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About a league down the road, Alastor heard a familiar noise. Braying mules. He ran up to the crest of a low rise. Down in the dip, among the trees were his two mules, grazing under the sun.

Alastor whistled. The mules stopped and looked up. He repeated the familiar tune, and this time, the two animals came to him, their heads dipping as they walked. He went forward and ran his hands over their coats and tugged their ears, and the pair responded with more head bobbing.

He heard a whimper and turned to see a horse. Sabas’ stallion. It stomped a front foot and snorted. A gathering of old friends—or at least, acquaintances of sorts. It was obvious that Sabas and his companions, in their hasty getaway, must have rode right past the stallion which had taken refuge over the rise.

Not wishing to cause panic and flight, Alastor did not approach the stallion right away. He roped the mules along and stopped a short distance from the horse. He pulled out treats from his bag and spoke in a soft voice and fed his mules. Every so often, he called out to the stallion. It took a few tentative steps towards him and halted. The metalsmith continued to speak in soothing tones. When the stallion was close enough, he extended his arm. The horse snuffed his hand. He scratched its neck and gave it a treat. Then, making no sudden movements, he picked up the hanging reins and secured the horse to a low shrub. He stroked the coat and kept feeding the stallion, allowing it to get used to his voice and smell.

After some time, he loaded his bags onto one mule and mounted the second, and took the stallion’s reins.

Then, he set off on the road—away from Theron’s Cross—back the way he had come; back where that wolf-beast lurked.

Note: I shall borrow a word, phrase or the theme from your comment—a maximum of five primary comments or until the next post, whichever the sooner—and develop this story via my replies. Thank you for your assistance.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***