Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prompt: Squeebok and the Rohbain

Squeebok hunched in the saddle and wished for his own featherbed and pillows. He was tired of riding, tired of rain, tired of cold, tired of his outdoor coverups and breathing mask. His long flexible ears twitched through the mask holes, and the green hairs fluttered from his skull to the tips, casting ahead for signs of life. Signs of danger. Boodyans’ ears used all their primary senses: sound, sight, taste, smell, and vyodela, which was a kind of not-seeing-not-hearing-sensing-what’s-there. Nothing but rain and cold and wet rohbain feathers.

He leaned forward and lightly shifted the reins. Despite their enormous tough beak, or indeed, perhaps because of it, rohbains had extremely sensitive tongues. Squeebok’s reins reached along the rohbain’s neck and into the grooved beak hinges, where they connected to a pewter ring that encircled the base of the rohbain’s tongue. Riding required the most skilled and delicate touch, or the rohbain would go berserk with pain, flinging off its rider and likely trampling the fool with its three-clawed feet. Squeebok was one of the best Boodyan riders, and he had been paired with this rohbain since its hatching. Riders weren’t supposed to name their rohbains, but of course they all did. Squeebok whispered, “Courage, Bluecrest, we’re almost home. I promise you a warm steaming all night long when we get there. You’re feathers will be clean and shining come morning!”

The rohbain cocked a round yellow eye back at him and snorted. Squeebok sighed. “Yes, yes, I did promise you a bucket full of fresh herring. We’re arriving in the middle of the night, you know. It might be hard to find fresh herring until morning.”

Bluecrest lifted his neck and ruffled his wings under the armor plates. Squeebok tightened his knees against the saddle in case the rohbain reared or, Meeren forbid, actually tried to fly. But Bluecrest was content to merely rattle his armor and settled back into his steady plodding walk that had carried them over miles of rough terrain. Squeebok reached down and patted his neck with a blunt, gloved hand. “I know, old friend. I know. Courage. We’re almost there. I can vyodela the hearthfires already.”

They lifted their heads as one when the deep howl split the night, joined by another, and another, and another. Squeebok leaned forward and grabbed Bluecrest’s neck, dropping the reins.

“Dehbigs? This far north? Four of them? Run, Bluecrest! Run for our lives!”

The rohbain stretched out its neck and arched its flightless wings, springing into a gallop. The dehbigs howled again.

Thanks to Randis at for the beautiful visual prompt!*

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Bacon

Hampton Carmine, “Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra”

March word count:

*I realize these may be existing and named characters from another story known to many, but since I don't know it, they are new to me. I'm studiously avoiding anything that could be construed as "fan fic"!

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