The Mares of Diomedes- Part Two

“Daniel, calmly reach inside my medicine bag and grab what feels like a jar.” Joseph whispered softly. “Slowly, don’t make any sudden moves.” The horses reared up, showing their power by stomping and kicking. One hoof caught Joseph in the shoulder making him cry out as the pain shot down to his hand.

Daniel, panicking, fumbled in his grandfather medicine bag until finally, he felt the jar. Lifting it out he gave it Joseph. His grandfather opened the jar and poured a powdery white substance in his shaking palm.

“What is that?’ Daniel asked, perplexed.

“It is the rib bone of a white buffalo. It will give us precious seconds so that we can get away. when I blow this powder in the mare’s noses, Daniel, we have to move quickly. Are you ready?” Joseph asked. 

“I’m ready, grandpa.”

Joseph, dodging a flailing hoof, blew the bone dust in his palm into the nostrils of the two of the mares. Immediately they screamed in pain as the dust filled their sensitive nostrils with intense burning. 

“Go, Daniel! Now!” he yelled, turning himself as the mares circled in confusion. He watched Daniel as he reached the boulders safely, and as he himself tried to get there, his old legs failed him, causing him to trip and fall. Immediately the mares were upon him, slashing down with powerful hooves on his prone body.

“Grandfather! Noooo!” Daniel screamed in disbelief as the mares took out their fury on the old Shaman. “Oh, no, please!”

The horses slammed huge hooves on Joseph’s frail body without mercy as Daniel watched in horror.

“Go, hurry, my grandson, before it’s too late! Now!” his grandfather called out weakly.

Daniel didn’t want to leave his grandfather to the mares, but he knew if he didn’t, this would just go on and on. He screamed at the mares in his frustration.

“Damn you! Damn you to hell!” he screamed into the wind, sobbing. Scrambling over the last of the boulders as fast as he could, his eyes brimming with tears, Daniel half stumbled and half ran up a dirt path. His ears caught the urgent, shrill screech of the hawk leading him up higher and higher. Large boulders and dry dirt made the going treacherous and three times he fought to keep on the path without sliding back down. He took a chance and looked backwards, down to where he last saw the mares, but they were gone, and so was his grandfather. Confused, he wondered if they dragged his body away to devour him.

Almost at the top of the rocky summit, breathing heavily and heart pounding in fear, Daniel saw the hawk sitting about twenty-five feet away on the top of a rock. It spread its huge wings as if to tell Daniel where to look. He looked down the hill on the other side and to his horror,  saw the mares slowly making their way up. He moaned in fear, running over to where he last saw the hawk. It was there. The cave. The one his grandfather was telling him about. He looked at the mares progress and was startled to see that they were almost at the top. Panicked, he ran to the mouth of the small cave just as the mares each breached the top, heading straight for him.

The cave opening was big enough for him to get through, but he wasn’t sure the horses could manage to get their huge bodies in. Taking no chances, he quickly grabbed the flashlight and turned it on to see where he was. The cave was big. Much bigger then he first thought from seeing it from the outside. The inner chamber, though a little tight, opened up into a much larger one containing several rooms.  The beauty of the cavern took his breath away, momentarily making him forget why he was there. The stalactites and stalagmites that formed from thousands of years of dripping water, were quite big. This cave was ancient. One in particular caught his attention. Near the doorway to one of the three rooms, were peculiar drawings. A series of drawing, he noticed and they were in order.

The first one showed a group of hooded figures around a lit fire tossing in what looked to be a human sacrifice. The second one depicted four dark, equine forms rising up out of the fire. The third was confusing. Instead of controlling the spirits, it looked like the hooded figures were overwhelmed by them. The next drawing showed the spirit horses devouring a whole village. But it was the very last drawing that Daniel looked at very carefully. A small boy was leading horse spirits them by some sort of rope or lead, into an enclosure. Then, it showed the boy ascending the side of a mountain and disappearing into a cave. It had to be this mountain.

The boy was shown kneeling, rearranging a pile of what was obviously human bones into circle as he held his arm up to the light spirits. The very last drawing was that of the light spirits shining down and turning the horses to dust. Daniel got goosebumps thinking of this small boy, probably the last of his village, bravely fulfilling the duty of someone much older. Taking one last look at the amazing story drawn hundreds of years ago, he entered the room.

Shining his flashlight, he was shocked to see that the room was filled with pure white flowers. Gypsum flowers, not real ones, but crystal. Daniel remembered from science class, but the pictures did them no justice. Their beauty took his breath away. The cave was literally filled with them! The light from the flashlight caught the crystals in such a way that rainbow prisms bounced off of the flowers in a spectacular colored light show of little diamonds. Momentarily enthralled, he dropped to his knees in reverence.

His people believed that Gypsum Flowers were actually the spirits of small children, sent to protect the ones left here on earth. Eyes wide with wonder and awe, he reverently touched the beautiful white crystals, sending a prayer to the Great Spirit to guide him as He did the small brave who bound the mares the first time.

Daniel turned his attention to the back of the room, shining his light towards the back wall. As the light reflected off of the Gypsum, it cast eerie, moving shadows on the walls of the cave, making the pictures almost come to life. There, near the floor, was a mound of the white flowers that encompased a pile of human bones. The circle of bones had been broken, indeed. Kneeling beside the bones, Daniel took the amulet from around his neck and laid it beside him on the cave floor. Offering up a plea to the Great Spirit for protection, he leaned over, grabbed the powder from the bones of the White Buffalo and made an unbroken circle around the human bones. Now, to put the bones back in place.

