Yurli paces like an impatient young stallion, unable to be still.
ger has settled down by the large fire in the centre, the youngest
have curled up with their parents and the old ones talk in hushed
voices with each other. It's the time in-between, Kargzant is going
to the underworld, but the sky-herds have not found the great river
yet. It is the Kurku-hour, a time when anything can happen. A dangerous
time, so the People light fires to lead the herds into the sky and
keep the monsters away.
The angry demand is repeated and some of the warriors grumble in
irritation at the boys rudeness.
told you before" replies an old man, bald and deeply tanned
with strange marks all over his face.
you know more."
you must learn to listen.", he calmly reaches into the fire
with a stick and rakes out a few roasted Narok nuts some of the
children brought him earlier in the day. Unheeding of the heat,
he chews slowly on one then grimaces as a bad tooth stabs him with
sudden pain. He glances at the angry child, perhaps a man tomorrow,
In a quiet voice
he begins and the Laguros listen, even the things at the edge of
knows who the Black Mare is. No one knows if there is one or many,
that is why we do not know what to call her, or them. And knowing
the names of things is important, some of you will find names soon
and no longer be children. If you don't know the name of something,
you cannot know what it is. And sometimes, sometimes, something
has the wrong name. That is bad."
He stops and
looks at several of the children and frowns. So many strange ones
this time, the spirits have warned him about them, but he doesn't
understand the warning. Only that it is there. He spits out a husk
at night, never when it's light, and they bring gifts."
The boy looks
proud at this, puffing up his chest. "One came to me"
he declares unnecessarily as everyone knows.
The story teller
nods. "Yes, she did. But remember - the gifts are not always
to the good. You have all heard how Huarg Star-Seeker was lost and
the story of little Saka, they had both been gifted by the Black
The clan members
nod and mumble, yes they have heard this, but the boy stands defiantly.
Before he can say anything though, the old man goes on.
not know who she is, yes I think it is only one, some say there
are many but they are wrong. We do know a few things though; she
comes at night, she brings strange gifts and she comes to children."
A woman slowly
shakes her head and the story teller looks at her gently. "I
know, Uesna. You say you saw a strange war band far to the south,
all riding Black Mares. But how can that be, how could anyone ride
a Black Mare? And a whole war band?" Uesna looks unhappy but
The old Sun-Speaker
looks troubled and he hesitates, seemingly unsure how to continue.
"But who is she? Some say she is the spirits of horses killed
the wrong way, some say she is a messenger from Kargzant in the
underworld. Perhaps. I think she is something else. I think she
is from ma-Tamara, I think her name is Vengeance."
The boy looks
shaken by this, some of the fight gone out of him, but he puts up
a brave front "Hai, then I will bring vengeance on our enemies,
I will crush the Grey Lances under my hooves, snap their bones and
shower their children in the blood of their fathers. I will ride
over them like the North Wind and curse their spirits untill the
The other children
join the war cries, even some of the warriors and riders, but the
old sun speaker looks thoughtful. He decides not to mention the
Red Mare that rides the boy at night.