We went to sleep early, and I think I slept well. Maybe I needed that exercise yesterday more than I realized. But I woke up, guessing it was pretty early in the day. I knew the sun was up at least. Well, I knew what our first task needed to be, anyway. We were almost completely out of water. And there were two of us using it now. I would need to make the trip down to the pond, hopefully before it started snowing like my neighbor felt it would. The stallion was asleep still, so I just stared blankly into the fire. There were a number of things I could think about, but more and more it just seemed… We would have to wait and see, wait until the stallion could see. I don’t know that I could stop hope entirely, but I was trying to at least be realistic. Well, ok, I did look briefly at his overall body again, but just to confirm that he was probably the length of my foreleg longer than I. Well, all the mares yesterday were bigger… I just went back to blankly staring at the fire. Using the very first tier levitation spell, I started picking a particular small ember up, then putting it down. For a little while, I just did that, and tried to work on setting the ember down as gently as possible. I was soon concentrating on that.

The stallion woke up as I was doing that very simple magical exercise. I doubted he could see, but I was pretty sure he could feel me using my magic. He was a Unicorn too, after all. While I was almost mindlessly practicing, he said quietly “Aww… Magic fun…” And when I looked over at him, he was smiling. He was looking at the fire, probably where he sensed the magic. I did it a little while longer. I realized that, besides picking up logs then placing them in the fireplace, and starting them on fire, I had practiced my magic little since it got cold. Staying comfortable really had occupied a lot of my time and attention.

His next question threw me. “Can I help?”

“Stallion, you can’t even see, how can you help?” I asked quietly.

He thought briefly. “Well, I can already feel approximately where you are practicing your magic. If you keep using your magic, I think I can use my magic with you. I have never tried it, but I have read that it can be done. But if you want to wait until I can see, that is fine. It would be fun to do.”

Magic fun… A Unicorn’s dream… I smiled broadly at this, as hope jumped quickly to life… Wow… Somehorse to actually do magic with… That would be amazing… I think that is a Unicorn thing… Still, I worked on wiping that smile away, glad that he didn’t see… “Maybe later we can try that with something that isn’t on fire.” I laughed after I said this, hoping he could not tell how much I hoped we actually would try this… together… Then I realized maybe I was creating another mess inside… Hope was not allowed to hope just yet…  It was quiet briefly. I sighed. “Stallion, I need to go refill our water bucket first thing this morning, before it starts snowing again.” This was more a statement than a question.

“Well, I need to go to the bathroom anyway… Can I come?” he asked right away.

I didn’t see any harm in that, and I would go to. Again, this is not something that deserves discussion, but there were ways that our practical lives had to be bound together. There was just no other way. But I did smile that he wanted to come to the pond with me, then I just as quickly tried not to do that.

I picked the bucket up. “Let’s get you outside, then I will hook the rope up.” We both got up, and accidentally conked heads in the process, not hard anyway. The rope was still connected to his collar, and hung down towards the floor. I opened the door and went outside, carrying the water bucket with my magic. It was cold, windy, but not snowing yet. Through thick, wind blown clouds, it was really hard to tell how early it was, not that it mattered. I put the bucket down, directed him carefully out, then used my magic to connect the rope to my collar. It clipped on, and clipped off. This was so much easier than tying and untying a rope. Whoever had made this… We went around back briefly, then we came around to the porch, and I picked up our… the water bucket. Then I led him slowly down the path to the pond. I stopped at one point, and showed him that the path was well-worn. It was easy to feel the low spot in the ground in the center where I usually walked, and that the ground was noticeably higher on the sides of the path. Well, I thought it was noticeable anyway, but maybe it was easier to see it, I don’t know. Still, next to each other, we walked slowly down the path to the pond. Well, it was snowing lightly by the time we got there.

I stopped us both near the edge of the pond. I put the bucket down, then used my magic to unclip the rope from my harness. Then I asked him to stay where he was. I looked at the surface of the pond, and realized… Yesterday it was warm, and the snow on the pond probably melted to water, only to freeze solid last night. It looked very slick. Thinking the creek might be a little safer, I took a deep breath, and walked very slowly out onto the ice. I didn’t need to go far, and stopped when my hind legs were just onto the ice. I turned to grab the water bucket with my magic.

Both front legs slipped quickly out from under me.

I fell over sideways, head first onto the ice.

I passed out…

The next thing I remember seeing was a dull, orange glow through very wet eyes. Then I said “Owww…” because it was bright and hurt my head. Well, my head hurt a lot.

The stallion was crying right away. He was crying a lot… “You’re ok…” he kept saying over and over as he cried.

I wanted to cry with him. But I said “Stallion, my head hurts so bad right now. Can we cry later maybe?”  I couldn’t think of anything beyond that throbbing…

He worked on calming down. And as he did, I slowly began to sense more of my surroundings. I slowly realized I was gazing into my own fireplace. That was good. Then I remember falling on the ice over my pond. I realized I had passed out, then I started crying again. Well, it hurt, so I mostly stopped. At least I was warm. That felt very nice, especially since it was snowing when… A nagging suspicion started with that very thought. Well, my head hurt so bad. I wasn’t thinking very well, not quickly at all.

