Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of ‘The Silver Box’.
Libby and Ares are the stars of my Gods & Goats trilogy. The word prompt this week is ‘Wine’ so the story will reflect the prompt. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in. May the gods smile upon you!
The Silver Box
Ares has two war horses - Fear and Dread – that pull his golden chariot.
They are miserable, contrary, flatulent, fire-snorting steeds that hate me with a passion. I am not overly fond of them either.
“Pick which one you wish to ride,” Ares said then tugged on the golden reins to bring the horses front feet back to earth. When I said nothing he glanced under Fear`s black stomach. He did not have to bend over to do so. The horses are as big as minivans and not half as smart.
“Perhaps we should ride Dread, he seems less prone to violence,” Harmonia said.
I nodded. My helm slipped down over my eyes. This is the problem with borrowing armor from your lover. It`s all way too big. The helmet rotated around my skull. The cuirass needed a much bigger chest than mine to fill it, and the greaves covered my knees and half my thighs. At least I had a nicely weighted celestial bronze short sword hanging at my side. Hephaestus sure can work a forge!
“He is a far more docile beast,” Ares agreed and handed the reins to Harmonia. She looked awesome in armor of polished silver, a matching helmet with a bright green plume running down her back, sparkling silver shield and lance. As her father led Fear back into the cow pasture I sneered at the nag that was eye-balling me openly.
“Have you ever ridden before?” Harmonia asked, leaping up onto the ivory steeds back like it was second nature. It probably was for her. As a daughter of Aphrodite she oversaw marital harmony but as a child of Ares she also rode into war with her father, her twin brothers Deimos (Dread) and Phobos (Fear), Ares` sister Eris (Discord) and Eris` son, Strife, to ensure harmony in battle.
“I used to love the pony rides at the fair,” I muttered as she extended her hand down to me. I eyed that tiny palm like it was a rattlesnake.
“Then you have knowledge of the equestrian skills,” Harmonia smiled and brushed my nose with her fingertips. All unease left my body. I grabbed her hand and up I went onto Dread`s wide back. He pawed at the driveway, eager to be off. Harmonia handled the massive beast with grace and poise. I grabbed her around the waist. My legs were spread so wide I felt like a wishbone in the hands of two greedy children.
“Keep a tight rein on him lest he get his head,” Ares said, exiting the cow barn and turning his face into the wind and snow. “Follow the coast of Greece and Anatolia until you find the Caspian Sea. The land of the Sarmatian`s lies between the mighty lake and the Vistula River. Do not drop into the city of Themiscyra unannounced. Ride up upon the royal city and proclaim your birthright to the guards, my daughter, and you shall be granted immediate access. Bunting,” he grabbed my bare thigh and squeezed. I turned my head and looked down at him, “Do not speak of our relationship with Otrere. She is a jealous woman that has never truly forgiven me for leaving her.”
I was going to say something snide but he slapped Dread`s white ass at that moment. The cutting comment turned into a wimpy squeak of terror as the horse took off. We rode straight at my lovely house and then Dread got some air. Whinnies of joy echoed down the valley as Ares` horse threw his weight skyward. I hung onto Harmonia for dear life, eyes closed and pulse racing in my ears. My eyes were watering terribly as we soared through the bitter cold night sky. I glanced over the right side of Dread and saw my mountain bathed in inky darkness, the lights from the few homes along my road fading into nothingness as Harmonia put her sandaled heels into the war stallion`s sides.
Travelling with a god or goddess is tricky business. They can manipulate time and space with a whispered word. They can make themselves appear as small clouds or flocks of birds to skip under radar. When you move through time with one, it feels as if your stomach is being pulled out of your nostrils. Teleporting is even worse. Humans cannot handle the disassembling of their atoms despite what we`ve seen on the transporter bay of the USS Enterprise.
