CARRY ME ON [P] Nov 5, 2013 20:40:39 GMT -5
Post by Donovan on Nov 5, 2013 20:40:39 GMT -5
It was the sound that drew them. AJ heard it first, stopping so suddenly that he nearly got bowled over, frozen with the alertness of prey sensing a potential predator. “There’s something real big moving around over there, mate,” he whispered. It was Donovan who recognized the clatter of hooves on stone, the heavy blows and snorts of exertion. Ignoring the exclamations hissed after him, he ducked around a thick copse of trees, scattering water droplets everywhere as he pushed aside the slender branches.
The ground fell away sharply from the ridge they’d been following, cutting down to one of the streams that were common in the foothills, runoff from the peaks above. With last night’s rain, the bank was muddy and treacherous, as the horse at the bottom had clearly discovered. Its distinctive brown and white markings were splattered with mud, its ears back as it made a lunge up the slope, only to scramble for a foothold as it slid back down.
From twenty feet above, Donovan asked, “I don’t suppose you’re a person?” The ears flicked toward him at the sound, head following, but after a cursory sniff in his direction, the horse disregarded him as unimportant. “Of course not.” With a sigh, he shucked off his jacket. Silly creature had probably wandered down there looking for a drink. Why it had wandered from the easier grazing in the meadows was anyone’s guess, but horses did that sort of thing. One back home had a penchant for breaking out of its pasture to wander into town, of all things.
AJ was looking at him askance. “What the blazes are ya doing?”
“I can’t just leave it down there,” he shrugged.
“The hell you can’t, we’re working!” he said, indignant. “We’re supposed to be at the border by nightfall!” Donovan frowned at him.
“It’s cold, and wet, and windy. That horse will die if it’s left there. You go on ahead, set up camp, and I’ll catch up.” Taking the pack, he crouched to dig through it, pulling out a coil of rope, a couple carabiners, and an apple, pretending not to hear the outraged, “That’s mine!”
Tossing the pack back to AJ, he turned to slide and scramble down the slope. A call of, “If you’re late I’m leaving without you,” followed him down. He hit the bottom some distance from the horse, which turned to look at him warily, hooves squelching as it shifted slightly.
“Hey there, girl. Got yourself stuck, huh?” he soothed, cautiously picking his way over, avoiding the muddy trickle of water as best he could. “Hungry? Dunno how long you’ve been down here, lass, but an apple can never hurt, right?” Inching closer, he proffered the snack on a palm.