The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong (6 page)

BOOK: The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong
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“This most likely leads up to the top of the cliff,” Grey thought. “I suggest we follow it.”

“From there we could just walk along the edge and bypass this altogether,” Joshua thought. Krieg moved restlessly. Joshua felt that the horse wanted to stay on their path until they found whatever it was that was further down.

“It’s up to you, Joshua,” Krieg thought. “We can go up here. It’s steep but we’ll make it.”

Joshua felt the horse’s conflict and made up his mind before Krieg could form another thought.

“Let’s go further down and find out what it is that sleeps there. Afterwards we’ll come back and go up the path to the top.”

He felt the horse’s agreement and they silently continued down the path.

“Do you see this? There is something in the rock there,” Grey thought.

“I see it too. It seems to stick out of the side of the cliff,” Joshua answered.

“Wait.” Krieg stopped.

“What is it?” Joshua asked.

“Let me go alone,” Krieg thought.

“Why?” Grey asked.

“I don’t know, but whatever it is that lays there, it might not be the best way to be woken up by a wolf standing over it.”

“You have a point. But what if it’s dangerous?” Grey thought.

“Then I’ll come back up and we’ll go the other way,” the horse replied.

Joshua could see a small plateau in the shadows where the unrecognizable shape was sticking out of the cliffs. He flew off the horses back.

“Be careful,” he thought.

“I will be,” Krieg answered. “Keep your distance. If we have to run, I don’t want you too close to whatever this is.”

With that, the horse began to trot down the path. When he was about a hundred feet away, Joshua and Grey followed slowly. Krieg reached the plateau and stopped before a sculpture of stone that seemed to be half melted into the cliff. At that moment, the sun came over the rim of Hollow’s Gate, illuminating the spot where Krieg stood. And now, out of the shadow and completely in the light, Joshua and Grey saw what it was. The head was slightly smaller than Krieg’s, its features softer, more feminine. Its front hooves stood up from the ground and its back was melted into the stone cliff. With massive wings on either side, the stone Pegasus looked as if it were about to take flight.

The sun illuminated its ivory colored surface. As Joshua and Grey came closer, they saw the Pegasus’ expression. Its eyes were closed in contentment as if she had willingly sought out this spot and also her state of being. Joshua had heard of the legends of the flying horses that lived in a city deep down in Hollow’s Gate. But that was a long, long time ago. So long ago, it was almost forgotten.

Krieg’s head was only inches away from the head of the stone Pegasus. It was as if he dared not breathe out of fear to disturb the creature. Joshua and Grey now stood on either side of the horse. Joshua felt… he wasn’t quite sure, but he could only describe it as awe. The magnificent beauty of the creature was unlike anything he had ever seen before. And yet there was a sense of finality he felt while looking at her face. It crept up inside him and into his chest and made him gasp for air. Suddenly, Krieg stepped backwards and went on his hind legs letting out a cry that seemed to come out of sheer desperation. The wolf and Joshua moved backwards away from him. The horse started to pace back and forth, going on his hind legs several times and crying out each time.

“What is it, Krieg?” Joshua thought to him.

There was no answer from the horse just a sense of desperation sweeping over Joshua that he had to shake himself to get rid of.

“Krieg, what’s going on?” He thought, hoping to get through to the horse.

Then the wolf began to wince and howl, as if in utter pain. It was the most eerie thing Joshua had ever heard. That, mixed with the horse’s cries, made the scene turn into something completely otherworldly. It seemed as if the wolf, the horse and the stone Pegasus shared in something that Joshua was not part of, or only on the periphery.

“Grey. GREY!” He yelled in his thoughts. There was no answer. The wolf looked at him unable to communicate. Krieg began to frantically kick the stone around the Pegasus’ hind legs but to no avail.

Finally, he stopped. So did Grey’s howling. “I can’t save her,” Krieg thought to them. “She wanted to be here. It was her choice to be frozen in stone for all eternity for what she did. But once it happened she realized that it was a mistake, that she shouldn’t be in here. And now she can’t escape. She hasn’t been able to escape for more than 900 years.”

