It felt like the horse ran for hours but in truth the beast was tired and could not have run that long, not with both me and my pack upon his back; it was just my perception fueled by fear and my inability to make the horse obey my commands. He did run out of the forest we had been traveling through and into a much rockier landscape. Of course I did not know how far out of the forest the beastie had run as by the time I could settle the roan down to stop its flight it was so dark I could barely see. I am amazed neither the horse nor I had come to trouble.
I slid off the horse’s back to land solidly on the ground by its hooves. I was lucky the nervy animal was too tired to rear or even move or I might have been stomped. I stumbled through the dark until I found an area where we were out of the sand-filled wind that howled about us. I looped the horse’s reins around a rock to picket it near a little grass then pulled my pack off, which seemed to cause it to shudder in relief. I found a knife in an outside pocket and cut my bonds to free myself further and then removed the saddle and tended to the animal while I took stock.
The fresh grass would work for the horse – the beastie finally settled to munching after I’d rubbed it down and tended to the few small scratches it had given itself – and I had my small stash of food in the tins, but water was an immediate problem I saw no solution for. Since it was dark I would have to do without and hope the dew that was falling would be enough for the horse until daylight would allow me to determine a good course of action.
My next concern is safety. The terrain is like nothing I am familiar with. It is possible that I will have to try and return to the forest. The stars above me tell me that I am well outside any territory that I have ever traveled in, even when I traveled by rail with my sister wives to Paduck. The stars tell me that we are east of there but I don’t see how as I do not remember crossing a great river unless I was unconscious far longer than I thought. Certainly I am out of Tentukia’s territory which makes me wonder how close I could be to a corrupted area. God be with me if I am. Even if I were to head straight east to get back into Tentuckia I have no idea how to cross the great river or if I would run into the very corruption that I need most to avoid.
The rocks around me are sedimentary and are of a type that I’ve seen in pictures. The landscape reminds me of areas where the rocks were thrown up from the ground by all the upheaval that occurred during the Destruction and Chaos. They almost look like sand castles that some giant child built and then forgot about; or perhaps mud squished up through the toes of some great and terrible beast that dried after none dared follow in its tracks.
This is ridiculous, my imagination is driving off my good sense right when I need it most. There are no monsters, and if there are beasts nearby I’m sure my skills are adequate to hold them at bay until day time.
Although upon closer inspection perhaps I should be less arrogant about my skills. Between the wind and the lack of wood a fire has been impossible to build. The warmth radiating from the rocks is nearly gone and the night is becoming quite chill. Damn them anyway regardless of my temporary compassion. Ronald Nealy may have thrown my pack on a horse – probably to make it look like I ran off on my own – but I’ve no coat or cloak to keep the weather off me. I would take the saddle blanket but the horse needs it. I do not wish for the animal to catch ill after the wild ride and all the accompanying lather. The horse stands between me and disaster; without its four hooves I will be left with only my two feet and the miles to return to where I belong will be that much harder to traverse.