Here is the second entry into my weekly(ish) ongoing series The Horse’s Journey.
Chapter 2: (Yes, We Are Doing Chapters Now . . . And Also Considering Them Chapters!) Fadder, Vader, Father?
I stand over my farm boy, blocking him from the crazed hermit Old Man Fadder, who is staring at him. Alright creepy guy, you can leave now. Despite my clear body language, the old man comes over to the boy, ignoring me completely.
“Your time to fulfill the prophecy has arrived,” he whispers dramatically.
Prophecy? First, what the what? Second, who are you even talking to? There’s no one here but the unconscious boy and me. Last, and most importantly, what are you doing out here? Have you been stalking us from the trees again? Fifteen years of this crap, and no one but me seems to notice.
The man grabs the boy and starts to pick him up. I give him my best threatening neigh, but it must have come out as a needy whine because the old man nods solemnly and pats my nose. I’m going to have to work on my intimidating demeanor.
“No need to be afraid for him anymore. I am here to help.”
Old Man Fadder lays the boy on my back before grabbing my reins. Yeah, no, that’s fine, put the ticking time bomb on my back and force me to follow you. Great. Glad you showed up. Where were you hiding again?
We walk in uncomfortable silence through the devastated landscape before reaching the untouched trees, making our way toward the farm. During this little trip all I get to stare at is the swaying of an old man’s bland, boring backside. It’s basically like having the farm boy lead me. Now that I think of it, both look identical from this point of view–from any point of view, actually. Bland, boring, and lacking any personality. The only difference is that the old man has a few grey hairs and a perplexing well-kept beard for a hermit. To be honest, I think they could be related, like father-son related. But that couldn’t be right. I mean, why would a father abandon his son, let the child be left on a distant relative’s doorstep, watch (stalk) the boy grow up, find him passed out after absorbing a golden orb, whisper about it beginning and prophecies, and never say a word to anyone, ever? I mean that would be stupid. His name is Old Man Fadder, surely someone would have made the connection after all these years. They can’t be related.
Whatever it doesn’t matter to me. All I want to do is get to the barn, eat some hay, and forget the whole I-nearly-died-to-a-magic-orb-before-golden-eyes-healed-and-or-resurrected-me thing. Only a few more minutes and we will be back at the farm. In fact I can see it through the thinning trees. No need to stop.
Old Man stops us. Damn.
Grabbing the boy off my back, Old Man sets him down against a tree. The boy’s head lulls to the side, but mercifully he isn’t shouting. Then Old Man waves his hand in front of the boy and an amber symbol weakly sparkles on the back of his hand before an amber light shoots out of his palm and into the boy’s face.
Super. More unexplained light magic.
“WHERE AM I!?!” the boy screams–that’s already getting old–as his eyes open.
Old Man’s hand returns its normal non-symbol self as he cackles for no real reason.
“O boy, you fell asleep and bumped your head. Now Old Man Fadder has found you nearly dead!” Old Man says.
Oh sweet Great Horse Lord above, not stupid rhyme talk.
The boy blinks, rubbing his head. “Old Man Fadder, what are you doing here? I swore there was an orb and gold light, and –”
“Absorb the orb, the sun does run, stays light until night. Yes, bless, mess!”
What is happening?
The boy raises his brows uncomfortably and looks past the blabbering Old Man to me. His face splits into a smile, and I give him a happy neigh.
“I thought you died,” he says, trying to get up and get to me, but Old Man holds him down with a hand on the shoulder.
“A story before you worry. Insight is alright!”
I’m going to bite him.
I move in for the kill, but Old Man’s leg kicks out and deflects me despite his full attention being on the boy.
I can only watch as the boy gives a reluctant half-smile while Old Man begins his tale. The man’s voice grows deep, all pretense of rhyming out the window. Blessed day!
“In The Long Forgotten Age–” Then who cares? “–The Orb of Power was formed. Prosperity filled the world and an ancient sect known as–”
I more or less tune out. But the bits I do catch are basically: some old organization–not that old, I mean they were around like sixteen years ago, I remember them . . . most everyone should . . . –called The Spherical Order–it was tacky back then, too–used the power of TOP (I’m not going to repeat the whole title all the time) to make the world a happy place–I do remember them being more cult-like and oppressive but it’s Old Man’s story so whatever–then one of their own, The Shatterer–I know, yikes–killed everyone and is now the Dark Lord of the Kingdom. Oh, also some prophecy about a Chosen One wielding the Core Orb to reunite all the Pieces of Seven, and rebalance the unbalance–wait, that can’t be right . . . no, yeah, that’s what he said–that The Breaking –seriously with the proper nouns– of TOP left behind in the world.
All of it nonsense.
Or a reiteration of basic history that any child in this world should know.
Or a poorly veiled attempt to explain the boy’s status of The Chosen One while also dishing out loads of unnecessary backstory that may or may not become vital in his journey of overthrowing The Dark Lord and reestablishing the culty/tyrannical TSO.
One of the three.
“The end, don’t bend!” The Old Man concludes, before letting go of the boy and literally skipping away into the trees–presumably to keep spying on the boy.
“Well, that was odd,” the boy says, getting up and brushing himself off.
I toss my head in agreement.
Thunder claps, and I flinch, fully expecting to be tossed through the air for the second time today. But no air sailing happens. I look upward to see the once cloudless sky now thick with dark, roiling storm clouds.
“Storms coming up, Horsey. We better get home quick,” the boy says shamelessly, grabbing my reins and leading me to the farm. The resemblance between him and Old Man really is uncanny.
Also, yes, my name is Horsey. Horsey the horse.
Now bring your attention back to more cliffhangery matters–such as the impending storm. I’m sure that has nothing to do with Chosen Orb Boy here. Nope. It will no way impact my everyday life.
Not at all.
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