The Horse from the Woods: Chapter 1 Part 2/4

With the full moon above them, Natalie and Duchess rode down the long unpaved path, only taking a short time to reach their destination. Duchess quickly galloped the entire trip under the moonlight without slowing in speed, or growing in exhaustion leading Natalie to wonder where she had received this stunning endurance. Duchess’s movement was smooth and balanced, making it easy for her rider to stay on. Natalie grasped onto the reigns of her horse tightly however, in nervousness as she thought of never returning to her past life.

As they approached the quaint town of Anzama, she slowed her horse down and turned her off the dusty road to a small hill that overlooked the town. After dismounting Duchess and climbing the grassy hill, she was astonished at what she saw before her. The color drained from her face as raging flames met her dark eyes. The town lied in ruins, burned to the ground. Visions from her frightening past came back to haunt her, as her breathing became heavy. The full moon shed little light on the ground, however the fire lit up the sky as it burned over the wood of houses. Flames licked at the sky, casting smoke to dance above before vanishing.

Natalie’s dark green eyes instantly shot up towards the sky when she heard a bellowing roar overhead. The deafening cry struck fear in her heart as she caught a glimpse of a large dragon flying in front of the moon, casting a silhouette just for a moment. A worried look spread on her face as the dragon flew off into the darkness of the night, seeming not to notice her.

A dragon, a fire, a horse from the woods; it was all replaying…

Turning to grab the long reins of her horse’s bridle, she guided her mare to the devastating town before them. They slowly walked past the sign that was to welcome them, although it was half burnt and the words were covered with thick black ashes, making it impossible to read. Natalie drug her feet as she walked and felt so broken inside. What had happened to this village? They continued through the desolate place as the passed a large wooden wagon on its side. The wheel continued to turn, causing an eerie creaking noise. Walking towards the wagon to stop the wheel from moving, she remembered of the wagon full of poultry that had passed her on her first trip here. The town was so happy and alive then. Everything was gone now.

What had become of the villagers? Had they escaped, heard warning of an attack and had time to evacuate? Were they caught off guard with no time to escape? Natalie’s mind was full of thoughts that caused her to tremble as she passed each disturbing sight. She grasped Duchess’s neck within her arms for comfort as she continued on.

Duchess snickered, wanting to leave the barren place as soon as she could. The larger fires burned through the roofs of the buildings, breaking down a house as she passed. She stumbled back in surprise as the house was burnt to the ground, leaving nothing but smoke and ashes. Natalie coughed as she ventured farther down the blackened cobblestone path with the thick smell of smoke and decay filling her nostrils. Crackling and pops of fire ringed throughout the empty landscape, reminding her of her home, and her parents. A small tear sparkled down the side of Natalie’s cheek as it all came down on her. It was all gone…

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