Beast – drooling, shaking, gasping for breath – for new-master weighted a pretty ton, his head slunk down, hanging between his legs, was nonetheless, elated: new-master had mounted him bareback and not put a harness on him. No one had ever respected Beast’s independence before. And was thus that beast had bolted, the moment new-master had shouted, “Hiya!”, until the last leg of the trip, during which, his energy zapped, and no blood flowing to his brain any longer, he had stumbled onwards, one lazy step after another; like a paragraph, riddled with an unnecessarily high number of punctuations.
New master was old, a veteran, but with a youthful demeanor. Build strong, with an upright posture. He had a concave face and a thick bush of black beard. A prominent scar on his forehead. He was dignified. He looked ready to rule. Beast was proud to be his steed.
Master and Beast were standing beside a well that seemed to have gone dry, quietly spying a man and a woman. Beast was yet to have figured out what sort of a ruler master was. Sure, he thought, Incitatus held the envious position of being a Roman consul, but Beast did not want a master like Caligula. He never saw action at the frontline. No, Beast hoped master was more like Alexander or Aragorn. More like Achilles, and if he was, Beast would work twice as hard to be as good as both Xarthus and Balius.
The man and the woman went inside the cottage. Master and Beast continued observing. Perhaps, Beast thought, master was not a man of rashness. Perhaps, Beast thought, there will be less charging into battles and more sneaking around, making measured yet decisive strikes. That bode well with Beast. He focused at the task at hand.
Who were these two people they were spying on? Were they friend or foe? What were their crimes?
Master gently tugged on Beast’s mane and they began moving forward. Slowly. Partly because Beast now knew he was to be a spy horse and be adept at the art of sneaking up on people, partly because Beast was still out of breath from the previous sprint, and partly because master had readjusted his sitting position and his scabbard poked Beast in the hindleg with each step he took.
“Hmph, hmph, hmph.” Master muttered. “Neigh, neigh, neigh.” Beast chimed in.
He had barely taken a few dozen steps when both the man and the woman came out of the cottage. But master did not take any evasive action so Beast surmised that they were friends. The woman started approaching them directly. The man, a craven no wonder, stayed back. Beast was ready for any surprise-flank attack. He tried to approach the girl at an angle and flank her, something Bucephalus and his master may have done, but master slapped his neck, “Stay the course!” he barked.
“Hi nana, how are you feeling?” the young woman asked with a smile on her face, “When did you buy this horse?” she reached out to tousle Beast’s mane.
Nana? Oh wow, she was master’s granddaughter! Beast was delighted to have made her acquaintance. He did a polite neigh and allowed her to play with his mane. Then something darker dawned on him. The craven man! That craven man had dare befoul master’s granddaughter! “Neiiigh!” Beast roared, ready to charge, but master held him back, slapped him on the neck again.
So he brayed loudly, dropped his head and started eating the grass between his legs.
“And why do you have a sword?” Master’s granddaughter, so Beast reasoned, his grandmaster, asked, as she rubbed Beast’s neck. He swished his tail around gleefully.
“Bas! I ask the questions, Inny Binny! Why are you here? What business do you have with that man? Who is he?”
“That’s just Emil, nana. A very old friend. He is harmless. Why do you have a horse and a sword? Is this about the apocalypse?”
“What else? This is how I am supposed to reveal myself to the world, Inny Binny, on a white horse. I have to seem majestic.” master said, raised the sword above his head and spun it around in air and did a chant. “Neigh!” beast joined in, tried to rub his face against grandmaster’s face but she pushed him away, “Neigh neigh, bad horse. Neigh. Reveal yourself to whom?” she asked.
“Enough talk, Inny. I do not have time for this tomfoolery. Every second is of the essence. I have to rule for seven or nine or nineteen years. I do not remember. But I wrote it down somewhere right after the big man told me. And rule I must. And before that, I must defeat those bloody rascals, those fat twins drinking up all the water. I have to ride now, Inny, ride far. And I suggest that you end your association with that sub-evolved being immediately. It is unbecoming.”
“Can we talk about this inside, nana? Here, let me help you dismount.”
“The time for talking is over, sweet Inny Binny. It is time for action. It is the apocalypse! I suggest you get back home and help your parents prepare.” He said.
“What action, nana? Where are you going?” the girl asked.
“To kill Gogue and M’Gogue, of course! And then to begin my reign.”
Finally! Master Mehedi was talking! “Neigh!”
“Now out of my way.” Master ordered, pointing forward with his sword and beast made a mad dash forward. Beast was ready to ride. He did not let the exhaustion bring him down. He galloped forward. He was Hidalgo. Running through 3,000 miles of the treacherous Arabian Desert. Beast was ready.
“Where are you going, nana? I have a car! I can drop you off!” grandmaster yelled from behind.
“Just ask your uncle Man, he will tell you all.” Master yelled back at her.
“Be careful, nana.” The girl yelled out behind them but beast threw caution to air, galloping as fast as his legs would allow him, galloping straight into the arms of immortality.