Then he heard it. The unmistakable sound of hooves and soft, menacing nickers.

Daniel’s heart skipped a few beats  and he froze. They were here. He felt their presence as every hair on his body prickled. He could practically feel their warm breath on the back of his neck as they exhaled in low, excited nickers of blood-lust as they stamped impatient hooves. He heard one gnash it’s huge teeth repeatedly, the echo bouncing off the cave walls like some sort of bizarre Halloween dental prop. Daniel’s froze, knowing that if he moved his hand to try and put the bones back, they would shred him to pieces. The Buffalo bone dust was just under his right hand. If he could just slowly make a fist and gather some up, he could blow it in the nostrils of the two horses at the right of him and with his left, put the bones back. He had to!

Grabbing the powder he spun to the right on his heels, blowing into first one and then the other mare with lightening speed. Just as his left hand was almost touching the bones, the mare to the left of him brought both hooves crashing down on his right forearm, shattering the radius. Daniel screamed in agony as the pain shot up his arm almost making him lose consciousness. The other mares, blinded by the bone dust, echoed Daniel’s screams as they pranced in pain. Daniel once again reached out, despite the pain of a broken arm. Digging his heels in, he pushed forward reaching out to quickly set the bone that was out of place, putting it back into it’s circle and sealing the mare’s fate. But not before an angry hoof lashed out and caught him in the temple. The blinding pain was fleeting as he gave in to the darkness.

Daniel woke to the feel of rough, dry hands soothingly caressing his forehead. His head throbbed. Opening his gritty eyes, he looked up into the face of his grandfather.

“Grandfather! You’re alive! How? I was so sure they had killed you!” Daniel said gratefully, touching his leathery, beloved face.

“Once you went up the mountain, they lost all interest in me. I think they knew what you were up to, and then they just disappeared.” he told his grandson.

“But grandfather, how did you get up here?” Daniel said, amazed to see him. “Your hurt, and I myself had a hard time getting up here! You’re so amazing grandfather!”

“Daniel. I am so proud of you. You have a warrior’s heart, my grandson.” Rising stiffly, his wounds paining him mightily, he used his good arm to help his grandson stand.

As they made their way out of the cave, the two of them moved rocks and brush in front of the entrance, making difficult, if not impossible, to see or enter. Before they started down the mountain, they looked at the western sky of Montana as the setting sun painted it’s evening portrait of reds and streaks of orange. It was beautiful. Looking over across the grass plains, they watched as a wild stallion herded his band of mares, keeping them together and safe. Together, they started down the mountain.

 


Author Notes

7 Comments for “The Mares of Diomedes- Part Two”

Lisa Doesburg

says:

Hey Tim! Thanks so much for the read! To answer you’re question about Ojibwe in Montana, look up the Little Shell Tribe. Aishinaabe (Ojibwe) recognized the by the state of Montana. I try and do the research just for moments like these, lol!

Tim Hillebrant

says:

A wonderful, and fitting, end to this story, Lisa. I too, got very wrapped up in this and lost myself inside the tale. Sad about Daniel’s grandfather, but I think that enhances the overall story.

Very well done!

says:

You have a lot of cool information in this section, and the story becomes even more enthralling. I was a little perplexed that the grandfather was able to live, let alone make it up to this cave with extreme injuries from the horses. He is in his 90’s, his frail bones would have been crushed to bits easily. But, I do like the sentiment of the story, and the spiritual traditions being passed from one generation to another.

Here are a few more nits. You just need to tighten up the piece and do some editing.

-“Daniel, calmly reach inside my medicine bag and grab what feels like a jar{.}(,)” Joseph whispered softly. (Place a comma after dialogue within the quotation marks when adding a dialogue tag. I noticed this in the first part, too, on a few dialogue sections.)
-Daniel, panicking, fumbled in his grandfather medicine bag until {finally, he felt the jar.}(he finally found the jar.)
-“Go, hurry, my grandson, before it’s too late! Now!” his grandfather called out weakly. (That’s a lot of exclamation points to be called out weakly)
-he quickly grabbed {the}(a) flashlight (from his bag) and turned it on to see where he was.
One in particular caught his attention.(One what? A stalactite/stalagmite pair? Why did it catch your attention? Then you jump to peculiar drawings–>Near the doorway to one of the three rooms, were peculiar drawings. A series of drawing, he noticed and they were in order. (Cave painting or petroglyphs?)
-A small boy was leading horse spirits {them} by some sort of rope or lead, into an enclosure.
-Daniel remembered (them or the flowers) from science class, but the pictures did them no justice.
-Eyes wide with wonder and awe, he reverently touched the beautiful white crystals, sending a prayer to the Great Spirit to guide him(.) {as He did the small brave who bound the mares the first time.} (Awkward sentence. You may not need the last part about the small brave.)

Great story! I enjoyed it very much. 🙂

Write On!
Becky

Lisa Doesburg

says:

Becky, thanks for reading, but most all, thank you for taking the time to edit it. I will most certainly fix all that you pointed out to me (grateful for that!) and try to polish it up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *