His brain was buzzing as he watched the movements of the animals. They were so close. If he took ten paces toward them, he might even be able to touch one. One soft, velvety nose. He imagined what those wings must feel like. Were they like bird’s wings, with hard, thick stalks running through ever feather? Or were they maybe softer, as luscious as those white muzzles he so longed to touch.
He had heard of pegasus before, but he had always thought they were just players in fairy tales, told to children to help them drift off to sleep, majestic dreams filling their heads.
These were no fairy tales. He moved toward them once more, but as he did, they shied. The animals at the back of the group trotted away, not yet scared of him, just moving away from a potential threat. The leader stayed behind for a moment, his front hooves dancing, his nostrils flaring as he regarded Kiron. Then, he turned on the spot and went after his herd.
Kiron hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath, and he let it out now in a long, slow sigh. It was his last night in Gedalta. He knew this, and the urgency of his need to get closer to the herd began to overtake him. He wanted a tale all his own, a real tale that he could tell to anyone willing to listen. Maybe if he only ever saw the pegasus with his eyes, and didn’t feel them with his hands … would that make it harder to remember? Would his story eventually be punctured with holes as his memories became old and worn over the years?
He moved closer again, but this time the herd was watching him just as he was watching them. They turned and moved away before he had barely taken five steps in their direction.
But not the leader. He did as before, staying behind to evaluate the threat, himself. He was only thirty feet away, but when he opened his wings, Kiron gasped.
They were much larger than he had imagined them to be. Pure white, they spread out in the air beside the pegasus, at least ten feet long on either side and half as wide. The animal stood there, regarding him. Then he took a couple of purposeful steps in Kiron’s direction, and his wings moved as he did, blowing great gusts of air with power so forceful that it blew Kiron’s hair away from his face.
Was it a threat? Kiron couldn’t tell. Perhaps the animal was showing off his size, like a male turkey puffing up to scare off a potential enemy. He stood watching, awestruck, not caring in that moment whether the great beast intended to attack him or not. All he cared about was watching the animal, memorizing his every move, every dart from his eyes, every movement from his hooves.
Every gust from his wings.
Then, as before, the pegasus turned and followed his herd, this time at a gallop, as they had moved much farther away. He folded his wings in as he went, kicking up his back feet with his powerful hind end as one final warning to Kiron.
Kiron sat down right where he stood, barely able to breathe. His blood was pulsing through every part of his body, and yet he found he couldn’t get enough air to fill his lungs. It was with dizzied eyes that he watched the herd move away, and with a confused mind that he tried to begin the formation of a plan. Minutes passed. His breathing eased. In the distance, the leader of the herd turned to watch him, but he stayed still on the ground. Not a threat.
He would gather his things and try to bridge some of the distance between himself and the herd. Then he would wait. He would wait for days, for as long as he was physically able.
It no longer mattered to him to make it home in time before his parents’ arrival. This was an adventure he no longer wished to keep secret. He would want to tell the world about what he had seen, to share, with anyone willing to believe, the wonder that he now felt. No, following the commands of his family no longer mattered, no longer held importance compared to the heaving bodies of the pegasus. And the punishment he might receive seemed a paltry price to pay in exchange for staying right where he was.
The sun was setting, sending shafts of light to reflect off the enormous pillars, releasing from them a rainbow of beams to complement the colors in the sky.
He settled fifty feet away from the herd. They watched him, but did not seem to be so bothered by his presence. They had plenty of time to flee if he were to start another approach.
As the sun slipped beneath the horizon, he watched them, unwavering, planning, hoping.
He must get closer.
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