dew-filled air. The place was as I called it, the 'Peace Well'. It wasn't much of a well; in fact, it was more like a dirty swamp than anything else. But it was peaceful and secluded, so it was good enough for me.
I cantered into the slightly murky water and splashed around in it. I fairly squealed with glee, the water felt good on my tired legs. I swam around for a while, then I just lay in the shallow water, letting all of life's many problems of life get soaked away by the soothing water.
Suddenly, Radke leaped out of the bushes, almost landing on me. I screamed, and frantically got to my feet before I saw Radke laughing on the other side of me. I kicked him, and growled, "What the hell are you doing here?"
Radke managed to contain his laughter enough to talk normally. "Well, I needed to dicuss something important with you."
I gulped back my breakfast, and asked, "What did you want to talk about?"
His face grew dark, and I almost forgot it was Radke, he looked so serious. "The scout we sent out last week still hasn't returned."
I gasped. "Where did you send her?"
"To the edge of our territory," He answered. "Down by the dried-up lake. Last time we were there, I saw some renegade stallions on the other side of the lake. I wasn't sure if they would just move on, but I sent Becela to make sure. But she should have come back now. The dry lake isn't more than a day's run from here. So she should have come back, its been more than five days!!" Radke hung his head, and I swear if horses could cry, he would have been.
I walked over and he rested his head on my shoulder. He was very upset, considering how gidy and carefree he normally was. I never was good at comforting people, so I just told him, "It'll be okay Radke. I'm sure she is just fine."
Radke sighed, "Its just I've been so irresponsible lately, we've lost so many mares. I bet my father wouldn't have let this happen if he was still in charge."
I turned my head to look at him and replied, "Well, everyone has their outbursts of immaturity. You just witnessed mine. Its not like we won't forgive you, you're our stallion. We don't really have a choice." The last part sounded more bitter than I had wanted.
Radke sighed again, "I guess, but I don't want the mares to lose faith in me. I might be young, but I don't want to seem worthless."
I laughed. "Well, I am six months older than you. But if you want, I could go look for Becela." He looked up in alarm, but I continued. "I can run the fastest of all the mares, so even if those stallions try to get me, I can beat them."
But as I started walking away, Radke loped right in my path. He pleaded, "Don't go! What would I do without you?"
I cocked my head. "What do you mean? I don't do that much, I'm just the blue roan mare. I promise I'll come back, okay?" Radke's head was almost past his knees. I lowered my head to his level and asked, "What's wrong?"
He kept looking down but answered, "If you really want to go, then please be careful."
I nuzzled him and purred gently, "Don't worry about me, I can take care of myself." I turned and cantered out of the water and into the woods again. I stopped just out of view and looked back. Radke seemed to light up the pond by standing there. I smiled to myself, drinking in the image. Then I cantered toward the edge of the forest, and started the journey to the dry lake.
It was about noon when I left the woods, and by the time night fell I was at the halfway point, marked by a large boulder. After not getting any sleep the night before, I felt like I would collapse at any minute. I lay down next to the boulder, and looked up at the stars. They shone bright in the clear sky, and I wondered how they stayed up there. I wondered if I galloped really fast, that I could reach those stars. I watched them for several minutes, then fatigue overcame me and I fell into slumber.
When I awoke, my joints felt very stiff. I got up slowly, and shoke the dirt off my coat. The overcast sky made it look like everything was a grayish colour; even my coat looked a dark gray instead of blue like always. There was a chill in the air, creating a feeling of fear in my heart.
I walked at first, nervous of what I might find. I hoped Becela was still alive; she made a nice edition to the herd. I watched the clouds roll by me, intimidating me with their speed. I felt like my joints were less stiff now, so a run would be okay. I tossed my head with giddy happiness, and galloped toward the horizon.
The dry lake was about two miles off, when I heard a horse's scream. I recognized it to be Becela's, and turned east toward the sound. What I saw was a shock.
There was Becela, galloping as fast as she could, followed by two stallions- one black and the other chestnut. I realized quickly what happened: Becela had been scouting when she ran into the two renegades, which overpowered her. They decieded to use her as a start to their herd, and now were driving her back to their territory.
I couldn't let that happen, so I galloped in to take Becela home. I galloped next to the two stallions, and shrieked, "You'd better give up the mare! She belongs to my herd."
The two stallions laughed and the black one replied, "You got it backwards, sister. She's ours, and now you are too!" The chestnut pulled behind me and bit my rump. As Radke had discovered earlier, I don't like that. I kicked with all my might, and nailed the chesnut right in the face.
He wailed in agony, and slip to a stop. The black stallion galloped next to me, and slammed into my shoulder. I tried to catch myself, but it was no use. I fell onto the lake edge, and rolled into the lakebed. The black chased me, and walked up to me when I came to a stop. My legs and back were cut up severly, and my mouth tasted of blood. The big black whispered in my ear, "Your a firey one, and pretty to boot. We'll have some fun with you." I lost conciousness after that.
When I came to, the two stallions were towering over me, big smiles on their faces. The chestnut's face was bulging on one side, and I smiled too. "He you, hows the face?" I asked boldly.
The black kicked my stomach. "Shut up!!" He snarled. "You're in no position to talk right now."
The chesnut blocked the next kick, and murmured, "We don't want her injured."
I battled the pain, and looked over my legs and back. The cuts weren't serious, they were already starting to heal. My stomach was stinging from the kick, but I got to my feet and asked, "What do you want with me?"
The black laughed. "Exactly what we told you. We're starting a herd, and we want you to be lead mare."
I snorted. "Not likely. Why don't you steal mares from the farms instead?"
"Because they are slow, spoiled, and they are really whiney." answered the chesnut. "Oh, by the way, since you will be joning our herd, you should know our names. I'm Carison, and he's Araim. I'm actually a Hanoverian that escaped as a foal, he's a throrobred I met along the way. So yeah. Get used to us, you're stuck with us for the rest of you're life."
I stared into Carison's smug eyes, and I saw one thing buried beneith the all the emotions he felt right now- fear. I smiled and shoke my head. "There's no way I would ever join your herd." I turned heel and ran for all I was worth.