son of man, look to the sky

While Minnow brushed, Thoth manipulated the water out of the bucket and used it to rub the mare down. He made small circular motions with the water along her back, both in an attempt to dislodge the dirt quickly and also to try and massage her a little. The mare, who still hadn’t said a word, glanced back at the pair of them nervously a few times but seemed to accept the bath fairly quickly. Perhaps she understood that it was in her best interests, or perhaps she was just too worn down to protest. As more and more of the mud washed away, her coat underneath – a pretty red bay colour – became increasingly visible.

Minnow didn’t talk much. She confirmed that she hadn’t been here long, then went quiet as she scraped at one of the mare’s wounds. Thoth didn’t notice the tension in the silence. He finished washing down the mare’s dorsal and started rubbing at her flank, focusing on maintaining the warmth and pressure of the water. Every now and then, where there was a thicker clod of dirt, he had to up the water pressure or use his fingers to pick it free.

When Minnow did eventually speak again, Thoth just nodded, accepting her answer. He’d been homeless once before, when he’d run away from the castle after his mother had died. The months spent out in the wilderness, usually caked in mud and nearly always wet with endless rain, left an unpleasant taste in his mouth whenever he recalled them. Back then, he’d lived in the castle under the promise of its temporariness and had run at the prospect of its permanence; now, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

“You can stay here if you want.” He told Minnow matter-of-factly as he rubbed down the mare’s shoulder. “They’ve got rooms for people who don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Something in his voice said he spoke from experience.

Morveren, who had been following him around and trying to catch the water as it fell with her mouth, chose that moment to snake underneath the horse to go and see the other exciting new friend. She stood up onto her hind legs and stretched her front paws up as far as Minnow’s torso as they would go, grinning. Her tail wagged so enthusiastically that it kept accidentally hitting the mare’s legs. The mare started nervously and Thoth sent a splash of water at his familiar to get her to cut it out.

“The king’s decent.” He shrugged. “And he could give you a job if you wanted one. Maybe in the stables. Or…” he frowned as he picked at a clog of dirt on the mare’s leg. “I could probably use a hand with some of the animals who camp out in my barn.”

photo by Patrick Lewis at flickr.com

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