I worked at a horse ranch for a few years. I have a deep, unflinching love for horses and was very grateful for this opportunity. While there, I became acquainted with a horse by the name of Wannabet. As her name implied, she had a reputation for being feisty and posing a challenge to her riders.
I was inexperienced and fearful. Horses were my way of finding peace and calm in the years after my Dad died. I didn’t think myself equal to riding Wannabet, but I did enjoy petting her. In fact, I found her favorite spot (right between the ears).
Somehow, an unlikely bond was formed. She was the only horse in the barn that would nicker at me when I came in (and feeding time was not in full-swing).
I don’t have any real pictures of her (this was before the time of good cameras on cell phones). But these are a few horses that remind me of her:
As I’ve been thinking about my experiences with this beautiful soul in a horse, I’ve learned even more from her. Wannabet lived in the moment. She didn’t take garbage from anyone (whether horse or human or dog). But she also loved without reservation and took care of this inexperienced rider when I certainly warranted a buck-off.
I’ve been wrestling with a lot of uncertainty in my creative journey. Days of depression. Days of regrouping. Days of trying again.
And, for some reason, I’d like to be a little more like this horse I knew. When the voice inside me that says, “Look at you! How could you ever break through? You are a hopeless dreamer destined for mediocrity!”
I can smile, think of that beautiful, red horse and say, “Wannabet?”
Noindorath had her hatchlings warm and close under her wings. Hatchlings she’d just named. Hatchlings she’d never had the chance to name in the last life. Their lives had been too short. Some never even making it out of their marbled-stone eggs. They nuzzled close now. Dozens of tiny, hot breaths breathing into her. Needing her. And she needed them. Needed them like she’d never let herself need them before. Not when she had the races of men and dwarves and elves and orcs to save. The Champion of the First Ascension, Destroyer of Ralgun, and the Great Dragon God of Brynnturok she had been them all and now she was just a mother. She let her eyes close. She let her breathing match her hatchlings. She let their heat envelope her body and mind and soul.
When Noindorath opened her eyes there was no more warmth. No more hatchlings. All was cold and dark and dripping. And the air. The air smelled like rotting, spoiled flesh. There was no smell of dragon near. Not even Noindorath smelled as she used to.
Noindorath raised herself up on black, aching legs. Noindorath lumbered toward the smells. Her head found open air and a clouded sky. Her eyes beheld Zileska. A land she’d left in death centuries before. A land now rotting and ravaged, like a carcass left to the lesser creatures of flight.
A call grew inside Noindorath and she let it out. It was a low, mournful sound. She opened her wings, waiting for the hatchlings to exit the sky and land beneath her wings. Waiting for their warmth to ease her sore limbs and troubled mind.
No hatchlings came. They existed on a different plane. A plane Noindorath had been ripped from. A new sound, a new emotion, hatched inside Noindorath. Her claws gripped the rock beneath her, crushing it into an avalanche of shards.
Noindorath turned her head and beheld the flavor of not-yet-rotting humans and elves and dwarves and orcs some leagues away. She spoke her wrath, her hatred, her cold judgment of utter destruction in a single earth-trembling roar.
She launched her body into the sky and the wind and cold entered her scales through holes in her undead flesh. Pain and cold and hatred. Things she would share with the races that had robbed her of her hatchlings once again.
Noindorath the Awakened—a name she gave herself. For when she was done, there would be no living creature left to give her another.