The Seekers – In search of a Centaur (Part 4)
A World Turned Inside Out (continued)
The seekers traveled for almost an hour when Florette signaled them to stop. “We are almost there now. The cave is through the trees in that direction.” Florette pointed to a couple of trees to her right. “I think it would be wise to conceal our presence before entering this part of the forest,” she continued while leaving the warmth of Daisy’s neck to prepare.
“Will the centaur be able to hear us?” Ewart asked, knowing that getting to the cave without making any noise was impossible. And if the centaur could hear them, the camouflage would serve little purpose.
“Once camouflaged, you will each mimic the traits of your environment in sound and appearance. It will be impossible to distinguish you from the surrounding area. To each other, we will appear in our natural state.”
“Have you used it on humans before, Florette?” Although he was only a year older than Lisette and Ewart, Henry felt that it was his responsibility to look out for the well-being of the group.
“It has been a long time, but I once knew a little girl and we would camouflage ourselves to hide from her parents. Of course, I was very young then too. She lived to be an old woman. You will never even notice the difference. All that is required is a kiss by me to cast the spell. When you want to end the spell, you simply rub the kiss to remove it.”
“What are we waiting for, seekers? The rains will soon be upon us. Florette, you can kiss my cheek first.” Roy pointed to his cheek with a look close to mischief.
Charmed by his courage and enthusiasm, Florette flew over to gently kiss Roy’s left cheek. She then flew to Rosy, planting a kiss just above the horse’s nose. Rosy neighed before disappearing with her master.
“Roy – are you still with us?” Henry inquired of the air where Roy had been seconds ago.
On his end, Roy had not gone anywhere. Knowing the others could neither see or hear him, he began to sing.
“There once was a beautiful maiden with ice in her eyes and a fire in her soul. All the boys fell at her feet, but she didn’t notice. Bonnie only had eyes for one, who was blind to her beauty…”
“Who would like to go next?” Florette looked around the group from where she had kissed Rosy.
“I’ll go!” the others said at once.
Florette started with Henry and hurried on to the rest – finishing with Lisette, kissing the middle of her tanned forehead.
In less than a song, the seekers were headed to the cave. The woods were empty except for the occasional rabbit or deer.
Calder, the group’s philosopher, rode with Lisette, while Roy and Henry led the way. Ewart and Aspen completed their line of hope – for courage cannot exist without it.
“Where do you think the centaur might have come from, Lisette? Surely, if centaurs lived in these woods, we would know. Strawbridge is only a day’s ride from here, the villagers would know of their presence and word would have spread.” Calder had his own theory, but he wanted to hear Lisette’s thoughts on the subject.
“I can no more know that, Calder, than what lies on the other side of the waters. We left home in search of answers, but all that we have uncovered thus far, are more questions.” Realizing the ineptitude of her words, Lisette continued, “I have learned there are many things about our world that we do not know. Perhaps that is the first stepping stone on our way to the truth.”
“Do you think it is possible for land to exist across the waters?” Calder could not resist asking, fascinated by the idea.
“There was a time when I would have rejected such a notion,” Lisette looked down and smiled at Florette who was sitting in her favorite spot on Daisy’s neck, “but now I know that anything is possible.”
“Inside our limited knowledge, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty, but I cannot accept that we are alone in this world. On the other side of Thomas Waters, there must be land, or even many lands, with people like us who look and wonder as we do.” It was the first time that Calder had ever shared his theory with anyone.
Before Lisette had a chance to respond, Florette rose from Daisy’s neck. “The cave is just beyond that hill.”
In Search of a Centaur
“Let us see what awaits on the other side,” Roy said, raising his sword. “To adventure!”
“To courage and truth!” the others piped in with a burst of enthusiasm.
When they reached the top of the hill, the seekers saw the giant rock and entrance to the cave. There was no sign of the centaur.
“We should proceed with caution. Our centaur may be nearby or in the cave.” Lisette advised the group just as the first rains began to fall.
With no more than ten feet left between them and the cave entrance, they heard the centaur approaching from the woods.
“Quick!” Lisette instructed, “To our right!”
The centaur cleared the woods, his arms filled with tree branches. His coat and upper body were a warm chestnut brown. He had pointed ears that protruded through his long black hair – the same hair which feathered out from his forearms and fetlocks.
Unaware of the seekers, he proceeded to the cave, disappeared inside for a moment, then exited to retrieve the berries and four rabbits next to the cave’s entrance. He scanned the area, and seemingly satisfied, disappeared back into the cave.
“He is a magnificent creature.” Aspen observed, looking toward the cave. “The question is what do we next. With the rains getting heavier, he may not be out any time soon.”
While Aspen spoke, they could hear the centaur inside the cave. The provisions suggested he would be making a fire and preparing a modest meal.
Listening as the centaur went about his task, Ewart turned to answer Aspen. “He does not seem dangerous or wild. His face indicates intelligence, and his actions are those of a civilized creature. Although we need to be prudent, I think we should approach the centaur with our swords down.”
“I am inclined to agree with Ewart. What do you say, seekers? Should we make our presence known to the centaur?” Lisette asked the group.
“We did not ride this far, only to back down. Let us remove our spell and call upon the centaur.” Tired of words, Roy rubbed the kiss from his cheek. The others followed suit.
“Then we are in agreement. I will make our presence known.” Lisette, rubbing the kiss from above Daisy’s nose, informed them before approaching the cave.
“Centaur. It is us, the truth seekers of Stonebridge. May we call upon your presence outside the cave?” In books, centaurs could always speak. She hoped it proved to be true, for it would make initial contact with this centaur much easier.
The seekers straightened their backs as they waited and listened to the centaur’s hooves approaching. He did not appear hurried.
“Humans, why do you request my presence? What do you want of the great Mhutig?” The centaur demanded, his hind legs still inside the cave…
~~~ To be continued ~~~
In case you missed parts 1, 2, and 3 of this short story, I’m including the links below. Until next time, be kind to yourself. You’re worth it!✨