Joshua could feel Krieg’s sense of helplessness. All the strength, endurance, and power of this mighty war horse were no match for the stone.

“Is there something we can do?” Joshua asked.

“No.” Krieg answered.

When he looked at Joshua, his eyes spoke to him more than anything.

“I have fought many wars. I have seen despair in friend and foe. I have seen pain and loss and plenty of it but nothing captures my heart more than someone’s inability to fight for freedom.”

Grey and Joshua looked at each other, sharing in their friend’s sorrow. Krieg walked close to the Pegasus and laid his head on the stone. Joshua watched as a single tear dropped down from the eyes of the war horse and landed on the head of the Pegasus.

All was quiet. Suddenly it was as if the air became denser around the plateau on which they stood. Something moved even though nothing was visible to the naked eye. There was a stirring and each of them felt it deep within themselves as if something inside each of them, something that was captured and held prisoner a long time ago, was finally set free. Joshua and the wolf stepped back. Was it a trick their mind played on them, an optical illusion of sorts, when some of the stone feathers of the Pegasus’ massive wings began to move slightly in the wind?

Joshua realized at that moment that they were witnessing something that had not happened in eons, if ever. At that moment he became aware of the Pegasus. Not her features, but her mind. It was as if it had been submerged deep within her and finally found its way to the surface. There was an utter lightness to her being. Her mind was like a fountain of clear water sparkling in the sun. The sense of relief in her was so contagious that Joshua closed his eyes and let it envelop him completely.

When he opened his eyes, he saw her wings begin to move. The sheer joy of her slowly regaining freedom had no boundaries. The wind streaming off her massive wings pushed Joshua down to the ground and suddenly there was a rumbling from deep inside the mountain, as if it finally released her into freedom. The sound of the compressed air below her wings was like thunder. And then they heard a crack. Like a lightning strike, it went through them. Joshua didn’t know what was happening at first. It all seemed to occur in slow motion. He saw the Pegasus on her hind legs, her massive wings moving up and down. He saw Krieg standing to the side watching. Joshua felt more than saw the wolf, slightly behind him across from the Pegasus and toward the edge of the Plateau.

Suddenly the ground beneath them gave way. At first Joshua thought that Krieg and the Pegasus, together with the cliff behind them, moved away from him. But then he realized that he and Grey were moving away from them. At that moment he knew what the cracking sound was. A large part of the plateau on which they stood was breaking off, taking him and the wolf with it and disappearing into the depth below. And then he fell.

 

8.
J
UMP

Krieg saw Joshua and the wolf disappear over the cliff. It took all his strength not to jump after them, but he knew that this would be certain death. The Pegasus was still partially embedded in the stone when Krieg saw that the path began to crumble and break off.

“We have to leave!” He thought to the Pegasus. “We have to leave now!”

The Pegasus looked around in panic trying frantically to free herself. “Help me!” The thought stood clearly in Krieg’s mind. “I don’t want to die and I’m still too weak to fly.”

He began to kick the rock next to her with his hind legs. The stone began to loosen but not fast enough for him. The path back to safety crumbled more and more but suddenly the Pegasus was free.

“Run!” She thought to him.

She didn’t have to tell him twice. He took off racing up the crumbling path. The moment they stepped off the plateau, it broke off and disappeared into the depth below. It was now as if the destruction of the path raced Krieg and the Pegasus. As fast as they ran, the breaking of the path gained on them until the Pegasus’ hind legs were already pushing off loose rock.

“Here it is!”

Krieg jumped up and into the steep incline of the creek bed. The Pegasus followed and they both ran up the slippery path.

“Don’t stop. Just keep going!” He reassured her.

As they made their way up the steep mountain side, the entire path up to the waterfall began to crumble and break off. And when Krieg and the Pegasus finally reached the top, there was nothing left of the path below. The sheer cliff was smooth, without any interruption as if the path and the plateau had never existed.

