Post date: Jun 21, 2010 7:21:49 PM

About a year after her father departed, Luanes’ journey led her through a small mountain range to a small tribe on the other side. She felt that the quickest route would be up and over the mountains instead of trying to circumvent them. She also felt that it might bring her, symbolically, closer to her father, whom she missed terribly. She had never climbed mountains before, so the prospect of seeing a place that was unfamiliar to her peaked her interest.

There were a few moments when she felt that she wanted to turn back and go around, but she refused to give in to this whim. Her father had always taught to follow through on any decision, not only with her weapons but with her actions as well. This, he had said, would reinforce continuity in her life. How could people ever depend on her if she was constantly changing her plans?

About halfway through her long and laborious climb, she found a small plateau surrounded by a small ridge. As she scrambled onto it, she found a nest of some kind, though as far as she could tell, there was nothing alive in it. Chunks of bloody bones and ripped flesh littered the surface of this ledge. She found tufts of white fur and also feathers not only on the ground, but in the branches of the small overhanging bush overhead. It wasn’t until she saw the skeleton of a horse that she was able to determine exactly what kind of creatures nested here: It had been a Pegasus nest.

“How horrible!” she thought, the heavy sadness causing her heart to sink into her chest. She scanned the area around her to see if the threat still remained, but whatever had slain these creatures had long gone.

A sleight squeak caught her attention, and she turned her head towards the area where the overhanging bush shed a shadow on the nest. She could see a small cubbyhole in the rocky wall, a few white feathers sticking out of it. Dropping her belongings to the ground, she slowly made her way towards it, attempting to make no noise or sudden movement that might frighten the animal. With the aid of her charm and her knack with animals, she pulled out a small, white colt Pegasus, only about 4 months.

“This poor thing is just like me,” Luanes realized, “Orphaned by unknown creatures and placed in a small place for protection.” It was that thought that helped her decide to raise the filly. She called her Gaelitae, elvish for miracle Pegasus. Luanes brought the youngling everywhere with her, meeting with various kinds of trainers for their expertise, but there were not many who had the knowledge and expertise to handle this magical creature.

At night, the paladin boarded the colt at a local stable yet found that she could not part with him. Gaelitae would manage, somehow, to escape the stall and find Luanes, curling up near her bed. After one week of this, Luanes made the decision to sleep in the stall with Gaelitae, in an effort to get him used to it. Two weeks later, she tried again to leave him in the stall, but he would not stay.

The next morning, Gaelitae pressed his small, velvety nose against Luanes’ cheek, waking her from her slumber. Rubbing her eyes as she sat up, she looked at the Pegasus with a combination of tenderness and frustration. How was she supposed to train this magnificent creature? She did not even know where to begin.

She raised her eyes upward.

“Beneficent Visaria,” she prayed aloud, “Your guidance and wisdom in this matter would be most appreciated.”

Almost as if in response, there was a heavy knock on the door. Luanes worried that it was, perhaps, the priestess, come to tell her that the Pegasus could not stay in the room. Rising from her bed, she crossed the room in two strides and opened the door. It was, indeed, the priestess.

“Good morrow to you, Lady Ilrya,” the priestess greeted.

“Good morrow, priestess,” Luanes replied.

“You have a visitor waiting in the chapel.”

Luanes cocked her head to the side, confused.

“A visitor?”

“Yes, my Lady,” the priestess answered, “An older woman named Ivarisa.”

The elfess thought for a moment, trying to remember the name but had no luck.

“Very well,” Luanes told the priestess, “I shall be out momentarily.”

Once the priestess departed, Luanes closed the door and turned to Gaelitae.

“Do you think you can wait here while I go speak with this woman?” she asked, not really expecting an answer. The Pegasus tilted his head, giving Luanes the most endearing look.

“I promise, I will be right back,” Luanes continued as if the Pegasus could understand her. She turned and walked out of the room, heading to the chapel. She was quite sure that Gaelitae would follow her, but she could not help but hope that he wouldn’t do it.

Once she arrived at the chapel, she stopped abruptly, looking at the visitor with a stunned expression. Sitting on the bench was the old woman she had assisted, the very same one who had left her cart of worthless junk at this very temple…that cart that had transformed into gold and other valuables. She still wore the brown, hooded cloak that Luanes remembered from the previous meeting, though her face was less haggard.

“Ah, Lady Luanes,” she greeted, rising from the bench.

“Ivarisa, I presume,” Luanes replied, smiling gently.

“It is wonderful to see you again,” the lady said, bowing.

Luanes was about to tell the woman that she did not need to bow when, from behind her, she heard the all too familiar sound of Gaelitae’s hooves clacking on the stone floor.

“Gaelitae,” the paladin moaned, closing her eyes in frustration.

“Oh! A Pegasus!” Ivarisa cooed, seeing the magnificent animal. She hobbled forward and stretched forth her hands to stroke Gaelitae’s nose, which he permitted. After a moment, he lowered his head to nuzzle the old woman.

“Aww, aren’t you a sweet one,” she said, running a hand over his muscular neck, “Only a colt, I think…about 8 months old, I’d wager.”

Luanes watched the interaction with curiosity.

“Are you experienced with such creatures?” Luanes asked.

“Oh, yes,” Ivarisa responded, still stroking Gaelitae’s neck, “I have trained a few in my lifetime.”

Luanes’ heart leapt, a small ray of hope bursting from her for the first time in four months. Silently, she gave thanks to Visaria for answering her prayers so quickly.