A 180 degree look at a moment from the upcoming miniseries “The Twilight Years”.
· Xena and Eve do not belong to me. They’re the creation of Rob Tapert, and the property of Universal Pictures.
· Atrayeu, and the owner do belong to me, and may not be used in any way without my permission.
· The only thing you need to keep in mind about this, is that this was written with the “what if” presumption of how Eve might’ve grown up, had “The Twilight” not existed.
· Eve refers to Xena as ‘màna” in this story. It’s the Greek word for mother.
· This is not written to be horsetext, as it’s something I do not believe in. Please do not send me emails trying to point out how this is indeed horsetext, or help me see the “error” of my ways, even as a joke. They will be deleted, and your email will be blocked.
· Any comments, or questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
He stood alone, in a roped off portion of the paddock. The area was so small he barely had room to turn around. He’d been passed over all afternoon, due in large part to his constant nervous pawing of the ground, and the owner’s claim that he was too wild and unbreakable to be of use to anyone.
The truth of the matter was that he just didn’t suffer idiots gladly. And unfortunately, all of his owners had turned out to be just that. Idiots. By early evening, when he’d yet to be bought, he resigned himself to the cruel fate he knew this owner would deliver, as he’d seen before. If he wasn’t bought soon, he’d be slaughtered, which was the owner’s way of cutting his losses. And considering what it took to feed and board him, it would be nothing but beneficial to the owner.
He was tall for his age, and the fact that he was a gelding ruled him out for so many of the prospective buyers from the smaller villages. He was solid black, with heavy muscles that could promise a lot of hard work, under the right circumstances. While every hand that had touched him deemed him unfit, the truth was, he was as gentle as a newborn foal, in the right hands. He just wanted that special someone, who would understand him, and treat him with the dignity befitting his kind.
A commotion brought his attention to his owner, who was speaking with a woman, and her daughter. The woman was tall, and he could sense that she was different from every other person who had stopped to speak with his master since they’d arrived.
He could sense that she did not regard his kind as just a common beast, but as a creature to be respected, and trusted in completely. She was one of the few chosen that if an equine was lucky, he or she had the opportunity to become lifelong friends and working partner’s with.
The girl’s eyes were alight, and she was pointing to him, and talking animatedly to the woman. No doubt she was telling her how funny he looked, with his dirty coat, matted, filthy mane and a tail that was full of knots and burrs.
The young girl smiled up at her mother, who nodded, and despite the owner’s protests, the girl headed right for him. She approached cautiously, making sure the wind was blowing in his direction, allowing her scent to be carried to him, and sucked down into his lungs. She spoke softly as she drew near, and stopped just barely an arm’s length beyond his reach.
They stood regarding each other, human and equine. The girl reached into her tunic, and pulled out an apple. She held it out to him in the palm of her hand, and closed the distance between them slowly. He stood stock still, eyeing her cautiously, unsure. She didn’t move, allowing him all the time he needed to be able to trust her.
There was something about her that was different from all the other children he’d ever been in contact with. He could sense that like her mother, she would never hurt him or treat him badly. She would be as loyal to him, as he could be to her. In that moment he knew, she was the one. The human he was destined to be with. But would she want to be with him? He took the final steps forward, and lipped up the apple.
She stepped closer still, and stroked his nose, and he butted her gently in the chest. He tried to hold perfectly still as she ran small hands along his side. When she began lifting his heavy feet, his heart sank.
There was another reason he was cordoned off in such a tight space. His owner didn’t want him to outright show that he was lame in his right rear foot. She checked the foot in question, and then dropped it, patting his hindquarter reassuringly.
She walked away, and he let out a whinny, his head dropping in pathetic defeat. She turned briefly and smiled at him, before going back to her mother. He turned away, unwilling to watch as his last chance disappeared.
Several minutes passed when he heard the latch of his makeshift pen rattle. He turned his head, expecting the owner, finding instead the girl, and her mother. And in the girl’s hand was a halter and lead rope. His heart soared, as that could only mean one thing. He’d been bought!
He turned again, and lowered his head dutifully, allowing the girl to fit the halter over his head, wanting to prove to her mother that he would take the extra steps to allow her to care for him without her mother's help.
“First things first. Your name is Atrayeu now. And I think the very next place we’re going is to see màna’s friend. He’s a blacksmith, and he can take care of that hoof. It’s no wonder you’re lame you poor baby. Whoever put that shoe on obviously didn’t know what they were doing. Then I think a bath, and a decent grooming are in order,” the girl said.
With a slight tug of the lead, and click of her teeth, he was led past his old owner into a new world that showed a great deal of promise, and incredible adventures with his new mistress at his side, or on his back.
He couldn’t wait.
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