I tucked myself into Harmonia`s back as snugly as I could. The higher we flew the colder it got. My nose was running as we cleared the clouds. I think it was beginning to freeze to my upper lip. My, wouldn`t I just look spiffy meeting another of Ares ex-lovers?
“Close your eyes and do not let go,” Harmonia said over her shoulder.
I nodded. She spurred the horse for more speed. Dread gave her all he had. We were flying so fast the air threatened to rip off my helmet. Then the change of time happened. It was like driving into a brick wall without a seatbelt. My body was flung to the front then whipped backwards as a thousand light bulbs went off simultaneously.
The lights I assumed were stars snapping as we magically moved back in time. My stomach cramped. I broke into a sweat. My ears popped and I grew disoriented and dizzy. Harmonia felt my grip slackening as passing out tapped me on the forehead and asked if it could come in for a cuppa. Her left hand dropped the reins and she clamped onto my wrist. I then did the sensible thing and fainted.
I came around sometime later. I was warm. It was nice. Much nicer than have icy snot flash-frozen to your face I will say that. I rolled to the right and gagged a time or two. Nothing came up thank Hera. No, let`s not thank Hera. I`m mad at her for making me get snot frozen to my cheeks. We`ll thank Zeus for awhile.
“Libby, `tis time to awaken; we have many miles yet to go.”
I knew that soft, sweet voice. It was Harmonia, the goddess who slept in my spare bedroom. The daughter I never had.
“Wine,” I coughed. Harmonia laughed softly and lifted my blubbery body upwards. A flask was placed in my hands and with her assistance I gulped down some delightful red wine seasoned with orange zest. Dread was somewhere nearby, snorting noxious sulfur scented clouds. Or was that the other end of the rotten beast?
“Are you recovered enough to ride? We must make haste through this land,” Harmonia inquired. I swiped at my mouth with the back of my hand.
“I`m good, just a bit more wine.” I washed the taste of time travel from my mouth, rinsing and not spitting cause that`s just a waste. I opened my eyes. We were in a deep valley with mountains of grey reaching up to caress a crystal blue sky. I lowered the wine skin and got to my feet slowly. The air was dry and carried the scent of fresh water and decaying trees. I inhaled deeply. It reminded me, in a way, of the way my Pennsylvania woodlands smells on a summer day. “Which way do we have to go?”
“Down,” Harmonia answered tugging the wine from my hands to cork it. She whistled one high note and Dread, the white gas bag, ambled out of the woods, his mouth filled with long blades of sharp grass. He and I had a moment of eye-to-eye battle and then he tossed his head as if to say ‘Bring it, puny mortal woman!’
“This horse hates me,” I told Harmonia as she was kneeling beside me, her hands linked to give me a boost.
“He does not hate you, he simply knows that you fear him,” she said as I placed a sandal into her hands. I grabbed his long white mane and the horse danced to the side. A ripe curse came out of me. We tried again, and again, and then once more, just for shits and giggles. Finally, Harmonia, fed up with the horse and me I`m sure, jumped up on the beast`s back. He kicked and snorted and frothed. She struggled with the huge stallion.
I figured I`d just wait it out and leaned against a tree in some shade. Dread was feeling his oats after a nice run obviously. I glanced to the side as he and the goddess went round and round. Something moved from one tree to the next. I straightened up and squinted into the moving patches of shade and sun. Harmonia was cursing in Greek, which is very unlike her.
“I think there`s something out there,” I said. Dread was making such a racket she didn`t hear me. I pushed from the tree and stepped forward, reaching down to find the handle of my short sword. It may seem overly paranoid but if you`d have faced the monsters that I`ve faced since I hooked up with Ares, you`d pull your sword first and ask questions later too.
Dread was screaming. I inhaled when I saw what was stalking closer. Now I understood why the horse was freaking out. I took a step backwards as the Caspian Tiger dropped down into a crouch not ten feet from where I stood, his amber eyes locked on the white horse and its rider.
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See you next Tuesday as ‘The Silver Box’ continues!