Wordcount: 535 words
The Black Beast of Arrrggghhh!
The most disturbing part of the whole thing, Wendy reflected as she picked at her bowl of stew, was that she could remember everything that had happened in those two days. She remembered the small talk, the prairie chickens Cat had caught for dinner, even the stone Moonstar had picked up (and she’d removed) that he’d spent the rest of the day complaining about. She wondered idly what kind of memories she’d have if she’d said it had taken them a month instead.
The innkeeper caught her eye from across the room and Wendy polished off the stew. Time for her to start earning her keep. Apparently Heather, no, Skye Sparrow had worked her way across the kingdom singing for her supper, but Wendy had to rely on less glamorous ways of paying her tab. Still, she’d spent enough time in stables for the chores to feel more comforting than burdensome. There was a certain calm that evening and horses wove together and she moved from stall to stall caring for the various mounts with the help of the other stableboys.
They came to the final stall on the end of the row and the calm was abruptly shattered by squeals of outrage and the bass thud of hooves against thick wooden walls. She paused, catching glimpses of sleek black hide and livid green eyes as the stallion inside vented his rage.
“Oh, for the love of–” she looked down at Cat who had been following her apparently for want of anything more interesting to do. “Isn’t there a limit on how many supernatural things with fur I have to put up with?”
Cat groomed a paw and ignored her.
“Alright, fine, fine.” She turned to the two stableboys who were looking at her expectantly. “I suppose you expect me to give this guy his dinner?”
They nodded hopefully.
“We just push it through the slot there,” the youngest motioned the handy gap obviously fashioned post-horse arrival. “But he’s fair fast, you’ve gotta watch your fingers.”
Wendy rolled her eyes and pounded on the door with her fist. “Hey, shut-up and backup or so help me I’m going to find a way to turn you pink.” There was a startled silence from both the horse and the boys and she swung the stall door open before either could object. “There now, backup, backup,” She thumped the stallion’s shoulder as she hooked the pail to the wall. “No need to be an idiot about it.” Mission finished she turned and left, a thoroughly confused horse in her wake.
“Now,” She wiped her hands on her jeans and gave the boys a stern look. “How long has he been in there?”
“Since the Sparrow Brown abandoned him ma’am.” The eldest boy blushed as she raised an eyebrow. “I mean since she vanished. A couple of moons I think, not long.”
“I see. And has anyone ever taken him out of the stall since she left?”
“Why no ma’am!” The boys looked scandalized. “Everyone knows that Sparrow Brown is the only one who can handle The Black Horse of Eolian!”
Wendy sighed, she was going to have a long, long talk with Heather when she woke up.