It was time. I had spoken with the neighbors, letting them know I would be away for a spell. Those I had hired to see to things while I was away knew what they were to do in my absence. All that was left to do was begin the journey.
I gathered the things I had put by the door the night before, but there was too much to take all at once, so I left a bit for another trip.
I made for the door with my bags, fretting the fuss Dandi would put up. I thought of the two companions that I was dragging with me on this road.
“May we go safely,” I whispered. “May we go safely.”
I dropped the letters I had written in the post, then went to fetch Dandi.
I began tying the bags to her saddle. “Easy, girl” I said soothingly. “It is not so bad, is it?” To my surprise, she did not put up much of a fuss at all. She seemed distracted by something.
“I bet it is the road ahead,” I mused, stroking her neck after settling the last bag I had brought out with me upon her saddle. “Just a little more, girl. I will be right back with them, and then we can go.”
I headed back inside, rubbing my hands together to get the blood back into them after carrying out my things…
—but upon my return, Dandi was nowhere in sight.
I dropped my bags and ran to the fence to look for her. “Dandi!” I cried out, but she did not appear. I was only inside for a minute, so I knew she could not have gone far.
I went back over to near the front step where I had left the bags, calling out to her all the while. “Dandi! We have to go!” It was then that I heard rustling coming from over my shoulder.
I turned to see Dandi sneaking out from behind the side of the house, making breakfast of my daisies…
“Dandi, from whom did you learn to skulk like that?” I asked her with a sigh. She shook her head at me and whinnied, the one that always sounds like she is laughing at me.
I beckoned her over, and she came to me. I let her nuzzle me gently and rest her head on my shoulder. “You are too much, girl” I whispered in her ear, hugging her about her neck. “At least I know what was distracting you earlier,” I said with a laugh. Her little trick had chased away my uneasiness and the unrest of the night before.
But it was time to away, so I hung the last few bags to her saddle. Together, we walked the path that led to the street that would take us out of the homesteads and start us on an uncertain journey. We rode to war, to our small part in what was to come.
As we began on our way, I turned to look homeward once more. The day was just starting, the dawn bright with promise. All was quiet and tranquil. There was not a hint to be found of the need for the journey we meant to undertake.
May all the blessings held by the stars alight upon those who endeavor to make it so.
As I began to turn away, the daisies in the garden caught my eye. I looked to my friend, always spirited and always faithful, who had carried me down so many paths, and I could not let the moment pass.
I gently pulled on Dandi’s reins, to circle her back toward home. Once we were out front, I dismounted and asked her to stay still. She pawed at the cobblestones but did not move, so I turned up the path.
I ran over to fetch some of the daisies. I took three in one hand and the rest in the other before going back over to her.
I stood before her, with the three daisies held behind my back and the rest between the two of us. “We will be sisters today and wear these flowers for luck on our journey,” I told her. “What do you think of that, girl?”
Dandi walked up to nuzzle me again before having at the daisies I held before her.
I smiled and shook my ahead, “No, you just want them to eat them, don’t you?”
She was so dear to me.
We finally set out once again. As Dandi slowly walked toward the homestead gate, I leaned forward in the saddle, twisting the stems of two of the daisies I had kept hidden from her about the thin straps of her bridle, near each of her ears. I took the last daisy and tucked it behind my ear.
“We go to war,” I whispered once again.
We passed through the homesteads and took the westward road toward Bree-town. I knew that Deverell would not have had time to see to everything she had meant to already, so we went slowly, taking a leisurely pace.
I have been away, in distant lands so often, and what little time I have spent while home my thoughts were distant still…
…preparing for the next journey, looking for the next place to lend aid…
…I had forgotten how truly beautiful Bree-land is… worth uncertain journeys by those in distant lands to fight to save, even as we journey to do the same in lands far-distant as well…
We approached the southern gate into town as night was falling. I scratched Dandi behind her ears and whispered, “It was a lovely day to spend with you, Sister. We will get you settled and both find our rest for the night. Deverell should not be too long.”
I took one last look about as we entered the gate to help me remember the day. After Dandi was settled, I took a room at the Pony and slept through the night.
The Spirit Gauntlet Saga
Also, the entire saga, with full-sized renderings, can be found here!
(The full renderings make for a completely different experience!)