Horselords

Kimi and Davrael are two of the group who call themselves The Wolf Pack. I have been serialising some of the earlier stories of these friends on the first Tuesday of the month. so far I’ve done Carthinal’s parents and Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel.

horses

Kimi woke to hear sounds of horses whinneying. A gate creaked and then she heard galloping hooves. She quickly jumped from her bed and went to the window of her small bedroom. There, in the darkness, she could just make out a herd of horses disappearing across the plains.

She ran to her parent’s bedroom and woke them.

‘The horses have been stolen,’ she called as she turned to her brothers’ bedroom.

Her father leaped out of bed and ran to his window. This looked out over the back of the ranch where there were two corralls of some of the best horses on Vimar. He saw that these had not been touched, but these were not his best animals. The one Kimi’s room overlooked held those.

‘Are you sure, Kimi?’ he called to her as she woke her two brothers. He knew she would not have made such a mistake, but he felt he had to ask.

The girl came out of her brothers’ room, followed by the young men,Yeldin and Olias. The boys were older than their sister, Yeldin being the elder at almost twenty, and Olias was eighteen. Kimi would be seventeen at her next birthday in two months’ time.

‘Of course I’m sure,’ she said. ‘I heard the gate creak, then galloping. I looked and saw them galloping off over the plains.’

Olias looked at his sister. ‘Are you sure they didn’t just jump the gate, or otherwise break it themselves. Did you see anyone?’

Kimi looked at her brother and sighed.

‘I’m not an imbecile, Oli,’ she told him. ‘The gate was open. Unless the horses have now developed a way of opening the gate, someone did it for them.’

‘The Tribes,’ said her father, pulling on his trousers as he came out of the room he shared with his wife. ‘It must be one of the Tribes. Thieving scum that they are.’

The family was one of a number of settled folk living close to The Barrier, the range of mountains that cut off the Western Plains from the rest of the continent of Khalram.

Once they had been of the Tribes themselves, following the herds of wild horses that roamed the plains Several generations ago, some of the people had decided they could rear better horses if they had more control and so they settled in one place. There had been enmity between the Tribes and Settlers ever since.

Kimi looked hard at her father.

‘Not all the Tribes are thieves, Dad,’ she told him. ‘Some are, yes. They are jealous of the progress we’ve made in breeding, but not all of them.’

‘A Tribe member is always a thief,’ replied her father in a tone that said he could not be convinced otherwise. ‘Get dressed quickly, pick up your weapons and come with me. We’ve some horses to get back.’
Soon, Kimi and her brothers were cantering westwards after their animals, alongside their parents. All carried bows, and the men were also armed with knives. The tracks were easy to follow. The thieves had taken around twenty of the family’s best animals and they left plenty of signs of their passing.

Then the tracks split into three. Kimi’s father pulled his horse to a halt.

‘They want to confuse us so we don’t know which way to go,’ he said. ‘We’ll need to split up to find them.’

Kimi’s mother pulled her horse nearer to her husband.

‘Do you think it’s a good idea to split?’ she asked him. ‘We’ve no idea how many there are. It might be that there are too many for a couple of us to take on alone. Perhaps we should just go after one group and get those horses back. At least we would have some of our stock.’

‘These are our best animals,’ said Kimi’s father. ‘We need to get them all back. If we allow the thieves to gain even one, they’ll spread the word that we’re easy and keep coming back till we’ve no horses at all.’

The argument went on until Kimi, ever practical, pointed out that while they were arguing, the horses were getting further away. They took a vote, and all voted with their father and so the group split into three.

Kimi found herself with her elder brother, Yeldin. They followed one set of tracks to the south west.

‘Any idea how many are in this lot?’ he asked her. Kimi was a good tracker and she descended from her horse and studied the tracks.

‘I’d say there are nine horses here, but how many are ours and how many are being ridden by the thieves I couldn’t say.’

Yeldin smiled at her. ‘Well, little sis,’ he said, ‘I’m sure we can take them on. Let’s get going.’

They had ridden for several miles when they spotted dust on the horizon.’

‘There they are,’ called Yeldin from ahead. ‘I’ll circle round from the east and you approach from the west.’

Kimi pulled her pieballed horse round and galloped of in a westerly direction. She had her bow ready to fire at any enemy who approached, but she was not prepared for the five warriors who came from out of a stand of trees and surrounded her. They quickly pulled her from her horse and bound her hands and feet, then put her back across her horse so she could only see the ground below as they cantered southwards towards their camp.

What will become of Kimi, captured by one of the Tribes? Find out next month.

 

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