Animus Lost

To Return Unannounced

“Just a little further, Jeanne,” Astrid patted the big white mare on the neck. She could already smell the sea-salt air that reminded her of home. “Just a little further.” Clearly, she was talking more to herself than the horse, but Jeanne didn’t mind.

“Lady,” Batul called from behind. Surprisingly, Bucky tolerated his guidance while Jeanne refused him entirely. When he first tried to sit Jeanne, who is generally much more genial than Bucky, she sidestepped him, swinging her flank around and reached back with her head to shove him off whenever he got within easy reach. When he finally did get on, she stubbornly made his life miserable, doing the opposite of what he told her to, and generally making him look like a terrible horseman.

Bucky only tried to kill him every chance he got.

“Lady!” He repeated, louder, “Are those ships yours?”

Astrid fixated on the strip of grey out on the horizon that marked the ocean. Indeed, there were tiny blemishes that could be ships, but Astrid couldn’t tell if they were Cinderfell or otherwise.

Without another word, she kicked Jeanne into a gallop.

Bucky, sensing a race, attempted to throw Batul. Failing that, he sprinted and flanked Jeanne, snapped at her neck playfully, and disappeared with the deafening silence of magic kjkk . Unfortunately for Batul, Bucky hadn’t taken him with her, and he tumbled behind.

Astrid decided not to worry too much about him and spotted Bucky far ahead, galloping triumphantly, kicking out sideways. Jeanne saw him, too, and decided that she wouldn’t be beat. Astrid felt the quick falling sensation she’d associated with Pact Travel, and found herself almost to the edge of the cliff. Wide-eyed, she pulled back hard on the reins, causing Jeanne to dig her hooves into the dirt and barely avoided tumbling over. Astrid was honestly surprised Jeanne didn’t simply sprout wings and fly, by now.

When Astrid got the chance, she looked out at the waters surrounding her home. They were churning with strange ships sporting red and gold sails, and her heart sank.

A familiar clattering betrayed Batul’s swift approach, with Bucky trotting up behind him looking proud of himself. Batul flew past Astrid and hovered over the water. “I don’t recognize these ships, Lady.”

“I think I do.” She stared for a moment more before shaking herself, “Batul, get rid of those wings and mount your horse. My people need me.”

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