Featuring Romeo, Sienna, Iclyn, Ebany, Rustka & Raynar
The heat was almost unbearable. It made the ground sizzle in waves, and the sun would bake and burn the hair on their backs as they tried to stand in the shade. The water in the small pond on Romeo's land had claimed had all but dried up, meaning their only water source was the small stream running down the valley. Romeo guarded this dripple of water fiercely, keeping it for himself and his most favoured mare. And their foal. The copper coloured filly was now up on her feet and using them to canter and leap over, so she had earned herself her father's love and attention like she deserved.
Late at night, the air sometimes carried the smell of smoke, and Romeo would call his mares together whenever he caught the scent. Smoke meant fire, and fire meant death. Fire would lick at the dead grass like a starved animal, and could engulf a large space within seconds. Depending on the type of grass or tree, the smoke would turn black with a poisonous taste and ash would flicker on the wind which fed the beast.
Ebany would tell stories through the nights to help bear the heat. Since the young filly's asked so many questions, she was happy to oblige to their pleas. Sometimes they were scary for the young ones, but there was always a lesson to be learnt.
"The year I was born, it was a year of extremes. In the spring, there was so much green grass that half of my mothers herd ate so much that they became sick. They would roll in the long grass and twist their bodies to ease the pain, and three mares twisted so much they couldn't stand anymore. They passed away, and without their mothers, three foals were left without nutrition. One didn't live to see the end of the season."
"With summer, came the death of all that grass. The heat swelled, like it is now, and the clouds that floated past the sun evaporated leaving us in the full glare. Sometimes, every few days at night, the sky would grow dark and the roar of thunder would echo through your bones and make you shudder. Lightning would flash and strike the ground, throwing sparks and awakening the beast. The beast would open an eye, slowly, with just a flicker of orange on the horizon. They it would open it's mouth, baring it's teeth and eating everything in it's path. Ash would be spit out, and if a curious foal got too close, then the ash would fall on his back and face, burning the foal and making his fur and skin burn. He survived, but the burned scarred his coat for the rest of his life."
This made the foals gasp, alerting the stallion to the stories.
"Enough. No more of your tall tales."
The dark coloured mare looked and the dun mare next to her, and pulling both foals close as the morning light brushed the horizon.