I realized that my head was on top of the stallion’s head. Without saying why, I slowly said “Thank you”, and he started to cry again, then worked on calming down. Well, having my head up like this… I was pretty sure it would hurt worse if I was looking down, if my head was lower. I could figure that much out, anyway. For a little while, I just relaxed there. My head hurt a lot, but I was comfortable, at least, where I was. I honestly didn’t want to move anything, so my head could work on hurting less. I just laid there, motionless, for a while, trying to keep the pain to a minimum. It was over an hour, I think, maybe more. I didn’t want to even move… or think about moving…

At some point, I gasped quietly, and even that hurt. I realized I was laying on top of the stallion’s back. My legs were hanging on either side of his back, his shoulders. I was comfortable, and warm, splitting headache and all… A slight pressure on my back suggested… He was holding me steady on his back with his magic…

I guess that suspicion… I only slowly put all the pieces together…

I said quietly “You carried me back from the pond on your back after I passed out, didn’t you?”

He cried for a while…

And I realized that, if he had not been right there, I probably would have died… It hurt like mad, but I cried for a while too… This nameless, totally blind stallion that looked a lot like me… He had somehow got us both over 200 steps back into my house in a snowstorm, in pitch black for him…

I knew I needed to stop crying, for now. That was really hurting my head. I worked on calming down, and I think the stallion did too, when I did. For another hour maybe, I just rested there, we rested in front of the fire like that. I hoped my head would stop hurting so much. Then I asked him to tell me what happened, but to try not to cry too much.

He explained he heard my head hit the ice, then it was quiet…

He frantically called out to me for a few minutes…

He pulled his coat (my old coat) off of his back with his magic, realizing he had to put me on his back…

He got down on his knees, and crawled carefully out onto the ice, using the nice scent of the bath yesterday to actually locate me…

He listened for my breathing, and slowly moved around on the ice so my nose was right next to his…

For almost an hour, he slowly and gently tried repeatedly to pick me up. He would either not be able because he had ice, or he could tell from my nose that he wasn’t doing it right… He said he had to move a few times to get his nose back next to my nose because he did it wrong, and I slid across the ice.

Once he got me picked up, he let my head lay on his head while he gently spun my body around on his back. He lowered me down until he felt all 4 legs; 2 legs on each side of his shoulders and back. Then he used his magic to gently hold me there… for a long time…

After I was stable on his back, he crawled around on the ice, holding me on his back with his magic, until he found the edge of the pond. Then he crawled until he was back on grass, then carefully got up, holding me in place.

He said it was snowing heavily by then…

For the next half hour, he walked very slowly and carefully around the pond trying to find the path. He realized from the slope of the grass he had actually got out on the side closest to the house. But he had to walk a few steps away from the pond in order to find the path. He finally did find it.

It took maybe 2 hours he thought to actually follow the path, over 200 normal horse steps, up to the house. He had to constantly stop and check for the curvature of the path. Only his nose worked well for that; he had to shove it down through the snow to the ground beneath. And he had to back up often, and make sure he was still on the path…

Once he found that huge pile of wood out front (with his nose…), he located the door, opened it, backed in, then carefully closed the door again, also with his nose…

It took 20 minutes to locate the fireplace. He would move, feel for the heat, move again…

Once he was sure he was standing in front of the fireplace, he turned around, headed for the wood along the opposite wall, and used his mouth to find a good sized log. He turned back around, carrying that log with his teeth, then again went through the same process to find the fireplace, to find the fire. He got as close as he dared, then laid the log sideways on the ground, and kicked it into the fire…

Then he backed up, laid down on his belly with me on his back, held in place with his magic, with my head up on his head, and he waited… The house warmed up, anyway. And he could tell I was still breathing…

He was pretty sure it was maybe half a day from when he finally got me back inside, and in front of the fire, until I actually woke up. And, with him crying softly, it took a long time for him to explain all this. By the time he was done, I couldn’t stop the tears. I tried not to cry, but tears fell madly, rolling down my face, down onto the stallion’s head. He was crying too.

I don’t know how, but I think we both fell asleep just like that…

Many hours later, I woke up. My head was not on top of the stallion’s head, but was down alongside his neck, resting on his shoulder. Well, my head barely hurt like this. I didn’t want to even move. I reflected that my mom probably would not approve of this particular… me laying on a stallion like this. I almost laughed, but quickly wanted to cry buckets again. That would hurt, so I didn’t. Then I smiled; this was very comfortable, well… …comforting… Then I tried not to smile…

I guess the stallion knew I was awake. “Are you comfortable?” he asked quietly.

“My head hurts just a little, but I am afraid to move… anything…” I said slowly.

“Just relax, miss… That was very scary…” he said.

Without moving, I said it again. “Thank you for rescuing me…”

“Can I cry yet?” he asked quickly.

I sighed. “Not just yet, please.”

It was silent briefly, then the stallion said quietly “I have your name picked out.”

Honestly, it took a few minutes for this to even register, for me to actually realize… “What?” I said slowly.

“I have your new name” he said. “But… I won’t tell you until you need to know, though.”

Wow… It was quiet for a long time, as I tried to think through some options. Then I fell back asleep.

————–

1. The Background Music for this entire story is entitled “The Divine” from the “Forever Today” add-on for the original soundtrack for the “Seekers of Adoulin” expansion for Final Fantasy XI, and is copywritten by Square Enix. Players of FFXI will recognize this tune immediately, and this tune is fitting since a lot of this story takes place in the dead of winter. Please purchase this tune, and play it softly in the background while you read each chapter.

2. This story, “CSR Princess” is vol. 14 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain, and is copyright 2017 by Shysage

 

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