Panting, they stood on top of the cliff. Krieg’s joy of having escaped certain death was overshadowed by the pain of losing his friends. He still couldn’t believe what happened. Krieg had lost many fellow war horses and each one was as painful as the last. The sense of loss was a familiar one to him.

“I’m so sorry.” The Pegasus must have heard his thoughts. When he looked at her, he saw it in her eyes—the knowledge of her having gained her life at the price of someone else losing theirs. She suddenly lost her balance and sank to the ground. Krieg stepped toward her not quite sure what to do.

“I wished for someone to come and free me for so long. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. And then I felt your footsteps on the path and there was the small hope that maybe this time… Several travelers came before you, but I never felt an anger so strong or the will to live and to give life that I felt in you. When you stopped at the fork I hoped you would come and try.”

“I think I heard you.” Krieg thought.

“I didn’t know that death would be the price for my freedom,” the Pegasus replied.

“Many of my fellow war horses died for me in the war, as I would have died for them. But we live and we must honor those who died not with more death but with our lives. Otherwise they died in vain.”

As the sun rose behind them, flooding the landscape with golden light, Krieg could feel that, despite his words of wisdom he knew to be true, the loss of his friends cut deeper than he wanted to admit. There might be another battle for him to fight—the battle between the promise of a good life as payment to them and the sheer finality of losing their companionship. Only time would tell.

* * *

The next day passed in a haze for Krieg. They found a spring a little further south that carried clear cold water through a meadow where the snow and ice had melted almost completely.

“It will take me some time to get my strength back,” the Pegasus thought to Krieg. “And when it comes back I will go and look for your friends. For I know your thoughts are burdened with their absence. But do not trust a hope. Time flows at a different speed at the bottom of Hollow’s Gate than it does up here. You can spend one day at the surface and it will be close to a week below. ‘The Great Deep’, as it was called, has its own laws and what you believe now might not be true down there.”

“You are saying that Grey and the red one have been down there for almost a week now?” Krieg could not fathom that they lay dead somewhere at the bottom of an ancient world where their bodies had already began to disintegrate.

“Do not let your thoughts go there,” the Pegasus interrupted him. “It is a dark place from which you cannot see.”

Krieg looked at her. He could sense her lightness of being below his grief. This lightness was something he had not yet found within himself. “You never told me your name.”

“My name is Wind,” she replied. “I got it when I first learned to fly.”

“I always thought the legends spoke of Pegasus foals that could fly right out of the womb,” Krieg answered.

There was a pause when she looked at him.

“No one has told you.”

“No one has told me what?” Krieg replied.

“No one has told you how a Pegasus gets her wings?”

Krieg saw a smile in her that suddenly seemed to flood through him as well.

“You are telling me that you never knew how we get our wings?”

“No.”

“That is so sad, Krieg. You must know that I was not born with wings. None of us is.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean having wings is not something we are given with birth even though it is our birth right. Don’t you know that we are horses?”

“Horses?” Krieg was puzzled.

“Yes, horses. Krieg, we are horses that learned to go past our limitations. We have been given the chance to fly, to leave behind all that limits us and soar with the eagles high above the earth. We have been given freedom, Krieg.”

For a while he was quiet. He became aware of the land around him and her presence next to him.

“How do you leave your limitations behind?” He asked.

Wind looked at him for a long time. There was a kindness in her eyes born of knowing the strength it took, the faith in both the goal and the means to reach it.

“Your limitations, you must not believe them. You must not fuel them with doubt about yourself. You must know they are not and have never been part of you. You must know yourself. And not only must you know yourself you must love it as well. Deep within, you must love… you.”

Krieg was quiet for a while. Within himself there was a small part, deeply submerged somewhere, that resonated with her thoughts. At that moment he knew that her words were true. But…

“…you are asking, what about the other part? The part that thinks you small and frail and puny?” Wind finished his thought.

“Yes.”

“You freed me from eternal imprisonment. I will help you go beyond your limits. I will help you get your wings. I will see you fly.”

BOOK: The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong
3.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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